Thursday, January 28, 2010

Is a Book Without Pages Really a Book?

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

Thus opens Lewis Carroll's account of the fantastical journey of a little girl named Alice. Any beauty junkie who hasn't been under a rock (or large mushroom) for the last few months should be able to guess what pertinence this verse has to the post at hand.

Less than two weeks ago, Urban Decay released the third edition of their cult-favorite "Book of Shadows" to not a little fanfare. Proving they know where many of us junkies live, the company has partnered with Disney to make an official Book of Shadows honoring the release of Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. To many of you this is old news, however, as the book is due to roll out to Sephora and Ulta stores by the end of the month, I thought a bit of info may be helpful.

The 16 shades included in the book all have Alice-specific names, but they are not new shades. Almost half have appeared in one of the first two Books, the rest, with only one exception (Alice/Painkiller) are permanent. For die hard Alice fans, this book will be a must simply because of the beautiful pop-up packaging (not to mention the opportunity to brag that you not only know what a Jabberwocky is, but that you currently have one on your person!)

For the rest of us, here's a quick breakdown of the shades: the Alice names, followed by the original Urban Decay names. Those that appear in a previous palette will be followed by the name of that collection, those that don't have a collection specified are permanent shades (available in singles.) It's worth noting that some shades that have appeared in previous collections are also permanent shades, and therefore are also available separately.

Top Row
Underland (Flash)
Alice (Painkiller)...Showpony/Preen Shadow Box
Oraculum (Baked)...Book of Shadows I
Queen (Last Call)...Book of Shadows I

Second Row
Chessur* (Chopper)
White Rabbit* (Polyester Bride)
Wonderland* (Maui Wowie)
Curiouser* (Grifter)...Book of Shadows I

Third Row
Muchness (X)
Mushroom (Mushroom)...Book of Shadows II
Midnight Tea Party* (Midnight Cowboy Rides Again)...Book of Shadows II
Vorpal (S&M )

Bottom Row
Absolem (Homegrown)...Book of Shadows II
Drink me, Eat me (Sin)
Mad Hatter* (Twice Baked)...Book of Shadows II
Jabberwocky* (Oilslick)

The set also includes two 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils in:
Zero (black) and Flipside (bright teal) At .8g they are 67% off the full size

Mini primer potion- 3.7ml or 37% of the full size.

Shadows are each .8 grams, or 53% of full size.

Taking size into account, this set is worth around $165, and that's if all of the shadows were available in smaller, similarly sized singles, which they're not. To get all of the shades included in the set as they're available, you'd have to hunt down the increasingly rare Book of Shadows I and II, and buy the available singles in full size, which would run you over $300. Talk about an adventure! The Alice in Wonderland Book of Shadows retails at $52, making this a relative steal to those that don't already have one or both of the other collections.

I do feel it necessary to mention that almost half of the shades included in the set (those marked with an asterisk after the shade name) have large glitter particles. While Urban Decay shadows are great when it comes to pigmentation, texture and blendability, I personally have an extreme aversion to most glitter shadows. I find the glitter rarely stays confined to the eye lid; instead it migrates to other areas of the face and, in effect, makes one resemble a large disco ball. Since glitter also reflects light in photography, it's not something I can use in my professional work, so I tend to stay away from it if I can. This is totally my personal preference, and I'm sure the finish is the reason many people love these colors so much- I just thought it was worth mentioning.

Having said that, this is a tempting set- I'm still undecided myself. I own the first Book of Shadows, and unfortunately the three shades that overlap are shades that I don't use often- however, three out of sixteen shades isn't a straight vote in the "NO" column. The Alice Book of Shadows is a limited edition, and is going quickly- it's currently sold out on Urban Decay's website, but as of right now, it is available online at Sephora and Ulta (with both sites offering free shipping to boot.) The set will be rolling out the brick-and-mortar locations by the end of the month.

Hope this helps you all decide...

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream-
Lingering in the golden gleam-
Life, what is it but a dream?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick Tip: Know the Code

Speaking of shopping: before you buy anything online, Google the name of the site or product your shopping for, along with the word "code." Sites like RetailMeNot, tjoos and MyCoupons (among others) compile lists of both online discount codes and printable coupons. The selection ranges from high-end cosmetic brands to diapers to pet supplies, and everything in between. Many of the sites rely on consumer submissions, so the codes aren't always 100% reliable, but thankfully, most sites also have features allowing users to rate the success of a given code or coupon, so you know how likely yours is to work.

Just to give a couple of examples, in the last two weeks, I've saved $10 on a bookcase (from Hayneedle) for my daughter's room, and another $1o off of a cake pan and birthday party decorations from Celebrate Express. In case anyone was wondering, buying these products online- even before the discount codes- was actually less expensive than buying the same exact items from a brick and mortar retailer, even taking shipping costs into account.

BTW, this trick works if you search Twitter for the same words, though your success will probably be more limited. Good Luck!

Monday, January 18, 2010

This Week's Sales
Before You Shop...Help.

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a great holiday weekend. We spent the majority of the last few days celebrating my daughter's 2nd birthday with tons of family in town for the event. Then we spent our extra day off cleaning and recuperating!

On a more serious note, the last week has been very emotional for me as accounts of the devastation in Haiti roll in. Many of us, myself included, think little about the frivolous way we spend our money (if it even occurs to us at all that it is, indeed, frivolous.) As I prepared for Lily's party this year, the amount of money I spent on silly, short-lived joys like balloons, disposable paper plates and toys for goodie bags weighed on me. Knowing how many people are dying or deserted, it seems so unfair that I should celebrate- even when it is something so wonderful as my daughter. I've seen images of babies the same age as mine, dead in the streets, and those images stayed with me as I went through my preparations, adding more than an iota of guilt for my gluttonous ways, and making me eternally grateful for all that I have.

When the time came for me to do this weekly sale post, I considered not doing it. When there are so many hurting, what business do I have enabling someone to buy yet another eyeshadow or spend $50 on face cream- even if it is 60% off? For this reason (and many other good ones as well) I'd encourage you to really think hard about all of your purchases over the next few weeks- do you really need it? Shop your stash; is it possible you've forgotten a shade that could work just as well? Then, take the money you'd likely have spent and, instead, make a donation to the Haiti relief find by visiting The American Red Cross online. To make it even easier, you can simply text the message "Haiti" to the number "90999". A $10 donation will automatically be added to your cell phone bill. BTW, most major carriers are waiving text fees for this effort.

If you've already given to Haiti relief, there are plenty of other efforts, here and abroad, that could use your help. Please, do all you can to help.

HauteLook hosts Sonya Dakar on Tuesday, January 19th, followed by LaROCCA on Wednesday.

Gilt Groupe also starts the week a day late on Tuesday when they feature Laura Geller. Next comes Oscar Blandi haircare on Thursday, January 21st.

Rue La La has a first this week when Corioliss Styling Tools hit the sale circuit on Wednesday Jan 20.

Editor's Closet has their Cosmetics and Skincare Sale this Thursday January 21st. If you're not a member at Editor's Closet click here for a personal invite (for all the other sites listed, just follow the link!)

On the menu at The Fairest, check out Kroia, Global Goddess, Air Repair, Pur Minerals, and Diana B.

As always, make sure you're following me on Twitter for the latest updates on many things beauty related, as well as plenty that's not. Sorry to those of you that may have found this post a bit of a downer, but let's face it- life's not always sunshine and lollipops. The sooner we realize that and start living & acting to make this place better for people other than ourselves, the better our lives will be.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Week's Sales:
Urban Decay, Philosophy, Pixi, DDF & More!

Back in the grind and we're seeing a ton of sales this week, so gear up and let's go shopping!

HauteLook is the place to be this week, starting on Monday, January 11th when they feature Go Smile. On Tuesday, the site showcases H2O+ but if you're a fan of the brand, I'd suggest comparison shopping at the H2O+ web site; they have a ton of gift sets and assorted items up to 60% off! Next comes Urban Decay on Wednesday the 13th (Urban Decay, FYI, always has a clearance section on their site!) On Thursday check out DDF, followed by Functionalab on Friday and Bionova on Saturday. Oh, and in case you find something you must have, here's a code for $10 off: HL2010 (expires Saturday the 16th, so don't dally!)

Editors Closet (click here for a personal invite) is getting more and more into the beauty game. Last week it was Pop Beauty, this week it's Pixi on Monday and Madeline Beth on Thursday, January 14th. Of course, If you miss Pixi on Monday, don't fret- they'll be at Billion Dollar Babes this Wednesday also!

Gilt Groupe is fairly quiet this week, presenting a sole beauty vendor on Thursday Jan 14 when they feature exhale spa.

Finally, I have to mention the Philosophy web sale. Now through Thursday, January 14th, get 10% off purchases over $50 or 20% off purchases over $100 using the code newyear. (They'll even send it to you for free if you spend over $50)
So, like I said, busy week. What are you going to be looking for?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Alcohol in Skincare;
What you Don't Know Might Help You!

If you're like me, you're at the point in the year where you're desperately trying to conserve as much of your skin's moisture as possible. By this day in age, anyone who has had a skin care consultation or read one or two beauty rags knows to stay away from alcohol in skincare products. Alcohol gets a bad rap because it strips your skin's natural oils, drying it and breaking down it's protective barrier. That's old news.

Problem is, like so many other things in life, relying on stereotypes will only bring you trouble. Glance at a few creams and lotions in your bathroom cabinet and you're bound to find more than a few that contain alcohol. "WHAT is going on here?" you may demand. Have you been played the fool by stingy companies trying to steal your skin's precious moisture? Was the department store salesgirl spinning alcohol-free rhetoric actually a clueless twit (or perhaps a Puritan?) Calm down, and prepare yourself. You see, the truth that most people fail to mention is that not all alcohols are bad.

Certain alcohols are actually chains of fatty acids, and are used as a carrier agent to thicken or emulsify a product (so it doesn't separate like old mayo!) Far from being drying, fatty acid alcohols are actually emollient- meaning they help to prevent water loss from the skin, softening and soothing as they go.

So what now? Well, the list of alcohols is lengthy, and unless you've got a handy-dandy photographic memory, listing the good -vs- the bad ones isn't going to do anything but bore the pants off of all of us! Here's a simple verse I learned a few years ago that will make your life much easier (at least, where this issue is concerned.) So here's the magic phrase, revealing to you which alcohols are the GOOD ones:

"When you see alcohols, steer left"

so, we break down the mnemonic and get-

see alcohols= C alcohols (OK, fine, they're cetyl, cetearyl, cetostearyl and cetyl alcohol 40)

steer= Stearyl alcohol

left= Lanolin alcohol

So, now you know. Alcohol is nothing to be afraid of (I say so soon after New Years!)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

This (Half) Week's Sales: Elave, RevitaLash, Fenix, Pop Beauty and more!

Again, so sorry that I'm SUPER late posting the sales this week but, well, we all know what last weekend was, right? I could have back-dated this and made y'all think you're crazy, but I'd never do that to you- besides which, there are still quite a few sales to talk about. If you missed out on the deal of the century, again, so sorry- you can blame it all on me!

Starting on Thursday, you still have a chance to check out Elave and Methven on HauteLook, both sales run throughout the day. The site will also be adding Emerge Labs on Thursday, January 7th.

Also on Thursday, over at Gilt Groupe, get your hands on some RevitaLash when their sale starts tomorrow. While you're at your computer, hop over to The Fairest to see what's up- right now it's Clark's Botanicals and Cake Beauty, with promises of Mama Mio, Lisa Hoffman, Neil George and Juara to come. The Skinny's got Fenix until January 12th, and I promise I'll let you know what's next as soon as I know!

Finally, Editor's Closet has Pop Beauty starting on Friday, January 8th. If you're not a member at Editor's Closet yet, click here for a personal invite (for all of the other sites in the post, just click the name of the site to go directly to an invite.) Of course, you could contact me directly on Twitter too, it seems like I'm always there! If you can't wait until Friday, hurry over to Billion Dollar Babes and catch the tail end of their Pop sale- but hurry, it ends today!

So you see, despite ignoring a half-week of sales, there's still plenty to keep us busy. Let's just pretend the delay was to give us all some extra time to recuperate from the festivities of the weekend- I know I needed it! I truly hope everyone had a safe and wondrous start to your new year, hopefully your best yet!

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