Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Pssst Here's a Sneak Peek and Save!

Blended Naturals is being overhauled!  The goal is to revamp the line so that it's more aesthetically pleasing and even more beneficial for dry and sensitive skin but also for oily skin conditions on the face.  People of color tend to have oily skin on the face and dry skin on the body.  The new Blended Naturals will benefit people with these conditions most.
In order to make room for new inventory, I am offering 15% off of products I have left in stock available in ClearanceGrab what you can while you can.  Not much left.

New Products will be available on or before November 10, 2009.  Please check the site regularly and if you are interested in receiving the introductory offer which includes free samples, please subscribe to my monthly newsletter

You will be pleasantly surprised what's in store when Blended Naturals is completed (hint: goat's milk, avocado and more...)
Stay tuned! Here's to REALLY Fresh Radiant Skin...

The Plaza Hotel, Whish and Sponge Skin Care Reviews

If you are into beauty and fashion, you will love The Plaza Hotel's shops.  I encountered a number of beauty brands on my beauty tour with Total Beauty.  The shops were exquisite and there were a number of perfume, skin care and makeup brands being offered. I can't possibly  share them all but I will tell you about the ones that stood out from the rest...at least for me:

Whish Body Products -This skin care line is really for those of us who want gentle products.  The product lines are paraben free, sulfate free, petrochemical free and contain natural and organic ingredients.  I received their Pomegranate Sugar Scrub and Ingrown Hair Serum which is supposed to be beneficial for preventing hair bumps after a shave.

Whish Pomegranate Sugar Scrub smelled so delicious I could eat it!  I've since used the product and while the ingredients are natural and the results are good, I felt like I had to use too much of this product to feel like I was getting my skin treated.  There is no foaming action, not even a little.  I expected this because of the lack of Sodium Laurel Sulfate.  However, I think there are other ingredients that are natural that can be added to created a little bit of a creamy consistency.  As for the products results, the feeling of your skin afterwords is amazing.  It feels like you have already added moisturizer.  The skin is left feeling smooth and soft.

PROS: The light scent is amazing and natural.  Skin is left soft and moisturized.
CONS: Sugar scrub could be a little more creamy.  An added natural ingredient that accomplishes this is suggested.

Sponge Skin Care- The natural aromas from this skin care line gave me such a euphoric experience.  I love natural skin care products and the fresh scents provided by Sponge were wonderful.  They just released a new herbal cleanser gel that I received and have since been using.  While I do like that the products are gentle, the one issue I have is with the facial cleanser. It's a gel but it is very thin.  I like thicker gels because it makes the cleansing process more enriching, making the skin feel really clean without over drying.

The scent of Sponge's cleansing gel was light and not the most pleasant but not horrible as well.

PROS: Sponge products contain certified organically organically grown or wild crafted herbs. On top of that, the products are handmade!  Just like my Blended Naturals line.
CONS: Gel cleanser could be a little thicker and the essential oil selection should be changed to offer a slightly more pleasant scent. Otherwise, unscent the facial products.

If you are ever in New York, you have to visit The Plaza (If not, visit the websites of the products I mentioned). You can pick up some of these products and if you are in doubt, they will also provide you a sample to try.  Tip: Bring lots of cash :-)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tractenberg Visit and Brands

Moving right along on Total Beauty's summit was a visit to Tractenberg and Co., PR giants for a number of popular brands: Diesel, Banana Republic, Jergen's, Laura Hoffman and much more.

Being at the offices of Tractenberg was a hectic and almost overwhelming experience.  There were so many brands to look at that I think I was getting information overload!  Some brands weren't really impressive to me but there were quite a few that really stood out from the crowd for a number of reasons and those are the ones that I want to share with you.  If you are anything like me, only the brands with the best scents, best ingredients and most attractive packaging will do.

Below are some of the brands that Tractenberg provides public relations for and here's why I like them:

I like Glowology by Noodle & Boo for their lightly fragrant scents and the fact that the products are formulated for sensitive skin.  The packaging is also attractive.  I will be using some of the products and can't wait to tell you if they are gentle for the skin.  I have dry body skin so I'm also interested in discovering if these products are good moisturizers.  The only downside is the logo reminds me of Johnson & Johnson. While they are also a great brand, I think it's important to have your own brand stand out and not be equated with another (unless of course that's your goal)

Sexy man scent, fantastic bottle design. Gave it to my husband, Enough said!

These designer foot cushions by Foot Petals work wonders to prevent your feet from getting sore.  I word the Tip Toes with some high heel sandals the other day and they were so comfortable.  Kept my feet from sliding forward in the shoe.

Just the name, Miss Oops caught my attention. Isn't it the cutest??  They carry a number of beauty saving/solving products but what caught my eye was the boob tube. It's a stretchable lace bandeau that covers up your cleavage when your neck line dips down just a little too low.

Lastly, if you have kiddies like me, So Cozy Haircare for Children is a natural hair cleansing and conditioning system that's gentle for your little pumpkins.  It's available at the Vitamin Shop and at many online stores.

So those were the brands that really caught my eye at Tractenberg. I received a number of other full size products to try.  This was quite generous so I will be giving you the 411 on how I think they fair.

Of course, it's beneficial to get the products in the hands of people who will create a buzz but it's also beneficial for those of us receiving the products.  I get to inform people like you about the best brands.  Plus, I barely have to spend money on my personal care items :-)

Stick with me. I'm going to share with you my review of a number of skin care, makeup and beauty products that I believe will help you to have fresh radiant skin...or at least look like you do.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Chanel For Us All?

So, next stop on the Total Beauty tour was Chanel. I kind of pushed them to the back burner for a bit because I honestly don't have much to offer in the way of a positive review.  Victoria's Secret was first, then Chanel.  I shared  my Kiehl's experience with you already. They were just so darned special that I had to tell you first!

Chanel is known for their upscale pricing and services. While they are a renowned beauty brand, I have something to say about their products. . .

Chanel is not for me. As a matter of fact, I don't think it's a brand that is beneficial for women of color. After sampling a number of their anti-wrinkle products, my skin was left feeling very dry. I got this same feedback from another black blogger. If you have normal skin with wrinkle concerns AND are willing to invest some $$$ in your skin care, perhaps some of the products may be for you

Chanel does have some fabulous clothing designs though!

At our stop at the Chanel store in NYC, me and my fellow Total Beauty blog girls received an in depth overview of how Chanel's products are manufactured. While the process seemed a little interested in the beginning, their presentation was entirely too long. Do I really care how they make the products, down to their scientist scouring the world for some rare plant???? Nope.  It's kind of like what Nancy Gerber says, "If you have a leak under your kitchen sink and your kitchen is flooded, do you prefer the plumber take each tool out of the bag and explain how the tool is used, or do you want him to stop the water from ruining your kitchen floor?"  This is how I felt about Chanel's presentation in a nutshell.

All I care about is are the ingredients safe and natural. The presentation that was given by the Chanel ladies was not only long, it was almost condescending in some ways. Now, that's no reflection on the company as a whole. Clearly, they are a stellar brand and are pleasing some type of consumer. It's just not for me.

Chanel did however send us on our way with a nice little bag that contained samples of some of their products as well as a bottle of signature nail colour. The nail polish is nice but probably not a color I would normally buy for my brown skin:

The journey continues. . . I will share with you (in a day or so when I get my bearings), my next stop on the beauty tour. . . Tractenberg & Co. They are one of the largest PR firms around and boy do I have a lot to share about them.  Stay tuned.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Kiehl's Skin Care Visit

A little over a week ago, I visited Kiehl's in New York City while on my Total Beauty Tour.  I was going to tell you about the Chanel visit first but that will have to wait because the visit to Kiehl's was much more pleasant and I have a lot more to share!

Kiehl' has been around since 1851. You would be amazed at the number of products available in this store. They have a number of skin care and hair care products but they even have personal care products for dogs!

The photo above to the right is of one the chemists at the store. She was so very helpful and gave me an excellent overview of their products for different skin types.  After being served some delicious Crumb's (You'd think they were the only cupcake store in town) cupcakes and champagne, we were introduced to Kiehl’s NEW Acai Damage-Repairing skin care collection:

I sampled these items and was very pleased.  The scent of the products isn't very appealing but the way my skin felt after sampling them was.  The products are not designed to be aesthetically please but to accomplish promoting healthy skin. While the products don't have a pleasant scent, they also don't have a stinky scent.  It's almost like smelling a natural ingredient such as olive oil. It isn't something you would go "ummm" to.   After all it's just olive oil right?

The 4 piece Acai collection became available on 9/8/09, individually priced at $24.48 a piece.  The collection consists of Organic and Paraben Free Damage Protecting Toning Mist, Damage Repairing Serum, Damage Correcting Moisturizer and Damage Minimizing Cleanser.

Upon our departure, Kiehls presented us with a gift bag that contained their Imperial Body Butter. While I do enjoy my Blended Naturals whipped Body Cream, this body butter is definitely welcomed on my bureau and is a good moisturizer to add to you dry skin care routine. I recommend periodically fluctuating between the two.

 Lastly, Kiehl's celebrated their anniversary (I believe 158 years in business) by offering an iconic set of lip balm, Lip Balm #1. this lip balm has some informative facts about NYC on each tube.  Cool.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New Victoria's Secret Products

I'll bet you thought I gave you the full "skinny" on the Total Beauty stop at Victoria's Secret eh? Well, I almost forgot to share with you pics of all the new products they just released and are releasing.  Also, the first pic is of the jammies, panties and slippers they sent us home with:

I got the pajamas in my daughter's size. She loves red

VS Pro Makeup

Pink Soft & Dreamy Collection

Dream Angels

Secret Garden Holiday Collection

Holiday Gift Set/Tree Topper!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Victoria No Longer Has A Secret

It's been a week since my Total Beauty tour and summit and I'm still trying to catch up on reviewing all of the products. Yesterday my husband called me at work to tell me I received a big box filled with a number of beauty items! I got home and nearly flipped out when I saw all of the things that I received (will share more on them as the weeks go by) I think I'll be writing product reviews until I'm 60.

Anyway, I wanted to share with all my readers, the full Total Beauty tour that I went on. Over the next month or so I will give you the scoop on the different brands of skin care and makeup products from low budget to iconic.  By the time I'm done, you will be a super educated beauty connoisseur!

First stop on the beauty tour was Victoria's Secret (aint she sexy?)

Victoria's Secret has gained new respect from me. They treated us bloggers to a wonderful breakfast and sneak peek at some of their new holiday product lines (launching 3rd week of October/1st week of November) and other newly launched lines including:
  • Exotic Fantasies (Heidi Klum is the spokesperson). I love this line.  It consists of a gorgeously subtle purple glitter eyeliner and mascara.  I'm not the best makeup artist but here it is on me:
  • Velvet - fragrance inspired by lingerie fabrics made up of Amber, Turkish rose and blackberry (The goal of this line is to promote indulgence and decadence).
  • Secret Garden Limited Holiday Collection which consists of a Jewel toned and Shimmered powder, lotion, body spray mist, and non-shimmer lotion available in scents: Sparkling Pear, Gilder Ginger Cream and Merry Vanilla Twirl

  • Pink Soft and Dreamy fragrant body cream. Lotion will retail for $12 and the body mist for $15

  • Peace, Love Hope body mist ($20), Lotion ($15) and Eau de Parfum ($47)

  • Dream Angels Heavenly holiday gift sets (these are very sexy)

  • VS Pro Makeup collection (an extension of the regular makeup line with a professional flair for the average consumer).  The VS Pro line has 7 skews: Primer, Illuminator, Eye shadow, Primer, FX Mascara and Brow Gel (light gel for a light hold).

    These products are very affordable ranging in price from $8 to $14

  • VS also has plans to make their already popular Beauty Rush lip gloss more collectible and special.
Victoria's Secret's theme for this upcoming holiday is 1,000 Fantasies. When you do your Christmas shopping this year, you MUST stop by VS. You will find an array of gift items available for the kid in you, the lover in you and oh, wait the gifts are supposed to be for someone else. My bad. You get the picture.

Upon my departure from Victoria's Secret Beauty headquarters, they gave every Total Beauty blogger a pair of red and pink pajamas, matching panties, matching slippers and a lovely black bag (with leopard lining) filled with the products we got a sneak peak at. Inside of the bag also contained another purple handbag filled with their popular (BRAND) lotion, body spray and shower gel.

As if that were not enough, VS said their fond farewell to us with a gorgeously wrapped box that contained a Crumb's cupcake (popular in NYC).

In a couple of days, I'll share with you my musings of the next stop on the Total Beauty tour. . . Chanel

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Telescopic Explosion Review - L'Oreal Knows Lashes!

Talk about 360 degree explosion! L'Oreal Paris' new Telescopic Explosion Mascara is awesome! I have to tell you that this is my favorite mascara yet. I have used a number of brands and even L'Oreal's own Extra Volume Collagen Mascara and their HIP Volumizing Mascara. Here are three reasons why I like this mascara the best:

1- I love the little round brush that makes applying the mascara to my lashes effortlessly. It is so easy to separate each lash with this conveniently mini-bulb shaped brush. I don't like a lot of mascara on my lashes, making them look gaudy so I really like this.

2- No clumping and no smudging throughout the day. When I get home, it looks like I just applied my mascara.

3- The container is THE cutest. The red tube is so sleek and is a wonderful addition to my purse's contents!

Finally, the Telescopic Explosion mascara by L'Oreal has brought the inner beauty in me out. By this, I mean I was not making time for applying makeup in the morning but I love this mascara so much, I look forward to wearing makeup! (well at least most mornings...)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Fashion Night Out in New York

Imagine you're walking down 5th Avenue in New York City...the glitz, the glamor, the fashion, all enticing you to spend, spend spend! That was my experience this past Thursday on Fashion Night Out. I was a good girl though, living on a budget.

I did however want to share the experience with you, although it's a bit late. I wanted to tell you about it before I got into the details of my Total Beauty Tour.

This past Thursday's Fashion Night Out in NYC was truly a fashion diva's night of excitement. People were swarming the stores looking for that special deal, new product or freebie. Since I'm working off a newly created budget, a list minute shopping spree wasn't exactly in the plans. So I focused on the "freebies" and the taking of my own personal inventory. By that, I mean collecting info. in the form of photos, of all the items I intend to buy.

I wanted to share some of what I discovered at the participating stores I visited at this year's Fashion Night Out. My first stop was Sephora, where I received a complimentary airbrush makeover with the new TEMPTU Airbrush Makeup System (only available at Sephora). I absolutely love how easy the technique is and how it makes the skin look almost flawless. It virtually eliminates the need for concealer! Unfortunately for me, I had a make up application the day before that caused my skin to react. However, the airbrushing results were stunning, none the less. Here are videos I had taken of me getting the makeover:

TEMPTU is surprisingly only $225. Two makeup pods are $55 and last approximately 4 months with daily use.

Next stop on Fashion Night Out was Tiffany & Co. What I love about Tiffany is that they cater to almost any wallet size. There's something for just about anyone.

To add to their class and style, Tiffany & Co. celebrated Fashion Night Out by giving away complimentary iced tea, iced coffee, and these little cakes designed like a signature Tiffany box:

Tiffany also had a candy station where the "sweet at heart" assembled bags of assorted candy in the signature Tiffany colors, blue and white. I'm the biggest candy lover so I didn't realize that I hadn't photographed my candy bag before I ate everything in it...

After Tiffany & Co., I stopped by Channel, Coach and Henri Bendel. Coach had 2 artists available to design a $180 canvas bag with custom artwork. One of the artists specialized in graffiti. Here's a pic of one of the bags he finished:

Now, I may get backlash for this next statement but whatever...If I spent $180 on a bag, I don't want ANYONE coloring in on it! Besides, I save that job for my son. Enough said.

At Chanel's people were designing their own signature handbags for a couple hundred dollars. I didn't stay long.

Henri Bendel had a number of cool things going on including stations to create your own designer bangle, designer sandals and fragrances. There was also a raffle going on where 3 prizes were raffled off: a beauty box, dinner for 2 and I think dance lessons. . . yeah

Oh, how I wanted that beauty box! Bendel offers some very fashionable and unique items. Here are just a couple that caught my eye:

Aren't these the cutest rhinestone earphone covers?

I just love fashion costume jewelry!

So that was my experience with Fashion Night Out 2009. Of course the exclusive events were reserved for the rich and famous but I had fun on my scale.

I'd love to hear from you. Give me your thoughts on the stores, prices and events I mentioned! I think I'll budget in a shopping spree for 2010!

In a couple of days I'll go into the details of the stops I made on the beauty tour last week so check back!

Day 2 of The Total Beauty Experience

Yesterday I shared with you an overview of the first day of the Total Beauty Beauty Tour and Blog Summit I attended.  Below is an overview of Thursday's events.  It was very informative and lot less taxing on my feet!  We spent the day at L'Oreal's Tech Center in NYC and received a full day crash course on how to improve ou PR relationships, the quality of our blog content and how to improve revenue opportunities.

Thursday's Blog Summit Day:
  • Breakfast at L'Oreal
  • Attended a workshop that addressed answers to at home hair color questions. Here is a pic of some of the ladies coloring hair:

    (God forbid we were to color real hair LOL)

  • Took a break to get Makeup Touchups

  • Attended seminar on how to increase the traffic to my blog and websites with SEO. The facilitator, Stoney deGeyer is an amazingly kind dude.  He was chock full of info and very personable.  His company is called Pole Position Marketing.  Stop by his site for some search engine and marketing help. Especially, check his blog.

  • Learned from PR expert Lauren Donner, Asst. VP at Tractenberg. She explained what PR companies need to to hear from you in order to find you interesting as well as how to be politically correct at events.

  • Had lunch with the TotalBeauty team and met with some of the L'Oreal execs. - Nice, down to earth, personable people! Lunch was also very nice. I had the chicken and potatoes. Had to have my carbs LOL

  • Came back from lunch and L'Oreal had us design our own makeup look on a piece of paper. We
    turned it in and guess what?  They are going to send us the products!  We also got to keep the products we used.

  • Learned how to improve my blog's content, images, and ad positioning.  This information was presented by Colleen Padilla, Founder of ClassyMommy.com; Jennifer Romolini, Deputy Editor of Yahoo! Shine; Rachael Been, Photo Editor at AOL Stylelist and Total Beauty's own Beth Mayall, Editor in Chief.  She is one of the friendliest, most classy ladies I've ever met.
Throughout the day, L'Oreal did it again.  They graciously gave each of us a $100 certificate to shop at the company store! I was shocked really. After what I received when I got home the night before, I didn't expect anything else.  Here's what they sent:

The cute little lipstick tube in the pic above is what they gave us upon departure.  It's actually a flash drive!

Lastly, but certainly not least, I can not forget to mention and thank Chris Alexander.  He is the Community Manager for us bloggers at TotalBeauty.com and he is phenomenal.  This guy keeps us all sane!  He helped keep the agenda moving along smoothly.   Chris eminates kindness, structure and character.   I'm sure the Total Beauty team and my fellow bloggers agree.  It was great to finally meet him.

Our summit ended with a Happy Hour Cocktail Party with L'Oreal and some networking.

Stay Tuned for EVEN More (including pics and video) on the Beauty  Tour, Summit and Fashion Night Out in New York!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Explore The Total Beauty Experience - Day 1

The last few days have been amazing! I attended Total Beauty's annual blog summit.  It's Fashion Week in NYC and Thursday was Fashion Night Out so that added to the festivities and excitement.

Normally, I don't get all caught up in the glitz and glamor, downplaying things and keeping it mostly natural.  However, how could one not get caught up in all the beauty, skin care, fragrance and style :-)

I wanted to share all of the events, photos and a special video I had done of me getting my face air brushed at Sephora.  NOW I know how the models look so darn flawless. It's fake LOL.

Before I get down to sharing (which will take place in a number of posts), I wanted to give a big hearty THANK YOU to Total Beauty for making the beauty tour and informative seminars possible.  I can not express my gratitude enough. I got to meet some amazing people in the beauty industry who I may never have crossed paths with.

During our Total Beauty tour in New York City, I had the pleasure of visiting and going behind the scenes with Victoria's Secret Beauty, Chanel, Tractenberg & Company (a large PR firm), Kiehl's, Molton Brown, Warren Tricomi (at the Plaza Hotel in NYC), and the infamous L'Oreal.

I have to give big props to Victoria's Secret and L'Oreal.  They really took care of us.  I can't even do them justice by giving them a little honorable mention so I will share with you separately about my time with them and some of the others that help shape our world of beauty.  Over the week or so, I will share in defined detail the wonderful things that I experienced on Wednesday and Thursday.  In the meantime, here's an overview:

Wednesday (traveled most of the day via tour bus):
  • Met up with Total Beauty team and  received a nice tote bag (to the right) filled with some nice goodies (chocolate...yippee!, water, pretzels, a travel coffee mug, signature notebook and pen)

  • Breakfast and new product previews (yet to be released!...coming for the Holidays) at Victoria's Secret headquarters. They were very generous to us bloggers and I can't wait to share this one with you in a day or so. Hint: 1,000 Wishes

  • Visited Chanel Boutique in Soho and received a sneak peak of some of their latest skin care offerings. Chanel sent us on our way with a nice little signature bag that contained one of their nude nail color polish and some of the new skin care samples

  • Visited Tractenberg & Co. to preview products from 22 of the brands they provide PR for. They also provided lunch. This was a very busy site as there were so many products to view.  I am not going to share them all with you because some were not nearly as impressive as others.  Over the next few days, I am going to give you my opinion on the products I sampled and were impressed with.

  • Visited Kiehl's (signature skin care store around since 1851!) and received an overview of new products and some generous samples and a full size jar of their body cream (very luxurious and decadent...more on this in a future post)

  • Visit to Molton Brown for a preview of some of their new products and a snack of mini cupcakes

  • Visited Warren Tricomi at the Plaza Hotel for introductions to some of their product offerings.  This place is truly classy. I was introduced to a number of product lines.  3 or 4 of them left a really good impression on me and I will share that in a few days as well.  I also met up with one of the buyers and she requested that I get her some samples of my Blended Naturals line!! I can't wait to share this one for you. Imagine li'l ole me at The Plaza!

  • Night ended with dinner at TAO, a hot spot in NYC. Dinner was delicious and a raffle was conducted of which two lucky ladies won a video cam and an I Touch. Here are some photos from dinner:
That's it for today. I'll give you Thursday's dish tomorrow and more over the week.  Check back daily. I plan to give it you the entire tour in bite size chunks!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Detoxing For Improved Skin Appearance

There's much debate about the benefits of detoxing. Some don't think it has any benefits at all. Well, for someone who has personally done it several times I have to tell you, detoxing has many benefits but the one I think is most relevant for this blog is improving your appearance.

When you go through a detox, your skin will be wonderfully improved and transformed. Not only will you improve your appearance overall, your complexion will become clearer and your skin will look softer and more hydrated. Your eyes will even look clearer.

The reason you detox is to help reduce and eliminate the toxins that are overloading your body's systems. When you have a toxic overload your skin can be dry and blotchy looking. Who wants that?

Detox no less than twice per year to reap the benefits of fresh radiant skin! My next detox won't be until January because I have to mentally prepare for it. Yes, it takes me that long!

Michelle Howard Smith is a natural skin care professional and helps individuals to achieve healthy skin by providing an array of information including how to care for the skin with natural products. Subscribe to The Skin Natural newsletter to receive information on skin care and similar topics.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sustainable Youth Anti-wrinkle System - Review

Recently, I was introduced to a new vegan, organic and all natural anti-wrinkle system called Immune Performance from Sustainable Youth Technologies. Whew that was a mouth full. The system consists of 3 products: an elasticity cream, a revitalizing serum and a daily supplement. Before I share my opinion on the effectiveness of the products, let me explain what each product claims to do.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Dyes and Colorants NO!

Did you know that many skin care and beauty products are made up of dyes and colorants ? Well, dyes and colorants in skin care products can cause harmful effects, even more so if you have sensitive skin.
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