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Thursday
Jun192014

Clarins Lip Balm Crayons

Just in time for summer, the new Clarins Lip Balm Crayons are an easy and quick way to look polished for any outdoor party. These fun retractable lip crayons are packed with mango butter and shea butter to add a creamy layer of moisture to parched lips. 

Clarins Lip Balm Crayon in 01 My Pink.

I absolutely love the My Pink shade. It looks pretty clear upon application but after a few minutes it will react with your pH to create your personal shade of pink. Mine was a delicate candy pink. Out of the six available shades, I found this one to have the shiniest finish. Creamy Pink has a tiny hint of coral and seems to look ever-so-slightly matte. Sweet Cherry, a bright red, has a lovely lip gloss sheen. Delicious Plum is actually a gorgeous raspberry shade. 

Clarins Lip Balm Crayon in 05 Sweet Cherry. 05 Delicious Plum.From top: My Pink, Sweet Cherry, Creamy Pink and Delicious Plum.

Available for $20 each at www.clarinsusa.com and all Clarins counters. 

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
Jun112014

Amala Skincare

I was curious about Amala after The Spa at Four Seasons Seattle started carrying their skincare. Soon after, I got a chance to try two of their top products. Using only whole plants and certified organic ingredients to maximize efficacy, Amala is a results-driven skincare line. The brand also works with a network of fair trade farmers to ensure a sustainable environment and a fair livelihood.

Made for dry skin, the gentle Rejuvenating Cleansing Milk ($80) contains cocoa bean, brazil nut and andiroba seed to nourish and revive dehydrated skin. The formula is unusually moisturizing and is especially wonderful for sensitive skin. I don't need toner at all when I use this cleanser and the light floral scent has notes of cocoa and vanilla to calm the senses.

To maintain a youthful complexion the Rejuvenate Treatment Oil ($186) is a fantastic option. This oil contains a potent blend of plant seed oils to repair and restore moisture to aging skin. Cocoa bean, one of the star ingredients, helps improve elasticity and reduce inflammation. Andiroba seed rebuilds the skin's moisture barrier with essential fatty acids while amarant seed stimulates cell renewal for increased radiance. It's quite concentrated so I only use a few drops mixed into my serum. I have tried many face oils but this one adds a noticeable suppleness after only several days of usage.

Available at www.amalabeauty.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Friday
Jun062014

Lanvin Shoe Sale

Lanvin is having a spring sale and there's still time to snag a pair of their comfortable ballet flats or wedge pumps at 30-40% off regular prices. Here are a few summer-worthy picks:

Yellow Snakeskin Pointed-Toe Pump, $599 (originally $895) at Neiman Marcus.Mint Patent Ballet Flat $299 (originally $495) at Barneys New York.

Strappy Open Toe Sandal in Mastic/White/Gold $419 (originally $695) at Barneys New York.

Fuchsia Ballerina Wedge Pump $465 (originally $695) at Neiman Marcus.

 Blue/Dark Teal Low-Cut Side Pump $419 (originally $695) at Barneys New York.

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Tuesday
Jun032014

Nectar Essences - New Products

I have always loved the aromatherapy products from Nectar Essences. Made with 100% therapeutic grade essential oils and flower essences, there is a natural remedy for alleviating many ailments from insomnia to sinus congestion. Most importantly, they're very effective, safe and easy to use for everyone, even for kids.

The company just revamped their entire product line. I tried the Jetsetter kit, a travel-friendly trio of the Energy, Mood-boost, Super Immunity and Sleep oil blends. The zingy Energy, Mood-Boost formula addresses jet lag while the lavender based Sleep promotes restful slumber. I really like the Super Immunity blend — I found myself using this one many times during my recent trips to ward off germs on the plane and other public spaces. 

You can also get these remedies in a full-size retail bottle. I would definitely get the Super Immunity and De-stress, Unwind blends for daily home use. 

Available at www.nectaressences.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Thursday
May222014

Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick - New Shades

Dolce & Gabbana just launched 20 new shades of their popular Classic Cream Lipstick. Available in a wide selection of nudes, pinks, purples, oranges and bold reds, you'll certainly find the right shade for every mood and occasion.

Monica Bellucci for the D&G Classic Cream Lipstick campaign.

Like the original shades, the ultra creamy and opaque formula boasts a long wear time, keeping lips very comfortable and well moisturized. Every color I've tried is intensely pigmented with strong, saturated hues. The signature powdery rose scent is still there, evoking old world luxury and refinement.

D&G Classic Cream Lipstick in new shade Daring 310.

Keeping in line with spring and summer trends, the new Chic 230, a warm raspberry, is flattering on most skin tones. Daring 310, another new option, is a dark orchid that's ideal for a sexy date night. Those devoted to bright reds will fall in love with Fire 610, a fire engine hue. For a goth look Dahlia 320, a dark burgundy, will fit the bill. 

Dahlia 320.

D&G Classic Cream Lipstick in new shade Chic 230.

Fire 610.

All 20 new shades are available ($33 each) at Sephora.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Monday
May192014

Stones Throw

On a recent visit to San Francisco, I dined at Stones Throw, the newest restaurant in the Russian Hill neighborhood. Already a major hit with the locals, I was looking forward to trying out their California-American driven menu.

Puffed Potato & Egg (Credit: Stones Throw).

Located in the former Luella space, the management had a fairly tough act to follow. However, with Chef Jason Halverson at the helm and a team of stellar talent from Michael Mina and SPQR, the entire evening was filled with imaginative dishes and gracious professionalism. 

The playful Puffed Potato & Egg and refreshing Crispy Tomato Cream Wafers were a fun way to start the meal. The Squid Ink Conchiglie was easily one of the best pasta dishes I've had here, and that's a major accomplishment in a city filled with amazing pasta. The spicy capers added a crucial punchiness, which fired up the palate to ecstatic heights. 

Squid Ink Conchiglie (Credit: Stones Throw).

The Octopus Okonomiyaki was just mind-blowing. Laced with bacon dashi and spicy turnips, the tender octopus was grilled to smoky perfection. The accompanying seafood pancake came with three different condiments, which only added more allure to the unique presentation.

Octopus Okonomiyaki (Stones Throw).

As for entrees, the Crispy 38 North Duck Breast & Crispy Taquito was excellent. For vegetarians, the Toad in the Hole Lasagna with mushroom duxelles, asparagus, green garlic and confit egg yolk was a sublime, richly layered option.

Toad in the Hole (Credit: Stones Throw).

The lovely folks at Stones Throw kindly shared some extra treats, including the highly creative Not Your Grandma's Apple Pie — a deconstructed version of the classic dessert. Spiced maple panna cotta melded perfectly with apple granita, diced apple and cigar wafer. The textures were modern and different, yet the flavors remained comfortingly familiar. 

Not Your Grandma's Apple Pie (Credit: Stones Throw).

Not surprisingly, the Peanut Butter & Jelly Donuts were a big hit. Fluffy pillows of fried dough nestled among tiny mounds of peanut butter cream and grape jelly. We were already full, but it was difficult to resist this sweet temptation. In the end, we succumbed and gave in wholeheartedly. 

Peanut Butter & Jelly Donuts (feteafete.com).To make a reservation, go to stonesthrowsf.com

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Friday
May162014

Lady O Shoes

If you love flowers as much as I do, you probably want to wear them on your shoes from time to time. I recently discovered the gorgeous Lady O shoes, which are made with colorful pressed flowers. Each shoe features a unique floral design so no two shoes are alike.

Lady O Full Bloom slingback platform sandals ($338).

Dried flowers are meticulously chosen, arranged, and applied to the shoes by hand. The inner sole is also lined with shock-absorbent Poron memory foam and breathable Italian kid leather to provide maximum comfort to the wearer. 

Floral Power Raffia ($268).

I got to try on both Floral Power Raffia and Flower Power Patent styles. These peep toe wedge heels were so pretty and feminine it was hard to narrow down to just one style. I ultimately chose the Floral Power Raffia as it's more versatile for my wardrobe. The 2-inch wedge heel is also comfortable enough to wear around for several hours. An ideal shoe for casual outfits, it's also a showstopper with any summer dress. Whether you wear them for a date, a luncheon or an outdoor wedding, it will draw many compliments. 

Check out more Lady O styles at www.shopladyo.com. Free shipping and returns are included. 

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
May142014

NARS Lip Gloss - New Formula

NARS lip gloss lovers can now indulge in more shades with their new formulation. Available in 30 luscious hues (including 7 new ones), the texture is silkier, way less sticky and glides easily on the lips. I also like the fact that it's scent-free, so those who are sensitive to any scent will like this new formula.

The packaging gets a revamp as well — it contains a doe-foot applicator for better application and the clear tube provides improved color visibility. 

Orgasm & Ophelia lip gloss shades.

 

Orgasm, a flattering peachy pink with shimmer, is always a cult favorite, but I also love Stella, a flirty raspberry that gives the lips a pretty jolt of color. Istria, a sheer baby pink, is great for a minimal daytime look. Ophelia, a shimmery strawberry, matches my natural lip color but it has a bit more warmth and pigment than Istria.

NARS Istria & Stella lip gloss.

 

Available at www.narscosmetics.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Wednesday
Apr302014

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is coming up soon — have you located the perfect gift to surprise your beloved mom? If not, the following options will make her smile: 

Dolce & Gabbana's latest fragrance, Dolce, is a gentle scent that features white flowers. Fresh neroli leaves blend with the full-bodied white amaryllis, white water lily and bold white daffodil. The floral eau de parfum is housed in a vintage-inspired flacon with a beautiful flower stopper. $70-$112 (1-2.5 fl. oz.); www.sephora.com.

A cult skincare favorite, the Shu Uemura Mika Anti/Oxi Skin Refining Cleansing Oil contains moringa and green tea extracts to remove environmental impurities from the skin. Dewy, bright skin can be achieved with daily use. For a limited time, the 15.2 fl. oz. bottle design features Mika Ninagawa's artwork. $77; www.shuuemura-usa.com.

The excellent Chalk Hill 2012 Estate Chardonnay will add a touch of elegance to any Mother's Day brunch. Filled with aromas of limes, peaches, toasted almonds and orange blossoms, it has a long, rich finish. $45; www.chalkhill.com

Twig & Thorn's lovely Fishbone Gold Bracelet will bring a chic and unusual accent to Mom's wardrobe. $150; twigthorn.com.

 

Treat Mom to the healing Eminence Apricot Calendula Nourishing Cream and she'll thank you. Not too rich nor too light, it's a great transition cream for spring and summer. $68; eminenceorganics.com.

Who can resist anything from Recchiuti Confections? The Mother's Day Truffles box contains 9 pieces of their popular Lemon Verbena, Lavender Vanilla, and Tarragon Grapefruit flavors. $26; www.recchiuti.com

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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Friday
Apr252014

NARS Iraklion Soft Touch Shadow Pencil

Another pretty item from the NARS Adult Swim collection, the Iraklion Soft Touch Shadow Pencil is a neutral smoky quartz that exhibits a touch of mauve. Perfect for daytime looks, it doesn't have the same holding power as the Malacca eyeshadow, but both pair together beautifully. By itself it started to crease after a few hours, but using primer as a base should fix the issue. 

Available for $25 at www.narscosmetics.com.

For editorial consideration, review samples were provided by the brand's PR representative.

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