May 6, 2013

being Nude never looked so good :: ProGenius product review

There has been a lot of chatter recently about facial oils and whether or not they are effective for everyone. When I canvased a few people about their thoughts on using an oil as moisturizer or treatment, the responses were pretty typical of what you might expect. ” Won’t that make my skin breakout?”, “I have oily skin, I would NEVER us an oil on it!” and so on. I had shared the same attitude myself, because I do have a tendency toward oilier skin and the thought of adding more oil just seemed wrong to me. There are several brands out there touting the advantages of using treatment oils to improve texture, hydration and even help with skin conditions such as Rosacea or Eczema. That said, I do have to admit that I am not a treatment oil novice and while I could recall clearly some of the reasons I hesitated when it came time to put an oil on my face, I had forgotten what the perks were. Many years ago, I used Clarins Lotus Oil for a time. Lotus oil was developed specifically for oilier skin and I found that while it felt counter intuitive to use an oil on oily skin, the result were balanced, oil-controlled,hydrated skin. So when I had the opportunity to test drive a new skin oil from NUDE Skincare, I felt it was time to re-visit the benefits of using beauty oils again.

In the past I never used a facial oil during the day, simply because my makeup wouldn’t last the day if I did. And as part of my evening ritual, when at the crossroads of choosing oil over lotion, I always skipped a beat before deciding whether to really go there or not. I had to think about what events may or may not be on for the following day —”Would it make my eyes puffy?” “Would I have time to wash my hair if it got oily?” “Would it make me oily all day long?” and so on…You can hear the inner dialogue, right? I am sure if you have ever tried beauty oils yourself, you have perhaps had a few of your own inner convos!

First impressions on Nude ProGenius treatment oil was good— the subtle scent was not over powering at all ( one of my pet peeves with Clarins Lotus Oil ) and is it a very fine consistency. The brands literature says it contains a healthy dose of Omegas 3,6,7 and 9 to nourish the skin and when you think about why we take a a balancing diet of Omegas in the first place, applying externally makes a lot of sense to help keep your skin healthy. This oil is designed for all skin types and the brand has several usage suggestions. As a moisturizer on its own or with a favorite moisturizer by adding a drop or two or as a primer for foundation. For my purposes, I test drove as suggested and found the results were really good overall.

I began my road-test by integrating it with my night time regimen ( I am a huge Epicuren fan ) After cleansing and toning and Pocket Spa hydro therapy, I used two drops of oil all over my face and neck. A little goes a long way so, which is good because this oil isn’t cheap, clocking in at $78 bucks for a 1oz. bottle—You’ll definitely not want to use more than you need. It absorbed fairly quickly and over a course of about three weeks, I did see a noticeably dewier skin quality, without excess oiliness. On several of my test applications, I added a few drops to my Epicuren moisturizer for an extra moisture boost. This made my skin feel really great the following day and I found that when the weather was changing a lot or I was traveling ( at which time my skin tends to be a bit hyper-active; vacillating between excessive oil production or moisture drought!) this was a great way of keeping my skin in good shape and well balanced. Of course the real test came during daytime application. I began by integrating ProGenius slowly, using after my daytime cleanse ritual. I used a single drop mixed with my moisturizer and as with my evening skincare program, I never go without a round or two of Pocket Spa-ing, simply because I find it helps deliver any product deeper into my skin. My skin did not feel oily, in fact after about a half hour, it felt supple and smooth and had a nice sheen. This was a good sign for sure. I continued to use the product this way for about a week or so and would say for me personally there was only one drawback. If you have issue with mascara drooping from your upper to your lower lids, then you will need to be mindful not to get this product to close to your eye/cheek area. Often because I have high cheekbones and long lashes, I am constantly monitoring what I put around my eyes or I’ll end up looking like someone punched me by mid-day! As a primer for my foundation, ( I use Beauty is Life concealer and Tarte clay powder foundation) it was pretty good for all areas, except around the eyes. I use waterproof mascara and when I used the Pro Genius too close to my upper cheek area, it seemed to dissolve some of my eye makeup by mid-day. I alleviated this by avoiding that part of my face all together and stuck to using my usual eye cream there. The end result was luminous looking skin without compromising my eye makeup.

All in all, I would give Nude ProGenius an 8.9 for my test drive. While it did hydrate and give my skin a dewy quality, I could not use it anywhere near my eye areas during day time use. With that, I will limit using this oil to my evening skincare program. The pluses? Waking up to lusciously hydrated skin is always a fantastic mood booster!

Nude ProGenius is $78.00 and available at:

May 3, 2013

Hey Brown-Eyed Girl, we’ve got something just for you…

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I made a pit stop to visit one of my favorite beauty peeps, Lori Taylor of Smashbox cosmetics who is not only makeup director for the brand, but is lead artist and a incredibly talented makeup artist in her own right. Lori is very passionate about makeup and gets super excited when talking about all the new goodies releasing the coming season. I just love her enthusiasm! For me, I get that in that deep in my gut, kid-in-a-candy store sensation whenever I get to peruse a beauty closet, so much so that by the time I leave, I feel as if I am literally levitating! During my visit, Lori shared with me some of Smashbox’ newer eye shadow palettes from their Photo-Op series. Each palette is dedicated to a specific eye color, such as Hazel, Brown or Blue. The collections have a nice group of both matte and shimmer shades, that enhance the tone of the eye. I used the palette for brown eyes, which has an inky blue matte shade that really made the brown tones in my eyes pop and a greeny bronze shade brought out the hazel gold flecks. I was pleasantly surprised with all the nice comments about my eyes of late. I don’t usually wear a lot of color ( those of you who know me, know that I am rarely seen out of the Black, grey and now new to my color scheme, Navy hues ) but this sweet collection has encouraged me to stretch my color boundaries a little. Well at least when it comes to makeup anyway!

As far as the formula goes, it is very good. For me the matte powders are the barometer for overall quality of a shadow. With many brands, they tend to be chalky and overly dry but in this case the matte shadows went on silky smooth and blened extremely well with the other shades. The shimmer colors have a delicate texture, not overly shiny or sparkly, yet enough shimmer to illuminate the eyes. Even if your not one to wear a shimmer shadow, you might find these ones will offer the perfect amount of sheen without looking overly done (or god help us older folk) highlight any wrinkles or ceases.

All three Shashbox palettes are available nationwide at Sephora :

April 28, 2013

Keep Your Knickers on! NARS Fall 2013 coming soon…

A few nights ago on a balmy New York evening, I attended the Nars Fall 2013 preview event. It was held in one of my favorite penthouse studios in the city, Go Studios and I can report that this preview definitely got my heart racing. Usually, when I attend these kinds of events I am pretty skeptical about what I might see there as its usually a whole lotta “of the moment” colors and more of the same old, same old. Not this time, as Mr. NARS decided to redirect his attention back to his roots as makeup artist and tap into what we artists really, really want, need, desire. Oh, Thank you Mr. Nars!

While there were for sure some fashion forward colour choices in his fall lineup, what I gravitated to were the core group of products that I think every makeup artist will want to have in their kits. Mr. Nars tackled skin by creating a brand new foundation formula, Radiant Cream Compact Foundations. These little pats of creamy goodness, go on super smooth, have build-able coverage and sets to a bulletproof, yet natural looking finish. For the clan of makeup artist out there, here’s what’s so amazing about these little power gems—aside from the beautiful formulation, which of course we have come to expect from all NARS products, it the packaging, my darlings, that set these foundations apart.
While I love a gorgeous looking bottle of this or that, frankly, I don’t love schlepping it around to every shoot. I spend a ton of time “downsizing” my kit so that it doesn’t weigh two tons and yet still has a huge variety of product on hand. My first impression of these foundations was the sleek compacts with refillable inserts that can be neatly stacked into your kit with the minimum of bulk and weight. Wow, don’t we LOVE that? Like all NARS Cosmetics foundations, there is a wide variety of tones and shades, to mix and match any skin tone. I was hoping we would get samples but alas, we wil just have to wait a little bit longer. A little bird has told me that these will be out sometime in late August…. keep your eyes peeled for them at the stores.

Let’s talk Gel Liners. I am sure we have all experience the letdown of a product that just doesn’t live up to expectations. Not this case with the soon-to-be released, drool worthy, Nars gel liners. Dense pigments and creamy formulation make these liners a dream to use. Whether you are going for a sharp cat eye or want to create the smokiest of eyes, this product will do it all.The texture of the gel allows the user to draw sharpest of lines or smudged out to nothing. The best part is, once its set you can literally forget it. It won’t move or run, even with water, until you are ready to take it off. Unlike other gel liners on the market, these ones won’t dry out either. I don’t know about you but I have gone into my kit far on more than one occasion and opened up a competitors gel liner ( which I might add, I may have only used once or twice) to discover that the thing had completely dried out and was useless. Maj disappointment. Not the case for the NARS gel liner. The formula will stay creamy and pliable no matter how long the tub is open. There are all the classic staples in the mix and a handful of juicy jewel tones, as well as some high powered metallics ( the gold and silver are amazing!) as well. Another must have for makeup artists everywhere.

These products will begin releasing in stores in late August at Nars Store nationwide. In the meantime, you might want to check out Pierre Hardy summer collection now available at your local Nars Cosmetics counter.

On the Go with Giovanni :: Eco Chic Skin Care

Steal a moment with this multi-tasking towelette. It goes to work for you, sweeping away dirt, oil and even stubborn makeup in a snap. Not the usual scratchy towelette that usually leave that sticky remover residue, these towelettes, available in three formulas, D:tox System Purifying & Exfoliating, Refreshing and Soothing Unscented. All are effective, feel soft and are nurturing to the skin.

For my review I test drove the Refreshing formula which is a citrus and cucumber blend that hydrates and refreshes instantly. All offer a variety of fresh botanicals like Orange, Aloe, lemon, echinacea and grapefruit extracts to refine the skins texture and super-antioxidents like Goji berry and Acai to help control skin-damaging free radicals. The Cucumber extract delivers a calming hydration boost that you will feel for hours after use. And you score a facial on the fly. Sweet!
All Giovanni producsts are free Of Phthalates, artificial fragrances, dyes, sulfates, parabens and animal testing. Giovanni can be found at local retailers and at

August 29, 2012

Joey New York Redux

We have all heard about the attributes of Coconut water for our general heath, like lowering cholesterol levels and hypertension when taken internally. The first question that popped into my mind was whether coconut water is just another character in the seemingly never-ending parade of trendy foods and supplements. But upon closer inspection, I found that a brand new study on young coconut juice (YCJ) also opens up the door to further research with regard to women’s health and additionally, one the most promising applications for this tropical beverage is as a premium mode of re-hydration. Renowned around the globe for its hydrating, nourishing and replenishing benefits, Coconut Water is the drink of choice for those in the know. Utilizing breakthrough technology, Joey New York taps the unparalleled benefits of young, tender Green Coconut Water, formulating every product in the new range with the nutrient-packed ingredient. Rich in vitamins, minerals and protein, the tropical water is as beneficial for the skin as it is for the body, restoring a healthy youthful glow.
Two stand out products from the newly re- release Joey New York lineup are:

Day Gel and Night Cream Eye Duo for radiant eyes day and night, this powerful duo, designed to tighten, smooth and revitalize the delicate eye area do just that. Formulated with Young Coconut Water Complex, the eye essentials target the appearance of puffiness and dark circles. The Lift-Up Day Eye Gel is specially formulated to help firm the eye area and reduce the look of wrinkles while soothing eyes with a cooling sensation. The Firm and Tone Night Eye Cream helps moisturize and smooth the appearances of crow’s feet, restoring a supple, rested look. After a long day, layer the eye cream over the gel to create a masque and restore a fresh, youthful appearance. ($44)

Correct-A-Line For Face and Eyes: This
instantly smoothes skin and erases imperfections, leaving the complexion camera-ready. Ideal as an all-over filler or primer for makeup, the gel serum mattifies skin while hydrating. Formulated with soothing Green Coconut Water and Indian Ginseng Extract, the corrector smoothes even deep lines for the ultimate flawless finish. Great for those who suffer from the over zealous t-zone. This will leave your skin hydrated yet softly matte in texture. True Love! ($36)

For more info visit:

July 28, 2012

Home Hardware :: Home Beauty devices uncovered

This segment is part of a series of reviews on home-use personal beauty devices. I will be uploading these in depth reivews and news in the coming weeks. Here is the first of the series:

Everyone wants to have gorgeous skin, regardless of age. But eventually, we all begin to see an interesting transformation—for some it may come as early as mid-twenties and for others, not until later but regardless which hits closer to home, it can make many feel more than a little anxious and hyper-aware of the passage of time, owing to the fact that they can now see evidence of this on their faces. For me, I have always appreciated ( as have many of my beauty obsessed friends ) that the aging thing doesn’t really happen overnight, even when this seems to be so. It’s an stealthy decline that gives the illusion of happening quite without warning. All of a sudden, we become acutely aware of a deep crinkle here, a plethora of age spots there, a blurred jawline —the result of gravity taking its inevitable toll. All of this can lead us to look for some external help. Of course for those who are acquainted with my beauty philosophy know how much I abhor facial surgery, fillers, Botox and the like. I have observed far too many people who have gone this route only to be left with a thoroughly surreal looking visage afterwards. Notice, I didn’t say “Youthful”.

Perhaps you have been contemplating potential options for aging gracefully. Doing your due diligence, checking and cross checking the Dermatologist / Spa / Personal therapists laundry-list of procedures for improving one’s aging countenance can not only be overwhelming but confusing as well. For some, you have embraced The List. That being the game plan outlined by your Dermo, Spa or Skin Therapist and having dropped some serious cash, very likely look Pretty Damn Good. And so you should. However, for many others, this may have been a solution that was out of reach and have made do with whatever their pocketbook could bear. Now, I believe there is a third option that lies somewhere in between. Rejoice the non-invasive beauty overhaul! Recently, I have come across a number of home-use, Spa class beauty appliances which will not only help to maintain your youthful features but help keep skin taut, smooth and blemish free as well. Some of these home devices could help stave off major cosmetic procedures altogether. Who wouldn’t love that?

To be fair, I don’t want to mislead you. Most of these home devices aren’t cheap. In fact, this may be a factor which stops some from purchasing. But consider this: If you opt for the aforementioned List, which could entail a cocktail of Microcurrent Therapy, Laser treatments, Light Therapy, Micro Dermabrasion etc etc etc you know that will fetch a very pretty penny. By contrast, the home-devices I have reviewed retail for about what one may expect to pay for a single service from The List. In essence, after the first few uses, you’ll be in the clear as far as primary costs. With that in mind, my goal was to test drive a few devices to see which were worthy of laying down cold hard cash ( yours and mine!) for. I test drove each device for 6 weeks so that I could document real results for each. Here are my findings:

BMR- bio medical research

BMR Slendertone, an Irish-based company, has created a trilogy of body and facial contouring devices for home use. The BMR Beauty Lift series uses Electronic Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology which creates strong, deep muscle contractions that tone the body and and has been using this technology for over 40 years in hospitals, clinics and physiotherapy practices around the world to strengthen and rehabilitate muscles. In addition to this BMR are one of the few home devices, with proven results that has FDA approval.

For my purpose, I focused on the facial device, however BMR makes three additional devices for use on arms, buttocks and tummy areas of the body. BMR Facial Toner was created to stimulate the musculature of the face by engaging the facial muscles under the skin to strengthen and firm. The device looks a little like a headphone, with two square facial pads on each side of a headset, and sticky conductor gel pads on each head. The first time using this device feels pretty strange, as you can feel the contractions at distinct areas all over the face. The muscles that are slack, will contract more than the muscles that are not and afterwards there is definitely a muscle ache, similar to when you work out your body. It is not an uncomfortable feeling and once you get used to the sensation it is quite relaxing. After my first treatment, I noticed that I could feel a slight tenderness and warmth all over my face but this dissipated after a day. The more you use the device the easier it gets and after the 12 week session, you can maintain the muscles just like you would with any other workouts with a maintenance treatment once or twice a week. I like to think of it like this: It really comes down to consistency. If you consistently use these devices, you will see results. It’s about being commited to integrating the program into your life that and feeling confident that the results will follow.

The device has a rechargeable battery which is nice because you won’t have to be tethered to a power source which allows you to do other things while working out your face. The device has a control unit which regulates the strength of each contraction as well as a therapy timer. Its important to note that while BMR suggests a full twelve weeks of daily use before results are seen, but it is possible to use the device a little as three times a week, for half an hour and see tangible results. My male tester ( YES, guys can use this device too! ) did this and we saw results. His jawline was more defined, and the wrinkles around his mouth and eyes were lessened. To date, he is still using the device, which says a lot. Most guys won’t stay with a product unless they see real results.

For the body devices, I tested the tummy contour belt. Like the facial device it works in the same way to stimulate abdominal muscles using Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) technology for deep contractions which are designed to mimic natural body movements. Again, like the facial device, it has a rechargeable battery, and a control panel to adjust the strength of the contractions (up to 99 levels) as well as a timer.
As with all the BMR devices, it is advised not to use at the same time as any other. I found this to be very effective and after my six week trail noticed muscles that I had not seen in some time despite all the ab work done at the gym. Nirvana!

Overall, the BMR series of devices are a clear winner for those who want to take control of their beauty regime and at roughly $200.00 for the body device and $395.00 for the Face, it is an economical way to go for long term results. Treatment series similar to these in a spa setting would run you about $200-$300 per visit so do the math, it works out to be a pretty good deal overall.

BMR Beauty devices are available at

April 16, 2012

Chromatics vs Inoa :: No Contest, Redken wins.

For those of you who opt for salon color over at-home options, it’s safe to say that you’ve probably experienced some kind of hair coloring drama at some time or another. I like to think that I have a pretty good idea of how to keep my expectations in check after 22 years in the beauty business, but even with that experience, I sometimes get blindsided. That said, it didn’t stop me from looking for a better, healthier, way to color my hair. Enter Redken’s Chromatics prismatic permanent hair color. This oil based, permanent hair color had a hefty PR buzz going but true to Beauty Sleuth form, I was on a mission to get the nitty gritty details from my own experience.

I have been a longtime fan of Rodney Cutler —His cut and styling prowess have graced hundreds of magazine editorial, runway shows and a plethora of top models locks, worldwide, so it made sense to me to turn to his namesake salon, Cutler Salon NYC (and where Redken professional products can be found) for help with my hair. At my consultation, I went right to the top and sat down with lead colorist, Summer Parham who is based in his the New York City salon. For those in Miami, Rodney also has a salon at the Perry Hotel in South Beach.

I had a lot of questions for Summer about Chromatics, especially as I had experienced another oil-based permanent color product released by a rival company, a few years back. Since the release of Inoa, there have been several problems that have cropped up— predominately with repeat processes, removal of the product from skin or other areas at the time of coloring and lack of vitality or dimension to the hair after the coloring process. While Chromatics is also an oil-based color, it has several pluses over Inoa. First of all, the capacity to customize color and “paint” the hair like you would traditional custom color to add dimension and fractional color makes this product a stand out. The oil delivery system reaches deep into the shaft of the hair and as Summer says: “ After using chromatics, the hair becomes two times strong, we call that 2x fortified, than without or by comparison to other similar products. For people who have never colored their hair, it was proven to be stronger after Chromatics color.”

Parham also says the Chromatics formula is ammonia-free and has absolutely no smell, which I can attest to. “The mixing process is better for stylist as well, it’s easier to get out of the hair and is easier for the colorists to mix as well. The coverage is fantastic. It’s not only the palette we put in the tubes but it is extremely customizable. 100 % grey coverage. clearer options to create as many shades can be customized to each client. Other similar oil based color lacks the dimension and range of Chromatics.” » Read the rest of this entry …

April 14, 2012

Lip Service :: Skinn Cosmetics Lip stain and gloss

If you like the look of a lip stain but don’t like the desert dry lips that usually ensue, then look no further than Skinn Cosmetics, Tint & Shine Luscious lip stain and gloss. Offered in two shades, one a sheer red and the other a burnished bronze, both shades will give your lips the perfect amount of color . Don’t be alarmed by the richness of these stains, the liquid consistency is super sheer, goes on smoothly and is almost fool proof. The handy double ended applicator make it a no brainer for touchups during the day, so pop one in your handbag when your on the go. Although you may find you won’t really need to add more stain after the first application, the pigments are long lasting enough to go the whole day without having to reapply you will want to add a smash of top gloss for extra shine. During my test drive, my test models said the stain felt comfortable, never dry and the gloss added just the right amount of moisture without the gooey feel that some glosses have. So when it comes to comparing lip stains, Skinn Cosmetics Tint & Shine Luscious lip stain and gloss doesn’t give lip service and that’s why I give it top marks for performance and quality.

Tint & Shine Luscious lip stain and gloss is $18.00 and is available at

January 20, 2012

Shape Shifter :: Powder Grip 03

Redken has introduced its latest styling Star with Powder Grip 03, a mattifying, volumizing powder.This innovative styling product is sure to be in every noteworthy stylists set bag. Why? Its featherweight texture, and ease of use makes it the go-to product for creating tousled texture that appears product-free. I road tested it at a photo shoot recently, on my lovely model Sandrine Marlier, who made for the perfect candidate as she has a ton of hair yet its fine, silky texture can make creating extensive volume difficult. This amazing powder not only defined her layers but added scads of gravity-defying volume that lasted the entire shoot. There was absolutely no product build-up or stickiness, just fresh voluminous locks, all day long. I love the matte texture, which gave the hair a modern twist. Brand ambassador, Rodney Cutler says he doesn’t have to use hairspray in conjunction with this powder as he normally would with a spray-in volumizer, so I tested that out as well. My result: Not a single spritz was needed for gorgeous off-the-chart volume. Powder Grip 03 has a added bonus: it makes up-do’s a snap, as the matte texture gives the hair “grip” for pinning, which means the hair stays put without much effort.
This product goes a long way, so easy does it on the application but I swear once you try it, you’ll never go back to any traditional “body-building hair products” again.
Available at retailers nationwide or visit for more info

December 1, 2011

All that Glitters…

Mattése Elite introduces a brand-new makeup palette for Holiday 2011 with an impressive array of 172 different shades. Designed by Mattése Elite’s pro makeup artists, the sleek black box opens to reveal an extra large mirror and tiered drawers that hold 96 eyeshadow shades, 63 lip-glosses and 12 blushes. Oh my heart is going a pitter-patter with all the beautiful posibilites to come!.

The Mattése Elite Makeup Palette Kit retails for $39.99 and is available for purchase exclusively at Ricky’s NYC store locations and at