Friday, December 20, 2013

Fitness Friday - Bananas

I have decided to highlight one of my diet staples and favorite fruits in today's Fitness Friday.  I eat a banana every morning for breakfast and this is one of the few fruits that I can easily get all throughout the year, I usually change my diet with the changing of the seasons but bananas are a staple of mine and I wanted to highlight the health benefits they offer.  I have eaten a banana every single day since college and this is a practice that I plan to continue for many years to come.  I will admit that I sometimes enjoy a frozen banana covered in milk chocolate and peanuts but we are going to ignore that fact for now...

I found some details about the health benefits of bananas from livescience.com and I am glad that I have been in the habit of eating bananas for so long.

"The curvy yellow fruits are high in "potassium and pectin, a form of fiber," said Laura Flores, a San Diego-based nutritionist. They can also be a good way to get magnesium and vitamins C and B6. "Bananas are high in antioxidants, which can provide protection from free radicals, which we come into contact with every day, from the sunlight to the lotion you put on your skin,"

"Bananas are known to reduce swelling, protect against developing type-2 diabetes, aid in weight loss, strengthen the nervous system and help with production of white blood cells, all due to the high level of vitamin B6 that bananas contain."

The website also lists the following benefits of this fruit...

- Bananas are good for your heart. They are packed with potassium, a mineral electrolyte that keeps electricity flowing throughout your body, which is required to keep your heart beating. Bananas' high potassium and low sodium content may also help protect your cardiovascular system against high blood pressure, according to the FDA.

- Bananas can be helpful in overcoming depression "due to high levels of tryptophan, which the body converts to serotonin, the mood-elevating brain neurotransmitter". Plus, vitamin B6 can help you sleep well, and magnesium helps to relax muscles.

- Bananas are high in fiber, which can help keep you regular. One banana can provide nearly 10 percent of your daily fiber requirement. Vitamin B6 can also help protect against Type 2 Diabetes and aid in weight loss. In general, bananas are a great weight loss food because they taste sweet and are filling, which helps curb cravings. They also help sustain blood sugar levels during workouts.

- Bananas may not be overflowing with calcium, but they are still helpful in keeping bones strong.  According to a 2009 article in the Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, bananas contain an abundance of fructooligosaccharides. These are nondigestive carbohydrates that encourage digestive-friendly priobotics and enhance the body's ability to absorb calcium.

The article goes on to further state that people should eat no more than two bananas per day.  Excessive amounts can cause sleepiness and headaches.  They also contain a higher amount of sugar than most other fruits and this could quickly cause damage to teeth (if proper oral hygiene is not in place).

Bananas are a staple part of my diet in the morning, they are easy to find and can be purchased any time of the year.  A banana at breakfast helps hold me over until lunch and kills many cravings for mid morning Starbucks snacks...

photo courtesy of Google

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Benefit Rockateur Powder Blush

I have been on a blush collecting kick lately, I have been loving both the Josie Maran Cheek Gel and Tarte Amazonian Clay formulas over the past few months.  I have been collecting a bunch of shades from both of these formulas since the end of the summer and I decided that I needed to branch out and find more formulas to collect.  Benefit is a company known for their award-winning blush formulas and I have liked their Dandelion shade for years.  I was at Sephora the other night and was browsing for new blush formulas and shades when I was shown the newest product from that company.  Rockateur is the newest blush from Benefit and has been sold out ever since its release late last summer.  I had high hopes for this product however this shade is just not for me...

"A provocative rose gold cheek powder.  This rockin’ rose gold cheek powder gives a famously provocative flush that turns heads on stage and off. The crowd will go wild for its sexy faceted design, accented in luxe gold. The angled brush gives rich, show-stopping payoff every time.", states the Sephora's website.  Rockateur is the same great Benefit boxed blush formula however this is just not the shade for me.

Rockateur contains two versions of the rose gold shade in the box, the middle of the product is more of a deep rose matte hue while the outside rim of the product is a shimmery rose gold shade.  The Sephora associate showed me two ways to wear this product but we just couldn't really get it to work well with my skin tone.  We first tried to apply the matte part of the product on my cheekbones and then used the shimmery finish as a topper right on the highest points on my cheekbones.  The second way that we tried it was by swirling the blush brush all over the whole product to mix the two hues and then apply that to my cheekbones,

The first method of application was the better one for me, I loved this when we used the matte hue and I would have been willing to purchase it if the whole product was this shade.  The little bit used to highlight my cheekbones would look pretty with a bronzer in the summer months but seemed to be a bit too much for normal wear.  The second method didn't work at all, I would have only worn the shades mixed together when going out at night.  I would rarely ever use it in this fashion and I don't think that I would use it enough in the first method to both with purchasing this product.

I did like the matte hue in the middle of it, if this product would have been 75% of that shade then this would have been a great purchase for me.  However there is much more of the shimmer product contained in this product and I would spend more time trying to avoid the shimmer around the edges rather than ever using it.  I would rather try and find this shade in a matte finish from another brand and then look for a rose gold highlight to use where the Sephora associate applied the shimmer part of this product.  I am not a fan of shimmery blushes and I just tend to avoid shades with this finish.

I do love Benefit blushes but Rockateur is just not the shade for me...

photo courtesy of Sephora

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Prada Candy

I have decided to treat myself to a new fragrance for the holiday season and I picked one that even surprised me.  I had been testing new fragrances since early last month and there was one fragrance that I fell in love with and could not get out of my head.  My fragrance of choice was Prada Candy, a warm gourmand designed in the fashion that I usually tend to avoid.  I rarely wear warm gourmands and I grabbed the tester of this fragrance as an afterthought.  I had smelled the bottle of this fragrance when it was first released and I decided from the initial whiff that this wasn't a fragrance that I would normally gravitate to.  I prefer florals and oriental fragrances and rarely stray into the world of the sweet gourmand notes.  I still have a bottle of Jessica Simpson Fancy left and I only wear this fragrance once or twice a season, the caramel notes appeal to me but I tend to get sick of it after a few uses and then I put it aside.  The last fragrance that I thought I needed to add to my collection was another gourmand.

When I first smelled the tester, Prada Candy reminded me exactly of that fragrance.  I found the fragrance attractive but decided that it was one that I would rarely ever wear and passed over it.  I tried it out on my skin a few weeks ago for the first time and I began to change my mind on the fragrance.  I liked it more and more while wearing it and I kept trying it on each time that I went to Sephora until I decided to order it for myself several days ago.

The Sephora website provides the following fragrance description and notes contained in it.  "Prada Candy is a fragrance with a novel olfactory balance combining exceptionally high-quality ingredients in excessive proportions. Magnified by white musks, noble benzoin comes together with a modern caramel accord to give the fragrance a truly unique signature.  Prada Candy is impossible to ignore. Its packaging is bold, unconventional, and pop, yet luxurious materials make it sophisticated and timeless. A band of shocking pink saffiano hugs the top of the bottle, inspired by vintage flacons, and bearing the refined Prada logo in sleek gold lettering. The pump, perched on its golden neck like a shiny black half-moon, is the striking finale to the bottle."

The notes of the fragrance are: White Musks, Benzoin, Caramel Accord.

Candy is a fragrance that starts out very strong, I initially didn't feel like I would ever wear this fragrance based on how smells at this point.  It smells exactly like Jessica Simpson Fancy for the first 30 minutes of wear and then the strong caramel note starts to fade off and Candy begins to smell like a gourmand that is much easier to wear on a daily basis.  Once this fragrance fully develops, it smells like a wearable combination of the gourmand and musk notes.  Candy is much lighter than Fancy and can actually be worn in a professional environment, I have never found Fancy to be fully appropriate for this type of environment.  Candy allows me to wear this type of gourmand on a more daily basis and it is a very nice change from the florals that I am always wearing.  This fragrance has about five to six hours of wear and gets lighter throughout the day, some reviews dislike this aspect of the fragrance but it appealed to me since it allows me to wear this type of fragrance in a professional environment.

I finally decided to order a bottle of this fragrance and I have been wearing it nearly every single day since.  I also love the bottle, the bright pink detailing on it looks very attractive on my bureau and it makes me happy to look at it each morning.  I found a new fragrance love and I will be wearing it all the way until the spring months.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Too Faced Spring 2014 Collection - Haute Chocolate

There are less than two weeks until Christmas and the first spring makeup collection has been released very early this morning.  It is still a bit too early for me to start shopping this collection but I am excited to start getting some ideas of what products that I will want to put on my spring shopping list.  Too Faced is the brand that has released their spring collection online today and it will be released to the Sephora and Ulta websites by the end of the month.  The company's website was barely functioning this afternoon when I tried to log on and look at the new products, it seems to be up and functioning at this point however quite a few of the products are already sold out.  I know that Too Faced will restock all of these products on their website and then there will be many more places to order them by the end of the month so I was not in rush to try and get these products before anyone else...

This collection is quite small and there doesn't seem to be a theme that ties these color products together.  That being said, the name of this collection is "Haute Chocolate" and it seems that the new chocolate-inspired eye shadow palette is the hero product of this collection and I am quite sure that it will sell out very quickly.  I am excited about the new eye shadow palette released by this company but the blush and lipstick shades aren't really doing anything for me.  I have been loving the Tarte Amazonian Clay blushes so I am not really in the market for a brand new blush formula.  The new lipstick shades are in one of my least favorite formulas so I certainly won't be ordering any of these...

The Too Faced Spring 2014 collection...

Chocolate Bar Eye Shadow Palette - The Chocolate Bar experience begins as soon as you open the palette and the smell of sweet chocolate envelops you. The eye shadows are pigmented with pure, antioxidant-rich cocoa powder and includes 16 matte and shimmer shades of natural browns, delicate pinks and luscious plums. Includes our signature how-to Glamour Guide with three looks to get you started.  Too Faced Co-Founder and Creative Director Jerrod Blandino was inspired to combine the power of antioxidant-rich cocoa powder and makeup while having a chocolate facial and learning about the benefits of cocoa at a Hawaiian spa. Based on this inspiration we created our best-selling bronzer Chocolate Soleil and have now added the Chocolate Bar Eye Shadow Palette.
- Gilded Ganache - deep chocolate brown satin
- Milk Chocolate - medium brown matte
- Black Forrest Truffle - deep warm plum shimmer
- Triple Fudge - deep warm chocolate brown shimmer
- Salted Caramel - deep cool brown matte
- Marzipan - warm medium brown matte
- Semi-Sweet - medium champagne shimmer
- Strawberry Bon Bon - pale pink satin
- Candied Violet - bright violet purple satin
- Amaretto - medium warm brown shimmer
- Hazelnut - medium neutral brown shimmer
- Crème Brulee - medum warm gold shimmer
- Haute Chocolate - deep chocolate brown matte
- Cherry Cordial - deep plum satin
- White Chocolate - cool champagne matte
- Champagne Truffle - cool champagne shimmer

Sweethearts Perfect Flush Blush - Choose from four no-fail color palette blushes to take the guesswork out of creating a sweet, romantic flush. In each baked, heart shaped blush there are three individual color swatches. The baking process and multiple colors create dimensional color to provide the look of younger, brighter, healthier skin. It’s like having Hollywood lighting wherever you go.  Blend all three swatches together for one universal shade or use each swatch individually for a custom color.
- Peach Beach - shimmering peach/rosy pink/shimmering light golden bronze
- Something About Berry - shimmering mauve pink/golden peach/shimmering magenta pink

La Crème Color Drenched Lipstick - There’s a reason why beauty editors, bloggers, and millions of social media fans are obsessed with La Crème Color Drenched Lipstick: it’s a completely unique, super-luxe combination of creamy color and intense hydration for unprecedented ultra-comfortable wear.  White Lotus Flower Extract is a sought-after antioxidant that contains hydrating, soothing, and lip-conditioning properties.  Power Peptides are known to stimulate collagen and aid in the appearance of smoother lips.  Creamy, one-swipe formula.
- Bon Bon - pink papaya
- Jelly Bean - raspberry red
- Lollipop - violet with orchid shimmer
- Pink Chocolate - berry brown
- Taffy - pink marshmallow nude

I think that the only product that I will order from this collection is the eye shadow palette, I can see that it is already sold out on the Too Faced website and I will need to wait for a few weeks to come back into stock.  This is one of the very few eye shadow palettes that I can see myself using all the time and creating all kinds of different eye looks from it.  I love all the neutrals in it and I would like to mix the purple hues into a few looks this winter. 

I have never tried this blush formula but it does not sound like my cup of tea.  I do not really like blush shades with a shimmer finish and I will be skipping over all of the shades in this formula.  I don't feel that I need to comment on the La Crème Lipsticks, I reviewed this formula a few days ago and this might be one of my least favorite products that I have tried lately.  I could barely keep this formula on my lips in the neutral hues and there is no way that I would try this formula in any type of deep or bold hue.

photo courtesy of Too Faced

Monday, December 16, 2013

Beautyblender Liquid Blendercleanser

Today we are looking at a product that I never would have purchased on its own and I am so glad that I was able to try it through a Glossybox that I received this fall.  Glossybox has been the only reason that I have gotten a full introduction to the Beautyblender brand and the big reason that I have fallen for the hype around this product.  I have been obsessed with using Beautyblenders since I first received one several months ago in my Glossybox and I started replacing it nearly once a month. This is quite an expensive habit but one that I willingly paid for as I just love how these sponges apply my liquid foundations.

In one of my last Glossyboxes, I received another product from the Beautyblender company that I have just started using.  I will admit that I tossed the cleanser aside when I first received it and didn't see why I needed this product.  I typically cleaned my brushes and Beautyblenders with shampoo and this method has been working for me for years.  The shampoo cleans my brushes very nicely but I was never very happy with how much seemed to be left in my Beautyblenders and I would simply replace them every few washings.  I was happy with this method until I got bored the other day and tried out this special cleanser that I received.

I found this product on the Sephora website and this is where I will be ordering it from once I go to buy another bottle.  "A sponge and brush cleanser that’s free of dyes and skin irritants.  This cleanser supports the integrity of the beautyblender® as it removes excess residue and germs for a clean makeup application. The cleanser’s soothing soy-based, low-suds formula breaks down rapidly making it earth-friendly, while the light lavender scent makes it fun to use.", states that company's website. 

I was bored last Saturday during the snowstorm and I decided to play with some new products.  I had originally washed my brushes and Beautyblender that morning.  I found this product in my makeup collection and decided to wash my Beautyblender again with it and see if it works better than my shampoo method.  I expected that I would reap little to no additional benefits from this cleanser and I was actually prepared to write a negative review of this brush cleaner.  One usage of this cleanser showed me that I was quite wrong and that there is a point to owning this product.

I used this cleanser on a freshly cleaned and dried Beautyblender, I expected little to no additional product to come out during the cleaning.  I fully saturated the sponge with warm water and then worked a small amount of the product into my Beautyblender.  It created a rich foam and excess foundation started pouring out of my "clean" sponge, I literally couldn't believe how much product came out of my "clean" sponge.  After one usage, the sponge looked nearly brand new and I couldn't believe that it took my so long to try this product out. 

I needed so little of this cleanser to achieve results and therefore my deluxe sample will last me for at least two or three more months.  I will be ordering a few size from Sephora once this is used up and this is the only product that I will be using to clean my Beautyblenders.  This product will pretty much pay for itself as I should be able to really space out the amount of time in between purchasing brand new Beautyblenders.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Too Faced La Creme Lip Cream

The Too Faced spring collection will be arriving on their website in the beginning of this week and therefore I have decided to write my review of this Too Faced lipstick before this collection arrives on the website.  The website has always crashed with the initial releases of the spring and fall collections so I wanted to get this review done while I have their website up and functioning.  Once their website has come back up after the initial launch, I will start my spring collection coverage with Too Faced.  I ordered two of the Too Faced La Crème lipsticks several weeks ago and have been putting them to test since Thanksgiving and I am now ready to review this formula.

This lipstick formula was an instant hit since it's first release last year and many shades of this product are often sold out at Sephora and Ulta.  Many ladies consider this lipstick to be one of their favorite cream formulas and it is now a cult favorite product from this company.  I will state very early in the review that this is NOT my favorite lipstick formula and I will not be buying any more tubes after I use up what I purchased.

We are going to start with the product description and shades from the Too Faced website.  "Indulge your lips with rich creamy color, drenched with luscious, hydrating moisturizers including white lotus flower and power peptides.  Moisture has never been so pretty!  16 Must-Have Colors: Something for every fashion and mood in sought-after shades for each color family: nudes, spices, pinks, and reds.  Lotus Flower Extract: Hydrating, soothing, and lip-conditioning with environmental protection provided by anti-oxidants.  Power Peptides: Conditioning, smoothing, and firming for delicate lip area.  Indulgent color: Saturated, one-swipe formulas drench lips with sexy, pure color."

The shades that are found in this formula are...

- Naughty Nude - chestnut
- Naked Dolly- satin pink
- Nude Beach - nude peach
- In The Buff - warm beige
- Spice Spice Baby - pinky brown
- Cinnamon Kiss - spiced brown
- Honey Bear - toasted mauve
- Sweet Maple - plum brown
- Marshmallow Bunny - marshmellow pink
- Razzle Dazzle Rose - pink rose
- Juicy Melons - pink coral
- Fuchsia Shock - fuchsia pink
- I Want Candy - raspberry rose
- Coral Fire - coral red
- Stiletto Red - classic red
- Divine Wine - Bordeaux

I started with buying both Naked Dolly and Marshmallow Bunny, I wanted to start with nude and neutral pink lipstick shades from this product in order to start working with the formula.  I had originally planned to then order more of the saturated shades; I had my eyes on Razzle Dazzle Rose, I Want Candy, and Stiletto Red but I quickly decided against purchasing more shades once I started to work with this formula.

I am going to start with why I didn't like this formula and how my wear testing of these shades went.  I was looking for a creamy lipstick that was easy to wear and hydrating on the lips, I had a picture in my head of these being a more hydrating version of the Urban Decay Revolution Lipsticks that I have been loving the past few months.  The La Crème Lipsticks are not at all like those in formula and they reminded me very much of the MAC Sheen Supreme Lipsticks that I loved so much last spring.  If I would have know this fact, my initial wear tests probably would have gone better...

I will be the first to admit that I didn't plan out the initial wear test and I should not have done my first impression on a Monday morning while getting ready for work.  I decided to grab Naked Dolly instead of my usual Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in Naked, the shades look similar in the package and I was expecting them to be very similar on the lips.  I will also admit that I did not properly exfoliate my lips as I have found that I usually can skip this step with the Urban Decay formula.  I should not have skipped the exfoliation step and I should never test new products out on a Monday morning...

The initial application was quite nice, it applied smoothly and felt very creamy and hydrating.  I was very happy with my first impression but this happiness quickly wore off in the morning hours.  Naked Dolly is a nude pink that looks very wearable.  My first huge issue with this formula occurred when I looked in the mirror once I got to work.  I noticed that my lips had a golden shimmer cast in certain lights and I went back to look up the product description again, I wondered how I had missed the detail about a shimmer finish when first looking at the product.  It turns out that this fact is never mentioned in the product description but has been noted by quite a few people that reviewed the product on the Sephora and Too Faced websites.  I felt like I had been mislead a bit because I don't think that I would have purchased this product if I would have known that the majority of the shades contain shimmer.

My biggest issue with the wear on the first day is how the lipstick behaved over the first few hours of wear.  The shimmer particles clung to the dry patches on my lips, creating a clumpy appearance to my lips.  I dabbed a drop of coffee off my mouth and the formula smeared all over the place, ruining my overall lip look.  After several hours, I was so disgusted with the product that I wiped it all off and just applied a clear balm to get through the rest of the work day.  I tried the Marshmallow Bunny shade once I got home and saw that it has a silver shimmer finish to it.  At this point, I was ready to return both tubes and never try this formula again.

I forced myself to give this product a second test before deciding that I couldn't stand it.  The next morning, I exfoliated my lips well in the shower and prepped my lips the way that I would when getting ready to wear a bright shade of the Stila Stay All Day Lipstick.  The application and wear of this product was much improved after exfoliation, the initial application was smooth and it stayed smooth much longer throughout the day.  I did add a touch of lip balm before reapplying this product after lunch and this helped the formula stay smooth throughout the rest of the day.  Once I got home, I did the same test with the other shade and obtained the same results.

Due to my issues with the more neutral shades of this formula, I decided against buying the rose and red shades that I initially liked.  I can only see the issues with this formula being even worse with a more pigmented shade and I wouldn't want to wear a formula that moves around so much in a shade that will be even more evident when it smears.

Overall, this is probably one of my biggest product fails in the past few months.  I was expecting a pigmented creamy lipstick and received a cream formula filled with shimmer.  I can make this formula work with a bit more effort than I was expecting and I will keep both of these tubes and use them up over the next few months.  I prefer more of a matte finish lipstick and I won't be buying any more shades in this formula...

photo courtesy of Too Faced

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spring 2014 Runway Trends

I have decided that we are going to check out the upcoming beauty trends that we will be seeing all over the place in the coming months.  I finished up my holiday collection coverage the other week and I am ready to see what collections and products will be making up the bulk of spring makeup shopping.  It is snowing like crazy today and I need to think about something other than cold and snow, it might be very early to start deciding on what trends I will be loving this spring but I need a distraction from thinking about all the shoveling that I will need to do this weekend.

I have already started to see pictures of the Too Faced spring collection and that collection will actually be releasing on their website early next week.  This company is always the earliest but I am sure that several companies will have their spring collections out by the week after Christmas and we will then go full swing into the newest beauty products that will be arriving in the next month or two.

Allure has always published the spring and fall runway trends and this is the article that I have traditionally used to review what trends we will be seeing each season.  This spring will be no different and I am using the Allure article about the biggest runway trends from the December issue of this magazine.  They have highlighted the top nine hair and makeup trends from the runways, I have found this article to be the best source of the trends that we will be shopping from in the coming weeks.  I am also going to start picking the trends that I will be following this spring season and starting to get ideas of what products that I will need to add to my collection (and what products I already own that will work well).

Allure's top trends for the upcoming spring season!

The Rumpled Braid - The trick to creating the textured plaits at Alberta Ferretti was scrunching first: Hairstylist Guido misted the volumizing spray all over damp hair, then scrunched as he blew the hair dry using a diffuser.  Then he curled the top layer, combed through the resulting waves with his fingers, and teased the crown before weaving a classic braid at the neck.

Romantic Ponytail - Guido called the ribboned hair at Nina Ricci "simple and feminine".  We call it one of the most elegant ponytails we've seen.  He secured the low ponytail with a black elastic, then tied a ribbon in a bow to conceal the band.  The ponytails stayed intact, even after one model was almost wrestled off the runway by a protestor who stormed the show.

Casual-Cool Bun - To keep the chignon at Celine from looking like something you'd wear to ballet class, Guido ran his fingers through the top of the hair to add a little volume and brushed the sides to keep them flat.  Once the hair was twisted into a knot and pinned, he used a lightweight hair spray to smooth flyaways and make sure it was clean, not crunchy.

Hottest Lip Color: Orange - Orange is the new red.  And pink.  And any other lipstick shade you might think about reaching for.  "Right now it just feels cooler than red, " said makeup artist Gucci Westman, echoing the sentiments of pretty much every other pro.  Creamy, matte, neon, or pastel - every single orange looked fresh and strong.

Metallic Smoky Eyes - Whoever said not to mix metals clearly never saw how sexy gold, bronze, and copper can look together.  Case in point: the glimmering smoky eyes at Gucci, which combined all three hues into one beautifully burnished halo.

Messy Updos - The most beautiful updos were the ones that looked a little (or a lot) unkempt.  To create them at Michael Kors, hairstylist Orlando Pita curled random sections, then sprinkled in texturizing powder before twisting and pinning the hair into a haphazard chignon, letting pieces fall out along the way.  At Rochas, hairstylist Eugene Souleiman achieved "multitextured, chaotic-yet-beautiful twists" with beach spray, furiously brushing out sections of hair that had been curled, crimped, and straightened.  "It's a bad hair day gone right," he said.

Gold Fever - Makeup artists and hairstylists glided everything in sight.  (No, really, you should see our notebook.)  "For 15 years I've done metallic looks in blues, yellows, and greens," said Pat McGrath.  "This season, when designers asked for metallic makeup, they wanted it to look more sophisticated."

Gilt-y Pleasure - We first spotted this Sylvain Le Hen barrette at the Jason Wu show - and soon after on several editors.  Stylist Kate Young found the clips at Colette in Paris and gave them to hairstylist Odile Gilbert, who snapped them on the models' low, sleek ponytails.  "It looks graphic and elegant," said Gilbert.  "The rose gold is my favorite".

Artsy Eyes - Talk about works of art: At Derek Lam, makeup artist Tom Pecheux created cubelike cat eyes, referencing sculptor Donald Judd.  At Celine, makeup artist Dick Page drew "surrealist" brows.  McGrath looked to street art when she airbrushed graffiti-style scribbles across the brow bones at Prada, and at Chanel, Philips made miniature abstract paintings by brushing rainbow-colored theatrical paint around the eyes, framed with black lines across the lids and brows.

There are five new hairstylists that we will be seeing all over this place this spring season and I am quite fond of the Romantic Ponytail.  This look will work well in many different situations and I will be able to wear it to work if I change out the type of ribbon used in the look.  The Gilt-y Pleasure style will also be a favorite of mine this spring, this look will be easier for me to wear in a professional environment.  I will be looking for a few different styles of gilded barrettes and ponytail holders and I will be wearing this look all through the spring and summer.

I am not a fan of the orange lip look and I will be skipping over this.  I have never liked or looked good in peach or orange hues so I will be sticking to my classic pink and red lip looks.  I like both the metallic and the gilded eye looks that were all over the runways and I will be working with these looks to make them more friendly for the professional environment.  The Artsy Eye look is probably not for me, I don't think that I have the skills to create these types of looks and I don't know that I like them enough to spend a lot of time learning how to create them.

I will be adding more hair styling products to my shopping list and I am excited to see some new eye shadow palettes.  I am a bit on the fence about what lip products I will/won't need for spring since I am not going to be adapting the orange lip hues that promise to rule the collections.

photo courtesy of Google

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fitness Friday - Supported Shoulderstand

Today is another Fitness Friday that will be focusing on yoga poses, I feel that many of my Fitness Friday posts have been all about yoga and I know that many more will be about yoga.  One of the most exciting parts of the semester end was signing up for a few more yoga classes over the next few weeks and knowing that I will have some time to start up a home practice.  One of my goals over this vacation is to create a special night flow that I can use before going to bed at night.  I will post that flow once I have come with the pose sequence.

Today's yoga pose is the first inversion that I ever tried, Supported Shoulderstand is the pose that starts most students' experience with inversions.  I still struggle with an unsupported version of this pose, so we will look at the supported modification of the pose.  This pose can easily become unsupported by pulling the blankets away and using no support on the shoulders. 

Yoga Journal provides details on the pose and the steps to follow in order to safely start working up into Shoulderstand. 

- Fold two or more firm blankets into rectangles measuring about 1 foot by 2 feet, and stack them on top of each other.  You can place a sticky mat over the blankets to help the upper arms stay in place while in the pose.  Then lie on the blankets with your shoulders supported (and parallel to one of the longer edges) and your head on the floor.  Lay your arms on the floor alongside your torso, and bend your knees and set your feet against the floor with the heels close to the sitting bones.  Exhale, press your arms against the floor, and push your feet away from the floor, drawing your thighs into the front torso.

- Continue to lift by curling the pelvis and then back the torso away from the floor, so that your knees come toward your face.  Stretch your arms out parallel to the edge of the blanket and turn them outward so the fingers press against the floor (and the thumbs point behind you).  Bend your elbows and draw them toward each other.  Lay the backs of your upper arms on the blanket and spread your palms against the back of your torso.  Raise your pelvis over your shoulders, so that the torso is relatively perpendicular to the floor.  Walk your hands up your back (toward the floor) without letting your elbows slide too much wider than shoulder width.

- Inhale and lift your bent knees toward the ceiling, bringing your thighs in line with your torso and hanging the heels down by your buttocks.  Press your tailbone toward your pubis and turn the upper thighs inward slightly.  Finally inhale and straighten the knees, pressing the heels up toward the ceiling.  When the backs of the legs are fully lengthened, lift the balls of the big toes so the inner legs are slightly longer than the outer. 

- Soften the throat and tongue.  Firm the shoulder blades against the back, and move the sternum toward the chin.  Your forehead should be relatively parallel to the floor, your chin perpendicular.  Press the backs of your upper arms and tops of your shoulders actively into the blanket support, and try to lift the upper spine away from the floor.  Gaze softly at your chin.

- As a beginning practitioner, stay in the pose for about 30 seconds.  Gradually add 5 to 10 seconds to your stay everyday or until you can comfortably hold the pose for 3 minutes.  Then continue for 3 minutes each day for a week or two, until you feel relatively comfortable in this pose.  Again gradually and 5 to 10 seconds onto your stay until you can comfortably hold the pose for 5 minutes.  To come down, exhale, bend your knees into your torso again, and roll your back torso slowly and carefully onto the floor, keeping the back of your head on the floor.

Supported Shoulderstand is usually the first inversion that a yoga teacher will start to work their students into.  I will say that I fell out of this pose many times before my teacher decided that I was going to learn this pose in a different way.  The only way that I could learn how to straighten up correctly was to do this pose with my feet against a wall.  Once I mastered being able to hold that for 3 minutes, I then worked on doing this pose with the blanket supports and holding it for a minute.  I have worked up to holding the pose for three minutes and I am still working on holding it for longer.

I have yet to try this pose in the unsupported fashion and I will be working up to this in the next few weeks.  I plan to use this winter break to practice yoga as much as possible...while pushing myself at the gym.  I have four weeks until class starts again...time to use it wisely!

photo courtesy of YogaJournal.com

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Benefit Fake Up Hydrating Undereye Concealer

I have been using the same Benefit concealer since the end of last year and Erase Paste has quickly become one of my favorite face products.  Based on how much I love that concealer formula, I jumped at the chance to try another Benefit concealer formula when I had my choice of Sephora VIB Point Perks.  I have been trying the Fake Up Hydrating Undereye Concealer since the beginning of this week and I can already say that all of Benefit's concealer formulas are not created equal.  I think this is one of the few products that I have not liked at all in the past few weeks and that I could never see myself buying again.

The Benefit website provides the following description of this undereye concealer formula, "This hydrating crease-control concealer - with vitamin E & apple seed extract - hides dark circles and diffuses fine lines for a silky smooth, ultra-natural look. It’s proven to keep skin hydrated for six hours."

The following testing results are also provided for this product...

- 100% said it hydrates skin
- 100% said it feels comfortable on skin
- 91% said it conceals dark circles

This is one of the most unique products that I have ever used on my eye area and I give Benefit points for this aspect of the product.  This product combines the coverage of a stick concealer and then hydrating properties of an undereye balm.  The concealer itself is in the middle of the product and it is surrounded by the hydrating balm.  Once applied to the skin, they mix together and become a two-in-one product for hydrating and concealing.  Benefit states that the product should be applied directly to the undereye area and then patted in using the ring finger.

I have used this product each morning and I have determined that I just cannot use it as described and this is just not the product for me.  I started by hydrating my undereye area with the Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream and then blend my foundation in the undereye area using a Beauty Blender.  I have dark undereye circles and have always relied on a high coverage concealer to cover them up.  Once I had all of these products in place, I applied the Benefit product to each of my undereye areas and then blended it in as suggested on the brand's website.

As with many two-in-one products that I have tried, this product falls short in both the hydrating and concealing aspects.  I cannot use this without another eye cream as it seems like the application and blending of the product drag my delicate undereye skin.  I have found that it also falls short in the concealing aspect, it is too sheer to fully cover my dark undereye circles.  I have found no way in this product lives up to its description and I will not be buying this in the full size.

I found a way to use through the large sample size that I have of this product, I apply it after my foundation and use it as a primer to apply a full coverage concealer over.  It works nicely in this aspect however this just adds an extra step to my routine that I don't reap much benefit from.  I will use it in this fashion to finish the product up but I would not buy another tube to use only in this fashion. 

This might be a nice undereye concealer for someone who doesn't struggle very much with dark undereye circles and only needs a small amount of coverage in this area.  I just cannot really make this product work as I have to use it with both another eye cream and another undereye concealer, it only creates an extra step in my morning routine that isn't needed.

photo courtesy of Benefit

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
.

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

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

LUSH Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb

I rarely focus on the same brand two days in a row but my latest Lush haul is temporarily changing the way that I like to blog.  I have been digging around in my latest package from this company and thinking about the lovely Twilight Bath Bomb yesterday made me want to take another LUSH bath last night.  Therefore, today we are looking at the Tisty Tosty Bath Bomb and then we are going to move onto a few different brands and products in the next few days.  There are very few LUSH products that I do not love and Tisty Tosty is going to be yet another one of my favorite products from this company.  I wish that we had a store closer to my house as I either have to drive over an hour to visit one of these stores or I have to order all the products online and hope that I like the fragrances that I pick out.

Tisty Tosty is one of the few floral bath bombs that I have found from this company, this is a true floral fragrance and not one that mixes florals with either vanilla or fruit notes.  You will only like this Bath Bomb if you love true floral fragrances and I am sure that this is not a product for everyone.  This will be a favorite of mine but I cannot see this being one of the best selling bath products from LUSH, it does not have much universal appeal but will end of up being one of their products that achieves cult status among its devotees.

"At the heart of the matter, Tisty Tosty is a bathtime love potion that's made to stir passions. Drop it into the tub to luxuriate among the romantic aromas of rose and jasmine absolutes, and watch as whole rosebuds saunter across the softening waters. Invite a friend to share your bath—it'll be love at first sniff with this sensual fizzer!", states the LUSH USA website.  This website also states that this product was created as a limited edition for Valentine's Day several years ago and then ended up being such a crowd-pleaser that the company decided to keep it in the permanent line up.  I do not remember when the product initially released and I can't find this date anywhere in my past posts so this must have been released quite a few years ago.

This Bath Bomb contains a very strong mix of rose and jasmine notes and the fragrance lingered in my bathroom for several hours after my nighttime bath.  The bomb released dried rose petals as soon as the product hit the warm water and began to explode.  One of my favorite pleasures in life is watching any LUSH Bath Bomb explode in the water and seeing all of the assorted treats inside start pouring out.  With my love of floral fragrances and rose petals, this bomb was destined to be a favorite of mine and I will order a few more of these in the next few weeks.

I wish that I had found this Bath Bomb earlier, it was hidden at the bottom of the LUSH Bath Bomb category and I have never seen it displayed well during any of my store visits.  These facts back up my surmises that this will be a cult product but never one with universal appeal.  I have always loved LUSH Bath Bombs and this is yet another one of my favorites and will be repurchased over and over again!

photo courtesy of LUSH

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

LUSH Twilight Bath Bomb

The most stressful season of the year has arrived in full force and I am trying to find ways to distress...without wine.  I have about ten days until finals are over and I am working on finishing all of my final projects as early as possible so that I can invest even more hours into studying for my dreaded finance final.  Last weekend, I received a small LUSH order and I took the time on Sunday night to try out a newer Bath Bomb.  The Twilight Bath Bomb came out a few seasons ago but I was ordering and trying it for the first time with my last order.  I purchased a few of these and plan to use them all throughout the holiday season for a bit of extra relaxation during this busy season. 

"Recreate the magic of a dreamy, starry night in your tub with our most relaxing bath bomb yet. As Twilight slowly fizzes away in the tub, its dusky pink exterior gives way to streams of purple, and finally to a deep indigo hue with delicate shimmering stars. Relaxing lavender oil and comforting tonka absolute soothe stressed bodies and minds, leaving you feeling warm, fuzzy and ready for a restful slumber.", states the LUSH website. 

Twilight might be the perfect fall and winter bathtime treat, I love using deeper lavender fragrances in the cooler weather and I love the strong mix of lavender and tonka bean that develops from this product.  I laid in this wonderful bath for about thirty minutes and had not a care in the world when I got out and went to bed.  This is the perfect scented treat to help me through finals season.

I am torn between what I love the most about this Bath Bomb, the relaxing fragrance or the color that it turns my bath water.  The Bath Bomb is a medium pink shade when it is first unwrapped and then turns into a pale purple when it first hits the water.  As the product dissolves, it develops into a deeper purple hue with small pieces of gold shimmer in it.  It really reminds of a beautiful sunset and then the full night sky.  I was enchanted with this aspect of the product.

I am very glad that I bought several of these and I will continue to use them all through the next few days of finals season and then to combat the rest of the holiday stress.  I will order a few more of these to use for the rest of the winter months.  Twilight is among my top five for LUSH bath bombs and it might be one of my favorite products from the whole line.

photo courtesy of LUSH

Monday, December 2, 2013

Benefit Gimme Brow! Volumizing Brow Gel

Today is Cyber Monday and one of the biggest online shopping days of the year, we all know that stores do certain offers only on their websites but many stores also have great offers.  I decided to hit the mall very early this morning and do a bit of shopping for my family before I start cramming for finals season.  My last stop today was Sephora and I already started to pick up some items on my Most Wanted List, many of the holiday products are getting hard to find but I am very excited about my newest purchase from Sephora.  I have been interested in the Benefit Gimme Brow! product for a few weeks now but have never used this type of product on my eyebrows.  I bought this product this morning and tried it on as soon as I got home today.

I must confess that I don't spend much time thinking about my eyebrows, I usually get them cleaned up every few weeks but I keep them on the thicker side and don't change the overall shape of them.  I have dark hair and dark brows so I also don't have many concerns about the color of them matching my highlight/lowlight mix.  I used this brow gel once and I all I could think was "Why did I wait so long to try products like this?!", I love this product!

The Sephora website provides the following description of this awesome brow gel formula, "An award-winning, brow-volumizing, fiber gel that mimics the look of real hair for fuller-looking brows.  Gimme Brow’s innovative brush-on gel has tiny microfibers that adhere to skin and hair, creating lush-looking eyebrows where before there were none. The water-resistant, long-lasting, formula builds easily for thick, full arches, thanks to a tapered brush for blending and precision tip for shaping perfect brows.". 

This product is available in the following shades...

- Light/Medium - matches light brown to medium brown eye brows
- Medium/Dark - matches medium brown to dark brown eye brows

I use the Medium/Deep shade and it matches my hair perfectly, it is a shade deeper than my natural eye brows and the shade change make them stand out and look more defined and groomed.

This is a very easy formula to use, I was a bit worried that I would be having to draw my eyebrows on and run the risk of looking very unnatural.  This product has an applicator that reminds me a very small mascara wand, the product both tints and shapes the brows in one step.  I start with the inner corner of each brow and then sweep the product all the way to the outside.  One dip of the product is enough to do both brows in this fashion, I can just sweep this product on and be done with my brows.  This product quickly tames any stray hairs and makes my lashes look perfectly groomed with minimal effort.

I absolutely love the results of this product and I have fallen in love after using the product for only one day.  I decided that I needed to experiment a bit with the wear of this product, I don't want it to melt down my face in the hot weather or when I am at the gym after work.  I jumped in the shower before writing this post and just let the warm water run over my face.  The product didn't move at all and I had to use eye makeup remover to clean it all off my eye brows, I will be able to use this product every single day and I will be making this a staple of my makeup routine.

photo courtesy of Sephora

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Most Wanted December 2013

Today is the first day of December and we are in the final stretch of time before my finals for this semester and the end of the holiday season.  I have a few last products from the holiday collections that I want to look for and then I will start thinking about what types of beauty trends we will be seeing for the spring season.  I am the most excited about Urban Decay releasing the Naked 3 Eye Shadow Palette in the very beginning of this month and I will be waiting on pins and needles until I can buy and try it out.

I also make a larger Most Wanted List in the month of December, I get inspired by the Twelve Days of Christmas and I want to pick up a few extra holiday gifts for myself.  This month I have a mixture of makeup and perfume products that I want and then I plan to try some new skincare products in the month of January.  I am feeling all kinds of new color products right now and I want quite a few new eye shadow palettes this month.

My Christmas List!

- Urban Decay Naked 3 Eye Shadow Palette
- Bobbi Brown Old Hollywood Eye Shadow Palette
- Bobbi Brown Old Hollywood Long-Wear Cream Shadow Stick in 24 Karat
- Zoya Zenith Nail Polish in Seraphina
- Lancôme L'Absolu Rouge in Absolute Rouge
- Tory Burch EDP
- Benefit Gimme Brow! Brow Gel in Medium/Deep
- Aerin Evening Rose EDP
- YSL Parisian Night Blush Collector Palette Rue de Babylone
- YSL Parisian Night Rouge Volupte Shine in Pink in Paris
- Dior Golden Winter 5-Couleurs Eye Palette in Golden Flowers
- China Glaze Happy Holiglaze Nail Lacquer in Mingle With Kringle

I am so ready for the first new full Urban Decay Naked Eye Shadow Palette since December of 2011, the small Naked Basics palettes are not near as exciting as this release and I am hoping that I will have my hands on Naked 3 by the beginning of next week!