Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Guerlain Lingerie de Peau Beauty Booster Invisible Skin-Fusion Multi-Perfecting Makeup with Broad Protection SPF 30, Introduced with the Terra Ora Collection for Summer 2013

Yes, another BB cream has been introduced, but this time, it's made by Guerlain. That made me perk up and pay attention.

I have to admit I've always found the category a bit baffling, so I've skipped it. When the name BB cream was first introduced, it meant Blemish Balm or Blemish Base, and it was obviously targeted toward a younger audience - one concerned about acne. Once cosmetics companies realized the market was even larger than they could have hoped, it morphed to Beauty Balm or Beauty Booster or any number of other explanations. Today, we should understand that BB cream is promoted as an all-in-one facial cosmetic product to replace serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation, and sunblock. It can be worn alone, over serum and moisturizer as a light foundation, and under powder, depending on the desired amount of coverage.

Guerlain's Lingerie de Peau Beauty Booster Invisible Skin-Fusion Multi-Perfecting Makeup SPF 30 PA+++ ($51) piqued my interest the moment I read the training materials. This new BB cream is a multi-action skin perfector that gently enhances the beauty of the complexion for a sheer, barely there result. Since it was made by Guerlain, it had to be something I would love. Guerlain is one of my favorite beauty brands.

Here's what I knew about it before I purchased it. Note that color correction (just introduced by several companies and labeled CC cream) is one of the features of Lingerie de Peau Beauty Booster Invisible Skin-Fusion Multi-Perfecting Makeup with broadscreen SPF 30.

Freshness and Lightweight Texture. It has a soft-fusion texture thanks to the bio-fusion micro-mesh "foundation" created by linen and silk fibers. Designed to boost the natural beauty of the skin.

Hydration. Hydrating properties of hyaluronic acid, nature's sponge. Will result in plumped-up skin.

Color Correction. Color corrective pigments work in harmony with every complexion. This property will "unify" your skin tone.

Sun Protection. SPF 30 and PA+++ offer UVA/UVB protection to protect your skin's natural beauty and youthful appearance - or prevent further damage.

Guerlain says the benefits are unifying, moisturizing, and protective. It will correct your complexion in an instant for naturally beautiful skin that appears to be perfect. Guerlain's satisfaction tests on 30 women yielded the following results.
  • The skin is fresh and beautiful all day long = 97%
  • The complexion is even and imperfections are corrected = 97%
  • The skin is smoothed = 88%
  • Softer texture = 88%
  • Lightweight texture = 91%
  • Non-oily texture = 97%
I purchased the light shade (#01). Right now. only two shades are available: light and medium (#02). I love the tube. It has a pump top, and I can dispense a very small amount to avoid waste.

Foundations and tinted moisturizers are very hard to photograph. I took swatch photos by placing a dot at the top of my arm and barely blending another dot below, using my fingers. This shade is so perfect for my skin tone that it would have disappeared if I had blending it on my arm any further.

Unblended, it looks a bit yellow, and in truth it is. I agree with Bobbi Brown that yellow-based foundation shades are best for almost all of us. They certainly erase redness. When I blend this product into my face as I apply it, it disappears! The amazing part is that it can't be seen by the naked eye, but it covers imperfections and redness. I love it!

It becomes one with my skin. It proves all the coverage I need, along with sunscreen and moisture. How good does it get?

The active sunscreen ingredients follow.
  • Octinoxate 3.74 %
  • Oxybenzone 1.00 %
  • Titanium Dioxide 3.55 %
Most of us get carried away with Guerlain's color collections. They deserve the attention. So does this new Beauty Booster. If either shade is a good match for your skin, you're going to love it.

This new BB product (which appears to be part CC) is available now at select locations of Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, and Bergdorf Goodman - and of course at the Guerlain boutiques. Guerlain's boutiques always get products first. If you want to order from Guerlain, give Rhonda a call at (702) 732-7008. 

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Dior Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer Duo in Pink Glow from the Birds of Paradise Collection for Summer 2013

Drawing from Christian Dior's passion for the lushness of nature in the tropics, the 2013 Summer Look, the Birds of Paradise Collection, is an invitation to an exotic journey through Latin America and its colors. The Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer Duo ($56) was introduced with the collection in two shades: Pink Glow (#1) and Coral Glow (#2). I selected and purchased Pink Glow at the counter at Neiman Marcus.

The Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer Duo provides a sun-kissed effect and maximum radiance. Two slightly iridescent harmonies - bronzer on one side to warm up the complexion and blush on the other for a pop of color on the cheeks. The powder duo comes with a couture design brush to naturally blend the shades, giving the buyer maximum color range.

Dior equals luxury, right? So, why did I find little flaws in the box containing my compact and brush? Both pieces come with the signature Dior velveteen pouch. Oddly, though, I was surprised when I opened both. As you can see in the photo below, the compact is not aligned correctly. What you many not be able to see in my photo are the scratches in the case. They match, top and bottom, which made me suspect prior use or poor treatment at the counter. However, no one at the counter placed the powder into the compact at 11:00 rather than 12:00. That was done when the compact was assembled.

The powder is fine, so I have no energy to return it in hopes of receiving a more perfect piece. I was surprised at the poor quality control. When I looked into the pouch to pull out the brush, I found something that looked like a maple seed. Since I had just walked outside and unboxed the set, there is no way it flew into the box. I pulled out the brush, and the debris landed somewhere in my driveway. After inspecting the brush for signs of prior tampering, I decided it was fine. The message here is to check out yours at the counter before you leave the store - if you care about perfection.

As a side note, this is not the first time I've seen the color product placed improperly in the pan. I have noticed it in the last year or so with multiple brands and multiple products. I've had my share of pans inadequately adhered to the compact too. What's happening with the quality of our high-end makeup?

Now, that said, let's get to the glorious colors. The four quadrants of the compact contain different shades of blush and bronzer. There are two pinks and two very light bronzers. All four shades in Pink Glow are absolutely perfect for fair skin.

I decided to swatch each shade in the palette separately, using a sponge-tipped applicator and applying the shades heavily. I started with the light tan in the upper left quadrant and moved clockwise in the palette. Then I took a dense blush brush and applied a blended, large swatch on my arm below. What surprised me was that the blended colors are so sheer, they almost disappeared to the camera on my arm. My photos were taken in full sun.

I'm not thrilled with my photos, but it's raining, so there will be no opportunity for a do-over today. Here is a full-arm shot of all the swatches. There are close-ups below. The lighter of the two tans shades in the compact is shown at the top of my arm. I think it adhered to my arm better than the darker tan, which you'll barely see (fourth stripe). The colors are pretty and natural, particularly for fair complexions.

The two pink shades are glorious. One is peachy pink, and one is cooler, without being chilly. They coordinate well. Both are extremely pretty on the cheeks.

Here's what surprised me. The blended shades applied to my arm are extremely sheer and light. While I can see them (look at the left side of my arm where they appear to be less blended), you may not be able to tell they are there - either in the top photo or the one directly above. I think it's possible that my moisturizing base didn't extend far enough down my arm.

Here's another shot, widened out, where I show you more of my natural arm below the blended application. You'll have to trust that I can see the powder on my face. I don't find it iridescent either. It provides a much more natural finish than I would expect from a product described as iridescent. It's radiant, but not iridescent.

Here's a photo that shows the finish more accurately. You can see a light sparkle, but nothing I'd term iridescent. The shades will give you a glow, though.

I actually love these shades, alone and blended, but my skin is very fair. They look extremely natural. I'm not sure how those with medium skin tones will feel about Pink Glow, but I am certain that it will disappear on those with dark skin tones.

Other than the packaging flaws, I am extremely happy with the Nude Tan Paradise Blush & Bronzer Duo in Pink Glow. What do you think? Have you tried it? Purchased it? Think you would love it?

You can find the new Dior Birds of Paradise Collection at Dior counters, and it is a available online at Nordstrom.

Photo at top courtesy of Dior; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dior Diorshow Waterproof Liner in Aqua Green from the Birds of Paradise Collection for Summer 2013

Diorshow Aqua Green Waterproof Liner (#348, $29) coordinates perfectly with both of the new 5 Couleurs Haute Couture Eyeshadow Palettes in the Birds of Paradise Collection: Blue Lagoon and Peacock. I like it more with Blue Lagoon, but it's perfectly lovely with Peacock too.

I swatched it for you while I was at Neiman Marcus this past weekend. I refrained from purchasing it because I have liners this color - and love them. They can be worn alone to add color to an otherwise neutral eye, or they can be combined in any way you choose to complement the new blue and green shadows. They also look really pretty applied lightly and blurred under the lower lashes (just on the outer half of the eye).

To easily reproduce the ultra-graphic catwalk eyes, Dior introduces a very precise retractable eye pencil. Diorshow Waterproof Liner offers an exceptional glide and guarantees a perfect, long-lasting line. A collection of six vibrant colors for a high-intensity impact to complement any eye makeup. A true expert tool for a 100% smudge-proof and waterproof effect.

Diorshow Waterproof Liners are everything Dior claims. I drew a "D" on my arm in the store, then came home and photographed it. It has lost none of its luster on the way home. Then, when I tried to wash it off, it was a no-go. I had to get out the oily eye makeup remover to un-D myself.

I took my photos in full sunlight. My imperfect "D" was drawn directly on my arm, using the tester in the store.

Anyone looking for color should appreciate this shiny pastel aqua. Is it blue or green to your eyes? I see turquoise.

This liner glides on effortlessly - no tugging or pulling required. I like the way the way it's designed. I tried to show that I can draw a relatively thin line (straight side of the "D") or thicker liner easily. I could not draw an ultra-thin line, though. That takes the sharpness of a pencil that can be sharpened to a point.

Doir's Diorshow is available in other colors. Check it out at Nordstrom online.  You can find the new Dior Birds of Paradise Collection at Dior counters, and I found it online at Nordstrom. I'll show you more tomorrow.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Dior 5 Couleurs Haute Couture Eyeshadow Palette in Peacock from the Birds of Paradise Collection for Summer 2013

Drawing from Christian Dior's passion for the luxuriant, tropical nature and animals of Latin America and Brazil, Dior's 2013 Summer collection is an invitation to an exotic journey through Latin America and its colors.

When I saw the collection at Neiman Marcus, I was attracted to nearly every piece. So I selected strategically, remembering how much makeup I buy, but seldom use. I think I purchased some gems.

There are two 5 Couleurs Haute Couture Eyeshadow Palettes ($60): Blue Lagoon (#374) and Peacock (#434). Blue Lagoon is visually the more appealing in the compact. The bright shades of blue, teal, and green are magnificent. After testing it, I feared it was too similar to the Chanel Métamorphose I had ordered online (not here yet). I moved on to Peacock, and there I found a unique palette that I'd be more likely to wear often. The colors are more subdued, and the blue isn't bright. I met my match.

With shades of green, beige, and silvery grey-blue, the colors coordinate beautifully, and I think they gook good on me. These colors are about as peacocky as I can wear comfortably.

I took swatch photos in full, mid-day sunshine. I swatched heavily with a sponge-tipped applicator, starting at the top of my arm with the green in the upper-left corner, moving clockwise around the quint, and finishing at the bottom of my arm with the center shade.

The springy pastel or lime green is a pretty shade on the eyes, enhancing the blue in mine.  The only dud color (from my perspective) in this palette is the beige, which you can barely see on my arm. It's all sparkle with little pigment. That's ashamed; it's the only thing that's keeping me from raving about this palette. I realize that it's meant to be an overlay to add more sparkle to the other colors, but I can do without that.

The very subdued green (third shade down) is a perfect base shade. It adds a hint of green and looks very pretty with the brighter lime shade. It looks like a hybrid of green and beige in the compact, so it may show differently on different skin tones.

Now, we get to that stunning blue. This is a blue for blue haters - those who say they just can't wear blue on their eyes. The silvery greyed blue is subtle and elegant. I'm totally smitten by this shade and the center shade, shown below it. In the palette, it appears to be pastel light blue. On my skin, it's a silvery, icy shade with only a hint of blue. It's versatile. Paired with the blue, it casts a blue highlight. Paired with the lime green, it morphs green.

I'm quite pleased with Peacock. Four out of five is my "normal" love level for many palettes. I'm OK with that.

You can find the new Dior Birds of Paradise Collection at Dior counters, and I found it online at Nordstrom. I bought two other pieces - one at Neiman Marcus and one online at Nordstrom - and I will show them to you soon. I could have purchased them all together, but, as usual, no one told me the collection had arrived at the store the week before, so they sold out of a Jelly Lip Pen I wanted - and that's because the store never orders enough pieces of the limited-edition pieces.

Photo at top courtesy of Nordstrom; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday This and That - Has Your Skin Changed with Age?

Yesterday, I mentioned that my skin had changed with age. I didn't mean the usual changes, such as sun spots and little wrinkles around my eyes and mouth - like Helen Mirren has. I meant my skin color. Today, my skin is more pale than it was 10 years ago, when the central redness in my face was a constant irritation.

Some women go from oily or combination to dry. Women gradually produce less oil beginning after menopause. That's to be expected - and sometimes it's welcomed. It's hard, though, to get enough hydration, and we need to amp up our skin-care treatments.

Some experience sagging. That would upset me. I'd be going for a surgical consultation. A thin woman with sagging skin doesn't have much latitude before she looks sickly. The sagging is partly due to thinning of the skin. Decreasing levels of skin fat, collagen, and elastin mean sagging skin becomes more prominent all over the body. However, these changes are especially evident in facial features, which are so obvious.

The outer skin layer (epidermis) of the skin thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged. When I looked into it, I learned that the number of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) decreases, but the remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin thus appears thinner, more pale, and clear (translucent). Large pigmented spots (called age spots, liver spots, or lentigos) may appear in sun-exposed areas. Check! "More pale" explains why my face has become such a blank canvass for makeup. Now I can wear warmer shades. Coincidentally, It helps to have so much silver in my blond hair. That has allowed me to wear colors that I didn't love in years past.

I found this photo of an aging arm, which is repulsive, but my arms are headed this way. I'll have red arms when I'm 80. I can knock my arm lightly into a door entrance (anything, really), and I get senile purpura - due to extravasation of blood, secondary to fragility of the blood vessels associated with the dermal tissue atrophy that occurs with aging and UV radiation. Nice, all those years frying to try to be a golden girl did this to me? Besides, I'm not elderly!

What are we to do about the changes we hate? Protect your skin from sun exposure, and start taking care of it early. Use sunscreen early and often, and remember to know and understand the ingredients in your skin care so that you can select the best products to protect your skin. It sounds easy. I wish I had known in college what I know now about tanning.

Have you seen changes in your skin? No matter what your age, how is it changing? Have your options for color opened or closed? I'd love to chat about it if you are game for true confessions.

Photos courtesy of jeanmays.co.uk and gponline.com

Sunday Riley Blush Giveaway Contest

Sunday Riley's Blush ($30) is a universally flattering blush that will leave your cheeks with a sun-kissed radiance. I have one to give away in the shade Blushing, a light dusty rose.

This blush contains round-shaped pigments that (apparently) have a silky feel and diffuse light for natural, luminous cheek color. It's paraben-free too. Beyond that, I can tell you that Sunday Riley Blush applies beautifully and layers seamlessly, becoming one with the skin. The compacts are classier than the eye color compacts. The compacts have average heft in the hand, the Sunday Riley logo and name in gold on the cover, and nice mirrors inside the flip-up cover. They even come with a luxury, signature velveteen pouch.

One thing you'll find with this line is minimal hype. I have Honest and Intimate - love them - and I think I purchased Blushing to try it when Sephora first started carrying the line. Realizing this week that it was still waiting to be tried, I decided to give one of you that opportunity.

How can you enter to win this giveaway contest (technically a sweepstakes)? Just leave a comment on this feature (not in another BTiB post). After you comment here, feel free to send me an e-mail at bestthingsinbeautycontests@gmail.com (the contest address, not my "personal" e-mail) and identify your comment. You can never be too careful about sharing an e-mail address you care about on a blog, so feel free to follow this step (an alternative is to code your e-mail, e.g., myname at gmail dot com, in your comment). Please make sure I have your e-mail. If I can't notify you, you can't win - even if your number is drawn. I can't believe the number of winners I haven't been able to find in the past.

You can earn extra entries. Follow this blog (through an e-mail subscription, GFC, or though one of the many Google readers - see sidebar at right) to earn a second entry. If you are a follower, it would help me tally entries if you tell me in your comment how you follow. You don't have to follow to enter. I want everyone to have a chance, but I also want to reward my followers. I must be able to track this entry.

You can earn a third entry by tweeting this contest. You must include "@BTiBeauty" (without the quotes) and the contest title in your tweet. Remember, tweet the contest title - if you don't, that entry won't count. I will tweet the contest early this evening, and you can simply retweet it to earn that second entry - if that's easier.

You can earn a fourth entry if you have posted a comment here in the last two weeks. Don't worry about telling me. I'll know.

The deadline for entries will be Saturday, May 4, 2013, at midnight. The next morning, I will use a random number generator (random.org) to select the winner. I will e-mail the winner on Sunday morning. The winner will have 48 hours to reply to my message and provide a shipping address. After 48 hours, the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected. Make sure to check your e-mail - and look in your spam folder - when the contest ends.

This contest is open to anyone anywhere. Here are the terms. I will carefully pack and ship the prize (as I always do). I cannot insure the prize for overseas shipment - it's amazingly expensive to do so because of the way I have to send insured mail. If it's lost or stolen in transit, I may not be able to replace it with another prize just like it. I'll do my best on this end; let's see if your mail service does right by you on the other end if we have an overseas winner.

The winner must be able to provide me with a "mailable address," meaning the U.S. Post Office recognizes it or its street, province, and other "elements" the way the winner provides them. I've had some trouble with both U.S. and international addresses lately.

For all the legalese related to this contest, please see the Contests/Sweepstakes page at the top of the blog. Good luck!

Photo courtesy of Sephora

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Guerlain Fard Métal Iridescent Eyeshadow in Cuivre Ora from the Terra Ora Collection for Summer 2013

I had two shades from which to choose. I had lectured myself about selecting only one. It went something like this, but with spicier language: "OK, you fool. How many more eye shadows do you need?"

When faced with reality, I choose Guerlain's limited-edition Fard Métal Iridescent Eyeshadow in Cuivre Ora (#01, #35) from the Terra Ora Collection for Summer 2013. I think it will be more useful to me because I have fewer copper shadows than brown ones. I could just as easily selected Bronze Ora. When I saw these limited-edition eye shadows in person, I gasped.

The secret for beautiful eyes this summer, Guerlain’s loose, iridescent eye shadows give an immediate metallic result with only one light application. The shadows are available in two easy-to-wear shades: Cuivre Ora, a warm and sensual copper, and Bronze Ora: a timeless bronzed brown.

My new Cuivre Ora arrived from the Guerlain Boutique in Las Vegas this past week. I saw today that it's available at Neiman Marcus, so I would assume the Terra Ora Collection is now on counters - with the exception of Terra Nerolia, which will launch later.

Guerlain says that this metallic eye shadow needs only one light application. Take that seriously. Often, when I swatch makeup, I have to apply it unnaturally heavily to show you the color here. That sure wasn't the case with Cuivre Ora! I applied it to my arm with one coat and took my swatch photos in full, mid-day sun.

Kapow! This eye shadow applies like molten metal. Once it binds to your skin, it adheres perfectly, creating an opaque metallic finish that will stay with you all day - or night, the more likely time for its use. I'm way too conservative to wear Fard Métal in the daytime.

The copper color is stunning and really brings out the blue in my eyes. I'm thrilled with it all on its own (below the crease), but combined with the rest of the Terra Ora Collection, it adds sparkle and contrast to the sun-kissed look I can create with my new Guerlain goodies.

By the way, at Neiman Marcus I saw the shade of Shine Automatique the model is wearing: Corail Ora. I'm extremely tempted to purchase it. I'm changing and finally realizing that I can wear coral. No one in the industry who knew me 10 years ago would believe it. I would recoil when makeup artists tried to warm me up with coral shades. My appearance has changed too, though, making me even more of a blank canvass than I used to be.

When I first tested this loose powder Fard Métal shadow (that behaves like a liquid), I found that little sparkling bits of the powder went flying everywhere when I pulled the wand from the tube. I blew most of the strays off my face and camera, but the blue paper I used for the shot of the product was history. I couldn't blow off the powder, and if I had tried to brush it off, I would have had blue paper with copper shading. This eye shadow wants to adhere to anything. I'd recommend you remember that little nugget and apply it over your bathroom sink, where you can easily wash away any strays. I assume that won't happen as readily when the tube isn't full - but who knows?

Guerlain’s Terra Ora collection was scheduled to be available beginning in May at select locations of Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, and Bergdorf Goodman - and of course at the Guerlain Boutiques. I purchased mine from Rhonda at Guerlain. I know a few of you have called her; she's a doll. She got a huge kick out of one of you and shared with me your question, asked when she answered the phone, "You mean this is THE Rhonda?" You can reach her at (702) 732-7008.

I bought the Lingerie de Peau Beauty Booster Invisible Skin-Fusion Multi-Perfecting Makeup SPF 30 PA+++ product, and I'll show you a swatch of "light" very soon. Now we wait for Terra Nerolia. I have pre-ordered it. Do I want the rest of the collection - everything? Yes, but I'm reminded of one of my father's sayings about ice water and places for the deceased.

Photos at top and bottom courtesy of Guerlain; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Friday, April 26, 2013

Tom Ford Summer 2013 Beauty Collection Skin Illunimator in Fire Lust - Up Close and Personal

Tom Ford's limited-edition Skin Illuminator in Fire Lust ($65) was inspired by the look of skin bathed in summer evening light that creates an irresistible, translucent glow. Inspired and recreated, I think. Its peach-pink shade will flatter every skin tone while moisturizing and soothing the skin. Its highly micronized pearls diffuse light for a natural enhanced, sun-kissed look.

I took swatch photos in full, afternoon sun. I applied two swatches to my arm using a cream concealer brush. The stripe at the top of my arm was applied relatively heavily, and the larger shade shows it blended out, but not completely. I was worried about getting enough color for a photo. It's very sheer.

This golden peach shade gives my skin a beautiful gleam, a glow, just like that summer evening light that inspired its creator. The wonderful thing about this liquid illuminator is that you have full control over the intensity of the color. You can apply it to look like a blush that's lit from within. You can apply it lightly on the high points of your face to give them a glow, and you can use it above or below foundation. You can mix it with your foundation or moisturizer to add radiance with just a touch of color.

I selected swatch photos that were taken with different backgrounds and light intensities so that you could see Fire Lust's range of looks. I cannot praise it highly enough. Just think about all the superlatives you use for your favorite makeup and apply. I feel lightheaded when I search for the perfect word.

The collection was available at some locations early, such as the John Barrett Salon ((212) 872-2714), which has a Tom Ford boutique. It should be available at full Tom Ford Beauty counters this weekend. That means your favorite Neiman Marcus will have it. I believe Bergdorf Goodman is holding it for an event that starts Monday (which is a miss from my perspective). I purchased Fire Lust at Neiman Marcus. It has sold out already at the Neiman Marcus Web site, so don't let any grass grow under your feet. Purchase it now if you want it.

Photo at top courtesy of Neiman Marcus; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

The Friday Forum - April 26

It's such a pretty time of the year, and the Virginia bluebells in my garden remind me how much I love this area in the spring.

I'm sleepy this morning. I worked hard trying to find work this week, so I was already tired when I went to bed. My cat Savannah is epileptic and had a seizure about midnight last night. She was in the guestroom, and the commotion awakened me. I got up and put her in the carrier so she couldn't hurt herself dashing around. Then I got up at 3:00 and let her out. Earlier this month, she had started to have cluster seizures, one every few hours. That's dangerous, so I took her to her doctor. After a very expensive test, her doctor had increased her phenobarbital dose, and she was doing well - until last night. This morning, I added a little valium to her meds to keep her from having a cluster of seizures. I'll probably give her the valium this evening too.

The most amazing thing happened. She is afraid of Charlie, so she never comes to sit in my lap. This morning, I sat down on the bed to watch the news, and she not only came in, she sat on my leg and went to sleep. Charlie behaved and went back to sleep on his pillow. I felt so badly for her, I sat there for over an hour so that she might learn again that it's OK to join us. That's why I'm very late getting to the Friday Forum.

The news always seems bad these days. This morning, I've learned that a fire engulfed a hospital outside Moscow, killing 36 patients and two staff members; a building housing garment factories collapsed in Bangladesh on Wednesday, killing at least 230 people, according to CBS, and many more are missing; and the explosion in West, Texas still weighs on our hearts and minds.

I have so many thoughts about these industrial tragedies. So many are preventable. In the United States, our regulatory structures are ignored in the name of profits. I think we are culprits in foreign garment factories, reminiscent of the industrial revolution, when safety was second to profits. Those overseas garment factories are making cheap clothing for U.S. brands. When will they take responsibility for ensuring that their contractors provide safe workplaces?

We can't change other countries, but we can ensure that our own workplaces are safe and that our U.S. companies police their foreign contractors. I used to work in occupational health and safety, in the days when our regulators weren't hamstrung by bought buffoons on Capitol Hill. We must hold U.S. brands accountable for their outsourcing. Apple got the message. When will clothing manufacturers? Some of the clothing manufactured there was headed for the U.S. The world has to do a better job of establishing ethical regulations and monitoring compliance. Don't even get me started again on West, Texas. If those first responders rushed in without knowing the explosive potential of that facility, what happened and why? Too many tragedies. It has been such a month of sad news. OK, rant over...for now.

WWD announced that Lancôme has teamed with fashion designer Alber Elbaz to conceive a limited-edition collection, called Hypnôse Show. The collection includes mascaras, eye palettes, and false eyelashes. It is due to hit counters worldwide on June 15. Elbaz said the idea was to rework “in a different way, with a different perspective” Lancôme’s best-selling mascaras. Am I excited? Nope. I don't want or need a dorky-looking mascara. Remember that Elbaz has been mentioned as a successor to Karl Lagerfeld. Based on this look, you'd never believe that could happen.

For those of you looking for an alternative to Google Reader, which is being ditched by Google, and Hellocotton, I think I can recommend an alternative. Feedly allows you to build your own set of favorite sites. I joined, but could not find a badge to add to my site. What I have discovered is that Feedly members can select the sites the want on their personalized pages, and their feeds will update automatically. I have to admit I haven't tried it yet, but many recommend it. I plan to give it a workout this weekend.

Don't forget this week's giveaway contests. AVEENO is giving away a wonderful prize to one U.S. reader. I love those hair care products, and I'm really surprised there aren't more entries. I am giving away Urban Decay's Naked Flushed palette. The deadline for both contests is tomorrow, Saturday, April 27, at midnight. Just comment to enter.

I'll be back soon with more new Tom Ford and Guerlain goodies.

Photos courtesy of sierrapotomac.org and WWD

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Jo Malone Osmanthus Blossom Cologne

The limited-edition Osmanthus Blossom ($110 for 100 ml, $60 for 30-ml size; slightly higher in Canada) is Jo Malone's newest cologne. It is so popular, it's selling out quickly. I'm glad I was able to purchase mine early from my favorite Jo Malone product specialist at Neiman Marcus - before its scheduled May release date. She was a doll, spiriting it out of the back room for me to try - and buy. Perhaps it was embargoed?

Jo Malone describes Osmanthus Blossom as delicately exotic. I'd call it nectar for the nose. Mine won't stay away when I spray it on my arm. I adore white flower fragrances. This one captures the duality of apricot counterpoised with supple leather. Luminous petitgrain and luscious peach and orange flower ripple over a base of voluptuous cashmere wood. The result? Intoxicating.

Osmanthus absolute is an expensive raw material for use in perfume, but worth the investment due to its unique olfactory profile. It's highly fragrant and succulent in its peachy-apricot top note - nothing short of mouthwatering. If you are into the chemistry that underlies its exquisite fragrance, the essence of osmanthus naturally contains cis-jasmone (a white floral note), gamma-decalactone and various delta-lactones (peachy-milky notes) as well as several ionones derivates, which accounts for its violet-like sweetness (Fragrantica).

The further south you travel in the United States, the more likely you are to find this plant sharing its heady fragrance. A member of the olive family, it's a leggy plant you won't forget once you smell one in bloom. In autumn, winter, and early spring, white flowers cover the shrub - which also blooms sporadically throughout the summer. Individually the blossoms are small and inconspicuous, but the fragrance is powerful and exquisite.

I purchased my bottle a few weeks ago and have reached for it often. I was surprised when I was shopping with a friend who is generally a fragrance phobe. She does like light citrus scents, but is seldom blown away by florals. The display at Neiman Marcus stopped her in her tracks, and she gave Osmanthus Blossom a try. She found it irresistible and went home that day with a new fragrance.

For fragrance layering fans, Jo Malone suggests you layer it with Blackberry & Bay to add a tart verdant depth or Nectarine Blossom & Honey to amplify the osmanthus with a sophisticated sweetness. I plan to try the latter pronto.

Where can you find it? Osmanthus Blossom is or will be available at Jo Malone Boutiques, jomalone.com, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, and select Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and Nordstrom stores nationwide. In Canada, it's available exclusively at Holt Renfrew. If you haven't given it a whiff, try it before it sells out.

Photo at top courtesy of Jo Malone; other photo by missouribotanicalgarden.org

Guerlain Terra Ora Compact for Summer 2013

Guerlain’s 2013 Terra Ora Collection is an invitation to summer. Using white and gold tones, which are showcased through stunning product composition and imagery, the Terra Ora assortment provides an unexpected and gorgeous contrast by playing with light and shadow, maximizing radiance and enhancing the inherent beauty of sun-kissed skin.

Guerlain’s newest, limited-edition signature compact, Terra Ora ($72), is a looker in the compact. It's composed of a pearly white gold and matte beige, which highlight and sculpt the face and décolleté. Terra Ora works for all skin tones and comes encased in a beautiful wooden mirror case with magnetic closure. There's something about magnetic closures that's elegant to my sense of touch.

When mine arrived - purchased from the Guerlain Boutique in Las Vegas - I jumped for joy. The bronzer shade has more rose in it than I had expected, and that's a good thing for me. I've only begun to play with it, but I thought it would be fun to share the love.

I took swatch photos in full, morning sun. I swatched the golden shade in the center of the compact at the top of my arm. Right below that, I swatched the bronze shade. Then I swatched the two shades mixed equally. Those three swatches were heavily applied with a sponge-tipped applicator.

Then I used a big, fluffy, dense brush to apply a realistic, blended application to my arm below the stripes of color. I'll start with photos (immediately above and below) that show all swatches.

This photo shows the colors individually, the center shade at the top, the bronzer shade below, and the blended shades at the bottom.

The golden highlighting shade would be pretty on anyone. The bronzer is a nice shade that works on my pale skin. The blended shade is drop-dead gorgeous.

The photo below shows how perfect the bronzer is when the shades are mixed and applied lightly.

Terra Oro is typical Guerlain summer: absolutely perfect! Look at the color and gleam of the blended shades. It's just as pretty as Tom Ford's new Fire Lust. The difference? This one is a powder.

Want a pro tip for application? Starting at the outer area and finishing with the inner gold circle, swirl your brush in an “O” shape for that perfect hint of bronze and gold all at once.

If your favorite Guerlain counter does not have the Terra Ora Collection, call Rhonda at the Guerlain Boutique at (702) 732-7008. She would be glad to help you. If you can wait, Guerlain’s Terra Ora Collection will be available beginning in May at select locations of Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, and Bergdorf Goodman.

Update: I wanted to return with a note about the intensity of Terra Ora. Many of us with fair complexions find bronzers hard to wear. They have to be just right to look natural. If that sounds like you, give Terra Ora a try. It's very sheer and pretty on my face, belying its depth in the compact. That's one reason the swatch photos of the blended shades are so light.

Photo at top courtesy of Guerlain; other photos by Best Things in Beauty

Tom Ford Summer 2013 Beauty Collection Illuminating Cheek Colors in Blush Guilt and Bronzed Amber - Up Close and Personal

When I tried Tom Ford's new Illuminating Cheek Colors ($58) in Blush Guilt and Bronzed Amber at Neiman Marcus, I was thrilled with both of them. After that, there was no question. I had to have both of them. I'm excited to continue my series of swatch photo features taken at my house immediately after applying items from this beautiful collection.I purchased mine from Dustin Lujan at the John Barrett Salon in New York City.

These generously sized cheek "sticks" apply very sheerly, and you can build the color seamlessly. From photos of the tube, those with pale faces might believe that Bronzed Amber, shown at right above, would be too dark. No way! It's so sheer I had to paint it on heavily for my swatch photos. You'll see light and dark applications below. Blush Guilt (shown at left) provides a natural, radiant glow in a shade that's going to send pale faces rushing to buy. Both shades offer a beautiful sheen.

I took my swatch photos in full, mid-day sunshine. I swatched both shades straight from the tube, which is how it came to be that one of my swatches, Bronzed Amber, is very large. I kept painting, gradually widening out the swatch because I was so impressed with the control it offers for coverage.

Let's start with the ultra-sheer Blush Guilt (#01). I applied it extremely heavily for these photos, rolling the color stick over and over the swatch.

I can't believe how perfect it is. The transparency, sheen, and shade combine to add an extraordinary glow to the skin. As you can see, the color is a golden peachy pink. I suspect your own cheek pigmentation will affect how it looks on you. Consider that my arm is a fairly blank canvass.

On my cheeks, it's definitely warm, appearing like the sun kissed my cheeks. I can wear it as a blush too, not just for its glow.

Turning to Bronzed Amber, I applied it heavily at the top of my arm, making my swatch larger and larger as I played with its sheer finish. Can you see the gradations in color in my photo above? Darker at the top, lighter at the bottom. Because I feared I went overboard in the application of Bronzed Amber, I applied a smaller, lighter swatch at the bottom on my arm. I hope you can see that the color is a perfect golden bronze without a trace of muddiness. Anyone who has had trouble finding the perfect bronzing shade in the past should take a serious look at Bronzed Amber.

The cream formula of the Illuminating Cheek Colors makes them glide on with ease straight from the tube. There are many moisturizing ingredients in them. You could apply them from the tube, but I'd recommend a cream blush brush or Armani's Blender Brush. Run the brush over the stick in the tube and apply to your face, layering the sheer color until you achieve the effect you like. You can use your fingers if you prefer; that will make it easy to reapply these colors when you are on the go. I know many of you will be delighted that they carry no discernible scent.

I'm almost giddy with excitement over these new summer products. I will be using them year-round. I hope that Tom Ford hears my message and develops a full line of colors. These Illuminating Cheek Sticks are magnificent.

If you plan to order and need help, please give Dustin Lujan a call. You can tell I'm promoting his new Tom Ford full-service practice at the John Barrett Salon. He will help you pick out the best colors for your complexion, based on his incredible eye as a makeup artist. You can reach him at (212) 872-2714.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tom Ford Summer 2013 Beauty Collection Lip Lacquer in Pink Lust - Up Close and Personal

I am thrilled to continue my series of swatch photo features taken at my house immediately after applying items from this beautiful collection. The Lip Lacquer in Pink Lust (#03, $30) is the focus of this feature. Like Escapade, it is a stunning, shimmery peach-pink that coordinates beautifully with the golden tan collection.

I took my photos in full, mid-day sunshine. I swatched Pink Lust straight from the tube. I blended it out a bit, just like I'd do by smacking my lips after application. Come to think of it, this is a lip-smacking gloss.

On the lips, Pink Lust is a silvery peachy pink. The pigment of my lips provides the pink hue, and Pink Lust provides the peach. I hesitate to use the word "frosty" because I think the younger bloggers use it way too much to describe shimmery finishes. They weren't alive when we knew what frosty meant. However, Pink Lust merits the use of the word. It is frosty on my lips - it reminds me of long-ago decade.

As I mentioned in my earlier Escapade feature, the white dogwood background fools my camera, although in this case, it spotlights the finish of Pink Lust. I'm feeling pretty special as I wear it.

This Lip Lacquer is amazingly hydrating, without a trace of stickiness. It's divinely comfortable. It makes me feel beach-ready. When a lip color can change your mood, you know it's great.

If you plan to order and need help, please give Dustin Lujan a call. He will help you pick out the best colors for your complexion, based on his incredible eye as a makeup artist. You can reach him at (212) 872-2714. Yes, I'm promoting Dustin in his new position as the Tom Ford artist and representative at the John Barrett Salon. He's gifted, and I know you will love him.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty

Tom Ford Summer 2013 Beauty Collection Cream Color for Eyes in Escapade - Up Close and Personal

Finally, I can show you the Tom Ford Summer 2013 Beauty Collection, up close and personal, with fresh photos. As I mentioned when I first featured swatch photos, I had to swatch in the store (minding my manners not to use too much product) and get all of the colors they had received onto my arm. Then I had to drive home to photograph them. That process took a toll on my swatches. Now, thanks to Dustin Lujan at the John Barrett Salon's Tom Ford Boutique, I have my first set of purchased items. If you are wondering what happened to my Saks order, just see my comment in bold here.

With a sorry story behind me, I am thrilled to start a series of swatch photo features taken at my house immediately after applying items from this beautiful collection. Let's take a look at Cream Color for Eyes in Escapade (#06, $40). It is a stunning, shimmery peach that coordinates beautifully with the golden tan collection.

I took my photos in full, mid-day sunshine. I swatched Escapade using a cream concealer brush. I swatched at the top of my arm very heavily - so heavily that I left an unblended oopsie glob in the upper-right corner of the swatch. To show you a more realistic application, I followed with a swatch below - one that's blended as you might apply Escapade in "real life." I wanted to show shimmer phobes that the shimmer is a more like a gleam when the shadow is applied lightly.

I hope you can detect that you can build the color, from a whisper of golden peach to a dramatic kapow. This eye shadow has the texture of a scrumptious soufflé. When you apply it, start with light application and then layer on more if you want bolder color. The layers will not become "crusty."

The white background of the dogwood confused my camera and darkened my arm a bit, but I wanted to show you the photo directly above because it makes the gold in the peach pop.

I adore Escapade and think I'll be using it all summer. It's very pretty on its own - below the crease on me. One could even use it as a highlighter on the eyes or cheeks. Wait until you see the Illuminating Cheek Colors designed for that, though. You are going to flip.

I have not had time to tell you whether this shadow will crease, but based on my experience with other Tom Ford products, I believe it will not. The prices are high, but so is the quality.

As you know if you've been tracking Tom Ford's collection the way kids track Santa Claus with the help of NOAA, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman are making this collection available this weekend or early next week. The flagship Saks has it for sale, but after my experience with them, I wouldn't recommend you order from them. It was not an isolated experience; it was the second.

If you plan to order and need help, please give Dustin a call. He will help you pick out the best colors for your complexion, based on his incredible eye as a makeup artist. You can reach him at (212) 872-2714. By the time I discovered that Saks had failed, Dustin had received the collection, and he made sure I had it in my hands the day after my purchase. I love that guy.

P.S. Sorry for my earlier typos. I was too excited to type.

Photos by Best Things in Beauty