Friday, September 29, 2006

How to annoy your customer- The Lancome edition

I made my usual Lancome purchase on their website. I bought my staples: Their gentle exfoliator and Bi-Facil eye makeup remover, as well as a couple of makeup items: Artliner in Smoke, a replacement for the Noir one, and a blue eye shadow. As a My Lancome member, I got my free shipping and a sample of mascara and was happy as a clam.

A few hours later I got their promotion email, telling me that for every order over $75 I can get a lovely GWP that includes quite a few goodies. Now, a similar thing has happened to me in the past with Clinique. A quick email to their customer service and whatever promotion promised was applied to my order, and all was well.

So, I emailed them at the relevant address. And nothing. Not even an automated response. Two days later I got my giftless package. I'm disappointed. Other e-commerce sites are much more sensitive to requests from loyal customers, and I really didn't expect that Lancome would be so different in this manner than their competitors.

Have you experienced similar incidents? What did you do?

Burt's Bees strawberry lip balm

I picked a tin of Burt's Bees strawberry lip balm on a whim. I needed some colorless goop to use under lipstick, and this one was there. I can't say that I get the hype surrounding this brand. I've tried several of the foot and hand products and was never blown away. They were not exactly competition to Bliss' lotions.

But I gave it a chance, and I guess it's okay. The balm feels nice on the lips, once you manage to scoop it out of the tin- the texture is like shea butter, and not very finger-friendly. It keeps the lips soft and allows me to put on the dark, dry lip colors of the season. But I'd be much happier if it didn't have this strong synthetic strawberry scent. The smell is almost unpleasant and kind of juvenile. Didn't I have some Strawberry Shortcake scratch'n'sniff things that were similar?


The goth guy who bagged my groceries at Whole Foods the other day had something in common with many beauty obsessed ladies these days: He was wearing black nail polish. I doubt that he shelled a hefty sum to bid on a bottle of Chanel Black Satin on eBay, but nevertheless, that was shiny black polish.

Nails haven't been this dark since Chanel made everyone crazy with Vamp (also sold out everywhere, albeit temporarily). The first hint of this was back in July, when Bobbi Brown's limited edition Chocolate Cherry polish was sold out even before the chocolate eye palette. A look at drugstores in my area confirmed that those deep browns were gone even from the less hyped brands. I couldn't find even one bottle of anything dark enough for this trend.

Thankfully, we'll always have online shopping. Earlier this week, still had a nice selection of very dark colors. I bought Double Dip and Wicked (very similar to the infamous Vamp). By now they're already out of many of these colors (including their black, Licorice).

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Bond no. 9 New Haarlem, Fire Island, Eau de New York

Bond Street, NYC, looking towards Broadway.

After a couple of week of quality time with many of the oh-so-very-French L'Artisans (reviews to come soon) I really needed something different. Let's admit it, I'm all for the continental refinement, but no matter how much Serge Lutens I own, I live in Jersey, a handful of miles away from Manhattan, where I spend all of my play-time (and do a great deal of my shopping).

Enter Bond No. 9.

The Bond St. store looks gorgeous (and there are a few others in the city), but now they have launched their website which makes things so much easier. Or does it?

I tested three fragrances. I was very curious about this summer's new launch- Fire Island. I think it's part of this fragrance trend that brought the Azuree oil and made it sell out in record time. Sexy, beachy scents, with a dose of baked skin, double dose of tanning oil and a whiff of sex. Though the top notes are cardamon and ozone and there's neroli in the heart, on my skin there were only two stages: very floral and very very musky. Both phases were quite good, so I'm not complaining, but as my observant husband summed it up- it's very nice but very not me. I think it was the floralness that made it hard for me to wear. When it comes to this summery floral and sun scent genre my choice is Moynette Paris. Probably because it's much sweeter.

My second one was Eau de New York. It was another two dimension fragrance: sharp citrus and soft musk. The citrus part reminded me of L'Occitane's Neroli, an old favorite of mine. But in this case it's fuller and deeper, and made me wish that these notes had lasted longer. Because after about 15 minutes we were back in musk. A nice one,  with an impressive staying power, but very synthetic and not original. So it was good, but didn't rock my world.

Unlike New Haarlem. A Maurice Roucel creation.
I knew it the second I sniffed the vial. This was IT. Didn't even have to look at the list of notes to know that it was my kind of thing.  From the top notes of lavender and bergamot that actually linger behind, the coffee and cedarwood that give it a strong statement of a  heart ,and a gorgeous dry-down that takes all that is good in vanilla and patchouli. This is a gourmand fragrance with a herbal twist thanks to the lavender. It's also spicy and a bit naughty; there's no dull moment.

New Haarlem is dark and velvety, makes me think of high heels on a city pavement late at night. Definitely a great choice for the cooling weather and the only thing that made me not wear my Miel De Bois again today. This is something that I need a full bottle of, and I need it now.

As I mentioned above, Bond's new website was recently launched. It's cute and whimsical, though the functionality could improved. But at least from now on there's a quick way to purchase. Or so I thought. Apparently, not all the fragrances can actually be bought from the site, and New Haarlem is one of those. I did a quick web search, and it appears that my new obsession is exclusive to Saks, at least for now. I wish Bond have disclosed this info on their site (and linked directly to Saks). I'm not letting anything stop me, though: a couple of clicks and New Haarlem is on its way to me.

Samples were sent by the company.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


With liquid liner being one of the hottest trends of the season, Paula Dorf's Transformer is 0.5 oz of sheer genious. I've been using wet eye shadows as liners for a long time, but they don't hold all day and the effect is softer and lacks the sharp and sexy look of the liquid liner.

Enter this little bottle. What it does is simply make your eye shadow look and act like a liquid liner. It's easy to use: Put a drop of the liquid anywhere (just not directly into the compact)- I use the back of my hand. Dip a brush (I like using a thin angled brush, but Paula Dorf also sells a Transformer brush for this purpose, and any eyeliner brush that you feel comfortable using, would work just as well) carefully into the liquid and swipe a little color from the edges of the eye shadow. Use it above the lash line just as you would any regular liner.

It takes very little practice to get the hang of it and learn excatly how much liquid you need. It's easy, and the result is great. A smudgeproof, vibrant liquid liner in every color you want and have in your collection. I've been playing and testing it with many shadows, and it works great. Even shadows that weren't all that great when it comes to staying power (like the MAXeye- today I'm wearing one of their bluish shadows as a liner) get a new use and new life and can look very beautiful.

A few weeks ago I was considering buying a liquid liner palette, like the one from Smashbox. But the Transformer made it unnecessary- I already have all the colors I could ever want and more.

The Transformer, like the rest of the Paula Dorf line, can also be bought through

Photo by Danny Christensen.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Made My Day

The Manolo is always right.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Silvery Lines

After discovering what a light color under the lower lashes can do, I started looking for more. I wanted silver, but it seems that no one makes a silver eye pencil. I've searched high and low, plowed through Sephora, but the closest I've found was very light, silvery icy blue.
I bought Vincent Longo's Duo Eye Pencil in Satin Plum. The dark plummish color isn't too purple. I use it on my upper lid and it blends well with my natural color and doesn't clash with brown shadows- it's definitely more plum than violet and has enough brown undertones to look good on me. It might be too harsh for fair skin. The color sample on is more realistic than the one on Sephora's web site.

The almost silvery ice is very light but deeply pigmented, so the color shows nicely. It has the same eye-opening effect that I liked with the green pencils, it brings light to the area and brings out the very dark brown of my eyes. It's an evening look for me. I don't think that I'd want this effect during the day, but the whole look of heavily lining wasn't really made for daylight to begin with.

As for the pencil's performance:
It's not as smooth gliding as the L'Oreals, especially the dark side. I prefer it not to be too thinly sharpened, otherwise it's a bit too stiff. The line stays in place and doesn't run, bleed or smudge. It's very long lasting. The light side also stayed put quite well. There was a little (very little) color bleeding after about 7 hours, probably because of the area it was applied to (inside and just under the lower lashes). It's not a perfect pencil, but it delivers and will be used quite a bit.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Lorac Snake Charmer Palette and Lip Intensity

Over a month of using Bobbi Brown's chocolate palette has taught me three things:
1. I really like the almost neutral look for eyes. Most of the time.
2. If you start wearing the new fall look in July, you'll be tired of it come September.
3. Brown is nice and all, but a night out on the town requires a bit more than that.

Which means that I was more than ready for something new. Enter Sephora (or rather- enter me entering Sephora). At first I was about to buy Smashbox' Electric eye shadow quad that I've been eyeing for some time. I'm still coveting a teal shadow, but the gold and the bronze were just a bit off. The gold had too much yellow in it, and the bronze too similar to other colors I already have.

Instead, I found Lorac's Snake Charmer eye and face palette. When I saw it online (the picture I'm using here) I wasn't impressed, but I can tell you that the colors in this photo are a bit off. In reality they are deeper and browner, the gold has no green undertones and the other shades aren't pinkish. I even liked the blush. It is peachy, but for once not too coraly to make me look like a tropical fruit (I'm not a fan of Nars' Orgasm). It actually looks fresh and flattering.

The shadows have a lot of shimmer , but fallout is minimal, the light colors are, indeed, highlighting (my inner corner rejoices) and the royal brown is perfect and rich. It's dark, deep ,shimmery and looks absolutely gorgeous. It gave me exactly the bedazzled look I was craving after all the tasteful mattes.

I also have to add that the compact itself is adorable. The snakeskin and little red jewel are cute and different. It definitely stands out in a sea of black plastic cases, as slick as they seem.

So there I was, with an almost done face: neutral but festive eyes (I added liquid black liner- my trusted Lancome Artliner), glowy-faced, but what about the lips? I needed something different there.

My choice was another Lorac (I was at their stand, after all), Lip Intensity gloss in Daring. It was, indeed, a very daring color. In this case, the sample picture is true to life. It's a deep wine color that looks bold and intense as promised and is not for the faint of heart or shaky of hand. The texture of this gloss is more like a liquid lipstick. It's thick (needs a bit of practice to get it right), opaque and covers well. I absolutely love it. When I manage not to get it on my teeth.

Both the gloss and the palette are exceptional in quality. They're richly pigmented, apply well and boast an impressive longevity. It looks like I'll be coming back for more Lorac in the near future. They have an extensive selection of lip colors and several interesting eye shadows. Sadly, none of them was teal.