Jan 29, 2010

Alice In Wonderland Invades!

Have you already marked your calendars on March 5th as a very important date; a very important date that you don’t want to be late for? I have! It’s Alice in Wonderland Day! Tim Burton’s remake of the beloved story is being released and if the movie posters and stills are any indication it will be a cinematic spectacular that only Burton could pull off.

I’m not gonna lie, I’m beyond excited! I’m “release of Harry Potter Book Seven” excited, I’m “just got a lifetime supply of Pez” excited, I’m “I just got gussied up to watch the Oscars on my couch with fancy appetizers” excited. You get the point.
It’s a dream cast (yet another role Johnny Depp was born to play) and no one can make sensory overload look so good as my favorite eccentric haired director.

Minor tangent: Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was a little too out there for me and I’m not sure the masterpiece that is Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory needed to be updated.
Anyway, before I make this a full on movie review, let me also say how equally thrilled I am by the Alice in Wonderland-inspired accoutrement.

The always edgy Urban Decay has come out with a palette of eye shadows called The Book of Shadows. The sixteen eyeshadows, two mini eyeliners and one travel size bottle of the cult classic Eye Shadow Primer Potion come neatly packed in a trippy "hidden" drawer. The shades are all classic Urban Decay colors like Twice Baked, X and Chopper (these only sound normal if you're a UD regular) but renamed for this special occasion in "topsy turvy names" like White Rabbit (actually Polyester Bride), Jabberwocky (Oil Slick) and Queen (Last Call). The top of the palette has a pop up scene of Alice in the Mushroom Forest after imbibing the "Drink Me" bottle and becoming entranced by her surroundings, she encounters the hookah-smoking caterpillar. The scene makes you feel like your watching the movie, but the mirror placed inconspicuously in the picture makes you feel like you've been transported into the movie. Um, yes please!

Jan 28, 2010

Hows Nars Is Looking This Spring

Are you a Nars fanatic like I am? Check out their new Spring 2010 collection and ad starring Amber Valetta. Inspired by Catherine Deneuve's role as Lucille in La Chamade (hmm must have missed that one), this versatile, sexy and retro look is perfect for warmer weather. Fransico Nars says, "Spring is the time to embrace color and get noticed" and trust, you'll have no problems doing that with these hues. I myself love the fuschia (Easy Lover) and pearly pink (Ophelia) glosses and jewel toned aubergine polish (Purple Rain). Tell me which product you're looking forward to testing out!

Jan 27, 2010

Troy Surratt Lends His Expert "Eye"

After doing a story on mixing mascaras (an easy way to get a fake eye lash look) I was asked by a reader which mascaras work the best for lengthening and thickening.
With so many products on the market, it's easy to get overwhelmed by choices. When it comes to framing our peepers all we want is to uncover the hidden jewel that's going to miraculously turn our pupils into the well-displayed pieces of art they are. Right?

So, I enlisted the help of celebrity beauty guru and former Maybelline New York Global Consulting Makeup Artist, Troy Surratt. Not only does he have a serious resume under his belt (working with makeup legend Kevyn Aucoin, helping launch the beauty brand, Tarte and acting as a spokesperson for Beauty.com) but he's also a total doll who gave me fabulous tips and insights. His Rolodex (if they still made those) isn't too shabby either. It's chock full of celeb clients like Zooey Deschanel, JLo, Kerri Russell, Freida Pinto, Leann Rimes, Charlize Theron, Hilary Duff, and frequent collaborator, Ashlee Simpson-Wentz.

Surratt, who considers himself a "lash fanatic", zeros in on his favorite tubes for seriously Va-Va-Voom lashes. "Maybelline Great Lash Mascara" gives you great volume and a super natural, bold lash", he says. For length he goes for the perennial favorite, Lancôme Defencils because of how well it "defines each lash". Another must have is DiorShow Unlimited because of the large wand and how fast and easy it is to use without smudging or clumping. He's a big believer in framing the top and bottom lashes. Surratt loves Le 2 de Guerlain Mascara. The double-sided tube has one wand that curls, lengthens and thickens and a smaller brush that catches the tiny hairs in the inner and outer corner. The secret weapon, however, in his beauty arsenal remains the Imju Fiberwig Tiny Sniper. This best-selling Japanese line recently came to States and is a favorite among experts. It's known for giving "false eyelash-like results" with its specially designed brush, ultra fine-angled head and easy to hold grip. It also makes application precise and smudge-free.  

Surratt suggests, however, adding a few other tools and tricks to create an eye-popping appearance. In fact in his "mascara wardrobe" he always keeps the finest eyelash curlers, lash combs, individual fake lashes and primers. Basically if Troy was caring for your eyes, they'd be sitting in first class, eating caviar in silk airplane pajamas.
The makeup maven gives me the low down on the step-by-step method he employs to transforms his Tinseltown leading ladies.
Step One: Comb & Condition

Comb lashes out using a Tweezerman Lash Comb. This separates and untangles lashes. Then, swipe on a conditioning primer like Shu Uemura Lash Repair. The creamy solution can be used as lash fortifier to prevent future damage, an overnight treatment to create fuller strands or a primer.
Step Two: Curling!
Surratt is curl crazy and with good reason. He compares lashes to a visor for the eyes that stick out from the lids and cover your iris. When you curl the brim of the visor up you increase the light that reflects on them. The bigger your eyes look, the whiter the whites seem and the more defined your iris appears. The more flipped out your lashes are, the larger and more sparkly your eyes appear and the more alert and awake you look. He says that when people skip curling they automatically foreshorten their lash length 2-3 times less than what they could look like. Surratt swears by the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, which has won countless beauty awards. The beauty staple's silicone pad in its "mushroom" shape makes curling effortless according to Surratt.
Step Three: Mascara
When applying mascara, make sure the ink is being evenly distributed along the lash line and there are no gaps. Coat your lashes 2-3 times with mascara and make sure you work the wand root to tip. Before your lashes dry, separate and define them again using the lash comb to ensure an even distribution. Use a smaller brush (like Imju Fiberwig Tiny Sniper) on your lower lashes and on the inner and outer corners to mask the tiny hairs (coating these barely there hairs truly make a huge difference on the overall look).
Step Four: Fake It.
Add individual false lashes to create a glam look. Start on the outer corner with short lashes and work your way across the upper lash line, stopping when you get close to the tear duct. For doe eyes, (think Zooey Deschanel in Elf) add medium individual falsies to the mid-eye right above the iris. The eyes look bigger and brighter and the variation in length of falsies creates an optical illusion of full, bright eyes.
So, if you're one to play up this area of your face, go ahead and invest in a few tools and tubes and follow Troy's expert advice. Thanks Troy!

For more tips from the master follow him on Twitter @TroySurratt

Jan 22, 2010

Golden Globes Glamour: Christina Hendricks

Mad Men's resident vixen, Christina Hendricks looked particularly voluptuous (to say the least) at this year's Golden Globes. While I'm not sure Joan Holloway (despite loving the attention) would approve of her overly revealing peachy-salmon Christian Siriano gown, no one can dispute how flawless her makeup was. She managed to perfect retro yet modern crimson lips, warm glowy skin and subtle eye makeup that allowed us to see what the former Sterling Cooper head secretary might look like with a 2010 update. Makeup Artist, Vanessa Scali, created the newlywed's look and said she went for "effortless and chic: sheer satin eyes, pink milk-maid cheeks and a siren mouth." In true Mad Men style, Scali created the perfect contrast between an "angelic innocent face with a sexy edge of a strong mouth". The beauty pro reveals what she did to make Hendrick's sizzle on the red carpet.

Skin Care
Shu Uemura Depsea Hydrability Moisturizing Cream "This cream seriously hydrates, yet disappears into the skin leaving the skin feeling fresh and smooth," said Scali.
Scali said, "Applied minimal foundation, because Christina has nearly flawless skin." Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick Foundation in #974 was used.

Lancôme Effacernes Waterproof in Porcelain used under the eyes

Shu Uemura Égérie Satin Radiant Stick in Blush on the apples of the cheeks

Eye Shadow
"I used Shu Uemura Égérie Satin Radiant Stick in Highlight all over the eye (from lash line to brow) then swept it down to highlight the very peak of the cheekbones," said Scali.

Eye Liner
To define and elongate the lashline, Scali used Shu Uemura Drawing Pencils in ME Black 01. She also lined the inside rim of the eyes with Shu Uemura Eye Light Pencil White, to open up the eyes.

Shu Uemura Ultimate Expression Mascara in Black

False Lashes
To give Hendricks luxurious lashes, Scali added Shu Uemura Flare Eyelashes Black and finished them with a coat of Shu Uemura Ultimate Expression Mascara in Black.

Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited in #134

Thanks to Makeup411.com for the beauty breakdown.

The Beauty Buff-Reader Q & A

Part of what makes this (or any blog) successful is how interactive it is with my readers. The more you comment on posts, inquire about products or ask any hankering beauty questions, the more I learn what you're interested in, therefore enabling me to make this blog better able to suit your needs.

I sincerely appreciate everyone that has commented, shared this site with a friend, and signed up as a follower on Facebook or on the actual site to receive RSS feeds.

If you have a question regarding any or all aspects of beauty (makeup, skincare, hair care, fragrance, beauty tools, dermatological queries, celebrity beauty, guy grooming, etc.), ask me on this forum. I may not always have the answer but I know people that will. My beauty arsenal consists of some of the top celebrity makeup artists, hair stylists, beauty editors, dermatologists and product professionals. Use me as your beauty resource and I'll make sure your questions are addressed by either me or a leading expert. In fact, a new section of the blog will be dedicated to beauty question and answers. So please feel free to(nay, please do) ask questions, make comments and become part of the conversation! It will help me tremendously-in my quest for world domination-(just kidding!) and hopefully help you!

Jan 20, 2010

Sephora Samples!

If you spend $25.00 or more online at Sephora use promo code: 4STEPS at check out. You'll be eligible for a goodie bag filled with skin care samples that best suit your skin type: Dry, Oily or Normal. So if you were already thinking about restocking your beauty supplies or trying something new out (their return policy states that you can test out a product and return it if you don't like the color) use this code and receive some fabulous new products to experiment with!

Samples Include:

Oily Skin-Juice Beauty Cleansing Gel, Ole Henriksen Visual Truth Eye Creme, MD Skincare Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Serum, Juice Beauty Oil-Free Moisturizer, Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55

Normal Skin-Philosophy Purity Made Simple, Caudalie Pulpe Vitaminee Eye and Lip Cream, Bare Escentuals Rare Minerals Purely Nourishing Facial Moisturizer, Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Cream SPF 55

Dry Skin-Perricone MD Gentle Cleanser, Shiseido Benefiance Concentrated Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream, Dior HydrAction Hydra-Protective Light Cream, Murad Perfecting Day Cream SPF 30

Golden Globes Glamour: Sofia Vergara

'Modern Family' star Sofia Vergara is one of those women who would probably look great in a potato sack but she looked particularly gorgeous at this year's GG's. Don't you wish you could have the Sofia-Penelope Cruz accent for a day, when you go out for a night on the town!?

Celebrity makeup artist, Julie Harris, gave me the skinny on how she created the Colombian beauty's fresh look for the awards ceremony.

Harris said she wanted the former 'Entourage' star to have a pretty, soft and subtle look to accentuate Vergara's natural beauty. Soft being the key word. In describing how she painted Vergara's face, the makeup pro says she wanted all colors to look soft and give a sweet, feminine, girlie vibe.


The actress (who famously dated Tom Cruise briefly) has beautiful skin and needed very little foundation. Harris used Giorgio Armani Silk Foundation in #6. She used Laura Mercier Secret Concealer in #3. Harris brought out the star's natural glow by " applying a little Lancome Star Bronzer on her temples, chin and neck and using a soft pink blush by Bobbi Brown [Pale Pink by Bobbi Brown] on the apples of the cheeks". Finally, a light dusting of Laura Mercier Beige Loose Powder was swept on the T-Zone to avoid shine.


Harris brought out the soft golden-brown tones in her eyes by "highlighting the brow bone with a soft champagne cream highlighter [which she also used on her cheek bones]". She blended Laura Mercier Mahogany Brown (a soft golden brown shadow) in the crease, under the bottom lashes and above the lash line. She then used individual lashes and two coats of Covergirl Lash Blast Mascara to create length and thickness. Harris shaded in her eyebrows with Givenchy's Eyebrow Show Powdery Eyebrow Pencil in a Taupe color.


Her full lips were defined and filled using Nars Fantasia, a peachy-rose colored lip liner, and Nars Dolce Vita, a sheer dusty rose tint.

Golden Globes Glamour: Monique-Hairy and Proud!

While Monique looked absolutely regal in her satin beige gold Reem Acra gown, I couldn't really get over the sight of her hairy (and when I say hairy, I mean hairy) legs! The best supporting actress winner at this year's Golden Globes made a moving speech and was a vision while posing before the show, until she picked up her dress to avoid it dragging on the wet red carpet. There revealed her unkempt hair ball legs. Yikes! The razor-phobic actress has never been one to fit any Hollywood mold, which I love and applaud and it's clear she's an extremely confident woman, but c'mon!

She also has no qualms about discussing her laxness towards grooming. The 'Precious' star told Barbara Walters, "I must show America what a real leg looks like ... because it's too much in the morning, every morning, to shave, to cut, you got Band-aids baby ... I really think hair on a woman's legs is a black woman's thing" in a 2006 appearance on The View.

Hmm... Interesting! Precious was by far one of the most astounding, moving and core-shaking movies of the year and that I've probably seen in a while, so I'm gonna let this slide!
What did you think of Monique's hair-raising appearance!?

Jan 19, 2010

Golden Globes Glamour: Vera Farmiga

One of my favorite looks from this year's Golden Globes was the sexy Old Hollywood meets ethereal naturalist combo, New York based celebrity makeup artist, Tina Turnbow, created for Up In the Air star and best supporting actress nominee, Vera Farmiga.

Turnbow worked with tarte (and is coming out with her own line of products for the eco-friendly brand) to create a soft, feminine look that combined warm and cool tones inspired by nature. The star looked luminous on the red carpet thanks to her healthy flush. She somehow managed to look poised, sophisticated and not over done or "caked on" with makeup. The star looked so effortlessly natural, she could have just come from the gym, had it not been for her haute couture dress.

Turnbow told me about how she created the star's impossibly glamorous all natural Ava Gardner look:

  • Complexion: “I love Vera’s porcelain complexion, so I wanted to keep it simple with a sheer foundation and lightweight mineral powder.”
    • tarte’s smooth operator tinted moisturizer SPF 20 in façade
    • tarte’s provocateur mineral pressed powder SPF 8 in fair
  • Cheeks: “Just a pop of pink made for a healthy blush.”
    • Tina Turnbow for tarte’s flower child natural cheek stain
    • Tina Turnbow for tarte’s flower child eyeshadow palette—pink peony shadow used as a highlighter on top of cheekbones
  • Eyes: “I used warm coppery-bronze tones to enhance Vera’s beautiful blue eyes.”
    • Tina Turnbow for tarte’s flower child eyeshadow palette
      • Shadows: for her crease and lid blende shimmering firewheel, matte buttercup, shimminering ecru hibiscus; pink peony on browbone
      • Eyeliner: matte brown liner
    • multiplEYE™ natural lash enhancing mascara
  • Lips: “I felt a soft, pale-pink pout really completed her look.”
    • tarte’s vitamin infused lipstick in bikram

Jan 18, 2010

Will Chanel's Temporary Tattoos Be All The Rage This Spring?

I've always been a fan of temporary tattoos and it looks like that affinity has put me right ahead of the fashion curve. In the past I've looked for any opportunity to wear these not-so permanent accessories under the "being silly" guise or "it's for my Halloween costume" excuse, despite the beloved holiday being months away.

Tattoo-inspired body art has been seen all over the Spring 2010 runways and I'm not gonna lie, I'm kinda excited by this out-there trend. I mean c'mon, if high fashion houses tell you it’s the new craze to embody next season, won't you gladly listen and follow!? Maybe not, but odder trends have caught on to mainstream fashion. Remember when bejeweled body art stickers was the it thing to wear? People couldn't leave the house for a night out without some fake crystal stickies that were strategically placed in the shape of a heart or star on your shoulder blade or arm. Not me, of course! I rose above that trend.

Rodarte and Jean Paul Gautier were among the fashion forward that featured the tats and body paint in their collections. It wasn't until Chanel models strutted down the catwalk emblazoned with the label's unique body-art vision, that the trend became supremely buzz-worthy.
The haute couture house adorned their clothes-hanger ladies with double layer bracelet and garter tattoos that resembled Chanel chic chains and jewelry. The occasional tat had the delicately dangling signature double C's, only making this whimsical beauty trend, a classically Chanel exclusive, impossibly stylish indulgence. The brand is now planning on selling this skin art for retail.

The package of five sheets with 55 designs total will be sold as Les Trompe L'Oeil de CHANEL Temporary Skin Art and based on the exact designs that creative director, Peter Philips used for the shows. Don't think you won't be paying Chanel prices though, you will. A set will set you back $75. Look out for these gorgeous yet over-the top body add-ons in mid February at select Chanel boutique locations.

I'm not so secretly hoping the trend will catch on, and some Chanel-inspired designs will pop up at a more affordable retailer. Or perhaps the trend will be as temporary as the tattoos themselves. Stay tuned!

Thanks to @StyleListSays for the info!
Chanel Photos Courtesy of AP and Chanel Courtesy Photos via Stylelist.com and thefrisky.com

Jan 13, 2010

Revive & Reinvent Broken Shadows!

I recently uncovered two or three eye shadows from my beauty arsenal that I hadn't seen in a while. The shadows ranged from a black matte Vincent Longo shade to a cerulean blue tint by Chantecaille and another shimmery navy by Trish McEvoy. They were each smashed into a million pieces, ready to explode out of their containers. As much as I tried to continue using them, the harder it became. They invariably splattered all over the place and usually ended up smearing all over my face.

I couldn't bring myself to throw them out because they truly are some of the most flattering hues against my skin and after some arduous effort, did end up looking fabulous on. They are, however, impractical and kinda impossible to use in the state they're in. It was a lost cause till now.

What was always a wasteful shame (throwing out or never using the handicapped shades) is now solved by mixing the broken shadows with a dab of Vaseline. You get a rich cream/gel liner that goes on smooth and velvety. My beloved shades are back in action! Take the powder and swirl it around with the Vaseline on the back of your hand or inside the shadow container. Then apply the revamped product as you would a cream shadow or liner. Smokey eyes are instantly created and the newly mixed concoction will look dewy and fresh on the eyes and against your skin.

As I've mentioned in the past, Vaseline will always be handy for numerous beauty fixes. It's a does-it-all tub. Grab a few and throw them in various places (the office, your bathroom, First-Aid kit, travel bags, makeup bags, etc). I guarantee you this old-school product will save the day no matter where you are.

Another solution to Zombie-Bride (bring back to life) your shadow is to gather a few tools and re-solidify the broken eye-poppers. Here's how: Take a tissue or piece of an old t-shirt, a ziplock bag, a bottom of a utensil like a knife, some rubbing alcohol (since we clearly all have that lying around) and nickel or quarter. Slide the damaged pigment into the ziplock bag, seal it tight and smash the contents so the solid pieces are now grinded into a powdery mixture. Take the pan or container out of the bag and add a few drops of the alcohol. The higher the concentration, the quicker it dries. Make sure the shadow has enough drops to create a thick smooth paste. Let the alcohol dissolve and the consistency harden. Then take the coin and wrap it around the tissue or cloth and press the shadow container firmly for 30-45 seconds. The shadow will flatten and solidify . Voila! Good as new!

Tip: Add a tiny dot under the eyes to help moisturize the delicate area and make your under eye concealer stay on without looking cakey.

On a separate side note, if your shadow constantly falls while trying to apply it (especially when using eyeshadow applicators to add it on), brush some translucent powder on where it typically falls (underneath the eyes or on the cheeks). You can easily wipe the shadow and excess translucent powder away with a brush or baby wipe. Then add concealer under the eye and set it with powder to make your eyes look alert and help your makeup stay put all day.

Jan 10, 2010

Smell and Feel Like You're in Hawaii

There are some scents that remind you of places and things you always want to be surrounded by. The fragrance line by Kai evokes such a sentiment. The Hawaiian-island inspired aroma contains a heady blend of gardenia and exotic flowers yet has a clean, earthy, feminine undertone to it.

The delicate blend makes you feel like you just got a whiff, from the gentle warm breeze, of sweet smelling flowers after waking up with your ocean front view of paradise. Not a bad way to smell or feel, especially considering what most of us are seeing when we look out the window on these cold wintery days.

Kai products come in a few different, yet equally intoxicating forms. My favorites are the eau de parfum floral spritz, $72.00, (Jennifer Aniston is a huge fan), the Kai Body Buffer, $36.00, (which uses coconut and olive oil and other natural essences in a sponge to cleanse, exfoliate and moisturize the skin for 30 washes) and the Kai Skylight Candle, $44.00, (a slow burning candle that fills the room for hours with this delicious aroma).

Another fan favorite is the Kai Body Glow, $30.00. The dry oil mist is a naturally hydrating spritz that leaves your skin with a sexy glow. You'll look as sultry as you'll smell.

Try these and all the other amazing products Kai has to offer. You'll feel like you're on vacation while at work! Yay! Almost as good, right!?

Check out the www.thebeautymark.com to purchase Kai products.

Are You Using Your Scrub Effectively?

I'm always striving for ways to make my skin softer and more hydrated, especially in the winter when the air is so dry and my skin has mini freak outs on a daily basis if I'm not in direct contact with a moisturizer. I go through bottles of lotion and tubes of exfoliating scrub to assuage my dry skin. Little did I know, I've haven't been using my exfoliant to its full potential!

Scrubs and exfoliants are great because they slough off layers of dead, dry skin and reveal softer, fresher underneath. That's why it’s important to exfoliate (especially if you have oily pores-as they get clogged easily and need to be cleaned out to avoid breakouts) once a week.

If you're like me you hop in the shower to exfoliate.

This is an issue if you use a sugar or salt scrub, as it actually makes the polishing process less effective. Water, in fact, dissolves these types of scrubs. To optimize effectiveness, rub your body with your polish of choice before you hop in the shower and then rinse, dry and lotion as usual. Your grainy solution will have time to actually work its magic and uncover your new glowing skin.

To further ensure you're skin is baby smooth, pat yourself dry out of the shower and then lather on baby oil. It's cheap and a little goes a long way. If you have relatively oily or combination skin, it'll act as the perfect moisturizer. If your skin is extra dry it'll act as a great base and adhere to any lotion you add on and make your skin feel hydrated all day long.

Tip: As much as you want to, don't take a steamy hot shower. The extra warm water dries out your skin. Sadness I know.

Special thank to Bellasugar for the awesome tip!