Tag Archives: origins

beauty buzz: the best sunscreens for your summer fun

It’s that time, friends: brace yourselves for my annual lecture about sunscreen. I know, it’s all very “After-School Special” of me. But truly, more than anything else you can do for yourself, SPF will save you from nearly everything that’s awful about aging. Wrinkles, rosacea, age spots, moles, freckles, you name it. Not to mention skin cancer, which is no laughing matter. And while I firmly, no exceptions, believe it’s a 365-days-a-year necessity, summer is when I get particularly militant about the whole thing. Because hey, we’re not kids any more. And that dewy complexion that used to bounce back from any kind of abuse needs a bit more TLC than it used to.

The problem is that sunscreen isn’t sexy. It doesn’t always smell great, can cause breakouts (or rashes on those of us with sensitive skin), and no one ever applies enough. Some formulas are greasy, some are chalky, and it takes ages of trial and error to find one to love. But friends, I’m here for you. I’ve done the trial-and-error, I’ve suffered the breakouts, and I’m here to deliver a list of my all-time favorites, the best sunscreens for summer. Read on

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beauty buzz: lazy day routine

You know those times in life when things are so harried that you just don’t have a single ounce of energy left in your bones to deal with a beauty routine? I’m in one of those phases, friends. And yet, there’s no denying my looks need some energy spent on them. I’m past the point in my life when I can just rush out of the door, fresh-faced and damp hair, and trust that all will be well. (Boy, you don’t realize how much you’ll miss those days until they’re gone. College self, you really should have appreciated that more.)

On the days that a full-blown foundation/cheeks/liner/lips/blowdry/flat iron routine seems, well, roughly on par with scaling Kilimanjaro, I’ve found myself relying on a few grab-and-go goodies that are making my life infinitely easier.

Read on

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get gifting: at the spa

Welcome to Gift Guide Season at SMC! For the next week (or so), we’ll have dozens of ideas for every last impossible-to-buy-for person on your holiday list. By the time we’re done, you’ll have made that list, checked it twice, and settled in for a long winter’s nap. Enjoy!

For most of the girls who’ll lust after this list, their holiday fantasy is a Sephora shopping spree. To make sure you deliver the perfect find, I’ve done months of exhaustive testing and culled the best of the best from the legion of holiday gift sets you’ll see this season. The result? My favorite beauty gift guide yet. Those Stila lip glazes are just the thing for your gloss-addicted friend, the Origins set is perfect for the boho glam girl on your list, and really, does Bobbi Brown ever get it wrong?

As for me, I’d be happy to curl up in those unbelievably soft Eberjey pajamas, snuggle into those limited-edition leopard UGG slippers and call it a night.

Read on

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beauty buzz: the great mascara debate

{editor’s note: an almost entirely photo-less post…how boring!  but really, how many photos of mascara tubes and eyelashes covered with mascara do you really want/need to see?}

is there anything that inspires more trauma than the words “they’ve discontinued my mascara!”?  not at my house.  after years of faithfully buying neutrogena’s clean lash tint, it’s just vanished from the planet, and i find myself utterly heartbroken.

after an acceptable mourning period, i realized i was going to have to dry my mascara-laden tears and find a new love…and fast.  and so, i started requesting samples (membership has its privileges).  but if i was going to risk heartbreak again, it was going to have to be perfect.  like any red-blooded woman without real problems in life, i have a long list of “musts” for my mascara.  it must go on smoothly, with absolutely no clumping or spider lashes.  it must coat lightly, without really looking or feeling like i’m wearing anything – i’m not a person looking to double my length, triple my volume, or “million-ize” anything.  i just want my lashes to stand out a bit.  last, it must come off at night with little to no additional effort on my part. because i am lazy.

dear readers, i now sit here typing before you with a bag filled (filled!) with mascaras.  the good news?  i’ve found a new love, baby.  and a couple of backups, just in case this new mascara cancels our saturday night plans at the last minute.

but first, should i tell you about the ones that failed?  naturally.  this shall not be an exhaustive list, as we’d be here all day.  but a few highlights are definitely in order.

giorgio armani’s soft lash mascara (which i now can’t find in any color) was my hands-down favorite for a month, until my overly sensitive eyes took something it did personally.  now, i can’t use it…which is an utter shame.  in fact, i finally had to throw it away, because even having it near me when i apply others is too tempting…it’s that lovely.  if you have normal sensitivity levels, i can’t recommend it highly enough.

benefit’s bad gal lash, with it’s bigger-than-life brush, came next.  sadly, it was much more mascara than i was looking for:  too clumpy, too clingy, and there was just too much product going onto my lashes with every brush stroke.  plus, it requires some sort of high-level technical equipment to remove.

next, i started playing around in the clinique pile.  spoiler alert: in the end, a clinique option made my top tier list.  but in the beginning, there was lash power.  and oh, how it clumped.  also, they aren’t kidding about 24-hour wear – it’s the mascara equivalent of a stalker ex.  and then there was high lengths, with a brush that scared me a little bit.  weirdly thin, more of a comb than a brush…it just wasn’t meant to be.

and so, i moved on to origins, where i found several good options.  their fringe benefits covered just the way i wanted it to, adding length and the tiniest bit of volume, without a clump in sight.  but removal was tricky, and i was often left with the dreaded mascara ring under my eyes the next morning.

finally, i decided that with all of these high-end picks, i should give a drugstore brand a chance – after all, my lovely old neutrogena hailed from the beauty ghetto.  and so, i called up the lovely ladies of cover girl, who told me that their new lash blast was absolutely what i needed to try.

and that was how, nearly 20 mascaras later, cover girl won my heart.  lash blast fusion, to be precise.  to be clear, i utterly hate the packaging.  it comes in a pudgy purple tube that makes me feel about 13.  but all of those “musts” i mentioned above?  yep, it’s perfect on each and every score.

and my back-up dates?  well, first is origins’ full story lush-lash mascara, which did a marvelous job (in fact, it was the winner until i tried lash blast) but it was just the tiniest bit harder to remove (which is probably actually a bonus to many of you).  as for the version that most closely approximated my old favorite?  that was clinique’s naturally glossy mascara, which does a lovely job of just being a mild, unassuming, foolproof mascara with which you can’t go wrong.

so, i’m curious:  are you, like me, a serial monogamist when it comes to mascara?  or do you sleep around?  what’s your current mascara crush?

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get gifting: the glamazon

for the friend who can’t even be lured away from sephora by the promise of a venti pumpkin spice latte, here’s a list of goodies sure to make their holiday extra special.  i absolutely can’t pick a favorite from this run-down…i’ve tried several times.  but i will say that each and every one of these would be perfect for absolutely any skin tone or type, so you’re guaranteed a virtually error-proof holiday.  especially if you manage to track down that la mer illumating powder. or the bobbi brown eye palette. or the kiehls creme de corps, or the jo malone bath oils, or….oh, there i go.  best to get one of each, i think.  you know, just in case.

Creme De Corps 500ml 0006

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famous favorites

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left to right, from top: la mer illuminating powder (impossible to find online, but still in stores), $95; kiehls creme de corps limited edition by jeff koons, $45; duwop venom gloss candy box, $25; origins famous favorites, $59.50; bobbi brown day to night eye palette, $45; caudalie vinotherapie my spa escape, $34; jo malone bath oil collection, $85; ojon shine & protect winter collection, $39.

{FTC disclaimer: some product samples were provided to help me compile this guide, but as usual, there’s no pay-for-play here.}

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get gifting: on the cheap

happy hanukkah, everyone!  for those of you not frantically rushing around to find a gift before sunset, tonight is the first night of hanukkah.  and so, in honor of the festival of lights, today’s gift guide is full of ideas perfect for friends, loves, and family, but the common thread is that each and every one is under $30…and that’s a list i’m guessing you’ll want no matter what holiday(s) you’re celebrating this year.  because if you thought christmas left you feeling broke, just imagine stringing it out for eight craaaazy nights!

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left to right, from top: angela adams address book and notepad sets (so, so beautiful in person), $14-15; postcarden “season’s greetings” pop-up card, $13; clinique “connect the gloss” interchangeable lip gloss set, $25; cast iron owlet (literally impossible not to love), $18; tocca crema mani viaggio hand cream trio, $18; vosges bacon chocolate chip pancake mix, $12; michelle armas signed antonia 2011 calendar, $30; allo-allo french tea towel, $15; origins “peace of mind” on-the-spot relief (great for men and women – i’m obsessed!), $10; international rescue committee blankets, school supplies or first aid kits, $20-28; happy socks (!), $10; modern madness moustache mug, $14.

{FTC disclaimer: some product samples were provided to help me compile this guide, but as usual, there’s no pay-for-play here.}

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last-minute for the guy who shaves

men are such tricky people to shop for, aren’t they?  we want to get them clothes, and they want video games.  it’s a dilemma for the ages.  but there is one thing i think most men enjoy receiving more than they’ll readily admit, and it’s high quality shaving products.  it’s something they’ll never, ever buy for themselves, but honestly, a great shave can be life-altering (or so i’m told).

origins-Mans Best Friend

i know it feels a little metro to get a guy face products.  but i’ve gotten calls months after the holidays from the (extremely un-metro) men in my life, asking me where i bought “that shaving stuff you got me for christmas”, so they could restock.  i’ve visited their homes and found the bottles, all but empty, strewn around their bathrooms.  they might not squeal with delight on christmas morning, but they’ll use it, and they’ll love it.  really.

my pick this year is the “man’s best friends” set from origins ($37.50).  it’s not complicated, which is key – i don’t think most men are up for a five-step facial program.  just two products (you get a full-size and trial size of each): a shave cream and an after-shave skin soother.  the scent is utterly inoffensive (mostly peppermint and eucalyptus).  and it seems to make my hubs’ skin quite happy.  that’s really about it for the list of “musts” when it comes to men’s products.

oh yeah, this one’s also very last-minute-gift friendly – pick it up at any origins counter, but you can also score free shipping online (through today only) on origins.com.

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the ultimate multitasking, totally affordable gift

when this darling little “peace out” keychain arrived in the mail, my mental dialogue went something like this:  “*squeal* how cute is this?!  i love it!  this would be perfect for my friend A, who’s working a million hours a day lately.  oh wait, but what about for my mom? she’s so stressed out these days.  then again, it seems like something my hubs would love too, maybe i’ll give it to him.”  then i tested it.  “hmm. i probably have enough gifts for those other people.”  at which point, the “peace out” set wound up stashed in my handbag.

the moral of that long, winding tale?  this gift is so perfectly universal – it works for men (well, some men), women, parents, siblings, friends, coworkers – i’d suggest stocking up on several so you end up with a few leftovers for yourself.  it’s the ultimate “oh yeah…uh, i totally got you a gift too” to keep in your desk drawer/glove compartment.  especially for only $12.50 per set.

the whole concept of this set is stress relief.  the tube contains an herb-infused serum (mostly peppermint) that you rub onto your temples or the back of your neck when feeling stressed.  the little box of mints contains the same herbal blend.  the results are sort of this crazy tingly, refreshed feeling – while i wouldn’t commit to, say, xanax levels of stress relief, it definitely does a good job of taking your mind off your troubles.  weird, i know…but it works!

grab a handful of these at any origins counter (i’m sure you’ve seen their mega-displays at macy’s, for example) – or they’re offering free shipping and gift wrap at origins.com through friday, 12/18.

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