Tag Archives: benefit cosmetics

beauty buzz: sizzling summer essentials

when the temperature climbs, my normally fastidious skin care and makeup routines go right out the window, along with every ounce of patience in my being.  i’m forced to pare down to basics, because i just can’t stand being cooped up in a steamy bathroom for any longer than absolutely necessary. so, i thought i’d take a moment and share my current shortcut routine for summer.

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okay…well, that photo doesn’t really look like a shortcut, does it?  but trust me.  compared to the time i’m willing to spend when the weather’s cold, i’m downright neglectful of my face this time of year…when, arguably, it needs my help most!  fortunately, my shortcuts seem to keep my skin as happy as can be expected in this heat.

for face care, this year i’m hopelessly devoted to skyn iceland’s glacial cleansing cloths and that olay pro-x system i told you about last week.  and i’m still head over heels with skyn iceland’s SPF moisturizer for day – that tingly cooling sensation seriously lasts for hours. it’s the only thing that gets me through some of my mornings without a/c! i honestly wish all of my products came with the same chilly goodness.  (note to self: must start storing eye cream in freezer.)  on real scorchers, i top it off with clarins uv plus SPF 40…a fair-faced girl can’t be too careful, and this stuff sinks in beautifully, leaving no trace of oil.

as for makeup, my recent discovery of armani beauty‘s newest products simply couldn’t have come at a better time. i start with my old reliable, benefit’s lemon-aid (or my new, higher-maintenance love, laura mercier’s undercover pot, but we’ll talk more about that later).  from then on, it’s all armani for me this summer.  their face fabric ($48) is the lightest foundation i’ve ever tried.  the texture is incredible – it virtually disappears the moment you put it on, is perfectly mattifying, and truly doesn’t budge all day.  their soft lash mascara ($28) is utterly foolproof, curls lashes without forcing me to break out the lash curler, and doesn’t make your lashes feel like deadly weapons.  add a touch of their unbelievably cute “eyes to kill” eyeshadow palettes ($59) (i especially love the bronze coral set for summer, on just about any skin tone), and you’re basically done.  it works as a liner and highlighter (if i have that kind of energy), with perfectly pre-selected shades i don’t even have to think about.  i top it all of with my new favorite cheap beauty thrill: carmex’s new moisture plus.  $3 at your neighborhood walgreens, and seriously, it’s now all i’ll use. burt’s bees doesn’t live here any more!

when it comes to hair, i’m looking for something seriously simple – i want as little to do with my hairdryer in july as humanly possible.  i’ve told you before about wonders of living proof’s “no frizz”, and especially in summer, it’s a life-saver when i just can’t bear the thought of styling. plus, their new refinishing spray gives me at least an extra day’s life from my blow-dried styles, and works so much better on my perpetually dry hair than dry shampoos that are supposed to give the same benefits.

last but not least, i know this might not seem like a beauty essential, but it truly is.  while i’m horrible about getting my 8 glasses during the rest of the year, i’m like a camel in fill mode when the weather gets hot – i can’t leave a table without downing 4 glasses of water.  thankfully, i discovered this sweet little PUR built-in water filter when we moved (great new house, ancient fridge).  it was only about $45, a bargain i wasn’t expecting, and it was insanely easy to install. it’s been running nonstop in my house ever since, and saving me from my water snobbery (before this, i was about to resort to buying fiji water by the case!).  all that h20 has definitely been saving my skin this summer…my face doesn’t need nearly as much moisturizer when i’m hydrated, which means less to sweat off later in the day.  definitley a win/win.

so, now i’m wondering…other than a staffer feeding you frozen grapes poolside, what are your summer beauty must-haves?

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beauty buzz: reconsidering coral

when i first saw coral cosmetics hit the runways for the spring 2010 fashion shows, i cringed.  coral has always conjured images of old lady lipstick…something you’d only wear if you were over 80 and color-blind.  frightening, i know.  and when you add the fact that my complexion is impossibly pink, thereby automatically clashing with any and all members of the coral family, you’ll understand my skepticism.

but then a pot of the newest velvet eyeshadow shade from benefit magically appeared in my mailbox – in a shade called “nice melons”. (sometimes, i swear, i buy benefit products just for the names…)  i was still scared, but since it was already here, i swapped it out one morning for my usual bland pale pink.  turns out, this extremely light shade is actually pretty gorgeous on – it gives a touch of color, but is still light, sweet and perfect for spring.  and it happens to do lovely things for green eyes (i’m guessing brown would look pretty amazing too).

now that i’d seen the light, i ventured a bit further – bobbi brown released a whole new collection of “cabana corals” for spring, and i couldn’t resist checking them out.  most of the lip shades were still a little too, well, coral, for my pale skin.  but if you happen to have anything resembling a tan, or are just blessed with lovely dark skin, these corals were definitely not of the old-lady variety.  my favorite is the nectar shimmer brick (i’m an utterly devoted fan of bobbi’s shimmer bricks) – it’s going to look seriously amazing topping a little bronzer action this summer.  i can hardly wait!

what do you think?  will you be venturing into the coral trend when the weather warms up?

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for the beauty counter addict (and a few thoughts on “gift sets”)

editor’s note: excellent news!  the celebutante set is back in stock at benefit’s website…turns out they located a few extras.  grab yours while you can!

to be honest, it’s only been in the last year or so that i’ve really seen the wisdom of the beauty gift set for holiday giving.  i was never a huge fan of it, but lo and behold, when i actually started *giving* beauty sets to my near and dear – each and every gift, to my complete shock, was a huge hit!  my theory is that, since many of us don’t indulge in the really splurge-worthy beauty goodies during the year, a little dose of luxury is incredibly welcome at the holidays.

that said, i have a couple of useful beauty giving guidelines:  i still stay far away from perfume gift sets.  fragrance is a tricky thing to gift, and just because your near and dear loves a perfume doesn’t mean she wants a lotion, body wash and candle to match.  second, look for variety in the contents – no sets of 10 lipsticks or 40 colors of eyeshadow in one palette.  mix it up, give them lots of new things to try…they’ll love you for it.

i’ll be showing off a few of my favorite beauty gifts this week, but can’t resist starting with the cutest ones i’ve seen all year.  i’m inclined to send these sweet little sets from benefit to each and every one of my girlfriends – they’re perfect for friends, for a holiday stocking, and perfect for a teenage girl (no eyeliner or heavy lip shades to abuse):

the celebutante set is my absolute favorite, but sadly sold out literally everywhere online – you’re going to have to venture mall-side to find them (sorry about that).  i did spot a few at my local sephora recently, and it’s also worth checking macy’s.  for $34, you get sample sizes of just about all of my fave benefit products: high beam, benetint, lip gloss, two lipsticks, two eyeshadows (all in beautiful, useful neutrals), dallas face bronzer, annd brushes to match. plus, it all comes in that darling (and highly travel-friendly) box.

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i’m always dying to test out benefit’s latest magical face powder, but it’s so hard to choose which one to try!  if you have friends that are the same way, snap up a box of powderazzi this holiday, and their dilemma is solved.  you get coralista (a gorgeous, warming sheer blush), hoola (a fabulous matte bronzer) and dallas (a perfect blush/bronzer hybrid), plus their fab powder brush, all for $30!  you do have to buy it from hsn.com, but it’s a small price to pay (ha!…sorry, couldn’t resist).

oh, and yep, i got samples of these…so i can tell you exactly how cute these little sets really are.  trust me, you can’t go wrong.

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random friday (poolside) finds

i’m still wishing for a little poolside lounge action, so i’ll dedicate today’s random finds to the rest of my beach bag essentials.  it is, definitely, a random collection of goods, but all are utterly essential to a successful day of absolutely nothing.

sunscreen: my sunscreen needs are well-documented…this summer, i have hardly left the house without dousing every exposed surface with clinique’s new sun spf25 body spray. it doesn’t smell sunscreen-y, works for hours, and doesn’t upset my overly sensitive skin (unlike most drugstore brands, which tend to cause all sorts of skin problems in my life).  plus, it’s easy and mess-free to reapply. what more can i ask for (other than perfect, non-burning olive skin)?

stylish straw hat:  sure, it’s for sun-shielding…but also, i just think a big straw hat is a must for completing that chic poolside look.  mine happens to be from j.crew, but i’m highly coveting this straw visor from le train bleu.  i had some misgivings at first, but i’ve decided this has such sweet styling that the visor aspect just makes it fun, and my sources tell me it packs like a dream (the sitewide 40% off sale this week doesn’t hurt – use code dogdays).  of course, if you’re more into hipster than chic, i’d go for the fedora (best if you have a narrow face, by the way), which is all the rage this year. don’t overspend, though…this version at urban outfitters is less traditional, but utterly fab.

post-plunge cosmetics:  there isn’t much to be done, it’s true. but even if i’m skipping nearly everything, and bronzer’s utterly unnecessary after a day in the sun, i’ll still grab my always perfectly rosy, never sticky benetint lip balm and my new beachfront favorite high impact curling mascara from clinique.  it doens’t quite do the job of my shu uemura curler, but in a pinch, it does give a bit more curl than other formulas.  it definitely packs more punch than my daily standby, which is what i’m looking for when there’s no other makeup involved. and it won’t turn into raccoon eyes, even when you’re awash in chlorine and sunscreen.

h2o:  if i don’t carry water with me at all times, i’m hardly coherent. i read about kor water’s stylish new bottles in gwyneth paltrow’s newsletter (go ahead, mock…she entertains me), and had to give them a try. love! they hold a ton, ice cubes are no problem, and the lid stays attached without hitting me in the nose when i drink – in fact, i can even open the lid one-handed when necessary. pure water bottle genius, if you ask me…and they even have motivational messages in the cap.  i can hardly believe i’d suggest a $30 water bottle, but these ones really are fab.  in fact, i may need a second one soon – the hubs keeps stealing mine!

and with that, i’m off to take an ice-cold shower and dream of being somewhere much more fabulous.  happy virtual vacationing, everyone…see you next week!

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beauty buzz: crescent row fragrances from benefit

ed. note: don’t miss out on this week’s amazing giveaway…enter here!

i might just be the pickiest person alive when it comes to fragrance, especially complex blends.  i’m that girl that gets annoyed if someone’s wearing strong perfume, and i’m also the girl that breaks out in a migraine for no reason in particular if i sniff the wrong scent – especially florals.  in real life, i stick to really basic, one-note fragrances, and that’s that.  so, for me to be really thrilled with an entire line of perfumes?  about as rare as a shopping ban.


first, i fully admit that i was lured in by the lovely packaging of benefit’s new line of fragrances, crescent row.  the samples arrived in the cutest little box designed to look like a row of georgian townhomes, with a door that opened to reveal each fragrance.  too cute, right?  it doesn’t stop there:  the full size bottles are packaged in little mini martini shakers!

fortunately, i won’t have to buy for packaging alone – each of the scents is actually pretty wonderful.

i knew right away i wouldn’t like the woody floral scent “lee lee”.  i mean, i like neither floral nor woody scents.  but wait…the top notes in the blend – cassis and citrus – are mellowing out the violet and lily scents, and the amber bottom notes are so subtle they just sort of make everything fit.  next, i tried the oriental floral “sofia”.  this one is definitely the sweetest of the three scents, but i love the contrast of the vanilla and caramel notes with the more serious musk.  and the florals are so light that they just kind of blend into the background, keeping the other scents in check.

at this point, i’m sneezing up a storm, but unwilling to give up on my testing.  after all, i owe it to you guys, right?  because last but not least is “gina”,  and it’s a tough call, but i think this is the one i’m destined for.  right away, i love the balance of the pink peppercorn and the tangerine, but weirdly enough, it’s the musky patchouli (of all things!) mixing with the vanilla to create this sort of sexy, semi-musk fragrance that has me sniffing my wrist uncontrollably.

whichever one you fall for, the whole collection just launched at benefit.  so grab the girl of your dreams (at $36 each, you might even be able to grab two), and hit the town!

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beauty buzz: the flawless face


i’ve never been a big fan of foundation – or, for any matter, any cosmetic that adds a new step to my morning routine.  i’m pretty lazy before 8 am.  but lately, it’s become clear that maybe it’s time to put aside my bias.  and so, i set out to find a few options that made enough of a difference that it was worth the extra effort.

my first stop was laura mercier, whose tinted moisturizer is the stuff of beauty legends.  i had a hard time believing it could live up to expectations, but i was dying to find out.  so, i tested each of three formulas:  original, illuminating and oil-free.  the original version was good, and gave a decent amount of coverage, but i’ll admit, i wasn’t hearing violins and seeing rainbows (yes, my standard are unreasonably high – is this news?), so i moved on.  i wasn’t a huge fan of the oil-free – the product just didn’t blend the way i wanted it to – but that could have been because i wasn’t a great match for any of the colors.  but the illuminating!  violin city!  when i applied it, i honestly thought it was maybe a little too high on the shimmer (i’ve since been told by the laura mercier authorities that mixing it with your daily moisturizer alleviates that problem).  but during my testing, i had people i barely knew asking if i’d been on vacation recently, commenting on the glow my skin had, and generally telling me i looked awesome.  which is, after all, the point, right?  sadly, both the original and that amazing illuminating moisturizer caused my overly particular skin to rebel via acne, and so i was forced to abandon ship.

but, i was not about to give up!  i called my fabulous friends over at benefit to see what they had that would fit the bill, and they instantly exclaimed they had just the thing. perfect!  and before i knew it, i was testing their latest powder foundation, “hello flawless.”  now, because my skin tends toward the dramatically dry, powder foundations tend to be an awful idea – they make my skin look drier, they settle into wrinkles…it’s bad.  but “hello flawless” did an amazing job of gliding over my skin, making it generally more even-toned and clean-looking, without any of the aforementioned side effects.  in short, i looked pretty awesome!  plus, the coverage is designed to be layered – so i used a brush to get light coverage all over, and then applied with a sponge to areas that needed a bit more TLC.  it worked perfectly, and i haven’t needed a drop of concealer since i started using it.  i have, however, needed blush and/or bronzer – the coverage is very matte and uniform, so unlike with the laura mercier, you have to put a little dimension back into your skin.

so, the results of this exhaustive testing?  if you’re not terribly acne-prone and/or have a pretty good handle on your skin’s moisture balance, laura mercier’s tinted moisturizers are most definitely the way to go – particularly the illuminating formula.  and for the more sensitive among us, benefit’s “hello flawless” is the miracle cure du jour.  plus, both provide SPF, so they’re perfect for summer.

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the annual “best of” list

every year when i get out my (completely lovely) new calendar, i love to think back through my year of retail and consider what really ended up being the best and worst purchases of the year.  the worst are harder to remember…they tend to fade into the recesses of my mind.  but the best are always there, right up front and easy to spot.  so, here’s my list of the best fashion & beauty investments i made in 2008.

loeffler randall matilde boots:  finally having these beauties in my clutches has changed my winter wear life forever.  i used to loathe the turn of seasons, because i’d be forced to either freeze in flats or resort to less dignified footwear.  but with these beautiful boots in my closet, i don’t mind a bit that the weather’s turned cold.  i scored them in this gorgeous olive color, but my first love was this amazing elephant shade (now on sale for under $500, by the way!).  both are perfect with just about anything, and so much more interesting than brown or black.

epice scarf:  i bought this as a christmas gift to myself from my dear mom back in october, and can’t tell you the degree of self-control it took to keep it in the box until the holiday arrived.  these scarves are actual works of art – i love everything about them, and am merely counting the days until i score a second.

gorjana sand coin necklace:  this necklace has hardly left my neck since it arrived – i love it so.  i wear it doubled, or layered long with a shorter necklace…the options are endless and the compliments are boundless.

benefit creaseless cream shadows:  i was always so skeptical of cream shadows, but really and truly, i haven’t touched a powder shadow since these arrived.  every color is gorgeous (though birthday suit is my personal fave), they apply flawlessly, provide a very adult degree of shimmer, and wear all day with ease.  definitely a star purchase at under $20.

barex intensive care hair mask:  i haven’t had a chance to tell you much about this italian hair care line, though i am fast learning to adore it and its 3-ounce bottles for travel.  but it’s the intensive care mask that has saved my life this year.  when i first moved to the rainy northwest, my hair objected staunchly…and voiced its objection with frizz, dryness, and countless other complaints.  this mask has soothed my hair’s temper considerably, and i am pleased to announce that my locks no longer frighten small children when i pass by.

clarins brightening day lotion:  this line has probably changed my skin more than any other this year, and i swear by it to all who will listen.  my skin borders on impossible – dry, unbelievably sensitive, and prone to hive and rash outbreaks with any change in routine.  but this brightening lotion keeps it happy and healthy, and even makes makeup-free days a possibility.  my only sorrow is that my supply has nearly run out – but this is one i’ll definitely be restocking.

so, what about you?  what were your best purchases in ’08??


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what i’m giving today: on the cheap!

that’s right – today’s guide is for the last-minute, budget-conscious shoppers among us.  whether you’re in desperate need of stocking stuffers, hanukkah gifts or just a quick, thoughtful idea that will preserve your credit balances, here are a few of my favorite ideas:

gifts from benefit cosmetics are such an easy, no-fail option for any girl on your list…and the price is always right.  plus, you can score free overnight shipping with code LASTGIFT, so you’ll have these in plenty of time.  i’m thoroughly addicted to their itty-bitty creaseless cream shadows ($19) – you truly can’t go wrong with any color, and these apply and last better than any i’ve tried.  but my personal favorite is their 24K sexy gold set, which is absolutely perfect for a new year’s eve date – the set includes a gorgeous gold lipstick, a light shimmer powder and a cute little gold clutch…all for $32 at your friendly neighborhood sephora.

olio united is one of my favorite local stores, and they happen to be offering free overnight shipping as well, so i can’t help sharing a little love.  if you didn’t buy anyone a set of TOMS from when we talked about them a while ago, consider a one-of-a-kind, handpainted pair designed by fab artists like amy ruppel and jill bliss.  all are marked down from $125 to $55, so for about the same price as a standard pair, you can score a pair that’s a work of art.  i also love these amazing little laser cut earrings ($15) made of the coolest foam matboard material, and don’t even get me started on their gorgeous notebooks and other paper goods – all perfect, creative last-minute gifts!

reusable shopping bags are all the rage right now, and these from rume are some of the prettiest and most functional i’ve seen.  each can be folded up and secured with a velcro strap, and the set of three can also be secured together with velcro.  plus, they’re stylish enough that i’ve taken to stowing one in my purse at all times for impulse buys.  tip:  these are also great to protect your designer handbag from sudden inclement weather.  order today, use code “holiday” and they’ll guarantee 12/24 arrival.  they run $30 for three, and i’m not at all above splitting up a set to give one to three different people!

and, when all else fails, my no-fail sources for last-minute gifts are old-school…everyone loves a retro classic.  so, i inevitably head to williams-sonoma and restoration hardware.  pick up an old-fashioned toy for the child in all of us at restoration hardware, or grab one of a dozen different overpriced-but-delicious treats at williams-sonoma.  who could say no to a canister of amazing hot chocolate (which also happens to make amazing fudge) or a wooly willy game?

happy procrastination shopping, everyone…we’re nearly done!

update:  for even more, quite possibly better ideas, check out the fantastic stocking stuffer gift guide from my lovely friends over at orangebeautiful!

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