Monday, July 14, 2014

Coming Soon: 3.1 Phillip Lim for NARS Nail Collection

Hey nail fanatics - great news. There's a new NARS collaboration and when I mean coming soon I mean 'tomorrow' soon! You can find this collection inspired by "colors that exist in the shadows" in NARS boutiques and online Tuesday, July 15. Or you can wait when they turn up at Sephora and Dept/Specialty boutiques on August 1, 2014. 

Since Fall 2007, NARS and Phillip Lim have collaborated for the the past 14 seasons on the 3.1 Phillip Lim runway show during NY Fashion Week. This collection celebrates their work blending Phillip's signature style with NARS' iconic bold style and daring beauty aesthetic. 


The nine limited editions shades include:

Anarchy: Angora
Wrong Turn: Graphite
Shutter: Black Sea Green
Other Side: Bitter Chocolate
Gold Viper: Champagne
Crossroads: African Violet
Hell-Bent: Lacquer Red
Dark Room: Blue Denim
Insidious: Black Bronze

I was lucky enough to receive Other Side and Insidious from the awesome PR folks at NARS. Let me tell you just how pleased I am. The only thing that I'm bummed about is that the colors I chose are suitable for crisp winter nights. Well it's a good thing that I love breaking beauty expectations and summer nights here in the Bay Area requires warm layers!

Not only are the colors something to chat about but so is the bottle and brush!

The original square handle could be a bit much for petite hands to handle but now the square top pops off and reveals a traditional brush handle. 





And check out the new brush:



vs. the old brush




As you can see the new brush is flatter and wider allowing to cover more surface area with fewer brush strokes. Also, the brush fits nicely along the cuticle. I can cover my nail with just three brush strokes: middle and sides. 

Here's Other Side on my nails:


The first application is a bit streaky but I applied the second coat a little thicker and got the opaque results I wanted. I found a nail to be a bit streaky after the second coat so I went ahead and applied a light third coat. That nail didn't look thick and matched the others. I did apply my favorite base and shiny top coat for extra shine. I love this dark chocolate shade even in the summer. Although it gets me anxious for the fall and I also get mad chocolate cravings! I get great wear time with NARS polishes: 3-4 days on my nails and a good 2 weeks on my toes.

Insidious on my toes:


 
A beautiful blackened bronze that can lead to a deep metallic olive or black brown. I really like this shade with black sandals or even nude peep toe shoes. 

The formula also has a new high gloss finish. Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference since I never had a problem with the original formula and bottle packaging. But I can appreciate the new brush. However, I can see a possible problem with the bristles of this brush. If you jam the brush in the bottle quickly or incorrectly, you can splay the bristles and they won't lay flat and nice. I noticed a few bristles askew on my new brush and this was the first time using my bottle. I didn't experience this with my older NARS polishes. I will now have to be careful if I buy another NARS polish as the all the older shades will be phased out and repackaged in the new bottles over time. 

First improving the lip gloss formula and packaging and now this? 

Well played NARS...well played!

Nail polish - $20/USD 

Samples sent to me from the PR department at NARS Cosmetics for consideration. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Why Fix It It Ain't Broke?

Now you are probably thinking that Lex likes to try everything just about once and is fearless of change. And you'd be wrong to think and assume that! I find that the older I am getting the more I cling on to things and fear change.

Why would you change something if everyone loves it and didn't have a problem with it in the first place? 

Like the Coke formula back in 1985? McDonald's apple pie - not sure about the year but it use to be deep fried and delicious and now it's baked and just tastes, I don't know - weird? I can also go on and on about systems used at my previous job. When you've been employed by a company for seven years, you see a lot of people come in and try to change the system and then go because not everyone was ready for change.

Now that was a change I did get behind.

How does this apply to cosmetics? I'm getting there.

A few short years back, like when I was on maternity leave, I discovered a lip gloss that didn't leave my lips dry and itchy the day after I wore it. It was by NARS and I discovered it by reading one of my favorite blogs. I remember Karen waxing on and on about her love for the shade Supervixen, a metallic mauve and I was just smitten by the name. This was a few weeks after the birth of my daughter. I was achy, tired, bloated, simply a mess.

I needed something called Supervixen on my puffy face! 

Five years later the love has been quite strong. I found the one shade I always had to have a backup for, Sweet Revenge, a sheer grapefruit that blended beautifully on top of any nude pink shade I had. It was my security blanket and I could go from feeling demure to well...smoky eye bad girl depending on my eye look. 

When NARS announced a new formula to their lip glosses, my interest piqued and I was also a bit fearful.

What if I don't like it? What if the unscented gloss now had some weird scent that will nauseate me? What if...god forbid...it made my lips, dry and itchy? Ugh, the suspense was killing me. 

Until I found a goodie package on my doorstep today.

Introducing NARS Lip Gloss 2.0...
(left to right - Sweet Revenge, Tasmania, and Easy Lover)


And here's the stylized promo shot (courtesy of the PR team at NARS):


So what changed?

Now the glosses contain even more nourishing ingredients that help smooth fine lines and keeps the lips supple, while sea lavender helps against signs of aging. Sounds great, right? What helps even more...all 23 original colors have been revamped including 7 new shades. That's right 30 shades of nourishing love for your pucker!

My thoughts? Well for one I am very happy about the packaging. The clear tube allows you to see a true representation of the shade versus the frosty tube of the original formula. You couldn't really tell what the color was:


So back to Sweet Revenge. It's the perfect pink nude for me. It's described as a pink grapefruit so you'd expects some coral or orange. Not on me...it's all pink beige with a super subtle shimmer.


Top is the old formula and bottom is the new formula. I apologize if you can't see but the newer version feels a bit more pink on me. That's not a bad thing. What I love most is that it's a bit thinner than the original. It goes on easily but because I feel like it's thinner and a bit more sheer, I need at least three coats to make somewhat of an impact on me and it's not by much either. I definitely need to wear this on top of lip liner or lipstick. I do like to wear this solo if I'm taking my daughter to school on a day off and I haven't gotten ready for the day yet or I'm on the train to work in my gym gear before I've showered and made myself up for the day. When worn by itself, it does enhance my natural lips a bit but since I have some discoloration on my lips I would have loved more opaqueness but I'm starting to get over that. The shimmer is very subtle so don't let the color swatch on the site scare you!

Here's Sweet Revenge on top of Whirl lip pencil (from MAC):


The other shade I tried is new to the collection, Tasmania (pink cantaloupe):



It looks like a pink coral in the tube - perfect for Spring/Summer naturally. On my lips, it's super sheer and would need a boost from a pink nude or coral to amplify the color. I still like this shade regardless. Also, it's named after the island state of Australia. Sorry, but when I see the word, Tasmania, I am thinking of that adorable spastic animated character from Looney Tunes and I believe he was like a rat brown color and the real Tasmanian devil are black. I just appreciate the ease of this shade - perfect gloss to throw into your bag in case of an emergency!

Here's a swatch:


Lastly, Easy Lover (sheer, hot pink):



I love this shade on top of fuchsia for extra shine but surprisingly I get a lovely look when this tops off a pink nude shade.

This is the only decent picture I was able to take of Easy Lover on my lips - as you can see, it's a VERY sheer hot pink.



So again, I'm very pleased with this new formula. I love that it's thinner and it comes out of the tube - not a gloppy mess. Also, the doe foot applicator feels great on the lips. There's no scent so hyper sensitive noses can rejoice! It may be a drawback for some that it goes on so thin, you may need three extra coats or ten extra minutes to layer to get some type of color on the lips, well from these light shades. I have yet to test the darker, brighter colors.

You can find these new glosses at department and specialty shops that carry the NARS brands. And as always you can go to the site, www.narscosmetics.com and order to your heart's content.

NARS Lip Gloss - $26/USD

Glosses were sent to me for consideration by the PR team at NARS Cosmetics. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

One of my Favorite Nordstrom Events...

Aside from the Women's/Children's Half Yearly and Anniversary sale there's another deal time that really gets me going....BUY 2 MASCARAS GET ONE FREE!! 

I know this is a pretty pricey way to score a free mascara but if you are fanatical about certain luxury brands..ahem..cough..CHANEL INIMITABLE...and you like to try out other brands...hello YSL or Trish McEvoy. 


This is a bi-annual event - I believe the next one should be around Fall. I could be wrong so this is your chance to make friends with the super friendly Nordstrom Cosmetic Sales Assistants. They will keep you up-to-date. Trust me, they will answer all questions and give you all the necessary details if that means you will come back to them. 

Last time I tried YSL Babydoll (meh)....Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Stretch (meh but better than the Babydoll) and my usual Chanel Inimitable Intense. This time I went back to strong with Chanel - Le Volume/Inimitable Intense. I hear from the MUA at the counter that layering the two gives you ultimate lashes and you know I love a challenge! I wanted to give another YSL formula another shot so according to Sales Associate that helped me the Volume Effet Faux Cils is comparable to GA's original Eyes to Kill formula - another high end mascara that I just adore!

I hope you scored in-store, like I did, or you had time to place your order. Last time, I didn't hesitate to put in that order - I think I was barely awake while giving my shipping info. And if you were lucky enough to get your mascaras, what ended up in your shopping basket? 

Life of a beauty addict....


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Coming soon from the folks at Bumble and bumble....

If you are a Bumble fanatic like me, your ears stand up at attention when you hear a new hair product is rolling out SOON.

Can you imagine if your stylist tests it out on you before it's even on the shelves, let alone a price tag?

One of my favorite hair serums is the Hairdresser's Invisible Oil, well it sounds like a collection based around that is about to launch. Since I'm a lucky girl and faithful to my stylist, he tested out the shampoo, conditioner and this hair primer on my dehydrated locks:


Please overlook the lip gloss left on the rim of my wine glass, was a long drive and day at work, and please focus on the bottle! I apologize, I should have snapped a photo of the back or at least check the ingredients to see if anything popped out at me. From what I remember, it smells fantastic and left my hair soft for days and lustrous. Then again, I'm assuming the combination of the shampoo, conditioner, primer and oil played a key part in this effect.

I cannot report a launch date or price but do know, it's coming soon!!

And here I am with the always fabulous, Melvin Burns!


In a perfect world, he'd blow out my hair regularly but if that were the case, I'd have to bribe him regularly with Prada.

I'd be homeless but at least my hair would look fly on a regular basis!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Bb Pret-a-Powder...aka..sexy hair powder!

Doing something a little different by taking a break from makeup and focusing on my love for Bumble hair products, namely a new hair powder the company introduced.


Honestly, one of the best purchased I have made early this year. I have used Bumble for many years and I have even taken breaks switching brands because every now and then I like to experiment and see what else is out there. I try products from every price point - drugstore, salon and specialty department stores. But I always come back to Bumble and bumble.

As you can read from the bottle "it's equal parts dry shampoo, style extender and volume in a pinch" and I couldn't agree more.

From the Bumble and bumble site, here are the main components:

Polysilicone-22: a new hybrid silicone powder which specifically targets oils and absorbs them while remaining invisible on the hair.Helps to provide dry cleansing, leaving hair clean and refreshed.
  • Zea Mays (Corn) Starch, Tapioca Starch, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Flour : Natural starches that provide absorbency and act as bulking ingredients. They help to provide texture and volume to the hair. Helps to provide dry cleansing, leaving hair clean and refreshed.
  • Silica : Very lightweight, absorbent powder that remains transparent on the hair. Helps to remove oil and other impurities from the hair.
  • Montmorillonite : a natural clay from the Poitou-Charentes region of France that absorbs oil to dry cleanse.
  • As you know, I have tried many dry shampoos - even reviewed them here but it never really pumped up the volume of my hair quite well as this powder. 
  • I apply directly at the roots at the top of the crown and also a few layers underneath. If I am applying after a sweaty workout, I also apply at the sides of my head (temples) where I tend to sweat a lot. I was instructed by my stylist to shake the bottle and apply it to my hair as if I was shaking salt to season my food. This is not as easy as it sounds (for me at least). But with enough practice, I'm finally getting the hang of it. This doesn't leave a heavy scent as some dry shampoo sprays but along with absorbing oil from my scalp, it also help absorb some odor. 
  • Now $26/USD for just 2oz may sound like a lot but trust me a little does go a long way. Especially if you have dark hair like me. Apply sparingly and rub it in vigorously. Add more if needed, ha, just like salt! Okay, anyway...this is the one product I can count on to give me full, sexy, bed head hair. Blast some heat from your blow dryer, if accessible, to really amplify volume.I finish with just a touch of hair oil to the tips of my hair to smooth any frizzy strands. 
  • I really love how this adds extra texture and grip to the hair. It really aids when I want to do a ponytail with a bit of height on the crown. It also adds wonder to top-knot days.
  • I used it here on a freshly shampooed hair:


  • And here it is on second day hair:

  • Not as full but not bad considering this was after a particularly sweaty (at home) gym session. 
  • I even got great service from my cafeteria one morning after using this product to freshen up my unshampooed post-workout 'do. Yes, the cafeteria at my work and yes, food is free but I did get extra small talk, pleasantry and maybe even more eggs in my breakfast as usual! 
  • I can imagine the possibilities if I were still a single gal at bar with glorious sexy hair but I'm now mom at home drinking whiskey shots on my kitchen counter top with my lovely husband while our adorable daughter is sleeping. 
  • My husband does love when I vamp it up with big hair and smoky eyes, he is from New Jersey after all. But then again he loves me in the morning with a bare face, glasses and flat hair. 
  • Thanks Bumble for giving me a product to remind me that I can be vixen no matter the situation and location! I'll definitely be back for more once I spray the sad last shot of powder on to my limp locks. 
  • Available at salons and specialty stores that carry Bumble and bumble brand. 
  • I bought this from my stylist, Melvin Burns and do check him out and his fabulous staff if you are looking for a new look in the SF area:  www.ecrusalon.com
  • Also check out the Bumble site for styling tips and my favorite, style product recipes. Also, the how-to videos are awesome and really inspire me to experiment with the way I apply my products and blow out my hair.