Thursday, April 30, 2009

El Cheap-o says: Check it out!

50% off Bieux Skin BioNaturals at Sephora! I have heard great things about this line and I may finally get around to trying it out. And while you're there, check out Sephora's sale page.

Also, the Vincent Longo website is back up and they're offering a 30% discount on everything (enter promocode: backup30). This offer is good through May 1.


Philosophy has an exclusive Mother's Day offer: $10 off a $50 purchase and/or $25 off a $100 purchase (promocode: momsday). And shipping is free on orders of $50 or more. Ends 5/2.


Today only, Calvin Klein is offering 40% off of everything (except for underwear and home).

Thanks, El Cheap-o!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Nuff said.

Once Again, Eye Feel Pretty

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a Dior Event at Saks Fifth Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, PA. (For all of you not from the Philly area, it's pronounced "Ba-la Kinwood" – I have no idea why.) I had an in-store makeup appointment and tried out some Dior makeup and skincare for the first time.

Rodderick (Roddie) Gregg was the Diorshow National Artist for the event. When I told him I wanted something different from the browns and the purples I’d been wearing all winter; he suggested the Dior 5 Colour Palette in "Mystic Jade."

Well, I was just a little skeptical. I’m a brunette with a light olive complexion, and I thought this palette looked like something for blondes. However, brilliant Roddie assured me he would make it work. Better yet, he'd show me how I could make it work. And work it did. The pale blue and peach highlighted without looking harsh, the pale green made my brown eyes pop, and he used the darker shades to contour and line. The overall effect was big, beautiful brown eyes for Spring. I never would have chosen this palette on my own; but I'll be wearing it a lot (I took one home.) Now that I've been wearing it, I really appreciate the quality and staying-power of these eyeshadows.

Roddie also showed me a cool trick for pencil liner. I told him I didn't like pencils; so he took a brush to the eye pencil and then used the brush to line my eye. He also brushed the liner on my eyelid as a base for shadow. Genius -- I now have a use for all my old pencils!

Another excellent item was the Diorskin Nude Foundation. Very beautiful finish with full coverage. I was tempted to bring one home too, but I had to be prudent.

Also tried: products from their Capture Totale line. The three big standouts were the Multi-Perfection Creme, Multi-Perfection Eye Treatment and Multi-Perfection Concentrated Serum. These products are non-comedogenic; and they felt soothing and hydrating, but not heavy. My pores also looked a whole lot better.

Dior beauty is sold at most major department stores and Sephora.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Earth Week Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Jennifer J! She is the winner of my Earth Week giveaway. I will be sending Jennifer:

- "Green is the New Black," a book by Tamsin Blanchard
- 100% Pure Organic Pomegranate Foaming Shower Gel
- 100% Pure Organic Pomegranate Body Scrub

Avon calling! (review)

I have recently been trying out a bunch of new skincare products from Avon. I wish I'd received them from an Avon representative knocking at my door (but they came in the mail).

I vaguely remember the "Avon Lady" visiting my mom. How awesome is that? A nice person rings your doorbell and THEN they come in and show you beauty products in the comfort of your own home. Wow.

Actually, there are still Avon representatives. And what with today's newfangled technology, you can also shop from the comfort of your home by going online. I poked around on the website and discovered that this is definitely not my mother's Avon. It's really worth checking out. They have a huge range of products and lines. I even took a fun skincare questionnaire.

The two products I'm reviewing today are from their ANEW REJUVENATE skincare line: Day Revitalizing Cream (SPF 25) and Night Revitalizing Cream.
Night Cream blurb: PM Lightweight gel-cream works while you sleep, so you awaken to skin that looks fresher and more vibrant.

Day Cream blurb: Like Rejuvenate Night Revitalizing Cream, this lightweight day cream with a patented sun-protection system is uniquely engineered with a breakthrough fusion of pioneering technologies designed to replicate the steps of a professional anti-aging facial.

The night cream really surprised me. It felt very rich and creamy but absorbed really quickly into my skin (both face and neck). My skin felt hydrated, but not goopy. In the morning, my skin felt balanced and calm. What I really like is that it did its job and looked good. After putting it on, my skin looked dewy and fresh. You know, girls, there might be times in life when a person wants to take care of her skin and still look good before bed time…I'm just saying.

The day cream gets high marks too. It also absorbed quickly and had great finish (not too shiny, not too matte). And it was excellent under my makeup. In the afternoon my skin still felt hydrated, but not oily. Extra bonus points because it has an SPF of 25.

I will be trying out some other Avon items I received and writing about them later. For now, let's take a trip back in time by following this link:

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rimmel London (review)

Oh, it is Monday and I am very, very tired. But not too tired to attend to my beauty junkie duties and let you all know about some products I tried out. That’s right, I am going to show off my staying power (get ready for a lame segue way) by talking about 3 products with…wait for it…staying power!

My 3 items are new from Rimmel London. (FYI: This post is heavy on the blurbs because I used up all my brain cells coming up with that first paragraph.)

First item up for inspection: Rimmel London Stay Matte Clarifying Matte Foundation

Blurb: Don’t let the summer heat melt away your makeup. Try Rimmel London NEW Stay Matte Clarifying Matte Foundation. It's a fluid, shine-free formula that provides up to 12 hours of flawless and fresh skin! Stay Matte Clarifying Matte Foundation is formulated with SKINPURE Complex, which combines a gentle dose of salicylic acid to clear up imperfections and botanical extracts to nourish, for visibly purified skin! This light-weight formula blends with ease hiding blemishes and imperfections without clogging pores which is vital in the summer heat.

I was very pleased with this foundation. The formula goes on evenly and has a really smooth finish (I got the best results by buffing with a kabuki brush). It felt good and stayed put through a very long day. The finish is definitely matte, but it doesn’t look dull. And I really love that this foundation contains salicylic acid (what with my complexion issues and all).

Next up: Rimmel London Sexy Curves Mascara
Blurb: Sexy Curves is the pin-up girl of mascaras that delivers up to 70% curlier lashes full of sexy, voluptuous volume! Its exclusive Lash Inflation Formula is collagen-enriched containing the protein, vitamins and conditioner that strengthen and amplify boring lashes. When paired with Rimmel’s breakthrough Triple Plump Brush applicator Sexy Curves Mascara delivers the curliest, thickest and sexiest lashes ever.

Ooh la la! That is some sexy blurb! I already have curly lashes, but I did notice some extra curl going on. Extra volume too. And very, very black (I used "extreme black"). But what I really loved was the brush. Possibly the most user-friendly applicator I’ve ever come across. The curvy brush gets rid of all the excess as it comes out of the bottle, and the curves make it easy to get every single lash.

And finally: Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss

Blurb: long-wear color gloss-- in over drive. An ultra-soft applicator glides on glossy color, while a one-stroke brush on the other end magnifies the color with a tinted crystal shine gloss. Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay is completely kiss-proof and food-proof giving lips magnetically kissable color for up to 10 hours! Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay is available in 12 vibrant shades, including ‘All Night Flirt’ which is perfect for summer lips!

I’m tired and I want to say, “just go buy this,” but that would be seriously lazy. But really, you should just go buy this – because it's an excellent duo. The deeper color goes on very smoothly, and the shine gloss has a smooth, glassy sheen with a little sparkle. It sets extremely well and my lips feel moist. I wanted to test its staying power properly; but there was no one around to kiss at the time(!), so…I opted for the highly effective “carrot cake” test. (I really should have opted for the “green salad” test, but I was weak.) Anyway, it stayed put! I've been wearing this for the last few days and it has fabulous staying power (even in non-cake situations). The shine gloss even lasts when worn alone. This is a really good find! I tried the "Crystal Rose" gloss which is a pretty, fresh pink. I may check out a few more colors this summer.

Rimmel products are available at CVS, Target, Ulta, Walgreens, KMart, and

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New "B" FF? Nope, just another corny joke before my review

Hilarious? No? Forgive me, I really need more sleep. If I was thinking up the name of my blog today, it would be “i feel sleepy.” I slept in as much as I could this morning; but I will be spending this Saturday night going to bed early. But before Saturday night comes Saturday day. Today I am going to the fun, fabulous Trend Show at Nordstrom (see earlier post). And even though I’m all drowsy and squinty-eyed, my hair looks freaking fabulous!

To round out my Earth Week beauty sampling; I tried out 3 products (shampoo, conditioner and body creme) from Philip B® Botanical Products International.

Last Fall, the company announced that they were Going Green: We never stop trying to make our botanical products even better — without changing the things that our customers love about them. So the entire Philip B® line is now environmentally friendly, with new paraben-, phthalate- and petrochemical-free formulations. Even better, we’ve slashed the carbon footprint for the journey of our products — from manufacturing to distribution– to the absolute minimum.

Way to go, Philip B®!

I tried 2 hair products: Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo and White Truffle Nourishing & Conditioning Creme

Shampoo Blurb: Soothe, nourish, and cleanse hair and body with PHILIP B® Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo, an herbaceous blend of Shea Butter and Panthenol (Vitamin B5) infused with 10% pure plant extracts of Piñon, Sage and Juniper Berry. The spiritually-enriching scent of the formula is evocative of the Sangrê de Cristo Mountains of Santa Fe. PHILIP B® Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo is a gentle, daily shampoo that is exceptionally wonderful for normalizing an oily scalp or soothing a dry scalp, in addition to silkening, softening, and conditioning your hair. Scent of Santa Fe Balancing Shampoo may be used from head-to-toe as an anti-bacterial wash. Safe for color-treated hair.

Conditioning Creme blurb: Restores intense moisture and repair without weighing down your hair! It is the solution whether your hair is parched, dry, or color and chemically treated and in need of deep conditioning. Made from pure, revitalizing botanicals combined with strengthening amino acids and soothing Vitamin E, Philip B® White Truffle Nourishing & Conditioning Creme will give your tresses silky, shiny, body and bounce with a youthful, radiant feeling!

Okay, the blurbs are a little wordy and dramatic. But, you know what? My hair is happy. Happy, shiny, clean, soft and pretty. And bouncy. I am dragging my butt around this morning; but my hair is bouncing around like you wouldn’t believe. And my dry, color-treated curls are all, "What frizz? I don’t see any frizz. What flyaways?"

The shampoo has a fresh, green scent (and extremely green color). No lather, but it got all the white stage makeup out of my hair without stripping or drying. And the conditioner – A++. My hair feels silky and soft! The big, good surprise was that when my hair dried, instead of flyaways, there was extra bounce and shine. Woo hoo!

Next item: A few nights ago, I also started using their Chocolate Milk Body Creme.

Blurb: We’ve had such an overwhelming response to our Chocolate Milk Body Wash & Bubble Bath that we felt compelled to make the decadent, full-sensory experience last all day. A rich, happy smell – our blend of the finest Chocolate and Vanilla Extracts made deliberately subtle and sophisticated in a crème – is backed by potent botanical hydrators like Cocoa Butter, Aloe and healing Milk Proteins. Great for kids, even better for your inner child.

Well, I can tell you that my inner child was pretty darn happy to walk around smelling like chocolate milk! Chocolate milk, people! The scent lasted until the next morning. I suspect if you put this on in the morning, it would last most of the day. Oh yeah, it made my skin soft too (which thrilled my inner-grownup).

Nuff said. Off to the trend show!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Josie Maran Cosmetics (Review)

Since this is my first Earth Week as a fully-fledged (well mostly-fledged) beauty blogger; I am having a great time trying out stuff from companies I have only heard about in the past. Writing almost every day is a great big incentive to just dive in.

I've finally gotten around to checking out 2 products from Josie Maran Cosmetics. I love her motto, "Luxury with a Conscience." Here are some of her values, summed up as Being responsible: …Josie Maran Cosmetics is just getting started, but it is our goal to be known for the responsible choices we make. Our products, packaging and processes are only the beginning, as we endeavor to broaden our scope of responsibility each day. Our efforts include small but important steps – printing only when necessary and using recycled paper and eco-friendly products in our day-to-day operations. Our display units at our retail counters have been constructed from sustainable materials and we do our best to be responsible in our manufacturing and shipping materials. We learn as we go and these things take time, but we're getting there. I want to prove that a cosmetics company doesn't have to sacrifice luxury and performance in order to create products that are kind to the natural and social environment. And if we make the world– not to mention women's cheeks and lips– a little rosier while we're at it, even better.

I tried two of her color products and I am so impressed!

#1 Blush in "Fever" (soft brown)

Blurb: Long-wearing, blendable cheek color in shades that mimic your natural flush. The sheer consistency allows for complete control. Start with a subtle veil of color, then layer until desired intensity is achieved. The innovative formula contains natural, non-toxic ingredients - no fragrances or parabens.

This is a beautiful, high-quality blush. The color was indeed a "soft brown," and looked pretty and natural. The powder glides on (a little goes a long way) and has great staying power. The little compact is beautiful, well made and very portable. This blush has a new home in my bag.

#2 Plumping Lip Gloss in "Optimism" (nude gold)

Blurb: Instead of irritants or stimulants which cause lips to temporarily swell, this truly effective plumping gloss relies on gentle but effective Marine Collagen to pump up pouts for lasting results. Extracted from sea plants, Marine Collagen has been proven to help lips retain their moisture.

Okay, I only put the blurb up there for consistency's sake. My review can be summed up in 4 words: Glamorous Movie Star Lips. Okay, maybe 5: Sexy, Glamorous Movie Star Lips. The shade is a shimmery "nude gold," so it goes with everything. It has a nice fragrance/flavor and plumps slightly without stinging. But who cares? What really matters is (repeat after me): Sexy…Glamorous…Movie…Star…Lips.

Nuff said.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Earth Week Buzz: Burt's Bees

Get it? Bees? Buzz?

Oh, me…I am cracking myself up here. Is it Earth Week or Hilarity Week? (Okay. Sorry. It’s Earth Week. I’ll stop now.)

One of the more consistently stellar companies in the eco-friendly world is Burt's Bees. They are earth-friendly, wallet-friendly, and super skin-friendly.

Here is some of what they have to say about their company's values: At Burt’s Bees, our goal is to help create a world where people have the information and tools they need to make the highest ethical choices and do the best for themselves, their families and the environment. That’s no short order, but it is attainable. We’ve started with a strong and on-going commitment to a set of values and activities that support the well-being of people and our planet. We call it The Greater Good.

They even have a "Greater Good Business Model" on their website. And just to be a little more helpful and awesome; they have placed a "guide to reading your labels" in several magazines as well as on their website here. In addition to their products, their website is full of great stuff. Some more things you can learn about: The Natural Standard for Personal Care Products, Community Initiatives and their Event Calendar.

But what about their stuff? Well, folks, it's good stuff. Real good. Made with good things. Natural products, free of petrochemicals and potentially harmful synthetic ingredients. Thoughtful, eco-friendly packaging. And of course no paraben would dream of setting foot anywhere near a Burt's Bees package!

I recently got a chance to try out two items from their "Radiance" line. Good thing, because this week I am definitely in need of some radiance. I loved them both.

Here's a blurb about the line: These natural skin care and lip formulas contain nature's most nourishing substance, Royal Jelly, to boost your skins natural glow. Very nourishing, royal jelly is made of nectar, pollen, flower parts, vitamins, minerals, and other natural ingredients. It is a very precious, mysterious substance that honeybees produce for the queen bee.

The first item I tried was the Radiance Exfoliating Body Bar.

Blurb: This natural soap is specially blended with royal jelly, one of nature’s most nutritious substances, to enhance skin’s radiance and overall tone. Jojoba beads and fruit acids gently exfoliate to smooth and even skin tone for a naturally healthy, radiant glow.

I expected to like this, but instead I loved it! It had a nice, rich lather, a very light, natural scent and a soothing feel. I was thrilled at how well it cleaned my face and how balanced my skin felt afterwards. I also used it as a body soap with my Salux towel and my skin was extra baby smooth. It isn't a "scrub" soap, so I also tried it as a shaving lather and it was fabulous!

Wonderful Item #2 was the Radiance Serum
Blurb: Get a more radiant complexion in just 4 weeks! This clinically tested serum combines royal jelly, licorice root extract and glycerin to bring out skin’s natural radiance. These ingredients increase moisturization by 15% in only 2 weeks, while nourishing skin with 134 nutrients including vitamins A, C, D and K, minerals and 17 amino acids. In 4 weeks, you’ll notice your skin becoming more even toned. The result is more radiant beautiful looking skin, naturally.

I know it says to wait 4 weeks; but I wanted to write about it during Earth Week. And even though it hasn't been 4 weeks yet, I am already liking the results. I have been using it at night after cleansing, and in the morning, my skin is soft, smooth, calm and balanced. I think I may even be getting less blotchy as the days go by. That's about as close to "radiant" as I could possibly hope for before 10:00am. I can't wait to see what 4 whole weeks will bring, but for now I am giving it a "glowing" review. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Burt's Bees also has a Radiance Kit, which has a sampling of some of the other products. I am so impressed with what I tried, I may check out some of their Naturally Ageless products later on.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day, Everyone!

Just in case you haven't opened up a magazine, watched any TV or talked to anyone anywhere recently, today is Earth Day.

Earth Day has become more than one tiny day to raise awareness for a whole collection of ideas, issues and actions. I'm glad Earth Day has made it into the "regular" media. I'm truly glad for all the hype and brou-ha-ha surrounding this week. It used to be that Earth Day was dismissed as some kind of marginal, new-agey thing that a bunch of "other" people paid attention to (mostly on college campuses). But no more - retailers are hopping on the eco-bandwagon in droves, and green is now "chic." Sound a little mainstream? Yes. A little conventional? Yes indeed. Wouldn't it be great if taking care of our planet was just the regular, conformist, boring, usual thing to do? What if it was just dull and predictable and ordinary to conserve, respect, give back, clean up and protect?

Okay, I'll step off of my soapbox now. I know that my contribution consists of writing a paragraph here and there this week on my beauty blog. Why write about beauty products when there are thousands of bigger, more encompassing issues? Because it's something I can do. I don't expect to change the entire world, just a little bit of it here and there. And then maybe a little more, and so on.

By the way, some estimate that the beauty industry is a $29 billion business. When you support a company that promotes your values, you are voting with your wallet. When you spend your hard earned dollars on products that are cruelty-free, use recycled packaging, promote fair trade, and/or use healthful ingredients; you are sending a big message to a very big industry.

And lest I forget my beauty junkie responsibilities. Here are a couple of companies we can be proud to know:

Aveda. Everyone already knows how fabulous their products are. Here's what the company has to say about their mission: Aveda believes that authentic beauty is one that works in harmony with the greater web of life. It does not qualify as beauty if it hurts any of the diverse life forms that the best beauty artist of all, Nature, created. Authentic Beauty cares for the environment which we inherited from elders and will leave to generations that follow us. Beauty cares for the society in which we live, enhancing harmony in the way we live and interact with one another as human beings. In order to be Beauty, it also needs to be Good. Beauty is the result, but also the process followed in pursuing that result. Said simply, Beauty Is As Beauty Does.

Right now, Aveda's Clean Water Campaign is dedicated to providing adequate access to clean water for the world's people and wildlife. You can participate in the campaign with a purchase or a donation. Aveda is also promoting the Clean Ocean Action program, which is committed to protecting the future of the New York/New Jersey coastline.

The Body Shop. Again, nobody needs to tell you about the beauty and quality of their products. Today is for telling you how they describe their values: We believe there is only one way to beautiful, nature's way. We've believed this for years and still do. We constantly seek out wonderful natural ingredients from all four corners of the globe, and we bring you products bursting with effectiveness to enhance your natural beauty. While we're doing this we always strive to protect this beautiful planet and the people who depend on it. We don't do it this way because it's fashionable. We do it because, to us, it's the only way.

During their Earth Day event, you can receive a "Bag for Life" cotton tote with any $30 purchase. These totes are also for sale in the stores and online. The reusable, organically-grown cotton bag is produced without the use of harmful pesticides. They donate $2.00 for every bag sold to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Okay. All done now. If you want to learn a little more about what's going on, here are a few sites to get you started: Earth Day Network, The Nature Conservancy, Envirolink,

Monday, April 20, 2009

And now for something completely different…

Earth week is about drawing attention to global issues and to companies that are working to make a difference. Besides developing awareness about our planet, its creatures and resources; this may also be a time to create mindfulness about what we do in our daily lives to take care of others and ourselves.

In addition to participating in Earth Week, I am also participating in something (completely different) we singers call "Hell Week" (also known as "Tech Week" by those without a potty mouth). This is the final week before a show opens when everyone is at the theatre very late, every night. It's exciting, stressful and exhausting. This week there is no time to visit the gym, no down time and barely enough sleep.

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who has some kind of "hell week" now and then.

My goal is to try to make it to the end of this week without becoming so stressed out and worn down that I spend all of next week eating pizza and collapsing in front of the TV. I'm actually going to try to take care of myself instead of just chucking all my good health habits and regretting it later. Imagine that!

Today's post features a whole slew of tips from YogaWorks that I received a while back. I've been saving them just for this week.

According to YogaWorks: yoga is much more than just a tool for relaxation and flexibility. Simple yoga poses can be used to combat everyday aches, pains and frustrations.

The 5 tips below come from one of YogaWorks' amazing yogis, Irina Ovsiannikov. (She is also the person in the photos). The photos are by Heather McLaughlin. (I don't know where Irina got the cute bracelet, though.)

1. Goodbye Carpal Tunnel Wrist Release
What It Does: Helps relieve carpal tunnel syndrome, tension in the wrists and palms.

How to Do it: Extend the right arm straight out in front of you. With the left hand and grasp the right top of the hand and gently press the hand toward your chest keeping your arm stretched forward. Hold for 5-8 breaths. Try to keep your spine lifted and your chest open. Repeat with the left hand.

2. Stress-Free Forward Bend
What It Does: Releases lower back and hip tension. Also stretches the back of the legs and helps relieve stress when the hip is higher then the heart.

How to Do it: Face away from your table and bring your hips on to the edge of the table top. Step your feet wide apart (hip distance or wider) and bend your knees. Make sure you feel stable support from your table. Take a full breath in, and as you exhale bring your torso down toward the floor. Take hold of the opposite elbows and relax your head in between your upper arms. Take 8-10 breaths here. At the end of the breaths, slowly roll up to an upright position one vertebra at a time.

3. Be a Friend to Your Feet and Back Stretch
What It Does: Helps relieve lower back and hip pain associated with sitting in an office chair for a prolonged period of time. Soothes the heels and feet from walking/wearing high heels or tight shoes.

How to Do it: Sit straight in the middle of your chair with both feet on the floor. Bring your right ankle on top of your left knee and flex your right foot. Keep your foot flexed throughout the whole stretch. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, slowly tilt your chest forward in the direction of your right foot. Hold for 8 breaths. Close your eyes, if comfortable. Switch sides.

4. Detox Spinal Twist
What it Does: Twisting detoxifies the body. It also helps relieve back pain and discomfort and helps relieve shoulder tension. This is great after a night out.

How to Do it: Sit straight on your chair with both feet on the floor. Take a breath in and as you exhale twist your body to the right first. Bring your right hand behind you, hold the back or side of your chair and bring your left hand on to the right knee. Let your head follow. Hold for 5 breaths, then come back to center and then repeat the same twist to the left.

5. Mid-Day Pick-Me-Up Seated Stretch
What it Does: Carpal tunnel syndrome relief. Also expands the chest for more optimal breathing. Helps revive you mid-day when you're feeling sleepy.

How to Do it: Sit up straight on your chair with both feet on the floor. Inhale and bring both arms overhead and interlace your fingertips. Keeping your fingers interlaces, turn your palms toward the sky, and breathe for 5 breaths. Think of length in the torso as you breathe, and soften your front ribs. Reach for the sky. Repeat a few times a day as necessary.

More About YogaWorks: YogaWorks is the country’s leading authority on providing quality yoga education and complete wellness programs for every mind and every body with studios in Los Angeles, New York City, Orange County and San Francisco. Since its inception, YogaWorks has been dedicated to offering a wide range of yoga programs that reach all aspects of the community. YogaWorks also offers a renowned Teacher Training Program and has mentored some of the world’s leading yogis. Visit for a class schedule or to find a YogaWorks location closest to you.

So in addition to taking along my crochet hook, yarn and some healthy snacks; I am going to give these tips a try. This is new stuff for me, so I'm not planning to do it perfectly – I just want to give it my best. I'll let you know how it goes – let me know what you think too!

Earth Week Begins with a Giveaway!

Wednesday is Earth Day, so I’m planning to spend this week talking about Earth-friendly beauty. I’m also kicking off my first ever giveaway! Everybody wins – you and the planet.

I am giving away 3 items:

Some green reading:
- Green is the New Black, how to change the world with style - by Tamsin Blanchard

Some eco-friendly bath & body products by 100% Pure (I chose the Pomegranate scent because it’s sooooo good!):

Organic Pomegranate Foaming Shower Gel
Blurb: Deliciously hydrating and richly foaming body wash packed with antioxidant rich organic pomegranate juice. Skin brightening fruits will leave your complexion glowing while anti-aging vitamins will keep your skin healthy and youthful.

Organic Pomegranate Body Scrub
Blurb: Smooth away bumps, flakes and have glowing, healthy, silky soft skin with this deliciously nourishing organic body scrub packed with antioxidant rich pomegranates, anti-aging vitamins, skin brightening berries and deeply moisturizing organic fruit oils.

Yet another blurb: 100% Pure never uses harsh detergents, synthetic fragrances, chemical preservatives, artificial colors, synthetic chemicals or any other toxins which can strip, dehydrate or irritate. 100% Pure only uses all natural, organic ingredients to nourish your skin.

100% Pure products are vegan (unless the formula contains honey), cruelty-free, use organic ingredients and have some anti-oxidants thrown in for good measure.

How to enter my very first giveaway: Simply send an email to me at with a comment about one of my posts. Put the title of the post in the subject line, and your comment in the body of the email (the comment should actually have something to do with the post – not “great giveaway” or “hello”).

You have as many chances as I have posts – just send a separate email for each. I'll accept entries through Saturday, April 25 – so that’s 21 chances to win! You can visit every day for the new posts. I’ll email the winner on Sunday 4/26 and they will have 72 hours to respond. If no response, I’ll move to the next randomly selected person.

Good luck and Happy Earth Week!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

EL CHEAP-O says: Check out the Beauty Bargains!

El-Cheap-o is my pretend superhero. For more information about him and his pretend super-powers, you can read my earlier post. But all you really need to know is that El Cheap-o is on your side. He is looking out for you, the bargain conscious, beauty-obsessed consumer.

And here is something huge! Bath & Body Works flagship stores are clearing out a whole lot of their high-end skincare and hair care lines. These items are being discounted at (steady yourself) 50%! Brands include: 100% Pure, Ahava, Caudalie, Davies Gate, Jaqua, Jonathan Product, Lippmann Collection, Molton Brown, MOP, Mustela, Phyto and Sekkisei. 50% off...whoa, man.

Good work, El Cheap-o!

Remember, only the flagship stores carry these items; so calm down and look on the website before you get all crazy and hop in the car/truck/bus/train/mo-ped.

Now for those of you in the Philly area, here’s another cool event coming up: the Trend Show!

Saturday, April 25 from 7:30am-7:00pm is the Spring Cosmetics Trend Show at Nordstrom in the King of Prussia Mall. Nordstrom’s beauty and fragrance department is vast and dizzying; and they really pull out all the stops for the Trend Show. Free makeup appointments, facials and product demonstrations (last Fall, there were cocktails and chocolate). There is also a special event (really early) in the morning. Tickets for the morning event are $15 (fully redeemable in product). Your ticket also gets you a nice gift at the door.

Oh, and...GWP’s galore! It seems like nearly every line has a nice gift to go along with their makeovers, demonstrations, etc. If you want to find out what’s going on with your favorite beauty brand, I suggest you call ahead. You can even pre-order items and have them reserved (as well as your GWP). Call (610) 265-6111 to make your appointment(s) and/or purchase a ticket to the morning event. You can ask for the beauty department (or a specific beauty counter). And remember, Nordstrom Rack is just up the street.

So go! Save! Make El-Cheap-o proud!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Go on and get bohemia! (Event)

Why not start your Earth Day celebration early? “But how?” you ask. Celebrate by getting a good look at the Laura Mercier Bohemia Collection for Summer 2009. It’s all about the Earth and it’s all about Summer!

Or better yet - how about trying out this gorgeous collection? Or even better…how about an appointment with a professional makeup artist PLUS a class taught by global makeup artist, Tayaba Jafri? Oh wait, how about throwing in a lovely gift with purchase?

Sound good? Oh, it’s good. It’s real good!

It’s also real soon, so you’ll need to book your appointment ASAP!

Info: For those of you anywhere near the Philly area, Neiman Marcus in the King of Prussia Mall will be hosting the Laura Mercier National Makeup Artist Event. The event is tomorrow (Friday 4/17) and Saturday (4/18). You can book your appointment by calling the store at (610) 354-0500, ext. 2112. This is a really special event. In addition to makeup appointments and gifts with purchase, there is also a great class given by global makeup artist, Tayaba Jafri.

Now stop reading this for a minute and go book your appointment. (You can read the rest of my post afterwards.)

I was in the mall today and got to take a look at some of the preparations. I also got to see this beautiful collection up close. The two items that especially caught my eye were the Moroccan Bronze Illuminating Powder and the NEW Eye Mosaic, but the whole collection is truly spend-worthy. Take a look:

Blurb: Laura Mercier introduces Bohemia, her most exotic collection ever. The Moroccan Bronze Illuminating Powder adds gorgeous warmth and radiance to cheeks, while the Eye Mosaics and Kohl Eye Pencils provide lids with either desert or marine inspired shades. The Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer in Golden Radiance gives the skin a flawless glow while healthy, natural tones of Lip Colour complete the look, leaving you looking earthy, alluring, exotic.

The GWP: With your Laura Mercier purchase of $100, you’ll receive a zippered case with a mini Pink Diamond Lip Glace, mini Sand Tinted Moisturizer, mini Perfecting Water Light, and a mini Creme Brulee Hand Crème.

I really can’t say enough good things about Laura Mercier beauty and skincare products. They are beautiful, luxurious and unbelievably kind to my sensitive skin. I am a huge fan of two of her Flawless Face items: the Oil Free Tinted Moisturizer and the Silk Crème Foundation. This event is a great time to try out this line for the first time, or to add to what you already love.

For those of you not in the Philly area, you can still take advantage of the GWP at the Neiman Marcus website. You can also purchase this collection at the Laura Mercier website and Sephora.

Sorry, I didn’t post this sooner, but I only found out about it today. So I’m going to stop typing and post this tonight instead of waiting until morning. I am so sad that I have to miss this (singing stuff); but I’m glad I can pass the word along in time for some of you to go.

Try try…again?

My horoscope yesterday ended with a beautiful line: “…you need to work on eliminating middlemen and go-betweens as you pursue your ambition through sunlit fields that lift your spirit.”


That very same morning a friend of mine sent me a link to the youtube video of Susan Boyle. I hadn’t seen it yet and it brought me to tears.

(Sorry, I had a little trouble uploading the video, but here's the link):


There are so many arbitrary rules about who gets to follow what dream. Look like this, be this age, know these people, blah, blah, blah. What moved me so much was that this woman pretty much chucked all those rules and loved what she did enough to make it the very best it could be. Then she had the guts to wade through all that sarcasm and general snarkiness and share what she had. When someone shares their heart in such a beautiful way; we all get a chance to see that those silly rules just don’t apply. And our snarkiness is banished for moment and replaced by gratitude and joy.

We singers hear some version of “try, try again” all the time. It’s such an overused, worn out cliché, but it’s also one of the truest. The really difficult thing is that so many times, I have tried my very best, put myself out there with joyful and skilled abandon…and fallen flat on my face. That hurts. It hurts when I screw up. It hurts more when I do my best no one likes it – or even cares. But somehow I still believe in all of this…enough to keep improving and putting it out there again. And then one day I don’t fall on my face. And then I don’t again. And maybe someone gets what I’m doing and is right there with me.

I know this is a beauty website and not a singing website. You may even think I’m neglecting my beauty junkie duties for a moment (gasp). But I’m not because – this just in – there are also a whole lot of silly rules about who gets to be beautiful and who gets to “feel pretty.” Beauty isn’t about how closely you resemble a famous person. It isn’t about how much money you have, how much you weigh, how old you are or any of that. It’s loving what you already have right now enough to make the best it can be. It’s being willing dress yourself up and put yourself out there a little. For me, it’s at night when I tell myself how much I matter by taking care of my skin. And each morning (well, most mornings) when I “play” with my beauty products, look in the mirror and remind myself that I’m beautiful.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Getting my “grown-up” on

As a fan of PBS, Oprah and the whole self-help movement, I have a heightened awareness of all things relating to my “inner child.” While I value and treasure that part of me, I am still so freaking happy that I am a “grown-up.” Even though it’s tax day.

Yeah, being an adult has responsibilities and baggage and what not -- but remember when you were a kid and everyone told you what to do all the time? Remember when you were legally compelled to learn? And the asking permission…and the hoping not to get caught…and the getting caught and then getting in trouble. And…okay, you get the picture.

Today I slept in and had spaghetti for breakfast.

So many cool things came to pass after the age of consent. One thing that did not come to pass, though, was clear skin. Sadly, even though my teen years are far behind me (far!), I still suffer from breakouts. A dermatologist once “joked” by saying “Don’t worry! This will only be a problem until you reach menopause!” There was an awkward pause while he waited for me to laugh along with him, then seemed really surprised when I didn’t. (Tangent: this is one of the many reasons to practice your “I-am-irritated-and-not-amused-but-I-am-keeping-silent-out-of-politeness” look. You just never know when it will come in handy.)

Different products/methods work for different people and I’ve tried way too many of them. In the end, the only thing that gives me dependable results is benzoyl peroxide. The good news is that BP is pretty widely available. The challenge is that once you get to a 5% or higher concentration (I need 5%), the formula can be gritty, hard to apply and/or leave a white film. Bleh. What’s the point of clearing up my skin if it’s going to be all gritty and filmy? Well, yours truly went all “beauty detective” and found DDF Benzoyl Peroxide Gel.

Blurb: A 5%, benzoyl peroxide, water-based gel with the added advantage of tea tree oil. Antiseptic and healing properties make this gel ideal for oily skin conditions. Actively works to control pimples, blackheads, and other forms of acne.

DDF (Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula) is a great line. And I have been using this gel for about a month and LOVING it! It’s still a little gritty (I guess I can’t avoid grittiness completely), but it goes on smoothly in a thin layer and is absolutely clear under makeup. A little goes a long way, so the 2oz. bottle lasts a long time. It also has a bit of tea tree oil. Oh, and there’s that other thing: clear skin!

Remember: benzoyl products can be drying, so use a good moisturizer that won’t clog pores, and absolutely use a sunscreen. (for a great moisture/sunscreen combo option, see yesterday's post about DDF Organic Sun Protection).

Available through the DDF website as well as Sephora and I can’t recommend this stuff enough (ergo, all the links).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dear sunscreen…

Dear DDF Organic Sun Protection, It has been a beautiful Fall and Winter, but I must say goodbye for the Summer. We will meet again in September (or October, depending on the Doppler Radar). Love, Maria

Why am I reviewing my Winter sunscreen in April? Because not everyone has hot, ridiculously humid Philadelphia summers. When I lived in San Francisco, it got cold in the summer. And windy. And dry. I am reviewing my winter sunscreen in April because I am a giver who thinks of others. And because I didn’t have a blog last Winter. And because DDF Organic Sun Protection rocks.

Blurb: A moisturizer for sensitive skin that contains Zinc and Titanium Dioxide to provide a physical barrier against harmful UVA/UVB rays. Contains the exclusive DDF Redox Antioxidant Complex™ to help protect from free radical damage at the skin’s surface. Proper use may reduce the chance of skin cancer as well as premature aging of the skin. Suitable for all skin types.

DDF (which stands for Doctors Dermatologic Formula) is an excellent skincare line. And this sunscreen/moisturizer just plain works. I have oily skin, but it’s also sensitive. And treating my skin for break outs makes it even more sensitive. Add cold, dry, east coast winter air and my skin is cranky. And even though these are the cold months, the sun is still shining and I need sunscreen.

This product has really done it all this Winter. It’s an oil free moisturizer (doesn’t clog my pores) with a nice high SPF of 30. It moisturizes, blocks the sun, contains antioxidants and doesn’t irritate. It’s even gentle enough for my eye area. Extra points because even though it contains zinc oxide, it doesn’t leave a white cast on my olive complexion.

It also feels really soft and luxurious going on. Out of the bottle, it’s marshmallow-white so I can see that everything is covered, then the white fades.

Unfortunately this product is not sweat-proof, so I need to set it aside for a few months. I am currently on the lookout for something that will stand up to the crazy summer humidity. But if your Spring or Summer stays cool where you live, I would definitely check this out.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Things I Love (that are really Four Things I Love)

Oh how I love my NARS lip gloss/lip stain duos! NARS lip products are some of the very best and these duos give you double the NARS goodness. Please look at the picture, then read the company blurb while I look for more adjectives.

Company blurb: This dual-ended lip product offers the ultimate pairing in lip color: a flawless, long-lasting color and a high-shine gloss, designed to create the quintessential, undeniably sexy pout. Each may be worn separately or layered for an individually tailored hue.

Okay. It’s a stain! It’s a gloss! It’s matte! It’s shiny! It’s versatile!

To me, these duos are the best of both worlds. Each duo has a lip stain on one end and a lip gloss on the other. The lip stain formula manages to be long-wearing without being drying. It goes on very smoothly and has a velvety, matte finish. The colors are beautiful and rich. These stains are paired with a complementary lip gloss. The glosses are shiny, with fun, easy to wear colors.

My two favorites (right now) are:

Metis & Victoire: A plum brown stain and a sheer mulberry gloss. A really sophisticated way to go “neutral.”

Moon Fleet & Indian Red: A scarlet stain paired with sparkling gold gloss. Probably my favorite of the whole bunch. The stain is a deep, velvety, va-va-VOOM red and the Moon Fleet gloss (which goes with absolutely everything) really adds depth and glamour.

For those of you who like to mix and match on your own, you can buy each stain or gloss separately. I could post all week about NARS, but instead, I’ll just gush today over these duos. Oh yes, and point you towards their website.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Shout out to my Peeps!

I wish you all a very happy holiday! I’ll be back after Easter. In the meantime, you can read my older posts or check out these links:

Traditional, delicious, marshmallow-ey PEEPS®. Mmmm. Did you know that if you put them in the microwave, they expand? I’m not suggesting you try this, just take my word for it (but it’s completely true).

And, lest we all forget that this is a beauty website…why not pick up some Peeps Grape Marshmallow Cream Lip Balm? Also available in Strawberry, Cotton Candy and Vanilla.

AND…Lenox has come up with fine china sculptures! Whoa, man. Whoa.

Lenox PEEPS® Chick Sculpture

PEEPS® Bunny and Chick Salt & Pepper Set – I want this real bad!

Okay. Nuff said. Really.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I Feel Frilly

I don’t know why, but this morning I woke up wanting to get rid of every last piece of dark, heavy, droopy winter clothing and wear something girly. Maybe because it’s finally warming up (57º!) or maybe because it’s almost Easter; but I want flowers, I want frills!

So I got to browsing online (just browsing, mind you) and found three frilly, girly, have-doors-opened-for-you, bat-your-eyelashes dresses…on sale!

Folks, Macy's is having an Easter sale. Clothing, Accessories, Bed & Bath, Home, Kids, Jewelry and my dresses:

London Times Sleeveless Floral Dress (Reg. $109.00, Sale $81.75)

Alfani Flutter-Sleeve Ruffled Dress (Orig. $89.00, Now $66.75)

AGB Sleeveless Belted Floral Print Sheath Dress (Reg. $64.00, Sale $41.60)

Ooooooh!. Aaaaaah! AND…Macy’s is offering 99¢ shipping with any purchase of $99 or more. Now I haven’t gone completely crazy. I fully realize that 57 degrees is not sleeveless dress weather. I will definitely do the sensible thing (like maybe check out some sweaters).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Saks Full O’ Fun!

I have been very busy this morning sleeping in and being generally unproductive, so this is going to be a short little post today. I'm taking a mini break from my indolence to let you all know about some of the crazy fun brought to you by Saks Fifth Avenue online and Saks Fifth Avenue in Bala Cynwyd (Philadelphia suburbs).

In Store – Beauty Event: I’m already signed up to go. Their Bala Cynwyd store is hosting a Dior Beauty Event on April 16 from 11:00am to 5pm. Sorry I don’t have a link, but you can call the store at (610) 667-1550 and dial extension 264 for the Dior beauty counter. The event features fun, gifts AND you can sign up for an appointment with a national makeup artist…or sign up for a preview of their skincare products.

Online - Accessories: Since my wallet is taking a little break right now, I can only observe this from afar, but if any of you have been saving it up for a big Spring splurge; Saks online is having their Handbag and Shoe Event now through April 12. For their Shoe Event, use code SHOE9 to get a $100 gift card when you spend $500. For handbags, use code HANDBAG9 to get a $250 card when you spend $750.

Online - Beauty: This is a good one. With any $75 purchase of Bobbie Brown, use code BOBB14 to get this complimentary Galalxy Eye Collection Set. Nice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Springtime at my Fingertips (review)

So it's Spring. Really. It is. Even though the temperature in Philly was in the thirties when I woke up (with wind chill). Even though I am wearing my big coat and scarf. And a sweater.

I know that it's Spring mainly because it says so on my calendar. But the real proof is on my ten, cute, turquoise fingernails.

I can be kind of a nail polish snob. I generally stay away from unknown brands because I hate it when the color looks great in the bottle and is completely different on my nails. Or when the formula is gloppy, takes forever to dry or starts chipping the next day. So I usually stick with a few tried and true brands. But a while back I walked into Sephora and saw a big poster of a model wearing the precise shade of turquoise (or aqua) I had been looking for. When I asked someone to help me find the color in the picture, she walked over to the Sephora Brand section and handed me a bottle of Sephora Laquer Nail Polish in "Curacoa."

Company blurb: Featuring the same wide assortment of shades you've come to expect from Sephora Nail Polish, these lacquers drench your nails in rich, high shine color. Each long-lasting shade is packaged in travel-ready bottles, so you can tote several of your favorite shades for quick changes on the go.

What? Not OPI? I was skeptical, but I bought it anyway because the shade was exactly what I had been looking for. And now I'm glad I did. What a big, good surprise - the formula is great! The color in the bottle is the color that I get on my nails. It goes on smoothly, covers really well and dries in a reasonable amount of time. The color is rich, glossy and very chip resistant. With my Sally Hansen Salon Double Life Base & Top Coat my polish stayed chip-free for over a week!

And the colors! Lots of cute, trendy colors that come in little portable bottles ($5 each). I've also tried "Raisin"

and I'm saving room on my toes for "Passion."

Today, though, I am satisfied with my "Curacoa" fingernails. I can hold up my hand and swear through my chattering teeth that it's Spring.