I love the way dense, smokey eyes work with my dark skin and jet-black hair. All it takes to accomplish my standard look—-heavy black kohl and well-defined lashes—-is MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder, Dior DiorShow Mascara in Rich Black and some cheap charcoal-colored eyeshadow to set the liner and fill in my brows. But it’s time for some variation. I want to try lining my eyes with dark blues and deep purples and rich greens. I want to try multi-shade variations across my lids. I want the darkest, sultriest lashes money can buy. Here’s what I need to make it all happen:

Pop Beauty Eye Class in Smokey Eyes

Pop Beauty Eye Class in Smokey Eyes

Pop Beauty Eye Class in Smokey Eyes ($32): I wish I’d included this in my Palettes with Payoff post, because all twelve—-count ’em—-shadows in this set are well-pigmented and work on dark skin. I know, the lightest three shades look a bit dull, but just read their names: nude glow, opal gold and sparkling white. These are shimmery shades, not matte as they appear in the picture, and are therefore perfect for highlighting the browbone, the center of the eyelid and the inner corners of the eyes.

Dior Diorshow Black Out Mascara

Dior Diorshow Black Out Mascara

Dior Diorshow Black Out Mascara ($24): When I learned that there was an “extreme-black” version of my beloved Diorshow, I was pumped. The regular Diorshow is practically immune to clumping, and their Rich Black shade is certainly black, but when you already have black lashes, black mascara can make them…how should I say it?…less black. Enter Diorshow Black Out. Yay.

Kat Von D Kat Eye Brush Kit

Kat Von D Kat Eye Brush Kit

Kat Von D Sephora Kat Eye Brush Kit ($48): No, I don’t watch L.A. Ink and I don’t care who Kat Von D is. But this collaboration between Ms. D and Sephora is simply one of the most complete yet well-edited brush sets I’ve encountered. Not only would I make use of every single brush in this kit, but it has the oft-excluded stiff-bristled angled brow brush that’s fundamental to creating strong brows (which, incidentally, are fundamental to creating smokey eyes).

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Into the Woods

November 16, 2008

As the weather around here gets crisper, brisker and colder, I find warm, woody fragrances especially enticing. According to Sephora, “Woody scents are nutty and spicy in nature with sensual notes of amber, sandalwood, cedarwood, and a touch of patchouli. Some wood blends have a hint of cinnamon, a sprinkle of earth, or a puff of tobacco.” Makes you want to curl up in front of a cedar log fire with a mug of spiced cider. And a pipe. In a cabin. In the woods. Here are my favorite woodswoman scents:

Fendi Palazzo

Fendi Palazzo

Fendi Palazzo ($50 for 1 oz.): With notes like pink pepper berries, bulgarian rose, patchouli and gaiac wood, this scent makes me think of a dimly-lit, densely-pillowed Arabian den. It’s luxurious, warm and comforting–I even detect a hint of baby oil–but crisp notes of mandarin orange and bergamont keep it contemporary and fresh. Perfect for crisp, fall evenings.

Hanae Mori Butterfly

Hanae Mori Butterfly

Hanae Mori Butterfly ($65 for 1 oz.): This one is just plain delicious, and with layers of strawberries, black current, almond and praline, it’s easy to see why. However, Jasmine, sandalwood and ylang-ylang add warmth and reign in the sweetness so it never smells too food-like. It’s one of those very accessible scents that perfume novices and experts alike can drool over. Vanilla lovers will delight.

Gucci by Gucci

Gucci by Gucci

Gucci by Gucci ($58 for 1 oz.): According to its description, the woman who wears this scent is “a strong yet sensual woman driven by both her desire for achievement and her unmistakable feminine allure.” Okay.  I’d call this a warm, woodsy scent that’s a few notes shy of men’s cologne, but in a good way. Initial bursts of guava and pear keep it open and feminine, but the bottom notes of musk, patchouli and honey really linger on your skin.


What Makeup? II

November 14, 2008

If I’m feeling up to it, I’ll add these simple steps to my first “What Makeup?” routine:

Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow

Kevyn Aucoin Creamy Moist Glow

1. Dab Kevyn Aucoin’s Creamy Moist Glow in Liquifusion onto apples of cheek and blend toward temples. Lighter skin tones should use a mellower shade.

2. Fill in brows with a stiff-bristled, angled brow brush and dark brown eyeshadow.

3. Generously layer on Dior DiorShow Mascara in Black, the most gloriously clump-free mascara out there.

Palettes with Payoff

November 3, 2008

When it comes to makeup palettes, dark-skinned girls are at a distinct disadvantage. Even the most alluring, expensive palettes inevitably have one or two super light, super neutral “blah” shade that we know, without even sampling, will all but disappear on our darker complexions. Here, I’ve selected three palettes with serious color payoff. My criteria? Every single color included in a palette had to be flattering and richly pigmented enough to show up on my skin. Thus, girls of all skin tones looking for colors with serious pop will get their money’s worth with these bright little sets:

Vincent Longo Diamante Quad

Vincent Longo Diamante Quad

Vincent Longo Diamante Quad in Aquila ($40): With a “high-tech, light-reflecting pearl formula for a creamy soft, full color eyeshadow,” each of these colors are worth buying in singular form. And since you can vary their intensity by applying either wet or dry, it’s like getting twice the shadow.

Fresh Imperial Bedroom Palette

Fresh Imperial Bedroom Palette

Fresh Imperial Bedroom Face Palette ($55): It’s not just the name of this palette that’s an exercise in smoldering seduction. Each shade is rich, luminous and slightly mysterious. With “lightly-gilded pearl and antique-gold eye lusters, an opalescent black satin liner, a warm shimmering satin luster for the cheeks, and a seductive deep-red lip shine,” what more could you need?

Fresh Imperial Bedroom Palette

Josie Maran Finger Paints

Josie Maran Finger Paints in Sweet ($36): This sweet little palette with four shimmery “paints” proves that rich color can still be natural color. Each multi-purpose shade can be used on eyes, cheeks and lips, creating countless combinations. The best part? It “contains natural, organic ingredients, no fragrances or parabens.”

What Makeup?

November 3, 2008

My skin looks bare yet uniform after these simple steps:

Make Up Forever Face & Body Liquid Makeup

  1. Start with clean, moisturized skin.
  2. Apply a peanut-sized dollop of Smashbox Photo Finish Light Foundation Primer to face. This version has all of the staying power and none of the slipperiness of the original.
  3. Shake up a bottle of Make Up Forever Face and Body Liquid Makeup (I use Camel 18), and  apply whatever ends up in the cap and on the inner rim of the bottle with a foundation brush wherever you need it. It’s a light foundation, but the primer will help maximize it’s coverage.That is all.

Oil and Water

November 3, 2008

I’m very attracted to the new “washing oil” trend in beauty products. There’s something very luxurious about and oil that actually lathers. I’m also intrigued by the notion that putting oil on my face can actually balance oil production. After years of using harsh cleansers to clean up oil, I think my skin deserves these indulgences:

Gabriel Couzian Washing Oil

Gabriel Couzian Washing Oil

Gabriel Couzian Washing Oil ($45 for 13.6 oz): Apparently, French women have sworn by this soap alternative for years, and now we can get it in the US. The website promises that it “lifts away dirt and impurities” and will leave skin with “a healthy moisture base with no oily feeling or residue.” Sounds great.

L’Occitane Amande Shower Oil ($22 for 8.4 oz): Now this is something I can afford, though it would still be a splurge. Almond-scented oil that cleanses and eliminates the need for body lotion? Sign me up.

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Cleansing Beauty Oil

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Cleansing Beauty Oil

Boscia MakeUp-BreakUp Cool Cleansing Oil ($21 for 4.06 oz): “[B]reaking up all makeup, dissolving impurities, and refreshing congested skin without leaving an oily residue” using “[c]ool peppermint and eucalyptus” sounds like a good plan.

Shu Uemura Skin Purifier Cleansing Beauty Oil ($32 for 5 oz.): All of those positive reviews on Sephora can’t be wrong. That it’s touted as a “two-in-one cleanser and makeup remover” assures me it will get the job done.