Holiday Beauty Gift Guide

With a few days until Hanukah and Christmas Day, let the mad dash for last minute gifts begin. I have created a helpful and inexpensive guide to some gift ideas for the beauty lovers on your list. Remember, gifts should really have thought behind them. It’s easy to pick something up, add it to your cart and check someone off your list; however, does it symbolize who they are, how well you know the person or how much you care?  Gifts shouldn’t have to show off how much money you have but rather the time you took to know what someone may want, like or find useful.

 These are a few of my favorite things…”

Sephora Collection Breakups to Makeup Glitter Gold & Everything Bold Bag ($18) –Breakups to Makeup is one of those cult brands I have been following for quite some time. They create these beauty accessories with cute sayings like “Love raised me lipstick saved me.” The CEO is an amazing Latina who has made her brand flourish. Now her clutches can be found on Sephora’s shelves. Love them! (Sephora)

Benefit Cosmetics 1st Prize Highlighters ($18) – Benefit was the first brand I knew promoted the use of highlighters some 15 years ago. My sister was getting married and I went to their counter to get recommendation for the big event. The sales person pulled out this little bottle of High Beam and proceeded to make two small Xs on the high points of my cheek. I thought she was weird, the product was dumb and it didn’t make any sense why anyone would want to have any kind of BEAM on their face. WOW…was I ever wrong! “Beam me up, Scotty…” (Sephora, Ulta)

Real Techniques 6 Miracle Sponge Set ($20) – I recently posted how wonderful the Real Technique complexion sponge is. Now you can get a set of 6 for the price of 1 Beauty Blender. The set comes with various sized sponges. (Real Techniques)

Sephora Favorites, Give Me Some Bold Lip ($28) – The set includes a few popular bold lippies in sample size. It’s a sweet sampler gift to pique a lipstick lover’s appetite. (Sephora)

L’Occitane Hand Cream Trio ($28) – It’s L’Occitane! Nuff Said… (Sephora)

Caudalie Favorites ($39) – Caudalie is a brand introduced to me in recent years. They are a luxury skincare line and you can truly feel the richness of their products. This is a set of 6 travel sized beloved products. (Sephora)

Korres Greek Yoghurt Winter Skin Rescue ($39) – This set is ideal for those who maybe suffering from dehydrated or parched skin during these winter months. The key ingredient used is Yogurt, a moisturizing agent that provides vitamins and minerals to the skin. (Sephora)

Too Faced Sweet Peach Eye Shadow Palette ($49) – This brand happens to be one of my favorites EVER! Too Faced has some of the prettiest and most popular eyeshadow palettes. This particular palette has been on my radar since last spring but sold out before I could even pull out my wallet. NOT THIS TIME! This palette would make any makeup lover drool. (Sephora)

Kat Von D Everlasting Mini Liquid Lipstick Set ($49) – Great brand, great set, great lippies. I can’t say enough about Kat Von D liquid lipsticks. They are great! This set includes 6 minis. (Sephora)

Bobbi Brown Bobbi To Glow Shimmer Brick Palette ($51.50) – Three famous highlighters all in one palette. You can’t go wrong with giving a gift of The Glow! (Sephora)

Peter Thomas Roth Mask-A-Holic 5 Piece Kit ($75) – I love face masks and Peter Thomas Roth makes some amazing ones. This set is extremely well priced, as you are getting 5 jars to try. The 24k one has been recommended to me by many makeup artists who actually use it to provide a golden dewy complexion. (Sephora)

I set out to be as cost conscious as possible.  As I’ve said before, no need to sacrifice the pockets for good beauty products. I hope this list provided some help and guidance. Until next time, my beauties!

Wishing you all the Happiest of Holidays filled with love, laughter and highlight!

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The Lipstick

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.” – Elizabeth Taylor

According to research *coughWikipedia* the origins of lipstick can be traced back to Ancient Sumerians, 5,000 years ago. The Sumerians would use crushed gemstones to decorate their faces. Ancient Egyptians used red lips to represent a social status symbol, used by both men and women. The infamous Queen of the Nile, Cleopatra, was believed to use pigments from crushed bugs to create red lips. If you are thinking to yourself “Eww…bugs,” the practice was used well into the 19th century. In the US, lipsticks got their color from a dye called Carmine. Carmine was extracted from scale insects called Cochineal. Aren’t you glad they moved to much better ingredients?

During the early 20th Century, color shades were limited with dark lips being the most popular. During the Flapper trend, the dark lip was a symbol of independence and freedom. In the 1930s, lipstick was a symbol of sexuality. Young women believed lipstick was a symbol of womanhood. Adversely, parents viewed the use as an act of rebellion. Many immigrant cultures prohibited the use of lipstick by their teenaged daughters. During the 50s, starlets like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor really popularized the dark red lips. Since many parents were still uncomfortable with the widespread of this trend, companies began creating pink and peach tones, becoming more widely acceptable and popular to use lipstick.

The 60s had the white lips trend made popular by girl musical groups like the Ronettes and the Shirelles. The 70s saw a surge of iridescent colors, greens and silvers. With the emergence of the Punk culture in the late 70s, came the black lips trend. The popularity of the black lipstick could be seen well into the 90s.  Previously regarded for the use of little girls, the 80s brought about the use of lipgloss. The 90s gave us various shades of brown and what I like to call the Chola look (deep brown lipliner accompanied by a nude lips). The 21st Century has brought us the popularity of the nude lipstick, bright bold colors and the current liquid lipstick craze.

I have always viewed the lipstick as a symbol of femininity, individuality and strength. It took me many years to feel comfortable wearing a bright, bold red; however, once I got over the shyness and embraced the feminine power, there was no stopping me. From a nude to the trendy ox blood hue, there’s very little I shy away from now. My first experience with a bold red was at 26 and with the famous Russian Red from MAC. No better red to try with. Russian Red is a blue based, matte red. It was a color made popular by  Madonna during her Blonde Ambition Tour. This red makes you look and feel like an old Hollywood Star.

MACs Russian Red and her sister Ruby Woo (another popular red) are very matte formulas. I would recommend scrubbing your lips prior to application. This process helps slough off any dry or chapped particles from your lips, leaving your lips smooth. Once you have scrubbed, add a light amount of lip balm or moisturizer. Matte formulas can be uncomfortable when you first apply. It took me sometime to get used to the formula. Now,  it seems like all I ever wear are mattes. It’s all a matter of getting used to.

My favorite lipstick of all time has been the Guerlain Rouge G lipstick in the color Gala (21). Encased in a jewel toned tube with a built-in mirror, it is a gorgeous and creamy medium red. The formula has a glossy finish. I was so in love with this red. It was introduced to me by representatives of Guerlain at Sephora showcasing their new products. The salesman walked up to me and said “I have something for you.” He was not lying. This red is a stunner! Probably the only lipstick I have worn to the very bottom of the tube. Even its steep price of $52.00 didn’t stop me from repurchasing. Sadly, they discontinued Gala. I went into a beauty depression when I found out. One day,  I went looking for it and no one could explain the sudden unavailability of this color. No note, no good bye, no chance to buy every single existing tube in the whole of NYC. This happens often, you fall in love with a color or a makeup line or product and suddenly, it’s pulled off the shelf, never to be seen again. You wander the earth like David Carradine in King Fu, searching for a near exact match to replace your beloved product, but nothing ever comes close [Sigh…shout out to Chanel Lip Glossimer in Satinette].

Here’s a list of a few other beloved lipsticks and brands I can’t do without:

Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick ($21) in Underage

Kylie Cosmetics Lip Kit ($29) in 22

 Kat Von D Everlasting Liquid Lipstick ($20) in Vampira, Lolita, Bow n Arrow

Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick ($24) in Bawse

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick ($20) in Sad Girl

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil ($26) in Damned, Dragon Girl

Smashbox Be Legendary Lipstick ($21) in Femme Fatale Matte

Shiseido Lacquer Rouge ($25) in RD 607

Lipsticks are amongst my favorite beauty products to buy, own and play with. It is a must-have for every makeup lover, whether it’s a nude, a light pastel or a bold, dark color.  No face is complete without a good lipstick. The use of the lipstick dates back to Ancient Sumeria and early civilization. Next time you go to the store and find yourself debating whether you should buy that lipstick, remind yourself that Ancient Egyptians used it as a symbol of status. Buy it QUEEN!

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Drugstore Treasures

We all can agree that Sephora is a Wonderland for Cosmetics and Beauty Products. I like to envision myself in the middle of the store, spinning around like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  It’s just divine to walk in and down the aisles. To need absolutely nothing and walk out with 3-4 items you never even knew you needed, that’s Magic! On the other hand, the beauty section in large department stores scare me. You have people coming out from different angles offering to spritz you with all kinds of scents, the haze from them all ensnaring you like a Venus Flytrap. The counter ladies all wanting you to try their products… it’s just too much for me. But one place I seem to always find joy is the local drugstore. The drugstore can be a treasure chest waiting to be explored.

Being a mother of two, I always find myself making at least one trip every weekend to the drugstore. Whether it be to pick up medicine for one of my cutesome-twosome, wipes, school supplies or even a quick card for a birthday party, there is always a trip to our neighborhood CVS or Walgreens. During these visits, I’m guaranteed to venture into the beauty aisle. They make it so appealing and convenient. It’s always the first area you see as soon as you enter. The marketing strategy works. It is bait for beauty addicts alike.

There are SO many brands, products and price ranges. There is an advantage to drugstore buys. You can use coupons, expect weekly sales and always find BOGO deals.  It’s too good to pass up. Besides, everyone wants to save where they can. Beauty shouldn’t have to break the bank. Right?? So, I put this theory to the test and did some investigating to see what goodies we could find. I wanted to see if I could actually ditch my higher end products for drugstore brands or dupes. I visited a local Duane Reade in NYC and purchased a few items. Here is a list of products purchased:

Base/ Foundation: I’m still wondering how I was able to pull off successfully color matching without testing the product. I have no clue. I have always been leery about shopping for drugstore foundation. At least in Sephora you have people able to assist you find a suitable match or you have testers available for your use. RULE OF THUMB: NEVER test on your hand! It is a common mistake. The skin tone on your hand varies from that of your face and neck due to sun exposure. Try your best at picking one closest to your natural skin tone. Most stores do have return policies because they know this choice can be difficult.

Cover Girl Clean Matte BB Cream (550) – I did like this BB Cream. It was very light and creamy on my skin and melted right in. Product retails for 8.99.

L’Oreal Paris Infallible Pro-Glow (208) – Good Foundation. Light and weightless, but can be buildable if you are looking for more coverage. Product retails for 12.99.

*I must add that although both bases were good, neither did much for my oily T-Zone problem. In fact, the BB Cream claims to be matte, however, my shiny nose begs to differ. I would recommend both products are best suited for those who do not have oily or combination skin like me.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge – AMAZING alternative to the popular Beauty Blender. Product retails for 3.57.


L.A. Girl PRO Concealer (Pure Beige) – I love this concealer. It is inexpensive and beloved by makeup artists. I cannot stress how good this concealer is. You can actually just use this to solve a lot of beauty problems, but we will save that discussion for another time. Product retails for 5.99.


NYC Individual Eyes Brown Eye Basics – This eye palette retails for about 4.99 and is absolutely fabulous. It had a combination of 4 powder shadows and 3 cream shadows. The powders were very well pigmented. I did not try the creams. My eye makeup came out pretty good and when I told a colleague at work I had used a drugstore product and the cost, she couldn’t believe it. It held up really well and I experienced no creasing or fall out.

Jordana Easy liner (Black) – Simple and inexpensive black eye liner. Does tend to bleed throughout the day. Product retails for 1.99.

Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express (Classic Black) – My new colleague suggested I use this mascara. I’ll admit to being a bit hesitant, especially considering how much I dislike the original Maybelline Great Lash Mascara. Some of you have just gasped in horror. I’m sorry, but I do not understand what all the hype is behind that cult classic. However, this mascara was amazing and I’m glad I took her word for it. It is HUGE and really layers the liquid on for a dramatic effect. Definitely a Must-Have. Product retails for 5.99.


Wet n Wild Coloricon Bronzer (Bikini Contest) – Shattered. Wish I could add a review but this literally shattered upon opening.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Bronzer (Park Avenue Princess) – I cheated and added a Sephora product, but in my defense, the product was free with my points. This was a small sample size of the Tarte Bronzer which retails for 30.00. It wasn’t as intense as I like my bronzers to be. I tried contouring but it wasn’t very effective for me. Boo. Whatever, it was free.

Milani Powder Blush (Romantic Rose) – Milani is one of my favorite drugstore brands. This blush is absolutely beautiful! The powder is shaped like a rose; just a lovely presentation. Milani never disappoints. This blush had good pigment and lasting effect. Product retails for 8.99.

Milani Easybrow (Natural Taupe) – A simple brow pencil with a spooly brush at the end. Did a good job. Product retails for 3.99.


Maybelline Colorsensational (Smoking Red) – The Colorsensational lipsticks are Maybelline’s famous seasonal lip color trends. I chose the color Smoking Red, a red with brown undertones. I really liked this lippy. It was hydrating, which I really like. The color was vibrant and bold, but will not last through lunch without you needing to  reapply. Product retails for 6.99.

All in all, I was really happy with the results from my drugstore beauty experience. The prices were reasonable and the products were good. I’m not exactly ready to say bye bye to Sephora but… I know I can make wiser buying choices for some things. The one disappointing factor I did discover was the lack of low-end highlighting products. I found one major brand carrying what they called a highlighter and it was a bit pricey for a drugstore buy. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know by now how much I LOVE to highlight. So, you can imagine I was not very happy about this. As an alternative, I used the highlighter from the eye shadow palette. It worked just fine and I didn’t have to shell out extra or carry out an additional product.

Beauty should not be compromised or sacrificed. Yes, EVERY woman is Beautiful. I firmly believe that. I also believe and know that women love to feel special. Looking good makes us feel special.  Babes on a budget can rest assure that there are comparable products out there that cost less and apply just as good as those pricey buys at Sephora or Department Stores. No need to get a second mortgage just to buy an eyeshadow palette, just walk into Walgreens. And for some of us corporate gals, if you find yourself in a pinch and need to jazz up for a meeting or after work drinks; realized you forgot to pack your makeup bag, head on over to the drugstore and pick up a few things with ease. Get your budget beauty on!

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