Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Calvin Klein Downtown

I received samples of the new Calvin Klein fragrance with my last Sephora order and then was given even more samples of it when I bought some perfume gift sets at Macy*s.  Downtown is a fragrance that is inspired by New York City.  I was very excited when I saw that the Rooney Mara (in Lisbeth mode) was the model for this ad campaign and I tried this fragrance out with high hopes.  I initially liked this fragrance however I have decided that Downtown will be added to the list of Calvin Klein fragrances that are not my cup of tea.  With the exception of a handful of fragrances, Calvin Klein has never been a brand that has created perfumes that I have liked.  I find that this company creates many fragrances that skirt the line between masculine and feminine and these are just not the types of minimalism fragrances that I would wear very often.

I think that I really wanted to love Downtown for two big reasons.  The first reason is that it Rooney Mara is the cover model for this ad campaign and I love her minimalist downtown style.  The second reason that I wanted to love this fragrance is that it smells like nothing that I already own and it is very unique.  I own nothing like this fragrance for a reason...I just do not like unisex fragrances and would rather own a massive collection of floral fragrances. 

I found this fragrance on the Macy*s website, it states that Downtown is, "This urban women's fragrance is sophisticated and extremely feminine yet has a confident edge. Featuring scents of watery plum and gardenia, you'll never get tired of this divine scent." 

The key fragrance notes are: Neroli tunisia, fresh green pear, watery plum, gardenia petals, pink peppercorn, violet leaf, Texan cedarwood, vetiver, benzoin Laos orpur and musk. 

As I stated above, I find that Downtown could be a unisex fragrance.  The gardenia and violet leaf notes barely come out on my skin and I usually wear white florals very strongly.  I get mostly the pear, cedarwood, and vetiver notes from Downtown.  I did like how different this was but I didn't like how it wore on my skin.  It reminded me more of a men's cologne than a fragrance geared toward females.  If the floral notes were stronger, I probably would have been able to wear this fragrance but that is not the case so I will not be buying a full bottle of this fragrance.

The other disappointing aspect of this fragrance is the wear time.  Calvin Klein fragrances have never worn very long on my skin and I find that they tend to be heavy on top notes and don't last on many people's skin.  I got about two hours worth of wear time from this fragrance and I found that I needed to reapply it several times throughout my day and have been running through the samples that I have very quickly.

I was very hopeful that I had found a new perfume when I started trying these samples and I really wanted to like this fragrance but it just isn't for me.  I will finish the little bit left in my samples up but then I will be moving onto another perfume.

photo courtesy of Macy*s

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bath and Body Works Velvet Sugar

The holidays are less than three weeks away and I am done with my Christmas shopping and am trying my hardest to stay away from the mall.  I did have to run over the other day and was able to try out the new fragrance that Bath and Body Works has just brought out to finish the holiday season up and I know that I will not need it for either myself or anyone on my shopping list.  Bath and Body Works fragrances aren't really doing much for me lately, the only one that has worked for me since the beginning of last fall was Forever Midnight and I haven't even been using this one on a regular basis.  I have been loving all the candles and other Home Fragrance items that have come out this holiday season but the fragrances just aren't winners for me.  Maybe next spring will bring some new ones for me...

Velvet Sugar is the Bath and Body Works version of Pink Sugar, a fragrance that I wore in college and got over as soon as I finished up my bottles of the perfume and the matching body products.  I wanted to like this fragrance for the same reason that I love the Vanilla Bean Noel fragrance, I love sweet cupcake fragrances around the holidays and then will use them all the way through Valentine's Day.  It's a good thing that I buy Vanilla Bean Noel body products every single year and have a good stock pile of them to use once the stores are sold out of the fragrance.  I wanted to like this fragrance and add the body products to my line up but this one just isn't for me.

Velvet Sugar is said to be modeled after a Red Velvet Cupcake, one of my favorite desserts and one of the best holiday candles that Bath and Body Works has come out with this season.  "Savor every moment of this sweetly sumptuous blend of red velvet créme and golden plum laced with a swirl of sugared musk, pink jasmine and wild strawberries. Too much is never enough."  The top notes are: Wild Strawberries, White Nectarine, Pear Blossom, Apple Nectar.  The middle notes of the fragrance are:  Pink Jasmine, Golden Plum, Red Velvet Créme, Dewy Honeysuckle, Freesia.  The base notes are: Golden Amber, Vanilla , Tolu Balsam, Caramel, Baileys Créme, Sugared Musk. 

What is Tolu Balsam and what is it doing in this fragrance?!  I tried this fragrance in the EDP and the matching Body Lotion and didn't fall in love with either.  I loved the perfume bottle and actually wanted to love this fragrance just to have it sitting on my bureau but I couldn't bring myself to buy the perfume just to set the bottle out.  This fragrance is all strawberries, sugar, sweet musk, and more sugar.  I think I got a tooth ache from just trying this fragrance on...

The perfume is a mixture of the berry and sugar on me and then it settles down into the musk note, I got several compliments on the fragrance when I was wearing it but I still didn't like the way that it smelled.  The lotion was more sugar and the shower gel was more strawberry, I considered buying the body products but I didn't love the fragrance enough to add more products to my already overloaded bureau and shower caddy.  Maybe I will revisit this fragrance around Valentine's Day and see if my views on it change.

I put up a picture of the EDP in this fragrance because I love the packaging so much.  The rest of the packaging and products are more in line with the traditional Signature Collection products.  You can purchase the following products in this fragrance: Fine Fragrance Mist, Shower Gel, Body Lotion, Triple Moisture Body Cream, Luxury Bubble Bath, and Shimmer Mist.  I am only considering the body products to be worthy of retrying next Valentine's Day, I cannot wear any of the fragrances in Velvet Sugar and doubt that my mind will change any time soon.

This hasn't been the best fall season for fragrances for me from this company but the candles and matching Wallflower Bulbs have been spot on and are one of the best holiday collections that I have seen in several years from this company.

photo courtesy of Bath and Body Works

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream

We are now in the second week of December and I have been changing up the products in my skincare regime to match the cold weather outside, I have been using one new skincare products over the past few weeks that I have become a big fan of and I am really happy that I decided to purchase.  I have never used skincare from the brand Bobbi Brown before and I decided to try a hydrating eye cream from this company.  I tend to use two very different types of formulas for day and night, I only want a very hydrating formula to use at night and I don't need any of de-puffing properties that I require in a eye cream used for daytime.  I started off by using this eye cream for night use but I do think that this is one of the few eye cream formulas that I could actually use for both night and day usage.

There are two hydrating eye cream formulas from Bobbi Brown, I chose the less rich of the two as the richer formula was not available in the store when I bought my jar of this product.  I would consider switching this formula out to a day usage during the coldest days of the winter and then ordering the richer of the two formulas for nighttime use.  As for right now, I will be using this product for my night eye cream and then I will update and review the other formula if I decide that I need more moisture in my eye area as the winter continues.

"A hydrating cream that refreshes the eye area and prepares it for a seamless concealer application.  This luxurious, concentrated cream is absorbed quickly, allowing it to deliver naturally occurring humectants that virtually melt into the skin. Before makeup application, a perfect level of emollients imparts a lightweight texture, allowing concealer to glide on evenly. Use in the evening to boost skin's ability to recharge and rehydrate during the nightly repair process. It plumps fine lines and improves skin's overall tone and texture. Skin looks and feels stronger and healthier. It leaves the eye area soft, smooth, and refreshed for up to 24 hours.", states the Sephora website. 

I have been really loving this eye cream so far and I would recommend it to anyone that has normal to dry skin around their eyes.  A very small amount applied to each eye fully hydrates and soothes the delicate under eye skin and this area looks and feels moist and plump when I wake up each morning.  This product has a light creamy texture and sinks easily right into the skin and doesn't leave an oily residue on this area.  There is a slight perfume smell to the product but it does not bother my eyes at all. 

 My least favorite aspect about this product is that it is contained in a jar, I do not love dipping my finger into the same jar over and over again.  I wish that this product was contained in a tube, the product is a thin enough texture that a tube container would be very workable.  I can see how the very hydrating formula might not work with a tube but I don't see any reason why this one can't be housed in that type of container.

The Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream is a solid formula for anyone with normal to dry skin, I wouldn't recommend it to someone with very oily skin.  I think that I would continue to use it more as a night cream as it doesn't contain any special ingredient for relieving puffy eyes before makeup application. 

photo courtesy of Sephora 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Urban Decay Naked 3 Eye Shadow Palette

This has certainly been a weekend full of Urban Decay and we are now ready to start looking at the Naked 3 palette in more detail.  We started talking about this new Urban Decay palette yesterday with a brief review of the first two palettes in this series and then looking at where in the series this new palette fits in.  Naked 3 is different than both of the previous two palettes and I do feel that I need to own all three of them, this new palette contains rose gold shades that I will be wearing in the warmer weather.  I find this palette to be less "neutral" than the other two and this one will be used for a very specific type of eye look in the summer months.

The Urban Decay website provides the following product description and descriptions of the shades contained in the palette.  "Experiment with 12 NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN (and insanely beautiful) rose-hued neutrals—from pale, shimmery pink to deep black matte with rosy red micro-glitter. It's finally here: the long-awaited follow-up Naked and Naked2 (two of the industry's all-time bestselling palettes)! And this time around, we're giving you a dozen NEW ways to get Naked. (Yes, we loaded this palette with 12 NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN shades.).  Choose from every finish imaginable: ultra-smooth mattes, gorgeous pearls and glimmering metallics. From the palest, shimmery pink to deep, warm black, these neutrals will make you want to get Naked all over again. Every shade features our Pigment Infusion System™ the proprietary blend of ingredients that gives each shade its velvety texture, rich color, serious staying power and blendability.  Naked3 includes a NEW double-ended shadow/blending brush."

I love that this palette contains all brand new shades that are exclusive to the palette, I have some repeats between the first two Naked palettes and my current collection of single eye shadows from this brand.  The shades contained in the newest Naked palette are: Strange (pale neutral pink matte-satin), Dust (pale metallic pink shimmer w/iridescent micro-glitter), Burnout (light pinky-peach satin), Limit (light dusty rose matte), Buzz (metallic rose shimmer w/silver micro-glitter), Trick (light metallic pinky-copper shimmer w/tonal micro-sparkle), Nooner (medium pinky-brown matte), Liar (medium metallic mauve shimmer), Factory (pinky-brown satin), Mugshot (metallic taupe shimmer w/slight pink shift), Darkside (deep taupe-mauve satin) and Darkheart (smoky black matte w/rosy red micro-sparkle).


I have started to swatch and use this palette over the past two days and I already see that I will be using the shades on the left side of this one much more than I will be using the shades on the right side.  This trend has held true with the two previous palettes and I am sure that it will hold with any other palettes that might come out in this line.  Overall, this palette contains more shimmer and satin shades than some of the other palettes and I also think the formula on these is slightly softer and creamier than the previous two palettes.

I have already created eye looks with Strange, Burnout, Trick, and Factory; any combination of these shades will create a pretty rose gold eye look that would look lovely in the summer months.  I haven't created eye looks with any of the more pink-toned shades yet as I am not quite sure how I plan to combine these shades.  In addition, I have only used Darkside as a liner with the four shades that I had mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph.  I think that my least favorite shade of the palette is Darkheart, I can't see myself using this matte black with red shimmer in it and I doubt that I will get much (or any) use from it. 

I will putting this palette aside for the next few months and then pull it out again in the beginning of the summer, Naked and Naked 2 will continue to be in my constant rotation until I change my makeup around for summer.  I also feel that many of the shades in Naked 3 will look better once I pair them with a bronzer on my face and a pretty nude gloss on my lips.  I have to admit that I might not have bought a palette with these shades in if it wasn't put out by Urban Decay and a part of my favorite collection of eye shadow palettes but I have bought it and I will be using it on the days that I want to recreate a sunset on my eyelids.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Urban Decay Naked 3 Eye Palette - Where Does It Fit In Your Makeup Collection?

One of the most anticipated releases of the month is the newest addition to the Urban Decay family of Naked Eye Shadow Palettes.  Everyone that reads this blog is aware that the original Naked Palette and the Naked 2 Palette are two of my favorite eye shadow palettes and ones that I tend to reach for over and over again.  I have been using the Naked 2 palette at least three times a week since the middle of fall and I got very excited when I heard that Urban Decay was adding another palette to this collection.  Naked 2 was one of my favorite releases of late 2011 and I feel this Naked 3 will be one of my favorite products of late 2013.  It arrived in the mail yesterday after ordering it late last week from Urban Decay's website and I have started to swatch and play around with the shades in it.

I am saving my reviews and thoughts on the actual Naked 3 palette for tomorrow's post, I wanted to start with a post that quickly reviewed the other two palettes and then looked to see where Naked 3 would fall into the mix.  The original Naked palette is full of warm shades and the second Naked palette is full of cool shades, is this palette closer to one of them or is it completely different creation?

We will start at the beginning...  The Urban Decay website provides the following description of the original Naked Eye Palette and then the following shade descriptions, "It’s the palette that revolutionized neutrals forever. Loaded with 12 bronze-hued shadows in an insane range of textures only Wende and our product development team could dream up—including matte, satin, shimmer and sparkle—Naked proves that neutral is anything but boring. From the palest champagne to the grittiest gunmetal, it’s all here. Whether you’re going for a laid-back, beachy vibe or black-tie drama, you’ll definitely look better Naked.". 

The shades contained in the original Naked palette are: Virgin (cool pale beige shimmer), Sin (champagne shimmer), Naked (nude matte), Sidecar (beige shimmer w/silver micro-glitter), Buck (fawn brown matte), Half Baked (golden bronze shimmer), Smog (deep coppery bronze shimmer), Darkhorse (deep mocha shimmer), Toasted (antique copper penny shimmer), Hustle (plum-brown satin), Creep (onyx shimmer w/gold sparkle) and Gunmetal (dark metallic gray shimmer w/silver micro-glitter).

I dip into the shades on the left side of this palette more than I use the deeper tones on the right side of the palette.  Virgin, Sin, and Naked are the shades I use all over and then I use the rest of the shades right on the lid.  All of the shades are the classic Urban Decay eye shadow formula and only Darkhorse and Buck are on the challenging side to fully blend.  Half Baked applies so smoothly that it feels like I am applying a cream shadow, this is one of the few shades that I can apply perfectly by tapping it on with my finger.

The second palette contains shades that are much more on the cool toned side and features a range of lovely taupe hues.  "You demanded “MORE NAKED!”—and Naked2 delivers. From luminous shades with shimmer and sparkle to the smoothest mattes imaginable, Naked2 is packed with 12 never-boring taupe-hued neutrals (including a gorgeous grayish brown, a glittery copper and our lewdest, blackest black). Expand your Naked range to create even more sultry neutral looks, smoky dramatic looks and everything in between.", states the company's website.

The shades contains in the Naked 2 palette are: Foxy (cream bisque matte), Half Baked (golden bronze shimmer), Bootycall (cork shimmer), Chopper (copper shimmer w/silver micro-glitter), Tease (creamy pale brown matte), Snakebite (dark bronze shimmer), Suspect (pale golden beige shimmer), Pistol (light grayish brown shimmer), Verve (oyster shimmer), YDK (cool bronze shimmer), Busted (deep brown shimmer) and Blackout (blackest black matte).

I find that I also tend to use the shades more on the left of the Naked 2 palette more than I do the shades on the right.  I use Blackout mostly as a liner and use Busted and YDK only in very dramatic smoky eye looks.  Foxy is the only shade that I use all over the eye and I have nearly hit pan on it already.  Chopper is my staple from this palette, it has a beautiful shimmer finish and is another shade that I prefer to tap on with my finger.

I have found that I use the original Naked palette in the fall and then tend to pick up Naked 2 more in the winter months.  Naked 3 is really not like either of the two palettes, I could call this palette "Naked: Summer Edition" and this would be a fitting title for the shades found in it.  It leans more on the warm side so I find it the least like the shades in Naked 2.  I am sure that any makeup collector will be adding this to his or her collection without a second thought and we will look more in depth at the actual palette tomorrow.

photo courtesy of Google
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Fitness Friday - Yoga Bridge Pose

We are back on yoga poses for this week's and next week's Fitness Friday.  Today we are looking at Bridge Pose and then we will be looking more at Shoulder Stand next week.  Bridge is one of the preparatory poses for Shoulder Stand and belongs to the family of Backbend Poses.  Bridge is a very versatile pose, I have done it to get ready for Shoulder Stand and to begin preparations for more inversion poses.  I have also done this pose in a more supported fashion using well placed blocks during a  restorative yoga session.  Nearly anyone can perform this pose in the supported fashion, we will look at the true pose and then I will provide details on how to modify the position as needed. 

Yoga Journal provides steps to safely get into the pose...

- Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.

- Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.

- Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.

- Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.

- Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

To modify the pose into Supported Bridge, place a block under the sacrum and rest right on it.  This modification makes the pose more restorative and is a wonderful addition to a nighttime routine.  The modification is best used to start the position and by anyone that feels any type of twinge or pain in their lower back when getting into the full pose.  I have been trying to deepen my pose by getting my shoulders closer and closer together each time and then lifting even higher to deepen the back bend. 

Bridge is one of the most versatile yoga poses, it can be relaxing or challenging based on how deep you wish to get into the pose.  I have found that this pose helps to work out the cramps that I can get in my shoulders when writing blog posts and graduate school papers and I have been using this pose more and more as the semester is coming to a close.  Next week, we are going to look at how to start in Bridge position and then begin to experiment with yoga inversions by pushing up into Shoulder Stand.

photo courtesy of Yoga Journal

Thursday, December 5, 2013

RiRi Hearts MAC Holiday Collection

We are now onto what I believe is the last holiday collection from MAC, it is another one in the series of highly popular RiRi Hearts MAC collections that started coming out in the very beginning of the summer months.  I have no idea when Rihanna's popularity will begin to wane but at the moment it shows no sign of stopping and these collections have been instant sell outs and cult favorites. I am considering going onto Ebay when I have some spare time (maybe after finals week) and looking to see what products from the summer and fall collections are being resold for.  I am willing to bet that they are only rising in price and popularity...

In the previous seasons, I have liked many of the eye makeup from the RiRi collections but I have never liked the lip or face products in the collections.  None of those shades have ever looked like they would work for my skin tone, something to be expected since myself and Rihanna have two very different skin tones and there is no way that shades for her would flatter me and vice versa.  I don't have high hopes for this collection and I would only really look at some of the eye makeup shades from the latest part of the RiRi series...

"Rihanna's latest creative collaboration with M·A·C is a series of stunning looks for lips, eyes and face in shades of metallic majesty and confident colour. This limited-edition collection is encased in exclusive white-pearl packaging with RiRi's iconic rose gold detailing. Wrapping it all up, the pink metallic sheen of the RiRi ♥ M·A·C Makeup Bag in a quilted design, uniquely Rihanna.", states the MAC website when providing a description of the overall collection.

Here is the holiday version of the RiRi collection!

RiRi Hearts MAC Veluxe Pearlfusion Shadow: Pfresh Out - Five complementary shades by Rihanna for infinite day-to-night looks: soft champagne, peach gold with pearl, blackened plum, pearlescent pink and violet mauve. Highly pearlized frost finish. Encased in an exclusive white-pearl packaging with RiRi's iconic rose gold detailing. Limited edition.

RiRi Hearts MAC Veluxe Pearlfusion Shadow: 2X Dare - Five complementary shades by Rihanna for infinite day-to-night looks: white silver, deep grey blue, beige-grey, cement with pearl and light crystal mauve. Highly pearlized frost finish. Encased in an exclusive white-pearl packaging with RiRi's iconic rose gold detailing. Limited edition.

RiRi Hearts MAC Superslick Eye Liner - A liquid liner in two limited-edition shades by Rihanna - the shimmering white of Pisces Persuasion and rose gold of Cockiness. Water-based, water-resistant, quick and precise to apply. Dries in 15 seconds to a sleek, long-wearing, wet-look, no-smudge line. The superior no-fuss, no-wobble application lies in the "magic tip" of the easy-to-control dipstick applicator. Exclusive white-pearl RiRi ♥ M∙A∙C packaging.
- Pisces Persuasion - shimmery white
- Cockiness - shimmery rose gold

RiRi Hearts MAC Lipstick - Colour plus texture for the lips that made M∙A∙C famous. Three limited-edition shades created by Rihanna. In Retro Matte - the signature red of RiRi Woo. In Matte - the nude taupe of Bad Girl RiRi and fuchsia of Pleasure Bomb. Exclusive white-pearl RiRi ♥ M∙A∙C packaging.
- Pleasure Bomb - matte fuchsia
- RiRi Woo - matte cool red
- Bad Girl RiRi - matte taupey mauve

RiRi Hearts MAC Bronzing Powder - Rihanna's limited-edition soft, golden brown powder with overspray of gold pearl gives sheer, natural colour and highlights. Ideal for enhancing a skin tone or accenting and enhancing a tan. Formulated for smooth, even application on all skin types. Exclusive white-pearl RiRi ♥ M∙A∙C packaging.
- Love, Rihanna - soft golden brown with overspray of gold pearl

RiRi Hearts MAC Nail Lacquer - Limited-edition matching shade of Rihanna's signature red RiRi Woo in our high-gloss formula. Contains conditioners and UV protection. Exclusive white-pearl RiRi ♥ M∙A∙C packaging.
- RiRi Woo - matte cool red

RiRi Hearts MAC Double-Ended Brush: 217/239SE - On one end: 217 Blending for shading or blending of colour or creamy products. This brush has fine, densely packed fibres arranged in an oval shape. On other end: 239 Eye Shader, smooth, firm fine fibres in a tapered shape and rounded edge to shade or blend eye shadow or emollient-based products. Can be used to build intense colour on the eyelid. Exclusive white-pearl RiRi ♥ M∙A∙C handle.

RiRi Hearts MAC Makeup Bag - Wrap it all up in the pink metallic sheen of a small rectangular, quilted makeup bag by Rihanna. 6.5" x 4.5" x 1.5" with zipper closure. Limited edition.

I think that this might actually be my favorite of the RiRi Hearts MAC collections, in the other collections I haven't liked any of the face and lip products and this collection is the complete opposite.  A big change with this collection is that the lipsticks are my favorite of the collection and the eye makeup shades don't really do much for me.  I love the fuchsia and the red shades that are included with this collection, the red shade is the original shade that came out when the first RiRi collection was released in the early summer and quickly became a sell out classic.  I am betting that the re-release of this shade with the holiday collection will make a lot of ladies very happy and will cause much more traffic coming to the MAC counters, I was never able to get my hands on it the first time around and now I am very excited to see that I have a chance to buy it again without resorting to Ebay!

The Lipsticks are my first choice from this collection and then the next item that I buy will be the red nail polish made to match RiRi's most famous MAC Lipstick shade.  I only like one of the Eye Shadow Palettes, Pfresh Out is the only eye shadow palette that I am interested in from this collection and I don't know that I like it enough to order it.  Some of the warmer shades are nice but they are nothing special and I am sure that I already own every single one of them from previous eye makeup purchases.  I don't like the other palette and I wouldn't use either of the liquid eye liners so the eye makeup products in this collection hold next to no interest for me and I will be skipping over them completely.  I will also be skipping over the bronzer as I am not a huge fan of shimmery bronzers and I don't use them this time of the year.

I am wondering if the RiRi Hearts MAC collection will continue into the spring months and come full circle early next summer or if this is the last collection in the line.  I guess we will see in the coming months if MAC will be continuing with Rihanna or if they will have a new face for their collections.

photo courtesy of MAC