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  • b-glowing20% off skincare orders of $60+ with code 20SKINCARE, ends 10/25.
  • Macy's50% off Tarte Tarteist PRO Glow Highlight & Contour Palette (now $22.50), ends 10/21.
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Video Review: MAC for Gareth Pugh Collection First Impression & Swatches

Video Review: MAC for Gareth Pugh Collection First Impression & Swatches

Still waiting for those freakin’ eyeshadows! Last time I called my local store, they were speculating that customs was holding it up, but I have no idea what’s going on. Nonetheless, here are all the other products minus the beauty powder, which I’ll be reviewing soon!

Did you snag anything from this launch? I’d love to know!

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The Importance of Moisture for Hair

By Marla, Hair Care Contributor

Marla is based in Atlanta, Georiga. Having been on a healthy hair journey for the past few years, she has learned the ins and outs of hair care through research, product sampling, and trial and error. Marla is a recent graduate of Emory University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology and minor in English. Her interests include spending time with family and friends, reading, volunteering, the arts, and cooking and baking. Since her family is originally from Ghana, West Africa, she hopes to take a much needed vacation to visit for the first time soon. And while in the midst of applying to medical school and working as a freelance writer, she is a beauty and fashion lover – simple, feminine, and sophisticated aesthetics – who won’t leave home without a good lip balm and mascara. Marla is also a writer for the beauty and fashion forums on AskMissA.com, an online women’s magazine where “charity meets style.”


Photo by Dionysius Burton

The Importance of Moisture for Hair

The difference between healthy hair and not-so-healthy hair can be as simple as moisture retention. All hair types, especially curly/coily/kinky textures, thrive off moisture. Without it, hair won’t only experience dryness, brittleness, and dullness, it also becomes highly susceptible to one of the most dreaded hair-related problems of all: breakage. If retaining hair moisture has been difficult for you, there are a few things to look out for (and even more to stay far far away from).

The #1 hair care moisture product of all time is none other than water. Just like the rest of your body, hair constantly needs water as it helps to maintain its elasticity, softness, natural shine, and strength. So after shampooing, which can be drying, following up with a moisturizing conditioner and a leave-in can help your hair retain the water it needs. So how do you know what’s good? The ingredients list is a reliable source. Water-based products are the way to go. If water is listed as the first ingredient, that’s a good sign. Moisturizing extracts and humectants – aloe vera, glycerin, sorbitol and other sugars, and more – can act to attract moisture from the air, further helping to retain moisture.

As for the rest of the ingredients found in moisturizers, it’s much easier to note what you don’t want to find on the list: petroleum jelly, mineral oil, and lanolin. Petrolatum- or mineral oil-based products are not your friends when it comes to moisture retention. While they do seal moisture in after the initial wash, they also prevent any more moisture from entering by coating the hair shaft. Lanolin, aka wool wax, has similar effects. Some more no-nos are silicones, sulfates, and certain alcohols. Silicones can coat hair which leads to build up, which leads to dullness, which leads to using harsh shampoos to remove it, which leads to a never-ending hair horror cycle. You get my point. And the last thing you want to do is use a shampoo with harsh sulfates that can further strip the hair of what little moisture it may have. As for alcohols, some of them can be very drying as well.

I know. I’ve named just about every ingredient found in all hair care products and there’s nothing left to use. Not quite. I’m merely pointing out common ingredients that have been known to cause hair trouble. At the end of the day, what may work wonders on your hair may be the nemesis of another’s. The best thing to do is to “listen” to your hair. If it’s constantly screaming “I’m thirsty!” or it’s breaking off at the ends as fast as (or even faster than) it’s growing at the roots, it could be time to go product hunting. Take a look at your current hair care products; see where on the list the not-so-great ingredients show up (if at all). If any are listed first or second, and dryness has been a problem, that product probably isn’t a keeper.

A promising “cheap” conditioner line for everyday use or conditioner washes (co-washes) is Suave Naturals ($3.49). Not only is water listed as its first ingredient, it’s pH balanced – less frizzies and more shine! Also pH balanced, Giovanni 50:50 Hydrating-Calming Conditioner ($7.99) works to replenish moisture in dry to normal hair.

As for leave-in conditioners, I’ve been as faithful to Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship Leave-In Split End Protector ($3.99) as it’s been to me. Perfect product line name. On top of moisturizing hair, it leaves great slip for easy combing on wet hair. For curly heads, Kinky Curly Knot Today ($12.00) is a natural leave-in detangler. As a girl with every kind of curly in her head, I know the value of a good detangler.

Tips on Avoiding Dryness

  1. Wash your hair with cold water. It closes the cuticle allowing water to stay in and dirt to stay out. Closed cuticles leave hair shinier, too.
  2. Like water-based products, pH optimized products (pH of 3.5-6) add elasticity and shine. They also help in detangling and maintaining moisture/protein balance.
  3. Always follow a shampoo with a conditioner. Shampoos (especially those with sulfates) can be very drying, but conditioners help to add moisture back. If dryness continues to be an issue, consider washing with shampoo less often or doing co-washes (just washing with conditioner) more often.
  4. Spritzing daily with rose water or water mixed with aloe vera juice (for optimal pH) and then sealing with a little hair oil (no mineral oil!) can add much needed moisture to dry hair.
  5. No heat (or at least minimize your usage).

How do your current conditioners) and leave-ins fair–any no-no ingredients? What moisturizing products are working for you?

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Guerlain Coque d’Or (120) Rouge Automatique

Guerlain Coque d'Or (120) Rouge Automatique
Guerlain Coque d’Or (120) Rouge Automatique

Guerlain Coque d’Or (120) Rouge Automatique

Guerlain Coque d’Or (120) Rouge Automatique ($35.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a vibrant coral-red with gold and copper micro-shimmer. It’s mostly opaque on lips, but you can see my lip freckle peeking through–from afar, it appears more opaque. I can see this working really well in the summer–so good thing this is part of the permanent range.  This particular formula is supposed to be semi-opaque to opaque in color, so Coque d’Or is right on target.

CoverGirl Enthrall is more like a red-orange (at best, orange-coral). MAC Hibiscus is more of an orange-coral (but not red like Enthrall). Guerlain Bal de Mai is almost like a more muted version of this, actually! Chanel Flamboyante is not as dark and doesn’t have the gold shimmer, but the color is similar. MAC Rose Maiden has a frostier finish and isn’t as dark, but it is also similar.

Rouge Automatique is very comparable to the Rouge G formula, and the differences are minute, though they are there. This is an excellent formula regardless of that comparison, though, because it’s creamy enough to glide on but not so creamy that the color slips around, comfortable to wear for the six hours this shade wears, and keeps lips feeling hydrated, too.  For more packaging photos, please see this post.

Estee Lauder Cyber Green Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadow

Estee Lauder Cyber Green Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadow
Estee Lauder Cyber Green Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadow

Estee Lauder Cyber Green Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadow

Estee Lauder Cyber Green Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadow ($24.00 for 0.03 oz.) is a deep, dark blackened-brown olive green with forest green and olive green micro-shimmer. It’s blacker and sootier when it’s applied dry, and it takes on a more metallic finish with a stronger green tone when it is applied wet. The pigmentation is good dry but great wet. I couldn’t think of a dupe for it–it’s really, really dark but not quite black. Milani Melange is the closest, but it is is more like a blackened-brown with gold shimmer, rather than green. Always a bonus when I can’t think of a dupe!

Estee Lauder’s new Pure Color Gelee Powder Eyeshadows are a highly metallic eyeshadow that fan be used wet or dry. It’s a “tri-blend” formula that’s gel, powder, and liquid all-in-one. It’s also supposed to be high in pigmentation, blend easily, and long-lasting without fading. The powder is soft, almost powdery, and feels very, very dry in a way. Like some eyeshadows are soft and buttery and more like a cream (but still a powder), but this feels almost dry, even though it’s not stiff or chalky. The texture is definitely interesting–it reminded me of baked/mineralize eyeshadows, actually, except super compacted.

I find it’s a little powdery when it’s used dry, so I prefer to use it wet to minimize fall out (if you use it dry, make sure to tap your brush handle against your fore arm to loosen excess powder). I’ve used it both ways, though, without a primer, and the results have been good. I find it wears dry for six hours well, but it looks a bit faded by eight hours. When I wore it wet (again, without primer or a base!), it lasted longer–eight hours and then some subtle fading after ten hours.

Though these are listed as 0.03 oz. a pop, it doesn’t seem that small in the pan. It seems about the same as your average eyeshadow or slightly bigger. You don’t need a lot of product to achieve opaque color either, so I wouldn’t be overly concerned with it running out quickly.

See more photos & swatches!

Traveling Must-Haves by a World Traveler

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!