Showing posts with label Jo Malone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jo Malone. Show all posts

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jo Malone Cardamom and Moroccan Rose - Limited-Edition


I've been neglecting Jo Malone for a while because of my obsession with other lines but I couldn't resist picking up the Cardamom & Moroccan Rose Candle ($70 for 7 oz, limited-edition) which is part of the My Wanderlust Collection mainly because the packaging looks quite stunning. Cardamom & Moroccan Rose is described as a Moroccan rose with a mix of honeyed spice. Straight out of the box it smells like a citrus orange rose with a hint of gingery spice. I wasn't sure how it would burn because the mix of honey, citrus and rose seemed very odd. Once it you burn it, it warms up to a beautiful soothing scent. It smells of equal parts rose, ginger and chamomile. It's floral but also earthy with a warm mix.


The packaging was a bit of a surprise when I saw it in person. I expected an orange and red tinted glass case, instead the outside is an adhesive sticker. I was worried how the sticker would fare after burning but so far I've had no issues. The packaging design is quite lovely and adds a festive accent of color to the home, desk or office. Still, I would have preferred a tinted glass jar rather than a sticker but it seems very sturdy and well made so for now, I'll overlook it.

If you're a fan of rose mix home fragrances, the Jo Malone Cardamom and Moroccan Rose is a good one to look into. The mix of rose, honey and spice is really quite unique and makes it a more unisex kind of rose (versus a girly and feminine rose). I find it's been the perfect transition scent for winter to spring. It's particularly nice on cloudy days to brighten one's mood. On warmer sunny days here in Southern California I find it gives a soothing feel.

The Jo Malone Cardamom & Moroccan Rose Candle is a limited-edition scent. Available at all Jo Malone stores and counters while supplies last. I bought mine from Neiman Marcus. Also available at Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks and Jo Malone.

Have you checked out the Jo Malone My Wanderlust Collection? Did you pick up anything? If not, what's your favorite rose home scent?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Candle Care Tips


I've received a number of questions on candle care so today I'm sharing some simple tips on how I burn and care for your candles. Once you own a luxury candle you will want to burn it and care for it properly in order to get the most out of it's life. I've burned quite a few candles in the past few years and didn't realize until recently that I was burning some of my candles incorrectly.
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Question 1: Some of my candles don't burn evenly and tunnel. How do you prevent this?


I just recently discovered the phrase "candle tunneling" which refers to an uneven burn where the wax of the candle near the center/wick melts but the edges do not. Some of my candles haven' burned all the way to the edge for a smooth flat burn while others have - I did not know what caused this. I just found out at a recent trip to a Diptyque store that the first burn is extremely important to prevent tunneling. The reps at the store said that you want to make sure the first time you burn the candle you want to let it burn long enough to melt the entire surface of the candle which can take several hours. Depending on the size of the candle, they recommended about 1 hour per inch in diameter. I thought 30 minutes of burn time would be sufficient to melt the surface of my standard Diptyque candles so I timed it at a few intervals. At 45 minutes the surface was nowhere near being completely melted.


It took a full three hours for the surface of my standard size Diptyque candle to melt and liquify completely and evenly on the surface for the first burn. Jo Malone 7.0 oz candles and Diptyque 6.5 oz candles are very similar in size, after testing the timing for the initial burn, I found they both took about the same time for the surface to melt. Below is a Jo Malone Candle where the diameter is about 3 inches. So the 1 hour burn time per inch of diameter proved to be pretty accurate.


So what do you do if you burned the candle incorrectly the first couple of times? There are a lot of other resources online on how to fix it, but this depends on how deep the tunnel is. If the tunneling is minor I've been able to fix some of mine by burning for a few hours and scooping out the hard unmelted wax around the edges to even out the surface. Other recommendations on Scent Snob and Nouvelle Daily.

In addition to the first burn, to make sure you candle burns evenly, you also need to make sure the wick stays centered. It can migrate sometimes or burn at an angle. Use a sturdy object to re-center or straighten the wick - I've done this while the candle is burning with a small butter knife although I recommend you do this with caution to avoid burning yourself or anything else. It's better to re-center the wick after you've blown out or snuffed the flame. Sometimes I'll push the wick with the tip of scissors. Whatever you use, if you dip it in melted liquified wax, you'll have to clean the item.
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Question 2: Why invest in a wick trimmer? Can I just use my regular scissors?


Trimming the candle wick after they burn is important to prevent them from smoking on the next burn or from burning the sides of the glass. It's commonly recommended that you trim them as short as possible without cutting them too short. I trim mine after they've cooled just in case I don't catch the end of the trimmed wick. Sometimes I accidentally drop it into the candle and it ends up getting the melted wax very messy or sinks to the bottom of the liquified portion.

On wick trimmers vs scissors, I find they both work, but it is nice to have a dedicated tool just for trimming wicks. It took me a long time before I splurged on a Diptyque wick trimmer but I've found it well worth the investment and I use it all the time. Now I no longer have to worry about getting my scissors dirty. They also double as a decorative accessory. Wick trimmers are more aesthetically pleasing than basic scissors and I can leave them laying on the coffee table or desk.


Most wick trimmers have a beveled tip which makes it easy to catch the trimmed wick. This is perfect for people like me who find it difficult to balance tiny things on small surfaces.


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Question 3: Are accessories like lids or photophores really useful? Or worth it in general? What about candle snuffers?


Some candles come with their own lids. Henri Bendel Travel Candles and full-sized Jo Malone Candles come with lids. Diptyque carries candle lids you can purchase separately. I've received a couple Diptyque lids as gift with purchases before and also purchased several. I find that they work to keep out dust and debris and really help to keep the surfaces clean. Some have asked if it keeps the scent in the candle from fading - if you have input on this I'd be really happy to hear your thoughts. I have had several candles that I left open or in a box over 6 months and found they retained their scent and strength without a lid. With the lids that come from Diptyque, Jo Malone or Henri Bendel, they sit on top of the candle but it won't seal them shut completely so air can still get in and out. I like my lids mainly to keep them clean and dust-free.

Photophores are decorative accents for me. They can be on the pricey side but I do think if you are willing to splurge on something to decorate your home these are very beautiful. I received one from Diptyque as a gift from my husband and really love it. Below is the Large Full Twist option.


One of the candle accessories I don't own yet is a candle snuffer. I've looked at them numerous times at the stores but haven't splurged yet.
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Question 4: How do you clean out the wax from the interior to recycle your candles?


If you google how to recycle or clean out candles, you will find a number of different methods. I've shared my personal candle recycling tips before. I don't always get a completely clean burn and there is often remnants of wax on the sides so the freezer method doesn't work for me. I don't like using really hot water because it can impact the stickers on the sides of the jars. I like to use the warm water + dish soap with paper towels or a sponge to soften the wax and clean the interior.

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Question 5: What are your all time favorite candles?

I've purchased quite a few different candles, each time I go to a Diptyque store or visit Henri Bendel I discover something new. Personal favorites change depending on time of year. My most frequently repurchased candles include:

Diptyque Figuier, Baies and Aubepine

I also really like Frederic Malle, Byredo and Lumira candles as well, but for me they are harder to find so I don't purchase them as frequently as I would like to.




I hope you found this candle care post helpful! If you have any tips you'd like to share please do so in the comments! What are your favorite candles or scents?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Makeup Tools for Face, Cheeks and Eyes


I've compiled several detailed brush guides this year but several of my readers have asked for a more consolidated list of recommendations. Like most of my beauty routine, when it comes to makeup tools, I rarely stick to just one brand. I think different lines have certain strengths in particular areas.  Some have a better shape while others are made of better materials. There is a lot to sort through in terms of brush shape, size, material and price point. For me, it's really important that I am able to test a brush in person before purchasing it so I tend to stick to main stream brands. Today I've compiled a list of my most reached-for tools for face, cheeks and eyes.


My top picks for brush brands include MAC, Chanel and Tom Ford. In my experience, the overall best brand for quality and price is MAC. I own many MAC brushes that have lasted me over a decade. I like that the brushes have a simple and sleek design and the quality is consistent among all the tools regardless of material or type.

Chanel is also another great brand that I use a lot for brushes and tools. They recently redesigned all their brushes (I think in the last year or so) for a more modern look. The tools work really well with all brands of makeup. There are many similarities in shapes between MAC and Chanel although the material is very different in most of the tools. 

If price is no object, Tom Ford hands down makes the best brushes I've ever tested. All the brushes are super soft and plush and perform the best out of all the tools I've tried. The cream foundation brush is the only brush that gives me a streak-free application for foundation or tinted moisturizer. Tom Ford's brushes are among the few brands I ordered sight unseen. I splurged on a brush set a few years ago and although it made a serious dent in my wallet but I have no regrets and it makes applying makeup a truly luxurious experience each day.



1 / Beautyblender ($19.95) is the best sponge I've used. I just discovered it this year and don't know how I ever got along without it. There are multiple colors and types of beautyblenders but the pink one performs the best. Use it damp and it expands and applies foundation flawlessly.

2 / MAC Duo Fibre Face Brush #187 ($42) everyone needs a good skunk brush. These are fluffy brushes with two types of material mixed in. The uses for this are endless. I like to use mine to apply powder bronzer or highlighters to the face. You can also use these with cream products or to buff out powder foundation or to blend items. MAC also makes the Duo Fiber brushes in a number of other formats like the Short Handled #187 and a tapered Blush #159 version. I like the classic version the best.

3 / MAC Large Angled Contour #168 ($35) is super soft and fluffy angled contour brush. I use this for bronzer or blush (primarily powders). It's also a good blending tool. The angled edge helps control application.

4 / Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush #02 ($72) is the best foundation brush I've used. It's one of the most expensive tools I own but worth every penny. When I use this to apply liquid or cream foundations, application is flawless and completely streak free. I normally prefer to use sponges for foundation but often times they soak up so much product. This is the closest thing I have to getting a sponge-finish look with foundation but in brush format.

5 / Chanel Foundation Brush #6 ($45) is my most reached-for foundation brush. It's not quite as perfect as the Tom Ford, but for me it's the next best thing. I like this for cream blushes too.

6 / Chanel Blush Brush #4 ($54) is my favorite blush brush because of the shape and material. It's medium-sized and compact but has just the right amount of density to pick up color and dispense it perfectly on the cheeks. MAC makes a lot of good blush brushes too which are very good quality, but I find myself reaching for the Chanel the most.

7 / Chanel Powder Brush #1 ($65) is my favorite dense but soft powder brush. I use this for loose powder, pressed powder and powder foundation. It comes out of the box tapered but once you wash it it fluffs up quite a bit while still retaining a round shape. I like that it's sturdy with a substantial handle but still easy to hold and maneuver.



1 / MAC Blending Brush #217 ($24) is the best white fluffy brush you can find for $24. This is key for me in terms of blending shadows for a subtle gradient. I also like to use this as a regular eyeshadow brush when I want an all over lid color.

2 / MAC Eye Shading Brush #239 ($25) is in my top 2 picks along with MAC Brush #217. This is my all time favorite eyeshadow brush. It picks up color really well and blends powders together nicely. I like that it's dense but super soft.

3 / Tom Ford Eyeshadow Contour Brush #12 ($56) is another favorite. This is my do-it-all kind of brush. It applies shadow on the lids, it will contour or smoke out darker colors and the tip is dense for a smokey eye.

4 / MAC Shader Brush #242 ($25) is what I like for cream shadows (or concealer too). This one has lasted me the longest, I think it was one of the first MAC brushes I bought for myself. It has a really nice round tip making application easy and smooth on the eye (so it doesn't poke the skin).

5 / Chanel Large Eyeshadow Brush #25 ($38) is a medium to large eyeshadow brush that isn't too big or fluffy. I do like a good fluffy brush, but these days I find myself reaching for this one because it isn't as thick or dense making it easier for me to control color and application. If you want something fluffy, soft and more dense, the Bobbi Brown Eye Sweep Brush is one of my favorites.

6 / Laura Mercier Smudge Brush ($24) is a good dense detail brush. It's stiff but not too stiff so it's easy on sensitive skin or eyes. I like this one to smudge eyeshadow or eyeliner. I use this instead of a regular liner brush because I like a more smudged softer line to define the eyes. It offers precise application but if you are looking for something super precise, I'd recommend the Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush or the Angled Eye Definer Brush.

7 / Trish McEvoy Laydown #40 ($42) is one of my favorite multi-purpose brushes. I like this for powder eyeshadow, cream eyeshadow and concealer. I owned this back when Trish McEvoy had gold handles for the brushes (they are now lucite). It's the perfect shape, size and density for creams to get a good smooth and even application.

8 / Charlotte Tilbury Eyelash Curler ($20) is one of the newest eyelash curlers I've tried. When I first tried it I wasn't super impressed because it's called the "Life Changing Lashes" eyelash curler and well, it simply didn't change my life. I found it just as good as my Trish McEvoy and Chanel eyelash curlers but not anything super special. I've since tried a few others from other brands like Shiseido and Shu Uemura and have really come to appreciate the design and shape of the Charlotte Tilbury. It has just the right amount of curve to fit my eye shape. Many others are too flat or not curved enough. The wrong shape will either pinch my eyes around the corners or miss lashes making the curl uneven. I give the Charlotte Tilbury a huge thumbs up for the way it performs. 

9 / Trish McEvoy Eyelash Curler ($20) is a classic go-to for me. I have several of these right now and  it's been my most-replaced tool (some recommend you change or the pads these every 90 days, I tend to use these longer replacing once every 6 months). It just works the way an eyelash curler is supposed to. It grabs all the lashes and curls them evenly and in a round flared up shape. 



I have some additional thoughts on brushes focusing on double duty or recycling. Based on the above guides, you might be wondering what I recommend for eyeliner, concealer, crease, bronzer, brows or lips.

I think a lot of tools can be used multiple ways which means you can stretch out the uses. Having multiple brushes can be extremely useful so you don't have to worry about mixing colors or washing brushes frequently if you change from a light to a dark color for a certain tool. I do like brushes that will do multiple things though. For bronzer, I will sometimes use my blush or powder brushes. For the eye crease or contour I find the MAC #217 works just perfectly. For concealer I like blending with the fingers or a sponge.


For brow a lot of brow pencils come with a brush on the end to smooth out the color. I've bought a few brow combs before but find they don't last me very long so I like to recycle my mascara wands after they are used up. Rinse the end with soap and warm water and you've got a lash comb and brow comb in one that you can toss whenever without worrying about throwing money away.

Lip pencils often come with a lip brush at one end so I don't find the need to purchase a separate lip brush for gloss or lipstick. Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana have lip brushes which I find handy.


Last but not least, long time readers know I'm a fan of recycling candle jars. I use them to store brushes, pencils, lip gloss and office supplies. Diptyque and Jo Malone are my favorite to recycle. I just clean them out with warm-to-hot soapy water and a dish sponge. My candles don't always have a clean burn so often times there are remnants of wax stuck on the sides. Some recommend freezing or using boiling water. I find that using anything too drastic with temperature changes can crack the glass or melt off the sticker (which I like to keep in tact).

If you're just starting to build up your collection of makeup tools I hope you found this guide helpful. It can be overwhelming to sort through all the options so I have found the best way to start is to focus on one area at a time (i.e. start with eyeshadow brushes or blush brushes) and do your research. If you're an in-store kind of shopper, I highly recommend bringing a small list of options you've found interesting or with high ratings. Having a list can be helpful in case you want to see different brands in one store. Some brushes go by number so writing the numbers down is handy unless you have a super good memory, I often have to look at the numbers on my MAC brushes when someone asks me "which brush is that?"

Building a good brush collection will take some time but it doesn't have to be complicated. Brushes can be pricey especially when you add them up so I do recommend taking your time to research in advance to make sure you find ones that work best for your specific needs or wants.

I hope you found this guide on my favorites helpful to start!





This post was sponsored by Nordstrom. All opinions my own. All tools my own. For more information you can refer to my Disclosures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

On My Radar / New in Beauty


A few new items on my beauty radar this week:

Jo Malone has released the Cologne Intense Mini Collection (1) in a set for the first time this holiday. It has Tuberose Angelica, Velvet Rose and Oud, Saffron, Dark Amber and Ginger Lily and Oud and Bergamot. I was almost ready to purchase but have never smelled Saffron before. Have you? What do you think?

Edward Bess has released four new shades of Lasting Kiss Lip Stain (2). I will have swatches to share with you very soon but first impressions are they are to die for.

Tom Ford Beauty has re-released two of the Cream Color for Eyes (3) in Platinum and Spice. Those who missed out before will be happy to know you can purchase them now with the holiday collection (but take note they are limited-edition again).

L'Occitane never fails to get me with their Shea Butter Hand Cream releases (4). With the holiday season approaching, I'm excited to see what sets they will release this year. Three new ones on my radar are the Rose Heart, Vanilla Bouquet and Whipped Shea Butter.

NARS has several holiday gifting sets out this year. This Virtual Domination Cheek Palette (5) looks like it could be the perfect compact size to slip into your purse for touchups or application on-the-go.

I've been getting lots of e-mails about the new Chanel Rouge Allure Gloss (6). Chanel.com released three shades as a preview, but all the colors have finally arrived at Nordstrom in case you have been looking. I have five I'll be swatching and reviewing.

Diptyque has some amazing holiday offerings this year. The packaging on their holiday candles are breathtakingly beautiful. There will be candle sets available as well. For the first time they will have one of their photophores available for purchase outside of Diptyque Boutiques in a Limited Edition Set with a Candle Holder + Feu de Bois, 6.5 oz. (7).

Dior Holiday is also stunning. There are two limited-edition quints in Golden Shock and Golden Reflection (8). (P.S. for a limited time, Nordstrom.com has these on sale with 10% off for their price matching, check out the Sale Section on their website under Beauty to see what else is on a discount.)

What's on your beauty radar this week?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On My Radar / New In Beauty


Happy mid-week lovelies! A few items that popped on my beauty radar this week. Fall collections look incredibly beautiful and there are a number of new foundation formulas on the market that sound promising.

  1. Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt has arrived for fall and it sounds amazing! This will come in a Candle, Body Cream,  are the the 1 oz and 3.5 oz Cologne Spray, I can't wait to check it out this week
  2. Christian Louboutin will launch 30 new shades of nail polish at the end of the month, I have my eye on The Nudes Nail Colors (available for pre-order at Nordstrom)
  3. Clé de Peau Beauté Radiant Fluid Foundation has been on my radar for a while now, I received a sample packet (but in the wrong shade), it felt really nice on the skin, if you've tried it please let me know what you thought, I have friends that keep telling me it really is the best, but I can't bring myself to splurge just quite yet
  4. Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation is another new formula on the market, I tested a couple samples I received at the store, it did feel amazingly smooth, evened out the skin and covered imperfections while looking natural, I had a hard time deciding on a shade
  5. YSL Fusion Ink Foundation is yet another new one, I've heard nothing but great things about this, it's on my list to try out
  6. Giorgio Armani Fall has arrived, the Palette Yeux Organica Palette looks absolutely amazing, it's on hold for me at my local Neiman Marcus counter and I hope to pick it up in the next few days
  7. Jin Soon Choi collaborated with designer Tess Giberson to create five new nail colors, I ordered two and will share them soon, the five shades are Heirloom, Farrago, Mélange, Pistache and Nocturne, available now at Nordstrom and Space NK
  8. Tom Ford Fall has started to trickle in stores and has been selling out at lightening speeds. Today, some items have popped up online at Neiman Marcus including the Contouring Cheek Duos in Stroked and SoftcoreBlack Cherry Nail Lacquer, and Lip Colors in Negligee and Twist of Fate.
I have the Tom Ford and a couple JINsoon polishes to review soon. I ordered the Tom Ford Fall Collection from Saks NY after calling around several stores to find they had sold out and had wait lists going. Many have been asking me to rush the review and post it stat. I took about 1/2 of the pictures to review and my camera broke (heartbreak!!) before I could do swatches, it will take 3 weeks to get repaired so I purchased another camera which is on its way. I have some other items photographed and ready to publish in the mean time. I appreciate your patience. If you're thinking about the Tom Ford, I suggest you act fast. I've been testing it and the eye quad and cheek duos are a must if you don't want to wait for online items to show up, call your closest Tom Ford Counter or Boutique to place an order.



What's on your beauty radar this week?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Inside My Makeup Bag


Here is a peek at what I've had inside my makeup bag this week. The clear makeup bag is from Bobbi Brown which I found as a gift with purchase several years ago during a Neiman Marcus beauty event (for those looking for a clear makeup bag, a few other alternatives from MAC, Make Up For Ever, Sephora, Lulu).
  1. Chanel Les Beiges No. 20 for mid-day touch ups
  2. MAC Sharon Osbourne Refresh Mineralize Skinfinish Duo (still available at Macy's)
  3. Chanel Hydra Beauty Lip Balm (new for me, review soon)
  4. Jo Malone Grapefruit Cologne (mini from a gift with purchase)
  5. By Terry Ombre Blackstar in Misty Rock which I works alone on the lids, it's a medium pink shade with plum shimmer, I swipe directly from tube onto lids and then blend with the fingers
  6. Tom Ford Paradiso Lip Color Sheer (sold out most places, but still on tomford.com)
  7. Burberry Lip Glow Balm in Pink Peony
  8. MAC Brush #168SH (mini size discontinued)
  9. Marc Jacobs Overprotected Lust for Lacquer (love the tingle)
  10. YSL Kiss and Blush #3 Rose Libre still testing these out and figuring out to use these, I like them on the cheeks, for the lips, I'm still undecided
  11. Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm is a staple, love the clear finish, decent price and the unique scent of this one (see Malin + Goetz Los Angeles store feature here)
  12. Guerlain Maxi Lash Waterproof Mascara I rarely touch up with mascara in the middle of the day, but I sometimes carry one with me because in the mornings I typically am running out the door and have missed a few makeup steps before I leave the house, mascara and lips are usually the last two items I apply
  13. Diptyque Geranium Odorata is such a pretty soft floral, the roller ball tip makes it easy to apply quickly, I keep it in the velvet pouch it comes with (not shown above)
  14. NARS Andromeda Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow accidentally made it into the makeup bag this week, but I'm not complaining
To see the full contents of what has been in my bag most of this week, check out the post on Styled Notes. Hope you have a great Thursday! 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Jo Malone Silk Blossom Cologne | Limited Edition


Jo Malone has released a couple new fragrances this spring-summer. There are two new florals, Silk Blossom Cologne ($65 to $120) and Tuberose Angelica Cologne Intense ($145). Both are lovely soft feminine spring-summery scents. I opted for the Silk Blossom which I found to be more spicy and well rounded with a mix of spice, florals, apricots and hint of powder undertones. When you smell Silk Blossom by itself, it seems like a basic floral, but if you spray this and compare it to the Tuberose Angelica (more floral and clearly tuberose-ish) or even Peony Blush Suede (sweeter, simpler with a more youthful feel, on me this one turns a bit rubbery), you will notice that the Silk Blossom has more spice and complexity. It's hard to detect exactly what kind of floral notes there are since there is a blend of many notes. According to Jo Malone:
  • Top notes: White Pepper. Softer than black pepper, it diffuses elegant spiciness through the top notes.
  • Heart notes: Silk Blossom. Its fruity, peachy character and subtle green accent give the fragrance its enticing silky lightness. The heart of the fragrance is further enhanced by rose and jasmine petals.
  • Base notes: The verdancy of moss cushions the base of the fragrance in earthy, woody warmth.


I know many are fans of layering Jo Malone fragrances. I've mixed and layered a few on occasion but I prefer to wear them alone as is. That being said I've mixed my Silk Blossom with samples from gifts I've accumulated, I've found it blends well with Peony and Blush Suede and Orange Blossom.




Overall a winner in my book for spring and summer florals which seem to be taking over my fragrance routine these days. I find it lasts longer on me than most Jo Malone scents do and it fades nicely on the skin as it wears throughout the day. It doesn't turn sweet or bitter like some florals can.

I'm normally not drawn to such sweet florals, but these days I'm loving Dolce by Dolce and Gabbana, Diptyque Geranium Odorata and still going through Jo Malone Wild Bluebell.

Jo Malone Silk Blossom is a limited-edition scent. It comes in three options:


I've been contemplating the candle, however it seemed significantly sweeter in the store. The pink packaging is to die for but I have some Diptyque on my wish list right now. Silk Blossom is available while supplies last at Neiman MarcusNordstrom,  SaksSelfridges and Jo Malone.

Have you tried any of the new Jo Malone fragrances this summer? What are your favorites?



Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On My Radar / New In Beauty


I hope everyone is having a good week so far. I'm still trying to get used to the fact that we are already into the month of June. For some mid-week beauty cravings, here are some highlights on items on my radar and a sneak peek of what's coming out soon. Details from top left, clockwise.

MAC Pedro Lourenço will be released in stores and counters this Thursday. Items have been posted online early though and are selling out quickly. I was able to order the Nude Eyeshadow Quad ($44). I have my eye on Gold Mirror Lipglass and Mirror Lipglass ($16.50 each). I'll be trying to track these down this Thursday.

NARS is coming out with 12 new shades and formula of eyeshadow called Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow ($29 each) which have a unique wet or dry application formula. The colors range from delicate peach pink to fierce black orchid. These will be available for sale beginning July 1 at NARS boutiques and on narscosmetics.com along with a new eyeshadow brush. In the meantime NARS has created two videos for a preview. (For full color listing, check out The Non-Blonde.)
Burberry Summer Showers has arrived online at Burberry with three new colors of Nail Polish in Orange Poppy 221, Pink Peony 222, Pink Azalea 223 ($21 each). There are corresponding Lip Glow Balms and Fresh Glow Blushes as well to match each shade. These look like beautiful brights perfect for summer weather.

Jo Malone has a new Cologne Intense in Tuberose Angelica ($145). Being a huge fan of the other Cologne Intense fragrances, I'm eager to try this one out. My Jo Malone rep said it has already arrived in store, perfect timing for Neiman Marcus's Camp Gorgeous Event (June 5 through 15 or while supplies last, gift with purchases online and in stores).

Estee Lauder has a new mini collection out called Crystal Baby. There is a new Crystal Baby Nail Lacquer ($21), Crystal Baby Illuminating Powder Gelee ($40), Crystal Baby Pure Color Gloss ($24) and four shades of Crystal Lipstick ($26 each) in Crystal Baby, Crystal Blush, Crystal Doll and Crystal Innocence. I have three items to show you soon.

Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Balm in Sugar Rose is one of the classic pinks ($22.50 each). A new shade in Sugar Tulip has just been released. Sephora.com has an exclusive early release preview for purchase for those who are VIB Members. I ordered this last week and it just arrived. I can't wait to try it as it looks like a fresh pink.

What's on your radar this week? Did you order the MAC items when they went live online? Any other new or recent discoveries?


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Beauty Look Book Essentials | Face and Cheek Brushes


By popular request, I've gone through all my face and cheek brushes and picked out my favorites. I've been testing a number of brushes over many years (over a decade from my college days) and built my collection slowly over time. My experience with face brushes has been similar to that of my eye brushes. I started with a small handful of tools from Stila, Trish McEvoy and MAC. For many years I only had 4 face brushes and to this day I still think most can accomplish most of what you need for face makeup with a powder, blush, foundation and bronzing brush.

I've learned through makeovers, artist tips and a number of other blogs that there are a number of brushes with different materials, shapes, lengths and densities to help you apply your makeup better. I see face brushes like art tools - you probably need a few, but there are so many different kinds out there, they are fun to play with and experiment with.


The brushes I've picked are from more mainstream brands that are easily accessible. There are a number of makeup artist brushes that look and sound amazing from other blogs but I haven't ventured into the artist brands. I've broken down my favorites into three categories. Face powder, blush and contour, and creams.
For all over face powders, whether it's loose, pressed or powder foundation, I look for dense but soft brushes that will pick up product well and apply it evenly over the face. A more fluffy brush will give a sheerer application. I like larger ones that will cover your entire face with a few brush strokes.


  • MAC #134 ($53) is a brush that is currently only available at MAC stores/online but it has been released and re-released at other MAC counters numerous times, this is my favorite large flat powder brush, it's dense, soft and perfectly rounded tip for easy powder application.
  • MAC #129 ($35) is the ultimate multi-taskers, it can be used for powder, blush or contour, for those who prefer a smaller brush for more precise control or someone who wants one brush that can do multiple things, this is your best option.
  • Chanel Powder Brush #1 ($65) is a well-designed brush with a domed tip, the bristles are slightly stiffer than MAC but the Chanel is still very soft and picks up powder well, I like this also with pressed powders such as Les Beiges and Dolce & Gabbana's powder foundation because it applies powder evenly on the face.
  • Tom Ford Bronzer 05 ($115) is one that will break the bank but Tom Ford brushes are extremely well made, designed and deliver flawless makeup application. I purchased this as part of a brush set a couple holidays ago when they had a gift card event. This is the largest densest bronzer brush I've ever seen it feels like a soft kitten. If you look up reviews on this brush you will see it is well loved by many others (ie Café Makeup, RaeViewer, Temptalia)
  • Burberry Beauty Brush ($52) is my favorite short kabuki brush although a number of other brands are very similar in shape, size, material and feel. I purchased mine from Nordstrom although they don't stock it online at the moment. You can still find it at Burberry. I like this for powder or bronzer. The reason I prefer this one is the handle is square while most other brands are round. This fits perfectly in my hand and I find it easier to hold. (MAC and Chanel are very similar in how they perform.)
Many cheek brushes are multi-purpose and can be used for both cream or powder. I don't tend to use these for creams but I've had artists use these on me before for cream. I'm listing a number of brushes here that I love.


  • Tom Ford Cheek Brush 06 ($78) is a luxuriously soft blush brush, it picks up just the right amount of powder to apply color to the cheeks. As The Non-Blonde noted, this one is as plush as it gets. I find it perfect for Tom Ford blushes but works well with other brands. I personally don't like it with super pigmented matte blushes because it will pick up too much color (like some NARS or MAC mattes/brights). For most everything else this one is perfect.
  • Chanel Blush Brush #4 ($54) is one my smallest blush brushes. It's shaped and tapered in a way to layer blush easily. It's a softer less dense brush so it works for a lighter application. If you're one who likes to go easy on the blush but still wants to be able to control how much color goes on the face this is the best option.
  • MAC Duo Fibre Brush #187 ($42) is a classic must-have for highlighters. It's the perfect brush for those Mineralized Skinfinishes to swipe a light blend of shimmer over the cheeks. I've had artists use this with foundation and cream products as well. It's versatile and works well with any kind of highlighter whether it's pressed, loose, or cream.
  • MAC Brush #168 ($35) is a classic contouring brush. It's a good sturdy white hair brush with an angled tip. I find it medium-sized which makes it good for being able to control where you place the powder. It's also a good brush for blending around the face.
  • NARS Contour Brush #21 ($42) is a new brush from NARS, you can read my detailed review here, I usually don't like angled brushes because I am more comfortable with more traditional brushes, this one makes contouring easy especially for those who aren't pros at contouring (like myself).
  • MAC Brush Tapered Face Brush #138 ($53) is another harder-to-find brush, it's made a re-appearance on limited-edition collections at counters, you can still find directly from MAC. For me this is the ultimate contouring brush because it's shaped to place product right along the sides of the face where you want contour. It's specially designed to streamline and enhance the makeup technique of sculpting and shaping. Per MAC, "use the chiselled side for contour shaping of facial planes; the pointed tip for applying and blending powder blush, highlighter or face powder." It's another multi-functional brush that works well as a powder brush.

  • Tom Ford Cream Foundation Brush 06 ($72) is the ultimate blending brush for creams. If you ever try this at the Tom Ford counter they will demonstrate how it works with their foundation stick and blends the product on the face to perfection. With most brushes you will see some kind of streaks and still need blending with fingers or a sponge, the Tom Ford applies cream product (foundation or highlighter) streak-free.
  • Tom Ford Foundation Brush 01 ($72) is another cream brush designed to apply makeup streak-free. In my mind you don't need both 01 and 06 (although the Tom Ford counter convinced me otherwise). They both perform the same for either liquid or cream foundations. If you're trying to decide between one or the other, I would recommend 06 because it's more unique in shape. If you want a standard foundation brush you can find many cheaper options. I find it a staple in my weekly makeup routine. It cleans easily - I use Bobbi Brown's Brush spray cleaner after each use to lightly wipe it down but do a thorough washing after 2-3 uses.
  • Chanel Foundation Brush #6 ($45) is a classic foundation brush that is soft and applies foundation quite well. In my mind most foundation brushes are almost identical (i.e. MAC, Chanel, Prescriptives etc) in the bristles. The main difference is in the handle size. I like Chanel because it's shorter and easier to travel with. I still get streaks no matter what brush I use (with the exception of Tom Ford) but this one works very well.
  • MAC Duo Fibre Brush #187 ($42) is repeated from above, I like this for cream highlighters because it will cover a large area with fewer swipes. It also works well for blending harsh lines or edges.
For face brush storage, I love Muji Acrylic Holders but they aren't easy accessible for me and are often sold out online. I've used recycled candles from Jo Malone, Diptyque and Henri Bendel as alternatives. I also found clear jars from Crate and Barrel to be good for shorter brushes, tools or pencils. Stila and NARS Paint cans are also good for storing brushes if you are able to find them. Click on the Diptyque tag below for more storage ideas.


I usually use Neutrogena Body Wash to clean my brushes as the most economical method. I buy the large size at Costco which I use as a regular body wash anyways. I know many recommend baby shampoo but I always find it leaves a film on my brushes from the conditioning properties (might just be me). For those brushes that need extra work, I have three go-to's for cleaning brushes which include MAC Brush Cleanser, Bobbi Brown Brush Cleaning Spray and Brush Cleanser (review here). These tend to be on the pricey side so frequent usage of these cleansers isn't an option for me.

I realize this is a rather large and extensive list of brushes. You definitely do not need as many as I have collected over the years. I've been testing brushes for over a decade now (not to date/age myself) and have acquired them over time. Brush sets can be your most economical way to buy many at one time at a good price but those deal sets tend to be of lesser quality than individual brushes.

If I had to narrow my list down to my top picks these are what I'd narrow down my absolute essentials to: Chanel Blush #4, MAC Duo Fibre #187, MAC #134 or MAC #129, Tom Ford Cream Foundation 06, NARS Contour Powder #21.


I hope you found this brush guide helpful. The options can be overwhelming with all the shapes, sizes, materials and brands. To simplify your choices try thinking about what makeup products you gravitate towards in categories and whether it's a powder, cream or liquid. Pick one for each main category to start.

While tools can be used for multiple areas, having more than one brush helps keep your makeup application cleaner and easier. For example while a powder brush can also double as a bronzer brush, having one brush for each product will prevent you from mixing products and accidentally brushing bronzer all over the face from left over product if you dip it into powder and bronzer (I've done it before and my entire face was several shades darker than the rest of my body).


What are your must-have face brushes? I would really love to hear what your tried and true are, new discoveries or staples. Also if you want to share how you store your face brushes I'm all ears. Do you store them upright in containers or put them in a brush roll?



 

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