Saturday, May 31, 2014

Un-beautiful Update 2: Goodbye to an Old Friend

I just wanted to take a minute to update everyone on my sad situation.  My beloved laptop is still dead, and I'm taking it to the Apple store to get the final confirmation that it's not coming back.  I'm already researching local data recovery providers, but that's not an instant fix.

What does that mean for the blog? I can write text posts from my iPad mini, but I have no way to edit photos.  Even worse, I had already done swatches for a month's worth of posts- that are all sitting on the dead laptop's hard drive.  So, I'm going to have to re-swatch everything.

I'm going to be working backwards for awhile- I'm going to write the text for many of these posts, to be married with photos once I have a computer again. My tenative plan is to buy a stripped down laptop in the next 2 weeks, and save for the machine that I want.  My MacBook Pro was 4.5 years old and I was already using an external keyboard since the down arrow and space bar quit working last month. It's time to wish a friend goodbye.  That external keyboard has actually been my savior with this iPad, as it turns out.

I have NOTD posts queued through 8 June, I believe (Ialthough the Blogger iPad app is woefully inadequate to check things like this).  I'll poke around and see if any of my draft postings happen to have photos already uploaded, but that would be the extent of my content for a bit.  The good news is that when I return, there are going to be some well-researched posts.  The bad news is that my pristine item photos can't be replicated.

Due to the financial shock of having to buy a new computer, this may not be a daily blog when it returns.  All of that money I spend on beauty products is going to my new laptop fund (again, it may be shocking to some, but I'm fiscally conservative and won't buy one unless I have the money in my bank account.  I truly believe credit cards are for emergencies. Likewise, I won't tap into my home emergency funds for this since a new laptop is a desperate want, but being able to replace my ancient hot water tank the day it finally dies is a need. My beauty purchases are something that I consider an entertainment/hobby expense.  At times like this, I'll be in replenishment of staples only for a bit.  

If anyone has a favorite ultra-basic, ultra-cheap (but not a Chromebook) laptop that they love, please leave it in the comment area. I'm looking for suggestions ($300 and under, the cheaper the better).  Likewise, any MacBook Pro users who have gone to a MacBook Air, I'd love to know how that's gong for you.  That's my current decision.

NOTD: Essie Vices Versa (2014 Neons Collection)

Today's NOTD is the other shade from the 2014 Essie Neons Collection that I couldn't stop thinking about. Vices Versa looks approximately to be slime green, something way outside my comfort zone but one I'd like to see if I can get away with at work.

The formula was even worse than Chills & Thrills. This shade is one that will require significant effort to make it work. My swatches have one coat of Butter London Cotton Buds plus 3 coats, topped with Butter London Hardware.  This takes significant drying time between each coat as well.

If I had an inkling of the poor formula and thought it's unlikely that I could pull it off at work, why buy it?

Take a look at this combo:

It's easy to see, right? Just lovely.

Friday, May 30, 2014

NOTD: Dior Saint Tropez

Today's NOTD is one of my summer standbys: Dior Saint Tropez. This shade was released twice, most recently for Summer 2012. I love this as one of my go-tos for pedicures. There are two coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails in this shot.

NOTD: Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Expresionniste

First, I'd like to wish a happy Memorial Day to all of my US readers and say thank you to all that have served our country, are serving our country, and their families.

Today's NOTD is by far what I consider to be the best of the birthday freebies offered by beauty companies.  Yves Saint Laurent sent me a promo code for a free bottle of La Laque Couture #32, Rouge Expressionniste during my birthday month with $75 purchase.  Yes, it's full-sized.  Now that is a birthday gift!

I've got two coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails here.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

NOTD: Deborah Lippmann Between the Sheets

Today's NOTD is Deborah Lippmann Between the Sheets, an electric purple magenta creme.  I coveted this shade for months before finally pulling the trigger. Although it's not from the current collection, it looks like it belongs with the 80's Rewind Collection.  This is a bit thinner than normal in terms of formula, but still performed well.  It's decidedly blue-based, and just is pure fun.

There are three coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

NOTD: Deborah Lippmann She Drives Me Crazy

Today's NOTD is Deborah Lippmann She Drives Me Crazy, from the Summer 2014 80's Rewind Collection. It was just recently that I swore that Maniac was going to be my only selection from the collection. So, what happened?

I got an itch for a teal nail polish and was debating between this and YSL Vert D'Orient. Since the YSL retails for $27 and is permanent, I went for this shade instead.  There are two coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails. It's flawless as usual.

While this isn't a work-friendly color, I'm determined to figure out a way to make this work!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Not-SoBeautiful Interruption

Hi all-

I'm not sure when a post other than a NOTD will be appearing, as my laptop has just had an unfortunate accident. Here's to hoping it turns back on soon....

MAC Alluring Aquatic Collection: Extra Dimension Eyeshadows Silver Sun & Lorelei

Today I'm happy to share with you my two color selections from MAC's Alluring Aquatic Collection: Extra Dimension Eye Shadows in Silver Sun and Lorelei.  Admittedly, it's been awhile since I bought LE items from MAC (Spring's lipstick is a notable exception), so I wasn't prepared at the number of stores I had to call before tracking both of these down.

They're both relatively small (1.3g/0.04oz), and retail for $19.50 each.  Each eyeshadow comes in the fantastic LE teal packaging.  The two shadows couldn't be any more different, yet it turns out that they're perfectly suited to one another (and the matching 233 brush).

According to MAC's website, these are "A liquid-powder Eye Shadow with prismatic reflections in six shimmering tints. Impact ranges from sheer crystallized light to a highly polished metallic effect. Lasts up to six hours. Limited-edition teal packaging, dramatically accented with sheer water droplets."

There were/are six shadows in this range, but just these two stood out to me. While Silver Sun's dirty metallic edge made me think of shades I've loved in the past, I had a feeling that Lorelei's understated warmth would be a perfect match for so many looks this summer.

First, let's talk about Lorelei.  MAC's description of "golden beige" sells this short. It's a shimmering, light rose gold tone that lightens up any eye.


One quick note on the stamping- after a few days of testing, the MAC imprint is gone, and I'm working on the waves.

It's hard to see this on my light skin, but it's the perfect summertime shimmer. It warms up my eye area brilliantly.

Outside, in the sun:

Outside, not in the sun:

I've tested Lorelei in two different ways. First, as an all-over color with a colorful eyeliner it's lovely but not terribly unique. I've found the other way of wearing it (up to the socket, paired with Silver Sun) to be the winner.  It's warm and adds luminosity to the eye without drag-queen or club-like sparkle.  The MAC 217 was the best brush for maximizing performance, in my opinion.

Now, let's talk about Silver Sun. It was the shade that literally stopped me in my tracks when Temptalia posted swatch photos.  MAC's description of "Midtone dirty seafoam green" fits but again undersells the beauty of this shade.

It's a classic summer hue for me- greenish yet wearable. I've worn this on the lid, both working with Lorelei and alone. This is what I was hoping MAC Malacca would be.  It's a shimmering wonder that somehow isn't frosty. Yet somehow it's distinctly and apologetically metallic.

A few swatches:

Outside, in the sun:


Inside with flash:

Once I brought it home, I thought that I might have some similar shades in my stash.  I've swatched a couple of comparisons:

It's dirtier but just as metallic as Stila Mystic, and much darker than Chanel Jade Shore. It somewhat surprised me that I owned at least two other similar shades!

Finally, a word on wear.  I typically wear NARS eyeshadow base, so that's what I tested these with.  I couldn't get 8 hours of wear out of either shade, no matter how hard I tried. If you're going to wear these to the office (as shockingly I will), make sure you bring them in your bag for mid-day touch-ups.  Yet they're beautiful enough to warrant the extra work.

And yes, I actually wore this combination to work (I'm actually wearing it today). It's that versatile, which is another reason why I'm so happy.

Overall, I'm pleased with these shades. This is the type of collection and items that bring me back to MAC- I just wish I hadn't had to call so many places to find them!  The collection is almost sold out everywhere online, but call your local counters- they probably still have stock since this was only released last Thursday.

NOTD: Zoya Hudson & Zoya Monet

Today's NOTD is another look with an accent nail.  Both Zoya Hudson and Monet were released as a part of the Spring 2014 collection.

Hudson is a silver-infused mid-tone purple shimmer.  It has a nice formula, and didn't require much special care in terms of avoiding streaks.  I have two coats on my nails in these photos.

Monet is a glitter topcoat that I have on top of Hudson on my ring finger. This one requires a basecoat, and the formula was honestly suspect.

Monday, May 26, 2014

MAC Alluring Aquatic Collection: 233 Split Fibre Eye Shadow Brush

Let me state this for the record: I used to be a total MAC devotee, but really got turned off by the way that the brand approaches limited edition collections. I find a few pieces per year that I purchase, but it takes a lot to pull me back in.  And the new Alluring Aquatic Collection pulled me right back in.  I've brought three items so far, and may be picking up several other pieces.

I was only able to find one of my coveted items in-store the day that the collection launched at counters: the 233 Split Fibre Eye Shadow Brush ($25).

The 233 brush is distinct for two reasons. First, the aestetic: it's the same beautiful brushed teal as the rest of the collection. It's a stunning brush.  Second, it's double-sided. One side has synthetic fibers, the other natural fibers.

Size-wise, it's almost identical to the 239, which is a staple in my daily routine. It might actually be identical, but I didn't pull out the tape measure.  It functions the same as the 239, though.

Is this a must-have? Probably not.  Have I been using it on a daily basis since I bought it? Yes.  I think it's a nice take on a classic shape and like getting two brushes in one.  I prefer the natural fiber side for powdery shadows and synthetic bristles for creamier formulas.

The 239 side/shape is perfect for lid work and is a true workhorse in my brush wardrobe. I reach for it on a a near-daily basis, so having another version is fun.  The teal shade is beautiful, but not required.

I recommend this brush to anyone who loves the 239 and wants a split-fiber alternative. It's the same price as the 239, so I look at it as a "why not?" type of purchase.

Unlike the other products, this seems to be still available via most retailers.

QBB's Summer Picks: Body, and Skincare Favorites

Today marks Memorial Day, the traditional unofficial kick-off to the summer season in the US. It's also the kick-off to a series of posts that I've been thinking a lot about lately.  Although trends come and go, there are certain looks that I generally consider to be "classic" every summer- despite the trends.

This week I'll be bringing you a my summer favorites.  I'm going to break most of my blogging rules and show plenty of LE/discontinued products that aren't available at this time.  I've pulled some of my favorites; there are plenty of other shades that are similar that are currently on the market.

First, let's talk body.  The summer means more exposed skin, which also means a higher risk of danger for alabaster beauties like myself. Let me be clear: I'm going to be advocating for very high SPF value chemical sunscreens. I'm aware that not all need SPF 50, and that there is a small subset of people who claim that chemical sunscreens are dangerous.  That's not a debate that I am willing to entertain in this space at all. Thanks for your understanding.

Quick note: Links reference prior reviews on this blog.

QBB's Summer Favorites- Body Products:

1. A nice body exfoliator: I'm currently using a calming body exfoliator that I picked up at my local Whole Foods Market loaded with lavender and other calming ingredients. With all of the tanning, buffing, and shaving, it's important to keep your skin glowing.

2. Bronze and Shimmer: I find that a bit of shimmer helps my legs get that perfect summer glow.  Two of my favorite products are Clarins Summer Oil and Charlotte Ronson A Summer's Kiss (discontinued)

3. Self-Tanner: The only safe tan is a fake tan.  I've already shared my love for Nivea's Sun-Kissed Beautiful Legs Shave Reducing Self-Tanner on this blog.

4. Nourishing Shave Cream: Summer always brings out the razors. With extremely sensitive skin, I'm prone to razor burn. I've found two shave creams that work best for me, although I vastly prefer Whish's Shave Crave Shaving Cream ($20) to First Aid Beauty's Smooth Shave Cream ($7.50/2oz, older large size photographed here).

5. A light body butter: I don't need the intensive moisture of my winter products.  I'm currently loving Sephora Collection Super Supreme Body Butter, and find it to be the perfect balance between moisture and price.

Not pictured: my favorite body sunscreen. I simply hadn't repurchased my bottle for this year when I took this photo.  My current favorite is from Shiseido:

Photo via Sephora
 I enjoy the Shiseido Ultimate Sun Protection Lotion + Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face/Body ($39), and have also gotten good results from Kiehl's Sunscreens.

QBB's Summer Favorites- Skincare Products:

1. Exfoliate: Any time I use self-tanner, I make sure to exfoliate. I could've sworn that I've previously written about Clinique's 7-Day Scrub Scream, but I guess not.  I don't use it every day, but it's gentle enough for my sensitive skin.

2. Facial Sunscreen: I use Shiseido's Ultimate Sun Protection Cream+ Broad Spectrum SPF 50+ For Face ($19.50, small size). It's waterproof but also gentle.

3. Lighter Moisture: I adore Shiseido's Benefiance Line. I find that the Day Emusion with SPF 18 is the best daytime moisturizer for my skin.

4. A Protecting Moisturizer: Caudalie Vinoperfect Broad Spectrum SPF Day Perfecting Fluid is a summer favorite for me, as it corrects my complexion while moisturizing- and with SPF!

5. SPF for the Lips: If I'm going to be outside, I use Shiseido's Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF 36 ($22) to protect the thin skin covering my lips.

6. Healthy Lips: I use Bite Beauty's Whipped Cherry Lip Scrub to keep my lips smooth for all of the bright summer lip shades.

7. A Bit of Refreshment: Usually Caudalie's Beauty Elixir is a bit too harsh on my sensitive skin, but it's just what I need during the summer.

8. Blotting Paper: A little glow throughout the day is normal. I use Shiseido's The Pureness Oil Control Blotting Paper ($18.50) to try to keep my glow in check.  If the pouch looks a little battered, it is.  It lives in my makeup bag half of the year!

9. A face-only self-tanner: Your face is significantly different than your legs, so why use the same self-tanner? I've been having excellent results from Clarins Radiance Plus Golden Glow Booster .

10. A tough yet sensitive makeup remover: In order to cut through all of the waterproof shades, it's important have a tough makeup remover. Koh Gen Do's Cleansing Spa Water remains my HG in this category.

11. A perfume that screams summer: I rotate fragrances frequently, but Giorgio Armani's Acqua di Gioia is a classic scent that just makes me think of summer. I pair it with the similarly-scented shower gel for all day scent.

Those are my favorites- what are your summer staples for body and skincare? Keep reading this week for some of my classic summertime makeup looks!

NOTD: Essie Chills & Thrills (2014 Neons Collection)

Today's NOTD is one of my selections from Essie's 2014 Neons Collection.  Chills & Thrills is a saturated indigo shade that's one of the more understated in the collection.

It reminds me of a poor man's Butter London Giddy Kipper (note to self: need to swatch Giddy Kipper a a NOTD!).

You're seeing 3-4 coats of Chills & Thrills over one coat of Butter London Cotton Buds. See this blogger's explanation of why white is an important undercoat. Like others, I'm having a hard time recommending this collection. The formula is horrific and patchy, and doesn't last. I managed to chip one of my nails over the 6 hours of sleep that I got!  The whole look is topped with Butter London Hardware.

As much as I disliked the formula, I couldn't stop looking at my nails. It's a bold, vibrant look.

There's one other shade that I can't stop thinking about, otherwise the rest of this collection is a huge pass for me.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

FOTD: Let's Go Testing!

This post really serves two purposes: it shows a recent Face of the Day and is a sneak peak at some of the items you'll be seeing on this blog over the next few weeks. Casual weekends are for testing in my world, and I went for a colorful look.  For the first time in a very long time, this is actually current- this is what I wore and used today!

 * denotes item being tested

  • Edward Bess Luxury Face Brush
  • MAC 217
  • Sephora Professional Angled Blush Brush
  • Marc Jacobs The Conceal Brush
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills #7 Brush
  • MAC 282SE
  • MAC 233*

Face Basics:
  • Clinique Redness Solutions Primer*
  • Bobbi Brown SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer Oil Free
  • NARS Creamy Concealer- Chantilly
  • Benefit Boi-ing Concealer
  • Chanel Les Beiges #10
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush- Dim Infusion*

  • NARS Pro Prime Eyeshadow Primer
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Powder-Caramel
  • Dior Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum
  • Burberry Sheer Eyeshadow- Trench 02
  • MAC Extra Dimension Eyeshadow- Silver Sun*
  • MAC Extra Dimension Eyeshado- Lorelei*
  • Dior Addict It Lash- It Blue*
  • Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes- 1L

  • Tom Ford Lip Color- True Coral*
  • Make Up For Ever Lip Line Perfector

  • Jo Malone Grapefruit*

QBB's Rules for Stress-Free Beauty Collecting

This past week was one of the most frustrating experiences I've had in a long time trying to buy specific items. Although the largest part of my frustration is due to the poor marketing tactics of one company (and it's lead to my almost total abandonment of said brand), a few days later it occurred to me that I had violated some of my rules for stress-free beauty collecting.  They've treated me well, so I wanted to share my knowledge:

  • Become a regular.  I didn't have access to the brand I wanted to track down because it's not one that I buy frequently anymore. More importantly, I'm not known around the counters.  I'm a frequent shopper and known on sight at the 2 closest Sephoras, closest SiJCP, Ulta, and Nordstrom by most of the staff. It also means I am usually able to browse in peace and take my time without being followed by overzealous SAs or loss prevention.
  • Cultivate your relationships, and cultivate a variety of them. I have SAs for several key brands that I work with exclusively, and I frequently get tipped off before products are released. This is information that SAs share freely with their core customers because they know that we are likely to purchase the items. Furthermore, some brands allow pre-ordering or reservations for highly limited collections. Everyone has a different piece of information (ie management at a local Burberry boutique vs Nordstrom Burberry SAs).
  • Don't be afraid to work the phone. I'll admit it; I'd rather just type behind a keyboard rather than call a store and talk to someone. However, this is the best way to build distant relationships, get information, and find products that aren't on websites. SAs generally don't mind answering a few questions or pulling a product for you. Here are a few real examples:
    • I've actually bought four Burberry eyeshadow singles that weren't on the website (one on its way now) by calling counters directly. While Pale Barley was allegedly sold out everywhere, at least three counters had plenty of stock if you called!
    • Although my local MAC counter was sold out of the items that I wanted from the Alluring Aquatic Collection, I only had to call three more places to locate the two pieces I was most interested in, and put the items on hold.
  • Don't chase the shiny object. We all love LE items, and that type of packaging works well in the beauty world. Just keep in mind that there are usually dupes, so don't worry if you can't find it!
  • Just say no to Ebay. I shake my head at the insane prices online. Don't make ebay buying a habit, and avoid the pricing wars. I also question the freshness of some items.

 Those are my rules that have served me well. YMMV, but I wanted to share them with you.  What are your personal rules?

Sunday Dreaming

With the holiday weekend, I've been doing a lot of relaxing, some healing from a recent illness (hence the lack of recent content), and a lot of shopping.  Here are some of the items I'm seriously eyeing:

1. NARS Lipstick- Schiap ($26)

Stock photo via

I have eyed this shade for a long time and usually circle it like a hawk when I'm in a Sephora or at a NARS counter. How can you avoid noticing it?  I have to credit one of my favorite style bloggers (the divine A Lacey Perspective) for finally convincing me that it's workable even in the office.  Consider that link a bonus: she's got great style and brings some serious whimsy into a city known for being traditionally a fashion desert.  Why am I thinking of this at this very moment?  I wore the matching nail shade last week for the first time (look for a future NOTD) and loved it. It served as another reminder that I really should just pick it up already.

2. Essie Vices Versa Neons Nail Polish ($8.50)

Stock photo via

I actually had this in my hand at Ulta yesterday, after having thought about it while getting my hair done. I fully intended to only buy one of the Neons, especially after having read about the formula woes (and experiencing them myself). I've actually got my initial selection on my nails right now as I type, but THIS has my mind still racing. I picked up a floral skirt this weekend that has a hint of this color, and now I want to see if I can push the work-nail limits.

3. Chanel La Nuit Resynchronizing Skincare ($85)

Stock photo via

I'm currently testing all three serums that comprise Chanel's Resynchronizing Skincare system (post probably late June/July), but I can tell that La Nuit is the standout product for my needs.

4.  White with Black Accent Heels

I have come to the conclusion that I am desperately in need of white heels with black accents for my summer work wardrobe. I'm loving clean, crisp white with black accents in general (I love my Michael Kors Hamilton).  My only issue is that I have wide, wide feet and can't cram my feet into a medium width shoe. Readers, if you have any ideas for wide width shoes that fit this general theme, please leave them in the comments!

Here are a few that caught my eye but don't come in wide:

Kenneth Cole Watts Pointy-Toed Pump, $133.96 (sale) at Nordstrom

Badgley Mischka Talia Platform Pump, $146.98 (sale) at Nordstrom
J. Renee Marva Pump, $89.95 at Nordstrom

Calvin Klain Kammy Pumps, $34.99 at 6pm

Steve Madden Equality Pump, $73.99 at 6pm
Badgley Mischka Talia Pump, $184.99 at 6pm

Those are some of the things that I'm either on the lookout for or have caught my eye.  What are you dreaming of lately?

NOTD: Deborah Lippmann Maniac

Today's NOTD is my sole selection to date from Deborah Lippmann's Summer 2014 80's Rewind Collection, Maniac.

Maniac is the deepest and most work-friendly in the neon collection.  It's a lovely deepened purple electric creme that's surprisingly unique in my collection.  This was with two coats, plus Butter London Hardware on my nails.

I liked the other shades in the collection, but recently purchased a bright pink I love (Scream and Shout) and couldn't see myself wearing any of the other shades on my nails, no matter how fun they were.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

NOTD: Ciate Skinny Dip

Today's NOTD is my one and only Ciate polish. I've looked at this brand in the past but haven't honestly been overwhelmed for the price point.  I received Skinny Dip, a metallic red-orange shimmer, in my April 2014 Glossybox- like so many others.

I've played around with Skinny Dip a bit and think it'll make a fun pedicure shade for the summer.

I've got three coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails in this photo.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Living Proof Nourishing Styling Cream

Now that summer is almost close enough to taste, I thought it would be the best time to share one of my favorite summer hair products: Living Proof Nourishing Styling Cream ($15/2oz - $26/4 oz - $36/8 oz).

Living Proof touts this product as "the biggest anti-frizz technology in over 30 years." The product description from their website states:

"A deeply nourishing styling cream that eliminates frizz by blocking humidity and smooths the hair strand leaving hair tamed and shiny, yet never heavy or greasy. Powered by our patented Healthy Hair Molecule (OFPMA), which is the biggest breakthrough in anti-frizz technology in over 30 years. Our Healthy Hair Molecule:
  • weightlessly blocks humidity 
  • 70% better than silicones and oils 
  • nourishes and provides optimum moisture levels keeps hair cleaner, longer 

Good for thick or coarse frizzy hair. Sulfate-free, silicone-free and oil-free. Safe and formulated for color and chemically treated hair."

Wow, that's a bit of a mouthful. In reality, this is the first product I've found that stands up to the worst days during the summer when the air is so thick and heavy that it's almost like walking through soup.

It doesn't take more than a pea-sized bead for shoulder length hair. Most importantly, it doesn't weigh down my hair or make it greasy.  I apply this after washing and before drying. My hair is color treated, and this product works well with it.

I highly recommend at least trying this product- even if you're just looking for a product to protect hair from frizzing from the flat iron.  I try to use as few products in my hair as possible, otherwise I'd just use it year-round.

I purchased mine via Sephora, but Living Proof is carried in Sephora, Ulta, and several other retailers.



NOTD: Deborah Lippmann Scream and Shout

Today's NOTD is a (relatively) new release from Deborah Lippmann.  Scream and Shout is a saturated electric pink that was originally released as part of the big holiday set from 2013. It was released as a a stand-alone shade to Nordstrom back in March. I've been holding onto it since then.  I've actually worn this several times and find it looks ultra-chic with black and white combos. However, it's similar to YSL Rose Baby Doll, Chanel Splendeur, etc.

I've got two coats plus Butter London Hardware on my nails here.

This may be a surprise, but this is actually one of my favorite releases of 2014!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Jo Malone Silk Blossom Cologne

Even though I don't normally review perfume since (admittedly) I lack the nose to detect the distinct notes, I wanted to show everyone the new LE Jo Malone scent.  It's available now via (where I ordered it), although it will be available at Jo Malone locations in June.  I was able to smell the pre-release tester at Nordstrom last week.

Silk Blossom is a flower that I'm admittedly not familiar with.  I searched for some information but came up empty aside from references to a 2009 Kenzo scent that also used Silk Flower. Unfortunately, I came up with 99.9% content about fake flowers.

Jo Malone's website has the following description: "Nature’s blooms at their most tempting. The nectarous, pink-fringed pompoms of Silk Blossom. Irresistible to hummingbirds and butterflies. Apricot-fresh with a touch of spice. Airy with clouds of powder-soft heliotrope, nestling on a bed of moss. Fruity and enticing."

I describe this scent as a "smooth, clean, and crisp floral that sweetens over time." Compared to Peony and Blush Suede, it's longer lasting, but the lingering notes are far sweeter than the other florals I've tried from Jo Malone.  I suspect that the sweet notes are from the apricot and the fruity notes.  I find that Silk Blossom is far more complex than most of the other scents I've tried.

Since perfume is such a personal experience, I highly recommend sniffing this at your local counter first.  I struggle to describe perfume, but I also know I'm one of the early purchasers here in the US.

Silk Blossom costs $65/ 30ml and is a limited edition.  That's higher than the usual Jo Malone pricepoint.  There are two major considerations here. First, this is one of the few times that a LE scent is released in both the small and large sizes. Previous Jo Malone LEs were restricted to the larger size. Second, for the first time the perfume comes with the photographed tassel.

I'm a relative newbie to Jo Malone fragrances.  This is only my second purchase, although I've smelled seven of the other scents in the line. Silk Blossom is one of the smoother, cleaner, and more understated scents I've smelled in the line. The instant that I smelled the tester, I knew Silk Blossom had to be mine.  I love it so much that I may purchase a second bottle next month once it hits stores.

NOTD: Butter London Lilibet's Jubilee

Today's NOTD is Butter London Lilbet's Jubilee.  This is a beautiful Lilac metallic foil.  Swatches are with two coats, no top coat.

Again, full disclosure: this is an old draft post that I discovered in the depths of blogger!  I'm amazed at how my swatching skills have improved in just six months.  And to think I wasn't doing any cleanup...

Since my nails are somewhat shredded at the moment (it's a cyclical thing for me), I'm doing my best to save some of these draft posts to keep NOTDs coming.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Butter London Sweet Somethings Set

It's May, which means we're headed into peak wedding season here in the US.  Despite not being a bride, I generally enjoy the various bridal nail collections (I'm thinking of you, Essie).  When Butter London introduced their "Sweet Somethings" Set, I knew it would be mine.

The Sweet Somethings Set retails for $35 and contains 4 fashion-sized (mini) nail lacquers, weighing in at 6ml each.  It's currently available via Butter London's website, Nordstrom, and Ulta.

Here's the product description, straight from the brand's website:
"Ever the fashionista, the butter LONDON bride is a head-turner. She loves wedding classics paired with a modern edge. With a twist on the four ‘somethings’, we've created a palette what offers endless possibilities: a gorgeous overcoat, subtle finishes, and of course a little something blue. Create a signature look for the big day…and the happily ever after!

- Doily - "Something Old" (Light-pink lace overcoat)
- Alabaster Gaze "Something New" (Opaque, pearl-white shimmer)
- Pink Ribbon - "Something Borrowed" (Sheer pale-pink créme)
- Petticoat - "Something Blue" (Periwinkle-blue shimmer)"

 I've been digging lighter nail shades lately, so I knew I could have some fun with this.  I have three different looks to show you.

First, here's a nail wheel with the shades (in order):

You'll note that, aside from Something Blue, they hardly show up.  Luckily, I've got on-the-nail swatches to share.  

Index: Petticoat (2 coats)
Middle: Pink Ribbon (3 coats)
Ring: Alabaster Gaze (3 coats)
Pinky: Doily (2 coats)

I have Butter London's Hardware topcoat on my nails in each case. On the nail, the colors jump out.

Doily is a glitter "topcoat" suspended in a pale pink base which reads natural nail on your hand.  It's comprised of bar, round, and hexagonal white glitter.  It works nicely over a "natural" nail (I have Butter London Nail Foundation on my nail in the photo), over a light shade, and over dark colors for a dramatic look. I didn't pull any dupes because I know I don't own any. I'd purchase a full bottle of this if it's available.

Alabaster Gaze is a white pearl with an off-white tinge.  It becomes clear when it's compared with a true white pearl like Chanel Attraction. This had lovely formula- It was nearly streak-free with two coats, which is nearly unheard-of. It's a nice, soft alternative to stark whites for summer. I didn't pull any dupes because it's quite clearly off-white compared to Chanel Attraction, which is my go-to in terms of a pure white metallic shade. Plus, it's hard to see the differences in white polishes via photographs, to be honest.

Pink Ribbon  is a light pink creme with a bit of a jelly finish. This has the potential to be the hardest to work with, formula-wise. It took three coats to create an even finish. It's a very flattering shade with my rosy undertones; many off-white/very light pink read too beige to flatter. I thought this was available as a standalone shade in the past, but it's not currently on Butter London's website.

Petticoat is the brightest shade. It's a soft blue creme that's nearly opaque with one coat. When searching for a dupe, I found that I couldn't easily find one. I think this would actually be a lovely pedicure shade.

One of the great things about Butter London's sets are the various nail looks.  Here's my take on the "Posh Petticoat" look:

To get this look:
1. Butter London Nail Foundation
2. 2 coats of Alabaster Gaze
3. One thin, dragged out coat of Petticoat
3.  Second coat of Petticoat just at the tip
4. One coat of Doily over the whole nail
5. One coat of Butter London Hardware

I also went for a soft look with 3 coats of Pink Ribbon topped with one coat of Doily.

Overall, I think this is a really beautiful and feminine set.  I don't have any bridal reasons to use these sets, but I adore it. Even the glitter is soft and wearable. I recommend this set for both bridal and non-bridal purchases.