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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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Thursday
Oct012015

Deborah Lippmann Holiday Nail Polish

Fall may have started last week, but that means the holiday beauty collections are now rolling out! Deborah Lippmann just launched the Undressed — Shades of Nude nail lacquer collection, a 6-piece set going for $34. A chic and minimalist way to streamline your nail looks for fall/winter, the full-coverage creme shades include Flesh For Fantasy (alabaster nude), Totally Nude (fair pink nude), Born This Way (peach nude), Bare It All (mauve nude), Natural Woman (almond nude), and Skin Deep (sable nude).

Also launching this month, the Roses in the Snow ($15) 2-piece nail lacquer set combines Modern Love, a classic mauve, with the glittery Some Enchanted Evening. If you're planning ahead of the holiday shopping rush, keep this in mind as a stocking stuffer idea. Like all other Deborah Lippmann products, this set is 5-free and contains biotin and green tea extract to improve nail health. 

Both Deborah Lippmann sets are available at www.deborahlippmann.com, Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom and Barneys New York.

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

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Tuesday
Sep222015

NARS Pro Palettes

NARS devotees everywhere are rejoicing with the arrival of the Pro Palettes. Available in two sizes, you can customize your entire makeup collection with 64 popular shades of blush, highlighting blush, contour blush, eyeshadow (single and duo), pressed powder and bronzing powder.

The small palette is perfect for travel and can fit about 10 product shades; the large one can fill up to 18, less if you get lots of blush or bronzer. I got to build my own custom palette, which you can see below. I filled mine with neutral and wearable shades that I can use for any occasion. I can't wait to bring this along on my trips! 

Can't decide on which colors to get? You can also get the curated Artist Palettes. I'm swooning over the Cheek Palette ($203) from NARS International Makeup Artist Uzo. I was lucky enough to meet her in San Francisco many years ago and I LOVE her amazing energy and talent. 

Uzo's Cheek Palette ($203).

The Pro Palettes are available for $14-$18. Color refills are $18-$30. To purchase: www.narscosmetics.com.

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

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Wednesday
Sep162015

REBBL Herbal Elixirs

I've been on a hunt for dairy-free drinks and REBBL Super Herb Elixirs are the perfect pick-me-up. Containing potent levels of adaptogenic herbs, each coconut milk-based beverage is designed to energize and nourish the body without the bad stuff. They're also relatively low in calories, which makes this a no-brainer. 

Being a chocoholic, Maca Mocha and Reishi Chocolate are the obvious favorites. It's like drinking organic chocolate milk! The creamy coconut milk retains the rich mouthfeel of milk, but you won't taste any coconut flavor. They give me enough energy to power through the day without the coffee jitters. I also enjoyed the Ashwagandha Chai but I detected a bitter aftertaste.

REBBL just launched three new elixir flavors: Matcha Latte, Maca Cold-Brew and Turmeric Golden-Milk. The Matcha Latte is not too sweet and has a mild tea flavor; the texture isn't as decadent as Maca Mocha or Reishi Chocolate but it's still lovely. The Maca Cold-Brew coffee is a great option if you're going dairy-free with your caffeine fix. Alas, the gingery Turmeric Golden-Milk has great potential but the bottle I got had an unusually gummy texture. 

Available for $3.99 at Whole Foods, PCC and Central Co-op. For more info: www.rebbltonic.com

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

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Thursday
Sep102015

Eminence VitaSkin Exfoliating Peels

Exfoliation fiends, you're in luck. Eminence just launched a line of VitaSkin Exfoliating Peels for at-home use. Each results-oriented kit comes with a packet of cotton pads and a specific formula to address all skin conditions (mature, pigmentation, acne, and sensitive).

I got to try the Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel, which is really soothing for my over-exposed skin. Just pump the solution twice with a cotton pad, then gently swipe it all over. No need to rinse! I didn't get any tingling or redness so this will be my go-to peel. I often get lazy about traditional exfoliating products so the no-rinse formula is really convenient. 

The Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel is excellent. I do get a bit of redness from using this one but my skin feels soooo smooth and soft. Like the Calm formula, it contains lactic and mandelic acids to promote cellular turnover while licorice root, daisy blossom, and their Natural Hydroquinone Alternative (tara tree and African potato) help brighten the complexion. I would probably use this once a week but normal skin can use it 2-3 times per week. Since these peels contain AHAs, definitely use sunscreen and try to limit sun exposure! 

Each kit retails for $79. For product availability: eminenceorganics.com.

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

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Tuesday
Sep082015

W3LL PEOPLE Expressionist Mascara & Universalist Multi-Sticks

After months of hearing about the buzz on W3LL PEOPLE I finally got to try their famous Expressionist Bio-Extreme Mascara ($23.50). Free of petroleum, parabens, coal tar and aluminum, this gentle mascara could be a game changer if you're looking for something with less chemicals. 

I saw great volume and length for a natural day look. Three coats seem to be the max to avoid clumping. The wand can smear the eyelid if you're not careful (I have short Asian lashes) but you can clean it off easily if you act quickly. It stayed on for over 12 hrs with minimal flaking and smudging, which is way awesome. It also removes easily with cleansing oil and can hold a curl quite well. In essence, this is the best result I've had so far from testing natural mascaras. 

Universalist Multi-Stickin 1 Creamy Pink, luminous finish.

I also tried a few shades of the Universalist Multi-Sticks ($34.50). Shade 7 (Creamy Peony, matte finish) is a highly pigmented warm pink so I'd use it sparingly on the cheeks. I also like to mix it with the flattering number 8 (Dusty Rose, matte) for a custom lip color. Universalist 1 (Creamy Pink, luminous finish) seemed a tad easier to blend out and has a luminous, more sheer texture.
Universalist in 8 Dusty Rose.

These color sticks are non-drying on the lips and you only need 1-2 swipes on the cheeks for a natural flush. It seriously STAYS PUT for 10-12 hrs. My skin is on the dry side so the fade factor is also quite low. Overall, these products are an impressive alternative within the green beauty market.

Available at w3llpeople.com. San Francisco makeup lovers can also find W3LL PEOPLE at Credo Beauty. 

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

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Thursday
Sep032015

True Nature Botanicals Shampoo & Conditioner

True Nature Botanicals is starting early fall with their much-welcomed foray into the eco-luxe hair care world. The TNB Shampoo ($30; 8oz) contains an unusually high concentration of mild coconut surfactants, which means you get an instantaneous lather. This in itself is already an exceptional trait as many natural shampoos don't foam up enough and you end up with a not-so-clean feeling. Worse still, you might even end up with a yucky coarse texture that requires a lot of conditioner. 

This awesome shampoo is strengthened with green tea oil, meadowfoam seed oil and organic aloe leaf powder to soothe, protect and balance the scalp. It's so moisturizing that I can get away without conditioner if I'm feeling lazy. Free of SLS and synthetic fragrances, it's perfect for all hair types, including color-treated hair. Needless to say, I'm in love. 

Devoid of silicone and mineral oil, the True Nature Botanicals Conditioner ($32; 8 oz) has a naturally rich texture. The addition of shea butter, coconut oil, macadamia seed and green tea oil result in an extremely nourishing formula. Even with my long thick hair, I'd use only 1-2 light pumps max. My hair ends up feeling luxuriously silky, not weighed down. As with the shampoo, the fresh citrus floral scent reminds me of their beautiful perfume solids. If you're picky about hair care as I am, you should seriously consider checking these new products out!

Available at tnbotanicals.com

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

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Wednesday
Sep022015

Clarins Mission Perfection Serum

I always get excited whenever Clarins launches new skincare and the Mission Perfection Serum ($72; 1 fl oz) is going to be an instant hit with beauty mavens. As my friend Natalie at Coquette says, it always seems to work.

The formula features acerola extract (from wild cherries), which is becoming a more popular beauty ingredient. Other supporting ingredients include hexylresorcinol, ginkgo biloba and tamarind fruit (AHA). The serum aims to correct dark spots, shadows and discoloration without affecting your natural skin tone. Suitable for all ages and skin types, you don't have to worry about your skin bleaching out in a strange way, which is a lot safer than using other controversial ingredients in the market (hello, hydroquinone). 

I've used this for over three weeks (day and night) and I can attest to its efficacy. My acne scars and sun spots seem to have faded and there's an overall glowy look. According to the brand's satisfaction test, 266 multi-ethnic women reported a 72% reduction in dark spot size and quantity after 4 weeks of usage. 


Available exclusively at Nordstrom and www.clarinsusa.com. Available at all Clarins counters starting October 1. 

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

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