Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What a Difference a Dream Makes

Like many others, Ms. New Beauty and her family quickly finished opening presents and grabbed a bite to eat before rushing out the door to see Dreamgirls on Christmas Day. Ms. New Beauty saw an off, off, off, off Broadway production of the play in high school and fell in love with the story instantly. She loved the glitz and glamour, the sequins and the fish tail gowns, and of course, the singing. She's always been a sucker for a good musical. Mr. & Mrs. New Beauty (i.e. her parents) saw the show on Broadway with the original cast. So there was no doubt that the whole clan was going to see this movie when it opened.

I'm sure by now you've been inundated, or beaten over the head, with reviews and promotion for this movie. You have to have heard about Jennifer Hudson's phenomenal debut performance in this film. And while it was truly phenomenal and deserving of every bit of praise, I'm not going to rehash that here. I'm more taken by her beautiful style transformation since stepping into the spotlight. We've all witnessed a few too many young starlets stumble as they get their red carpet bearings together. Even Ms. Hudson herself ran into a few unflattering makeup and fashion choices during her days on American Idol. But those faux pas are far behind her now.

Effie White looks amazing in the January issue of Allure. Sultry, sexy, and sensual yet very natural at the same time. This is a perfect makeup look for a low key night out or the perfect night in. There are no harsh lines or garish colors here, so natural beauty can really shine through. I'm planning to recreate this look for a Kwanzaa celebration at a friend's house using these:

Apply foundation, concealer and powder as normal to even out skin and create a clean palette for your eyes. Use bronzer or a highlighter to warm up your face, but skip the blush.

  1. Brush Too Faced Eye Shadow in Dirt Bag from lash line to crease
  2. Brush just a little Nars Single Eye Shadow in Champagne just under the arch of the eyebrow and in inner and outer corners of eye
  3. Use ring finger to tapped M-A-C Eye Shadow in Amber Lights lightly on center of eye below crease (use a light touch so you don't end up wiping off the dark brown shadow)
  4. Fully line both upper and lower lashes with M-A-C Eye Kohl in Smolder
  5. Trim and add about 5 or 6 clumps of Shu Uemura's Long Eyelashes Regular to outer corner of eyes
  6. Finish up with Dior Show in Black to blend false lashes

Keep lips simple by using just a gloss instead of lipstick. Try a natural sheer pink or gold, like Lancome Star Gloss in Cosmic Girl or Bobbi Brown Lip Gloss in Honey or Petal, to compliment eyes.

Get glamourous, follow your dream, even belt out the refrain from "And I Am Telling You", but just don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Cheap & Chic - Everything's Coming Up Roses

Ms. New Beauty loves roses. She loves to be showered with them on birthdays, Valentine's, and on random days for no reason at all. Red roses, white roses, yellow roses, and especially pink roses. But the color doesn't really matter at all, so long as they're roses. MNB also loves to splash rose water on her face in the morning to create the best possible beginning for her day and to slather rose scented oil on her skin after a hot bath at night. And, since last year, she's been a secret admirer of a particulary decadent rose perfume. Oh, how she's stopped by fragrance counters and spritzed a little on her wrist to hold her over until the day she can afford a bottle of her very own. That day hasn't come yet, but MNB is having a torrid affair with a cheaper, yet just as sweet smelling version of that perfume. And thus, we have the newest installation of Ms. New Beauty Cheap & Chic.

Rose Perfume

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie, around $150


Fresh Bulgarian Rose, $70

I love both of these scents. They both smell like the most beautiful field of fresh, just bloomed roses. One scent and I see myself transported to some European hillside covered in roses of the most perfect shade of pink dancing and singing a song of happiness and joy. Think Sound of Music, except with a fabulous black girl like myself frolicking in tall platform boots instead of a milk maid's apron. You get the picture.

While I love Creed and acknowledge that their colognes are made with only the best ingredients, I do not have a perfumers nose. So the Fresh Bulgarian Rose smells just like the Fleurs de Bulgarie to me, except it costs half the price. And that works out fabulously for my grad student budget.

Treat yourself to some roses, save some money, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Down to the Wire

Ms. New Beauty just finished her last final an hour and a half ago. That's right, the evil administrators at her school thought giving a final exam four days before Christmas was a good idea. The inevitable result - MNB has spent weeks studying and paid almost no attention to what she's going to give out as Christmas presents this year. With just a few days left to shop and no idea what to get the fabulous family and friends in her life, Ms. New Beauty has decided to give presents that require minimal thought (her brain is so drained right now) but that are still sure to please. Gift cards can be so impersonal, so she's scoured the net to find the best universally acceptable gifts to eliminate any worries about what to get at the last minute.

Sephora Fragrance Gift Certificate

I don't normally recommend giving fragrances as gifts. What smells like roses to one person is funky feet and corn chips to another. But, this is such an ingenious idea. This is not your typical gift card or certificate. With this set, you get ten samples of Sephora's top selling fragrances and a voucher. Whoever you give this to can sample the scents, even wear them for a few days, and then decide which one she likes best. The enclosed voucher is good for one full size bottle of any of the ten fragrances included in the samples. Give the gift of fragrance and take out the worries about whether it'll be a hit or a miss. Oh, and this one comes in men's and women's versions, so this is truly a unisex gift sure to please everyone.

This one's sold out online, but may still be available in store. Check with your local Sephora.

Smashbox Beauty A-Go-Go Palette and Brush Kit

Makeup is another tough thing to buy for someone else. You never know what someone's preferences are or what colors will look good on them. The solution - palettes. Makeup palettes with several traditional colors, like golds, browns, pinks, and peaches, are good for everyone because there's always a color that will look great. This palette comes with eight eyeshadows in every shade a girl could need. Gold, taupe and champagne for nude eyes, and charcoal and navy for a subtler smoky eye. Plus, you get four flattering lip glosses, two highighters, and two brushes all in a palette with houndstooth print for a kick of 60s kitsch.

This is still available online. Make sure you get the two day delivery and you're gauranteed to have your gift by Christmas.

For bigger palettes with tons of colors, you really can't beat the Sephora Blockbuster Palette. It comes loaded with tons of eyeshadow and blush shades so every lady is destined to find something she loves in thesee. It is completely sold out online (and going for 2.5 times the price on eBay), but there may still be some in stores. If you stumble upon one, be sure to grab it.

Too Faced Glamour Eyes

As you can tell by now, eyeshadow is one of the easiest gifts to give. It's easier to play with color on your eyes and therefore easier to give to someone else. You'd never, well at least you shouldn't, try to gift foundation. And, blush only works in very specific circumstances where the shade is soooo flattering and you know your friend's undertones well.

Here's another great eyeshadow palette. Glamour Eyes comes with every eye shadow shade that Too Faced makes. At $350, this is definitely a luxe gift for a fabulous lady in your life. I know you could look me in a room with this palette and a mirror and I could entertain myself for days.

The Too Faced The Jewelry Box palette would also be great fun for me but that one is sold out online too.

MD Skincare Cult Classic Set

Let me let you in on one of my best gift giving secrets. Give gifts of beauty that are the signature products a brand offers. For women that use the line, they'll know that you bought them the best of the brand and appreciate the thought. Women that know the line will love that you bought something they would never spend the money on themselves. And, for women that don't know a thing about it, they'll be so impressed that you spent the money on such a luxury beauty line for them. It's truly a win-win.

This gift will definitely fall into my best beauty gift category. This is two of MD Skincare's best products in one set. It comes with the two step Alpha Beta facial peel and the All-In-One Facial Cleanser with Toner. The peel and cleanser are the two products that MD Skincare is best known and loved for. They don't call this the Cult Classic set for nothing.

And if you still need more gift ideas, you can never fail with anything from Diptyque, L'Occitane, Molton Brown, Fresh, Kiehl's or Anthousa. You can always buy something simple like a candle or body cream from these lines for less than $50. But it still gives that "life's little luxuries" effect. Trust me, my sister went crazy for a Tuberose Diptyque candle two years ago. Again, make sure you get one of the most popular or signature products from the line.

Give great gifts, get even better reactions, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's Like Buttah

For some odd reason, it's still unseasonably warm in Ms. New Beauty's little part of the world. By this time, it's normally frigidly cold and Ms. New Beauty is trying her damnedest to stay moisturized and fight off the dry, itchy skin that winter air can bring. After having lived through two of said dry winters, MNB has gotten the winter moisture thing down pat and it's all about the body butters girls.

Thicker than lotions or cremes but still creamy and soft, body butters are the key to preserving your sexy during cold temperatures. The best body butters, in my opinion, have a soft, smooth, almost pudding like consistency, but sink in and keep you moisturized until your next shower. I have tried plenty and I'm giving you the best of the best today.

Jaqua Sinfully Rich Body Butter

Jaqua specializes in making those "foodie" scented body butters. Normally, I find those scents sickeningly sweet and way too reminiscent of the Bath & Body Works lotion and body spray craze that took over my high school in 1998. But, my favorite scent, Banana Spice Cake, is so sumptuous that I completely forget all memories of girls lathering themselves in Jolly Rancher scented lotion. The scent is a perfect autumnal blend with hints of ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon with a subtle staying power. When I get home after a long day and take off my street clothes, I get a subtle whiff of the scent, but it's light enough that I can put on perfume without over powering the noses of every person I meet.

The Jaqua Body Butters often have that coveted pudding consistency, but I've noticed that it can be irregular. Certain scents can be thicker and less smooth than others. I always check to make sure I'm getting the smooth kind I like before I buy.

Korres Natural Products Body Butter

You wouldn't expect a rich, moisturizing body butter to come out of this bottle, I know I didn't, but it does. I'm so used to the short, fat tub of butter to slather all over myself, but this one comes in a convenient pump bottle. It's still rich enough to keep the winter itch away, but it's light enough to smooth right onto skin without lots of vigorous rubbing that those super thick formulas can require. Made from all natural ingredients, it contains Quince extract and shea butter (a must have ingredient for dry skin) to soften and moisturize and almond, sunflower, and avocado oils to smooth the skin.

My favorite formula is the Quince, but the Guava is divine too. And, you know I love this because the bottle is the perfect shape to drop into some of my larger purses. This one fits very well into my Botkier Trigger Fan Hobo.

L'Occitane Ultra Rich Body Creme

The granddaddy of body butters, this cream barely needs any description. L'Occitane's body creme has a high shea butter content, 25%, and contains a cocktail of natural oils to soften even the driest of the dry skin. Even my good friend's Sahara-esque case of eczema was no match for this creme. If this doesn't soften your skin, get thee to a dermatologist post haste.

Body Butter Money Saver - Biggs & Featherbelle

I originally tried the Biggs & Featherbelle Body Butter early this fall. The concept of a body butter bar intrigued me. It's a solid bar that you rub over your skin. The heat from your body melts the body butter right in. What?!?! So innovative. You know I had to try that, so I put in my order for two different kinds - Lavender & Bergamot and the Ylang Ylang & Patchouli.

The scent of the Lavender & Bergamot was so strong and overpowering that I could not even use it. Literally, I could not even bring myself to put it on my body because just opening the jar almost knocked me out. The second one, Ylang Ylang & Patchouli, was strongly scented, it wasn't as bad so I gave it a try. The concept was great - the bar just melted onto my skin and left nothing but soft body butter in its wake. But, the scent never faded away. I smelled like Patchouli all day. I don't hate Patchouli, but I surely don't like it enough to walk around smelling like the Health & Beauty section of Whole Foods.

But, scent alone is not enough for me to post something as a money saver. Some of you may love, love, love a scent that I can't take, so I reserve the Money Saver distinction for products that truly aren't worth the money. What did it for the Biggs & Featherbelle? The fact that the body butter that melted so gloriously onto my skin never absorbed into my skin. It just sat on top and resolidified, eventually leaving a Patchouli scented body butter lining in my clothes. Make me smell like a health food store, but don't go messing up my clothes!! That's where I draw the line.

Well, stay soft ladies, banish that nasty winter itch, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Reading Material

Ms. New Beauty subscribes to more magazines than she can count, and realistically, more than she has time to read. But she keeps up those subscriptions from year to year because fashion and beauty magazines are her escape. For that hour that she's reading, she is on vacation from the world. Yes, it takes an hour because MNB reads every feature, article, and snippet. She goes over that magazine from cover to cover. Keeping up these subscriptions can get a little costly, but it is far less expensive than taking a real trip a few times every month.

But, the vacays have just gotten a little cheaper. For the holidays, Hearst Publications is having a $5 subscription sale. You can get subscriptions to Marie Claire, Cosmo, House Beautiful, O The Oprah Magazine, and my personal favorite, Harper's BAZAAR, among others for just $5 each. You can get a subscription for yourself and gift one to a friend and you won't even have to wait for the Ms. New Beauty Subscriber Services update. Don't wait too long for this offer because the sale ends on Christmas Eve.

Read it for yourself, save some money, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Strange Encounters of the Scented Kind

One day last week, Ms. New Beauty was minding her own business and going about her normal routine. She woke up, checked email, made it to the hairdresser for her standing weekly appointment just a little late but still right on time (you know, late enough that she wouldn't have to wait for her stylist to finish up his other client, but not so late that he had moved on to someone else), and sat down for a nice lunch at a restaurant near school. As MNB was heading to her car after lunch, she felt someone walking just a little too close on her back and turned around to find a girl, couldn't have been any older than 19, walking behind her. Chalking it up to just one of those things, MNB kept right on walking. A few steps later that same girl was again just a little too close, but this time on her side. Being the city girl that she is, Ms. New Beauty automatically figured the girl was trying to pickpocket her, so she grabbed her purse tighter and put some pep in her step.

Two seconds later, the girl approached Ms. New Beauty saying "I know this is going to sound weird but . . ." Now, we all know that is the worst way to start a sentence with a stranger and all kinds of horrible endings rushed through MNB's head. Before MNB could decide whether to just run to her car that was only a few steps away or wait for the ending, the girl finished her sentence with "what are you wearing because you smell really nice." MNB, completely taken aback that a stranger on the street was smelling her, could barely mumble the name of her scent before that urge to run to the car won out. After the awkwardness of the encounter wore, MNB realized that she was slightly flattered, she smelled so good even strangers noticed.

That powerful scent whose name I could barely remember at the time, ladies, is Fresh Sake. I figured if it smelled sweet enough to attract an unknown, albeit weird, girl on the street, it was definitely worthy of a review here. (Note: the above story is completely true because I am so not creative enough to come up with something like that on my own. These things really happen to me.)

Fresh Sake

Fresh Sake is a light, sweet scent with an adult appeal. To me, it smells like the kind of perfume you'd find on a 25 year old investment banker who's sitting in an early morning meeting with a client still in the same pumps she wore to the club the night before. Subtle and conservative yet subversive and mysterious at the same time. I just love those kinds of juxtapositions, since I fancy myself the kind of girl who would wear the club pumps to work, once I actually get a job.

The holidays are the best time of year to try new scents, because gift sets abound. Try the Fresh A Grain of Rice gift set, which includes the Sake perfume, dry oil, and soap, for only $35. Only available at Sephora.

And, since we're talking about Fresh, I have to mention my favorite scent in their line, Fresh Lychee Sugar. It's a sweet fruity perfume, perfect for summers and weekends. A Spoonful of Sugar features Lychee Sugar in addtion to two more Fresh perfume favorites, Sugar Blossom and the signature Fresh scent, Lemon Sugar. This is another one that's only available at Sephora. Don't you just love them? And, personally, I love, love, loved the Cirque de Beaute holiday catalog, lawsuits be damned.

Smell sweet, but beware of strangers on your scent, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Wear Red

Ms. New Beauty is in love with her earth tones. She's all about the burnt oranges, rich chocolates, and warm golds. Anyone who's seen her living room can attest to that. But, today, she is into a much bolder color - Red - because today is World AIDS Day. Put on a your best red lipstick or lipgloss, wear a red shirt, or even better, pin on a red ribbon to support AIDS advocacy, treatment, and research. And, please, please, please, get tested. There are products that you can buy to support the fight against AIDS.

M-A-C Viva Glam

If you want to show your support through your cosmetics, there is no better choice than any of the M-A-C Viva Glam lipsticks and glosses. Launched in 1994, Viva Glam is a line of lip colors endorsed by various celebrities through the years including Christina Aguilera, Mary J. Blige and Pamela Anderson in the past to current spokeswomen Eve, Dita von Teese, and Lisa Marie Presley. Every cent of the proceeds on these products goes to the M-A-C AIDS Fund to support people living with AIDS.

Product (RED)

Created in part by Bono, (RED) raises money for The Global Fund to support women and children living with AIDS. I know you've seen the Gap Product (RED) tees, but there are so many more fabulous products for sale, including Red MOTO Razr cell phones, iPod Nano's, Converse sneakers, and my personal favorite, the Red American Express card. Even though Lord knows I don't need another credit card, every time you use the Red American Express, they donate 1% of your total spending to the Global Fund.

For more information on AIDS awareness, research, and treatment, visit American for AIDS Research or the government's newly launched site,

Get tested, protect yourself, stay safe, and don't forget that Ms. New Beauty told you!

© New Blogger Templates | Webtalks