Products We Love: Eye Primers

The secret to getting your eye shadow to last all day is simple.  Use eye primer.  Mizzie and I swear by them and thought we'd share our two favorites with you this week.  Once I discovered Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion, there was no turning back.  And Mizzie loves her MAC eye paints.
Mac PaintI luv, luv, luv MAC eye paints.  They come in a pot and in a tube.  They are both wonderful and I never, literally, never put on my make-up without them.  They are the best primer for your eyes to help shadow go on smoothly and stay crease free and fresh looking all day long.  I like to play with layering shadow colors over different colored paints. For a natural look, I use Bare Canvas or Bare Study.  It is my number one product, I recommend it for everyone!
Mizzie is right.  MAC eye paint has some real staying power.  And a little bit goes a long way, so don't let the size of the product fool you.  You need hardly any to get complete coverage that will last you all day.

Urban Decay Primer Urban Decay's Eyeshadow Primer Potion is my genie in a bottle.  This is the first primer product I've used, since the MAC eye paint, that no matter what my day holds my eyeshadow never creases.  Even during the 100 degree Nashville summer, when all my other makeup felt like it was sliding off my face, my eye makeup stayed put.  I also love the way it evens out the color on your eyelid to give you the perfect base.  It actually enhances the color of your eyeshadow and you end of using less of it too.  And like all Urban Decay products, it's cruelty free.

If you're new to eye primer, give one of these a try.  You can find them online, at your nearest MAC or Sephora store or locally in Nashville, you can find the Urban Decay primer at the Cosmetic Market.

Do you have an eye primer you can't live without?  We want to know what it is!


Products We Love: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils

For years, I searched for the perfect eye pencil.  I wasn't asking for much.  Just a pencil that didn't feel like I was ripping my eyelid when I applied it and one whose color didn't disappear before lunch time.  

I'd been using eyeshadow as eyeliner for years, since I hadn't found the perfect pencil until that summer day I went to the Cosmetic Market.  A new eye pencil was not on my list, but we all know I am hard pressed to stick to my list here.  Holly always finds products for me that I end up loving and somehow we started talking about eye pencils.  (I've known Holly since her days at UAL, where she always found clothes I liked too.  I should know better, right?)  She raved about Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils.  She was impressed with how the color just glided on and once the color set it was waterproof so it really had some staying power.  Of course after that glowing review, I had to try it.  (Read this as...yes, I really am a sucker.)  So in my bag went a brand new eggplant eye pencil called Rockstar.
Everything Holly told me about this eye pencil was dead on.  It's the most gentle pencil I have ever used and the color really does stay put all day.  Finally, I can line my lower lid and the inside of my eye (which was not an option using shadow) and not worry about having to reapply it later in the day.
I also love that Urban Decay is a cruelty free company and another one of their products is a favorite of mine, but I'm saving that one for a separate post.  The 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencils come in a rainbow of really cool colors and some of them are even vegan.  (Look for the cute little paw print on the packaging to know if a product is vegan.)  The metallics are my favorite.  I went back a couple weeks ago and bought a green/gold metallic called Stash, which I realized later was one of the vegan colors.  If you're wondering if there is any difference between the two pencils since the formulations are a little different, the answer is no.  For me, Stash glides on just as easily and has the same staying power as Rockstar.

I am, of course, addicted to these pencils now and am trying to figure out what my next color will be.  I could use basic black (Zero), but how can I pick that when there are so many fun shades to choose from?  Any suggestions on what color I should go for next?

Do you have a favorite eye pencil or liner you can't live without?  Share please!  Looking for more information on cruelty free cosmetics?  Read Marcia's latest guest blog on cruelty free beauty products.
 




Shop Like You Give A Damn - A Fashionable Vegan Blog: Cruelty Isn't a Good Look on You

This month, our favorite Vegan fashionista, Marcia Masulla, talks to us about cruelty free beauty products and gives us a few fantastic cruelty free product options along with some handy tools to help us find beauty companies who don't animal test.


Cruelty Isn't A Good Look on You

Fashion is so much more than just the fabric we stretch across our bodies or the straps and stilts on our feet.  It is also a dynamic yet stubborn part of culture that also translates to our lifestyles.





I considered this when I evaluated my daily beauty prep rituals that (hopefully) accent my best features in hair, face and body.  Did you know that American women spend more than 7 billion dollars annually on beauty each year? This is per a report titled, Beauty At Any Cost, published by the YWCA in 2007.  This averages out to about $100 per month per American woman.  Regardless of the current economic climate, us ladies value feeling and looking good!  When I made the decision to go Vegan, I also came across some very harrowing information.  Many of the products I used daily to brush my teeth, shave my legs, even out my skin tone, highlight my eyes, and even spritz on my neck were tested on innocent animals.



These living and breathing creatures were bred or pulled from the streets and forced to go through painful and cruel conditions so I could disguise a little acne on my face?  A sweet dog named Lola was confined and subjected to death instead of living her natural life because I needed to have softer and shinier tresses?  I felt my stomach turn at the absolute insanity of it all.  I knew I had to help stop these deplorable experiments and besides spreading the word through my work, my money had to do the talking.  Since I am a part of all of that cash being spent yearly, I vowed to boycott using any products that tested on animals.  Veganism also outlines that none of the ingredients used to make these products should be derived from animals either.

Here is a link to more information so that you can be informed on this issue and if you feel compelled, take the pledge to go cruelty free:
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-101.aspx


You may be thinking at this very second that this sounds like a tough commitment.  OR how can I really know who tests and who doesn’t?  Companies that do animal testing aren’t exactly advertising that they are taking innocent animals lives before their products hit the shelves.

Well you didn’t think I'd leave you hangin' did you dearie? Check out this helpful “Be Nice To Bunnies” iPhone application that makes shopping a breeze:
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bnb/id313784933?mt=8

 

       Meanwhile, companies that don’t do animal testing hold their head high and are usually proud to let you know they aren’t down for cruelty.  Some simply state on their packaging that no animals were harmed, while others showcase kind little bunny icons.  Another reminder that these animals have a face and aren’t ours to mutilate.  Please consider this before you make your next purchase.
http://www.leapingbunny.org/ 

Here are some of my favorite beauty products that value compassion and life. 

Kiss My Face Mandarin Ginger Lily shower/bath gel - $10.95




Bare Minerals Get Started Kit - $60




Paul Mitchell Super Charged Moisturizer - $24
L’occitane Neroli Eau de Parfum - $66


The Body Shop Tea Tree Blackhead Exfoliating Wash - $13







Smashbox Photo Finish  SPF Foundation Primer - $42


Kiss My Face Maple Sugar lip balm - $3.50




Urban Decay Vegan Palette with eyeshadows + eyeliner + primer - $34








Origins Perfect World Antioxidant Moisturizer with White Tea – $38


 




Stila lip and cheek stain - $24

 

Hard Candy nail polish - $5



Share with me what cruelty-free products you are obsessed with and also where you purchase them. Take a stand for animals and look fabulous while doing so!

Thanks Marcia!

Definitely take a minute to look at the list of cruelty free companies found on LeapingBunny.org.  It's an impressively long list, with many names you'll recognize, making it that much easier to make a cruelty free choice.





Cover It Up with Therapy Systems Better Than Cover

We've already established how I fall prey to the impulse purchase.  Well, it happened again, but this time I promise no mimosas were involved.  A few weeks ago, I went to the Cosmetic Market in Green Hills to replace my empty jar of Therapy Systems Oil Free Moisturizer and to see if they had butter London's new Fall nail polish collection (which they did).  I got what I needed, but as soon as the sales associate saw the Therapy Systems Moisturizer in my hand, she asked me if I had tried their Better Than Cover concealor.  I admit I had an inner conversation about how I knew she was going to give me the hard sell on this product, but just because that's her job, it didn't mean I needed to actually purchase the product. 

Reluctantly, I told her I hadn't used it before and she asked if she could try it on me.  "Arrrggghhh....How do I get out of this and not be rude?" is how the conversation was going in my head.  But what the heck, I've run the gamut of concealors, from drugstore Neutrogena to Bobbi Brown, MAC and Benefit and honestly, I've just never found one I totally love.  They either end up creasing or looking like I don't even have any on by lunch time.
As she dabbed the concealor under my eye she explained all of its benefits.  It has a 70% organic formulation with a custom antioxidant infusion of acai, green tea and raspberry leaf and it's sheer coverage is not supposed to cake or crease.  I admit, that even though I had the MAC Studio Finish concealor on that day, I could tell a big difference between the eye with the Better Than Cover on it and the eye with just the MAC product.  In the end, I made the purchase.  At $24, this was an expensive "test", but knowing that I didn't need to use very much product to get complete coverage, I'm hopeful this tube will last me quite awhile.   
It's one month later and I'm still loving this product.  It's evened out my red tones and dark spots much better than my other concealors and best of all it stays put all day.  Slowly but surely, I think I'm becoming a Therapy Systems convert.
Try Better Than Cover for yourself this weekend.  Mizzie is a Therapy Systems makeup artist and she'll be doing makeup applications at Private Edition from 12pm-5pm on Friday and Saturday.

If you've tried any other Therapy Systems products that you love, let me know!



Nailed It! The 8-Day Manicure


I swore off getting professional manicures a few years ago.  Without fail, I would chip a nail in the first two days...and then another...and another...and then I would just pick the rest of the polish off.  My nails also tend to peel when painted for too long, basically making this a recipe for manicure disaster.  I love having painted nails, but if it's going to be high maintenance, I'd rather just do it myself.

I blogged back in March about how much I loved the Essie Matte top coat because I could get about a week out of my polish.  Now I needed to find a top coat that would give my regular polish that same life span.

In that same post, I used a polish by butter London.  I have several butter nail polish shades, but I had never tried their base or top coats.  At $18 a bottle, these two products aren't exactly impulse buys.  I bought the base coat (Nail Foundation Flawless Basecoat) a few months ago and have been super impressed by how truly flawless my polish goes on over it.  Most impressive, however, is how even the darkest of polish colors doesn't stain my nails.  Butter products are 3 Free, meaning there is no Formaldehyde, Tolulene, or DBP chemicals in their polish. I hoped this might help my peeling nail problem.  While it hasn't completely gone away, I do notice my nails are stronger and I can keep them painted for much longer than I ever could before. 

I loved the base coat enough that I decided it was worth the money to try the butter top coat (Hardwear P.D. Quick Topcoat).  I'm still a little in awe of this product.  My first time using it, I got eight...EIGHT...days out of my polish.  For me, this is an absolute miracle.  My gray lacquered nails survived a wedding, a serious house cleaning session and endless days of typing on my laptop without any chips or wear.  I've repainted my nails several times since and still no peeling!  I think I finally found a winner!

You can purchase butter products in Nashville at the Cosmetic Market in the Hill Center.  If you really want to see what butter has to offer though, visit their website.  Their polish names definitely rival OPI shades with names like Tramp Stamp, Diamond Geezer, and Frilly Knickers.  The new Fall collection even includes a tribute to Alexander McQueen, called All Hail McQueen.
Have you tried any butter London products?  What do you think?  I might actually consider getting a professional manicure again, but only if I can bring my butter products with me.




No Water Required

Have you noticed all the talk about dry shampoo lately?  Nearly every magazine I open has something to say about it.  There are dozens of products on the market...some spray, some powder, some super cheap and some super expensive.  So what's all the fuss about?

Dry shampoo definitely isn't a new concept.  People have been using plain old Baby Powder in their hair for decades to help sop up that extra oil in a pinch.  Here's an ad from the 1970's for Psssssst dry shampoo which you can find in just about any drug store today.




Mizzie and I went to a few of our favorite local shop owners, bloggers and friends to see if they used dry shampoo and which products they liked.  From the US and the UK, the response was fantastic and I was surprised to see there were a few brands that came up again and again.




My favorite is this little bottle of Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo that I bought last summer before my trip to London.  It was the only travel size I could find at Sephora that was around $10 so I thought I would try it.  I fell in love with this powder shampoo right from the start.  My curly hair can be really dry, so I don't like to wash it every day.  The dry shampoo helps get me through those no-wash days.  This powder is a little messy, but it definitely does the trick.  I usually pour about a dime to nickel size amount in my hand, flip my head over and then work the powder into my roots.  I flip my head back, shake out the excess and voila...oil gone, curls back.  The lemon verbena smell is nice too. 









Mizzie's favorite is Boots brand Expert Dry Shampoo...



"A few weekends ago, I was suffering from zombie like jet lag which meant I did not make the effort to wash my hair after the almost 14 hours of travel time to get to London. On that Sunday, I had plans to go see my husband at Wembley Arena where he was working but was in a bit of a conundrum regarding my hairstyle for that evening.  Luckily, I remembered I had Boots Dry Shampoo in my make-up kit.  That cheap stuff saved the day.  I was able to rework my messy curls into a fantastic bed head look and wore my very dirty hair down that day with confidence.  I just held the can about 10 inches from my head and sprayed.  Then I watched as the previously oily hair around my hairline literally lifted off my head with body and bounce.  The dry shampoo has a clean not too overwhelming smell  and holds even after brushing.   I didn't even need that much.  Woohoo!  Now I am reconsidering my hair washing schedule...you know to save the environment and all."










The lovely ladies at Style Blueprint actually talked about the Psssssst shampoo in the advertisement above in a recent post.  That same spray shampoo from the 70's is an Allure beauty product winner today.  The best part, it's $5.99 a can...that's right, $5.99!  And at the time of their post, there was actually a rebate on the can that basically refunded your purchase if you mailed it in.  So you could try a full size can of this product free!  I have to say that in a pinch, the Psssssst is great.  If you have dark hair, you need to watch how much you spray or else you can end up with hair that looks a little gray-ish.  The spray definitely gives you more volume than the powder, but I don't feel like it's as oil absorbing as my Oscar Blandi powder. 

Mizzie's friend and recording artist, Erin Austin, is also a fan of Psssssst.  Like most of us she uses it when traveling or when she doesn't have time to wash her hair.  She likes Psssssst because her hair is long and takes some effort to get ready.  "Using dry shampoo takes practically no effort.  Just spray, rub it and go."  


 As Liza from Style Blueprint will tell you in her post, she has been a fan of Bumble & Bumble's Hair Powder for several years, but at $35 a can, it's an expensive choice.  She was in a jam one day and needed something fast and tried the Psssssst and loved it.  Even if you can't get the rebate anymore, it's definitely worth a try and you can find it at just about any drug store.

The Bumble & Bumble Hair Powder is also a favorite of whats-in-store's Dena Ferrell Nance and Tweed Baby Outfitter's Maggie Jetter.  Both ladies love this powder's tinted color, because it can help extend time between color appointments.  
 
Maggie is actually a huge fan of dry shampoo.  She says she can go up to three days before she has to wash her hair.  "When I'm feeling frugal, I opt for the Ojon Hair Rub-Out Dry Cleanser Shampoo.  It comes in a cute and handbag-friendly 2 oz size and it's only $10.  It dries a days worth of oil, but doesn't last quite long enough to make me truly satisfied."

On a side note...visit Tweed in Edgehill Village.  This store is too cute for words.  










A couple of Mizzie's friends in London shared their favorite dry shampoo with us and it ended up being the same product, Batiste Dry Shampoo.
Nanny and daughter of a rockstar, Kaitlyn Gerrard, said...

"More times than none I wake up and think 'ohhh I can not be bothered to wash my hair this morning' but look in the mirror and think 'ew.'  For ages I did the whole talcum powder in the hair thing, but it leaves a funny smell in your hair.  Anyone know what I mean?!  Then i discovered Batiste Dry Shampoo.  It's amazing for mornings just like mine!  It comes in various different fragrances (which are actually really nice, my fave is tropical) and they even have types for black and brunette hair.  It doesn't dry my hair out, and it totally helps with volumising my hair which is a plus.  They also do little travel sizes which are always my best friends for those festival seasons when you sometimes don't even get a proper shower for four days.  It's definitely something I can't live without!!" 

Louise Grant is a super busy mom who also loves Batiste... 


"I've got thick but fine hair so it really needs washing every day to stop it from looking greasy. I don't want to spend the time doing that every morning (what with the school run & all!) so I wash one day & dry shampoo the next. It's also really useful when travelling after a long flight!  I love this brand because it comes in a range of flavours (tropical is the best) to suit your mood, it helps volumise my fine hair (makes it easier to style also) & it really does work. I get more nice comments about my hair on dry shampoo days!!"

Whether in your travel bag or part of your regular routine, it seems unanimous that you should be using dry shampoo.  And while the expensive brands do have their bonuses, the drug store brands seem to work just fine making this an affordable product to test for yourself.
  
Do you use a dry shampoo we didn't mention here?  Let us know what it is and what you like about it.  Never used dry shampoo before, but are thinking of trying one now?  Tell us about it!  Have we mentioned lately we love comments?



Psssssst advertisement courtesy of www.thebeautybrains.com.





Pucker Up Buttercup



I'm a lip balm junkie plain and simple.  I've had some mild anxiety attacks not being able to find the right tube or tin of lip balm in my purse.  It's a problem.  I'm aware of this.  But there's something about those little tubes and pots of moisturizing goodness.  They taste good, they smell good and well, they're pretty much my adult security blanket.  I could have worse vices, right? 

My addiction started several years ago with a pot of Smith's Rosebud Salve.  This salve was an impulse buy while waiting in line to check out at an Anthropologie.  Now it's my go-to lip balm.  I've tried dozens since and I always come back.  I have two on-going complaints about it however, one is no SPF and the other is that it literally liquefies in the tin if it gets warm.  This makes for a really messy lip balm that's not the best for the summer.  But I can't quit you Rosebud Salve.  Other balms may make it into my bag, but there will always be one goopy Rosebud tin in there too.

Although still no SPF, my other lip balm obsession is the Green Wagon's Chocolate Peppermint Lip Balm from Good Fortune Soap Company.  Good Fortune is based in Athens, Tenn. and make a lot of other yummy products, but that lip balm is the perfect blend of flavors.  It's also a tiny bit exfoliating yet it's very moisturizing.  

Mizzie loves Babybearshop's All the Better to Kiss you With.  I like the Babybearshop because it is all natural and feels so soft on my lips.  The cases are so super cute, they get complimented when I pull one out of my wallet to moisturize my dry lips.  If I want an on the go lip balm that doesn't require a finger for application, I like the Kiss My Face in a stick.  It has such a nice texture and is dense enough to really coat my lips and it soaks in to leave them ready to kiss.

I agree with Mizzie on the Kiss My Face balm.  We received a trio of these lip balms in our Naked Without Us goody bags.  I've been using the Vanilla Honey and it does coat your lips nicely and it has SPF 15!  The other nice thing about Kiss My Face is the price.  On their website, tubes are $3.49 and the trio is $9.99.

After coming off of a week of amazing fashion shows at Naked Without Us, we decided to ask a few of our NWU favorites what their lip balm of choice is...


Marcia Masulla, Fashion & Marketing Director, Naked Without Us and our favorite PETA advocate

The Kiss My Face is my current favorite too because it is all natural and CRUELTY FREE!  No animal ingredients and testing which just makes me overuse it more and more.  The flavors are great and my lips feel moisturized instantly.

Another good choice is Nivea Lip Care, A Kiss of Moisture - Hydrating Lip Care.  I was skeptical because this product was so inexpensive (around $2.50) and I assumed it would be waxy, but it applies very smoothly.  It has a clean scent and I even apply a thin base coat before I apply lipstick or heavy glosses.  (This product is not Vegan, but they don't test on animals.)





Amanda Valentine, Designer, Valentine Valentine

I am devoted to three lip balms!
1. ChapStick "True Shimmer" peppermint rush.  It is frosty blue.  I swear it makes me look fashionably hypothermic.
2. Lip Smacker in Dr. Pepper flavor.  'Nuff said.
3. Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer - Champagne shade.  It's a lovely frosty pink and gets me compliments every time.










Amy Breen, Designer, Amy B Clothing

I've become addicted to Smith's Minted Rose Lip Balm.  I first picked it up at Sephora when I was visiting New York.  It was one of those impulse purchases.  They stick all those little items near the register to get you to buy more things when you're waiting in line.  I've been hooked ever since.  It's minty and slightly tinted.  It gives your lips a slight shine and looks great over lipstick too.  I was happy to find it now at Cosmetic Market across from my work in Hillsboro Village.






Kallie Robertson-Smith, Designer, Love Simone

I'm not really a lip gloss kind of girl, but I do love my lip balm.  I alternate between good old Burt's Bees (because it makes your lips feel all tingly and minty fresh) and my other favorite is Smith's Rosebud Salve in rosebud or strawberry! I adore their vintage style packaging in little tins, and they can be used on hands too - great for dry cuticles!




















Rosebud Salve ended up being a nearly unanimous favorite here.  It is a great product and Kallie's right about using it for dry cuticles.  It does work great.  I've found all the Smith's Salve products at a variety of places in town including UAL, Cosmetic Market, Sephora and Anthropologie.  

Thanks ladies!  Between all of us, we have some very moisturized lips happening here.  

So Stella readers, what's your favorite lip balm?  Comment here, send us a tweet or Facebook message and let us know!




Moroccan Oil - Hair Nirvana?

For well over a year now, I keep reading product reviews about the wonders of Moroccan Oil products.  And lately, I've seen glowing reviews for the use of these products on curly hair, but I'm usually a little weary of those kinds of reviews.  I've tried more products than I care to mention in an effort to tame my curls.  Most just haven't worked, but now I switch off between a couple of Bumble & Bumble products.  I'm happy with those, so that should be enough right?

WRONG!  I'm a sucker for packaging and that amber bottle with the cool sky blue label just looks so luxurious and inviting.  I swear it's begging me to try it.  Mizzie and I have stopped at the display in the Cosmetic Market several times and both walked away not quite sure if we were ready to take the Moroccan Oil plunge.

Does the road to silky, shiny, beautiful hair start with this amber bottle?  Well dear readers, this is where you come in.  Have you tried Moroccan Oil products?  If so, please comment below and let us know which product or products you've tried and what you like or dislike about them. 

We posed those same questions to several of our Stella friends to see if any of them have tried Moroccan Oil products.  I should've known they have, because all of their hair is pretty darn awesome.

Dena Nance, whats-in-store 
I have tried the Original Oil.  You have to use a minute amount, since the saturation is quite remarkable.  I learned that it takes a bit of care to wash it completely off your hands.  My hair was much smoother and appeared vibrant, but once I suspended use, I had a significant amount of drying that happened.  My natural oil production had slowed.  

Lindsay White, Makeup Artist
I've used the Hydrating Styling Cream.  It is a leave-in moisturizing cream and I really did like it quite a bit.  It was highly moisturizing without weighing my hair down.  My tresses looked and felt super-shiny and healthy, and it did a grand job of taming my frizz.  I tried starting at the ends of my hair and then worked my way up to the roots and that gave me the best results.  Heads up...a little goes a long way!  Really a nice product, albeit a little pricey.  Tip:  My best friend and I actually split it and put half in a travel container so we could both enjoy luscious hair without breaking the bank.  Worked for us!  

Great idea Lindsay!  Who wants to share the curl creme with me?  Hmmm...Stephanie at Nest...that may or may not be directed toward you. ;)

Anne Hussung, Note de Tete
I use the original Moroccan Oil and I love it.  It smells fantastic and makes my hair really silky.  Like any oil, the trick is not to use too much or else you'll have an oil slick.  I mist it on my brush or comb and it reduces tangling of my baby fine, long hair.  I think it's meant to spray on dry hair, but I have found that putting it on a comb works best for me.

Thanks ladies!  These reviews are making me think I need to give the Curl Creme a try.  If you have tried any of these products, especially if you have curly hair, let me know!  Is it time for me to head down the road to hair nirvana?






Mad About Matte

I've always been a big fan of the matte nail trend.  There's nothing wrong with glossy nails, but there's something about stripping that shiny color down and making it completely flat that I absolutely love.

But there are rules for matte nails...no base coat, no top coat, no lotion...too many rules.  I've diligently followed these rules and every time I ended up with chipped polish after two days.  And my favorite greenish-gray suede color...one day and it was chip city.
  

When I started carrying a nail polish bottle in my purse to take care of touch ups, I began to think this trend was too high maintenance for me.

 

Enter Essie's Matte About You matte finisher.  This little bottle is a matte nail girls dream come true!  Not only does it make any regular polish instantly a matte color, it also acts as a great top coat for your matte or suede colors.  I got about five days out of my matte and regular polish before some chipping started.  I reapplied the finisher on the third day just as I would reapply a regular top coat on glossy polish.
Do your best to keep lotion off your nails.  It doesn't completely take away the matte finish, but it makes your nails look somewhere in between matte and glossy.  A quick reapply of the matte finisher and you'll be back in business.   
My latest matte experiment is on a butter London fuschia color called Bezzie Mate.  This is a pretty bright color for me and while I like it glossy, I'm loving it matte. 

What do you think?  Have you tried any matte colors or used a matte finisher that you love?  Let me know!

**You can get Essie Matte About You online or anywhere that sells Essie products.  In Nashville, I found it at the Cosmetic Market.

Not Your Mama's Skin Care Regimen

As Mizzie and I were doing research for our February Stella Spotlight store, The Cosmetic Market, we came across Therapy Systems, a line of makeup and skincare that was created right here in Nashville.  Since we're always on the quest for new skincare products, we started asking around to see if any of our friends used Therapy Systems.  As luck would have it, a colleague and friend of Mizzie's who is also a professional make-up artist/ professional dancer has used their products for years and was happy to share with us what she uses and what she loves.  Here's what Lindsay had to say...
As a self-professed cosmetic junkie, I am forever searching for the "holy grail" of all things beauty related.  I was introduced to the Therapy Systems line about eight years ago when I worked as a makeup artist at Private Edition and have been hooked ever since.  It has all the wonderful skincare basics you expect from a top-notch line (my faves are the Amazingly Gentle Scrub and the Oil Free Moisturizer), but the real standouts are the anti-aging products.  They have a plethora of active exfoliators, including glycolic and retinal based products, for every skin type and texture preference imaginable.  The important factor here is not simply that the ingredients are great, but HOW MUCH of them are in the products.  Therapy Systems provides a highly effective level of these powerhouse ingredients without having a prescription (faves include Glycolic Formula 15% and Retinal Cellular Treatment Cream/PM).  For the prevention of that nasty wrinkle monster, they have some incredible serums and moisturizers with the latest buzz-worthy antioxidants (check out Super Anitoxidant Facial Treatment and Coffee Bean Antioxidant Serum).  Yummy textures, pleasant scents and a killer rewards program (double sticker Tuesdays...HELLO!) add to the obsession.  This is not your mama's skin-care regimen.  Pricey?  Okay, I'll give...but the holy grail doesn't come cheap!
It's probably a good thing I didn't read Lindsay's review before I made my first Therapy Systems purchase.  I'm sure I would've walked out with way more than just one product.  I ended up trying the Energetic Enzyme Peel, since Heather from The Cosmetic Market talked about the Enzyme Peel and the Amazingly Gentle Wash in our Spotlight blog.  My friend Janice decided to join the experiment as well, and she purchased the Amazingly Gentle Wash.  She's been using it at night and her skin has felt clean and refreshed and she's loving the fresh scent and cool feel from the grapefruit and trace of peppermint.  This gentle exfoliant hasn't irritated her rosacea and she hasn't had any of the breakouts she usually has when switching to a new product.  
I've had a similar experience with the Energetic Enzyme Peel.  Heather is right.  This product is like a facial in a jar and your skin does feel as soft as a baby's.  It's light, smells nice and only takes a few minutes to make a noticeable difference.
Based on Lindsay's and Janice's reviews and Heather's recommendation, I think the Amazingly Gentle Wash and the Oil Free Moisturizer are next on my list!  Thanks ladies!!
Lindsay is right about the killer rewards program.  When you purchase a Therapy Systems product, you receive a membership card and one sticker for each product you purchase.  When you have 12 stickers, your 13th Therapy Systems product is free (up to a $68 value). The last Tuesday of the month is double sticker day, which means you get two stickers for each qualifying product you purchase.  So if you purchased your products on the last Tuesday of the month, you would end up only needing to buy six products to get your freebie!
To sweeten the deal, you can use your Stella Special Deal coupon on your Therapy Systems purchases through March 15.  The coupon is valid on Therapy Systems purchases made in-store or online at The Cosmetic Market only.
Are you using or have you used any of the Therapy Systems products?  Let us know!  We'd love to hear what products are your favorites.
 

Stella Loves - Bathos Wife of Bath Facial Wash

In our first Stella Loves post, I told you all about my now not-so-secret obsession with Alchemy of Sol soaps.  This week, I have another skincare secret to tell you about.  This one also grew out of a need to replace a Lush product I had been purchasing out of town for years.  I loved what Angels on Bare Skin did for my skin and I loved the price, but like their soap, I was tired of always needing to buy it when I was out of town.  

Finally, I found Bathos on Main Street in Franklin.  Bathos is like a mini Lush.  Colorful bath bombs sit in bins along the wall.  Delicately scented soaps are cut like blocks of cheese on the tables.  Fresh masks sit in the cooler in the back looking good enough to eat.  Can you tell I immediately feel at home here?  This is where I found Wife of Bath Facial Wash (or Remedy Scrub).  The formulation of Wife of Bath seems very similar to Angels on Bare Skin.  The almond smell is stronger in Wife of Bath which I really love, and the consistency is a little less crumbly than Angels.

This is still a messy scrub, however.  It's kaolin clay based, which gives it the crumbly factor, and it has lavender buds in it which tend to get everywhere.  If you can get past all that, I promise you, you will love this scrub.  It's gentle enough for daily use, but I only use it in the morning.  It's not powerful enough to take all my makeup off at the end of the day.  The directions say to use a teaspoon size piece, but I usually use the size of a marble or a bit less.  Start with a small amount, put a little water in your hand with the scrub, work it into a paste and rub it on your face.  It's okay if you use too much water and it gets runny.  You can use it like that or add more scrub until you get the consistency you want.  Like I said, this is messy stuff.  

Wife of Bath works great as a mask too.  We all have days when our skin feels blah, and these are the days I like to use it as a mask.  You want the consistency to be paste-like for this, so I end up using more than a marble size.  I leave it on my skin for just a couple minutes, but if it was a particularly long weekend or my skin seems dryer than normal, I might leave it on for about 20 minutes or so.

The combination of Wife of Bath and the Calendula Tea Tree soap has left my sensitive skin feeling smooth, hydrated and practically blemish free.  And the price of Wife is very comparable to Angels, so it's still extremely affordable. 

This much scrub...
 
only costs this much!
Using this every morning, this batch should last me close to two months.  Since I switch off between it and the Calendula Tea Tree soap, it usually lasts longer than that. 


Most products at Bathos are priced by the pound, so you can buy as little or as much as you like.  If you live in the US, you can purchase directly from Bathos online and if you're in the Nashville/Franklin area, visit their store at 416 Main Street in Franklin.  Sorry international readers, Bathos doesn't ship outside of the US yet.  But if you live in the UK, and sweet talk Mizzie, I bet you can get her to bring some back for you.

I hope you enjoy Wife of Bath as much as I do.  If you try it, please let me know what you think and if you've seen any changes in your complexion.


  

Stella Loves - Alchemy of Sol Bar Soap

Oprah has her favorite things and so do we!  Every other week,  Mizzie and I will feature products we love and want you to know more about.  We hope you try them out for yourself and let us know what you think.

I have a little obsession going on with this week's product, which is why it's our first "Stella Loves" post.  For a long time, bar soap got a bad rap, and deservedly so.  Most mass-market soaps are too heavily scented and leave a gross, filmy residue on your skin that actually makes you feel less clean.  Lush bar soap changed my mind nearly ten years ago.  Their soaps did all the things my shower gels were doing, but they were natural, long lasting and their scents had depth to them but weren't overpowering (which is funny considering if you've ever been in or near a Lush store, you can literally smell the store from at least a block away.)  But without a store close to where I lived, it meant any time I (or my friends) traveled to a city with a Lush, copious amounts of soap had to be purchased.  I thought surely I could find something just as good that was more accessible to me.

This led me to the Green Wagon and a bar of Alchemy of Sol Calendula Tea Tree soap.  Alchemy of Sol is based locally in Smyrna, Tenn. and they source many of their ingredients from local farmers and producers.  You can read all about their soap making process and philosophy on their website.  

I have sensitive skin, so I usually don't use bar soap on my face, but I thought I would give this a try since Tea Tree Oil is good for your skin and Calendula has an anti-inflammatory property.  Amazing!  My occasional red splotches and stray breakouts are practically non-existent when I use this soap.  It has quickly made it into my regular rotation of morning cleansers.

Another must have is the Buttermilk Honey Almond.  This soap smells amazing, is moisturizing and feels like you're wrapping yourself in a nice, warm, almond blanket.  Yum.
The Renaissance Rosewood with Lavender & Oats is also moisturizing and the hint of lavender makes this a nice, relaxing soap for the end of the day.
And if spicy is your thing, definitely go for Rococo.  Its smells exactly like my old (and discontinued) Lush favorite, "Bob."  It's a spicy/sweet mixture of clove, cinnamon, patchouli and citrus.  It's the perfect soap to warm you up on a cold winter day.
If you live in Nashville, you can find Alchemy of Sol soap at both Green Wagon locations, The Turnip Truck, Produce Place and Whole Foods Body.  If you're outside Nashville, you can order directly from Alchemy of Sol's website, www.alchemyofsol.com.
We can't wait to hear which bars end up being your favorites!
*All photos from Alchemy of Sol.