Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Home for the Holidays: Must-Have Beauty Travel Kits

Let's see a show of hands. Who's leaving town soon to reunite with loved ones? 

No doubt about it, millions of Americans plan to go home for the holidays during the back-to-back celebrations of Christmas and New Year's Eve. If you haven't already loaded up the car or booked an airline ticket, chances are you know someone who will be visiting from out of town. In fact, December 26 receives the unique distinction as the second most traveled day during the holidays and the entire year (the Sunday after Thanksgiving takes the top honor). It's estimated that 12 million trips take place the day after Christmas, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

My dog Rudy starts packing for our annual holiday trip to Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

So grab your passports, fasten your seat belts and pack light. To help you do so, we've assembled nine of the finest beauty travel kits on the market. Although they contain smaller versions of their full-size counterparts, they still get the job done when it comes to restoring luminosity to skin and hair. 

You'll be home experiencing glow-sweet-glow in no time. Happy holidays! 

SHINE: CellCeuticals Discovery Kit. BEAUTY: Counteract the visible signs of aging with Extremely Gentle Skin Cleanser, Extreme Defense (Anti-Cell Damage Skin Treatment), CellGenesis (Regenerative Skin Treatment), CerActive (Active Moisture + Barrier Repair Skin Treatment), NeoCell (Micro-Resurfacing Skin Treatment) and PhotoDefense (Anti-PhotoAging Daily Skin Protector SPF 55+). BEACON: No animal testing and vegan. Free of artificial colorants and fragrances, sodium lauryl sulfate, phthalates and parabens.

SHINE: Coola Environmental Repair Plus Skin Recovery Essentials. BEAUTY: Soothe, smooth and shield your skin with Calm Glow Eye Gel, Fresh Relief Face Serum and Clear Recover Foam Wash. BEACONFree of paba, parabens, petroleum and phthalates. 

SHINE: Dermalogica Shave Kit (for men). BEAUTY: Cools, calms and comforts his complexion with Daily Clean Scrub, Pre-Shave Guard, Soothing Shave Cream and Post-Shave Balm. BEACONContains no artificial fragrances or colorants. Championed joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship).

SHINE: Murad Resurgence Get Glowing! BEAUTY: Boost suppleness and cellular turnover with Renewing Cleansing Cream, Age-Diffusing Serum, Renewing Eye Cream and Age-Balancing Night Cream. BEACON: No animal testing.

SHINE: Naturopathica Skin Care Regimen Kit. BEAUTY: Firm and refresh your skin with Oat Facial Polish, Vitamin C Revitalizing Complex, Sweet Lupine Cleansing Cream and Plant Stem Cell Serum. BEACON: Contains no sulfates, PEGs, DEA, TEA, parabens, glycols or urea. Supports the American Botanical Council and The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

SHINE: Number 4 All That Glitters--Va-Va Volume Travel Sac. BEAUTY: Unleash luminous, luxurious locks with Volumizing Shampoo, Volumizing Condition, Styling Foam and Mighty Hair Spray. BEACON: Vegan and no animal testing. Free of sulfates, gluten and parabens.

SHINE: Paula's Choice Clear Collection Two-Week Trial Kit. BEAUTY: Banish blackheads, bacteria and blemishes with Clear Pore Normalizing Cleanser, Clear Anti-Redness Exfoliating Solution with 2% Salicylic Acid and Clear Daily Skin Clearing Treatment. BEACON: No animal testing. Supports American Humane Society, DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women's Network) and United Negro College Fund.

SHINE: Sanítas Normal Skin System. BEAUTY: Hydrate and heal your skin with Glycolic Citrus Cleanser, Moisturizing Cleanser, Glycotoner 5%, Moisture Mist, Vita-Rich Serum and Topical C. BEACON: Supports the Cinderella Foundation.

SHINE: Skyn Iceland Quench Kit for Thirsty Skin. BEAUTY: Bring brilliance back to dull, dry and depleted skin with Icelandic Relief Eye Pen, Pure Cloud Cleanser, Arctic Hydrating Balm and Oxygen Infusion Night. BEACON: Vegan and cruelty free. Contains no parabens, petroleum, phthalates, mineral oil, sulfates or dye. Supports Making Strides Against Breast Cancer.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Candy Cane Couture: Merry Mint Manis

Sing along: "Follow me in merry measure... Fa la la la la, la la la la... While I tell of yuletide treasure... Fa la la la la, la la la la."

Yuletide treasures abound during this time of the year--especially when it comes to tasty treats. Who can resist homemade holiday cupcakes, cookies, pies, truffles, tarts and cakes? Plus, we get a calorie-free pass (at least, that's what I've been told). 

It's also the perfect opportunity to enjoy stylish seasonal treats for your tips. Festive red and white manis not only spread holiday cheer, but they also put more pep in your step. We like to call them candy cane couture. 

Here's how to create your own merry mint mani: Paint each nail with a base coat and two layers of red polish (or alternate between red and white). Select one tip as an accent nail and coat it with two layers of white lacquer. Carefully use the brush to paint one wide red band and two slimmer side-by-side ones. Finish with a top coat over each nail. 

Voila! Your tips can now fa la la la la their way to the next holiday party. Special thanks to my niece Natalie J. Wilson. She served as our mani model and nail artist. Enjoy!

SHINE: Dazzle Dry Rapid Red, Linen Lace and Garnet.

BEAUTY: Spectacular sparkles. BEACON: Vegan, and contains no formaldehyde, toluene, dibutyl phthalate, camphor or nitrocellulose.  

SHINELCN Bowl of Cherries and Milky Way. 

BEAUTY: Peppermint paradise. BEACONContains no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate or toluene.

SHINEPure Ice Platinum and Siren.

BEAUTY: Dandy candy digits. BEACON: Contains no formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate or toluene.

Friday, December 14, 2012

2012 Stocking Stuffers: Festive Gifts Sets For the Face, Body, Nails & Hair

Holiday Tutorial: How to Make a Handmade Stocking

I grew up in Southern California, so our home didn't have a fireplace. There was simply no need for one. However, this meant that Santa Claus needed another point of entry to unload his haul of gift goodies. 

My parents solved the problem by leaving the front door unlocked (not such a scandalous idea back then). They also placed a big red handmade stocking with "Santa" imprinted on the cuff on the tree. It was stuffed with lots of candies and cookies as a special treat for St. Nick's annual global trek.

As an adult, I continue the tradition of hanging holiday stockings. In addition to making one for Santa, I also create one for each member of the family (click on the video tutorial above to see how to do it for your own loved ones). However, the Christmas confections have now been replaced with other sweet treats--beauty products for the hair, body, nails and skin. 

Check out the following must-have gift sets for the special people in your life. You don't need an oversized red suit or a big white beard to enjoy them!  

SHINE: 100% Pure Super Fruits Skin Care Gift Set For Age Correction. BEAUTY: Super Fruits Scrub + Mask, Serum, Reparative Cream, Night Balm and Eye Balm provide powerful antioxidants to reduce signs of aging. BEACONVegan, and gluten and cruelty free. Also contains no detergents, synthetic chemicals, or artificial fragrances or colorants.

SHINE: Elizabeth Grant Winter Dreams Shower Gel and Christmas Morning Shower Gel Duo. BEAUTY: Moisturize and cleanse the skin with these maple- and ginger-scented delicious delights. BEACON: No animal testing. Supports the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

SHINE: Kitoko Hydro-Revive Gift Set For Dull, Dry & Coarse Hair. BEAUTY: Nourish and moisturize the skin and hair with Hydro-Revive Cleanser, Hydro-Revive Balm and Body Cream. BEACON: Contains no sodium laureth sulfate or sodium lauryl sulfate. 

SHINE: Malie Organics Coconut Vanilla Perfume Oil. BEAUTY: This calming scent promotes aromatherapy for the skin. BEACON: No animal testing and vegan. Free of petroleum, sulfates and parabens.

SHINE: Moonessence Glowing Holiday Skin Kit. BEAUTY: Restore a youthful looking appearance in three easy steps with Exfoliating Cleanser Refining Scrub, Pumpkin Peel Dermal Resurfacer and Hydrating Serum. BEACON: Vegan and gluten free. Supports The Carousel Fund. 

SHINE: MOR Cosmetics Triple Treasures Hand Cream Gift Pack. BEAUTY: Treat your senses to a scented trio of Blood Orange, Snow Gardenia and Lychee Flower for on-the-go hydration. BEACON: Supports TLC For Kids.

SHINE: Number 4 All That Glitters Le Golden Sac. BEAUTY: Replenish the splendor of shiny hair with Hydrating Shampoo, Hydrating Conditioner, Hydrating Body Lotion and Fluoro5 Elixer Restore & Repair Oil. BEACON: Vegan and no animal testing. Contains no sulfates, gluten or parabens.

SHINE: Naturopathica Sicilian Bergamot Body Care Gift Set. BEAUTY: Soothe and smooth the skin with Sicilian Bergamot Shower Gel and Sicilian Bergamot Body Lotion. BEACON: Free of detergents, PEGs, DEA, TEA, parabens, glycols and urea. Supports the American Botanical Council, Natural Resources Defense Council and The Nature Conservancy.

SHINE: Pevonia Dare to Defy Lumafirm Body Firm & Glow Gift Set. BEAUTY: Resurface and revitalize the skin with Lumafirm Body Moisturizer, Black Sequined Cosmetic Bag, Loofah Terry Pad and Gift Box with Silver Ribbon (not shown). BEACON: No animal testing. Supports the Beauty Bus Foundation.

SHINE: Priti NYC Hollywood Vixen Kit. BEAUTY: Sparkle, shimmer and shine with lovely lacquers--Black Moon Pansies, Mulberry Jam, Brussels Lace and Tuscany Superb--packaged in an eco-friendly brown purse. BEACON: No animal testing and vegan. Free of formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene and camphor. 

SHINE: Ren Clean Skincare Mini Rose Set. BEAUTY: Bath time will never be the same with nourishing and cleansing Moroccan Rose Otto Bath Oil, Body Cream and Body Wash. BEACON: No animal testing and vegan. Free of synthetic colorants and fragrances, petrochemicals, sulfate detergents and parabens.

SHINE: Sanítas Skincare Holiday Men's Gift Set. BEAUTY: Ramp up the shaving routine for the special man in your life with Energizing Face & Body Wash, Essential Saving Cream and Restorative After Shave Serum. BEACON: Supports the Cinderella Foundation

SHINE: VMV Hypoallergenics Mistle Glow Mascara & Lipstick Set. BEAUTY: Ooh-La-Lash! Volumizing Mascara and Glitz Lipstick in Drama Queen (deep pink) help achieve luscious lips and longer lashes. BEACON: No animal testing. Free of fragrances, phthalates, dyes and parabens. Supports The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Season Makeup Looks: Color Block Inspired Cheeks, Eyes & Lips

Not sure when it happened, but color took an unexpected style sabbatical a few years ago. Perhaps the gloom and doom of the recession served as the inspiration, as muted went mainstream in all aspects of our lives--fashion, nails and cosmetics. In fact, the smoky eye/nude lip craze underscored the trend.   

Thank goodness for Gucci and other iconic designers. They created a style sensation when they began combining hot hues that complement each other, such as orange, purple and emerald green. It didn't take long before fashionistas hailed the trend, and bold colors returned to the style scene in a big way.

During holiday party season, it's a bright time and the right time to rock the night away with color block inspired cosmetics. They're designed to help you jingle around the clock while mixing and a-mingling. Check out our latest, greatest finds. 

SHINE: 100% Pure by Purity Cosmetics Fruit Pigmented Blush in Peppermint Candy (shimmery pink), Fruit Pigmented Satin Eye Shadows in Maui (shimmery golden plum) and Star (shimmery gold), Fruit Pigmented Pot Rouge in Posey (coral) and Fruit Pigmented Satin Eye Shadow in Halo (shimmery pearl). BEAUTY: All is calm and all is bright with this colorful collection, which gets its intensity from fruit and vegetable pigments. BEACON: Vegan, and gluten and cruelty free.

SHINE: Elizabeth Grant Eyeshadow Palette in Shades of Romance and Light Up Your Lips in Shimmering Red. BEAUTY: Get in the holiday spirit as a dancer, prancer and vixen in these stunning shades. BEACON: No animal testing. Supports Hollyrod Foundation, Fashion Cares and Look Good...Feel Better.

SHINE: Jesse's Girl Cosmetics 9 Pan Eye Shadow Compact in The Eyes Have It. BEAUTY: This palette of similar colors has fun, flirty and festive written all over it. BEACON: No animal testing.

SHINE: Luna Star Fancy Fairy Dust Blush (top), Bubble Gum Shimmer Lip Balm, Very Violet Eye Shadow and Midnight Blue Eye Shadow. BEAUTY: Your young daughters will feel like they're walking through a winter wonderful with these mom-approved, kid-safe mineral powders designed specifically for pre-teens who like to play dress up. BEACON: Free of synthetic dyes, parabens and artificial colors.

SHINE: Mineral Fusion Blush in Flashy (top), Lip Gloss in Captivate and Eye Shadow Trio in Imagine. BEAUTY: You'll be dancing through the snow and laughing all the way with these sparkling shades. BEACON: Free of gluten, parabens, SLS, phthalates, artificial colors and synthetic fragrances. Supports the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

SHINE: Purely Pro Cosmetics Five Well Eyeshadow Pallet in Precious Metals, Lipstick in Glamour Puss and Blusher in Curvy. BEAUTY: Make memories underneath the mistletoe with this medley of merriment. BEACON: No animal testing. Supports Dress for Success.

SHINE: Sormé Treatment Cosmetics Lip Thick Gloss in Empress, Perfect Performance Lip Color in Glamour Red and Long Lasting Blush in Pomegranate. BEAUTY: 'Tis the season to sparkle with these captivating colors. BEACON: No animal testing. Supports the Noreen Fraser Foundation and Look Good...Feel Better.

SHINE: VMV Hypoallergenics Glitz Lipstick in It Girl (top), Two True Hues Eyeshadow Duo in Bardot (Princess and Misty) and Velvet Matte Lipstick in Bikini Machine. BEAUTY: Your days will be merry and bright with these hot holiday hues. BEACON: No animal testing. Free of fragrances, phthalates, dyes and parabens. Supports The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"Moliday" Cheer: 10 Grooming Gift Ideas for Men

Photo courtesy Tara Angkor Hotel

Man oh man! The face of personal care has changed dramatically in the last few years in an exciting XY way. When I treated myself to a spa massage for my birthday last month, I found myself surrounded by several men in the coed relaxation room. Most were there for facials rather than massages.

It's no secret that men want to look--and feel--their best in today's competitive world. In fact, many of my girlfriends often complain that their significant others use up their beauty products without replacing them. Wrinkle reducers, tinted moisturizers, under-eye concealers and bronzers appeal to them just as much as their own shaving supplies.

Men spend more than $4 billion each year on grooming supplies in the United States, according to some estimates. Movember marks an annual, month-long event during November, which brings the growing popularity of this trend into focus by encouraging men to grow moustaches. It also raises awareness of prostate cancer and other male-oriented maladies. So why not continue the celebration and turn December into a Men's Skincare Holiday Month, or "Moliday," with great grooming gift goodies for the special guy in your life?

Here's how to make it happen. The following cleansers, scrubs, creams and moisturizers specifically address men's skincare concerns. They're guaranteed to spread lots of Moliday cheer!

SHINE: Dermalogica Soothing Shave Cream, Pre-Shave Guard and Post-Shave Balm. BEAUTY: These products prevent ingrown hairs and discomfort/redness brought on by shaving with ingredients such as clove flower, hyaluronic acid, aloe vera leaf juice and salicylic acid. BEACON: Contains no artificial fragrances or colorants. Championed joinFITE (Financial Independence Through Entrepreneurship).

SHINE: Elizabeth Grant Grant Homme Moisturizer. BEAUTY: Prickly pear extract and aloe vera juice serve to soothe and protect the skin. BEACON
No animal testing. Supports Assaulted Women's Hotline, About Face and Sick Kids Foundation

SHINE: Headblade HeadShed Exfoliating Scrub. BEAUTY: Sloughs dead skin cells, and preps the face and head for a close shave with finely ground walnut shells, shea butter and grape seed powder. BEACON: No animal testing.

SHINE: LATHER Citrus Soothing Pre-Shave Oil. BEAUTY: Conditions the skin for a comforting shave with sweet almond, lavender, avocado, lemon and cedarwood oils. BEACONNo animal testing. Free of sulfates and parabens. 

SHINE: Murad Face Defense Broad Spectrum SPF 15, Razor Burn Rescue and Cleansing Shave. BEAUTY: These products utilize ingredients such as mushroom extract, vitamin E, glycolic acid and tea tree oil to combat blemishes and ingrown hairs, and protect the skin from environmental damage. BEACON: No animal testing.

SHINE: Phytomer Homme Global Pur Detoxifying Cleansing Gel. BEAUTY: Revives skin and removes impurities with brown seaweed and marine oxhylium. BEACON: The company collects seaweed from natural forests, respecting periods of reproduction and following local regulations. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Put a Ring on It: Hydrating Hand Creams for Holiday Marriage Proposal Season

The Proposal by Giacomo Mantegazza (1853-1920)

Happy Thanksgiving week! Not only do Americans spend this special holiday connecting and calorie loading with family and friends, they also have a higher likelihood of getting engaged. Chalk it up to the sugar rush of pumpkin pies or the mass consumption of alcoholic beverages, but Thanksgiving curiously marks the start of proposal season--which lasts until the end of the year.

More than one in four grooms ask for their bride's hand in marriage on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or New Year's Eve. In fact, the months of November and December account for more than 25% of proposals, according to some reports. This means if you see someone getting down on bended knee during the holidays, chances are he probably doesn't intend to pick up cookie crumbs off the carpet. 

In honor of marriage proposal season, we've compiled several hand creams, lotions and scrubs. They not only promote the appearance of silky smooth hands, but they also deliver the moisture needed to fend off dry skin during the winter months. We can't guarantee that you'll be hearing wedding bells in your immediate future, but you'll definitely be the belle of the holiday ball.

SHINE: Ava Anderson Hand & Body Lotion. BEAUTY: Maximize moisture with aloe vera gel, shea butter, and sweet almond, pomegranate and coconut oils. BEACON: Vegan and no animal testing. Free of gluten, nuts, parabens, PEGs, SLS, triclosan, synthetic fragrances and dyes, phthalates, formaldehyde and nitrosamine.

SHINE: Elizabeth Grant Hand & Foot Cream. BEAUTY: Aloe vera extract and vitamin E nourish chapped hands, elbows and heels. BEACONNo animal testing. Supports Mount Sinai Hospital and Sick Kids Foundation.

SHINE: Fleur's Velvet Hand Cream. BEAUTY: Soften skin and prevent dehydration with shea and cocoa butters, sweet almond oil and honey extract. BEACONNo animal testing and vegan. Free of fragrances, dyes, sulfates, petrolatum, alcohol, mineral oil and parabens.

SHINE: Lamas Beauty by Peter Lamas Spa Sensuals Hand Cream and Hand Scrub. BEAUTY: Shea butter, sweet almond oil, and green tea and aloe vera leaf extracts help remove dead skin cells and prevent moisture loss. BEACONVegan and no animal testing. Free of parabens. 

SHINE: LATHER AHA Hand Creme with Evening Primrose. BEAUTY: Smooth and soften hands with alpha hydroxy acids, evening primrose oil and lemongrass leaves. BEACONNo animal testing. Free of sulfates and parabens.

SHINE: M-61 Vitablast C Hand Cream. BEAUTY: Grape seed and avocado oils, aloe vera leaf juice and vitamin E help nourish and brighten dehydrated hands. BEACONNo animal testing. Free of sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances and dyes. Supports Action Against Hunger

SHINE: Moonessence Hand & Body Moisturizer SPF 15 (Orange Honey). BEAUTY: Soothe dry skin and help prevent sunburn with aloe vera juice, coconut oil, zinc oxide and vitamin E. BEACON: Vegan and gluten free. Supports the Carousel Fund

SHINE: Phytoceane Hydra-Conditioning Hand Cream. BEAUTY: Green micro algae, red seaweed, shea butter and sweet almond oil increase skin's softness and suppleness. BEACON: Contains no parabens.

SHINE: Priti NYC Deep For Your Hands & Feet Organic Cream. BEAUTY: Stimulate circulation and promote youthful looking skin with shea butter, and grape seed, apricot kernel and peppermint oils. BEACONNo animal testing and vegan.
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