Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

By Christelle, France, Local Contributor

Christelle lives in Corsica, which is in the south of France, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, though she was born in Paris. She lived in Paris for eighteen years before settling in the south of France. Christelle studied public law for three years and grauated in European Affairs two years ago; her daytime job is in public administration.

She loves to travel and has visited most of the European countries (she loves visiting Budapest and Roma). In her free time, she loves to ballroom dance, go out with friends, and enjoy the beautiful weather of her locale.


Strasbourg, France – Christmas Market by LenDog64

Holiday Trends in France

Christmas is such a magical time. I love the festive atmosphere of the holiday season. What I also love about this time of the year is witnessing the creative imagination of the cosmetic industry. In France, almost every make up brand releases special collections for the holiday season. Let me present a few trends to get the perfect holiday look…

Black and Sparkles

This winter, black and sparkles will wrap your eyes in mystery. Nuit Céleste collection by Givenchy is a perfect example of this trend. This collection reminds me of a beautiful starry night… very poetic!

  • Ombre Noire (€47,00) is an amazing black eyeshadow! It has been designed to be used as an eyeshadow,  eyeliner, or mascara.  It’s slightly infused with shimmer, so it can create a dramatic look.  It also contains three miniature-sized brushes.  The eyeshadow can be used wet or dry, so you can build up the color to the desired intensity.
  • Vernis Please n°176 Noir Céleste (€16,50) is not just another black nail lacquer! It is opaque in just one coat, and it is easily applied due to the large flat brush. The color is gorgeous: black with silver glitter.
  • L’Or Céleste Starry Loose Powder (€58,00) comes in a retro spray bottle!  It’s such a beautiful object, so it is perfect for gift-giving. It contains a soft golden powder to be sprayed on your complexion as an highlighter or on your body for an immediate glow!
  • Love black eyeshadows? Check out the new Yves Saint Laurent Noir Terriblement Palette (€52,50) featuring four intense black eyeshadows, plus a white shade to play with light and shadows.
  • If you are on a budget, you can pick Bourjois Eye Pearls (€14,60), a palette of five silky, luminous eyeshadows.

Red and Gold

A touch of red on your lips and nails, a precious golden eye… and you are ready to party!

  • Givenchy Or Céleste n°20 Le Prisme Yeux Mono (€27,00) is a variation of gold–matte, shimmer, and glitter to play, create and experiment!
  • NARS Campo Dei Fiori Eyeliner (€25,00) is perfect if you do not dare to wear a full golden eye, because you can always add a precious touch of gold with this beautiful eyeliner. This liner is very soft and easily glides on.
  • Dior Les Ors collection has several stellar products, including the Couture Golds Palette ($59.00), five new lipsticks ($32.00), and four nails lacquers ($22.00), with my favorites being Merveille and Divin.
  • A cheaper alternative: Yves Rocher Luminelle Nail Polishes (€1,95) — choose between a deep red and a glittery gold polish or pick them both! You can also try their Luminelle Gloss, which is available in 3 shades (red, berry and gold) for just €3,95.

Let There Be Light

Who said winter is dull? These powders will add light to your face and help you get a glowy complexion.

  • Chanel Lumière Sculptée Powder (€55,50) has a beautiful pattern inspired by a baroque belt Coco Chanel used to wear. It will give a subtle shimmer and beige glow to your skin.
  • Lancôme Golden Hat Pressed Powder (€47,90) is a nice pink highlighter with a golden touch to brighten your face. Buying this powder is also a good deed, as the profits will go to Kate Winslet’s Golden Hat foundation, which supports audistic children.
  • Guerlain Parure de Nuit Pressed Powder (€50,90) has a gorgeous peacock pattern! Coral, beige, and even teal will give you a subtle sheer look. You can use it as an highlighter and as a blush. Check Christine’s review for more information.

Which trend inspires you most? I think I will go red and gold!

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

By Dâmaris, Brazil Local Contributor

Dâmaris is 37-years old and Brazilian. Her parents taught her to love nature and observe its colors, textures, sounds, flavors, and fragrances. She deeply appreciates nature and respects it, and she has found this education helped her develop a taste for beauty in all its various expressions, like music, photography, and cosmetics.

She studied in Psychology and currently teaches at the University. Dâmaris believes there is an art of self-care, which is good for your emotions. She describes her philosophy as, “Taking care of the body is good for the heart, thoughts, and does good to the will to live. Highlighting your points of beauty is a secret we learn every day.” Check out her blog, Village Beaute!


Holiday Gift Guide: Brazil Edition

Here in Brazil, our Christmas is spent among beaches, swimming, and most importantly, among the people we love. Exchanging gifts is a sign of affection with everyone.  I’m happy to share with you some of the most interesting and beautiful holiday kits from my favorite Brazilian brands this season.

The Contém 1 grama released several kits with sets ranging from small travel bags to makeup palettes with shadows, blushes, applicators. Christmas, for me, is a solemn moment, so I suggest the Kit Glam (R$ 88,00), which is has appropriate colors for night use and, beyond the shadows, also includes a great black mascara. The value of the kit is good–it’s better to buy the set than the products separately.

To stay smelling nice, O Boticário launched kits for men, women, children and teens, with one prettier than the last!  For the most value, I really enjoyed the Portinari Kit (R$148,00) for men, which comes with deo cologne, soap and nail care instruments. The Lily Essence Kit (R$ 199,00) contains my favorite Brazilian eau de parfum for women.  For that person we want to gift, but we cannot spend too much, there are some beautiful bath sets that are good, with several fragrances that start at R$ 13,90.

Finally, a brand in southern Brazil, which is a network of pharmacies, the Panvel. It has fragrant and moisturizing creams, makeup, and soft brushes all with very good prices! It is impossible to resist. Whenever I go to Panvel, I can’t get out of there without something. It has a travel brush kit (R$ 19,90) generously sized, as well as a pretty-in-pink (and super soft) kabuki for only R$ 19,00.

Do you have any favorite Brazilian gifts to give this year?

Monday, December 12th, 2011

By Polly, England, Local Contributor

Polly is a 22-year old recent graduate who hails from England. She studied East Asian studies, so she learned some Japanese and even spent six weeks in Japan last summer–she loved it and hopes to return one day.

She currently lives with her family and waitresses while trying to decie on her future career. Polly is fortunate to have a wonderful boyfriend who spends countless hours with her at Boots and makeup counters–even if it is done so begrudgingly! Check out her blog, Beauty Mish Mash!


5 English Golden Glitters for the Holidays

When I think of make up for the holidays, I immediately think of a strong red lip and lots of gold glitter, which is why I decided to find and test a few glittery products from England!

Illamasqua Ore Pure Pigment (£15.00 for 1.3g) is a gorgeous deep golden-bronze colour strewn with silver glitter. When I photographed it with my flash, I could also see some pretty red and green glitter, but unfortunately, I couldn’t see this with my naked eye due to the horrible dark English weather at this time of year, so my swatches reflect that. This is finely-milled, smooth, and easy to blend. It has quite a high price tag, but this is truly reflected in the quality; I can’t recommend it enough! Please click here to see some wonderful swatches from Christine which show this beautiful product at it’s full potential!

It’s no secret that I love Barry M’s loose Dazzle and Glitter Dusts, and this shade is no exception. True to its name, Barry M Gold Iridescent Fine Glitter Dust (£4.59) is a subtle, iridescent gold strewn with golden glitter. I wouldn’t agree with the description of ‘fine’ glitter dust, but it is easy to work with nonetheless. It’s really pretty and a great alternative if you don’t fancy going for the full-on gold glitter look!

Models Own Gold & Gold Searkle Powder Eyeshadow (£5.00 for 3.5g) is your ultimate, in-your-face, chunky yellow gold glitter! It’s an absolute pain to apply and is fall out central, but I felt that I had to include a glitter like this. Be sure to use it with a good primer or mixing medium!

17 Stardust Starry Eyes Glitter Liner (£3.99 for 6ml) is a gorgeous glitter eyeliner with a gold base and tiny bits of gold and silver glitter. I can also see very subtle flashes of red and green when swatched, but this doesn’t translate to the eyes. I think that glittery eyeliner is a great way to add interest to a look, so was really disappointed when this performed really poorly! It flaked off in big chunks within a couple of hours, leaving me thankful I only tested it around the house!

Collection 2000 Dig It! Glam Crystals Dazzling Gel Liner (£2.99 for 6ml) is what I want from a glitter liner–easy to apply, long lasting and packed with sparkle. This is a mixture of matte black and gold glitter, which gives a lovely blackened gold finish. After testing this, I can’t wait to try some more of Collection 2000’s glitter liners!

After testing all of these products, I’ve got the glitter bug, so would love to hear about your favourite glittery products in the comments! :)

Check out swatches! Continue reading →

Sunday, December 11th, 2011

By Chantel, Esthetician

Chantel is a licensed esthetician who recently moved to Virginia. She attended University of Utah as a ballet major and earned her esthetics license while living in Washington. She is currently teaching dance and hopes to start a skincare business in her new area. Chantel is results-driven when it comes to the treatments and products she uses on clients and herself. She has worked as an esthetician in spas, salons, and medical spas. She hopes to share her experience and knowledge with others to help make skin care less overwhelming.

 

To most beauty and skincare aficionados, adding a product to their “must have” or “Holy Grail” list is a big deal! A product doesn’t earn that spot in my skincare routine without consistent performance and results. To narrow down a favorite, it usually has to meet a few certain points in my book:  1) I use it on a regular basis, if not daily; 2) it has not caused any adverse reactions in my time using it, 3) I have seen consistent, visible results, and 4) I can confidently recommend the product to clients and friends.  There are two tried and true products that have proven effective time and time again. As an added bonus, I have found them to be suitable for the majority of skin types and concerns!

I simply love PCA Hydrating Serum ($86.00).  It’s extremely efficacious!  It provides instant hydration without heaviness or leaving an oily residue. It is absorbed quickly and a little goes a long way. Since it is a serum, your specialized treatments or sun protection can be layered over it. I usually use another moisturizer over this at night, but during the day a slightly hydrating sunscreen is adequate. It’s magic in a bottle, especially for skin that may be a little sensitized and dry from over use of harsher products. It’s also ideal for those who stay away from moisturizers in fear of breaking out or looking too oily. PCA Hydrating Serum contains Sodium Hyaluronate, which is a form of Hyaluronic acid. It has exceptional hydrating qualities, holding up to a 1,000 times its weight in water.  According to PCA Skin, the key ingredients are:  Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Glycerin
Sodium Hyaluronate, Pro-Vitamin B-5, Sodium PCA, Niacinamide, and Urea.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Face Peel ($78.00) are daily wipes that are a no-hassle way to exfoliate and keep skin glowing. They are a must have for multiple reasons, if not for convenience alone. I see a noticeable brightness and smoothness in my skin after immediate use, and with consistent use, less blackheads, breakouts, and hyper-pigmentation (dark spots). A quick look at the ingredient list shows a combination of several acids proven to brighten, exfoliate, and hydrate. Glycolic acid loosens and removes dead skin cells, revealing brighter and smoother skin. Salicylic Acid penetrates oil-filled pores and exfoliates the dead skin cells that are clogging the pore, making it beneficial for those suffering from acne. Lactic acid is hydrating and also helps to reduce hyper-pigmentation. That being said, I can exfoliate, treat blackheads and breakouts, stave off fine lines, and brighten my skin in two easy steps! A product that covers that many bases and is still gentle enough for regular use, earns a definite place on my must-have list!

Saturday, December 10th, 2011

By Edith (Edie) Bryan, Nail Care Expert

Edie is 27-years old and hails from the beautiful country that is Wales, in the UK. She’s an esthetician and has been trained in all aspects of beauty, from waxing to skincare, but she specializes in nails. She discovered her talent for nails at 17 and worked as a junior technician. In 2005, she started her own business running a nail salon in her home town. She found creating beautiful nails was the perfect way to combine her natural creativity and her obsession with fashion and beauty into one. Check out her blog Touch Beauty and follow her on Twitter!


3 Holiday Nail Designs to Try

There is no better time of year to really have some fun with nail art, or try out some bold glitter colours in your manicure. There are many ways to achieve gorgeous and unique nail designs – nail stamping or decals are ideal for anyone who isn’t confident creating fiddly freehand designs, and nail art brushes and paints are inexpensive for anyone who wants to try their hand at painting their own nail art. A good base coat, such as Orly Bonder ($7.49) is essential for keeping your design chip free through all the partying, and I recommend Seche Vite ($7.99 ) as a nail art sealant, because of its thick viscosity and fantastic glossy finish.

Snowflake Nails

A bold base color of bright red really makes these little snowflake designs pop. I used Revlon Red ($5.00), with a touch of Barry M Red Glitter (£2.99) at the tips, and then I drew the snowflakes and dots on with white acrylic paint. The design was sealed in with a thick layer of Seche Vite top coat.  Lastly, I added some tiny Swarovski crystals to add sparkle to the design.

Sparkly Star Party Nails

The pictures really do not capture the full effect of these ultra-dazzling party nails!  Perfect for any holiday season event, they’re ideal to coordinate with a slinky little black dress, because this design is so simple to create. Two coats of Nail Girls Silver #3 (£10.50) creates the base colour with black acrylic paint sponged onto the tips or base of the nail. I used Barry M Silver Glitter Effects (£3.99 ) to blend the black and silver together, and then added some silver star shaped nail decals. Seche Vite was used to seal in the design, and a few black and silver Swarovski crystals, create another sparkle effect on the top.

Holly and Candy Cane Nails

This is a more traditional Christmas-themed design but is still just so cute and fun! I alternated the colour on each finger using OPI Warm and Fozzie ($8.40) and Nail Girls Red #6 (£10.50) with a tiny bit of Barry M Red Glitter (£2.99) for extra sparkle. The holly and candy cane designs were painted on freehand with acrylic paints and sealed with Seche Vite top coat.

Check out more photos!  Continue reading →

Friday, December 9th, 2011

By Caitlin, Fragrance Contributor

Caitlin recently completed her master’s degree in British Literature at St. Andrews in Scotland. She’s just moved back to the U.S., currently residing in Pennsylvania, and now works for a local non-profit. She studed French during her undergraduate years and even lived in Paris for a years. She loves traveling, but now that she has to hold down a “real job” now, she travels by way of new perfumes. She says fragrance has a way of transporting you to a new place, which is one of the reasons she loves perfume! You can follow her on Twitter!


3 Must-Have Fall Fragrances

Autumn is in full-swing and, even though we still get plenty of sunlight during the day, there’s a palpable cooler edge to everything that has me craving fragrances with more warmth and depth. At this time of year, I want something I can cozy up to and wrap around myself. Here are a few of my Fall favorites from niche brands:

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two ($145.00): This fragrance starts out with a smoky, earthy kick that smells exactly like jumping into a pile of leaves. When the honey note appears things balance things out and you get the sensation of drinking sweetened black tea. Tea for Two gradually becomes more restrained until you get the feeling that you’re sitting next to a fireplace drinking milky Earl Grey and snacking on ginger snaps. This fragrance is cozy but sophisticated. You’re not curled up in your PJs with a mug, rather you’re wearing a smoking jacket and sipping politely out of a china teacup.

Diptyque Eau Duelle ($88.00): Diptyque is better known for their gorgeous scented candles, but their line of fragrances is equally well-appointed. Eau Duelle or ‘duality of water’ interlaces vanilla with cold peppery spices and warm frankincense. It opens with a burst of peppercorn and black tea. There are two types of vanilla here: bourbon and firnat, but they play shy and do not emerge right away. The vanilla reveals itself about an hour into wear-time, as the incense note takes on a different texture and changes from aromatic to creamy and substantial. The dry-down contains both powdery sweetness (that’s the firnat) and boozy syrup (that’s the bourbon!) but this fragrance never becomes overly sweet thanks to lingering hints of spicy peppercorn.

Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac ($95.00):  True to its name, this fragrance opens with a strong waft of smoky tobacco but, don’t worry, this is not your grandfather’s tobacco pipe. The official Miller Harris description for this scent mentions Parisian brasseries and that’s exactly what this tobacco note evokes. Feuilles de Tabac will take you to a brasserie on the Left Bank where you’re sipping a café au lait (or some French wine!) while the scent of clove cigarettes hovers in the air. The pine needle note here balances out the smoke and shows that it is possible to do a fresh smelling tobacco scent. Feuilles de Tabac is a skin scent, meaning people will have to get close to notice this but, on some occasions, that intimacy may be exactly what you want!