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Monday
Nov092015

Aftelier Vanilla Smoke Perfume

As commercial fragrances often use synthetic vanilla in their formulations, I've never liked anything made with it. However, the new Vanilla Smoke from Aftelier Perfumes totally changed my mind about the inclusion of this precious spice.

The unisex fragrance opens with the bold smokiness of lapsang souchong, but it soon tempers down to offer up the lusicious Madagascan vanilla. A seductive invitation in itself, the masterful addition of Siam wood, yellow mandarin, saffron and ambergris balance it out, resulting in a sexy perfume like no other. Like a true love affair, the more I indulge in it, the more I fall in love with it. All in all, another thoughtful and elegant creation from the amazing Mandy Aftel. 

Available in Liquid Perfume (1/4 oz, $180), Eau de Parfum (1 oz, $180) and Miniature Perfume (2 ml, $50) at www.aftelier.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Thursday
Nov052015

SK-II Power Brightening Specialist

SK-II skincare devotees will be interested in the new Power Brightening Specialist. It's designed to suppress melanin that's both visible and underneath the skin surface. Along with their signature Pitera essence, this serum includes a proprietary combo of YPC, oats and dipotassium glycyrrhizinate to prevent future age spot formation. Brightening agents De-melano P3C® and inositol are also included to break up stubborn existing melanin areas. 

The non-tacky lotion goes under your preferred day cream perfectly. As I have mild pigmentation, I feel one dropper is enough even though the instructions say to use two. Used day and night, I'm sure my complexion will be extra gorgeous in no time.

Available in 1 oz and 1.7 oz sizes ($140-$205) at www.sk-ii.com, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom.

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Tuesday
Nov032015

Seven Beef

Seven Beef, the newest restaurant from Sophie and Eric Banh, opened last month with great fanfare. The gorgeous steakhouse specializes in dry-aged beef from local producer Heritage Meats as well as a modern version of Bò 7 Món, a Vietnamese seven-course beef dinner ($35/person). 

Image credits: Geoffrey Smith

Steak is the main star but the seafood dishes are worth a try. The oysters with green apple foam ($12) is a light and refreshing way to start the evening. Depending on what's available, you'll get select Penn Cove or Kussi oysters. In fact, if you like seafood the majority of the appetizer selection is geared towards the fruits of the sea.

Steamed clams with turmeric, coconut milk, galangal, chorizo ($12).

Large parties can partake in the 48-ounce Côte de Boeuf ($120) or the 38-ounce Porterhouse ($99). The menu also features a Seven Seas Stew ($24) and Grilled Half Chicken ($21) if you're not in the mood for red meat.

Burnt acorn squash with goat cheese, mint and arugula ($12).

Definitely make room for dessert. The signature Valrhona 72% dark chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting will tempt your sweet tooth, as well as an assortment of French macarons (special order only, $2-3 each). We tasted the foie gras, nutella and caramel flavors and all are equally divine.

For reservations and more info, go to www.sevenbeef.com.

For editorial consideration, a press visit was provided by the restaurant.

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Friday
Oct302015

Immunocologie Eye Contour Serum & Exfoliating Lotion

I haven't tried Immunocologie in a long time and it looks like the skincare line has reformulated their entire product line. I was interested in their Eye Contour Serum ($145) as I needed major help to pep up the tired-looking eye area.

Ulva Lactuca, a potent seaweed, provides a slew of amino acids to synthesize collagen production. Within minutes of application I can feel a tightening effect, lifting up the skin contour. The serum also contains their Vital Oligo Complex and nourishing oils of baobab and dessert date. 

I also tried the Exfoliating Lotion ($150), which totally replaces my need to use an exfoliating mask. Suitable for all skin types, the gentle lactic and glycolic acids remove dead skin without stripping the top skin layer. I have fairly sensitive skin and the reaction wasn't too bad. I only got mild redness for about 20-30 minutes so I'd only use it at night. You can also leave it on if you want extra exfoliating benefits. If you use it in the morning be sure to use sunscreen!

As there aren't yucky preservatives in their products, Immunocologie products should be used up within six months. To learn more: www.immunocologie.com.

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Wednesday
Oct282015

TATCHA Pore Perfecting Sunscreen SPF 35

TATCHA skincare launched their much-anticipated SILKEN Pore Perfecting Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 35 ($68, 60ml) earlier this summer and I have to say it's pretty fabulous as a makeup primer. Ilooks thick when you squeeze it from the tube, but fear not — the creamy formula spreads out smoothly and evenly. The lightweight, non-greasy texture didn't have the noticeable slip like most silicone-based primers and you don't need much product either. I also didn't see white streaking nor a pale cast, which is another bonus.

Fortified with healing extracts of Japanese wild rose, loquat leaf, licorice root, silk, algae, and green tea, the light moisturizing finish is ideal for those with normal skin. There is a light sunscreen scent so if you're really sensitive to that you should try the travel size version before fully committing. So far I'm enjoying this latest Tatcha offering and it makes sunscreen application a pleasure instead of a chore!

Available at www.tatcha.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Thursday
Oct222015

Dolce & Gabbana Fall 2015 Makeup

Dark purple and light pink seem to rule the Dolce & Gabbana #dglovesfall makeup collection, but you also get glimpses of classic red, blue grey, golden brown and royal blue within the seasonal palette. 

The star product, the Smooth Eye Colour Quad ($62) in Fall Harvest 172, is a colorful way to celebrate autumn. A combo of matte and satin textures, each shade provides 8-hour wear. The purple-red shade is actually flattering as an accent but I'd also double it as a blush; the purple and blue grey go beautifully together.

The Perfect Mono Cream Eye Colour ($37) offers three new eyeshadow shades: Zambia Beige 125, Antique Rose 35, and Leo Brown 47. Zambia Beige is an intense chocolate brown with micro gold shimmer; it's gorgeous for a quick smoky eye but you have to work quickly before it sets in. I also like soft creaminess of Antique Rose—this one will also double nicely as a blush. The formula offers up to 12 hours wearing time and it even held up nicely when I was stuck in a rainstorm. 

Perfect Mono in Zambia Beige 125.

Perfect Mono in Antique Rose 35.

Three new shades of the Classic Cream Lipstick ($34.50) are available in Antique Rose 232, Purple Passion 317, and Red Royal 622. The Antique Rose looks more like a cool pale pink with a hint of violet while Purple Passion is great for those who want to rock a gothic lip, which is so ideal for Halloween.

Classic Cream Lipstick in Antique Rose 232.Classic Cream Lipstick in Purple Passion 317.

To add more purple on your lips, the Intense Colour Gloss ($32) comes in Purple Passion 157. 

As for nails, four limited edition shades of Intense Nail Lacquer ($27) are available in Jaipur Blue 716, Tahitian Grey 712, Antique Rose 222 and Red Royal 640.  

Intense Nail Lacquer in Jaipur Blue 716.

Intense Nail Lacquer in Tahitian Grey 712.

Royal Red 640.
Available at www.saksfifthavenue.com, Nordstrom and other D&G Beauty counters. 

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Monday
Oct192015

Aftelier Organic Jasmine Face Elixir

Mandy Aftel, parfumeur extraordinaire of Aftelier Perfumes, just introduced a gorgeous and intoxicating Organic Jasmine Face Elixir. This exquisite face oil is so fragrant I could probably double it as a perfume oil. Featuring the alluring and sexy jasmine sambac, Mandy sources this precious floral essence from a small Indian grower. 

I swoon each time I smell this elixir. The healing and lightweight formula contains restorative plant oils of rosehip, rice bran, camellia, grapeseed, apricot kernel, squalene and sweet almond. Like her amazing honeysuckle elixir, this one will promote amazingly sweet and restful dreams. Jasmine lovers should really put this on their beauty wishlists. I only wish it was available in a larger bottle—I'd bathe myself with this if I could!

Available for $65 (15ml) at www.aftelier.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Tuesday
Oct132015

NARS Steven Klein Fantascene Holiday Makeup

NARS teamed up with iconic fashion photographer Steven Klein to create the Fantascene holiday makeup collection. An even blend of wearable and bold shades, the 13 fashion-forward colors come together in a modern palette that won't scream holiday.

Killer Shine Lipstick in Redemption.

The luxuriously creamy limited edition Killer Shine Lipstick ($29) boasts a lustrous sheen. Both Redemption, a metallic pink champagne, and Besame Mucho, a rose beige, are fairly opaque and easy to wear for light-to-medium skin tones. I like to layer Redemption on top of Besame Mucho for a more subtle effect but both are super fab with a thick cat eye. 

Killer Shine Lipstick in Besame Mucho.

As you've probably guessed from the name, the Killer Shine Lip Gloss ($28) is also a new, limited edition formula. Fast Life looks like an iridescent raspberry pink on the tube but on my lips it's fairly subdued, making it an awesome neutral option to wear year-round. The non-tacky lacquer finish is awesome if you're looking for that ultra shiny glaze look. I also think this one will sell out in no time.

Fast Life Killer Shine Lip Gloss.

I love dark green eyeshadows, so the Never Too Late Single Eyeshadow ($25) stole my heart. The muted olive green comes with a very subtle gold shimmer that is barely noticeable upon application. There isn't any fallout so that makes it extra lovable. It does fade a tiny bit after 8 hours, but primer should fix that issue.

I'm also obsessed with the new Nail Polish ($20) shades. Night Creature is a deep metallic purple; it looks a bit darker with two layers than the product image. Hard To Get, a metallic gunmetal bronze, is the perfect answer if you want a touch of grunge without resorting to black. 

Night Creature Nail Polish.

Hard To Get Nail Polish.

The NARS Steven Klein holiday collection is available at www.narscosmetics.com and will be available at all NARS counters on November 1. 

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Wednesday
Oct072015

Autumn Chocolates from Recchiuti

There's always something wonderful to look forward to whenever Recchiuti Confections rolls out their holiday treats. The seasonal Citrus Box ($26; 9 pieces) is one of the best small batch collections I've tasted from the artisan chocolate brand.

It includes a marvelously delicate strawberry pate de fruit, which is layered with candied grapefruit peel. The lemon truffle is beyond exquisite; white chocolate honey ganache, black pepper and lemon peel paste come together to form a culinary revelation. Lastly, the aromatic orange truffle features 70% dark chocolate and candied orange peel. It's a bit more subdued than the lemon but is just as sophisticated. Get your box soon as this one will likely sell out before Thanksgiving.

The Whooligan Box ($21; 8 pieces) just launched this week. A Halloween favorite, these burnt caramel truffles bring a sweet start to the holiday season. You won't be able to resist these adorable owls, especially when you see them in person! The Whooligans are available through the end of the month.

The super limited edition Shiitake Caramels ($8; 4 pieces) are currently sold out online, but you might be able to score a box at the SF Ferry Building store. Partnering with Far West Fungi, the shiitake gives a subtle, earthy note to a buttery caramel base. 

To shop Recchiuti's autumn chocolates: www.recchiuti.com

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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Monday
Oct052015

Clarins Super Restorative Remodelling Serum

Mature skin gets a new multi-purpose treatment with the Clarins Super Restorative Remodelling Serum ($136). The plant-based formula is designed to lift facial contours along with addressing aging fibroblasts, fatigued skin, and hormonal changes.

A trio of powerful plant actives makes this serum a must-try for the 50+ set. Narrow-leaf plantain defines facial contours by preventing hollowing, sagging and volume loss; organic harungana replenishes skin density and reduces deep wrinkles. Organic Montpellier rock-rose visibly reduces the appearance of dark spots.

Organic oat polyoses are added to tighten the skin while tetrapeptide prevents skin thinning by encouraging cell renewal. During a 4-week satisfaction trial with 377 women, 77% of testers felt that their skin looked less tired while 85% thought that the serum was effective. 

Available at www.clarinsusa.com and all Clarins counters.

For editorial consideration, review product was provided by the brand.

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