Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine 52 Fétiche, Review, Swatch, Comparison

Not very long ago I thought that Lipstick Queen's Jean Queen lipstick was my best "my lips but better" (MLBB) shade, but it was always just a touch too bright to be completely believable as my own lip pigment, enhanced. It occurred to me that, perhaps, I could find the elusive MLBB shade within my favorite lipstick formula, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine ($32.50 / 3g, 0.1oz).

Yes (sigh) those are all mine
I love the Rouge Coco Shine formula—so much so that I have been to the Chanel counter several times, swatched/tried on all of them, discarding all the beiges, browns, warm corals and reds, oranges, and peaches, and purchased the rest. To date, my favorites have been Antigone, Aventure, Bonheur, and Romance.

I also have Fétiche, which Chanel calls "rose" but plunks it into the Violets/Berries grouping. It amuses me how the little card below has check boxes next to it. Should I admit how many little boxes I have checked?

I'll be honest. I did not love Fétiche at first, finding it too muted. I can also tell you there isn't much fetishistic about this color, unless Chanel predicted that I would develop an excessive attachment or regard for it. (Update: Curious about the name, I asked my favorite Chanel SA, who told me that this lipstick likely got its name because Coco was quite superstitious. Whether the correlation is true or not isn't the point but it makes for an interesting story.)

Fétiche is a somewhat demure, mauve-based, rosy pink with gold microshimmers. Since I generally prefer more clarity and brightness in my lip products, I wore Fétiche a few times and then it ended up on the bottom of my Rouge Coco Shine pile for several weeks.

Swatched on its own on white paper below, Fétiche is not terribly exciting. You might be able to see the almost imperceptible shimmer, which I'd prefer to do without, but I can live with it.

Like the aforementioned Jean Queen, as well as Chantecaille Lip Chic, Lancome L'absolu Nu, and some of the Rouge d'Armani lipsticks, Rouge Coco Shine is one of the new lipstick/lip gloss hybrid formulas that feel utterly luxurious on my lips. I wear these stick glosses as I do lip balm, which is many times throughout the day, partly because the lovely slick feeling and accompanying shine quickly fade, lasting not much longer than a typical lip gloss, but also because it just feels so good on the lips. The Rouge Coco Shine formula is very forgiving to aging skin, especially lips whose vermilion border is beginning to fade the way mine is. Also, the shine and subtle shimmer help add fullness to the lips.
One day last week, I was working at home and decided to wear Fétiche, which was a halfhearted attempt to use it up as quickly as possible. I caught a glimpse of my lips in the mirror and was taken by surprise. I really liked how the color had worn down to a rosy stain: MLBB, as though I had been born to it.

Just Fétiche on lips (sans pencil or gloss)

In the above photo, I am wearing just the lipstick in two swipes. No primer, lip pencil, or gloss. I normally line the philtrum and top lip border with NARS Larger Than Life Eyeliner in Rue Bonaparte. Sounds weird, eh? The almond color does nothing for my eyes, but it makes one of the best skin-toned lip pencils I have ever used, and when applied just outside the lip line, it draws light and makes my lips appear fuller. This method works much better for me than using a darker pencil, which I think looks fake. Plus, we all know by now that dark recedes.Before that, I was lining around my lips with YSL Touche Eclat, but I digress.

Since I was now in a Fétiche groove, I was curious to see how it compared to other lipsticks, so I swatched it (center below) to what I had assumed were similar colors: Rouge Coco Shine in 54 Boy and Lipstick Queen Jean Queen. Boy is little lighter than Fétiche and has noticeable brown undertones, making it the warmer of the two. Jean Queen has stronger red undertones, making it darker and more rosy, but not necessarily cooler.

I also compared Boy and Fétiche to Rouge Coco Shine 55 Romance (a true favorite), which is the most cool toned, clear, and also brighter than the other two.

Below are some of my favorite Rouge Coco Shines, lined up for the sake of color comparison, because nothing makes a color stand out more than seeing it in context with other colors:

To look at them together, Fétiche, Boy, and Antigone seem the most closely related, but Antigone is much deeper on my lips and Boy looks like a warm pink beige, so how these lipsticks wear on you comes down to your own lip pigment. All but Antigone wear extremely sheer on me unless I swipe several times to build up the pigment.

Bottom line: A whole new appreciation for Fétiche, but quite honestly, almost anything in the RCS formula gets three thumbs up from me. LOVE ♥

All photos copyright © Everyday Beauty.

Friday, May 25, 2012

NARS Lhasa and 413 BLKR Review, Swatches

I mused over NARS Shimmer Eyeshadow in Lhasa ($24 .07 oz/2.2 g) for months before I finally bought it. I decided to buy 413 BLKR as well, and I am glad I did.

The NARS web site describes Lhasa as lavender grey, and when looking at the product in the pan, I would say yes, but wait until the swatches later in this post and see what you think because I was surprised by how neither grey nor lavender Lhasa appeared on my skin.

NARS Eyeshadow Lhasa

413 BLKR is not described at all, but I had read enough reviews to trust that it was a lighter, cooler version of Lhasa. That much is true, both in the pan and on the skin.

NARS Eyeshadow 413 BLKR

These two eyeshadows are often compared to one another, and the collective opinion is that they are so similar, you don't need both. I disagree. To be sure, you probably don't need both, but they are different enough to warrant a test to see which one you prefer. They might look similar on the surface, but that is where any similarity ends, at least on me.

Lhasa and 413 BLKR

Both eyeshadows contain subtle shimmer that leans toward a satin finish, and both contain at least some grey and purple. Lhasa starts with a brown base, contains barely a smidgen of grey, and has warm red-purple overtones; in fact, I'd describe Lhasa as warm-neutral plum-tinted taupe, not lavender grey. 413 BLKR is more obviously blue based and is, indeed, the lavender grey I wanted Lhasa to be.

Lhasa and 413 BLKR
Lhasa is more pigmented and slightly more shimmery. 413 BLKR is quite sheer; its finish reminds me of Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade formula.

Below I have swatched on white paper (left to right) Lhasa and 413 BLKR so you can see the colors without skin tone interference. Notice how brown and warm Lhasa looks compared to 413 BLKR.

Lhasa and 413 BLKR

I suspect that most reviewers who are calling Lhasa cool are warm toned, or at least warm/neutral. I am totally cool toned, and look how warm Lhasa appears on my pink porcelain (NW15) skin. No prep or primer, just eyeshadow on skin. 413 BLKR, on the other hand, has that dusty lavender-grey tone I love so much. It also has a glowy finish.

By window, indirect sunlight, Lhasa and 413 BLKR

Indoors, natural light/no flash, Lhasa and 413 BLKR

I don't wear Lhasa often, but I enjoy wearing 413 BLKR on the moveable lid all by itself. Sometimes I pair it with Becca Chantilly or Rock & Republic Ciggy and a whisper of NARS D. Gorgeous blended into the crease. Occasionally, I will wear Lhasa on the lid with Chanel Taupe Grisé blended in from the outer corner into the crease, but I really don't love it on me.

Apparently, 413 BLKR has sold out on the NARS web site, but I learned from Lola's Secret Beauty Blog that this eyeshadow is not limited edition at the flagship store, so you can call 646-459-2323 to order.

Bottom line: Nothing earth shattering but no regrets.

For additional comparisons, see The Beauty Look Book, Cute and Mundane and Café Makeup.

Do you own either/both of these? If so what do you think?

All photos taken by me

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Chantecaille Brilliant Gloss in Charisma, Review and Swatches

Once again I am forced to wipe egg off my face and admit there actually is a lip gloss I can stand to wear.

Chantecaille remains one of my favorite brands. It offers a wide range of options from soft, neutral colors to bold and bright, but the common thread throughout the product range is soft, layerable pigment. This fact polarizes makeup aficionados. Either people love the ability to start sheer and build up, or they complain that it isn't pigmented enough. I fall into the happy camp. I find this brand exceedingly kind to aging skin, including the iridescent eyeshadow formula, which is never frosty and clumpy. Coming from someone who gets dressed at dark o'clock each morning, I appreciate that it would be hard to overdo just about anything from this brand, so when light dawns, my face doesn't frighten away the birds.

Recently, I purchased several tubes of Chantecaille Brilliant Gloss ($32, 1 oz.), as well as the Pure Brilliance Trio. As I experimented with the gloss finishes, I found that some of the colors were barely tinted (such as Love and Charm), while still others packed a luscious punch of color. One favorite color is Allure, a deep, clear  raspberry with no shimmer, and the other is Charisma, a sheer, neutral-warm strawberry red.

Charisma has plenty of shine and a little bit of red and pink shimmer. I prefer zero shimmer, but since I can't feel it on my lips (no grit), it doesn't bother me that much and adds to the illusion of fuller lips, and my lips need all the help they can get.

Unlike most lip glosses, which come with a doefoot applicator, Chantecaille's Brilliant Gloss applicator has a synthetic brush, which is perfectly sized to fit within the lip borders and is neither too floppy nor too stiff. One draw from the tube provides plenty of pigment, so there's no need to double dip.

One dunk swatched on NW15 skin

The finish is a bit goopy, but it does not feel sticky (like MAC), and it sits quite comfortably on my lips with a cushiony, almost jelly-like feel. Yes, my hair would stick to it on a windy day. Oh, well.

This formula appears to be fragrance free, but initial application causes a tingle sensation. I guess the tingle comes from the ingredient called, "Flavor." If there is any "flavor" it is very subtle, maybe the tiniest hint of vanilla. According to Chantecaille's web site, this product contains wheat proteins (so caution to gluten-sensitive people), which are supposed to be lip plumping, but the only "plumping" I see is smoke & mirrors from added shine, which draws the light to my lips. Wear time on me is 2-3 hours.

Bottom line: Worth trying, especially if you love a cross between lip gloss and liquid lipstick.

Ingredients: Polybutene, Hydrogenated PolyDecene, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Silica, Hydrogenated Styrene/IsoPrene Copolymer, Propylparaben, Flavor, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis, Leaf Extract, Tetradibutyl Pentaerithrityl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Zea Mays (Corn) Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate. May contain Mica, Titainum Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Carmine, Red 6, Red 7 Lake, Red 30 Lake, Red 28 Lake, Yellow 5 Lake, Yellow 6 Lake, Blue 1 Lake, Eosine Y.

All photos taken by me except (1).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer's Gift: Cankles

I love summer. In joyous anticipation, I recently unpacked from winter storage my sandals, cropped pants, sun dresses, summer hats, and canvas and straw handbags. But as I sat amid the pretty piles of clothing, my heart sank.

Nothing, dear readers, will ruin a cute outfit faster than CANKLES.

What is a cankle, you might ask? A cankle is not a pearly-pink seashell you found at the beach. A cankle is the unfortunate illusion that the calf and ankle are joined at the top of the foot. No indent. Thick ick.


But wait. Add your special time of the month, and it can get much, much worse.


What has been seen cannot be unseen, right?

It seems after I turned 40, my ankles began to puff up every summer, and the puff has gotten worse over time. Not wanting to embark on yet another summer as the Michelin Man, I raised the issue with my doctor, who shrugged, measured my ankles, and tested various things to rule anything sinister out, like high blood pressure. Thankfully, that was not the case.

Still, I hated how the spare inner tube sat on top of my feet and detracted from my favorite summer shoes. My legs would look normal all winter and at the start of each summer morning, but by midday, my feet looked like water balloons. So I did some research, and learned I had been unwittingly contributing to the flubber.

Cankles can be genetic if you store fat in your lower regions, but if your ankles are as finely turned as a piano leg in winter, only to bloat up at the first sign of hot weather, during hormonal fluctuations, or after a salty meal, rejoice because there is something you can do about it.

  • Shed fat. If you are carrying excess body fat, chances are you will see cankles at one point or another. Note that you don't have to be overweight to have an excess in body fat. As some of become more sedentary with age, we can lose up to a half pound of muscle each year. Muscle at rest burns more calories than other tissue, so as that precious lean body mass diminishes but our weight stays the same, what do you think replaces that muscle? You guessed it: fat.
  • Exercise. Long periods of inactivity (like 8+ hours at a desk job and commute) can cause fluids to settle in our extremities, so a brisk walk or run will get your blood pumping and help flush out the fluids. But there is a downside. Post run you can end up with temporary cankles and/or sausage fingers from gravity. As you become more fit and burn off some fat, these side effects will begin to abate.

    Besides heart-pumping aerobic activity, don't underestimate the importance of anaerobic exercise. You can help create a more defined calf by increasing your lean body mass. Lack of muscle in your lower legs can cause the appearance of cankles, but to the rescue comes one excellent, targeted exercise: Calf raises can be done anywhere and will give your lower legs a beautiful shape. Here's a short video, but you don't need a gym. You can do these on the edge your stairs, where the bannister can help with balance:

  • Stay hydrated. Many of us are unaware when we become dehydrated; by the time you feel thirst you are actually beyond needing hydration. Not surprisingly, when our bodies sense a lack of hydration, they hang onto fluids, which—you guessed it—can cause temporary bloating. So drink lots of water to restore balance. The common recommendation of 6-8 eight-ounce glasses is a good starting point. If you get daily vigorous exercise or it's especially hot out, you need more.

    Drink water until your urine is clear. In the beginning, as you consume more, you will make frequent trips to the bathroom (like every 15 minutes!) but the bladder adjusts, and you will soon find that on days when you don't consume what you've gotten used to, you will feel the lack. I make drinking water easy by carrying around an insulated Klean Kanteen bottle. There's something about drinking cold water from a stainless vessel that reminds me of my early years hiking with my dad, and how wonderful that sweet water tasted at the top of a mountain.

    Another thing to keep in mind is when we think we are hungry, we are often thirsty, so staying well hydrated can help us maintain a healthy body weight. 
  • Elevate your feet. Get your legs up over your heart to drain those fluids. You don't have to do inverted yoga poses; your cankles can benefit from simply sleeping with your feet propped up on a wedge and sitting at home with your legs on an ottoman that's a couple inches higher than the seat of your chair. Nothing, however, will stop gravity during the day, so you may be stuck with puffy ankles by 3PM. Though you might be tempted to throw your legs up on your desk, be prepared for significant looks from colleagues or your manager who witness you typing between your crotch with your ankles propped up on either side of the monitor.
  • Clean up your diet. A couple things in our diets can contribute to bloat, especially during warm weather:
    • Booze. Yes, red wine is good for you, but too much of any alcohol can cause abdominal and extremity bloating because alcohol is a diuretic, and diuretics can cause us to become dehydrated. As mentioned above, the body's reaction to dehydration is to retain fluids. As for what is "too much," some of us (me!) are more sensitive than others, where too much is a daily glass of wine. I now keep my wine drinking to a minimum, which saves more money for shoes and new plants for the garden, anyway.

      A good rule of thumb is to drink a full 8 ounces of water for each alcoholic beverage you consume. The tomato juice with your vodka doesn't count. :)

    • Salt. The government's guideline is for adults to consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day, which equates to around one teaspoon of table salt. Many of us get at least twice that, and excess salt causes water retention.

      I was surprised to learn that this area was my primary downfall, and when I cleaned up the sodium, cankles went away. I assumed I had been taking in very little salt because I add only a judicious sprinkling of sea salt here and there, but I never really thought about the sodium content in some of the prepared foods I was consuming—like 120 mg in my beloved keffir. Who puts salt in yogurt?? Another salty sneak is cheese: A typical 1/2-cup scoop of supposed diet-friendly lowfat cottage cheese had twice as much sodium at 360 mg as a 1-ounce serving of regular potato chips (not that anyone eats 1 ounce of potato chips—or am I just projecting?).

      Most breakfast bagels contain around 450 mg of sodium, and "heart-healthy" cereals between 225-350 mg, and that's if you restrain yourself to the recommended 2/3 cup serving. I'd guess that many of us pour more into our bowls than that.

      What surprised me most, and perhaps should not have, is that one ounce of fat-free cheddar cheese has more than twice the sodium (450 mg) than it's full-fat counterpart (175 mg). I guess they have to add flavor back somehow. Note that one ounce of fat-free cheese comprises a full third of the daily sodium allowance.

      Don't go crazy and cut all salt, though. We need some to maintain important electrolyte balance. The smartest thing is to avoid pre-packaged foods in favor of whole, natural foods and use just a little sea salt for flavoring, and when you cut back. cut back slowly. The taste buds do adjust.
  • Hormonal fluctuations. Nothing says, "I bloat you" like that time of the month. Some women gain a full 7-10 pounds of water weight each month, and others are hardly bothered at all. Try flushing it out with plenty of water and if that doesn't work, have a cup of dandelion tea—but not before a road trip!
If storing fat in your lower legs is genetic, short of liposuction, you'll just have to live with cankles. Embrace your everyday beauty and show off features you love, like your excellent collar bones or slim arms. Wear a killer necklace or a beautiful scarf and a brilliant smile and be glad you carry your fat below the waist, which has been medically proven to be more healthy.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Wearing Red Lipstick... Do You?


Red lipstick is such an iconic color, but it also one of those colors so many women are hesitant to wear, despite the claim that there is a red for everyone.

I am not a person you'd normally think of as rocking reds: I am fair and pink-skinned with blue-grey-green eyes and mousy dark-blonde hair.  Nevertheless, I love red; I always have. From my mid 20s through most of my 30, I wore red lipstick often and with very little other other makeup, just a smidge of powder, mascara, and--of course--groomed brows. A similar look worked for Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, and as much as I admire her timeless style, I can't say I copied her because I only came to know about her as I was winding down from red.


I discovered my choice in red lipstick had become a problem for me when, one day at work, a male colleague could not stop looking at my lips when we were talking, not in an "I want to eat you up," way, but more in a "Who let Bozo the Clown in here?" As I left the room, it felt like a collective shout rang out, "Here come Zuzu's lips!"

On some, red lipstick works as a dramatic statement, while on others, red is more harmonious with their skin tone and looks very natural. Still on others, the red wears them. One thing seems certain to me: Either we like/wear red or we don't. There doesn't see to be much middle ground.

When I was a little girl, I saw older women wearing red lipstick, and I always thought they looked so elegant, but when I tried my first lipstick on, I felt like a fraud. It was just so .... RED.  So, much like anything else I had to grow into, like seeing myself in sunglasses or heels or smoking a cigarette (yes, I did), I wore my red lips around the house until I felt comfortable.

I do believe every woman has a red that suits her, but it all comes down to whether she likes it or not.

I like. And I have a few favorite reds to share:

I rarely wear matte reds, certainly not the way I used to. If I choose a pigmented red, I almost always blot it down to a stain, but my strong preference now is a sheer, juicy, cool red. I just like the way it brightens my face and whitens my teeth.

Laura Mercier Gel Lip Colour Sweet Cherry

Whatever the case, it's best that we wear our reds rather than the the red wear us. As a pale person, here are some things I have discovered along the years:
  • Avoid deeply-pigmented dark reds if lips are thin. Dark colors recede, so they can make lips look even thinner. I have found this to be especially true as I have gotten older and the vermilion border is beginning to fade and lie more flat.
  • Consider skin undertones. Cool-toned people generally look their best in blue-based reds and warm-toned people tend to have more flexibility, though orange- or yellow-based reds seem to be the most flattering. 
  • If you look like Snow White, go for it. High-contrast women have all the luck and can get away with wearing more vibrant colors. 
  • If your teeth have yellowed over time, you probably want to stay away from orange- or yellow-based reds. Blue-based reds are tooth brightening. If you and your orange red will go down together with the ship, apply, smile and be honest with yourself about your chompers.
  • Consider the environment/lighting. If you'll be under fluorescent lights or outside, a Gwen Stefani-type red might draw more attention to your lips than you want. Consider something sheer, perhaps even a red-tinted lip balm or gloss. For evening, you can always bring on the more more bold colors. 
  • We all know this bit of advice but it bears repeating: If you wear red lipstick, keep the rest of your face neutral. Unless, you are going for a dramatic look, don't wear a lot of eye makeup. Red lips look best when eyes aren't competing with them, so a light dusting of powder or soft wash of a single eyeshadow that blends into the existing skin tone, like beige or greige, is ideal.
  • If you have a lot of red in your skin around cheeks and nose, you'll want to tone it down first. Use your regular foundation or concealer or powder, as long as the result is natural. 
  • If you are wearing a super-pigmented red, like lipsticks by Julie Hewett or Besame Cosmetics, you'll need precision. These aren't lipsticks you can apply without a mirror, so use a brush or a lip pencil, either in a color that exactly matches your lips or one that exactly matches the lipstick (Julie Hewett is the only one I know of that makes such a match). Fill in the entire lip with the pencil, and then apply the lipstick straight from the tube, blot, reapply, and blot again. To make double sure you don't get any excess red on your teeth, purse your mouth, like you're about to whistle, stick your index finger in, and draw your finger out through your pursed lips. 
  • If you have a really dark lipstick that you love and you want to wear it for day, apply it, blot it all the way down to a stain, and apply a glossy balm on top. Instant sheer lipstick!

Is red your thing? If so, what are your favorites?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rouge G de Guerlain 66 Gracia

In the last year, my lipstick preferences have evolved from matte, deeply pigmented shades to moisturizing, sheer products. Nothing ages my face faster than a deep gash of color. I had read good reviews about Guerlain Rouge G Le Rouge Écrin ($45), and I've always been intrigued by the packaging. It really tickles that vanity gene with its stunning design It's just beyond pretty to look at. Unfortunately, none of the  department stores within reasonable driving distance carries Guerlain, and I was too lazy to drive into the city, so I took a risk and ordered a lipstick sight unseen.

I chose 66 Gracia, which turned out to be a mid-toned neutral plum rose with infinitesimal shimmer. Look at how Gracia admires herself in the mirror. Such a silly, vain thing. (There's a boa hidden behind the mirror.)

"Mirror mirror on the ..."

The packaging is, indeed, pretty. It looks like Gracia lives in her own little house, but convenient it is not. The lipstick obviously will not stand up, so it's a bit like the courtesan of my lipstick collection, simply reclining, looking pretty.

And it's heavy. As in paperweight heavy. Out of curiosity, I weighed it on my postal scale and it came in at three-and-a-quarter ounces. That's the weight of a protein serving at each meal.

And have you seen the advert for the Rouge G lipsticks on the Neiman Marcus web site? It's worth a peek for the amusing, not-too-subtle phallic imagery accompanied by a bom-chicka-wow-wow R&B soundtrack. It reminds me of the opening frames from The Big Lebowski's Gutterballs. Watch the first 10 seconds of Gutterballs, and you'll see what I mean.

The Dude abides, man.

But I digress. If you look closely at Rouge G, you should be able to see the shimmer beneath Gracia's surface.

That's crushed ruby powder, dear readers! It's true. I needed a magnifying glass and a stun lamp to read the grey-on-black ingredient list, but there it was, about halfway down. Perhaps having a semi-precious stone ground into my lipstick, along with its Herculean case, makes it worth nearly double what I normally pay for a lipstick. Although this lipstick is very nice, the formula is no nicer than Guerlain Automatique, Chanel Rouge Coco or Allure, Chantecaille, Laura Mercier, and—quite honestly—even Clinique at its wallet-squealing $14.

Swatched on NW15 skin

Gracia's shimmer is incredibly finely milled, so it does not feel gritty on the lips. It adds more of a multi-dimension to the lips, rather than a frosty finish. The base is cool with faint brown undertones. This is not a bright lipstick, but depending on your lip pigment, it could appear slightly dark on you. On me, Gracia was a half shade darker than my natural pigment, so it's an MLBB shade, except it's not necessarily "better." Normally, I prefer my lip shades to be a hint more blue rose, but Gracia is a perfectly presentable color, suitable for just about any occasion and should work with a variety of skin tones.

Blotted on white paper, you can see it's not as nude as it appears on my lips.

Bottom line: Creamy, moisturizing, and comfortable, Rouge G is an outstanding lipstick, but the bulky packaging--as beautiful as it is--is not my favorite. The cost is all about the packaging.

All photos mine. Videos from Neiman Marcus and YouTube.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Finding Balance

Sometimes hobbies and interests seem like the Hydra. They take over so much of my non-working or sleeping hours, they invariably drain away the quiet downtime I often convince myself I don't have time for. I shrug it off as frivolous, even wasteful because I am a busy person, and busy people should be productive. I occasionally feel overwhelmed by all that self-imposed responsibility, but when I try to wrangle balance out of this monster and cut off one head, another grows back.

I normally buy presents for people weeks or months in advance, but I realized last Friday that I had not yet purchased a Mother's Day present. I had little time to remedy this situation because Mr. Petals and I were taking Mom to a Sunday seaside brunch. So I did the unthinkable. I went to the mall. On Saturday.

This may surprise you coming from a beauty blogger, but I hate shopping. My husband feels like the most fortunate man on earth because shopping for me means being in the store/mall parking lot waiting for the doors to be unlocked, dashing inside with a list, and returning to the car within the hour, before the crowds show up. To be that organized takes research, but I am it's the only way I can handle it.

So Saturday I found myself at the mall, without a list or even a plan, but I wasn't inside more than five minutes before the most gorgeous bottle-green handbag called to me.


Total Mom bag. Great—I'd found the perfect present for my mother. Except I had to walk through the department store to get back to the parking lot. On my way through, as these things invariably happen, I had to brace myself for the perfume blockade.  One such spritzer was a Chanel employee, but I felt quite smug and safe as I informed her that I have been wearing Chanel No.5 and No.19 since the 80s and did not need a thing.

"But what about your mother?" she asked.  Uh-oh.

How did she know I'd been considering trying to convert my mother over to Chanel? Mom began her perfume life wearing Guerlain Shalimar, and she switched to Estée by Estée Lauder after, which has been her signature fragrance for 50 years. And as much as I hate to say it, I have never liked Estée, mainly because it makes me sneeze. So I asked Georgia about something rich and spicy, since that seems to be my mother's preference. 

And here's the thing about shopping, and perhaps the main reason I avoid it. When I am out there, surrounded by at all the pretty things, I see all kinds of stuff I had no idea I wanted. I covet. I lust. I have an inner battle. I often lose. To make a predictable story short, I left the Chanel counter with a sample spray vial of Coco for Mom. And a bag of Chanel items I do not need for me. An eyeshadow quad? Really? I'm not the Hydra monster. I have only two eyes, but it often feels like my becoming a beauty blogger has heightened my awareness for beauty products I used to largely ignore.

Skip to Sunday. Brunch was wonderful, and we had a great visit with my parents, visits that I cherish because I know there will come a day in the not too distant future where I no longer have one or both of them to visit.

On our way home from the coast, Mr. Petals and I stopped at the nursery so I could buy hanging flower baskets, one for the hummingbirds and honey bees and a few for the front porch for curb appeal. Within five minutes after we'd arrived home, and I was hanging the flower baskets, and I was drawn up short by the absolute beauty of my surroundings.

Barely 5PM, it was prime feeding time for birds, who were crowded at the feeder. The sound of hundreds of happy songbirds was simply gorgeous. And then I noticed a clematis that had flopped over and tied it back up, and the more I stayed outside, tending to my neglected gardens, the more I realized what I have been missing by not slowing down and appreciating all the beauty around me. As I weeded and deadheaded, it occurred to me that perhaps my desire to buy new makeup is a based on a love of color. I don't need to buy stuff that clutters my home and my mind when I can enjoy all the beauty that nature has to offer.

I lost my sense of smell—totally and completely—for five years, and when I felt sorry for myself for not being able to smell the perfume of flowers, my morning cup of coffee, freshly-cut grass, the salty tang of ocean air, or even a Thanksgiving turkey cooking in the oven, I continually reminded myself that of any sense to lose, at least it wasn't my sight. To not be able to read or see beautiful things would be a devastating blow. People deal with such loss all the time, but I would have a very hard time adjusting.

One of the things I would most miss, you see, is color. Sky, clouds, ocean, flowers, trees, textiles, and more. I sat down on the porch steps and admired the brilliant yellow goldfinches feeding their babies, which if you have never seen it, is so adorable; the youngsters line up on the railing and furiously flap their wings and peep for attention. Suddenly, my eye would be drawn to the brilliant ruby throat of a hummingbird, the cardinal red of the red-bellied woodpecker, dusky red and steel blue against the creamy belly of the bluebird, purple finches, dove-grey titmice, iridescent blue-green-black feathers of gluttonous grackles, the brilliant orange breast of the oriole, the scarlet cardinals, the grey catbird, and the golden-brown Carolina wren. And once in a while, so rare sightings become treasured moments, my patience will be rewarded with the glorious plumage of a strutting tom turkey.

And if that isn't enough beauty, I can walk around my yard and admire the blooms of the nearly-spent pinkish-white crab apple and ivory dogwood, the bell-shaped delicate-pink bleeding heart, pale yellow helleborus, the vivid purple lungwort with its velvety white-spotted grey-green leaves, the proud violet iris nodding in the breeze, and the beginnings of the pink and white and purple bigfoot geraniums. With more to come over the summer and fall season.

Peaceful. A sensory explosion of all senses but taste, but sometimes I think I can smell honeysuckle on my tongue. Yesterday, all desire for material things outside my surroundings or myself drifted away like the gentle, departing wake from a sailboat. I felt centered, balanced, and restored. Invigorated.

Whatever one's life situation, it seems like there are more demands than ever before, some self imposed and some necessitated by families, job, and maintaining the roof over our heads. How and where do you find balance?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

ELLIS FAAS NEW Creamy Eyes Now Available

Available exclusively at, Ellis has created seven new shades of her cult-favorite Creamy Eyes Eyeshadow (€26/$36/£23). With the new colors, Ellis has expanded her innovative beauty range with inspiring, more colorful shades: Navy Blue (E113), Bordeaux Red (E114), Purple (E115), Lilac (E116), Mint Green (E117), Light Blue (E118) and Yellow Ochre (E119).

I'm not one for gushing, but get me my drool cup. LOOK at these!

Navy Blue (E113)

Bordeaux Red (E114)

Purple (E115)

Lilac (E116)

Mint Green (E117)

Light Blue (E118)

Yellow Ochre (E119)

Creamy Eyes transform from a liquid to dry, velvety texture upon application. With quick-drying properties, this innovative anti-aging formulation provides all-over, light-weight coverage that stays crease-free throughout the day. A special blend of flower and coffee extracts smoothes skin and reduces wrinkles while restoring lost moisture and protecting from external aggressors.

The range is ideal for a quick smoky eye, since before it dries there is sufficient playtime. Creamy Eyes can also be used like a thick pencil around the eye or to contour and shade in the eyelid crease. For extra drama, cover the entire eyelid using the built-in brush, layer and then fade the edges with the fingertips. When it has dried, the revolutionary formula is extremely long-wearing and will stay fixed until it’s taken off with a cleanser. Creamy Eyes glides on like velvet to smoothen, lift and firm the lids. Even a thin film instantly adheres to the skin for superior wear that lasts without budging.

That pretty sums up my experience with these wonderful eyeshadows. With my very first ELLIS FAAS purchase (reviews), I became an immediate fan, but I have always wished for more cool-based colors, and here they are! I need another eyeshadow like I need a hole in the head, but I am absolutely captivated by the glorious colors and will be unable to resist Navy Blue, Purple and Lilac.

Will you buy anything from this new release?

Hi-res images provided by ELLIS FAAS

Friday, May 11, 2012

Chanel Ombre Essentielle 48 Quartz

This is mostly just a pictorial post of one of my favorite eyeshadows. In keeping with my version of spring colors (pink!), I bring you Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow 48 Quartz.  I don't mean to taunt with the thing you can't have, as Chanel appears to have discontinued it. I know you can get it out there, still. I bought my backup on

Quartz is a light, clear, cool pink with a satin finish. No yellow, no beige. Just clear pink lightened with white.

I meant to compare Quartz to two eyeshadows that are similar in color with the same finish (Prescriptives Rose Powder and Three Custom Colors Cool Peony), but I could not fine them. Maybe I will update the post later. I definitely will if anyone requests it.

How do you feel about pink eyeshadow. Second skin or lab rabbit?

All photos mine