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January 31, 2006

Kristen tries new foundations

I have to admit, foundation is something I really don't branch out and buy frequently. I have been using the same foundation for 6 years and love it. While I have tested other foundations over the past few years of doing reviews and found some I like, they've never replaced my all-time favorite for good: Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation in Sunny Beige. While I will probably never be without my favorite foundation, I can add a couple of more to my bathroom (my husband will just love that!). Maybelline has my second-favorite foundation, Wonder Finish, so when they come out with a new foundation, I want to try it. They didn't disappoint when they added the Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse Foundation to their lineup. It didn't just hit the shelves, and I am wondering why it took me so long to get it. This foundation is fabulous! And everything it says it will do, it does. It delivers soft, natural looking skin with a decent amount of coverage, and I need all the help I can get with my acne scars and redness. It's extremely weightless and silky and I don't require a touch-up all day. I simply love this foundation for what it does to make my face look great and for what it does to my wallet at $6.49 (makes it much fatter!). They have 12 shades and I found that Pure Beige is an impeccably perfect match for my skin. This foundation also is great for touch-ups later to bring you into the evening and it can be easily applied with your fingers or sponge. It doesn't cake at all with an additional touch-up application. Finding foundations with this quality makes me wonder why I spend so much on another.

While I was picking up the Dream Matte Mousse foundation, I saw another foundation from Maybelline that sparked my interest called Pure Makeup. Of course, I picked it up, too! This water-based liquid foundation is in a small squeeze tube bottle and is aimed at the oily skin, acne prone set and its color selection is the same as the Dream Matte Mousse, so it shouldn't be a problem to find a shade no matter what your skin tone or color is. It glides right on without streaks and the finish is soft and smooth. I find it similar to the coverage of the Dream Matte Mousse, not quite as silky, but still a great foundation that I will happily use. This foundation also lasted throughout the day without a touch-up. I can't remember the exact cost, but I know it was $5-something, so again I am happy with a great foundation at a cost that won't break the bank. Another winner!

Out of the drugstore I go to the boutique lines to DuWop. I recently tried out the new DuWop Revolotion tinted moisturizer. I don't use tinted moisturizers because they don't provide enough coverage and this one was no exception. I think it's perfect for those of you who have near perfect skin and you want a bit of evenness to your face, but not for the rest of us who have something to hide. The texture is nice and glides on, but just not enough coverage. If you like or wear tinted moisturizers, then you may want to give this a try. You can find DuWop at Sephora.com.

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Posted by heather at 9:57 AM

January 25, 2006

Marissa and her passion for "limited editions"

Do you get excited when you see the words "limited edition" or "exclusive to" when buying your cosmetic products? I DO! And I will usually buy that product just because I'm afraid it will be gone and I'll want it at a later point in time. Well, you and I both know that this is a great way for the cosmetic companies to get us to buy, buy buy! And I do, do, do! However, I vowed that in 2006 I would use better judgment in my buying selection. Well, old habits die hard and I just bought two great products that I thought you should know about... and yes, they are the above mentioned "limited edition/exclusive" items! New Year's resolutions are so hard to keep :)

First, the Dior Gourmette Bracelet. It's not only is very cool, but holds two lip glosses to boot! It's a silver chain bracelet with the Dior logo on the bracelet ID. It's very sleek and if you can't afford Dior jewelry (which I can't) this is a great little accessory. Totally worth the $70.00. And, the lip glosses inside the ID are great neutral shades that anyone can wear. Check it out at Saks.com.

I am really into the Kanebo skincare and color line right now. As I get ready to hit 43, I am more and more concerned about my skin and moisture and wrinkles. I went onto the Kanebo website, looked up the different places that I could buy their products and from there went onto the Barneys website. Well, they have an exclusive-to-Barneys product called "Wrinkless" that is a cosmetic gel to help minimize your wrinkles. It's $40.00, so I thought why not, I can always return it if it doesn't work. I called Barneys in Seattle and got a great rep named John-Paul who helped me pick out some color and eye treatment, too. The Wrinkless works to blur fine lines and enlarged pores. It's a translucent gel and it goes on like silk. I use it on the worry lines on my forehead (because they couldn't be wrinkles - they have to be worry lines, right?) and around the eyes and, yes, it does work. It's one of the first products that didn't ball up and make me look like I'm peeling when putting on my foundation. On weekends, I use this and a moisturizer on my face and I'm good to go out in public. It's sold out on the Barneys website, but give John-Paul a call at the Seattle store and he'll ship it out to you. Plus, John-Paul is very generous with samples so you can try some of the other great products from this line.

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Posted by heather at 1:34 PM

January 17, 2006

Kristen A. tries skincare galore from Dior

Recently I got some pretty nice sized samples from the Christian Dior Makeup counter. The first item I tried was Dior HydraAction - Deep Hydration Defense Fluid SPF 15. The SPF 15 made me very happy, but being that it's winter, it was not as heavenly moisturizing as I'd hoped. The sales girl, when prompted, told me later HydraAction might be for someone with oiler/younger skin than mine. So that means a teenager? Well, she also told me that the "Aquacept" complex in it was so innovative that it won a Nobel Peace Prize. Sounds a little far-fetched... maybe need to see some proof of that claim.

Moving on, to their heavier and twice as expensive cream, Dior Capture Sculpt 10 - Lifting Firming Creme. I found that the formula was much more moisturizing without leaving a greasy film. It has kept my skin moist, but not shiny. I can't tell if it really is lifting anything, since not much has gone south on me yet. Between the perfume smell, which doesn't do much for me, and not having SPF, I can't call this my all-time favorite, but I do like it and will use my entire sample.

Next on my list is the Dior makeup line. I've got some lovely eyeshadow, gloss, mascara and lipstick waiting for me to slather my face with them!

On a side note, I ran out of body wash recently and was looking for some Aveeno to try this winter. While wandering the aisles of the drugstore, I couldn't seem to find it, until I hit the baby section. It turns out that the Aveeno Baby Essential Moisture Baby Bath is a very similar product, is a couple dollars less expensive, and has two formula/scent choices. If you don't mind the words "baby bath" on your bottle, then this is a pretty cool buy.

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Posted by heather at 8:58 AM

January 16, 2006

The good, bad, and fairly mediocre: Heather's recent trials

I often have products laying around here that I've tried but never got around to reviewing, or the product is so unremarkable that I am at a loss for what to say about it. Enter the good, bad and mediocre list. Your mileage may vary. This is my experience.

Better Botanicals Toning Mist, Rose Tulsi: lovely scent, refreshing, no alcohol, soothing

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel 2 oz: Can't say enough about this peel. I LOVE this product. When I run out, I zip right over to our new Sephora here in Portland and get another jar. Whenever I have a breakout, I slather this on, wait 20 minutes, rinse it off, and everything is noticeably calmed and exfoliated. The next day, everything is on its way to healing.

Clarins True Comfort Foundation: nice blend of moisture for dry skin but also not overly dewy, demi-matte finish, nice range of skintone shades

Tracie Martyn Amla Purifying Cleanser: spendy at $65 but the only foaming cleanser I can use twice daily on my dry skin; makes my skin look glowing and feel fresh and clean.

Dr. Weil for Origins Plantidote Mega-Mushroom Starter Kit: I had very high hopes for this set as I am a Dr. Weil fan, but after a month of using this set faithfully day in and day out, I saw absolutley no change in my skin. For the amount of promise in this kit, I expected to at least look more glowing or rosy or something.

Pixi Hydrotint Duo: cool idea but weird color choices for the foundation, too sheer, and hellooooo zits!

Stila Petal Infusions Moisturizer for dry skin: ho-hum, a completely average lotion that is not really rich enough for truly dry skin.

Jason Red Elements Calming Toner, Daily Moisturizing Creme, Hydrating Night Creme: red tea, copper, magnesium are supposed to be anti-aging and healing to the skin. After using these products for a couple of months, I see no difference or improvement whatsoever.

Farmaesthetics Fine Herbal Cleanser, Pure Complexion Tonic, Nourishing Lavender Milk: I want to like natural products, but these products are geared toward normal to oily skin, and I have dry skin. I like that everything has herbs and natural ingredients, so maybe a bigger selection for more skin types?

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Posted by heather at 10:05 PM

January 12, 2006

Amy enjoys some mom-to-be pampering

What pregnant woman doesn't like a little pampering? And if she can beat stretch marks in the process, that's even better!

Pregnant with number three and faced with the idea of more stretch marks and a crazier life ahead, I jumped at the chance for a little serenity in trying Mama Mio’s new line of products for “Supermamas under construction.”

I sampled all the goodies in the Mini Mama Mio Kit, which included travel sizes of the Tummy Rub, Boob Tube, Wonder-Full Balm, Super-rich body cream, Moisturizing Shower Cream and a mini candle. My favorites were the Tummy Rub and Boob Tube, with the Wonder-full balm coming a close third. The sizes in this kit are tiny, so if you're lavishing yourself or a friend, I recommend going for the full-sizes of what you want most because you'll want more of this luscious stuff!

All products are fragranced with 10 essential oils that create a yummy, somewhat-citrusy fragrance they call Gravida, which is Latin for pregnancy. It smells absolutely refreshing, calms me, and doesn't aggravate my allergies as most fragrances do.

The makers claim the Tummy Rub prevents stretch marks, as between the three of them with seven pregnancies, not one gained a stretch mark. Where was this stuff my first time around? Although this jury is still out on whether any new stretch marks will appear (I'm due in March and I'll keep you posted), what I can say is that rubbing this blend of sweet almond oil, borage oil, wheat germ oil, rosehip oil and the gravida fragrance on my mid-section each day is heavenly. Not only does the smell seem to relax me, but it also gives this busy mom a few moments to think about baby number three and dream of what's in store. And you can't put a price on those blissful moments of wonder before the craziness of the day kicks in! Plus the oil absorbs quickly so I don't have to worry about feeling greasy or waiting to get dressed.

I'll also have to get back with you MUCH later on the effects of the Boob Tube, as I intend to be nursing for quite sometime after the pregnancy ends, but anything I can do to keep that area "aiming North, not South," as the label suggests, I'll try. Plus, it smells so wonderful and I must say that my bust does seem to look better this time around. (And that says a lot for a woman who has nursed babies for a total of 32 months of her life!)

The Wonder-Full balm is great for dry spots. The dry winter and pregnancy have taken a toll on my knuckles, but this balm has done the trick to bring back the moisture when and just where I needed it.

Like I said, I'm a work in progress, so I promise to get back with you on the results of my little (or should I say big!?) stretch mark experiment. What I can say, though, is that I've certainly enjoyed this pregnancy more than my other two. Coincidence? Maybe... or perhaps it's because this time I've made it a point to really pamper myself in the name of science.

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Posted by heather at 12:13 PM

January 11, 2006

Marissa's tried and true products from 2005

It is hard to believe that 2005 has come and gone. Ah, but that means the spring color collections are right around the corner! Yippee!

Here are my favorites from 2005. I'm sure I'll still be enjoying them in 2006!

I get the most bang for my buck, as well as beautiful skin with the Kanebo Cleansing Oil and Creamy Soap. Normally, I'm not into washing my face twice, but this system seems to really keep my face clean without making it feel dry or oily/slimy. The oil doesn't clog my pores at all, and the creamy soap really lathers up nicely. I use the oil and cleanser at night and just the cleanser in the morning. It isn't time consuming like I thought it would be and my skin doesn't have dry patches like it normally would this time of year. I got my Kanebo products at Saks in their NY store.

My favorite eye cream is the La Prairie Radiance Eye Cream. I still think this is the best all-around eye cream. Every time I put it under my eyes, the area just seems to lighten up. I keep going back to Kohl's Department Store for their Good Skin All Firm Moisture Cream. This cream takes me through all four seasons and makes my skin glow. I even use it on my hands when they look dull and wrinkly. Best of all, all skincare is now on sale at Kohls.com (15% off). This year, I found a great mask at the Chantecaille counter - their Jasmine & Lily Healing Mask smells and feels so nice on your face. I use this in the evening when I need a quick pick me up to get me through the rest of the night!

I tried to think of my favorite foundation but couldn't decide between these two: Hourglass Veil Fluid Makeup and La Prairie Cellular Radiance Lifting Foundation. The Hourglass is very sheer and can be layered to give more coverage, and has an SPF 15. I find that two pumps onto my sponge gives me a beautifully flawless face. The La Prairie gives you a bit more coverage, but again, a small amount gives you a glowing complexion. And when you buy the La Prairie, you get a travel size of the Radiance Eye Cream, a small container and spoon to scoop your foundation into and a blending sponge all for your traveling pleasure!

My new best friend in the eye department is Trish McEvoy Lash Curling Mascara in black. This baby delivers every time I wear it - no smudges, just long, lush lashes (say that fast three times!). For shadows, I always go back to NARS shadows or Napoleon Perdis shadows. Both are so long-wearing and their color ranges are huge. I still have NARS colors from three years ago and they look just as fresh as my new ones. One of the best ways to buy NARS shadows is through their palettes. Not only do you get four great eye shadows, but two blushes and four lipsticks/glosses too! Napoleon Perdis has eye shadow palettes too. I always travel with one in my purse and keep one in my desk. They are just so shimmery; they look great on everyone. And, speaking of blush, Nars gets the nod here too. Again, such a great color range, and the colors go from sheer to vibrant.

I saved the best for last, and that's the lips... where do I begin? I love Chantecaille lipsticks. Boysenberry and Nebula are beautiful on the lips. These lipsticks just make your lips look like they're airbrushed, they look that good. I wish I could afford more of them. I would buy them all! I love La Prairie lip pencils, as they come with a refill and have a lip brush on the one end. I'm also enthralled with Cle de Peau Duo Levres. This very different two-part lipstick comes in a compact and has a creamy lipstick plus a light-controlling powder. The brown is just beautiful. I put on the brown lipstick, put the powder on top and then add a bit more brown and the powder along the bottom of my lip and I have to say, I think I looked 10 years younger. I know it sounds silly, but I look so natural with these full lips that I swear I looked younger (such wishful thinking on my part, I'm sure!). Lip glosses are my new favorite product. Glosses from Napoleon Perdis are just awesome and smell good too... check out Lianna for spring. The color stays in place long after the gloss has worn off. I also love the Guerlain lip glosses. Again, the colors are so vibrant and last and last. I bought a beautiful, sparkly red for the holidays and got so many compliments. I'm going back for more!

I could go on and on, but these are my tried and true products in 2005!

Enjoy 2006! There are plenty of products just waiting for us to try!

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Posted by heather at 8:15 PM

January 4, 2006

Judith puts on a new face for the New Year

There have been so many new foundations on the market this this year, that it's hard to pick just one favorite! I've already written about some of my finds, but I have some new goodies to share with you, both drugstore and high end products.

Oil of Olay, when it came in only the original version of bottled pink lotion, was the first moisturizer I ever used on a regular basis. That was before Olay expanded into a multitude of other products. I'm a big fan of tinted moisturizers and have reviewed several over the past few years. Olay Complete Plus Ultra Rich Tinted Moisture - Extra Dry Skin was a big disappointment. For starters, it only comes in one color and has no SPF factor. While it does look very dark in the tube, it does smooth only sheerly and doesn't look dark on my skin - but it didn't even up my skintone either. That's not the worst part. It is highly perfumed with an unpleasant flowery scent that would be a big problem for many who have problems with scented products. $9.99 at walgreens.com, but don't waste your money!

On the other hand, if you're looking for a more economical way to go, Cover Girl has teamed up with Olay to bring us Cover Girl Advanced Radiance Age-Defying Makeup in both compact and pump bottle in #110 Classic Ivory. I find that many of the foundations which are geared for mature skin have heavy coverage and look powdery by the end of the day. Cover Girl's new entry comes in a pump bottle, has an SPF of 10 and can be layered for the amount of coverage you want. Olay Regenerist ingredients include Vitamin E, Pro-vitamin B5 and Pro-vitamin B3. It truly makes my face look flawless, even after a 10 hour day at work! My one complaint is that the drugstore display does not make it easy to choose the right color. After trial and error, I've ended up with #110 Classic Ivory and am absolutely delighted with the choice! This one is truly a keeper! The pump bottle version is brand new and not actually supposed to hit the stores until February, but I found it recently at my local Rite-Aid for just under $12, but it is also available from Harmondiscount.com for $9.11.

Another new product which has just hit my local CVS is Almay Smart Shade Makeup. With so many companies introducing products that adjust to match your own skin tone, Almay has presented a product which is somewhat different from Cover Girl's Trublend Liquid Makeup or Max Factor's Colour Adapt in that it is a lightweight white cream in the tube, which automatically adjusts to your skin tone once it touches your face. I opted for Light 100 and after application thought it felt like a very sheer tinted moisturizer. With an SPF of 15, it's a great lightweight moisturizer that won't strain your makeup budget. Under $14 at CVS.

To go from one extreme to the other, another tinted moisturizer I have recently tried is Teint de Jour Tinted Matte Moisturizer by Yves Saint Laurent. It's nice to find a tinted moisturizer that does't leave your face shiny. This one is great at evening out my skintone while looking almost invisible! I chose #2 Golden Beige. This also looks darker in the tube than it does on the face. Lightly scented, as opposed to the overly perfumed Olay Complete Plus Ultra Rich Tinted Moisture, it's an elegant product to use for those who want very sheer coverage with no shine. $38 at nordstrom.com and saks.com.

It's been a long time since I've tried a foundation from Estee Lauder, but I've read such glowing reports about Estee Lauder Individualist Natural Finish Makeup that I had to give it a try! One of the most natural foundations I've tried in a long time, it comes in 24 colors. The SA colorprinted my face; 2N1 Vellum is a great winter shade for me. Estee Lauder's Ideal Match technology features a unique blend of pigments in a reflective base, similar to Cover Girl's Color Blend and Max Factor's Colour Adapt. I found Individualist to be much sheerer and easier to layer naturally than the other two. Despite the lack of any SPF, it's truly an elegant and natural looking product. $32 at gloss.com or your local Estee Lauder counter.

Happy Shopping!

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Posted by heather at 8:25 PM

January 3, 2006

Kristen rings in the new year with new favorites from 2005

Ahh, it's that time again where we give you our personal favorites from the past year. I like to think of it as the Top 40 Countdown on the radio, but don't fret - I don't think I have 40 favorites, but I can list a few things that made my hot list this year.

The most recent, and one of my better successes this year was the introduction to Renee Rouleau Skin Care. After several months of religious use, I still am not tired or bored from using the products for day and night and my face is looking better. Granted, I still get breakouts and have the redness, but my skin just seems to bounce back quicker after a pimple or the occasional gentle extraction. I've enjoyed her products so much that I ordered more! So watch out for a review on those in the near future! You can check out her products at reneerouleau.com.

Next up is the T3 Tourmaline Professional Ionic Hair Dryer. It was on my Christmas Wish List and at that writing, I'd just ordered it online. Well, I got it in and darned if I don't love, love, love that thing! I was almost secretly wanting to hate it because of its cost (a whopping $200), but I hate to admit that it is worth every penny. My fellow panelist who tried it first said it was "the goddess of all hair dryers," and she was soooooo right. I have thick, naturally curly hair that is just past the middle of my back - very long - and while I don't think it dries my hair 60% faster, it does dry it much faster and my hair just looks healthy and fabulous. I really didn't notice the difference at first, but then my husband commented on how my hair looked and felt. And then I saw myself on video camera and that put it all together for me. My hair just swung around like you see in the hair commercials and it looked so smooth and shiny. Normally, if I get in a bright light I can see little flyaways and I never saw any when I use this dryer. I can actually wake up in the morning and wash and dry my hair, which is something I never ever do because of the time. After a couple of weeks of using the dryer and my husband commenting on how nice my hair looked, he finally said, "Your hair looks amazing! How much is this going to cost me?" My husband, the tight wad in the family (well, I suppose someone has to be), didn't even flinch when I told him how much it cost because he said my hair looked so good. You can see the 1800 Watt T3 Hair Dryer at Sephora.com.

Something I still love to use and won't be without is the Sephora Indulgences Coffee & Cream Morning Body Scrub. Yummy yum yum is what I think about when I think of this stuff. Smells like coffee sans the jitters and it happens to be a pretty decent exfoliator. The scent is unbelievable!

As a general mention, I have to mention Tarte Lipgloss. The products I used were an introduction to the line and these are some unforgettable lip products. Soft, creamy, smooth and long lasting, these double-ended beauties are fabulous and there are so many to choose from. I still wear Adam & Eve and Rhett & Scarlett often. They are like silk for the lips. Check out the offerings at Sephora.com.

Finally, one of my other favorites is the Smashbox Spider Club. Eyes, lips and cheeks in the smallest double-decker palette I've seen. If the size doesn't entice you, the products will. I still carry this thing around everywhere and use it like crazy. And I keep coming up with looks to try. Check it out at smashbox.com or Sephora.com.

Well, that's it! Sure, there are other products that I have liked and loved, but these are the foremost in my mind if I had to quickly name some in 10 seconds. Hopefully this year will outdo the last!

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Posted by heather at 9:36 PM

Judith says so long, 2005, helloooo 2006!

2005 brought many new products for me to try. In fact, it brought almost too many new products, because just as soon as I found a new favorite, another new product would be in line for me to test and I'd love it, too! Many of these products are new, while some are just new to me! All are current favorites which I encourage you to try!

Ahava is not a new product line, but it was a new discovery for me when I visited Israel last winter. Made with minerals from the Dead Sea, Ahava is great choice for daily use for normal to dry skin. The products are gentle and non-irritating and the prices won't break the bank! Ahava Cleansing Milk is a super mild creamy cleanser that cleans my face beautifully and leaves it super soft, but in no way greasy! This is now a basic in my skincare routine. You can find it for $24 at The SkinStore.com.

L'oreal Age Perfect Day and Night Creams with Marine Collagen were my facial moisturizer faves for 2004 and they are still at the top of my list, but for warm weather when I want to use a lighter moisturizer, I've had great success with Ahava Smoothing Moisturizer for Normal Skin. Very light and instantly absorbed, it's perfect when I need a lighter face cream. 1.7 oz for $28 at The SkinStore.com. One more all-time fave from Ahava is AHAVA Dermud Enriched Intensive Foot Cream for Dry Skin which is absolutely wonderful to use on your hands! My hands turn to sandpaper in cold weather and this non-greasy product is by far the best I've tried in a long time for both hands and feet! ($16) If you do a search online for Ahava, you can always find great specials on Ahava products shipped directly from Israel at a fraction of the US price. Check out the prices at dead-sea-cosmetics.net.

I've long been a fan of Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream, which has been redubbed Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Skin Protectant, and which isn't a cream at all, but a petroleum-based product that is useful for everything under the sun from split fingers and heals to chapped lips and cheeks. The only drawback is that the product is the consistency of Vaseline! Elizabeth Arden has now come out with the same wonderful product in Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Moisturizing Hand Treatment, a lightweight cream that is absolutely great! I keep at tube in my desk and on my night table and slather it on my poor winter chapped and cracked fingers! Both products are $15 at Beauty.com.

This was a GREAT year for foundations. In fact, I really liked almost everything I tried, but my very favorite list starts with Jane Iredale Liquid Minerals in Warm Silk served up in a pump bottle containing beads of mineral color suspended in a clear gel. Finally, after all the hoopla about the benefits of minerals for your skin, Jane Iredale makes liquid minerals for those of us who want the benefits of minerals for our skin, but can't tolerate the dryness of powder minerals. Jane Iredale's Liquid Minerals give layerable coverage with a perfect finish when applied upon a well moisturized face. Pricey at $46, you can usually find good discounts online by searching for Jane Iredale's products in Google or Yahoo.

Other Jane Iredale products that have become my favorites this year are Jane Iredale Blush in Dubonnet ($26). This wonderfully flattering natural looking powder blush looks great with all of my foundations. I wear it every day! I also really like Jane Iredale's Circle\Delete Concealer ($29) which consists of two shades of concealer (#2 works for me), so that you can blend the color to match perfectly. Contains Vitamin K, which is great for reducing under eye circles, and jojoba and avocado oil for moisture.

Jane Iredale's products are expensive, and usually only available at salons and spas, but you can often find good prices by searching on Google and Yahoo. I'm a big fan and highly recommend these products! This is one expensive line of products that is definitely worth the price!

I've tried a lot of mascaras this year. Kevyn Aucoin's The Volume Mascara has a slender brush that thickens your lashes without clumping. One of the best, albeit pricey, mascaras that I have tried, the brush makes it possible to catch the tiniest of lashes. Available in Rich Pitch Black or Magic Black Red for $25 at kevynaucoin.com or bergdorfgoodman.com .

You don't have to spend a fortune to find good mascara. From the drugstore, I have fallen in love with Cover Girl's LashExact Mascara in Very Black! Its unique brush makes my lashes ultra long but not clumpy as most other mascaras I've tried. The flexible bristles of the brush also makes if easier to get to your smallest bottom lashes! If you want thick lashes, try The Volume Mascara described above. If it's length you want, you can't go wrong with LashExact! ($6.35 at harmondiscount.com) and at your local drugstore.

I confess that I am a first rate lipstick addict! I like a semi-sheer or creamy lipstick without frost. My 2005 favorites Clinique's Colour Surge Butter Shine Lipstick ($14) which incorporates color into the texture of a soft lip balm. It's totally unique and the colors are great! I especially like "Praline" a neutral brownish shade and "Delovely" a neutral pinkish brown and Berry Blush, a natural darker rosy pink that looks terrific on! Available at clinique.com or at your local Clinique counter.

An absolutely fabulously luxurious new lipstick I've fallen in love with is Yves Saint Laurent Parfums Rouge Pur Shine Lipstick. In a gorgeous range of colors, when applied, it feels like a liquid - It is absolutely the smoothest, silkiest lip product I have ever tried! (Yes, I am really gushing about this one!) While closely resembling a gloss it is not a gloss and there is absolutely no stickiness to it. The product delivers sheer, clear color. The other part of the product that is really special is its nifty little golden case. You click the lipstick out of the case by pushing at one end and the smooth golden-colored cap can be used as a little mirror! I tried #9 Golden Violet, a violet tinged pink, #7 Brown Sugar, a neutral pinky brown. and #1 Red Strass , a shimmery dark red, which is one of the few true red shades that works for my coloring! Splurge and give this a try! It's definitely at the top of my fave list for 2005!

Happy 2006 and Happy Shopping!

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Posted by heather at 5:18 PM

January 2, 2006

Lisa looks back fondly at 2005

While it is always hard to pick favorites when it comes to beauty products, there were a few standouts in 2005 that will have a permanent spot in my cosmetic closet.

For hair, nothing beats the T3 Tourmaline Professional Ionic Hair Dryer. Yes, it is terribly expensive ($200), but girls with mop-thick manes will rejoice at decreased drying time (at least 50-60%!) and shinier, more moisturized hair. The best beauty investment I made all year!

A major revelation for me in 2005 was an effective regimen for keeping bothersome body acne under control; two products have made all the difference for me. First, I use Benefit Cosmetics Bionic Blast Body Wash 3-5 times per week. During the winter months, I use it less because my skin is naturally less oily, but during the summer, I use it almost daily. Bionic Blast contains salicylic acid and exfoliating beads that do a great job of un-plugging pores and controlling oil all day long. I follow cleansing with Nature's Cure Body Acne Treatment Spray ($6). I found this obscure little item quite by accident, and after reading countless positive reviews, decided to give it a try. I'm so glad I did. For me, salicylic acid seems to be the most effective remedy for my "bacne," but cream formulas certainly aren't the easiest to use. However by combining 2% salicylic acid with a host of skin calming extras like aloe vera, burdock root, chamomile and calendula, and putting them in an easy to use spray bottle that sprays in any direction, viola, you have a brilliant application solution! I use it twice a day, and the skin on my back has never looked better - I didn't even have any problems with dryness or peeling! Another great perk? Salicylic acid does not stain or bleach clothes like benzoyl peroxide does, so there are no worries about putting it on in the morning before dressing.

As far as facial care and color cosmetics go, I went straight to Kohl's Department Store to try their fabulous, affordable FLIRT!, American Beauty, and Grassroots lines. These are excellent quality cosmetics (American Beauty is actually an Estee Lauder brand) at great prices. I lived in FLIRT's Tint-A-Liscious Lipsheer this year (Flame is my color of choice). For $10, you get creamy, silky transparent color with SPF 15. Heck, I even use it on my cheeks in a pinch. For more opaque color, American Beauty Luxury For Lips Moisture Rich Lipcolor ($12.50) provides intense moisture, great pigment, and a satin finish. Golden Violet is a perfect golden-plum shade that is surprisingly neutral and eminently wearable. Try it for yourself - It really is incredible quality for the price.

Kohl's also has great skincare. The Grassroots line is made with botanical ingredients that soothe and nurture skin, and smell just fantastic! Since I am a toner fan, I love their skin "tonics". They come in four formulas - oily, normal-to-oily, normal-to-dry, and dry. I use Refresher Course, the normal-to-oily one, in the summer, and Sheer Enjoyment, the normal-to-dry one, in the winter. At $10 for a 7oz bottle, you can have a couple on hand to satisfy the whims of sensitive skin.

Lastly, I have to give a nod to Neutrogena for two great self-tanning products. The Build-A-Tan Sunless Tanning SPF 15 formula for faces provides a subtle glow in an oil-free formula, and Sunless Tanning Spray Micro Mist allows you to coat your entire body in a sheer veil of tanner in about 5 minutes flat. The secret to MicroMist, though, is to hold it farther from your body as you spray. The packaging says 6-8 inches, but I spray it about 18 inches out for the sheerest, most even color. Just keep the can moving while you spray evenly, and you're skin will have a pretty, even glow.

But, as another year passes, there will be a flood of new products and formulas to sample in 2006. What am I excited to try this year? Dallas by Benefit Cosmetics promises to provide "the outdoor glow for the indoor girl" with a sheer wash of golden rose shimmer. I also like the look of LORAC Portable Paints, especially in the "Bronzed" duo. My funny face is also intrigued by Skyn Iceland 5 Day Detox Kit For Stressed Skin - looks like a mini-vacation for complexions! Lastly, I look forward to slathering Urban Decay Cocktail Collection Cosmopolitan Body Balm. It sounds too delicious to resist!

Happy New Year to all our fabulous readers! Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2006!

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Posted by heather at 4:38 PM

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