Monday, March 31, 2014

Reader Question Answered: What Is the Best Beauty Subscription Box?

I recently got an email from Lauren, a beauty addict in Dallas, asking me if I have a favorite beauty sampling program. Um, obviously. It’s not like enough is ever enough for this beauty addict so of course I’ve belonged to more beauty sampling programs than wine clubs over the years (which is tough to do, mind you).  The declared winner by a long shot? Glossybox!

Aside from Glossybox, I found with the majority of the sampling programs — Birchbox, Beauty Bar Sample Society, Beauty Army — I ended up giving away 90% of the samples. No bueno. Not only have I been disappointed with the practicality of the samples themselves (lipsticks that aren’t my color, ugly nail polishes), but the size of the items were always underwhelming. Basically, the only full size items would be unusable makeup and the good skincare and hair care items would be tiny single-use samples.

But, then I was lucky enough to discover Glossybox ($21 a month)…  True beauty addicts created this sampling program.  Not only are many of the items full size, but lots of them are from independent brands I wouldn’t have discovered had I not gotten a sample in my monthly box like Anatomicals and Etre Belle Cosmetics. There are also samples from luxury brands — this month’s Glossybox included a deluxe sample of Sisley Paris Black Rose Cream Mask.

So, how does it work? Basically, you fill out your beauty profile and based on your answers the Glossybox team selects samples catered to your answers. You get 5-6 products per month.  Honestly, I get more excited about opening up my monthly Glossybox than my wine club boxes (well, actually unless we’re talking a box from Frank Family Vineyards, in which case that box trumps even the best beauty products. Try their reserve chardonnay and you’ll be changed forever!)

 

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Janna Posted by
Thursday, March 20, 2014

Drugstore Cowgirl: Garnier Fructis Style Deconstructed Pixie Play Craft Cream

As you can imagine, I get tons and tons of beauty products (we’re talking several boxes a week). I spend several hours going through the products — testing, touching, trying on — classifying the products into categories (like / don’t like, want to wear right away / can wait). In one of my treasure trove boxes, I came across Garnier Fructis Style Deconstructed Pixie Play Craft Cream ($4.29). I cast it aside for a few days, making the mistake of thinking since the product had “Pixie” in the title it wouldn’t work for my long curly hair.

Au contraire.

I decided to test the Craft Cream on a day I wasn’t planning on leaving the house (Lesson #1: Always dress rehearsal new beauty products!). After I had applied leave-in conditioner, I opened the jar of product to find a surprisingly non-sticky cream. I took a quarter-size scoop and finger-combed it through my hair. I flipped my head and scrunched my hair with a paper towel and let it air dry. While my hair was air-drying I twisted random curls around my fingers into corkscrews. After waiting eons for my thick hair to dry, I looked in the mirror to find soft, sculpted, curls. The curls I had corkscrewed were smooth and flexible.

I also tried this product by diffusing my hair instead of letting it air dry.  I still got soft, touchable curls but my hair seemed much thicker and more voluminous. I think this is one of those magic hair potions that will basically work on almost any hair type. This is how Garnier describes the product:

Add texture and create piecey or out-of-bed looks for all De-Constructed style.  Get touchable control and a subtle, satin finish that is non-tacky, not stiff or too coated.  Extra Strong Hold.

Even though Garnier describes the cream as “extra strong hold,” it didn’t make my hair stiff or crunchy.  I honestly this this product would work on almost any hair type… Except of course if you have super thick, coarse locks. Then, it may be a little too  much volume and thickness to handle.

 

 

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Janna Posted by Tags , ,
Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Trip to the MAKE UP FOR EVER Boutique and My Top 3 Products

Okay, it didn’t hurt that I also got to sip pink champagne during my introduction to the MAKE UP FOR EVER Boutique in Santa Clara, CA (don’t worry there are more locations throughout the U.S. and Canada), but I would have made the trek anyway!  Experiencing one of my favorite makeup brands in boutique form rather than the confines of a Sephora kiosk… We’re talking 1600 products in the boutique vs. 300 – 600 at Sephora. BINGE ON!

Forget the products for a second (I know it’s tough…) but the main draw for these boutiques are the cute little makeup school stations in the back.  Every Monday, the boutiques host Make Up School ($25 a class) on how to achieve a certain look — smoky eye, contoured face, etc.  And don’t think for a second you’re just going to watch in the mirror and hope you remember how to achieve the look once you get home… Oh no! The makeup artist is only going to apply the makeup to half your face, then it’s your turn! If you don’t paying attention, expect to look more like a Picasso than a makeover after shot.

Some of the boutiques even have a Video Make Up Lesson Recording Studio so you can record your lesson with the makeup artist and take it home with you and watch it on loop. ;-)

Getting back to the products…  My top 3 products  (which by the way if you can’t make it to a MUFE Boutique, you can find all these products in Sephora):

-MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Blush 210   This cream blush literally melts into your skin, leaving no visible texture.  It’s really easy to blend and gives my cheeks a pretty “just pinched” look.

-MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Microperfecting Primer 1 Green  Redness has really become an issue for me since my pregnancy.  I apply this green (yes green!) primer ONLY where I’m red and blend until the green hue goes away. Then I put my normal primer on over it.  It’s the only thing that works as far as covering my redness without looking heavy.

-MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Eyes Black Purple 6L  I literally have these long-lasting, highly pigmented waterproof eyeliner pencils in almost every color. My new favorite hue is black purple, which brings out the blue in my eyes but is a subtle enough purple that it doesn’t look wild.

MAKE UP FOR EVER Boutiques are currently located in California, Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Jersey, and Canada. To find the nearest boutique  click here.

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Janna Posted by Tags ,
Saturday, February 22, 2014

Your Binger Guide to the Neiman Marcus Beauty Event

 

And on the eighth day, God created the Neiman Marcus Beauty Event

Sure, other department stores have their share of Gift with Purchase (GwP) bonanzas but none top Neiman Marcus in terms of  brands and goodies. Neimans is the granddaddy of them all… Not only does this iconic institution offer a bag stuffed with samples from the likes of premium brands like ReVive, Cle de Peau, and Oribe, but most of the brands offer their own fabulous GwP incentives.

Granted, the spend minimum on some of the GwPs are ridiculously expensive (like you have to spend $650 at ReVive)  but then there are some totally attainable goals like spend $150 at Armani Beauty or $100 at NARS.

Take it from me… with all these amazing GwPs it’s a little TOO easy to go a bit crazy and wind up spending the rent money. So take the beauty event in stride, especially if you plan on visiting a Neiman Marcus in person.  The bright pretty products and delicious-smelling air can be a quite intoxicating.  Though, the brands do offer all kinds of special in-store events like facials and makeovers, which can be fun as long as you don’t lose yourself and buy out the entire counter.

So what should you buy? Here are my top picks:

Cle de Peau Concealer ($70): Um, obviously. Anyone who reads my blog knows I’ve been using this celebrity secret weapon for the past couple years. Now is the time to stock up!

Sisley-Paris Botanical D-Tox ($240): I know it’s a hefty price tag but beauty addicts swear by this detoxifying serum. Supposedly women have seen a total turnaround in terms of visible pores, lines and frequency of breakouts. It’s supposedly safe for sensitive skin so I’m going to give it a try.

Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask ($50): I’m a whore for overnight masks as it is since skin repairs itself at night and is most conducive to products. I’ve been using this mask for three weeks now and I’m in love with the results.  I seem to wake up to brighter more hydrated skin. Bonus: It absorbs right away so you don’t have to worry about getting it all over your pillow.

Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex ($46 – $120): I’ve been using this elixir of essential oils and distilled botanicals as a serum under my Sulwhasoo mask. It smells lovely and seems to be calming and hydrating. For those of you with oily skin, you could wear this alone at night to get the full benefits.

Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani Sheer ($34): This is the queen of all lip sheers. Forget all you’ve known before of tinted lip balms and sheer lipsticks — this ultra-hydrating confection takes the cake. Not only does it drop the perfect amount of color, it locks in the color and hydrating for several hours. Winner.

So, as you can imagine I personally do not have the willpower to go to Neiman Marcus in person, even though their stunning San Francisco location is only 30 minutes away and their well-appointed facial room beckons to me.  I will be a good girl (relatively) and do my shopping online.

The Neiman Marcus Beauty Event lasts until March 2nd, so whether you decide to do your shopping in-person or online, just remember to binge responsibly and even Sisley-Paris skincare isn’t worth spending the electricity bill money. (On the other hand,  your skin will look amazing in candlelight…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Janna Posted by Tags , , , , , , ,
Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bringing out the Perfect Bombshell Red for Valentine’s Day: Illamasqua “I’m the One” Collection

Forget lingerie this Valentine’s Day… lingerie can make you feel fat and that’s simply not sexy. What makes me feel sexy? A fire engine red lip. Granted, not all reds are created equally.  Many reds tend to look too orangey on me so I’ve always gone tore towards the berry side.  But, I’ve always been searching for that perfect bombshell red — the color of lipstick I imagine Ingrid Bergman to have worn on her perfect pout. Alas, my search is over…

Illamasqua was kind enough to send me their “I’m the One” Collection, which includes Lip Pencil in Fiesty, Lipstick in Maneater, and Intense Lip Gloss in Touch.  And I’ve gotta tell you, wearing all three products together — first outlining with the pencil, then applying the lipstick, and then adding a dollop of gloss to the center of my lower lip — makes magic happen.

The lip pencil has vivid color and glides on seamlessly. The lipstick is just to die for… I don’t have words. If you’re going to buy one item from this collection I’d go with the lipstick. Of course, I’m not a lip gloss girl. The publicist who sent this to me said she’s been wearing the lip pencil with the lip gloss over it and she’s in love.  I will say this is the kind of lip gloss that could turn me — hydrating, intensely pigmented color with a subtle sparkle, and long lasting.

There is just something about this classic red lip that instantly transforms me from Janna in pajamas into sexy, sultry Janna in pajamas. Well, um of course I’m still wearing pajamas! Didn’t I explain the whole lingerie thing?? It’s all about the lip!!

 

 

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Janna Posted by Tags , , ,
Thursday, January 30, 2014

MAC Masterclass Brushes: Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em?

Once I laid eyes on the three brushes from the MAC Masterclass Brush Collection — Linear 1 Brush, Oval 3 Brush, and Oval 6 Brush   — the rational side of me said, “Janna, you have about 50 makeup brushes and you don’t need anymore” but the irrational beauty addict side (who incidentally has a record of winning these battles by a landslide) said, “Janna, you owe it to your readers to buy these strange toothbrush / baby hairbrush-looking makeup brushes.”  We all know who won…

What are these strange looking brushes?

From MAC…

M∙A∙C introduces a unique, breakthrough range of brushes that deliver a high level of performance and revolutionize personal makeup application. Ergonomically designed for even and effortless application, lush, silky, synthetic fibres are engineered to expertly pick up and apply product seamlessly. The brush handles feature a special grip design and a tilted brush tip for ultimate precision. M∙A∙C store exclusive.

What I Thought...

Linear 1 ($25):  MAC describes this brush as “With a short, narrow shape, the brush delivers a firm, precise stroke to line lashes and lips. Also defines and fills brows.” I personally thought the head was way too big to line lashes or lips. Though, I did love the brush for blending liner and shadow into my lash line.  I also liked it for filling in my brows, but it wasn’t a game changer. Verdict: Leave it.

Oval 3 ($32): MAC describes the Oval 3 as “The ultimate multipurpose tool, with an elongated oval shape and slightly pointed tip. Smoothly shades and blends powder or cream eye shadows, powder, and liquid or cream concealer in the hard-to-reach contours of the face.” Now, this brush I love… It is by far the best concealer brush I’ve ever used. Not only does it leave my face streak free, but because of it’s unique shape, it makes concealing the tough-to-reach places like my inner eye area and around the nose super simple. As for eye shadow, I definitely don’t recommend using this brush to apply shadow to the crease. The head is just too big and it drops way too much color. Instead, use this brush to blend the crease with a back-and-forth windshield wiper motion. Verdict: Love it!

Oval 6 ($42): MAC describes this brush as “Ideal for blush, foundation or powder, the rounded, medium-sized brush applies, blends and contours all over the face or cheeks for even, flawless coverage.” Okay… now this brush is a total game changer. Once you ladies get your grimy little fingers on this brush you will never use another foundation brush again. It is soooo soft and luxurious and blends foundation flawlessly, leaving you with a natural streak-free face.  I also use this brush for contouring my cheeks. It seems to have the perfect width and shape to fit in the hollows of my cheeks. I also find myself reaching for this brush to blend bronzer and blush. Verdict: BEYOND Love it!

I have to say, using these brushes have made putting on makeup fun again. You’ll find yourself looking for excuses to use them. Tip: Make sure you’re cleansing the brushes in between uses! Like an idiot, I used the Oval 3 to blend my brown eye shadow and then used it to apply my concealer. You can just imagine what that looked like.  (Bad Halloween)

Janna Posted by Tags ,
Friday, January 10, 2014

My New 5-Minute Makeup Routine!

Now that I have a baby girl, the days of me turning my makeup application process into a long, enjoyable ritual — taking an hour to carefully plan and execute the perfect smoky eye or shadowed winged eye while downing a couple glasses of chardonnay — are long gone.  Now, I’m lucky to have five minutes before my husband is calling me to the door.

People who aren’t true makeup lovers never understood how it could take me so long to get ready… It was never that I felt naked or ugly without a full face of makeup or that I’m so vain that I needed 60 minutes to perfect my face… I actually relished the process. It was almost a form of meditation for me.

I’ve found that even though I can’t take the time to create new dramatic makeup looks (and let’s face it, my social schedule isn’t quite demanding cat eyes and electric fuchsia lipstick), I enjoy the fact that I’ve been able to whittle down my routine significantly, still be pleased with the final product, and even get in 5 minutes of my own personal meditation:

Continue reading…

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Mommy & Me Skincare: Baby Stella and I Are All About Egyptian Magic…

I know, I know… I promised that I wouldn’t become a dreaded mommy blogger now that I have a baby. BUT… It’s my duty to share with you my latest skincare love affairs. And, if said beauty product of my affection just so happens to be effective on both my bitchy sensitive skin and my 7-week-old baby, you should probably take note.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to try Egyptian Magic. I know I’ve read over the years that celebrities like Kate Hudson, Brooke Shields, Rachel Zoe, and Nicole Richie swear by the stuff for its “healing powers” for dry skin. I’m pretty sure Sephora used to carry it as well.  What got me to finally take the leap was a trip to Costco. Yeah, that’s right Costco.  You would be shocked at the treasures you would find in their beauty aisles.

So I went ahead and bought the set, which includes the 4 oz. and 2 oz. jars.  I went home and did a little research and found that not only is Egyptian Magic touted as a “miracle balm” for dry, sensitive skin, but it can also be used as a baby cream and diaper cream.  The all-natural balm is made with only six ingredients —  Honey, Beeswax, Olive Oil, Royal Jelly, Bee Pollen and Bee Propolis. No additives, preservatives, fragrances, chemicals or parabens. I use it every night as a sleeping moisture mask and I slather it on Baby Stella’s little body and her face after baths. (She loves a good massage just like her mommy) Not only has her dry skin gone away but her (gasp!) hormonal breakouts disappeared after a couple uses of the Egyptian Magic.

According to their website, the balm can also be used as an eye gel, a hair masque, burn and wound relief, and a shaving balm. I personally think it’s a bit pricey to use as a hair masque, but I can get why it would be good for the tresses. Unfortunately it does have one of those thick creamy consistencies that can be really addictive. It takes every bit of restraint for me to not stick my whole hand in the jar and scoop out enough to hydrate the neighborhood. Of course if I have a moment of weakness I can always steal Baby Stella’s jar… JOKES!

P.S. Do not buy Egyptian Magic on Amazon, Ebay or in China Town! There are tons of counterfeits out there. You can buy it direct from them here.

Come on, how great does Baby Stella’s skin look???

 

Janna Posted by Tags , , ,
Friday, November 29, 2013

The (Slightly) Selfish Holiday Beauty Gift Guide via Huffington Post

Happy Black Friday, everyone! I would be remiss (and slightly selfish) if I didn’t share with you my holiday gift guide I did for Huffington Post. I was so bored with the standard gift guides so I decided to change it up and go for a more honest approach — create a gift guide for everyone in my  life including myself.  So check it out and go Black Friday crazy!

Click here to read gift guide —> “The (Slightly) Selfish Holiday Beauty Gift Guide”

Janna Posted by Tags , ,
Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Only Thing to Stop Me From Eating Too Much Pumpkin Pie: Naturopathica Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel

 

Happy Thanksgiving, lovelies! Listen, we all know Thanksgiving is a time for thanks and family, but let’s be honest — it’s also about the feast!  If you’re anything like me, you’re a whore for desserts so you carefully ration your turkey and stuffing intake to ensure you save room for pumpkin pie. My problem — I end up eating more than the standard portion. There, I said it.  I have a pie problem, especially where pumpkin is concerned.

So in order to minimize my caloric intake, I try and satiate my pumpkin pie craving while gently exfoliating and decongesting my skin with Naturopathica Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme PeelI cleanse my skin before I shower and then apply the enzyme peel mask and leave it on in the shower.  The steam from the shower helps activate the enzymes. This exfoliating mask is gentle yet effective —  I was even able to use it during my pregnancy.

Key Ingredients:

PUMPKIN: This is an exfoliation accelerator, a powerful antioxidant, and a mild retinoic acid substitute.

PUMPKIN ENZYMES: These help break down dead skin cells for a soft, smooth finish.

CINNAMON BARK, OREGANO & ROSEMARY EXTRACT:A potent trio of antiseptic herbs.

So hopefully by using this mask I will resist my powerful urges to shovel pumpkin pie in my face. Now if only Naturopathica made an apple pie-scented mask…

Have a wonderful holiday!

Janna Posted by Tags , , ,