Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Egyptian Magic

Guest blog written by Olivia Flink-Larsen

Let me first start with a confession. I'm not all that into make-up. As long as I have good mascara, ti nted moisturizer, and blush in my beauty bag, I'm good to go. I attribute my disinterest to my mom and younger sister, who lug around make-up bags the size of toddlers and typically travel with an extra suitcase stuffed to the brim with "product."

So I am especially cautious about adopting new items into my routine, seeing as how the women in my family have a genetic disposition toward hoarding beauty products. That changed when my masseuse, Missy Eartly, introduced me to Egyptian Magic. It is la creme de la creme! She originally told me to use it on old equestrian scars on my legs, but this all-purpose cream heals chapped lips, hydrates dry skin, treats blemishes, eases irritation from bug bits and burns...and the list goes on.

If that wasn't enough, I even use it on my dog! My Puggle has a bit of a Napoleon complex and is constantly getting into scrapes at the dog park. I apply some "Magic" to the sore spots without worrying about any negative side effects, should he manage to lick it off (and he always does). The seriously bare-bones ancient Egyptian recipe contains olive oil, beeswax, honey, bee pollen, bee propolis, and royal jelly (also from honeybees).

For those of us not fortunate enough to see Miss Missy regularly (althought I'd love it if she fit in my beauty bag!), Egyptian Magic is also sold at Whole Foods and on their Web site. If you need a celebrity endorsement, rumor has it Madonna won't leave home without it!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Benefit Eye Bright

Guest blog by Tammy Shy

I had been wanting to to learn how to highlight the inner corners of my eyes and loved the way it looked on my sister, but she uses Benefit Eyeliner Gilded, which is a goldish color that wouldn't look quite right on me.

I tried Benefit's Eye Bright instead, which is pink with a slight shimmer and matches my skin tone better. I'm not crazy adventurous with makeup, so I end up with a subtle look, but I think it definitely brightens my normally dark eyes.

A little dab with the pencil in the corners, rub it in a bit and ta-dah! I think it might even make me look a little more awake!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Donating Beauty Products to the Homeless

Guest blog written by Erin Brumleve

We all love Sephora. Most of us love Las Vegas. For those passionate souls that feel fondly toward both of the aforementioned playgrounds, the fervor upon entering the Las Vegas Sephora at the Planet Hollywood shops can be a bit overwhelming.

I certainly love Sephora. The feeling I have when I enter the store is akin to being on the threshold of promise. Promises of beauty, of clear, matte skin...sigh. I am the wide-eyed little girl back at the bulk candy store with the five dollars my parents just gave me. My heart pounds...I am here on a mission!

The orderly aisles, all of the fabulous promise-holding products, so gorgeously illuminated by the multiple full-spectrum light sources. My goodness! Are there really that many different colors of lipgloss? I didn't know shampoo came in a powder! Sigh...Sephora in Las Vegas. I feel a bit woozy.

My mission in the Las Vegas Sephora is to find a primer that is reasonably priced and that I can purchase anonymously at the time of my choosing. You see, I am a therapist. My persona is supportive of others, nearly to a fault, and my Mary Kay lady senses this. Her tone is simultaneously friendly and guilt-inducing when she calls.

So far, I have used my assertiveness training and resisted the urge to buy Time Wise Cellushape Nighttime Body Gel. However, Mary Kay lady is doggedly persistent; she is working on our relationship and is calling me "hon", sending me cards on my birthday, all the while pointing out my myriad of beauty troubles that should be appropriately soothed with her wares. If this keeps up, I will be up to my ears in Mary Kay products in a very short while. I picture her on the other end of the phone, her T-zone so perfectly shineless, beginning to crinkle, as I tell her, "No thanks. I'll just take three tubes of the Oil Mattifier."

"Erin! Focus on your mission!" The clear, bright voice and laugh snaps me to the present. The voice is that of my friend and mentor, Gini, who I have met in Vegas, along with our husbands. Luckily, I have Gini's laser-like focus to guide me today in the labyrinth of delectable make-up delights.

After combing the aisles on the quest for the perfect primer, I decide on Sephora Base Zero Brilliance Anti-Shine Primer. It's a good value, less expensive than Mary Kay, and you get more of it minus the Mary Kay stalker, um, lady. We purchase our products. Strangely, Sephora Nourishing Cuticle Oil and two lipglosses have also ended up in my basket, so I buy them too.

It's hot and I'm already nursing a hangover from the night before so I am glad when Gini and I decide to take a break from our shopping excursion to have lunch. We share a yummy pizza and each have a few glasses of wine. We talk. I am warm and fuzzy from the Sephora excursion, accompanying Gini to Jimmy Choo, and the glam-o-rama Las Vegas vibe in general.

Afterward, we head to the new shops at the Palazzo. I am a conservative gamer when I go to Las Vegas, preferring to invest my capital where I can see it - clothes and beauty products. The shops are just lovely. We order gelato in freshly-made waffle cones. Then we begin to meander back toward our lodging at Mandalay Bay.

At some point, I think we were in the Venetian, I have the sobering realization that my Sephora bag, containing my precious cargo of primer, nourishing cuticle oil, and lipglosses, is - gulp- gone! Where did it go? Why has it taken me nearly 20 minutes to realize it is missing? It's like another limb, or a small child for God's sake - and I just left it somewhere? I am stranded in the desert! My cuticles are in dire need of nourishment! My pores are definitely not happy with the predicament in which I've placed myself, and each one issues a silent, shiny, little protest.

I confide to Gini my loss and we decide to retrace our steps to see if perhaps I've set the bag down somewhere. We go back to the fancy bathrooms, the gelato bar, the pizzeria in the Venetian, all to no avail. Ah Vegas, you vile temptress - you've turned my misfortune into some other lucky gal's happy day.

Though our make-up reconnaissance mission was unsuccessful, the upside of this whole ordeal is that I didn't break the bank on my Sephora purchases and there are several Sephora locations in Las Vegas. I drag a patient Gini to Sephora for a third time that afternoon (we had conducted a preliminary scout visit prior to our second purchasing visit) to sullenly repurchase my orphaned products.

Oooh - now this Sephora has a slightly different layout than our last Sephora. Oh, and they didn't have those at the other Sephora. Oh look! Philosophy has two new eau de toilettes! Sensing my distraction, Gini reminds me what I am here to get and speaks with a saleswoman about the possibility of a new product line of Sephora Bag Bjorn's for tipsy, um, forgetful, customers who need a bit of assistance holding on to their purchases.

The clerk rings up my total and I pay for my items - again. She slips a free sample of Benefit Dr. Feelgood Velvety Complexion Balm into the trademark black and white bag. It's another primer! Yay! With this sample primer, my net primer loss is only .05 oz. Such brings a small measure of comfort to my sea of missing product grief. I give my bag to the reliable Gini for safe-keeping and we had back to Mandalay Bay, exhausted.

Gini and I have laughed about the whole make-up mini-ordeal several times since. She likes to say that I am a Good Samaritan and some homeless person in Vegas is feeling blessed to have nourished cuticles and shine-free pores. Maybe at tax time I'll write it off as a donation.

Reflecting back on hard lessons learned in Las Vegas, I note the Sephora Base Zero Brilliance Anti-Shine Primer is getting low. It has been a good product, serving my pores well. The scent and feel are tingly and lemony. I can wear it all day to keep my pores in check. The Benefit balm has also come in handy - I keep it in my purse for touch-ups throughout the day. I look forward to another shopping excursion to the Elysium realm of Sephora to replenish my supply. This time, though, I'll keep a close eye on my purchases - and maybe even bring a "Sephora Bjorn" to stow them in, just to be safe.

Editor's note: I did not change a word or add anything to this lovely, but extremely hilarious, account of shopping at three Sephora locations in Las Vegas. I also believe I bought something at every location. Sigh...I'm an addict. Next up: Beauty Products Addict Anonymous a.k.a. BPAA

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Fixing Dry Heels

I opened a gift from my mom and it was a pair of pink warm fuzzy socks with packages inside. I put my hand in the first sock and found a small jar of Clearasil pads. I put my hand in the second sock and found a small tub of Vaseline.

I picked up the phone. "Mom, you know I haven't needed Clearasil for 20 years?"

She sighed and told me that she was up late one night and was watching Oprah. They talked about wiping your heels (or any dry part of your body) with a Clearasil pad, applying Vaseline, and putting on socks overnight. She claims, as did Oprah, that she had baby fine heels after one week.
Last night was day one for me. One week from today, check back and I will let you know if this is the magical elixir that means the end of pedicures!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dylan's Candy Bar

I bought myself a little gift to open on Christmas morning so it shouldn't have been a surprise, but I opened a box to find what looks like a pint of ice cream. It is Dylan's Candy Bar Ice Cream Sugar Scrub.

This is the beauty product line of the Dylan's Candy Bar in Manhattan. They're famous for their candy and chocolate, but now have sugar scrubs, lotions, and lipgloss in flavors such as coconut bon bon, strawberry licorice, chocolate cupcake, and birthday cake batter.

My little treat is coconut bon bon and it's a great scrub for daily use. I used it this morning before I shaved my legs and it's better than shaving cream. Plus it's a treat without calories and I smell good enough, eat.

I bought some for my niece for Christmas, too, in a different flavor. Maybe her mom will help her write a guest blog!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy! Happy!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah to all my BFF Beauty Bag friends!

Here's hoping you each received The Ultimate Blockbuster this year. If you didn't, take that Sephora gift card tomorrow and buy yourself one.

Trust me on this. You want this in your bathroom.

Happy! Happy!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Foundation Options

Guest blog written by Jessica Dietrich

So I have been using Bare Minerals make up for more than a year now. I need foundation to cover up the freakish red coloring on my face, but I hate the heavy feeling of liquids. I love, love, love the powder from Bare Minerals. Plus I found that it lasts way longer than liquids...with the liquid foundation, it may last me five hours of my 12 hour work shift. By the time I got off work, I looked like one of the sick patients instead of a healthful nurse.

Anyway the other day I had a real issue...I was totally out of my powder foundation-YIKES! And to make it even better, I am in Columbia (Mo.) and couldn't find any place that sells Bare I had two options, go without any foundation and scare those around me with my naked face, or drag myself out to find a quick replacement until I could get to a Sephora in St. Louis. I chose option two for the sake of all those that had to see me.

So off I went in a rush to my second home, Target, and I grabbed the only thing that looked promising. And at $12.50 a pop I figured the least it could do is get me through the next couple of days without making me look too horrible. So I get home and start getting ready for work, so I drag out the new generic Target makeup and get my surprise IT WAS AWESOME!

It was L'Oreal's new Bare Naturale gently mineral powder foundation....ummm...dare I say I like it better than the Bare Minerals?? It was great coverage, nice and light, lasted all day, and even goes on easier than the other stuff. It's cheaper and you get much more powder than you do with Bare Minerals. It also comes with a brush, so if you don't have one, it's a perk. I know most girls are into buying make up at Sephora, or MAC and all those places but this Target-normal-everyday L'Oreal purchase is WAY worth your time and money to try.

So there you have amazing make-up discovery...enjoy the story for yourself or share it with the world..I'm just happy I look good!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Anti-Frizz Creme

I have always struggled with my hair. I look at girls who have long, straight hair that is gorgeous and all they have to do is let it air dry or run a hair dryer through it, but don't have to blow it out or use a brush, and I'm very, very envious. Not only is my hair super thick and super fine, it has a weird wave in it, but only at the nape of my neck. Nowhere else. It's not like my sister's hair. She got this beautiful hair that has a wave and she can let it air dry and it looks gorgeous. No, I got one weird wave that requires me to either straighten it or use a round brush to blow it out every day.

Well, I haven't been feeling well and have been lazy so yesterday I took the advice of the Fekkai Anti-Frizz Creme sample I have and applied a nickel-sized amount from the roots to the ends, combed it through, and let it air dry.

My hair is so straight! It looks like I have no natural wave at the nape of my neck. It actually looks like it does when my hair dresser's assistant spends 45 minutes blowing it out. And all I did was apply the product and let it air dry!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Eyes Never Lie

Guest blog written by Dave Moley

What do you get, when a single parent is trying to be Super Dad, get his software business off the ground, and still make effort to not fall into the cliché of, “all work and no play”?

If you guessed tired, dark eyes, then you win a prize! Yes the tell-tale signs of not enough sleep, getting older, and too much hard play not to mention the fact that the eyes never lie… have led me to find solace in another famous philosopher of our generation, “Its better to look good then to feel good.”

So thus begun my quest, not for the Holy Grail, but for the miracle eye cream to bring back that deer in the headlight youthful alertness (ok, so maybe not the best analogy).

I started small, going to Target and buying a box of Neutrogena Healthy Skin Eye Cream for $12. Well with hind sight being 20/20 I now realize you get what you pay for, and in this case, it definitely wasn’t Eye Redemption. Pretty much it was fun and exciting to put on my virgin eyes, but really no lasting effects.

This challenged me to go to the opposite end of the spectrum, and I wandered into my local Country Club Plaza MAC store. Quickly, I was greeted by an eager-eyed MAC professional, who was anxious to help me pick out the perfect gift. Imagine her shock, when it actually was me who was looking for something for myself.

After detailing my dramatic story, of my quest for eye rescue, she brought me over to the counter, and with angelic hymns parting the cloudy sky above, and beams of golden sunlight reigning down over her hands as she slowly held up what Steven Tyler himself uses and swears by; MAC Fast Response Eye Cream. “Sold” I said, and for $28.50 a heck of a bargain.

So I tried it. Felt alive for the first time in years (ok, maybe a bit much). But the truth is, It was a bit heavy, which would have been ok, if it worked. But, unfortunately, after daily use, it started clogging some pores, not to mention the fact that the dark circles would come back in a few hours. Although I did see significant improvement, alas, back to the quest.

So my journey finally led me to find the Kiehl’s counter at Nordstroms, which brings us to the present.

Kiehl’s Eye Alert, for $20.50 is heaven on earth. I’ve been using it daily for more than six months now, and it leaves Steven Tyler in the dust. Not sure what makes it work so well. Maybe its the combination of Vitamin E and caffeine. Maybe its that it's not oily at all, never clogs any pores. Maybe, that it seems to last all day, and after use, I can see immediate results.

Whatever it is, I’m content with it for now, but the quest for that elusive Fountain of Youth, finding balance in work and play, and being the best Super Dad that ever existed, never stops.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Everything Sounds Better In French

Written by guest blogger, Suzie Bilek

Over the summer, when my boyfriend (now fiance!), went to Toulouse, France on business, I told him, "Bring me something good!"

I pondered what he would actually bring back for me. Maybe a cute scarf or an adorable little trinket. I then quickly thought that I shouldn't set myself up for disappointment and should expect something crappy with a French flag on it.

I was pleasantly surprised when he returned and gave me what I now believe is the best exfoliater ever! The Caudalie Sauvignon Scrub is so lightweight and smells fantastic. It has the right balance to exfoliate without feeling too abrasive. I use it primarily on my face, even though it is for face and body. Sephora carries it so I won't need to fly back and forth to France for my beauty fix (though that would be a good excuse for a vacation).

I guess I should give my guy more credit next time. Who knows what he'll surprise me with next!

Editor's note: Girls, it's only $35. Worth a try!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Getting Eyeliner to Last A Full Day

After nearly 20 years of wearing eye make-up every day, I have finally figured out how to get eyeliner to last a full day.

Apply cream eye shadow underneath the liner!

Why didn't anyone tell me??

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mason Pearson

Back in the day, when I was working with Purebeauty, they introduced me to the Mason Pearson brush. Since then, I've coveted one, but never wanted to spend the money on it... hoping, instead, I would receive it as a gift.

Five years went by and I still hadn't received the beautiful handmade brush as a I gifted it to myself.

I'll be honest, I spent three or four months trying to figure out what the big deal is. I have really thick hair, but each strand is fine. So it's hard to find brushes that get my hair to cooperate, let alone get the tangles out.

But then a few weeks ago, the big deal was revealed. This brush is an investment and worth every single penny that it costs. It makes my hair look shiny, it does get out the tangles, and, oh, it makes my hair shiny...without product.

Girls, write last minute letters to Santa and ask for your very own Mason Pearson brush!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


When I was in college, my mom and I were at a drug store and I was trying to figure out what to do with my eyebrows. This, quite possibly, could have been the first time I'd ever even thought about my eyebrows.

Mom said, "Buy clear mascara." Excuse me? "Use clear mascara to manicure them into place. It has a built-in brush, it creates no mess, and it works."

Since then I've tried everything, including Anastasia Brow-Enhancing Serum. First of all, it does not enhance my brows. Secondly, it does not work as well as cheap, clear mascara.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Benefit Lipgloss!

No more runny, bad-tasting cheek stain you have to use on your lips so as not to waste.

It's here!

The Benetint Lip Balm!

It's creamy. It has SPF. It tastes good. And it gives you the same "just went on a long run" flush as the cheek stain.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fighting Blemishes

I have a secret to share. I still break out...badly. On my chin once a month and across my nose and cheeks when I'm super stressed.

In April, right before I went on a two-week vacation to Italy, I was so stressed that I broke out across my nose and cheeks. When I got back, I went to the dermatologist. Nothing he gave me worked. Finally in August (yes, four months of it!) I had a facial.

After she pointed a laser into my pores for an hour (it hurts!), she gave me some moisturizer to use at night.

The Jan Marini Bioglycolic Cream is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! It cleared up my skin within a week. And the second I think I'm going to break out, I put this on and the pimple never appears.

It's expensive and smelly, but so worth my vanity!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Best Lipgloss On Earth

Rachel G., this is for you!

The best lipgloss on earth.

Yes, the Mentha Lip Shine from C.O. Bigelow! I love it because it's minty and fresh and, if you accidentally get too much out of the tube, you can rub it on your front teeth and be kissable ready!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lip Plumpers

It sounds like many of you are on a quest for a lip plumper. Please comment on this blog posting about your favorite lip plumper (if you haven't already) and I'll post reviews of them all in one spot so you can decide which is best for you.

C.O. Bigelow

I am a C.O. Bigelow fan. My sister introduced them to me many years ago when she bought some lipgloss she didn't like (and yet we somehow have the same blood!) and gave it to me. I've been hooked since. I am a lipgloss junkie, after all.

But then I graduated from lipgloss to hand soaps and lotions and shower gels.

When it comes to beauty routines, I am ultimately lazy. I hate, hate, hate to put on lotion after the shower. Rather than give in and spend two minutes putting on lotion, I search high and low for a shower gel that moisturizes IN THE SHOWER.

In my search, I bought the Mentha Body Smoothing Body Buffer. I can't decide if I like it. My shower smells like a mint heaven every morning, but I don't know that a) it buffs anything or b) moisturizes.

Does anyone have experience with this product?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Body Shop

Is anyone a fan of The Body Shop?

I'm in the Minneapolis airport and we stopped in there to waste a few minutes. There is nothing in that store worth a dime, in my opinion.

Do others have differing opinions?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lip Plumper

Rachael asked me today if I have a favorite lip plumper. She said she tried the Benefit one (but couldn't remember the name), but that she was open to new ideas.

I've tried them all and am not typically a fan. I am a sucker for marketing tactics and I think this is one that does not work.

That being said, Sephora sent me a "beauty insider" gift and it was a lip plumper. It's the Bare Escentuals Buxom Lips.

Granted, I've only been using the sample for a few days, but I like it! It's minty and massages my lips when I put it on. Plus it has a nice pink tint that makes me look glosssed, but not overly made up. I have no idea if it's making me look like Angelina Jolie, but I like the feel of it when I put it on, and it doesn't taste half bad either!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Smashbox O-Gloss and O-Glow

My friend Erin and I visited two Sephora locations in Las Vegas a couple of months ago. You know, just in case one had something the other didn't. What we found is Smashbox O-Gloss and O-Glow.

The lipgloss is a Sephora "best of", but don't let that fool you!

Don't get me wrong. I was intrigued by the idea that the gloss and blush go on clear and adjust to your skin tone. Some of you even got to see me demonstrate it..."Watch! It's clear going on and turns pink after it's applied! Cool, huh?"

Turns out, the O-Gloss really dries out my lips. The O-Glow is just a gloppy mess that doesn't really adjust to your skin's chemistry.

I'm the first to admit marketing tactics work on me, but save yourselves. Don't buy it!