January 31, 2011

January 30, 2011

Paul & Joe Lipsticks for the Spring 2011 Parasol Collection Sparkles, Swatches and Review

So Paul & Joe has hit another out of the park. The new Collection Sparkles, entitled Parasol, could not be more spring appropriate. The three new lipsticks in the always adorable printed tagboard packaging are a gradation of pinks. Of course the formula is consistently the best. Plushy, glossy, and moisturizing. And at that magical medium on the sheer to opaque spectrum that flatters so well. The colors probably aren't the most original, but I honestly don't know how anyone could pass on them. At $22 each, the price is right, and the packaging is totally charming and unique. So I guess I'll mostly let the pictures speak for themselves in this post. There's really not much to say other than that Paul & Joe has once again knocked my socks off. 

From bottom to top: 070 Chantilly, 071 Afternoon Delight, 069 Alfresco

The lightest out of the trio is 069 Alfresco, which is a sort of "baby" pink. Excuse my language, I hate that descriptor. But that's probably the best way of describing such a delicate blue toned color.

The mid range color is 070 Chantilly. This is my favorite out of the three, and as you can see, I couldn't wait for last weekend's photo shoot to start wearing it. This is a slightly coral toned color that's a similar albeit pinker version of Chanel 77 Jersey Rose. Suffice it to say that both this color and the chanel have been in heavy rotation lately.

The darkest color is 071 Afternoon Delight. This is really a beautiful sheer fuschia pink that gives nice definition to the lips. I've been going eyeshadow free a lot lately, since I've been so enamored with the "fresh face" of spring, and this is a good product for that look because it adds a bit of healthy color.

 From left to right: 070 Chantilly, 071 Afternoon Delight, 069 Alfresco

Same order as above

So in summary, these lipsticks are not to be missed. Go forth and purchase, you won't be disappointed. Clearly Paul & Joe have produced yet another spring collection to be reckoned with. I bought a couple other items from Parasol as well, so look for more posts to come.

January 29, 2011

January 27, 2011

Edward Bess Lipgloss

I really don't want to be writing this. Because it's a bad review of something I really want to love, coming from a source that I adore. But I feel it's important to be honest. And not give Edward Bess uniformly stellar reviews just because he has a good reputation. 

*** Before I continue, I would like to point out that these are my personal opinions, and are based on what's essentially hearsay, so please treat it as such. I haven't spoken to Edward Bess himself and confirmed any of his manufacturing practices. ***

Anyway, almost three months ago I bought three lipglosses, French Lace, Amor, and First Kiss. Honestly, I was seduced by the presentation. I mean, look at that bow?!? And the colors are capital A-amazing, with not a single glitter particle in sight. Everything down to the names of the colors were enchanting. At $75 for three glosses, the price was really good too, so I was sold.

I tried them on the back of my hand before buying, and obviously didn't scrutinize the formula closely enough. Once I got them home and tried them on the lips, I found the formula lacking. I gave them the best shot I could. But when it really came down to it, I found these so low quality as to be not worth wearing. Especially when I have so many other glosses that I like. These lipglosses embodied everything that I hate about lip products. They were very sticky and sheer. I had to dip the applicator in five six seven times to get enough for my lips, and my lips are not dark to begin with. The instant I went outside and experienced a slight breeze, or even if I turned my head too quickly, my hair stuck to my lips and spread the ooey gooey honey like gloss all over my face. Not to mention the sticky damage done to my tresses. Think mac lipgloss, only WORSE. The horror, right?

So this came as a huge shock. Everything I've ever tried from Edward Bess has been high quality and worth raving about. So I thought on it. And did a little investigating. And unfortunately realized the hard truth: Edward Bess is moving production to Taiwan. Manufacturing in Taiwan is not a bad thing in and of itself, but the unfortunate consequence of moving production means that the formulas are inevitably changed, and most likely changed to a lower quality. Up to this point, most of the line was manufactured in the U.S. Which is really win win from a consumer's perspective. It means that the country of origin of the brand is one and the same with the country of operation. In other words, jobs for Americans, and a closer relationship between the brand owner and the manufacturer. Maybe it wouldn't come as such a blow if he were moving production to, say, France, or Canada. Partially because I feel that the labor laws and practices in those countries are probably a little better. But what it really comes down to is that Dolce & Gabbana is made in Italy, MAC is made in Canada, Dior is made in France, Paul & Joe is made in Japan, and so on. The moral? Keep it close to home. 

And you can't tell me that the bottom line isn't profit here. A big reason why production is ever moved overseas is to reduce production costs. For example, I notice that Edward Bess will be changing the packaging of his lipsticks from a metal case to a plastic one. That's got to be a budget cut right there. 

I really like Edward Bess, both what his brand stands for, and as a person, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe there are a lot of good reasons to move production to Taiwan, I don't know. But the ultimate consequence is the same. Unless the brand is Taiwanese, I just can't justify paying top dollar for something made there, I'm sorry.

Now I feel guilty. I'm going to have to reach back into my stash for my beloved Edward Bess Eyeshadows and write them a rave review. . . 

January 25, 2011

The Heavy- How You Like Me Now?

Obviously this is right up my alley. Garage-punk-soul. How detroit. Based in Bath, England, The Heavy released The House that Dirt Built in 2009 on Counter Records. This song has apparently been featured in the opening montage of the The Fighter, so these guys are getting some well deserved attention. The Heavy is classified as "neo-soul" by the folks at allmusic.com. I don't know about you, but that is a label that makes me sit up and take notice. Check it out!

January 21, 2011

RMS Lip2Cheek in Muse, Swatches and Review

The RMS Lip2Cheek is a multitasking cream product. As the name implies, it can be used on either the lips or cheeks. Or both, if you're into the matchy-matchy like I am. Like most of Rose Marie Swift's products, Lip2Cheek is a coconut oil based item that is pigmented only with natural minerals. It's also an all organic and all raw vegan formula that's never been heated about body temperature (98.6 F to some, but definitely 37 C to me). The consistency of Lip2Cheek is that of a firm cream. The best way to apply any RMS beauty product is to let your natural body heat warm up the product by swirling your finger in the pot. Rose Marie told me that these are designed to be used with your fingers because of the low melting point of the oils. Once warmed slightly, Lip2Cheek spreads nicely and naturally over the skin.

When I visited Rose Marie Swift, Muse was one of the two Lip2Cheek colors that she picked out for me. Which is a little surprising, since it looks so drab and beige in the pot. But when used on the lips, it makes for a sort of washed out retro look that's goes nicely with dramatic eye styling. The natural color of my lips is by no means overpowered. Instead, Muse sort of takes it down a notch while still looking completely natural. The color of the cream is not at all flat either. There are small reflective particles that are presumably part of that whole natural mineral pigment business. So overall, the effect is very flattering. Much more so than the concealer lip that's been popular recently.

When Muse is used on the cheeks, the pigment all but disappears. But the reflective mineral bits remain visible, and since it's an oil based product, there's a bit of a sheen. In short, it acts as a very subtle highlighter. My favorite. 

Muse also has infinite possibilities regarding mixing. Any of the other RMS beauty products could be combined with Muse to make it lighter in color, and less matte in texture. The other Lip2Cheek colors looked much more flat in comparison, so this really has the potential to liven up the other shades. 

RMS Lip2Cheek is available for $36 at various retailers, such as spirit beauty, the nature of beauty, and from the RMS beauty website. Since one pot is likely to last a lifetime, it's a pretty good investment.

Photo credit: Electron Microscopy Unit of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center 

The Roots- Right On

Oh hey, Joanna Newsom actually recorded something listenable. Who would have thought?

January 18, 2011

Chanel Spring 2011 Rouge Cocos Peregrina and Jersey Rose, Swatches and Review

 Algea and Diatoms

So I went back for seconds. Don't judge me. I bought the two Rouge Cocos from the Chanel Spring 2011 collection, 77 Jersey Rose and 78 Peregrina, after the holiday extravaganza. These were somewhat unimpressive when swatched on the back of my hand during the first go at the 57th St Boutique, which is why I was spared the expense initially. But after reading reviews, and looking at other swatches, I realized I should probably look more closely. So I dutifully went back to saks with my gift card and tried them on. When applied to the lips, these lipsticks go from being ho-hum to super awesome flattering seduction!!! 

Jersey Rose is a rose pink with a peach undertone that goes beautifully with my winter palour. It actually almost matches the natural flush on my cheeks, and not surprisingly, goes with most of the blushes in my repertoire. I've been wearing it non-stop since I bought it earlier this month. It actually hurts my heart to think I almost missed out on Jersey Rose. It's become my newest and most favorite my-lips-but-better shade. I should have known that a lipstick corresponding with a number like 77 would be heavenly.

Peregrina is a very similar color, since the hue value is almost identical. The swatch picture really speaks volumes to this effect. But instead of being rosey, Peregrina is just straight peachy. The sales associate said that this color would turn orange with my skintone, but I think I disagree. It stays pretty true peach, despite the amount of pink in my face. 

As for the formula, I'm actually not crazy about the Rouge Cocos generally speaking. I find them unfortunately drying, although the fragrance has grown on me. Thankfully, where these lack in moisture, they make up in lasting. In comparison to other lipsticks that I frequently wear, these rarely have to be reapplied throughout the day. I find these non-feathering, and precise enough that you don't have to use a lip liner. Granted I don't own any dramatic colors, which is obviously the true test.

Overall, I'm really glad that I looked at the Chanel Spring 2011 lipsticks in greater detail. Jersey Rose will always have a place in my british-in-heritage heart.

photo credit: Dr. Arlene Wechezak, submitted to the Nikon Small World Microscopy Competition

The Dap-Kings- Nervous Like Me

This is an instrumental by The Dap-Kings, sans Sharon. Apparently this is a relatively obscure single, because it was somewhat difficult for me to track down. For anyone who's interested, it was a 7" release on Kay Dee from 2004. Anyway, this is the shit. Enjoy!

January 13, 2011

Kevin Murphy Hydrate Me Jet Pack Review

Through the years that I've been using Kevin Murphy there have been a few variations of the jet pack. The whole point is to provide travel friendly sizes of the essentials. I've had both the Angel and Luxury jet packs, which in addition to the wash rinse and styling options, both had a mini lotion and body wash. 

The Hydrate Me jet pack is definitely the best yet. It has literally everything that I would want in an awesome zippered mesh bag. Perfection! The contents of the Hydrate Me jet pack are as follows: Hydrate Me Wash, Hydrate Me Rinse, Anti-Gravity, Session Spray, and Fresh Hair. The cream based products come in 1.4 oz. sizes, and the pressurized spray products are 1.5 and 1.9 oz. All perfectly acceptable by the TSA. 

I literally swear by both the Hydrate Me wash and the rinse. After using these products, my hair actually feels as it does after using a moisturizing masque treatment. It's freaking mind blowing. If you have dry hair, this is the silver bullet. 

Anti Gravity is a volumizing treatment. If I'm going to use a volumizing treatment, this is definitely my first choice. A little goes a long way, and it doesn't weigh down my hair. The only reason why I don't use it all the time is that I rarely blow dry my hair, and this product requires the heat. 

Session Spray is probably one of the best hair sprays I've ever used. It also doesn't weigh my hair down, and it has a very flexible hold. And just because he's the man, Kevin Murphy donates a small proceed to an environmental charity for every can sold.

I use the dry shampoo Fresh Hair almost daily. It smells divine. I can't recommend it enough. 

Overall, this is the best. The zippered pouch is just the cherry on top.

Picture Credit: NASA APOD.

January 9, 2011

Tom Ford Black Orchid Set Review

I received Tom Ford's Black Orchid gift set as a Christmas present, having not tested any of it beforehand. I was honestly apprehensive, especially about the fragrance. But this is decidedly high end luxury, and every one of the three items has been a big hit with me. 

I'll start with the item that I was most concerned over, the solid perfume. I'm absolutely terrible at describing scents, so I'll just say that the Black Orchid solid perfume seems to me to be complex, but still universal. The metal compact that it's housed in is obviously vintage inspired, and is very classy and high quality. At first I thought there was a mirror in it, but it's just a highly polished and reflective gold surface. Almost a mirror, not quite. The closure is magnetic and secure. I haven't been carrying it around for fear of damaging it, but I bet it would hold up just fine to kickin' it in a hand bag. Overall, it's a beautiful piece that's worthy of being carried around by a vixen from the 1940s. 

The nail polish is the first from Tom Ford, and thankfully holds up his reputation for quality. The polish is highly pigmented, and dries with a high shine glossy finish. Not sheer, not bumpy, just nail polish heaven. Definitely worth having, since I don't own anything similar. 

The Lipstick is also the first I've ever tried from the Tom Ford line, and I must say I'm also very impressed with it. I wore this shade on New Year's Eve, and it was a big hit. The formula is definitely moisturizing, but just dry enough so that it doesn't bleed all over the place, which is a must with such a dramatic color. I wouldn't wear this everyday, but it's very on-trend and nice for those (very) occasional nights out. 

This was the Christmas present that I was most anticipating from the lot, and it didn't disappoint. Overall, I think this is a great introduction to the Tom Ford line, and an excellent gift. And it's a good thing that I received it as such, since I really can't imagine paying the full $140 just for myself. But that's Tom Ford for you. 

January 7, 2011

Wes Montgomery- Four on Six

Wes Montgomery is easily one of the greatest jazz guitarists to have ever lived. And he couldn't even read music. It just goes to show, you don't need a good camera to take good pictures, you don't need to study art to be a great artist, and you don't need a perfect diamond knife to cut good serial sections for electron microscopy. 

January 3, 2011

Teenage Head- Picture My Face

Two words: Canadian punk.

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