Sunday, November 25, 2012

The best of holiday beauty gift sets

'Tis the drink mulled wine, eat gingerbread cookies, sport burgundy-polished nails, layer yourself in wool, break out the electric blanket, watch college basketball, light cinnamon-scented candles, and buy gifts for family and friends. Of course, the latter - gift giving - can be a source of frustration because deciding on the perfect gift for different types of people can be exhausting as each person has individual likes, wants, and preferences. Examples include Uncle Joe who breathes sports, cousin Jack who lives to play video games, best friend Hannah who is obsessed with baking, and so on. And then there will always be a beauty fanatic in every family. Safe to say that I fill that niche role in my family, and I know that others are out there, be they closet beauty addicts or full-blown, out-in-the-open-beautyholics.

Beauty fiends can be tricky to shop for because it is very likely that said fiends have zealously researched and tried out the things that they are lusting after, and thus know what products are currently in stores, which products will be arriving soon, and how well each product fares thanks to reviews posted on every e-commerce site from other beauty fans. A foolproof way to supply these people with the objects of their affection is to give them a holiday gift set because, more often than not, these contain bestselling, top of the line products that are packaged together, sold at veritable deals, and are limited time only. 

Check out these beauty sets that take the guesswork out of gift giving, and that will make the recipient of such a set one happy little elf (too cheesy?)

The Sephora fragrance sampler is an amazing choice for those that like to gift fragrances for the holidays, and yet are unsure as to which scent would appeal to the gift recipient. After all, scents are highly personal and subjective, and it can be tricky trying to home in on what to buy. This kit contains 12 fragrance testers, plus a voucher for a full-sized perfume. That means that the recipient can smell some of the most popular scents and decide which one she likes best, and then take the voucher into a Sephora and exchange it for a full-size bottle of her preferred fragrance.
It's foolproof, it allows for choice, and at $50, everyone is happy.

Another Sephora "It Kit" that contains smaller versions of some of the bestselling luminosity-enhancing goods seen on the beauty retailer's shelves. For $45, two eyeshadows, a nail polish, one mascara, one lipgloss, two bronzers, one powder luminizer, and a full-size eyeliner is included. The kit is very diplomatic, as many brands (such as Nars, Stila, Laura Mercier, Lorac, etc.) are featured.
(I'm a fan of the Laura Mercier Black Karat eyeshadow and Lorac Liquid Lustre inside!).

Josie Maran, AKA the supermodel that founded her own all-natural skincare and makeup line, has presented Sephora shoppers with a mega deal and all-around fantastic skincare kit. Six products that contain the brand's claim to fame, argan oil, treat various areas of the skin. From a cleanser to an SPF-enriched moisturizer to a whipped body mousse, plus others, this kit will ensure that the harshness of winter weather won't touch your skin should you be wearing these Josie Maran products. And for $35, it's obviously a steal.
And if you'd rather, instead of gifting it as a set, you can break up the pieces and dispense them as stocking stuffers.

This offering is an all-in-one bag of essentials that almost every man can use, plus the travel bag makes carrying the goods a cinch. I've tried Anthony products before, and they smell nice and aren't irritating to the skin, so no excuses. Coming in at $35 for a whole skin routine isn't too shabby.

Shiseido sets make me weak in the knees. Shiseido is a brand that is dedicated to providing both  luxury and efficiency, and by offering its wares in a do-it-all kit, this is a homerun. The packaging is lovely, natch. Bloomingdales has encapsulated the products from Shiseido's White Lucent linent line, all of which help to lighten and brighten.

For a gift that is truly universal, try the adorably packaged The Body Shop Lemon Cube. No matter the recipient, everyone bathes, and thus - perfect gift.

For the people that like a) surprises and b) the newest products on the market, a beauty box subscription would be the ideal way to go. Companies such as Glossybox, Birchbox, Ipsy and New Beauty Magazine all send out monthly boxes filled with regular size and deluxe samples of some of the newest items that have or will hit beauty shelves. Most of these companies offer various subscription types, ranging from a one-time purchase for three months of beauty boxes sent up to a full year's worth.

Say you like the idea of the aforementioned grab bags, but want to personalize it by picking your own products, here is a fun accumulation of things that can be used pretty easily by almost everyone on your beauty-buying list.
 From Space NK Apothecary, a small space full of boutique beauty and grooming brands, comes from master hair stylist Serge Normant's line, with the Mega Lush Volumizer

From Ricky's NYC is the glitzy OPI shade 'Goldeneye' from the new Bond Skyfall collection.

Urban Outfitters offers an uber abundant assortment of hair chalk sticks in every color under the sun, as well as an adorable Anna Sui formal dress-shaped nail color.

Asos gives that beauty maven two Model's Own rounded blending sponges that will deliver an airbrushed finish to skin with every foundation application.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Best brand Tumblr accounts

The most successful brands - especially those that look to younger audiences as potential consumers - tend to do a great job of utilizing one or several social media platforms to further their message and appeal. Being on Twitter is great, but why not be on Instagram and Tumblr (if appropriate) as well?

A main ingredient for successful tumbling is consistently updated content. Another big one? Images, words, music, visuals, and others that give followers a sense of what the brand is about - or at least how the brand wants users to view it.

 Whether brands choose to incorporate personal content or simply re-tag other accounts' info, they still caught my attention.

Here are some for general perusing pleasure with samples of their posted content:

Milk Studios - This arts-centered studio located in NYC always has several new daily posts, links to relevant articles, videos, and artists,  as well as links to and from Twitter. A+ for aggregating various branches of its content to Tumblr.

Fred Flare - The rolling, random content found in this account makes it worth the visit as its an exact representation of the novelty store itself, that is, you never know what you're going to get. Albeit random, everything is always awe-inspiring.

Rachael Ray Mag - This account feels less like a planned marketing campaign, and more like a virutal account - which is actually manned by the editors behind the mag - that folds together personal behind-the-scenes of the mag pictures with artsy recipe pics via the Rachael Ray Instagram account (@RachaelRayMag), plus links to pictures, videos, and more. Just as down-to-earth as the chef herself.

The Strand - An iconic NYC bookstore that can be described as the Trader Joe's of the publishing world (employees here are mulling about, happy, helpful, and plentiful, to boot, with a wide array of fun things to look at plus reasonably priced items), this account hosts book pics, quotes, funny ideas, responses to reader's questions, and more.

Modcloth - The indie online shop (one can usually find advertising banners amidst bloggers' sidebars), does a great job of  answering user questions, posting tons of pretty pics each day (from vintage black and white photos to user submissions and everything in-between), providing links to the cool stuff that is featured, and giving viewers behind-the-scenes glimpses of the goings-on at the retailer.

Macy's - The department store behemoth has done an admirable job of using its Tumblr account as host to artsy, fashiony, and aspirational images, even if stores like Barney's and Bergdorf Goodman are probably better suited to such things. Or are they? At least that is what this Tumblr has us asking.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Goodies to accompany a lovely autumn day

It's mid-October, AKA 'The best time of the year', AKA autumn. The weather is perfect, it's football season, mother nature looks glorious, pumpkin-scented everything is available to buy, and Halloween is right around the corner. People are just happier during fall.

As such, it makes perfect sense to properly indulge in this much-too-short season. Here are some goodies to help you and friends revel in the glory of autumn.

I love the warmth of fall scents, whether it be pumpkin, burning leaves, apple pie, tailgating, and more, so here are a few ways to pamper oneself while luxuriating in those delicious aromas.

Philosophy Maple Cake shower gel


Philosophy Homemade Pumpkin Pie shower gel

Philosophy Trick or Treat shower gel set

Philosophy QVC three-part fall shower gel

Lush 'Wicked' bath bomb

China Glaze Wicked Collection

And it wouldn't be a proper fall celebration without food and drink to munch on and imbibe, so here are some ideas of what could consist of a splendid autumnal feast.

Williams-Sonoma Mulling Spice & Apple Cider

Williams-Sonoma Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Quick Mix

Crate & Barrel Sweet Pumpkin Pesto

Amy's Cookies Autumn Tower

Warwick Valley Winery - Doc's hard ciders

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale

And then onto the entertainment. Whether it be a classic, feel-good movie or a sleep-with-the-light-on thriller, make sure to bring out a movie, show, or book that will keep the autumn spirit alive.

Practical Magic

Hocus Pocus 


House of Leaves

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fashion Week Olympics - Which city wins gold?

Fashion month is the jam-packed time a few times per year where hundreds of designers present their runway shows in one of several international cities. Though many countries host their own fashion week in order to showcase offerings from native designers, the four main venues that host well-known talent are New York, London, Milan, and Paris. As pictures, reviews, and videos of the designs, backstage commotion, and front rows of every show are delivered instantaneously to eager, global audiences, this month can be as exhausting as it is exhilarating. I, for one, was guilty of experiencing anxiety when I wasn't able to check my phone or computer for hours while at work, as I knew that and New York Magazine's The Cut would have already posted  several new blog articles and runway pictures and I was dying to scroll through the new content.

The fun part about checking out fashion week pictures is being able to play judge and jury, similar to the way audiences decree which films look worthy enough to see when viewing previews at a movie theater. More and more websites are foregoing the act of waiting to post runway pictures until an accompanying review is able to be displayed alongside it. Instead, live streamed videos and pictures are posted alongside a small blip which reveals that the review will be posted later (after a writer has had time to write it). Everyone wants to see things nownownownow, which means that we can no longer wait for a style writer to compose a stream of sentences to sum up the feel and look of a designer's collection before we actually see pictures and make our own opinions. And I'll admit that when a slew of new shows roll in, my scrolling finger gets its fair share of exercise as I vie to see every.single.look from two.times.through.

As the shows roll in and we see trends popping up, it's fun to compare designer's seasonal aesthetics against each other.

Which designer's use of lace was preferred? 
Whose equestrian-chic undertone was most appealing?
Which grunge throwback was most appreciated?

And so on.

Here are a few trends with offerings presented from various designers, with various cities; designers being compared. In this international fashion match-up, who gets your vote for each trend?

1. Best Little White Dress (LWD)

New York: Robert Rodriguez via Style

London: Temperley London via The Cut\

Milan: Blugirl via The Cut

Paris: Elie Saab via The Cut

2. Best Menswear

New York: DKNY via The Cut

Milan: Salvatore Ferragamo via The Cut

Paris: Saint Lauren via The Cut

3. Best Mod

New York: Kate Spade via The Cut 

Milan: Moschino via The Cut

Paris: Louis Vuitton via Style

4. Best Print

New York: Mara Hoffman via The Cut

London: Erdem via Style

Milan: Mila Schon via The Cut

Paris: Christophe Lemaire via Style

5. Best shoes

New York: Narciso Rodriguez via The Cut

London: Tom Ford via The Cut

Milan: Versace via The Cut

Paris: Elie Saab via The Cut

6. Best peplum

New York: Christian Siriano via The Cut

London: Peter Pilotto via The Cut

Milan: John Richmond via The Cut

Paris: Giambattista Valli via The Cut 

7. Best blazer

New York: Donna Karan via The Cut

London: Antonio Berardi via Style

Milan: Just Cavalli via Style

Paris: Paul and Joe via The Cut

8. Best glitz

New York: Marchesa via Style

London: Giles via Style

Paris: Talbot Runhof via The Cut

9. Best gown

New York: Zac Posen via The Cut

London: Antonio Berardi via Style

Paris: Elie Saab via Style