eyeliner on a cat

eyeliner on a cat
beauty, scent & style scrutinized for pleasure

Friday, February 28, 2014

Beauty Spotlight Team Round-up: Weekend of 2/28/14-- and WELCOME Phyrra!

This week, we'd like to welcome Phyrra to The Beauty Spotlight Team! Anyone who is remotely interested in beauty blogs (especially cruelty-free ones) already knows her name. We're really excited to have her on board. 

Find out what Carrie from eyeliner on a cat's picks are for her Top 5 Pre-Spring Fragrances list!

Lola's Secret Beauty Blog is throwing caution to the wind and going nude with Tom Ford Lips!

Do you love decadent and luxurious bath products? If so, you will love this review and giveaway from Pammy Blogs Beauty! Find out more about the new English Honey & Peach Blossom line from Crabtree & Evelyn. Plus, enter to WIN!

Take it from Mostly Sunny: 2014 is going to be the year of hybrid lip products. Take a quick peek at one of the first versions, Lancome Lip Lover !

The Pink Sith tells you if the new lip balms from Nivea called A Kiss Of Care & Color are worth the purchase.

Come to drivelaboutfrivol to marvel at the Great Wall of prose about beauty shopping in Hong Kong! Remember to load up your camel with fortifying snacks.

Phyrra brings you the Hottest Hairstyles for Spring 2014!

Perilously Pale has a real sweet spot for the new Clinique Cheek Pop Blushes . See why she considers these a Spring 2014 must have.

Prime Beauty shows you a creative way to make a bucket list. Share yours and enter to win $1,000 from Bufferin to get you started crossing things off it!

Beauty Info Zone wonders what your favorite Primers are. They've shared 10 along with more from the Top Ten Blogger Team.

Fall in love with Rococo Smitten on polish insomniac.

How many times have you walked by the Burt's Bees Tinted Lippies and wondered what they are like? 15 Minute Beauty is answering that question for you.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Beauty Spotlight Team: 12 Questions with Cindy from Prime Beauty!

Cindy Says:
The Beauty Spotlight Team is asking each of its members to reveal a little something about themselves through a series of questions. It’s my turn, I hope you don’t find me too boring! I love to engage with my readers so please leave me a comment and let’s chat! 
Here goes…
Click HERE for Q & A!

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Top 5 Pre-Spring Fragrances: Ode to a Chicago Thaw

[photo: Chicago's Polar Vortex via airplane by Hank Cain]

Today, all the neurons in my brain are firing in one direction-- towards Spring. I just can't help it. I know there was a huge snowfall here just earlier this week, but now it feels like Spring. I've opened the windows so that Computer Blue can investigate the tree and building denizens all around us, and get a whiff of her first real Printemps! Curtains are billowing in the breeze, Tom Petty plays on the stereo, sandalwood-scented incense wafts throughout the place and right out the window for others to enjoy. I've got on a dress that Stevie Nicks might try to snatch from me. Excitement is definitely the order of the day.

When I feel like this, I always bring out parts of my temporarily stowed-away perfume collection to see what strikes my fancy. What follows is my Top 5 list (in no particular order) of what's capturing my fancy during these unseasonably warm few days (I'm pretty sure it will all freeze over again any minute now).

1. Ramon Monegal Impossible Iris
In many ways, this perfume is about as feminine as I'll get with fragrance. This is no deep, dark elixir, but that doesn't mean that it's devoid of mystery. Its unabashed floral complexity would normally be something I might pass by, but not Impossible Iris. The ultra-modern raspberry tinge to it and the subtle pepperiness make me swoon, and when I wear it, I imagine the sophisticated, beautiful woman it was created for originally-- Ramon Monegal's wife (as an anniversary gift to her). Once my mind occupies the geography of Spain and I think of the Monegal family (extending to include everyone on staff), to wear Impossible Iris is to feel beautifully put-together, chic, clear-minded, and most of all-- to feel welcomed into Ramon Monegal's world. I absolutely treasure this fragrance and it is irreplaceable in my collection.

Oh, and if you're looking for a fragrance that very stylishly represents Pantone's 2014 color of the year, Radiant Orchid? This is it.

2. April Aromatics Jasmina
To be honest, this is not a perfume that I actually stow away for warmer weather-- I use it year-round to help me sleep or quell anxiety. It contains jasmine from India and France, ylang ylang and pink grapefruit. I wear it more often in warmer weather because I love how it smells on my skin when I'm outside. The way it mingles with fresh air makes it feel even more perfect. Not only do I feel happier when I wear Jasmina, it seems like the people around me do too. This is natural fragrance done exactly how I like it. Tanja Bochnig creates fragrances that are loaded with positive energy, and I hope there are lots of other people out there who enjoy the benefits of her broad talents as much as I do. If you're not familiar with April Aromatics, Jasmina is a great place to start, especially if you enjoy jasmine or suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or any emotional disturbances that could use some balancing. Nothing works quite as well for me-- it's nature's perfect medicine and the artisan craftsmanship is of the highest order. Bliss in a bottle.

3. Juniper Ridge Siskiyou Backpacker's Cologne
Juniper Ridge has a lot to be proud of, not least of which is the world's first (and only, as far as I know) mobile fragrance distillery. Everything they make, from soaps to incense to cologne, is wildcrafted from local, sustainably collected botanical materials. Their Siskiyou fragrance has been a favorite of mine since I first became aware of this brand. It's a scent designed around cedarwood surrounded by bright, jammy saps, spicy ginger, conifer needles and a juicy punch of citrus-- all essences native to the Pacific Northwest. I love to rake this through my hair, because it lasts longer on hair or clothes than on skin. There is more magic in this bottle than even I have words for. All I can say for sure is that if Juniper Ridge's goal is to capture various regional landscapes in an olfactory snapshot, they do that in spades. It's more than fragrance-- it's a feeling of freedom and contentment. To me, that's something you can't put a price on, but if pressed, I'd say that $55 for 1 oz is a bargain. If you're interested in Juniper Ridge's mobile distillery process and love awesome photography, do sign up for their newsletter on their website-- it's not to be missed.

4. Le Labo Santal 33
Le Labo's peppery, dry Santal 33 is a very refreshing (literally) alternative to more traditional and often cloying fragrances for men or women. If you like the sharp, slightly camphor-tinged Australian sandalwood, you won't find a better version of it. Santal 33 is one of the brand's smartest fragrances- heavy on chic as well as cheek. If Juniper Ridge scents evoke landscapes, Le Labo's evoke climate. Arid or humid, overcast and gray, brightly sunny and fleeting-- their scent renditions are driven by feelings rather than concepts. Santal 33 has a persistent, spare sun shining down on the wearer. The emotional impact is intensely positive and it feels so expansive and broad, encompassing all of the most interesting facets of Australian sandalwood. For me, this baby pairs well with a white fine-gauge, deep-v tee, steel-toed boots and a studded leather jacket. The uniform of confidence. You don't need to be a tough guy/gal to pull off wearing Santal 33, though-- just let its devastating authenticity do the talking for you. Think of the strength and self-sufficiency of a tree--yours for the taking.

5. Jul et Mad Stilettos On Lex
Stilettos On Lex could easily be thought of as in the same category as Impossible Iris, meaning that it's built around an intense floral accord with accents of ripened fruit, but it doesn't end there. The shadowy corners of this fragrance don't give away its secrets-- ever. But I enjoy some intrigue and sexual power in my sillage once in awhile, and Stilettos reminds me of an ultra-modern version of the big 80s florals that my mother used to wear. In that respect, it really feels like a gift. I was obsessed with my mother's perfumes growing up, but I knew instinctively that they were not for me, nor would they ever be. I'm just too different from my mother, who possessed the kind of effortless glamour and magnetism of a true 1980s diva. Stilettos is larger than life, but not so large that it outsizes my moodiness, my sharp edges and preference for speaking without saying a word. It fills a very specific need for me to connect to my true self and my mother simultaneously. This perfume's attractiveness is off the charts. Dark skies, brilliant heart.

Tell me, what have you been wearing or thinking about wearing lately? 

[All photos are property of their respective brands and photographers. All rights reserved.]

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Top 5 Cool and Covetable Valentine's Day Gifts: Fragrance and Beauty

This year, I was in the mood to put together a short but sweet Valentine's Day gift guide, which features goodies from the practical to just plain pretty. There's still time to order up your gifts, so I'll keep the intro short!

Shea Terra Argan Oil Beauty Kit ($26) and Divine Ginger & Orange Fair Trade Chocolate Bar ($3)

I am a HUGE fan of Shea Terra Organics and the brand's proprietor/globetrotter/mix mistress/Mom of 14 Tammie Umbel. While we enjoy her lavish products, she's sourcing ingredients in far off lands while 8 1/2 months pregnant, slipping and sliding down sand dunes. This Argan oil sampler has a lot to offer for a small price, giving you a taste of some of their best-selling products (which also happen to be some of my favorites). The Argan Oil Beauty Kit contains: Argan & Rosemary Cleansing Oil, Argan Oil, Argan & Rose Serum of Youth, Argan & Green Coffee Eye Serum (7.5ml each). The Divine Fair Trade Chocolate Bars they sell are all delectable and there's a wide choice of flavors-- and every one of them is $3 apiece. Shea Terra proves that thoughtful, earth-friendly gifts don't need to cost much at all.

Hamsa Perfume and T-Shirt Gift Set ($65)

Newcomer to the fragrance scene Hamsa by Celine Leora has a very cheery scent disposition with bright but rich notes of white lotus, frankincense, blackcurrant and coffee. It's clean and uncomplicated, and I would categorize it as "happiness juice". This lovely gift set which includes a bottle of the perfume and an adorable blinged-out girly t-shirt is begging to be given to a beloved University girl this year. This fragrance screams of youthful exuberance and hope, and  having a Hamsa-adorned bottle in her dorm room at all times is definitely stacking the deck in her favor. That can only be a good thing!

Aurelia Skin Care Relax & Repair Night Time Gift Set ($100)

This is one of Aurelia's brilliant gift sets that I love so much. This one contains a full-size bottle of Cell Repair Night Oil (which smells mainly of mandarin, orange blossom, lavender and rose) with teacup & saucer, special evening tea blend; all gift boxed and beautiful. I love and frequently use the Cell Repair Night Oil- it boasts a crazy-gorgeous list of exotic oils & extracts like Mongongo, Ootanga, Baobab and Kigelia-- I am a devotee of these uncommon African gems and what they do for my skin. I could spend the next hour expounding on my love of this product, but I must quickly mention the incredible blush-salmon-colored teacup and saucer and the specially blended caffeine-free loose herbal tea. Equally desirable is their gift set containing a morning blend of tea and a jar of their amazing Miracle Cleanser plus an anti-bacterial soft bamboo muslin cloth. That set goes for $85, which you can also get through Aurelia's website or Beautyhabit.com here in the States. If you have an adored friend, sister or co-worker who you are shopping for this Valentine's Day that is also a confirmed beauty snob, here's your chance to one-up them and blow their mind. Like, forever.

Jane Tran Sprouting Crystal Bobby Pins ($25 for 2) and Crystal Sprout Pony Box ($35 for 2)

In my tireless search for the cutest hair doo-dads in the world that don't annoy me, aren't juvenile, are super-attractive like jewelry but don't stand out too much, Jane Tran usually does it for me. Her prices are generally below France Luxe's prices, which is another hair doo-dad brand I love. These incredible Sprout accessories have charmed me completely. I must have silver, and prefer colors that don't stick out too much, but there are brights and gold-tones available as well. Jane Tran gets it. It's better to have a few killer designs with lots of color options than to have a bazillion of everything, or even worse, your entire line in one metal-tone or color palette, so that 50% of the world won't even look at what you've got to offer. Anyway, GO JANE! Whether your girl has a ponytail fetish or is a bobby pin freak (or both, like me), these are super-chic, day-to-night accessories that won't ever look wrong.

Cinq Mondes Aromatic Scrub With Spices- Java's Ritual: Indonesia and Kassa Glove ($60/$18)

CINQ MONDES! Where do I start? Okay, that's right. Short Valentine's gift guide. Breathe in, breathe out. I've recently had the chance to sample a bunch of Cinq Mondes products because I got a sweet gift-with-purchase sampler from BeautyHabit.com. I had a blast with everything, but this was in my top 3 must-have products from the lot of samples I tried. The Aromatic Scrub With Spices is one of the most heavenly things I've ever experienced. From the fragrance (mixed spices and herbs with plenty of resins and salts) to the scrubby, then melty texture and the way it feels on your skin- it's absolutely astounding. A complete sensory pleasure- and one of the only high-end spa bath products I would ever lay my money down for. I can spend on facial cleansers and masks without hesitation, but not nearly as easily for the bath/shower. I feel differently about that now. One or two indulgences of the highest order will only help your mind focus and your body relax-- and that's living out your full potential. Tell people that the next time they tease you for your beauty product obsession. They will still think you're weird, but your aesthetician won't.

This is the real deal, and used with the Kassa Glove for extra exfoliation (and so as not to tax the skin on the palms of your hands too much with rough textures), it's the perfect vigorous, aromatic scrubbing you need to begin or end your day. It softens your skin so well that if you're running short on time, you really don't need to moisturize unless you'll be facing harsh elements. This would make the perfect gift for... well, anyone with a nose who also takes showers, baths, steams, anything. That's probably a few people you know. If you plan on treating yourself for Valentine's Day (and why not?), this is the one product I would recommend the most. It's a self-love thing.

Now here's what else you should know: though I love and support BeautyHabit all the time, all Cinq Mondes products are less expensive at Dermstore.com. Plus, if you add the products to your shopping cart from your favorites list, that's an additional 10% off. Also, there's a nice gift with $60 purchase- a 15ml bottle of Cinq Mondes' Olivia Giacobetti fragrance called Eau Egyptienne (it's amazing). Good products, great deal!

I hope you have at least found my list entertaining if not informative, and best of luck to any of you who still have shopping to do. I'm lucky, because my Valentines (husband and cat) are very easy to please-- they both want noms and cuddles, and that's what they'll get!


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Beauty Spotlight Team: 12 Questions with Mostly Sunny!

It's Mostly Sunny's turn to answer the Beauty Spotlight Team's questions! Did you know she has a pretty flexible (read: weird) schedule? Or that she used to teach? Head over to Mostly Sunny and find out! 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Trilogy: Complexion Cashmere + Big Skin Care Sale at Whole Foods This Weekend!

The Whole Foods Market skin care section keeps getting better and better, and the temptation to stray from the produce aisle, greater and greater. One of their recent additions is Trilogy Skincare-- a line that I only had a little bit of familiarity with until now. I have used their original formula of Rosehip oil to heal a surgical incision a few years ago, and I found it to be of excellent quality. I've recently had the pleasure of sampling several of Trilogy's newer line called Age Proof, as well as a serum for hypersensitive skin and the new version of their famous staple: Rosehip Oil Antioxidant +. What I found was a treasure trove of new sensory experiences related to the texture of these products, and I can't wait to tell you all about them.

Whole Foods Market-- Lincoln Park, Chicago

First, a word about the sale: the entire Trilogy line, plus others such as Dr. Hauschka and Acure Organics will all be on sale starting this Friday (February 6th) until Sunday at all Chicago area Whole Foods Market stores. All skincare (except for lip balms, and does not include cosmetics) will be a whopping 25% off during this sale, so this is the time to try whatever you've been eyeing when you go to pick up your favorite brownies. Uh, I mean, soy milk. Right, that's it. It's also a great opportunity to pick up a killer Valentine's Day present or two! Click HERE for more about the skincare sale as well as some really good tips on the Whole Foods blog.

[Age Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum, Line Smoothing Day Cream, Replenishing Night Cream]

Trilogy Age Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum is quite the star product in this lineup. Loaded with aloe, chamomile, licorice root, calendula, rosehip oil and hyaluronic acid, this light-textured gel-serum not only firms and tones the skin, but hydrates, brightens and creates a beautiful glow. For my dry, sensitive skin, this product would probably be enough to use on its own during summer months. It's a multi-tasking powerhouse that does more and feels better than many serums I've tried that cost 3 times as much. This one's a keeper!

The Age Proof Line Smoothing Day Cream really lives up to its name. I layer it over a serum or oil using upward strokes, and a little goes a long way. The texture is like pure satin. It has a blurring effect on lines and hugs the contours of the skin, leaving a cushion of protection and hydration. The ingredient list boasts cocoa and shea butters, rosehip, avocado, acai, evening primrose, jojoba and olive oils, hyaluronic acid and melon fruit extract. It's interesting to note that many of Trilogy's products are devoid of fragrant essential oils because there are people who have sensitivity to them. I have a billion products that are mainly comprised of essential oils, so this is a nice change for me. It becomes more about the texture of the product, how it feels on my skin, and how it works together in tandem with other products in the line. The Age Proof line really seems to highlight those experiences.

The Age Proof Replenishing Night Cream was a surprise on many fronts. When I first opened the jar and tested a little dab on my hand, I had an "Uh-oh" moment. It seemed rather gluey at first and all I could think of was my unpredictable hormonal acne. However, after it melts with body temperature, it thins out considerably and becomes more like a balm. Once again, another Trilogy product with a novel texture. This is the only product in the line that I can detect any kind of faint fragrance with- it's natural rose geranium. Very light, very sophisticated, and not at all bothersome. Some of the star ingredients are licorice, mulberry, cucumber, chamomile, hyaluronic acid, marula, olive, avocado, aloe-- and more. Like the Line Smoothing Day Cream, the Replenishing Night Cream has a blurring effect on lines, but it's even better. Skin is perfectly smoothed, and when I looked in the mirror after using it for 4 nights in a row, I saw no wrinkles. Therefore, I can safely call this product the Holy Grail of night creams: instant gratification by smoothing out the appearance of lines and other imperfections and long-term benefits of intense hydration, brightening, firming and fading all of the things about my face I wish didn't exist. It sounds like a fairy tale, I know, but if it is one, it's got one heck of a happy ending. Color me seriously impressed. 
Age Proof Nutrient Plus Firming Serum: Retail $44
Age Proof Line Smoothing Day Cream: Retail $49
Age Proof Replenishing Night Cream: Retail $55

[Age Proof Active Enzyme Cleansing Cream]

The Age Proof Active Enzyme Cleansing Cream was the first thing I tried, and I was quite taken with the odd texture. It's very slippery, creamy and fluffy all at once, like a really well made chocolate mousse. It sticks to your face instead of sliding off (which makes it fabulous to use with a Clarisonic or any kind of cloth) and papaya and pineapple enzymes get right to work. 60 seconds of massaging it off with an anti-bacterial bamboo cloth and my skin is basking in a new kind of clean. It's not drying or stripping of the natural barrier that skin needs to feel comfortable, but what it does is remove what's not supposed to be there- dirt, makeup, excess sebum and anything that will contribute bacteria and aggravate any skin condition. It's an impressive, high-tech cleanser that boasts natural ingredients that work really hard so that you have less to worry about. A MUST-HAVE.
Retail: $44

[CoQ10 Eye Recovery Concentrate]

I absolutely adore the Age Proof CoQ10 Eye Recovery Concentrate. It's got all the right moves. It's a whisper-light, creamy serum that is suitable for sensitive eyes, reduces puffiness effectively and smooths out the skin all around the eye area. It's hydrating, soothing and cooling. It's one of those types of products that I have about 5 of, and none of them work well enough to justify repurchasing. FINALLY! I'm beyond psyched that I've found one that works so well (night and day) and is reasonably priced. A few key ingredients are: aloe, Co-Enzyme Q10, hyaluronic acid, licorice root, horse chestnut, green coffee, cucumber, chamomile, olive fruit extract, jojoba esters and green tea. If you want to dip your toes in Trilogy's Age Proof line, this would be a fantastic place to start, along with that incredible Active Enzyme Cleansing Cream.
Retail: $38

[Rosehip Oil Antioxidant + 30ml bottle]

The Rosehip Oil Antioxidant + is the slightly souped-up reboot of their classic Rosehip Oil (which is still available, by the way- this is just an addition, not a replacement). This version contains rosehip, tomato seed and cranberry seed oils, sunflower oil, vitamin E, lycopene, acai and oat extracts. It's a light oil and is great when used on its own or if you want to use it to boost your moisturizer (I add about 2 drops to a little blob of moisturizer and mix in the palm of my hand when I do this). This little bottle contains some of nature's most powerful antioxidants, so if you're in the market for a great moisturizing oil for any skin type or condition- you will get the most bang for your buck with Rosehip Oil Antioxidant +.
Retail: $36

[Very Gentle Calming Serum]

Very Gentle Calming Serum is a wonderful light and milky "rescue" serum for when skin is very irritated, acneic, red or inflamed, or just feeling dry and tight. With aloe, chamomile, calendula, green tea, oat extract, sweet almond, evening primrose, rosemary and olive oils, this serum is the equivalent of a chill pill for your face, giving your skin the time and space it needs to facilitate the healing process. And it works. Inflammation is an immune response that can cause a lot of damage to skin and other tissues and organs all by itself if allowed to go unchecked. Indoor heating wreaks havoc on my skin, and is probably at the root of much of my skin sensitivity, and Very Gentle Calming Serum cools it off when I need it the most. Now, I keep it in the refrigerator so I get even more of a cooling sensation. The relief I get from it is profound-- and very reliable.
Retail: $42

Overall, my experience with Trilogy products has been utterly amazing. All of the products work so well together in tandem to create a clear, smooth surface with healthy, newly regenerated skin cells, minimized pores and a brightened, calm complexion. And finally, my persistent eye puffiness is under control while the skin under my eyes is being strengthened over time.

Towards the end of last year, I discovered Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, and now Trilogy. I'm pretty sure I  could live off of these two brands alone for the rest of my life, and I'd be swimming in products that feel tailor-made for me. It's a good time to be alive if you've got cranky skin and discerning taste. Next, I must try Trilogy's bath, body and hair products. I have every confidence that I'll be pleased as punch with those, too!

[Samples provided by Whole Foods Market PR, North Avenue in Chicago for my consideration. All reviews contained in this post, and every other post on this blog, are my opinion only--honest and unaffiliated.]

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Beauty Spotlight Team Round-up [weekend of 2/1/14]

With Valentine'sDay fast approaching, Visionary Beauty finds that the new Illusion d'Ombres from this years Chanel Notes de Printemps collection were meant for each other.

Want to know how to make your nails look good in a picture? Find out the secret in polish insomniac's Ten Best Nail Tools!

This season is filled with surprises for Mostly Sunny. When she first saw and swatched YSL Pivoine Crush Palette, she thought it was impossible to work with. After some experiments however, she developed a huge crush!

Pink Sith is on a Radiant Orchid frenzy and the Buxom Full Bodied Lipstick in Swinger just ads fuel to the fire! Win It!!!

Did you know that January was National Oatmeal Month? You can still celebrate by entering Pammy Blogs Beauty's Giveaway for Aveeno's Oatmeal-Based Daily Moisturizer!!!

Marcia from Beauty Info Zone is so crazy about her I Love Nail Polish manicure in Molly that she can't stop seeing Radiant Orchid in it. Did she find the Pantone color of the year or not?

Dull winter skin in need of boost? Then Lola's Secret Beauty Blog suggests trying Radical Skincare Instant Revitalizing Mask. because it is will give your skin the magical boost it needs!

Carrie from eyeliner on a cat has found a brand new flame with Rive Sud Interior candles...

To celebrate the year of the horse, gallop over to drivel about frivol for the red and gold YSL beauties Kate’s giving away! And may the odds be ever in your favour! ….er… that’s totally an ancient Chinese New Year greeting. Honest…

15 Minute Beauty has found her favorite new neutral palette, the Too Faced Chocolate Bar!

Perilously Pale has swatched some Nicole by OPI polishes that are making her wish that winter would fade away quickly.

Visit Prime Beauty and drool over Tartes's spring 2014 cheek stains and LipSurgence lip stains. You'll have trouble choosing your favorites.