Friday, December 21, 2007

Pefect Presents: Last minute books & music

Naughty thing! Have you left your Christmas shopping to the very last minute and are now in a frantic rush for something cool but quick? Or maybe your giftee just isn't (*gasp*!) that into beauty products. Here's a few more ideas then... because and are always open!

Because beauty has many faces...

Forsaken, by Lana Slezic

Toronto-born photo-journalist Lana Slezic takes you through the daily lives of women in Afganistan with her poignant and beautiful photos. You may have seen her work in a recent issue of Allure. From the striking images of female police officers to prostitutes who must hide their faces for fear of death by relatives trying to maintain family honour, this book is a stunning visual journey.

Make-up for the Ears:

If we are to speak of Christmas CDs, of course I must mention the Toronto based and now-international jazz sensation, Emilie-Claire Barlow. Her 2006 release "Winter Wonderland" (my raving review here) is a lovely addition to any holiday soundtrack. Her latest release, "The Very Thought Of You" (pictured) is at times lush and subdued, while clipping along at foot-tapping body-swaying tempos at others. Clear, bell-like vocals, crisp enunciation, and fresh interpretations of the standards set this album apart from the masses!

To switch gears completely, I am also newly addicted to Dragonette's first CD, "Galore". Half the band are Canadian (they live in the UK now), and they play dirty, groovy, euro-electro pop with a rock edge. You can't help but want to dance when you hear it. They've been described as what would happen if Gwen Stefani fronted The Killers. I say, yes, but have them do it all under the tutelage of Kylie Minogue. True, not all their songs are absolutely stunning, but there are enough solid tunes on there to make this CD a good gift.

Okay! That's all there will be out of me until after the New Year, when I am back to internetted civilization. I hope you all have a wonderfully merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years, full of good friends, good food, and great memories! Stay safe, and I'll see you all in 2008!

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bond No. 9 New York -- Awe-Inspiring Gift Sets

Hey friends! Woooo-eee, it's getting close, just 5 more sleeps until Christmas! If you've been salivating over the other Bond fragrances I've reviewed, or if you just can't decide, this post is for you. Perhpas you really really want to knock the socks off of a very special fragrance-lover in your life. Or maybe you want your giftee to completely forget the fact that her present is late! Whatever the reason, here is the most decadent gift set of all

The Bond I Love New York Double-Decker Sampler Box

Oh my. Would you just look at that thing. 12 "Downtown" fragrances, in mini (50 mL) Superstar bottles, all in one cleanly luxurious 2-layer box.

I see (starting from the middle of the top layer, clockwise) Scent of Peace, Chinatown, Fire Island, and Westside. I see The Hamptons and Bryant Park. I see Wall Street, Nuits de Noho (?), and Coney Island. I see Bleecker Street, and 2 more lovelies hiding under there unseen. I see a gift that will inspire speechlessness followed by hysterics. I may even see fainting. I also see a $1600 USD price tag. (Hey, art and decadence doesn't come cheap! Besides, isn't that the definition of a great gift? Something they'll love, but would never get for themselves?)

No doubt, the double decker set is the height of luxury. For those of you who want the variety, but can't quite afford the price tag, consider the Bond Bon Bon Box, or the Perfumista Blending Box, each at $250.

The Bon Bon Box features 18 fragrances in 6 mL refillable spray bottles. Each bottle is gorgeously wrapped in metallic foil, and are presented like the most sumptuous candy box you have ever laid eyes on (except enjoying these won't ruin your diet!). Included scents are: Chelsea Flowers, Chinatown, Wall Street, New Haarlem, Park Avenue, So New York, Riverside Drive, Fashion Avenue, Broadway Nite, West Broadway, Chez Bond, Hamptons, Eau de Noho, Nuits de Noho, Central Park, Madison Soiree, Little Italy, and of course, Eau de NY.

The Perfumista Blending Box includes all the scents in the Bon Bon Box, except for So New York and Riverside Drive, in 1/4 oz. refillable spray bottles. Packaged in a similarly gorgeous way, it includes an empty bottle to allow for custom blending. Either of these sets will keep any fragrance lover happily occupied until next Christmas!

If you're in New York, you can purchase Bond goodies at one of Bond's 4 boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Harrod's of London, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong are also retailers. As for the rest of us, we can order through the Bond website.

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Perfect Presents: Makeup Train Case

Dudes, I have been searching for a makeup storage solution for so long. As it is, I have shadows, blushes, and lip glosses (so! many! lipglosses!) tucked away in every drawer, nook, and cranny it seems. Aside from the general displeasing clutter, it means I don't go through my collection nearly enough, and what's the point of having 14 different pink glosses if I only wear 2 of them?

If a makeup lover in your life faces the same dilemma, then you must consider getting them a train case.

Perfect For: Your friend who's bathroom overfloweth with product; Your friend who despises that her bathroom overfloweths with her roommate's products.

Why it's Perfect: It'll store and organize all her treasured products, and put an end to those "WHERE is my poppy pink cream blush/violet shimmer gloss/glitter eyeliner" mornings. Which is a happy thing for everyone involved!

Yes, you could spend $90 at Sephora on the Metro Train Case (pictured). However, if your gift-giving budget is lower than that (or if you're buying it for yourself and you would actually like to have money left over with which to buy the cosmetics that would go in the case), good ol' WalMart has a very respectable, comparable version, for just $40 CAD.

With 2 tiers (2 on each side, 4 trays total) and a deeper center compartment, the train case lets you see all your cosmetics at a glance. As well, it has brush holders on the inside lid of the case, so you can keep your tools neat and stray-powder free. Oh, and it comes with like a gazillion different products inside. They're those "Colour Company" type of cosmetics... probably not the best quality. But, you can always donate the loot to a kid's dress-up trunk or a local children's / amateur theatre.

But of course, the one from WalMart only comes in brushed silver and black leather-look. Sephora's got 'em in PINK! ;)

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Perfect Presents: Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory Perfume

The last 2 Bond No. 9 fragrances I reviewed were pretty easy to like, and while incredibly well done, they're not revolutionary. If you're looking for something really out of the ordinary, then you simply must check out Bond's latest release.

Andy Warhol Silver Factory:

Perfect For: The perfumista; the soul sista; the art freak; and the very devout (or those who just want to smell devout).

Why it's Perfect: This smooth sweet incense scent is not your typical perfume. Its slight strangeness is sure to appeal to that fragrance connoisseur who's always looking to excite their nose with something new and unexpected. Nothing says "groovy" more than incense, and Bond's concoction is hip, not head-shop. Finally, it just smells... church-y to me! Read on!

In a fitting homage to Warhol, who covered the walls of his New York studio (aka: "The Factory") with aluminum foil and silver paint, Bond packages Silver Factory in an aluminum-look bottle. The bold graphic colours mirror those used in his pop-art, and the fragrance is labeled "Perfume Concentrate", both as a wink to his immediately recognizable Campbell's Soup Cans painting, as well as to indicate the higher percentage of perfume oils within. The packaging alone should make any Warhol fan smile!

But what about the actual scent? The listed notes are: Incense, Wood Resin, Amber, Jasmine, Iris, Violet, and Cedarwood. To me, this starts out sharp and piney, but it calms down quickly to smooth glowing incense. Being a child of the 80's, the only times I really ever smelled incense were at Catholic churches, and so it is unsuprising that this smells church-y to me. However, it is not super smokey. Rather, it is like being near the altar after a special mass, where incense was burned from a censer. The lingering smell of incense mingles with the scent of the flowers and metal vases and candle holders still on the altar. It is the memory of mass, rather than the mass itself. It also reminds me of a church piano, for some reason.

Despite my own associations, I don't think this is any high and pious perfume. The metallic note ("molten silver", what a gorgeous description!) brings a coldness to the otherwise warm incense and amber, making it surprisingly wearable, even for a typically aquatic-fruit-florals girl like myself. As it dries down (we're talking like 10 hours later, this is potent!), the scent softens further, and I get more of the florals, in an almost soapy incarnation. So different from most perfumes where the drydown has the heavier notes. Certainly one of the most interesting scents I've ever come across, I feel like I need to get to know Silver Factory more!

If you're in New York, you can purchase Silver Factory at one of Bond's 4 boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Harrod's of London, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong are also retailers. As for the rest of us, we can order through the Bond website.

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Perfect Presents: Pretty Palettes!

Being who I am, and writing the blog that I write, I obviously think that makeup is amongst the best of the best gifts one could receive. My friend Cowgirl Warrior once gave me a gift bag full of lip balms and lip glosses (it was one of those Secret Santa deals), and it was one of the most memorable, most joyful gifts ever!

However, I understand that everyone is not as makeup-obsessed as I, and might find it a bit strange to receive an assortment of different cosmetics (you people are missing out, I say!). Cosmetics companies have caught on, and always release a plethora of shining, shimmering palettes around this time of year. It's still makeup, but feels more... complete, somehow. It's the gift of gorgeous, and it's practically already wrapped!

Half the fun is picking amongst the many many many sets available, but 2 in particular caught my eye.

Too Faced Lights, Camera, Glamour!

Perfect For: The make-up adventuress; The Hollywood starlet on a budget

Why it's Perfect: Too Faced's Lights, Camera, Glamour! palette struck me as being the most bang for your beauty buck. You get 8 eye shadows, powder eyeliner, brow powder, 2 blushes, a bronzer, a shimmer powder, foundation powder,and 6 lip glosses, all for just $40 USD (I can't remember if it was $50 or $60 CAD, sorry!).

The shades look nice and wearable, and the cute box it comes in looks like a mini Hollywood make-up kit, complete with an actual lighted mirror! The blush and bronzer shades are meant to be swirled together for a pretty, multi-faceted look. You can use the shimmer shades the same way, or just pick up one shade with an eyeshadow brush for more precise application. All in all, lots of great products for a reasonable price, in one of the more creative presentations this year!

Urban Decay Urban Survival Kit

Perfect For: The girl on the go; The simplistic stunner

Why it's Perfect: The Urban Survival kit, while not being as expansive as Too Faced's, seems like the kit you'd be most likely to actually use in your day-to-day life. It contains a mini version of the cult favourite Eyeshadow Primer Potion (it really works!), a mini Lip Envy in Greedy (a berry liquid lip stain), a mini XXX Shine gloss in Naked (a natural nude shade), 4 shadows, and mascara and liner.

The shadow primer and lip stain means that you just set it, and forget it! (Well, as it applies to your makeup, at least.) Perfect for the busy gal who doesn't have the time or patience for touch ups. The shimmery shadows can be applied sheerly for a natural day look, or with more intensity for the evening, and the shades pretty much go with everything. Great basic colours from some of Urban Decay's star products, for a cool $50 CAD. Looks like a sound make-up buy to me!

Of course, you can always just go with the tried and true Sephora gift card. But make it a little something special, won't you? Attach it to a lovely lip balm, or a mini perfume bottle, or even to a basket of cookies. Elevates the gift of gift card from "I didn't have time to shop for you" to "You're so wonderful that you deserve to pamper yourself in exactly the way you please"!

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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The Weekly Beauty Read

Hello! This last weekend before Christmas is bound to be a madhouse, so take a break from the outside world, curl up with a cuppa, and enjoy these quality reads from around the blogosphere!

Elke looks back at her first trip to NY and how it changed her.

Temptalia shares nine beauty-themed gift guides for all your friends and family for the holiday season!

Savvy Skin has a Freeze 24/7 Review And Contest

SugarShock is craving beauty treats that smell good enough to eat.

makeup loves me is giving away two limited edition prescriptives illuminator all over face color bricks! head on over to leave a comment and win!

A Touch of Blusher loves lilac!

Do you want MARC JACOBS fragrance sets for a steal? Kyle at Face Candy has the scoop.

The Muse Battles Dry Winter Skin with a Review of Philosophy's Microdelivery Wash!

Beauty Anonymous reviews Roxy Fragrance and Delicate Shower Gel

Because good things come in small packages, Makeup Moxie's got the ultimate guide to beauty stocking stuffers that are almost too pretty to part with.

Beauty and Personality Grooming - Chilblains:a skin affliction that occurs in winter

All Lacquered Up previews the spring polish collections from Chanel, China Glaze, CND and Zoya

15 Minute Beauty Fanatic tries out Max Factor's Vivid Impact Highlighting Mascara for something fun

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Perfect Presents: Stocking Stuffers!

I have several friends who swear that the stockings are the best part of Christmas. (I am certain they mean aside from the spirit of love and generosity and gratitude and all that) I can kind of see their point... opening up your stocking is like getting surprise present after surprise present, and the usually-copious amounts of chocolate in there don't hurt none neither!

But of course, some of the best treats don't play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Here are some of my top picks for stocking stuffing, sure to delight your favourite beauty junkie on Christmas morning!

Bourjois Kisses From Paris mini-lipgloss set. I've written about these cute mini glosses before, and now Bourjois is offering them as a set for the holidays, with a keychain instead of the cell phone lanyard (hooray!). In flattering shades of pink and beige, these glosses are smooth, long-lasting, and relatively non-sticky. And they come with itty-bitty brush applicators that are perfect for application.

If you can't get to a Sephora, I've seen similar glosses from Rimmel at Shopper's Drug Mart. They are sheerer than the normal Vinyl Lip glosses, but have the same nice texture. They don't have the outrageous orange scent, so if that's prevented you from enjoying Rimmel glosses before, give these mini's a try!

L'Oreal's also gotten on the palette bandwagon, but at a much cheaper price than you'd find at Sephora or Ulta. Released as part of the Star Secrets line, you too can look like Eva, or Andie, or Penelope with lip, eye, and cheek colours, all in one slim package. Apx. $17 CAD at drugstores.

You all know of my love for The Body Shop's Pink Grapefruit Body Butter. But it can get kind of pricey for a stocking stuffer. I am pleasantly surprised to report that the WalMart version of this stuff is actually pretty good! Not the body butter itself, which has this odd rubbery texture to it. But the hand lotion and regular lotion are decent, and while the scent is not quite as mouth-watering as the Body Shop's version, it is zippy and refreshing and delicious. Not bad for $2 for the mini/travel sizes!

Of course, I must give a shout-out to Crazy Rumours lipbalm. The Apple Spice flavour is especially festive. I finally tried the Orange Bergamot, and it's incredible! Perfect for keeping those cracked winter lips at bay.

Okay, I know this is not a beauty item per se, but it's so awesome it must have a mention: Jergen's Green Tea Handsoap. It smells INCREDIBLE. Fresh and uplifting and just how you'd want your handsoap to smell. The smell lingers a bit after using too. Who knew washing your hands could be this much fun??

Voluspa's Vervain Olive Leaf candles are a wonderful way to brighten up a room. The crisp bright lemony fragrance is grounded by a bit of earthiness. It awakens the senses and just makes a room seem cleaner and bigger. It comes in the depicted full size, but I prefer the little travel candle in a sleek black tin. Perfect for the frequent flyer, to make all those hotel rooms seem a little bit more homey. $10 at Chapters or Indigo stores (not online), and they come in several other scents as well.

Wow, I could go on for ages! I guess size really doesn't matter, little gifts can rock as much as big ones! :)

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

How do you pack for the holidays?

It's getting to that time when everyone jets off to visit family and other loved ones for the holidays. I myself am off to Hong Kong, Singapore, and China (if everything's gone well, I'm already there!). While I love traveling, I hate packing. I'm terrible at it. And when it comes to cosmetics, I always want to take everything with me. With the new liquids restrictions, all I can say is "Thank goodness for mineral makeup!"

While I'm by no means a seasoned pro, I have found some tips and tricks to help streamline the process a bit. Here are mine... what about you? What do you bring in your little plastic baggie? Any travel tips that have saved your beauty butt?

I love re-using old HappyDerm bottles to store soaps and things -- the bottle is slim and has a locking pump dispenser, so I can put my cleanser in an empty bottle, plus take a bottle of the actual lotion on board with me in the plastic baggie, and there's still room for everything else I need (like about 7 lipglosses/balms. Actually.).

I think fragrance is a must, it's the perfect pick-me-up after a long flight. I prefer lighter scents over spicy or musky ones, if for nothing other than consideration for my fellow travelers. Of course, my choice of fragrance is constrained by the bottle size, so bug your favourite perfume counters -- they may have some itty bitty vials hiding behind there!

I don't bring my shampoos, lotions, body-wash etc. with me, or any styling products other than a the frizz-tamer. Those all go in checked luggage. My hair is just going to end up in a pony tail by the end of the flight anyway, so as long as it's smooth, I'm happy. I love the Frederic Fekkai Glossing Creme -- it has that nice fresh scent, which also helps perk up those locks (at least in my mind).

In checked luggage, I really just toss all the bottles in plastic bags and hope for the best! Sometimes I squeeze out any excess air from tubes of product if I can... makes a bit more room, and things seem a bit less likely to explode that way. Drug stores sell little empty bottles that let you pour your faves into travel-friendly sizes. Look for the kinds with screw on tops, and nozzles that actually snap into the top, as opposed to flip top caps and sports-drink style spouts, which are more likely to pop open or leak.

For those who must have their pomades, serums, and creams with them on the flight, I'd suggest popping into a Sephora or Body Shop. They both have those tiny sample containers that you can put liquids or creams into. In a pinch, old film canisters (washed & dried, of course) will do, but they are bigger and won't work for runny products. And for true minimalists, a couple Olay Daily Facials (wet or dry) are a good option to take instead of cleanser, and hand lotion or even a bit of lipbalm will serve as a temporary frizz-tamer.

See what I mean? With all this junk to take along, it's a wonder I get out the door at all! Can you sympathize, or are you just horrified by all this maintenance?

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Perfect Presents: Bond No. 9 Scent of Peace Perfume, Christmas Edition

The second of my Bond No. 9 holiday reviews (check out my post on West Side if you missed it) is very seasonal indeed. With all the talk about peace on earth and the glory of mankind and whatnot, it's only appropriate that you should smell the part!

Bond No. 9 The Scent of Peace (Special Edition Swarovsky-Encrusted bottle)

Perfect For: Pretty much anyone who likes perfume, and maybe even those who don't!

Why it's perfect: This uplifting fruity-woody scent is a sure-fire crowd pleaser, without smelling like every other perfume out there. And that bottle! With a Swarovski dove soaring high, it's bound to be the shining star of any dresser or vanity table!

The name of this scent begs the question: Just what does peace smell like? Well, according to Bond, The Scent of Peace is a brief splash of zingy grapefruit, followed by a warmish, clean blackcurrant. The floral heart (Lily of the Valley and Hedione*) and the base of musk and sandalwood are all subtle -- on me, this is a fruit fragrance, moutwatering and firm, without any adolescent sugary overtones. The woods and musk, while maintaining the clean quality of the scent, give it some depth and sophistication.

Delicious, refreshing, uplifting, and airy, even a friend who "doesn't usually like perfume" was enchanted by The Scent of Peace. This one might end up being my favourite Bond scent... it is a jus I could drink!

If you're in New York, you can purchase Scent of Peace at one of Bond's 4 boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Harrod's of London, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong are also retailers. As for the rest of us, we can order through the Bond website.

* I had always thought that hedione was an ingredient rather than a note, and I am embarassed to say I don't really know what it does. Regardless, it smells wonderful here, whatever it is!

This review was posted for me by the ever-fabulous Ex-Roomie, who is kindly administering the blog while I am gallivanting around Asia. I will respond to comments and emails when I get back. Promise!

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Oh Noes!

Hello all!

So apparently G and I should have thought this through a little better. I cannot actually post her posts, because I don't actually have her computer. Honestly intarwebs, what is your beef? It should not be this way...

In any case, I will post the bare bones text version of what our dear friend G has to say over the next little while. I apologize for the lack of pictures and fun and rainbows and sunshine. I tried...

[EDIT by G: Holy Crap! I'm so confused, I'm not sure what happened. That is probably due to the jet lag... by my calculations, it's like... 8-million in the morning in Toronto. Or something. I found some magical stolen wireless, so I will try to fix things where possible. But if not... yes, please pardon the technical difficulties! Thank you Ex-Roomie for trying, you are the awesome!]

I'm Leeeeaving On a Jet Plane!

Well, I'm off! In less than 8 hours, I will be on a plane, flying far far away. It's exciting, but sad! Sad, because I've been told that I will have minimal internet access for the 3 weeks that I'll be gone. THREE WEEKS!!! Without internet! That is an eternity!

Ah well, maybe I'll come back a la Alanis from India, and be all removed from such needs of the flesh as "wireless" and "concealer". Yeah right.

Rest assured, lovely readers, that there will still be some fun posts to read while I'm gone. There's a whole stockpile waiting to be deployed, and the wonderful kind and generous Ex-Roomie has volunteered to be the blog administrator while I'm gone. Three Cheers for Ex-Roomie!

So I hope you all have happy weeks ahead! I'll see you in January!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Perfect Presents: Oral Fixation Mints

They say true beauty comes from within, and I'm pretty sure they mean "from within your mouth". Make sure your breath is as pretty as your lipgloss with the happiest mints EVER, Oral Fixation Mints.

Perfect For: Your coworker with the chronic coffee breath; your friend who's trying to quit smoking or snacking (or both!); someone with whom you are about to make out.

Why it's Perfect: So stylish and delicious, no one could be offended by receiving these. They take longer to eat than M&M's, but are sugar-free. And did I mention the stylishness and the deliciousness???

These mints come in beautiful brushed metal tins, reminiscent of cigarette cases of yore. With gorgeous designs on the tins, each one is inlaid with a delicate printed paper reflecting the theme of each flavour.

Jasmints, delicate pale lavender mints stamped with a flower design, are mild and delicious, with a hint of floral flavour. Fabulous Fruit mints are bold, fuscia, heart-stamped, and fun. They are practically like candy, and the tropical flavours sparkle on your tongue. Classical Mints come in a steel-look tin, with a liner that looks like sheet music. The treble-clef stamped mint has a strong and ... well, classic peppermint flavour, and is perfect for the fashionable man or music-lover in your life.

You might think that these lovely little boxes of happiness might cost a small bundle. But you can build your own box of 12 flavours for only $30 (plus ship). That's less than $3 a tin! For a limited time, you can get 10% off a BYOB gift purchase by entering the code "giftyourfix" at checkout (details here). And in the spirit of the season, Oral Fixation will donate 10% from each BYOB purchase to Comedy Cures.

I can't stop eating these! They are seriously delicious, and addictive enough to take the place of any vices you may be trying to rid yourself of. The tins are even cooler in person, and pulling these out of my purse actually brighten my day a little (not to mention my breath!). They'd be wonderful as stocking stuffers, or as part of a bigger gift. I can't wait to try the Mimosa mints, and the Mojito mints, and Antioximints... and oh, I just want them all! You can order online as well as see the rest of the flavours on the Oral Fixation website.

For those of you looking for a local source, I've seen their "Sugar Free Tibet" (har!) mints sold at the Royal Ontario Museum gift shop. You can contact them to find out if there are retailers near you.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Perfect Presents: Bond No. 9 New York West Side Candle

Hello you lovelies! Hope you all had a fabulous weekend full of shopping success (or peace and quiet if you're the type to have done all your Christmas shopping early). Yes, I know it's Wednesday already, but that the thrill of retail can follow me for days. If daydreaming about past and future purchases isn't working for ya and "hump-day" has got you down, I've got just the sight for sore eyes! Check out Bond No. 9 New York's Special Edition holiday offerings!

I'd heard so much about the Bond line, and I finally got the chance to try some recently. I seriously think they may have changed my life. Or at least my nose. I'd always thought of the Bond fragrances as being impossibly exclusive, deliberately crafted, and maybe a bit too sophisticated for me. After all, since I'm generally pretty happy with department store scents, I tended to associate "niche" fragrances with difficult, avant-garde, and even jarring notes that are hard to wear.

I could not have been more wrong.

The famous Bond "Superstar" bottles were meant to represent the shape of an exuberant human body, conveying the message that there is a Bond for everyone. And there truly is! From the fragrance-phobe to the connoisseur who's seen smelled it all, you're sure to find something just right in the Bond line. I'll be posting about 3 scents in particular that are just perfect for gift giving, as well as some gift sets over the next few days, so be sure to check back for more!

First up....

Bond No. 9 West Side Candle

Perfect For: Your casually elegant boss or gracious hostess. The girl that's as down with the indie circuit as she is with the opera scene; the one who mixes vintage finds with designer threads and carries it off with grace and insouciance.

Why it's Perfect: This rose scent is like no other -- rich, creamy, vanilla, and smooth, it is a fragrance that you just want to sink into. And for someone you might not know that well, the candle format lets your giftee envelope themselves with this delicious scent, without being quite as personal as a gift of perfume.

A totally different class than "typical" rose scents like Stella or Une Zeste de Rose (both lovely in their own right), West Side has none of that youthful floral springiness. While it is certainly not an old fashioned scent, its maturity comes from the masterful blending and effortless sophistication -- you can wear this to the most formal of balls or to your school picnic, and it wouldn't be out of place. Lasting power is phenomenal, I can still smell it 8 hours after application.

The top notes include Rose, Ylang Ylang, and Peony; Heart notes are Sandalwood and Amber; and it's all anchored to a base of Vanilla and Musk. The peony and rose weave harmoniously, and the softly sweet vanilla is present from the start. For me, this starts off powdery, and the florals don't come through until a little later on, along with a subtle new-leather-glove note. The musk drydown is genteel and restrained... I just get soft glowy rose-amber with more powdery woods. This is definitely a gourmand's rose ... I can't get enough!

If you're in New York, you can purchase West Side at one of Bond's 4 boutiques. Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Harrod's of London, and Lane Crawford in Hong Kong are also retailers. As for the rest of us, we can order through the Bond website.

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Weekend Beauty Read

Check out what the best of the beauty blogs had to offer this week!

Enter the giveaway for Milani Mineral Makeup at Bionic Beauty.

Kyle shows you the wonderful world of Chantecaille Gift Sets.

Beauty and Personality Grooming shares a few homemade hydrating masks

Mystical Beauty's Musings reviews the MAC Heirlooms:5 Basic Brush Set.

A multi-tasking cheek and lip color that actually works? Makeup Moxie reviews Sukicolor Cream Stain mineral makeup.

A Touch of Blusher previews YSL spring 2008 makeup collection.

SugarShock has found a hall-of-fame hand cream.

makeup loves me checks out the new orgasm products (by nars of course).

Beauty Anonymous reviews DHC Deep Cleansing Oil.

Karen from Makeup and Beauty Blog gives you 10 Ways to Winter-Proof Your Hair.

Savvy Skin presents Savvy Skin's Best Of Fall 2007

Vote for your favorite nail products of the year in the All Lacquered Up Fanatic's Favorites 2007

15 Minute Beauty Fanatic checks out the hype behind Kinerase and reviews the product.

Girl Gloss rounds up some luxury lip items for holiday gifts

The Muse shares her Lush UK Order Featuring Snowcake Shower Gel!

Come back next week for more Perfect Presents... these upcoming ones are incredible!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Product Review: Dior Crème de Gloss

Run... RUN, do not walk, to your nearest Sephora or Christian Dior counter. Because Dior's latest lipgloss is worth the workout.

Dior's Crème de Gloss is touted as a creamy lipstick in a gloss. The description from the Dior website, which is obviously and charmingly translated from French to English:

"Its soft and gentle texture as a cream, with the lightness and freshness of a gloss, gives to your lips a "cocooning effect", and offers, with its new ultra flexible applicator, a smooth comfortable film without sticky effect.

With all the wealth of a nectar, Crème de Gloss offers an absolute comfort, thanks to a concentrate of ultra-nourishing ingredients. Immediately smoothed, the smile is durably cared and shaped for perfect lips. Ultimate exploit, 6 hours after application, the hydration of your lips increases by 25%."

This creamy gloss is absolutely gorgeous. It feels AMAZING. (And yes, I have tried other Dior glosses and they're fine, but this knocks them out of the park.) It's a doe-foot applicator, but it's extra bendy, which makes it feel softer on the skin. The gloss is silky and luxurious, without even a suggestion of stickiness. I put it on when my lips were feeling kind of dry, and to my amazement, it felt nicer than some lip balms. A gloss that actually improved the condition of my lips. I couldn't stop smushing my lips together, it felt so good. (Oh yes, quite the sight in Sephora I was.)

I tried on Creamy Almond, the lightest shade, which is a somewhat frosty cool pink. Normally, a colour like that would go on chalky or streaky on me, but this applied like a dream. Crème de Gloss comes in 8 different shades, and they all look elegant and lovely. I'm in lust. I'm in love. Dare I say it? This is the BEST gloss I've ever put on my lips!

The price? Not so best. A cool $31 CAD. But I must have a "smile that is durably cared and shaped for perfect lips"! I simply must! Of course, I can't comment on staying power, but you can bet that I'll update this review as soon as I find that $30 Sephora gift card I have somewhere (xoxo, Ex-Roomie!). I've held on to that baby since last January, and clearly this is the sign I've been waiting for. Cha-ching!

Seriously, why are you still sitting there? Run! Run now! RUN!

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pefect Present: The Gap Lavender Tea Eau de Toilette

Hello lovelies! Hope you've all been doing splendidly. Now that the ginormous stack of essays to mark is out of my life, I can finally announce the debut of my new and very exciting* series: Perfect Presents! With less than 3 weeks to go before Christmas (yikes!), these posts are designed to help you find that perfect holiday gift for those lucky people in your lives.

Without further ado, I present: Lavender Tea #362 perfume, by The Gap:

Who it's perfect for: Your most stressed out friend.
Why it's perfect: The soothing blend of lavender, green tea, and vanilla is the fragrance equivalent of a chill pill.

Trust The Gap to come out with a scent that's like pulling on a soft, well-worn pair of jeans. At first spray, the lavender is prominent, like nubby velvet with a subtle, slightly powdery vanilla. There's a tiny bit of spicy twigginess to it that keeps it from being boring and all dime-store-bath-salts. The green tea note isn't very obvious -- it's there in its popular aquatic-fresh form, and serves to lift the fragrance a little. I actually wish it were a bit more evident, as it's quite nice when I do get a whiff of it.

Being a person who is not generally fond of vanilla, the drydown could have ruined it all for me. It is indeed very prominent, but instead of a bakery sweet vanilla, it is dry-ish. Just like your favourite pair of jeans, this scent is not extremely feminine -- just clean and soft and cozy. I reach for it when I expect a hectic day at work, or when I want to feel calm and in control. It's oh-so-pleasant to catch lingering traces of it in my scarf when I snuggle into it against the cold winter winds.

I'd say this is definitely a fall/winter scent, but the giant bottle is sure to last into spring! But since it's simple enough to layer, I imagine it'd be brightened up easily with a citrusy perfume. Of course, it's great just the way it is, and its soft comfort may be just the tonic after battling the Christmas shopping crowds.

This new line of Eau de Toilettes include 5 other scents: Coconut Tuberose, Mandarn Jasmine, Velvet Bloom, Washed Cotton, and White Amber. On sale now at The Gap online for $21 USD, down from the regular $28. In Canada, it's currently on sale for $25.50 in stores.

* Well, *I'M* very excited about it anyway.

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