Thursday

Holiday 2011: Stila Dream in Full Color v. Too Faced Only in Your Dreams

Okay, is it just me or did Stila and Too Faced manage to have strangely similar holiday 2011 collection and names? Stila announced their Dream in Full Color collection (click HERE for my overview of the collection) at the beginning of September, and I just received an email notification from Too Faced announcing their holiday 2011 collection, which happens to be Only in Your Dreams (click HERE for my overview of the collection)--reminds me of the 80s song Only  In My Dreams by Debbie Gibson ;) Was this coincidence a major blunder?

MAC's holiday 2011 collection Glitter and Ice (see Musings of a Muse's fabulous overview HERE and HERE) seemed more winter-relevant by far. I kind of get the whole "dream" for the holidays, but at the same time I don't. I don't feel that either collection is super magical or wintry (though it could just be me). When I look at holiday collections I want magical winter holiday hues or frosty winter colors--either will really do! Not only do the names of these two collection (Too Faced's and Stila's) fall flat, I feel like the collections themselves are pretty flat. What's up with all of the soft neutrals? Didn't we just do neutrals this past summer (Naked palette and a few other popular neutrals).

I just don't know what these companies are thinking, to be honest. If you're looking for some soft, subtle shades then I can certainly see how either the Stila or Too Faced collection could appeal to you, but I personally don't see anything special in either holiday collection.

Very excited for MAC's Glitter and Ice collection, on the other hand! Can't wait to find out the official release date and read/see more details on this collection.

What do you think about Stila's and Too Faced's collections? Are they dreamy or simply yawn-inducing?

Too Faced Only In Your Dreams Holiday 2011 Collection

Here's an overview of Too Faced's holiday 2011 collection--Only In Your Dreams...

In Your Dreams Palette - $39 retail

Glamour to Go: Dream Edition - $22 retail

Beautiful Dreamer Set - $46 retail

Final Thoughts
I don't see the holiday or winter connection, to be honest. If you're looking for softer shades in general you may be interested in these, but I can't get excited over this collection personally. 


Where to Buy
This is available now on the Too Faced website HERE.

 

Wednesday

Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet


I heard about the announcement Amazon was making about a potential new tablet--one that might rival the iPad--and started following all the rumors and updates. I'm pretty excited about this because it has some great features and the price is right.

Aside from some changes to the kindles we're already familiar with (things like a touch screen model), Amazon announced the release of the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is essentially a small tablet that offers a lot. It's like the Kindle in the sense that it supports electronic reading, but it also offers many other features/benefits.

Overview
  • An impressive color touchscreen
  • Super detailed color displays of magazines
  • User-friendly interface
  • Ultra-fast mobile browsing through Amazon's new Amazon Silk Browser in addition to Amazon Web Services cloud
  • FREE cloud storage! Meaning you don't have to rely on your device for all of your storage!
  • Super durable screen (a special material that's supposed to prevent some of the typical bumps and scratches)
  • Amazon Whispersync provides automatic backup of your data 
  • Email app that combines all of your accounts
  • Document support of documents including PDFs, new and older versions of Word, etc.
  • Free month of Amazon Prime (unlimited streaming of movies and videos as well as free 2-day shipping on qualified items--love this! I did a trial a few months ago and was impressed)
  • Access to 100,000 movies and tv shoes (not new, but a great feature)
  • A dual-core processor (so excited about this!)
  • Access to all of your favorite apps and games
  • Millions of electronic books (again, nothing new, but great all the same)
  • Children's e-books (nothing new, but great for families)
  • 17 million songs (impressive and a good iPad competitor)
Price
This goes for $199 with free shipping. It can be pre-ordered now and will begin to ship Nov 15th.

Where to Buy
This can only be purchased through Amazon. Pre-order HERE

Final Thoughts
I have gotta get one of these!

Spotlight: Amazon Tablet Kindle Fire

I know this isn't exactly beauty related, but we do a lot of beauty purchasing online and the Kindle Fire gives you online and shopping access so there's some correlation, right? ;) I'm a bit of a geek and I've always enjoyed my electronics (palm, smartphone, computers, etc.). I was seriously thrilled when I started readering different rumors about Amazon's upcoming announcement about a potential new tablet. I've been following live blogs all day and wanted to update you on what Amazon is releasing!
Pulled from Amazon.com

Aside from some changes to the kindles we're already familiar with (things like a touch screen model), Amazon is releasing the Kindle Fire. The Kindle Fire is essentially a small tablet that packs a punch. It's like the Kindle in the sense that it supports electronic reading, but in addition it also offers many features/benefits.

Overview
  • An impressive color touchscreen
  • Super detailed color displays of magazines
  • User-friendly interface
  • Ultra-fast mobile browsing through Amazon's new Amazon Silk Browser in addition to Amazon Web Services cloud
  • FREE cloud storage! Meaning you don't have to rely on your device for all of your storage!
  • Super durable screen (a special material that's supposed to prevent some of the typical bumps and scratches)
  • Amazon Whispersync provides automatic backup of your data 
  • Email app that combines all of your accounts
  • Document support of documents including PDFs, new and older versions of Word, etc.
  • Free month of Amazon Prime (unlimited streaming of movies and videos as well as free 2-day shipping on qualified items--love this! I did a trial a few months ago and was impressed)
  • Access to 100,000 movies and tv shoes (not new, but a great feature)
  • A dual-core processor (so excited about this!)
  • Access to all of your favorite apps and games
  • Millions of electronic books (again, nothing new, but great all the same)
  • Children's e-books (nothing new, but great for families)
  • 17 million songs (impressive and a good iPad competitor)
Price
This goes for $199 with free shipping. It can be pre-ordered now and will begin to ship Nov 15th.

Where to Buy
This can only be purchased through Amazon! Pro-order HERE

Final Thoughts
I am definitely going to be purchasing one of these!

Tuesday

Review: Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20


jack black double-duty moisturizer reviewI have been using the Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer with SPF 20 for about a week now, so here are my thoughts on it.

The first time I used it I was impressed with how well it worked.  My face felt great hours later, even though I didn't have to use much of the moisturizer. I had the same results on day 2 and 3--a well moisturized face. I didn't have any irritation of any kind and I tend to have combination skin that leans towards dry. 


Men’s Skin Care Product
Scent Appeal
Greasiness
Overall Effectiveness
Skin Irritation  After Use
Overall Score (Highest Being 5)
Jack Black – Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20
4 – very light smell
0
4
0
4
On a scale of 1-5 (1 being a little, 5 being a lot). 0 means it did not do this at all.


My final thoughts on this product is that it works very well. There was a very subtle scent, but nothing that lasts on your skin. The only thing I did notice was that if I used slightly too much, it was very hard to rub completely into my skin.  Just don't overdo it.

Price
Jack Black Double-Duty Face Moisturizer comes in a few different sizes:
  • 1.5 oz - $17
  • 3.3 oz - $27
  • 8.5 oz - $48
Where to Buy
You can purchase this directly on the Jack Black website HERE or at other stores that carry men's skin care like Sephora, Ulta, etc.   

On a side note, my wife is excited that it has sunscreen in it. She's always on me about protecting my skin for the sun, so this makes it easy.

Review: Votre Vu Eye Beauty Balm

I was recently given the opportunity to try Votre Vu Eye Beauty Balm--my first encounter with Votre Vu! As I grow closer to 30, I've noticed I'm  becoming increasingly concerned with the health of the skin on and around my eyes. I've been wearing eye makeup daily for at least 12 years and while I've tried to be careful, I know my eyes have taken a little bit of a beating.

At First Glance
Packaging: I strongly prefer glass jars over plastic for a number of different reasons (especially the fact that they don't leech chemicals into the products they hold), so I was really glad to see that this product came in a lovely glass jar!

Scent: This product has a very light fragrance that's a mixture of citrus and floral in my opinion.

Application: This balm glides right onto your skin and melts in like a dream! It didn't absorb completely into my lids, and did leave them feeling a bit slick. I have a very small bit of oiliness to my lids naturally, but not much at all and I'd consider my skin in general to be combination/normal.  Keep in mind, I wouldn't be able to apply this to my eyes and then put my eyeshadow on without it creasing. If you have drier skin it may actually absorb completely.

Ingredients: PARAFFIN, DECYL OLEATE, BEESWAX (CERA ALBA), LANOLIN, MICROCRYSTALLINE WAX (CERA MICROCRISTALLINA), CALENDULA OFFICINALIS FLOWER OIL, SIMMONDSIA CHINENSIS (JOJOBA) OIL, CHOLESTEROL, ISOPROPYL MYRISTATE, PROPYLPARABEN, BHT, CITRUS AURANTIUM DULCIS (ORANGE) FLOWER OIL, TOCOPHERYL ACETATE.

Claim v. Reality
Claim (pulled from press materials for this product):  
"Rehabilitating mature aging skin around the delicate eye area, this corrective and emollient balm is a highly effective combination of luxe ingredients specifically formulated to counter the three prominent signs of aging – moisture loss, collagen breakdown, and free radical damage. Calendula oil, a natural anti-inflammatory, is added to reduce the appearance of under-eye puffiness while orange oil improves the appearance of the delicate skin around the eyes and helps correct age-related damage. Jojoba oil and Vitamin E protect the delicate skin from environmental stresses and support the restructuring of the tissue. A super anti-aging agent at your call – Lucky You!"

Here's the Reality: I was genuinely shocked by how improved my lids and skin around my eyes felt after just one night! This literally left my skin supple and dewy. I didn't realize how tired and "old" the skin felt before. I have rarely come across an eye cream, gel, lotion, etc. that's made a huge difference, and definitely not one that's made such a noticeable difference over night. I was impressed. 


Major Pros or Cons
  • Pro - Effective! This really made a huge difference on my lids and the skin around my eyes with just one application over night.
  • Pro -  Fabulous ingredients. This product has some of my favorite ingredients including beeswax, natural oils, and Calendula extract.
  • Pro - Versatile. Votre Vu Eye Beauty Balm can also be used to soften problem areas such as elbows, knees, and heels.
  • Pro/Con - Price. The price per jar is $49. This is more expensive than popular drugstore brands, but more affordable than many high-end products. It depends on your budget as to whether this price is a pro or con.
  • Con - This product, to my dismay, includes parabens. If you follow my blog, you know I try to avoid products with parabens, pthalates, silicone, etc. I do use some products that I can't seem to do without that include these products on occasion, but not regularly.
Overall Impression
Votre Vu Eye Beauty Balm is a probably one of the most effective eye products I've ever tried when it comes to moisturizing and revitalizing. I love so many of the ingredients, it makes me sad that this product includes parabens. 

Price
The price for a .24 fl oz jar is $49 retail. 

Where to Buy
You can purchase Votre Vu Eye Beauty Balm from their site HERE.  

Would I recommend it or use it again?
I may use it occasionally when I think my eyes need a special little boost, but because of the presence of parabens I personally wouldn't use it daily. I would definitely suggest this to a beauty fanatic looking for a great eye product that doesn't mind parabens. I would also suggest this to someone like myself that tries to avoid them, but makes exceptions on occasion with full disclosure that this product includes parabens. It's really a personal choice. Bottom line, this is a fantastically effective product and it's up to you whether or not one ingredient prevents you from trying it!

This product was provided for review by PR.  

  

Sale and Promo Alert! NYX Sale: Hautelook or Promo Code?

NYX is on Hautelook.com today for around 40% off. The sale is decent if you're looking to stock up on some of their shadows or lippies. I'm personally not a huge fan of a lot of their eye shadows, but some people definitely seem to love them. Now, if you've visited the sale (click HERE - affiliate link) and you're in love with everything that's awesome! Who doesn't love a deal?

But, if you find that the sets are full of only a few things you want or if things you wished were on sale aren't, you do have another opportunity to purchase NYX at a discount! NYX currently has a promo code (which I just tested) for 30% off. Now this isn't 40%, but if your shopping cart hits $50 or more before you apply the discount you get free shipping from NYX. I tried this and it worked in my cart.

Promo code: NYXLOVESBGG

Expiration: 9/30/11

Fine print: This code will not be applicable towards discounted items, sale items, Starter Kits, Train Cases, Makeup Chairs, Mirrors, or Beauty Bags. All other product including S sets and Makeup Artist Tool Belts will be available for purchase at a 30% discount. 

Monday

Spotlight: Concalma Bags - Eco-friendly, fair trade, and sensational!


Concalma is an amazing company that I recently became aware of that creates super fabulous totes, clutches, and messenger bags. While the term “tote” may leave you wondering why I’m dedicating an entire post to a company that produces such a common product, you’ll have to trust me that Concalma and the toes they produce are anything but common!

To begin, Concalma is the brainchild of Matilsha Marxuach, who wished to create a functionally stylish bag by using local resources and reused products, while focusing on practicality. Her bags are each made to suit a specific purpose and it’s clear they do so well. Matilsha, whose company is based in Puerto Rico, was kind enough to allow me to do a little Q&A with her via email regarding her company, mission, and totes!

Q&A
Me: What was the inspiration behind the tote designs?
Matilsha: My main inspiration was functionality as well as using local resources, reusing products, maintaining practicality, and last but not least maintaining style.

Me: Explain the setup of the women's industrial co-op that manufactures the totes.
Matilsha: The women’s co-op where Concalma manufactures its handbags is an industrial factory that opened when a group of women got together after losing their jobs when 2 apparel factories they worked in closed. We believe in seeking ways to remain self-sufficient as well as creating local jobs.

Me: How do you decide which fabric/strap combinations to produce?
Matilsha: I dream about them; I write about the combos; I think about them; and I take risks. This is my passion and it is my job as a designer. I may be inspired by a color or a pattern and play with juxtaposing it with another color to see what happens. I also get inspiration from nature during daily treks—the color of the ocean next to the different colors of the sand; the freeway as a clash of black and yellow.

Me: How often do the fabric/strap combinations remain available before you switch to another combination?
Matilsha: We do monthly collections and we never produce more than 25 of the same style and fabric/strap combination.

Me: Which fabric/strap combination has been your absolute favorite since you began designing them in 2005?
Matilsha: We began prototyping in 2005, then industrially manufacturing in 2006. I love so many of the bags past and present. At the moment I am using a Swiss Gold Dots Diario style with a Gold/Navy Gold strap. I really dig the Gold/Navy Gold combo, it goes great with blue and/or red.

I also love red and blue combos, I feel they are very classic. There is also one right now that has classic canvas color stripes with a navy/aqua strap that is fun! I really like combinations that have grey in them, whether in the strap or the fabric.

One that is particularly close to my heart is our Pac Man Collection, which has the yellow/royal blue yellow combo.

But I have to say, my all-time favorite is a white with pink lilies fabric with a royal yellow strap.

Price
Prices range from $40-$60 from what I can see.

Where to Buy
Bags can be purchased on Concalma’s website at www.shopconcalma.com

Final Thoughts
These bags are fabulous, the company is fabulous, and Concalma owner, Matilsha Marxuach, is fabulous!I purchased one through their sale on Fab.com and I'm anxious to see what they put out in October! I'm a big fan of modern colors like black and white, gray, or blue. We'll see!

Sunday

Have I crossed the vintage line?!

I love Fab.com (affiliate link); I'm written about this fun sample sale site a few times in the past. But that's actually not the focus of this post. When I went on there to check out the new sales for the day, a store selling quirky printed tees and vintage items caught my eye. I clicked my way through and began scrolling through rows of fun stuff. Then something caught my eye.

A listing for "4 Vintage Kodak Camera" stood out to me. I love looking at vintage cameras, but something in the image seemed a little too familiar. I clicked on the image of the 4 cameras to get a closer look and sure enough, there was my childhood camera sitting right in front of me. When I was a kid I got a camera for either a birthday or Christmas. I was around 5 when I got it. I remember this because we had gone to Hawaii to visit my paternal relatives and I'd lost my purse (I have always been a purse lover) in a canoe we'd taken a ride on in the Polynesian Cultural Center. My purse had a few of my favorite things including my camera. When we got back I remember my parents replacing it with a different Kodak camera. This one was flat, rectangular, and purple with a small mickey mouse picture in one corner. It also had a hold in the top where a row of flash bulbs fit in (yes, flash bulbs). It took 100mm film and I loved it.

My point to all of this is that an adult model of the camera I owned was in a listing for vintage items!

According to Merriam Webster, Vintage is defined as:

1: of wine : of, relating to, or produced in a particular vintage
2: of old, recognized, and enduring interest, importance, or quality : classic
3a : dating from the past : old b : outmoded, old-fashioned
4: of the best and most characteristic —used with a proper noun <vintage Shaw: a wise and winning comedy — Time>

I remember being told that for collectors vintage refers to things that are under 100 years, which are then considered antique once they cross that threshold. I'm not sure how accurate that is, but either way ... OLD????

I didn't think I was old enough to have items similar to what I had as a young kid put on sale as "vintage" collectors' items!

Looking back, my kids and even younger siblings never saw a camera that used real film; and definitely not one that used real flash bulbs of any kind.

I did some digging to try to find this camera that I probably haven't thought about in at least 15-20 years and managed to find it! You can see it HERE.  

This really made me feel a bit old. I know that my kids, who are growing up with things like iPads, blueray players, etc., are a far different generation than the one I was born into ... but I can't help feeling as though I'm starting to cross the line of remembering "the way things were". Ok ... that made me want to watch "The Way We Were" with Barbra Streisand :) Love that movie, though unrelated to this post. See it if you haven't! Ugh, so good! I love movies from the last century, not just the last decade. I swear my younger siblings (significantly younger) think an old movie is something released in the 90s. Oy vey. Ok, taking my crotchety self off of here so that I can get back to work and spend some time with hubs and the boys :)

I know we're only as old as we feel/think ... but that made me feel as though they labeled me "old" before my time! I did have a quarter-life crisis at 19. So fun for my friends at the time ;) Oh well, c'est la vie!

Review & Swatches: China Glaze Haunting Halloween Collection 2011

As soon as I saw the China Glaze Haunting Halloween 2011 Collection I knew I had to have it! It's not every day you get a mix of crackle, glitter, and glowing polish all in one swoop ;)  I actually purchased 2 of the 4-piece sets that were released with this collection so that I could give 1 away in my Ghoulishly Glam Nail Polish Giveaway, which is going on right now! You can enter until September 30, 2011 HERE.

Anyway, I wanted to do a post on this set because it's so fun and perfect for Halloween or any day where you want a little something different on your nails! I'm going to break this set down by polish with a short review after to keep things organized.

It's Alive
It's Alive has a mostly sheer olive colored base (I wouldn't say it's very jelly-ish) with a mix of micro- and slightly chunkier glitter of a lighter olive color. It almost reminds me of a sparkly camo. 

Application:  It's Alive is a glitter polish. My first coat left me skeptical because it applied unevenly. It seemed to stick to my base coat for some reason even though it was completely dry. The 2nd coat, however, was perfection. It left my nail looking evenly coated in olive green glitter.

Feel: I find that glitter polish often bothers me. I hate when it feels gritty even under a top coat. This is definitely slightly course feeling, but with a top coat it seems to be slightly uneven but less scratchy.

2 Coats China Glaze It's Alive

Ghoulishly Glow
Ghoulishly Glow 1 Coat
Ghoulishly Glow is a glow-in-the-dark top coat! This isn't completely clear, there is a slight, light green milkiness. I don't know how this would affect other polishes, but I think it beautifully complements It's Alive. I was actually super pleased with the pairing of these two.

Application: Applying Ghoulishly Glow was super easy and seemed to go on evenly with each coat. The 1st coat slightly softened the overall look of the glitter polish. I thought this was nice.

The 2nd coat of Ghoulishly Glow was also easy to apply and went on evenly. This 2nd coat really softened the overall look and left it looking a bit more sophisticated in my opinion. I really, really liked the way this looked! 
Ghoulishly Glow 2 Coats

Glowing Effect: I wondered how much Ghoulishly Glow top coat would actually glow. I knew that it glowed in the bottle just from shutting my desk lamp off, but I'm always skeptical as to how things will compare from bottle to nail. You'll be happy to know that Ghoulishly Glow does glow on your nail! It did take 2 coats for it to be noticeable. A 3rd and maybe 4th coat might make it even stronger. If you follow my blog you know I have a 2-coat rule for any polish/top coat, etc. I would say that the glow on your nail lasts just a minute or two from my experience.

It was very hard to capture the "glow", but you can see it here. As you can sort of tell from the picture, with 2 coats you can see the glitter a bit through the glowing in the dark.


Bottle v. Nail Glow
The glow of this polish in the bottle is definitely stronger than it is on your nail, it also lasts longer. Again, if you want to try a 3rd and maybe 4th coat that may make a big difference.
Nail v. Bottle Glow. As you can see, the bottle is pretty nuts and the nail is more subtle.

Black Mesh Crackle
Black Mesh is China Glaze's black crackle polish. I've tried a few different black crackles and so far the ones I've tried have skewed between looking like black leather and dull black plastic. It doesn't bother me that the black has more of a flat than gloss finish, but I'm not a fan of the crackles that are super dull black. A semi-gloss or eggshell-like finish would be my preference.

Application: I haven't had as much trouble with crackles/shatters (*knock on wood*) as some other polish lovers I know and China Glaze's Black Mesh Crackle is great in my opinion! It dries quickly, so definitely apply it quickly. Also, I tend to be lighter-handed with my crackles, which sometimes works with different formulas. This one worked well with less polish on the brush as opposed to applying it thick.

Crackle Effect: I thought this resulted in a very obvious crackle effect that spread far enough apart that you could see the polish underneath fairly well!
I think that's a pretty great black crackle polish!

It's Alive + Ghoulishly Glow + Black Mesh
I wanted to capture how these polishes all look together. It was kind of challenging, but at least it gives you some idea. You can sort of see the Ghoulishly Glow peaking out from behind the Black Mesh in the dark.

 
The 4th polish included in this set is the Fast Forward Top Coat. I didn't use this for this post, but when I do I'll definitely post about how effective it is.

What do you think? I love it!

Price
I've seen this vary between $13-$20 depending on where you purchase it.

Where to Buy
You can purchase this from different beauty supply stores as well as from online stores like Amazon.com. You can view it on Amazon HERE.