Friday, August 31, 2012

Nail of the Day: Blackened Green

I bought this elf shade at Target today. It's a beautiful black with green shimmer. There's no shade name—apparently elf doesn't name their nail polish shades. Anyway it's on a brand new endcap display that looks like a limited edition collection.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sweet Handbags for Fall: Fossil Key-Per-Canvas Tote in Floral

I set out to find a floral print that would work for fall and I found this coated canvas one. I'm a big fan of Fossil handbags because they are all about durability and convenience (plenty of pockets, adjustable straps, etc), not to mention uniqueness of style. $138 at Macys

Sweet Handbags for Fall: Juicy Couture Darcy Shoulder Bag in Eaton Plaid

This bag combines wool with a patent leather trim. The classic blue plaid pattern gives it a clean, grownup schoolgirl look. I really love this bag for fall—especially for somebody with a black-heavy wardrobe. $228 at  

Sweet Handbags for Fall: Kate Spade Shawna in Abstract Signature Bow

The simple art deco bow pattern is so chic and the shade combination is perfect. This one piece will automatically updgrade any outfit. $288 at  

Sweet Handbags for Fall: Miu Miu Matelasse Frame Tote

Here's my first and highest-priced handbag pick for fall. The knit-like texture of this leather bag makes it look so luxurious. I also like the neutral color—it will go with just about everything. $1,950 at Bergdorf Goodman.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Best Cream Eyeliner

Last year I posted a review of cream and gel formula pot eyeliners and chose Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips as my top recommendation (link). However now that I've tried L'Oreal's new Infallible Lacquer Liner I'm officially changing my position. 

This product is truly stellar. So far I've used Bronze and Dark Slate (the other shades offered are Black, Espresso and Navy) and I have nothing but good things to say. They glide on smoothly and evenly. The colors are rich and solid with a satin finish (not quite a "lacquer" finish in my opinion, but not flat or dull either.) I've had no creasing or movement even on hot, humid days, and absolutely no flaking. Quite an improvement over L'Oreal's HiP cream liners which I found to be dry and flaky.

I own a lot of cream liners both high-end and drugstore and the quality of this product is, in my opinion, as good the best high-end one I own (a $25 YSL.) This is probably not a coincidence considering L'Oreal owns YSL cosmetics.

As for the brush—I found it to be serviceable, but I'll stick with my favorite brushes for cream liner application: 

For the upper lash line
I prefer the e.l.f. $1 Defining Eye Brush which I buy in bulk at Target.

Beyond that I recommend checking out Sephora's excellent private label collection to get the precise size and shape for your application preference.

For the lower lash line
Sonia Kashuk Bent Eyeliner Brush ($5.99 at Target)

EcoTools Eye Liner Brush ($3.99 at

The price for this liner is $10.99 at CVS and $8.99 at Target.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

History of a Brand: Urban Decay

Deluxe Shadow Box

Here are a few things you may not know about Urban Decay:

  • Their Naked eyeshadow palettes are currently the top selling makeup palettes in the US.
  • Revlon once created a short-lived knockoff brand called Streetwear (I posted about this line in one of my first blogposts—here's the link.)

A brief history
The brand was created in 1996 by a group of visionary entrepreneurs including Sandy Lerner and the current Executive Creative Director Wende Zomnir. The mission: to offer edgy, street-inspired shades of nail polish and lipstick that were not readily available from conventional brands. The theme of urban decay was played to the hilt. Shade names included Uzi, ABC Gum and Stray Dog. Eyeshadow singles were encased in silver manhole-cover shaped tins and lipsticks were bullet-shaped.

Along with the brand Hard Candy which was introduced a year earlier, UD catered to a niche market that the big brands had not identified; high-end quality makeup in youthful, non-traditional shades for the tween-to-early-twenties market. The brands were not identical—UD was more grungy and goth (think Winona Ryder and Janeane Garofalo in Reality Bites) and HC was more pink and girly (think Alicia Silverstone in Clueless.)

I definitely fit the target market and I eagerly bought shades that simply did not exist anyplace else. I was especially drawn to two shades of eye shadow that UD still offers: Asphyxia (a brilliant holographic purple) and Oil Slick (a glittery black) as well as Gash lipstick (a shimmery blood red) and a metallic gray nail polish shade called Gunmetal.

The Early Years
Having worked as a Sales Associate at Sephora from 1999-2000, I can attest to the fact that UD products were red hot and there were always a few sold-out items on our waitlist. Here's my favorite story from that time: a woman came in to shop for makeup with her elderly mother. They were both new to the store and the daughter wanted an SA to show her the hot brands she had been hearing about such as NARS and Club Monaco. As she was led away she looked over her shoulder at me and said, "Oh, and can you help my mother find an eyeshadow?".

I turned my attention to the older woman who was eager to tell her story. She reached into her purse and pulled out a worn, ancient eyeshadow pan with only a tiny bit of product left in it. "I want a bright blue eyeshadow just like this one. I've been to every makeup counter at the department stores and they have nothing even close." In an apologetic tone she continued, "Now I know it's out of style, but I don't care, I've been wearing this shade for 30 years and I love it. Can you please help me?"

Well she was in luck, I thought to myself—that shade was so out it was back in. I immediately led her to UD and showed her a bright, 70's powdery blue (I only wish I could remember the shade name!) To say she was thrilled was an understatement. "Why that is just as bright blue as a robin's egg!" she exclaimed. She walked out of that store a very happy customer.

The fact that the brand name and its hard-edged theme were lost on this woman was part of an important lesson I learned as an SA at Sephora—product was king. Like other niche brands with a growing cult following, customers were not so swayed by the uniqueness and cache of UD that they would buy something they didn't like, or would keep something that had looked better in the store than in harsh outdoor light. For UD and other up-and-coming brands, there were specific shades and products that we could not keep on the shelves (hello Midnight Cowboy), while others languished in excess, gathering dust.

Then and Now
UD gets this, and they have managed to evolve over the years. They admit they have shaken their grunge roots and outgrown their original name. But their inventive, creative, out-of-the-box spirit has remained. Their current initiatives include vegan products and a cruelty-free policy of no animal testing.

Ownership History
UD founders must have made a small fortune when they were bought in 2000 by LVMH (the French conglomerate which owns Sephora had bought Hard Candy a year earlier.) The brand was sold two years later to the Falic Group. Currently the private equity firm Castanea Partners owns a majority stake. However Wall Street Journal has recently hinted the company may currently be amenable to a buyout (link).

Long Running Bestsellers
  • Midnight Cowboy eye shadow. Best described as a glittery nude/pink, this one product has been so successful that it's spawned an entire subline of "Midnight" eyeliners, lipstick, lipgloss and similar shades of eye shadow.
  • Primer Potion. This shadow primer was another product for which we struggled to keep up with demand while I was at Sephora.
  • The Naked palettes. Matte, subdued and neutral shades of eye shadow. These epitomize the new softer side of UD—less edgy, more on trend for a wider demographic. The first palette was such a blockbuster that UD quickly followed it with Naked 2.

My Vintage Stash
Below are a few vintage UD pieces from my makeup collection. 

Top: Shadow Box eyeshadow palette. I bought this about ten years ago.

Bottom: a well-worn Stalker in the original design of eyeshadow tin.

Comments welcome! Feel free to share your UD experiences, favorite products and memories of the original line of products.


Deep Purple Mani

This is the best $1.99 I've spent in a long time. I wanted a dark shimmery purple and found it at CVS—Spoiled Checkin' Into Rehab. This actually applies very sheer so it takes a few coats to get an even application and a deep purple color.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Nail of the Week: Simply Striped

I looked for a milky white shade that was glossy and semi-opaque and I found it in Sally Hansen's Polar Bare. The blue is essie Beach Bum Blu and I used nail tape for the pink metallic stripe. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Great Lashing in Color!

I spotted this display at Rite Aid today. One of my favorite mascaras in four fun colors. I'm a big fan of colored mascara and I always feel it's underappreciated. There's nothing about these on Maybelline's website because they (weirdly) avoid any mention of limited edition collections there. 

Anyway I'm pretty sure Maybelline offered these last summer as well because I bought the teal and green shades from the clearance shelf at Walgreen's last September. Today I bought the purple. I've found them all dark enough to be subtle, but my lashes are dark so your mileage may vary.

The shade names are:
  • Go Go Green
  • Totally Teal
  • Blink of Blue
  • Pop of Purple

(8/31/12): I'm updating this post to add a few more pictures. My local Target had the mascaras as well as 4 limited edition matching Color Tattoo cream eyeshadows. The eyeshadow shade names are:
  • Blue on By
  • Ready Set Green
  • Fuschia Fever
  • Test My Teal

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Crazy Summer Nails: Seeing Spots

I repurposed Sally Hansen’s pedicure nail polish strips for this colorful mani. The shade name is Toe-Riffic! They sure are—what a fun pattern!

Nail of the Week: Summer Berry

This shade is Butter London Queen Vic. It has a slightly jelly-like finish so the topcoat (China Glaze Patent Leather) really brings out the shine. This was my first Butter London purchase and I'm not sure if I’ll splurge on another $14 shade soon (although I did use an Ulta coupon). The quality seems standard, nothing special, and I found the brush a little too thin and flimsy to get an even application. Your mileage may vary of course—I know this brand has a devoted following. On the positive side I do like that this polish is DPB, Toulene and formaldehyde free. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Crazy Summer Nails: Red Animal Print

Here’s yet another limited edition Sally Hansen nail polish strip that I found on clearance. This one is Red-Y to Rock from the Rock of Ages collection

Crazy Summer Nails: Refresh-Mint

I layered China Glaze Luxe and Lush over Sally Hansen Xtreme Wear Mint Sorbet to create this chunky, sparkly, minty-fresh mani.