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Great holiday hopefuls

I always feel kind of funny about asking for beauty products as a gift, because even though my family and friends know me, I still feel like what I use in the shower is pretty personal. This year I've decided to put things on my list that I enjoy for a variety of reasons, whether it's something that smells nice, something that looks nice, or something that makes me look or smell nice.

Let's start with looking nice. I like to look nice, and I like my vanity to look nice, and this gift covers both. Sephora's Think Pink Vanity Brush Set
has six brushes in a pretty pink vanity case that has inside a spot for each brush to stand up, so the brushes don't flop all over the place. I also like that the brushes are shapes and sizes that I would actually use - none of those useless (IMHO) sponge applicators. And did I mention it's pink? Can't go wrong with pink :)

No wish list for me can be complete without asking for anything from Suki's Naturals. I just can't get enough of these products. All natural - truly - amazing smelling, feels great on the skin. I could go on and on. My current favs from the line include the hair care and the vitamin C brightening products. The shampoo and conditioner are hands-down the most amazing I've ever used. Both are free from all the nasty chemical ingredients that make me want to cringe every time I think about how much of it I've put on my skin and hair over the years. The Clean Balance shampoo doesn't strip your hair, suds really nicely with just a small amount, and rinses completely out in a snap. I love to use this on my kids because they don't have to stand under the shower forever to get their hair rinsed. The Clean Balance conditioner is also fantastic, light but nicely detangling, and also rinses easily leaving just soft hair behind. Since I am also trying to eliminate scary plastic-filled, gummy styling products from my routine, I now use the Clean Balance hair treatment oil on towel-dried hair and it gives my hair a little shine and calms any frizzy bits, like a leave-in conditioner.

For my skin, I love Suki's Complexion Brightening Cream with vitamin C, rose wax and shea butter. I've been using it for a few weeks now and have noticed that my skin looks fresher and less blotchy in the red-prone areas. The Bright Complexion Moisture Masque is also terrific. It goes on really fluid, like the moisturizers, but it dries and really seems to infuse the skin with moisture. My face looks more supple and hydrated after I use it.

Can you tell that I think that anything from Suki's Naturals would make a great gift? :)

Another idea for looking nice is apparel, and I've definitely had my eye on some goodies from The Hempest, namely the Bell Sleeve Turtleneck, Alpaca Zip Sweater, and Hemp Hoodlamb jacket. Oh, and a gift certificate to Moo Shoes vegan shoe store is always appreciated.

Now for smelling nice, and that means both me and my home. This time of year, I love candles, but in trying to keep a more eco-friendly home, I hate the idea of that nasty black smoke in my house from traditional paraffin wax candles. At a recent sustainable gift fair here in Portland, I had a the pleasure of meeting Kim from The Organic Candle Company and I picked up two of their Orenco Chai candles. Not only do they smell amazing, but they are clean-burning, have no synthetics, and they are hand-poured into recycled wine bottles so they look beautiful on your table or mantle. If you love candles, do yourself a favor and invest in a few of these for your holiday celebrations.

As for me and nice smelling things, I am very particular about my perfume. The only ones I wear are Aveda Pure-Fume Absolute Aveda Love and Clean Pure Perfume Oil, which was $82 but is now $25 at Sephora, but is out of stock. I've gotten it before from The Blush Beauty Bar, so I wonder if it's that cheap there, too... It's also online at but at the regular price.

Now, for something fun: Sublime Stitching Embroidery Kits. I love working with my hands - knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, sewing - so when I found this kit online that makes it so super easy to learn embroidery and get started right in on a project, I just can't resist. Creator Jenny Hart has put together kits with everything you need to stitch a tea towel, pillow, baby bib, or use your own fabric and her crazy, fun patterns. Some of my favorite funky pattern choices include Cat-a-Rama, Craftopia, Dachshunds, and Krazy Kitchen. This is a hip, cool gift for anyone crafty that you know.

Happy holidays!

- December 17, 2005

Kristen sees White Nights in her future

What a wonderful time of year it is with the cool weather! To me, when the temperature drops, it’s time to get serious with makeup colors. Heavier colors and shadows look fabulous and mysterious in the winter, and let’s face it - you can’t exactly pile it all on during the sweltering summer heat (well, you can if you don’t care about looking too severe and it sliding right off). There's so much out there to try; so many looks to create—my mind goes crazy with all the offerings. It’s nice to know that my indecisive mind can be at ease because Smashbox put it all together for me with their new White Nights Collection. There are multiple sets in the line, so I will break them down individually by sets.

Spider Club Color Palette and Brush Collection
This little palette is the coolest thing! It’s small, but it has so much stuff in it thanks to the design. You open the lid like a normal palette to reveal a mirror and 8 neutral eye shadows in bone, shimmery copper brown, charcoal brown with faint silver shimmer (my fave!), coffee brown with gold sparkle, matte pale pink, shimmery olive, shimmery green/gold, and shimmery pale green. Then, the bottom flips out with 2 lip colors in rosy red, and pink with golden shimmer and 2 cream eyeliners in black and gold. Whatever your fancy, there’s bound to be a color or look in here that you like, or at least you can learn to create. I love using all of the brown shades. With my hazel green eyes, these colors are very complimentary. I love smudging the 2 darker ones on my lower lash line. The green shade works well on my lid, with the olive shade blended in my crease. Again, these colors work well with my eye color. All of the shades have shimmer in them, so they soften up any look you are trying to achieve. The colors are definitely soft, easy to apply and blend and last for hours without creasing. Now for the bottom portion of the palette. The lip colors are some of the prettiest I’ve seen lately and they are soft with great longevity. They are perfect for the upcoming festive holidays. I really love them so much I am wearing them daily. They pretty much go with whatever look I am trying to achieve, whether it be a soft neutral look or as a muted compliment to smoky eyes. The caramel colored cream blush is another winner. It slides right on and stays put the whole day and doesn’t streak. The soft color gives a warm glow to my cheeks and I need all the help I can get now that summer is over. Now for the eyeliner; I must admit that I have not been a huge fan of the cream eyeliner since I have used it in the past, but for some reason I like it much better this time around. It’s been a few years since I’ve used it and remember that it was tacky and hard to apply, and now I am wondering if they reformulated it because it is a lot more smooth and easy to apply. Whatever it is—whether I am just plain crazy or it is different, it works better and I like it. I like to use the enclosed flat liner brush and pat it along my lash line and extend it out to make a cat-eye look for the evening. The black is very much so, and the gold is definitely a true gold. This little palette is little bitty, so it fits perfectly in an evening purse, or any purse for that matter. The set come in the neatest white faux leather clutch with a pocket to hold the palette on one side and the other side holds the three included brushes (flat eye liner for the cream liner, lip brush and concealer brush). There is no reason you have to suffer through an evening with naked lips or fading makeup with this palette. You have all you need right in the palm of your hand. While it is $48 and the palette is small, you do get a lot of products, 3 great mini-brushes and a cute clutch.
Since I am on the subject of the cream liners, the next little set is The Derby, which is a trio of gold, green and black with a flat liner brush included. I love wearing black eyeliner, but I find that I really enjoy using the green shade because of my eye color.

The Troubador Fairly Lip Gloss Collection
The Troubador is a lovely little trio of lip glosses and a lip liner. The shimmery shades of rose, copper and clear are perfect for dressing up your lips and is a great addition to the Spider Club palette. The lip glosses have a brush-type applicator and they last for hours, even after several cups of morning coffee. They have a soft texure, but can be slightly gritty due to the small glitter pieces in them, but it’s not that bad. A small price to pay for some nice colors that wear great. The cinnamon, vanilla and spearmint scent of each are a bonus! It also comes in a small faux leather clutch with a mirror on one side and slots for each mini-gloss and a neutral brownish rose lip liner on the other. Just like the Spider Club palette, it is small enough to toss in your purse and go.

The Roxy Limited-Edition Brush Roll Set
What good can all these products be if I don’t have the proper tools to apply them? I must say that I am quite impressed with this collection of brushes. Like all the other sets, this also comes in a white faux leather clutch and it houses 6 full-sized brushes. It comes with the following brushes: powder, foundation, blending, eye liner, double-ended smudger and a retractable lip brush. I absolutely love these brushes! They are made from goat hair, so they are not rough like some synthetic brushes can be, so they feel like pure silk on your face and they are wonderful in applying your makeup. First, I started out with the foundation brush. I have always used a sponge to apply my foundation. I’ve used one foundation brush before—about a year ago and hated it. I remember reading so much about the way your foundation looked like it was airbrushed on, so I bought one. I a hated it! My foundation didn’t spread right and it felt heavy in some spots, so needless to say I wasn’t looking forward to trying this one. Well, I am glad I didn’t let my prior experiences get in the way and took a chance on this one. My face looked great and had no problems with the application. I did have to take a sponge and get into the creases of my skin around my nose and the corners of my eyes, though. Next, I lightly dusted translucent powder with the big, fluffy powder brush. Believe it or not, I don’t actually use on of these on a daily basis, either. I have the big puff from Laura Mercier and it works great for patting on the powder, so I never felt the need for duplicity. I have been missing out because this brush applied my powder so lightly that my face just looked better and softer. It works wonders for touch ups so your face doesn’t look cakey or too powdery. To apply the fabulous eye shadow shades from the aforementioned Spider Club Palette, I used the eye blending brush. Let me tell you—if you don’t have this brush yet, go buy it. I cannot believe how well it applied my eye shadow and blended it without looking uneven. I used the brownish charcoal shade from the Spider Club Palette and applied it all over my lid and crease with this brush and the result was phenomenal. The powder was very controlled with this brush, so you didn’t have the tell-tale shadow droppings all around your eyes. I really couldn’t get over how well this brush worked and how unbelievable soft it is. Another winner!!! To smudge shadow or blend the cream liner along my lower lash line, I used the double-ended smudger. I find it useful to blend the shadow along my lower lashes out past the corner of my eye to blend with the shadow above to create that gorgeous smoky cat-eye look. One side of the brush a foam tip which is more firm so you can make a bolder look and the other side has the bristles for a more soft application. The eye liner brush was my least favorite, but still a nice brush. I currently use a wet brush to apply cake liner and I tried to do it with my eye liner and this brush, but I found the brush to be too thin for what I like. Then I used it with Smashbox’s cream liners and it worked much better. If you want to draw a thin, precise line, this brush is for you. After I have made a flawless face and gorgeous eyes, I apply my lip color with the retractable lip brush. For the most part, I never use a lip brush unless I have a lip palette that requires one and I don’t usually buy those because I prefer just using the lip stick or the wand in an individual lip gloss. But since those palettes never come with anything worth mentioning, I will happily replace it with this brush. I like the fact that it is retractable so the lip product you just applied doesn’t spread onto everything or worse, stuff sticks to it. If you don’t know which brushes to start out with, this collection narrows it down to the essentials. For $80, you get some really fabulous brushes. My other favorite line of brushes are much more costly than these and while I think they are worth every penny, you can’t beat these in terms of price and efficacy.

After applying all these fabulous products, I swept on mascara to complete the look. Since I really wanted to go all out, I actually tried the Lash Curler. I have never used on of these. I guess I’ve never had to because I have decent lashes that respond well to good mascaras…and I will continue to use good mascaras because I didn’t find that my lashes looked any different. That’s great because those things scare me! I have friends that wouldn’t go anywhere without their lash curler, so I will bequeath this to one of them.

You can check out Smashbox’s new White Nights Collection at,, or If you check out Smashbox’s website, there are looks you can view to see color and to see what works with what. I really really love it when cosmetic companies will put these looks on their sites because for the most part, consumers are very visual and will buy what they can actually see on people. That is how I am oftentimes and if I see a look I like, I want all the products! I want my makeup to look like the model on there! There is a look on the Smashbox website that shows some colors from the Spider Club Palette, which I think is the hottest look around and you can get everything she is wearing in that little palette. With the efficacy of the products and the brushes, I was able to create this look with no problem. I was a happy person! You should be, too, so go check it out! Happy Shopping!

find out about this reviewer and more about the panel...

- December 15, 2005

Dear Santa... Love, Marissa

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year... VERY VERY GOOD! :) And therefore, I would only like the following four beauty products under my tree this year.

First, if you please pick up the Hourglass Passage and Color Link I would be so appreciative. Such a beautiful leather case (they call it Passage) and the purple hues in this Vineyard palette (called Color Link) make it the must have for this season. Six eye shadows and two blushes seal the deal as a great buy. And, once you buy the case, you can pop the other palettes in and out. I won't even be greedy and ask for more palettes... (I will buy the others with holiday cash!) The Color Ink palette is $55.00 and the Passage is $75.00. Check out the full line of Hourglass Cosmetics at

Secondly, Santa, I would LOVE the Bond No 9 Bon-Bon Box. This has all 18 Bond fragrances wrapped up like little chocolate candies. The best part is that the travel-size bottles are refillable! And the price is only $230.00. Normally, you can't buy one of these perfumes for less than $100.00. This is truly a holiday miracle! Santa, go online and order it at (It's on back order right now, but I know you can get it for me by Christmas!)

Since I was such a good girl, if you could stop at Sephora and pick up the Bliss Wishing For Bliss, I would be in heaven. This kit has Bliss's most popular scrubs, soaps and lotions: Lemon & Sage body scrub and Soapy Sap (my favorite scent), Vanilla & Bergamot Body Butter and Bubbling Bath and Shower Gel, High Intensity Hand Cream, and a mini Herb and Jungle Exfoliating Soap. All for only $45.00. My winter skin will be smooth and silky for the holidays with this gift! Check out Bliss at

Also at Sephora (see Santa, I'm trying to make it easy on you), if you drop a Bourjois Fabulous Flirtini into your sleigh, I won't complain! The trio of products includes Multi Shimmer Loose Shadow in Rose Or 03, Effet 3D Lip Gloss in Emblematic 4 and Pump Up the Volume mascara in Black. Plus a Flirtini recipe! It makes a great stocking stuffer... hint, hint, hint! Only $28.00 - such a bargain! So if you want, you can pick me up the Bella Bellini and the Mojito Mischief, too!

Thank you, Santa, and have a wonderful holiday season full of good cheer and great beauty products!


- December 11, 2005

Kristen's Christmas Wish List - the ultimate gifts

Oh, how I love this time of year! The Holiday Season brings about cooler temperatures, family and friends, the spirit of the season, lots of food... and the best freakin' beauty goodies you can find! Most people find this time of year stressful. Not me! I love buying for people and I love to buy for me, too! Sounds selfish, but my husband and I do not really exchange gifts. We may buy something small for each other, but we just go together to the Houston Galleria and buy stuff we want, within reason of course. I am gearing up for my goody list and here it is!

I have been dying to get a hold of the new T3 Tourmaline Ionic Hair Dryer. Yes, it is $200 and I may be crazy for wanting it, but hey, I am quite the logical person. I can justify its purchase by thinking about what I spend in a year on hair products that have claims of grandeur as high as I am tall (and I am pretty tall at 5'10"), and they don't work. If that hairdryer did what it says it does, I wouldn't feel the need to buy all these products that are taking over my bathroom. I'd tell you what I spend in a year on hair products, particularly pre-straightener, but I fear my husband may come across this, so I can't tell you. I can tell you that I'd be much better off by buying the dryer. With claims to dry your hair up to 60% faster while making it shinier and healthier and frizz free, I am hoping it's true since I decided to go ahead and order it because we won't be making our Houston trip for another couple of weeks. I'll let you all know how it works since a fellow panelist just loves it. The T3 can be found at, and

Another item that I want is the Chantecaille Stress Repair Concentrate. After Marissa's review, I think I want it really bad. Again, I cannot see spending $170 on skincare, but I use the same justification as the hairdryer. If it works and lasts a while, I am better off in the long run instead of buying other expensive stuff that doesn't work. Puffy under eyes are a gift from my mom since she has them (as do my older siblings), and it doesn't help that I don't sleep but maybe 5 hours a night. I've heard this stuff is the best with its host of goodies like caffeine, green tea and bilberry extracts (just to name a few) to minimize fine lines and eradicate puffies. And hey, I am not getting any younger. I wouldn't even get offended if my husband did buy it. It's not a treadmill, so I'm good. :) Chantecaille can be found at and

Chantecaille has made it on my "most wanted" list because I also want their Holiday Palette. Again, it's a little pricey for what I would normally buy (which is why I don't have it... yet), and since I can't think of a logical reason why I should have it, I haven't bought it. I mean, it's not like I need more makeup! But hey, give me what I want, not need! It's a dazzling trio of champagne and grey blue eye shadows and a sparkly red lip gloss housed in a chic silver case that is signature Chantecaille. I do love Chantecaille's lip glosses and compact powder and have been wanting to try out the rest of the line because not only what I've tried has been good, but I just adore the packaging. I've wanted this thing for over a year now. I think I will bump my head, lose all sense of reasoning and buy the darned thing anyway just because! Those colors are just too pretty.

Since I am a Laura Mercier fan and have been for years now, this list wouldn't be complete without something of hers. The Custom Portfolio is the ultimate-chic, zippered makeup case that holds makeup essentials and tools in a flat panel board that you customize with your favorite things. It holds up to 8 eye shadows, 2 eye liners, 1 brow powder duo, 2 cheek shades, and 2 pressed powders. It's not cheap as it costs $308 to fill it up, which is the most expensive palette I can think of, but it holds a lot of stuff and it comes with the faux lizard makeup case. I can see buying this soon since I wear mostly Laura Mercier, unless I am wanting to have a jazzy evening and spice things up with glitter and rhinestones. I think the only reason I haven't bought it is because I cannot think of any products that go it in that I don't already have. I am trying to be practical and not buy the same exact stuff I am using... but soon... very soon. I actually showed it to my husband and he actually said to get it if I didn't have so much of it already because he's tired of all my stuff piled on the bathroom counter! You can check out Laura's products at,, and I'd go check out her own website because I think it's more comprehensive.

Well, the list could go on and on and on, but alas it has to end. :( I am hoping that I was a good enough girl this year for Santa or my husband to deem me worthy enough for such pricey gifts. I think I've been good all year in that I haven’' bought any of them, except for the recent purchase of the T3 dryer, so that should be sufficient justification as to why I should get them now. :)

Merry Christmas!

- December 11, 2005


















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