Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Whose steal? Whose splurge?

You can update your beauty stash for spring without breaking the bank

Best Bargain Beauty Buys
This is a budget products article
Have your lipstick and wear it too with this expert guide to scoring cheapie, hot-for-spring hair, skin and makeup products that rival the pricy prestige brands.

Friday, April 23, 2010

An interview with makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur A.J. Crimson, Part 1

AJ Crimson

Makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur AJ Crimson has worked on projects with many artists and celebrities, including Fergie (more about her in the interview), Sean "Diddy" Combs, and Missy Elliott. His work is featured in fashion and lifestyle magazines worldwide. He is also founder and designer of Kissable Couture, a line he founded in association with co-creator and business partner Keisha Whitaker.

Of all things I do on the blog, I derive the greatest satisfaction from interviewing makeup artists and other creatives in the beauty business.  I am pleased to present AJ's responses to my questions:

1. Could you tell our readers more about your life than what is provided on your website ( For example, where did you grow up? Several other makeup artists whom I’ve interviewed told me that growing up in a family of women fostered their interest in makeup. Did your family inspire your interest in makeup?

I grew up in Detroit, but think this may be common knowledge; I have quite a few siblings. Although I was raised as an only child for many years. I have a really great family who are a lot of fun! I have always been imaginative, creative, and analytical. So the mix of creativity and business comes natural to me. I never set out to be a makeup artist but I do believe it was and still is a natural progress for me when compared to the many positions I have held within the entertainment industry. It all plays a role in the overall goal to be one of the leaders in business to revolutionize a new way of execution and delivery of personal interest services.

2. Your website says that you were “creatively self-taught” in the art of makeup. Tell us how you got involved in makeup and taught yourself how to do makeup.

After working for years as an artist development assistant, I often found myself in an art directing capacity. In that role, I need to make sure the vision for the shoot or project was coming to life. This sometimes meant re shopping for the stylist or asking that makeup changes be made. Eventually I went on to work as a stylist then makeup where I found the most relaxation and peace. I was just creating in silence. I never really had to speak which was calming, I became better at it and it grew to be a passion of mine. To transform someone into a striking beauty is an amazing journey from start to finish. The key is allowing the person to still shine through. I really have mastered it. You will see the difference with and without makeup but you will always see the client’s true self.

3. What do you consider to be your first big break as a makeup artist?

The first job that I keyed was with Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas for “Where is the Love.” I learned so much on this project from negotiating fee, hiring hair and makeup staff, working on set, learning to please the artist and the label all at once. Sometimes it can be hectic because everyone has opinions on what the visual should be.

4. Which is your favorite: editorial, celebrity, or video? Why?

I would have to say my 10 page story in Vogue. What a great experience to be on set with the greats in fashion. Anne Leibovitz, Gucci Westman, Grace Coddington, Natalia Vodianova, and Sean “Diddy” Combs. I respect them all so much for their contributions. Their stories and legacy in the industry is living history. I was a part of that moment. My credit in inscribed in a piece of history.

In Part 2 of the interview, AJ talks more about Kissable Couture and his other activities.

An interview with makeup artist and beauty entrepreneur A.J. Crimson, Part 2

5. How did you enter into partnership with Keisha Whitaker (wife of Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Best Actor, Last King of Scotland) to form Kissable Couture?

I knew that I wanted to create something, I looked at my kit each day, and then it hit me. The product I spent the most money on for my clients was lipgloss. One day while I was sitting with Keisha I mentioned the idea, and she loved it. It wasn’t long after we began taking meetings to make it happen, and the rest is history. We launched in September of 2007.

6. What new launches from Kissable Couture might we expect in 2010? Are there plans to expand the number of retail outlets?

Kissable Couture has many line expansions in the works but it’s all about timing. We are entering to the QVC retail family which is an exciting time for our brand. We will continue to open in new stores across the country.

7. There is a placeholder for “A.J. Crimson” on your website for products you think that we should buy. Could you give us a sneak peak of the products you plan to sell under A.J. Crimson?

I opened a store called [Beauty Statements] by AJ Crimson which carries a collection of all things I love including moisturizer, hair care products, home must haves, and makeup of course. I also have a section called consignment and there are sure to be some unbelievable pieces there! It’s fun! It’s all an experience of what people tell me they need and love and think others should try or must have. I survive because of all the people that support me. With [Beauty Statements] by AJ CRIMSON we help each other out. It’s all about sharing.

8. What do you enjoy doing besides makeup?

I love lying in the park and watching the clouds. I also love the beach and definitely want to spend a month in Europe. Maybe Tuscany or Paris and learn to paint on canvas. I like spending time with close friends but I love to see my businesses grow. My passion is building businesses.

9. Lastly, could you share some of your favorite makeup tips with our readers?

I feel like I never have enough tips. Lol! Use mascara every day, use an eyelash curler, and don’t wear too much powder. Make sure you always have at least one tube of Kissable Couture in your purse. Everyone will want to know what you’re putting on your lips. It’s still a girl-in-the-know product and not everyone has one.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Beauty from Aldi

You have got to be joking! Aldi – the warehouse grocery store often situated in lower middle class neighborhoods where you bag your own? Believe it.

Aldi has exported Lacura Beauty from Germany to its U.S. stores (Aldi itself is headquartered in Germany). Lacura features a wide range of products, including foundation, compact powder, blush, lipstick, lip gloss, nail polish, and eye shadow duos: all at less than four dollars apiece. The products are contained in unpacked crates, so it can be difficult to find the shades you want.

I sampled Lacura lipsticks. These are emollient lipsticks: the principal ingredients are castor oil, candelila wax, and jojoba.

I love nude lips, but Cool Sand, a beige with shimmer, drained color from my lips and face. If you’ve dreaded red lipstick, then try Lacura lipstick in Red Velvet as your initial foray into red. A pricier option is Besame Cosmetics Enchanting lipstick in Merlot. Lacura also carries a lipstick in Deep Red, which I didn’t try.

Altogether, you can’t beat the price of Lacura, and there are some worthwhile options to look into.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Twi-hard with a vengeance

I started reading Harry Potter to understand what the phenomenon was all about. I also had the incentive that my nephew was reading the books, which would give me something to talk about with him on our overseas calls. After reading Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, however, I decided that I had enough and didn’t follow up on reading the other six books in the series.

Similarly, I began reading Twilight to understand what the phenomenon was all about. This time, however, I got sucked in (ouch!), and while I didn’t become a vampire, I certainly became a Twi-hard. Perhaps the appeal of Twilight was romance and courtliness. I took every coupon I had through Borders Rewards to buy the next installment.

What if you’ve read the entire Twilight Saga and want more?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Enter to win a Beautyblender gift set #in

Over time, I've raved about Beautyblender.  I use the rounded bottom to blend liquid foundation and the pointed end for detail work like blending concealer around the eye. Koren Zander of EnKore makeup even demonstrated how to apply loose powder mineral makeup with Beautyblender.  I've tried cheaper knockoffs from Sonia Kashuk and Sephora, but they can't compare to Beautyblender, especially for detail work.

I balked at buying Beautyblender for the longest time: $20.00 for a makeup sponge??? Curiosity, however, got the better of me, and I plunked down $20.00 to buy Beautyblender.  It's since become one of my favorite tools in my makeup closet.

The prize: One Beautyblender gift set

Have you also balked at buying Beautyblender?   Here's your opportunity to win a set containing not one, but two, Beautyblenders and 10 sachets containing its plant-based cleanser:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Acqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria

Bergamot is best known for giving Earl Grey tea its fragrance. It is actually a citrus fruit.

Bergamot from Franz Eugen Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen via Wikipedia

Bergamot is the fragrance that characterizes Bergamotto di Calabria, one of the fragrances in Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo collection. Bergamotto di Calabria uses two varieties of bergamot, one from Calabria’s Ionian coast and the other from Reggio Calabria. The quality of the bergamot used in Bergamotto di Calabria is guaranteed by a Protected Denomination of Origin.

Bergamotto di Calabria from Acqua di Parma's Blu Meditarraneo

Olfactory notes for Bergamotto di Calabria:

Top notes: bergamot and citrus
Heart notes: bergamot, cedar wood, and red ginger
Base notes: vetiver, Benzoin, and musk

Cedar wood, vetiver, Benzoin, and musk give Bergamotto di Calabria warmth and depth that one might not expect in a citrusy fragrance.

Other fragrances in Acqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo collection are:

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss

Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Lip Gloss

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss is long-lasting lip color that comes in a dual-end tube. One end contains lip color with a self-contained sponge wand applicator, while the other end contains lip gloss with a self-contained brush applicator.

The lip color works similarly to L’Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail Lipcolour. You apply the color and wait two minutes for the color to dry down and set. I noticed a numbing sensation once the color had set.

After the lip color has set, you may apply the lip gloss. The lip gloss is a tinted crystal lip gloss that is sticky and very thick in consistency.

Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss performs as well as L’Oreal Paris Infallible Never Fail Lipcolour, but I like L’Oreal Paris’s product better for its standout packaging and untinted lip balm.

A representative for Rimmel London sent me Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss for review. Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kiss & Stay Gloss comes in 12 shades: I received Enduring Love, a shade of rose.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Asian Beauty

From Sandra Oh to Lucy Liu, these celebrities know how to play up their Asian beauty

One thing all Asian women do have in common? The ability to look absolutely stunning. These stars show off their radiant skin, pouty lips, flirty lashes and smoldering eyes, and here we'll give you the scoop on the makeup techniques they use.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Most God-Awful product that I've tried

Bye Bye Pores HD Silk Micro-Powder by It Cosmetics has got to be the most god-awful product I've tried. This powder is so opaque that I felt that I was wearing a mask. Although it contains ingredients beneficial for the skin, I found it drying.

Bye Bye Pores HD Silk Micro-Powder

Talc gets a bad rap, but talc-based finishing powders work better than Bye Bye Pores and don't obscure my complexion.  If you want to use a talc-free HD powder, I recommend Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder. Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder is a favorite of beauty editors and makeup enthusiasts and justifiably merits its hype.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Who wins our giveaways?

Our winners come from across the U.S. and Canada!

Our latest winner is Lisa from Missouri, who won the JK Jemma Kidd fashion junkie eye palette and lip palette.

Ann from California won the Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation.

Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation

Zara from North Carolina won the L'Oreal Paris Big Blowout Giveaway.

Ashley from New York won the beautiful Areaware Desk Accessory Set made from naturally harvested mahogany and sonokeling wood.

Caramel Diva from Florida won the Beauty Strokes Mineral Optics brush collection. See pictures of her Beauty Strokes Mineral Optics brush collection and read her comments!

Christie from Ohio won the Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar collection.

We had two winners for Delirium & Co scented candles: Rachel from Minnesota and Robyn from Indiana.

We had three winners for Three Custom Color Specialists Mood Lighting Shimmer Cremes: Irene from Canada; Margaret, also from Canada; and Tammi from Ohio

Becky from Illinois won the 12-piece brush collection from Beauty Strokes.

The fine print: Thanks to all company representatives who donated products for our giveaways!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Best drugstore mascaras

We had the best mascaras at all price points, now we have the best drugstore mascaras. It makes sense when mascara needs to be replaced frequently.

These products feel like splurging -- minus the high price tag

11 Best Drugstore Mascaras
Are you a mascara fanatic? We are too. However, that doesn't mean we'll drop lots of cash on high-end mascaras (well, OK, it does, but we don't JUST do that). Especially when there are these cheap-but-awesome ones out there. Check them out, and say good-bye to your $20-a-tube days.

Sam Fine recommends L'Oreal Voluminous Mascaraicon as an inexpensive option.

P&G is ceasing to distribute Max Factor in the U.S., but you can find its top-rated Stretch & Separate Waterproof Mascaraicon and Volume Couture Mascaraicon at

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

More winter skin care advice - face

This article is a follow-on to recent articles on caring for the lips and overall skin care in winter.

Experts often recommend a richer moisturizer in winter time, but you might want to use it on dry patches only. Hydrocortisone cream can minimize redness and relieve dry patches, but be sparing: repeated use over time will thin the skin.

I use The Solution by Envision Beauty as an overnight moisturizer. I reviewed this light weight lotion back in April 2009, and my appreciation of this product has only grown since I posted my review. This is one of the few product samples I’ve received that I have used to the bottom of the bottle and went out to purchase afterwards!

I appreciate that Kimberly Snyder revealed that many cosmetics companies spread skin care ingredients among several products, such as moisturizers and serums. The Solution is designed to be a 4-in-1 product: still, the $75 price tag per bottle is too steep for my budget. I took advantage of a recent BOGO promotion to replenish my supply.

While the bottle recommends 2-3 pumps, I find that a single pump works well, even for my dry skin. This also helps to conserve precious product.

Aside from product, I also run a vaporizer in my room, particularly during the night. You might also hang damp clothes taken from the washing machine or lay damp sweaters on a sweater dryer to humidify the air.

In a subsequent post, I’ll provide tips about body care and hand care during winter.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Best and worst magazine covers of 2009

These images certainly caught our eyes at the grocery store, how about you?

This year gave us some really amazing magazine covers -- and a few that left us scratching our heads in confusion. Check out our picks for the best and worst magazine covers of 2009 -- did your faves make the list?

Guess which was among the worst magazine covers?

While not necessarily bad-bad, the February 2009 issue of Allure came in for criticism on account of Stephane Marais's applying a fake bake tan to fair-complected redhead Isla Fisher.

Happy New Year

Happy new year 2010 friendster Glitter Comments