THE ADVICE SISTERS®  "What Works" Beauty, Cosmetics & Fashion Review Column, DECEMBER (Holiday Gifts & Glam) COLUMN  by Alison Blackman Dunham




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HURRY! Our Contest "The Devil (and You) Wear Prada" ends this month, on December 31, 2006. ENTER NOW to win one of five luxurious beauty prizes from Dior, Z. Bigatti, or BeneFit Cosmetics. You Don't Want To Miss This one!  Meanwhile, "shop" this column for your "must-haves" and great gift ideas to get, and give!  




Last month we reviewed holiday eye shadows  from Bourjois. This month, as promised, we're moving to lips and the Gloss Troupe $15.50 and Can Can Colour Show $28.00. I am a die-hard fan of Bourjois and especially super-mini-sized items like the Effet 3D Mobile lip gloss we reviewed in our June column . I wished for more colors in super- mini-sizes, and Bourjois has delivered, just in time to tuck a gloss into the a tiny evening bag.  The Gloss Troupe features 5 Effet 3D lip glosses (without the "charm" loop), beautifully packaged in a harlequin-inspired, pink and maroon presentation box with clear center (so you can see all the colors). The super-shiny (and mostly shimmery) lip glosses range from a shiny matte nude and a rich framboise, to shimmery champagne,  toasted rose, and a ladylike shimmered pink.  The mini size and adorable packaging make them an affordable, covet-able gift. The silky, luxe, light-reflecting gloss makes them a "must have" for you.  Also fun and great for all the kissing you'll be doing, is the Can Can Colour Show, also packaged in a limited edition, holiday collection presentation box. This one features two can can girls, leg high in a kick. Open the box, and inside are three  super-shiny, full-sized Effet 3D lip glosses in different formulas: super-shimmer, shimmer, and non-shimmer.  My favorite is the super-shimmer "Rose Symphonic," a whisper-sheer, light pink gloss so packed with shimmer, it dazzles even in the tube (and looks like wet diamonds on your lips).  There's also the shimmer "Brun Galactic," a subdued rosed nude, and "Cassis Tropical," a  completely non shimmery, clear hot raspberry that adds just the right "just bitten" sheer tint of color to lips.  The adorable packaging makes this a perfect gift for a lip color lover, but you'll want to get one for yourself, too.


To view previous "What Works" Beauty, Cosmetics, and Fashion Review columns, visit the "What Works Archives".       


"Arm" yourself with great gifts and fantastic party looks,  with Urban Decay's Urban Arsenal $42.00, a face-in-a-case kit with 9 products that will be your weapon against boring makeup looks! Inside a lilac foil cardboard box with magnetic closure and interior mirror, we found colors so pretty they made us go "ooh!" start with an eye shadow primer potion for smoother and longer-lasting shadow. Apply one (or all) of four eye squares of powder shadows in super-shimmery copper or gold, a glittering rose, or "Midnight Cowboy Rides Again" a gold with gold glitter that is just glam fun. There's even a dual-ended sponge tipped applicator to help. Continue with a black mini mascara, and an afterglow powdered blush in "Score," a peachy, shimmery gold. Finish with Big Fatty Lip Plumper, a gold-flecked plumper (packed with African chili, jasmine and hyacinth) and a glorious Naked XXX shine gloss in a warm rose (with a mint zing). There is even an instruction sheet with graphics included, so you can't mess up. It's a great gift and a travel-sized treasure, too.

A cute, little face-in-a-case kit is the limited edition, Secret Stash Makeup Kit $22.00 by Hard Candy. Inside a tri-level, mirrored,  cardboard kit with magnetic closures is everything you need for lips and eyes: The first level features four sheet, lip glosses in pink, peach, berry and nude. Flip up that level, and find four squares of powder shadow: a shimmery taupe and beige, a sparkling celadon and a deep bronze. Finally, on the bottom level, find rectangles of a light, shimmery, powder bronzer and O-blot-crate, a mattifying powder with tea tree oil that absorbs oil and greasy shine, so your makeup lasts longer and looks better. This is a lot of makeup stashed in a kit sized just slightly larger than two packs of gum! 

Tarte's trio of "gilty" pleasures are adorable and affordable. All that Glitters $28.00 is a limited edition face kit, packed into a large, quilted clutch  with lilac satin interior (doubles as an evening bag). You'll also get a fantastic, mini cheek stain in cherry called "Tickled," a metallic gold eye liner pencil, a dual-ended Lip Gloss Duo in "Glow" (pink) and "Gleam" (fabulous gold glimmer) along with connector piece you can use with other, Tarte lip glosses, too.  A lilac-and- gold-stenciled mirrored compact with four matte and simmer shadow duos (eight colors) including gold/silver, plum/ rose, brown/nude and grey/mauve) is great completes the look.  Another one of the most covet-able  (but affordable) gifts for the season is Gilt Trip $28.00 by Tarte. Inside a very useful, padded, gold leatherette-covered  mirrored mini vanity case with a  golden clasp, are half a dozen super-shiny, sparkling, light-reflecting, lip-enhancing mini lip glosses that will make you go "oohhh!" and add shiny shimmer to your lips as they look fuller, softer, kissable. There is so much shimmer in these lip-plumbing glosses that it creates a pretty sparkle right in the tube! From beige to peach, berry to red, each of these super-shimmery glosses (with names like Sparkle, Glisten, and Twinkle) will add sexy appeal (and a slight tingle) to your holiday lip looks. Spread even more cheer to favored friends and family members with Some Like It Hot $28.00, a re-useable, black plastic case stenciled with violet lace, containing ten,  tiny tubes of cinnamon- flavored lip glosses.  These sheer delights in shimmery and super-shimmery, natural to pink shades, are so mini, you can fit several in a tiny change purse--and an enclosed set of connector pieces make it possible to mix and match, easily!  These lip sets will delight everyone--be sure to get one of each for yourself and make your holidays, shiny, sexy, and bright, too.

When I think of a "boxed set" I usually think of books or CDs, but Stila's "boxed set" is so much more fun, and  perfect for holiday gifts: The limited edition Color Festival $58.00 arrives dressed in a ready-to-give, hot pink metallic cardboard box. Inside is a  dressing-table ready, keepsake, brown and hot pink ultra suede box that breaks apart into three different shelves, each holding some of Stila's chic-est products. The top layer has an eye shadow trio in a silver, cardboard compact topped with a hot pink, phalaenopsis orchid  graphic, and featuring shades of brown, copper, and ivory ("Champagne, Sunkissed and Coco). Level 2 contains a Convertible Color (Stila's creamy, lipstick and blush-in-one) "Gerbera," a flattering soft apricot that will add color to palefaces and make deeper complexions, glow.  The third level has a deluxe sample smudge pot  (a long-lasting, easy-to-apply gel eyeliner/shadow)  in a trendy and universally flattering warm brown "Copper, a nice, mini-sized Major Lash Mascara in "Black," and a High Shine Lip Color in 'Olivia," a glossy rose that works day and evening for virtually everything you wear. This is a boxed set we definitely, want!

We don’t often review items for young people, but since it's the holidays, if you want to give an age-appropriate makeup gift to a young girl, we think you'd like some of the adorable options from Sephora Girls (base on the character "Loona May," a hip young girl ,and her "Friends.": The Lip Gloss Lollipop $4.00 features a super-sheer, scented lip gloss on a plastic "stem" that looks like a lollypop. There are four different types. Ours was pink with a shimmery red heart scented like cherry, but there's also a clear gloss  with pink flower middle, a  rose with star, and pink with red flower. The color is super-sheer so a little girl won’t look "tacky" wearing it. We also liked the Mini Princess Kit $12.00 (photo). A mini metal lunchbox with holds two  mini lip glosses (one pearly-pink with a heart, the other lighter pink with a star), along with a pink-topped nail polish in opaque white, and two small, hot pink "click-clack" hair clips to hold back bangs, or just adorn your little princess's hair. If she's not into makeup just yet, tuck a lucky dollar or coin into a mini, patent-leather type pink leather change purse with different animals on them and you' will delight even the littlest girl.  Ours was pink, with a little brown cat and pink hearts. There’s also a violet with bunny, rose with piggy, and white with a blue bear. 

It has been a while since we've reviewed anything from IMAN Cosmetics, but her limited edition Mediterranean Holiday Collection Compact $19.99 is a welcome-back we're just loving. Inside a large, rectangular, black, plastic compact with interior mirror are ten terrific products that give you everything you need for a complete, face-in-a-case, look.  IMAN is a style icon (as is her husband, David Bowie) who really knows what works for women of all ages and complexions. These kits flatter all types of complexions, from very deep, to light blondes and ruddy redheads. The colors are sheer and easily blended. Ours, called "St. Tropez," (photo) features metallic, bronzed colors that will keep your Summer glow, going all year long (Cote D'Azure has more vibrant colors).  We loved the four slightly shimmery, powder eye shadows (golden peach, soft mauve, brown, and rosed-brown) two lip colors (rusted red, and medium peach), two silky lip glosses (deep chocolate and shimmery-peachy pink), a sheer, cream highlighter in soft, golden bronze, and a powder trio featuring a deep, medium and light bronze (wear each separately or swoosh together for a lovely, golden glow). The products are of high quality and lovely to wear (and you even get mini applicators for eyes, lips and blush). A great kit at a great price!


Sugar Luxe Makeup Case & Palette $35.00 by Sugar Cosmetics is a great gift --a  makeup binder that looks so cute you will want to show it off wherever you are. he multi-ringed binder with interior mirror houses a removable makeup palette that has a bronzer/blush and 4 eyes shadows, plus clear makeup case with a zip-lock closure, that lets you store (or take) all of your must-haves with you. The Sugar Luxe Makeup Case & Palette holds four shadows (metallic pink, matte beige, super- shimmery silver, and dark brown shimmer, a dual colored pan of bronzer in warm neutral, and a light rose blush. Simply pop out one palette, put in another, as you wish.. The packaging is cute,  the products, high quality. The result? Glam on the go, and at a great price.   

Are you a true couch potato, but you want to change? Do you know someone who just can't seem to get it together to get off the couch and exercise? The Fitness Challenge $29.95 is a motivating board game/exercise tracker, that puts the "fun" back into fighting flab.  I met the vivacious Vicki Sorenson and her mother, Stephanie at KMRPR's fabulous Girls Night Out at Bruno Jamais Supper Club last month, and was immediately taken with the clever idea. The Fitness Challenge is fun, but serious--if you and your fitness partner follow through, you both are winners! The Fitness Challenge combines the challenges and fun or playing a board game (with "rewards" in the form of star points and "coupons" you can "redeem" if you "win" a challenge), with the benefits of following a personalized exercise program. The idea is to get a partner, and play for eight weeks at a time. You get an "board"  with "star" stickers (the fitness challenge scorecard),  to help you and your workout buddy  track your progress. The designers thought of everything, there's even a dry erase marker and hanging clips so you haven't any excuses to avoid looking at your progress. You also get the coupons with little treats (e.g.. buy me a CD) and chores "go grocery shopping)   that motivate you to stay on track and "stick it" to  your partner if they don't hold up their end of the bargain! A list of qualified exercises are included, that can be easily tailored from beginner to advanced. The idea is to pick activities that will keep you interested and motivated to get up and exercise for at least 20 minutes (30 for advanced) at least three times a week. This is the perfect time for you and a partner to give each other the motivation you need to get through the holidays without blimping out, and it's a great gift idea for just about everyone. Next year, no excuses!



Eyes are the window to the soul, they say, and beautifully curled eyelashes help make your eyes look even better. Sephora puts curves in all the right places with the Sephora Full Size Lash Curler $16.00. This one has no-slip grips and high-tech rubber grip pads. Lashes look naturally curled and perfectly shaped, easily and gently. For more curl and definition, lower lashes need curl too. The Sephora Lower Lash Curler $14.00 is a half-sized, more curved version of the full lash curler, specifically designed to get to those hard-to-reach, delicate, lower lashes. You will be amazed at how much of an eye-framing difference curling your top and bottom lashes, makes. And, for even more definition and curl, there is a Detail Lash Curler $14.00 . It is also half-sized, but slightly less bent over, to catch the lashes at the very outer corner that are hard (actually, impossible) to reach with a traditional curler. Depending upon how much mascara you add after you’ve used these tools, you can transform your lashes in depth, density and degree from natural, to thick, to seemingly "faux." These pro-style tools are  well designed and well priced, so everyone can afford them. Good value, and good to enhance your holiday look. TIP: makeup tools make nice "stocking stuffers" for your fashionista friends!

 Mini has maxi appeal when it comes to traveling with great makeup tools. For the holidays, Laura Mercier glams up a trio of  tiny, "must-have" makeup brushes in a Micro Mini Brush Set $45.00 featuring a bright red, faux lizard case securely holding three purse-sized brushes for eyes, cheeks, and a pull-apart lip brush. The size is small, but the quality is evident in the lush, soft, beautifully-shaped brush heads and shiny, black, wooden handles. The magnetic closure and mirror makes this a mighty mini kit you'll want for yourself, and offer as a special gift for special people this holiday season.

When I learned that there was a fitness program that lets you learn sexy, Latin dances from 4 world champions and lose weight and tone up, I couldn't wait to review it, and I wasn't disappointed! Core Rhythms Starter DVD Set ( $14.95 + $9.95 shipping+$14.95 if you do not want to return it), an aerobic exercise program based on Latin dance moves. I had seen this on a television infomercial, but when I heard that readers had actually lost weight and inches with this, I had to try it.  The exercise leaders are two very toned and sexy women (Jaana Kunitz and Julia Powers), who teach you three core moves, and put  them together in a long and short (20 min) routine performed to pulsating, Latin rhythms. If you do these right, you'll sweat for sure, and you will lose weight and tone up. Some may find the workout challenging if they're not already in shape, but while the workouts are real work (and why else would you buy an exercise program?) they are so much fun, you won't mind! They also give you a chance to learn and practice sexy moves in the privacy of your own home, before you get on the dance floor. A real plus is that the DVDs allow you to choose a front or back view of the moves, and there is a good "help" button you can press at any time to have the ladies demonstrate the moves they use. These exercises take just moments to learn, although if you want to look like a dance champion doing them, you'll want to practice, often (and that's not a bad thing, either). The starter kit comes with three videos: a short and a long workout (using samba and meringue moves) and a  "how-to" DVD that shows the ladies with their husbands,  demonstrating how to actually do meringue, samba and rhumba moves. You may not look like a champion dancer when you first start out, but you will burn calories, help to get a toned body, and (hopefully after using the program for a while) have enough confidence to get out there in a slinky dress and actually dance. I think this would make a fantastic gift for singles and couples who would like a unique and effective way to get in shape, learn something new, and have a great time doing it. This is a perfect holiday gift. *"Audition" the first set of 3 DVDs for 30 days, but if you keep it the total cost will be $39.85. You will be sent a new DVD every month for an additional $19.95 plus shipping unless you cancel through a toll free number. The company will cancel promptly upon request. 

Just this past Summer, we were introduced to Whish Shave Crave Shave Cream $32.00 6.7 oz. made just for women. This solid cream in a jar is luxuriously scented with essential oils, and other natural, good-for-your-skin ingredients. We first tried "Almond" and we loved that, but there's also a sassy "Pomegranate," and an invigorating" Lemongrass." So we asked to try the Mini Shave Crave $32.00 which includes 1.60 oz. jars of each!  All feature a mild, glycerin soap that soothes and moisturizes, protecting the surface of your skin from nicks and scrapes (note that these are  good for even sensitive skin).  The scents (pomegranate, lemongrass or sweet almond oil) are fabulous, giving you a spa-like, aromatherapy experience as you perform an otherwise ordinary chore. The pomegranate is an antioxidant that rejuvenates your skin and protects it from free radicals. The lemongrass helps to soothe muscle aches and ease stiff joints while improving muscle and skin tone, and the almond oil is especially beneficial for dry skin. Although these cost more than dime store soap, a little goes a long, long way and think of all the benefits (and compliments on your smooth, soft legs) you'll get (plus they're a lot easier to store in your luggage than aerosol cans). This would make a luxe gift for a sister, a good friend.  Even better, you lather up and apply these luxury shave creams for women with a Whish Body Brush $65.00  featuring a generously-sized head of soft, 100% badger bristles, and a feminine, white, curvy plastic base. For true princesses, the brushes are also available with Swarovski crystals halfway $95.00 to full $170.00.

Everyday Matters $82.95 by Dr. Hauschka Skin Care is an important gift because what you do for your skin, every day, matters! Attractively packaged in a large, cardboard carton with a silky, golden rope handle, are 4 must-have items to begin (or improve) a 3-step skin care routine that is easy to do, and includes instructions for a unique "press and roll" application technique for best results.  You get a 5.1 oz Lavender Bath (applied with the included cotton cloth) to pleasurably relax you and open pores,  1.5 oz Cleansing Cream (a gentle but deep cleanser and also a gentle exfoliator), and a 3.4 oz  Facial Toner that is refreshingly sprayed onto your face and gently pressed onto the skin as well.  These high quality products are created with therapeutic blends of aromas and organics to help you create a sense of well-being along with a sensible and effective skin care routine. We think men will embrace these products as well. Send yourself, or your friends and family into 2007 with better skin and a great outlook each day!

Trish McEvoy's Mini Make-Up Planner $55.00(5 1/2"W x 7 1/2"L x 2) is just one is a trio of terrific and flexible face-in-a-case kits ($48, $58, and $68 for the petite, mini, and large respectively). Inside the black, quilted, zippered case is a ring binder that holds your own, personalized, clear plastic "folders" of makeup that let you literally flip through to see what you need, at a glance. Our  "Mini Make-Up Planner" was stocked with a palette of powdered eye shadows plus a blush, and another had two large square blush/bronzers. The makeup is magnetically held in place on a solid Lucite "page" so we can pop products and colors in an out, in a flash. Even better, we can take out an entire  compact "page" and put it in our purse if we want---how great is that?  Make the system even more flexible by adding additional clear plastic Pages $13.00-$17.00. There is a  handy, mini zippered mesh pouch for lipsticks (we use ours for  jewelry when we travel) and another with a velcro closure, for brushes,  toothbrush & toothpaste, etc.  The other side of the case has a "hidden" compartment for flatter items, and four long pouches held with elastic, to hold makeup brushes (of any size), pencils (ours had lip liners in "Rouge," "Natural Plum" and "Natural), lip glosses (our had the glam: "Pretty" (shimmery deep rose) and "Iced Bronze" (shimmery bronzed rose),  or whatever else you choose. With carry-on airline regulations tighter than ever, you'll want to be sure that you protect your valuable tools and cosmetics in transit. This kit is simply, great. We wonder how we ever traveled without it. This is the gift for special people who love high quality cosmetics & tools. 

The Skin Smoothing Sampler $30.00 by LATHER is an impressive gift for the price. An attractive, lime green cardboard box with a photo in greytones of river rocks on the top, is filled with five 2 oz travel-sizes of LATHER"S best selling body care products. When I see LATHER products in a hotel, I immediately know I'm in a great place. The ones in this sampler are: Hand Crème with Evening Primrose (fabulous, alpha-hydroxy hand treatment formulated from fruits and plant extracts combined with natural moisturizers instantly improve the look and feel of your hands), Lavender & Eucalyptus Foot Crème (lavender, eucaplyptus, sage and arnica stimulate feet, increase circulation, and extracts of seaweed squalene and aloe versa smooth, moisturize and soften dry skin),  Bamboo Lemongrass Foaming Body Scrub (bamboo powder, sea salts, and walnut shells make this cleanser an exfoliator, while essential oils give off a great scent), and two new products:  Bamboo Crème Body Wash with Shea Butter (bamboo, shea, and antioxidants create a slightly foaming, moisturizing cleanser),  and Sofian Lavender Whipped Body Crème (gloriously scented with lavender, moisturizing with shea butter and enriched with antioxidants, it's simply lovely to use). This is a great way to travel with products you know and love (if you're not staying in a quality hotel that features them), and a nice way to pamper someone this holiday season and introduce them to LATHER.

While at Spa Magazine's 10th Anniversary Bash at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York, this Fall, I became intrigued with the PerfectSense Paraffin systems for spas. These offer easy paraffin treatments for hands and feet, with aromatherapy. I knew I had to review the  PerfectSense Paraffin Hands or Feet Home Kit (approx. $35.00-$45.00).  This is such a great value and so easy to use, you can literally treat yourself  (or four friends) to pro-style hot wax treatments in just minutes, without batteries, electrical wires, microwaves, or anything else, for less than the cost of one salon treatment! Since each treatment is completely sealed for one-use only, you're not going to be exposed to anyone else's fungi, bacteria, dead skin, or other yucky invaders, either. The system is so easy to use, it's nearly a miracle. A "heat pack" hangs on the included, re-useable, plastic holder. Activate it with am aromatherapy packet, and enjoy the soothing steam for the 8-10 minutes it takes to heat paraffin-filled gloves (placed on either side of the pouch) . When the steam, subsides, your treatment is ready! Open the glove (or bootie) now filled with warm, melted paraffin,  and place on your hands or feet. Deep-penetrating, moisturizing heat helps relax achy joints and stiff muscles, and leaves skin soft and supple. The wax slips off your skin quickly and cleanly, leaving you with soft, sexy skin and a new sense of calm. This is a great gift for the entire family and for women and men of all ages. 



 Women and men love Essie's super-yummy scented Smoothies  (we can name lots of guys who can't get enough of this lotion, even though they're not the "moisturizing" type.  For the holidays, Essie's Silky Treats $14.99 features a little cardboard "basket" featuring four 2 oz. bottles of Blueberry & Banana, Coconut and Pineapple, Kiwi and Lime, and Pear and Fig. These moisturizing powerhouses are packed with natural emollients and alpha hydroxy acids to keep your skin looking smooth and soft now and especially throughout the dry, winter months. The lotion absorbs so fast all you'll feel is soft, silky skin.  Keep one in your desk, gym bag, purse, and car. Buy a bunch of  "baskets" to give to all those special people. from your hairdresser,  to the receptionist who always holds your calls, and even your husband, whose hands could use a bit of TLC. For a little treat or a great stocking stuffer, Essie Holiday Candies $13.99 are dandy choices that won't deplete your budget, or ruin your diet. The  Red Striped Candy Duo features one bottle each of "Glass Slippers" (white polish with glitter) and "Fishnet Stockings" (universally flattering red), or try the Pink Striped Candy Duo with two of Essie's (and my favorite) colors: "Limo-Scene is a soft, flattering, blush pink and "Ruby Slippers" is a sparkling crimson fused with tons of glamorous glitter. Wear these and show you are ready to shine! These little treats will delight every girl on your gift list, no matter what her age.

The Aromatherapy Candles Travel Set by LATHER $18.00  is more than just a stocking stuffer--it's seven tiny gifts in one. A re-useable, silvery tin (we use ours as a catch-all for tweezers and other little things) holds six sensuously, strongly scented, travel candles about the size of two tea lights, to take with you for scent and atmosphere, wherever you go). Each candle has a different "purpose" (eg. soothing, invigorating, comforting). These are scented with essential oils: peppermint, clove, lavender, milk and honey, lemongrass and brown sugar. Each is distinctive, and wonderful. Perfect for travel, we like substituting one of these in a decorative votive instead of the usual tea lights. They'll burn a long time too, since they're made with a soy based wax that burns for approximately five hours. TIP: place unused open candles in your lingerie drawer to scent it while storing it!

Go Out Gloss Lip Shine and Be Scene Crème Cheek Color  $6.00/each by MARK are terrific treats that virtually everyone can afford, and can't afford to be without! Round black compacts feature huge, multi-faceted "diamonds" on their clear lids. Inside is a sheer, shimmery blush/shimmer for face, or a shimmery gloss for lips. Be Scene Crème Cheek Color is a silky-smooth, cream-to-powder blush that highlights cheeks with dewy shimmer. "Fizz" is a shimmery sheer peachy glow that looks great to accent cheekbones. "Flushed" is a cheery rosed-pink. Go Out Gloss Lip Shine features the same, glitzy compact, but inside you'll see  a large portion of shiny, smooth, fragranced lip gloss (we couldn't quite place the slightly fruity with a hint of herbal scent, but it was nice). This sexy gloss comes in party-ready shimmery berry ("Blush") or a shimmery clear "Champagne." Take these glam compacts out of your makeup bag and heads will turn. Of course, these make fantastic stocking stuffers. Get a bit of flash, for a little cash.

Bath treats are great gifts for everyone from a grandchild, to a grandmother, and gift suggestion we think is not just good for all, but very, very cute, is the Holiday Bath Bubbles $3.00 by Jaqua Girls. Gentle enough for the kids but fun for adults, these puffy plastic pillows I holiday shapes are filled with mildly scented bubble bath gel! The (Santa and Snowman have pearly white gel, a puffy star has red gel infused with red glitter!). These are generously sized-- enough for 6-8 baths. Simply squeeze open the valve that also seals the product inside, and let it flow under the tap until you have just the amount you want of foamy, fun, bubbles. When the bubble gel is all gone, the pillows become little "blow up" ornaments that will add to your holiday decor for years to come. They’re cute, practical, and reviewers agree, a universally appropriate gift to have on hand for any last-minute gift-giving needs and you can’t beat the price.

We would call the Lip Lock Keychain $7.50 by Victoria's Secret a stocking stuffer, but this zip purse in the shape of sexy lips with a see-through front, is so much more. The packaging is an actual change purse  with keychain closure... and that would be cute all on it’s own, but that isn’t all you get for this amazing price. Inside are two mini sized products for your lips: Ours, the hot pink metallic lip purse held  "Very Voluptuous" Lip Plumper (works great) and a Very Sexy Lip Gloss in "Bling" (super-shiny clear gloss infused with holographic, parti colored bits of gloss that is an amazing topcoat, or wear it alone). There’s also another version with a RED lip purse featuring two lip glosses ("Intimate," and "Hot Pants"). Whether you just want a little something to perk up your party outfits, or you grab a bunch of these for party favors and "thank-you" gifts,  or for office grab bag, you’ll win a warm smile when you give these. You can also look like a big shot, and still stick to your holiday budget, too! 

Go Out Gloss $6.00 and Be Scene Creme Cheek Color$6.00 by MARK come in a round, "diamond" studded,  flip top, mirrored compact that are eye catching, festive, and fun to use. This might be cute enough to dub it a "must-have"  as-is, but inside you'll find either a creamy, sheer and slightly shimmer cheek gloss/highlighter/blush in "Fizz" (peachy champagne) or "Flushed" (rose), or a shimmery, super-shiny lip gloss in "Blush," (pink), "Champagne" (shimmery clear) or "Merlot" (deep berry). You'll want to take these out and re-touch your face, constantly, just for the "wow" factor. Of course, they make fantastic stocking stuffers and little "thank-you" gifts, which is why we've put them in this section. Get a bunch, before they're gone!

Sephora Fresh Gloss $7.00 has a great, minty scent and loads of shine. It’s clear, mini-sized for purse or pocket, and we like it alone, or  slicked over a dark lipstick. Every woman will want at least one, but we think it would be especially nice to give to a younger girl who isn’t quite ready for color, but who longer for lip gloss.  Sephora Ultra Shine Lip Gloss $15.00 does have color--23 shades to be exact in palettes of pink, brown, or purples. Reviewers like a shimmery sheer brown that seemed to be scented like grape soda, or cola, depending upon who tried it. You can mix and match these or wear them solo, for endless possibilities. Lip glosses can boost your mood, so give a happy thought to friends, with Ultra Shine


See  previous "What Works" Beauty, Cosmetics, and Fashion Review columns, at the "What Works Archives " Advice Sisters Enews

Looking for something to satisfy your inner "wild child?" or for a teen? Streekers $8.95 are a great choice. These lip-gloss type sponge-tipped wanded tubes color your hair blue, pink, ultra violet, purple, red, yellow or green. Be daring and add a streak (or two, or three or more). The color will wash out, you can even use your brush after the Streekers color dries, along with styling gel or hair spray. Have a blast with a bold look and still be ready for work the next day as the color washes out when you shampoo!  These add zip to any party look, and they'll help you attract attention. Wear your company, school, or team colors -- watch heads, turn. These are cute stocking stuffers for hard-to-shop-for teens, too. Even little girls can enjoy these since they’re safe and totally of-the-moment. Your gift of Streekers are truly smile-producing fun-in-a-bottle.

There’s a trio of tempting lip glosses we want to tell you about that are good for stocking stuffers or as a little gift for yourself: Pantina’s Kissing Lip Palette $5.50 has a lip balm, a matte lip color, and a shiny gloss in one, pretty and slim, plastic compact. It’s not just that Pantina has nice colors (although they do), but also that they're good for your lips. The lip balm has 15% pure shea butter and chamomile extracts, the lip color has lip plumping qualities including cocoa/shea butter, and vitamins E & C, and the shiny lip gloss has a lovely, pearly finish to make even dry, dull lips, lovely/ This lips-in-a-case kit comes in three colors combos. Ours was the rose-themed "True Romance," to put the roses back in your lips–3 beautiful ways with 3 great products!



Last Spring, we reviewed a quartet of very unusual fragrances, from one of the world's leading designers, Giorgio Armani. His Privé Collection $185 per 1.7-oz. bottle was actually created for private use, and to share with a circle of friends, But of course, you know that great things rarely stay a secret, and Armani released the fragrances for sale to the public. Now there's a 5th fragrance to add to the original, fab four: Cuir Améthyste $185 1.7-oz  This scent is not really clearly defined as for men or for women,, it's truly a bewitching, unisex scent that will mix with the wearer's own body chemistry to create a fragrance that's as unique as the individual.  The first sense you'll get is reminiscent of the leather in a fine car, created by a combo of coriander, original rose with a crystalline sparkle, and Calabrian bergamot. Warm and amber-y exotics such as benzoin, labdanum, and Bourbon vanilla spice up the fragrance just a bit. Genuine leather warms and softens as you wear it, and so does Cuir Améthyste.  By drydown, this unisex fragrances strike a perfect balance of  freshness  and spice, male and female, strength and wear-ability. This unisex fragrance is not only a work of (perfumer's) art, the packaging is a mini work of art you will want to display where everyone can pick it up and admire it. An Eastern aesthetic has been a long-time influence on Armani, and each of the  Privé Collection fragrances arrive in a black, wood box, into which is nestled a glass-lined dark, African Kotibe wood rectangle, with a genuine semi-precious stone perched atop the spray diffuser (Cuir Améthyste features an amethyst, associated with wisdom and humility).  The bottle remind me of mini Brancusi sculptures. Each fragrance in the Privé Collection is supposed to evoke a memory or a mood. For those who love fine things, Cuir Améthyste will be a joy to own, and a treasured gift to give or receive. 


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The Sexy Best Atomizer set $24.00 by Victoria's Secret is a very special fragrance you'll want for yourself, and for gift-giving. It's a great value, too! The re-useable, shiny, cardboard presentation box in hot pink metallic and black logo box,  ties closed with a thick, silky, hot pink satin ribbon. Inside is the real prize:  5 Eau De Parfum mini-spray vials of Victoria’s Secret’s top selling fragrances in .07 oz sizes (enough for a weekend away).. What makes this set truly special, however, is the included, silvery carrying case, no larger than a pack of gum,  that lets you carry your scent, elegantly. It's so pretty to use,  studded at the top with starry pink crystals, and featuring the Victoria's Secret name in elegant hot pink lettering, Simply pull off the top, drop a vial of Victoria's Secret fragrance into the case, and you're good to go. The set includes the new, Dream Angels Desire, plus Dream Angels Heavenly, Very Sexy for Her, So in Love, and Body by Victoria. If you're a fan of  Victoria's Secret fragrances, you love variety, and like to take scent with you. this is a great choice and a great gift. 


Ultra-elegant, always glamorous Dior celebrates the unique uplifting spirit of Christmas with a limited edition fragrance: Midnight Charm Eau de Parfum $65.00 1.7 fl. oz.. This fragrance dazzles-- inside, and out. The round bottle (photo) has a shiny silver overlay with small and large "cut-out" holes to give you a peek of the gorgeous, amethyst glass bottle underneath. The round bottom blossoms out into a top that looks a bit like an inverted, rounded, pyramid, crowned with a round, clear plastic "ball."  it reminds me of a precious, heirloom, tree ornament. That's probably the idea, since this fragrance has been described as an "'Eau de Noel."  When I first tried the scent, my first reaction was simply "wow!"  It's that unique.  feminine and impressive. It starts with a frozen green top note that feels fresh, but not as light as those of Summer fragrances. Top notes start out green and crisp, with holly leaves, frosted bergamot, and a fruity accent is sparkling and fusing lychee pulp. The middle is more floral, but still fresh: red jasmine, snow drop and white rose, warmed with a finish of iced chestnut, cashmere musk, and golden amber. The overall effect of this unique and interesting blend is a bright, significant but not too heavy "floriental that is long lasting and perfectly balanced--neither too spicy and heavy, or too floral. This is the type of fragrance that showcases the perfumer's art and translates a bit differently to each woman who wears it, but we are sure it will have everyone asking "what is that amazing scent you are wearing?"   The outside box is a soft violet and pink with gold lettering--what a dreamy gift this would make for a special woman!

BeautiControl advertises it's Unmistakable Fragrance as a Fragrance Gel $30.00 2 fl. oz, even though ours looked pretty much like a liquid, but no matter: "Unmistakable" is a fragrance you can't forget, and don't want to! The mixture of Italian lime, icy pear, almond, peony and just a hint of vanilla, creates a beautiful, unusual blend that is a not-easily defined "floriental." It's substantial, but soft. It's fresh, but feminine. It's subtle, but still sexy. Dab a bit on your pulse points and you'll discover a little goes a long way. You'll find people you don't even know stopping you to ask: "what is that fragrance?" There's also a luxurious Body Creme $55.00 6.2 oz that has a "whipped" formula that's light and luscious.  We like the generously- sized jar, too. If you're looking for an unique scent,  and a memorable, gift, this is a good choice. 

Bobbi Brown's modern approach to fragrance is delightful: BATH Eau de Toilette $40.00 1 fl. oz, looks simple in it's nearly pure white box, and an  uncluttered bottle with a silvery top and a sophisticatedly-spare, apothecary-style label with "BATH" embossed in white, on it. But, as with all masters of fashion, what seems simple, is often more sophisticated and complex.  Inside the bottle is a clean, fresh scent with  notes of Water Hyacinth, Neroli, Orange Flower, White Lily, Aromatic Sage and Sandalwood with hints of Patchouli. The effect really is "clean," agree reviewers...a bit like a pure bath bar, but it's more interesting than that.  I love everything Bobbi Brown does, and her fragrances always make you stand out from the rest of the crowd, so I really wanted to try this one myself. I feel a burst of brightness as I spray, which quickly dries down to a definite "Ivory" type scent, but it's much more than that....your body chemistry will quickly warm up the florals (in my case) and spices, making this into an unusual blend that's all your own. This light  fragrance you can wear with anything, any time, and still feel "right."  No body cleanser can make you smell as delightful as Bobbi Brown BATH, can! 

Fragrance is supposed to be your most intimate, fashion accessory. but when Avon and Swarovski work together, you get a luxurious,, sophisticated fashion statement: Crystal Aura Eau de Parfum $26.00 1.7 fl. oz  by Avon debuts this month. You wear it as a fragrance, and also, as an accessory!  A striking, slim rectangle of clear glass is topped with a violet "crystal" top. Around the neck of the bottle is a sparkling, rectangular, crystal pendant that you can wear on a chain around your neck, hang from your jeans, or just admire. Inside,  Crystal Aura is a modern, fruity floral that's more substantial than the light fruits of Summer to wear with heavier fabrics, but still light enough to be casual.  It's a fresh blend of citrus-y star fruit, womanly amethyst rose and sensual musk and woods. Whether you're looking for a special scent for yourself, or to gift someone with something special, or you just can't decide between splurging on jewelry or fragrance, this is a two in one gift that is bound to please. Fragrance takes another direction entirely with Blue Rush For Her $19.75 1.7 oz eau de toilette (there's one for men, too). A softly-rounded pyramid of glass tapers to a silvery top. Inside, Blue Rush For Her  is categorized as a fresh, watery floral, blending wet amaryllis and blue freesia with a hint of feminine musk and aquatic woods. It's a light scent that will work well on every woman from her teens to adults.  To express the excitement and passion of this fragrance, Avon choose Kristian Alfonso (“Hope Brady”) and Peter Reckell (“Bo Brady”), the star couple of NBC’s #1 daytime drama, “Days of our Lives, to represent the his-and-her fragrances in their advertising campaign.  If you or someone you know loves the soaps, this scent is a perfect match that won't break your budget. 


We can't think of a single thing more sinfully fun than the fragrance of pink butter cream frosting, unless it's infused into pink shimmer powder, in a light-as-air cloud of white marabou feathers, topped with a silky pink ribbon, for added glamour! That's exactly what you'll get when you buy the Pink Buttercream Frosting Marabou Feather Shimmer Puff  $20.00from Jaqua. The pink cardboard "hatbox" houses this delectable, delicate, and delightful beauty treat. The fragrance is light, but not so overly sweet it would be too strong for daytime, and the puff is so "girly" it's the sort of thing that elicits squeals of delight from everyone who sees it. The price is so reasonable, you can afford to give one to all your friends.  The photo doesn't do this justice, and take it from the Advice Sisters, plan on getting one for yourself as well as for gifts. You aren't going to be able to resist it once you see (and smell) it!

Last month a new fragrance was launched that we think is the perfect gift for a young lady, especially  if she's one of the 6 million viewers that watch The OC, a  television drama about Orange Country, California. Despite it's modest price, reviewers really liked The OC for Her Eau De Toilette Spray $22.50 1.7 fl. oz  $12.00 0.5 oz., This companion fragrance to The OC For Him (see our men's products in the right hand column) is a light and daytime appropriate scent, encased in a deep pink box and inside, a deep pink bottle. This  light, fresh, fruity floral starts with top and middle notes of mandarin, hibiscus, tuberose, jasmine, freesia, white peach, guava and nectarine, while base notes of white amber, sweet vanilla and clear musk soften the blend at drydown. Although the scent was created to appeal to younger users, it is still sophisticated enough to appeal to adult women. I can easily see a mother and daughter sharing a bottle with no problem.  This is an affordable, attractive, new scent to try (and give).

Everyone wants a better love, but Better Love $90.00 1.7 oz., $40.00 0.5 oz. by June Jacobs  is a new fragrance you'll really fall in love with. We have reviewed June Jacobs skincare in the past and really liked it.  We were eager to see if this new fragrance was as great as the skin care. It is!  Better Love is a unique and sensual fragrance, full of spicy and herbal notes. It starts with Italian bergamot, lemon, and sparkling ripe mandarin but the heart of rose and jasmine, spiced with hot pink pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg is what you really notice. The drydown is a mixture of cedar and sweet cream intertwined with musk and sheer amber. The scent reminds us of some of our favorite Amouage and Montale scents that contain exotic resins. This is also spicy, rich, creamy and exotic, but it is also flirtatious. It will make people want to get close to you for a better sniff...even though the scent is already, assertive. If you're looking for an unusual and unique scent to call your own, this is a great choice. 



  I confess: I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of Allure: Confessions of  Beauty Editor by Linda Wells, (Bulfinch 2006) $24.95. I'd like to think that after more than 9 years reviewing makeup and beauty products, I'm the foremost authority on this topic, but Linda Wells, Editor-in-Chief of Allure Magazine, run rings around me. Shehas been on the job for 15 years, and probably knows more about makeup than just about anyone on the planet. The large-format book full of glossy color photos and is something you will enjoy looking at again and again. I like the approach, too: refreshingly honest and fairly personal: Ms. Wells shares her own experiences both positive and negative regarding beauty products.  Her personal comments are present in each introduction in ten sections dealing with everything from hair to skincare, salons to bikini waxing. The Allure-style approach is evident when Ms. Wells is  presenting information. She breakds down every technique into do-able bits, and presents lots of tips (Tricks of the Trade) along with how to get the best "bang for your buck."  I really liked the tips and emergency. I think readers will appreciate the mix. There's something for everyone in this book (although I wish there had been a bit more information directed to women over age 40 and under age 20 and more "regular" models). No matter, this book will be a well-loved "bible of beauty" that should stand the test of time and transcend a lot of fads. It is fun to read, and will be fun to give, and even more fun to receive! 

 Laura Mercier, a superb makeup artist and creator of one of my faves:Laura Mercier Cosmetics, has written a 256-page book called: The New Beauty Secrets: Your Ultimate Guide to a Flawless Face (Atria Books, 2006) $35.00. Inside the covers are a host of the beauty techniques that make the author a favorite of celebrities like Linda Evangelista, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, and Madonna. In fact, the foreword of this glossy, full color, coffee-table-sized book was written by fashionista Sarah Jessica Parker (I attended a cocktail reception in November for the book, hosted by SJP--see my blog and Enews for  the details) and celebs reign throughout the book. Laura Mercier's makeup is of wonderful quality, and designed to help even a neophyte to create pro-style results. The techniques in this book can help you sharpen your skills,  too. The topics cover nearly every facial feature and some body care, peppered with Ms. Mercier's inspirations, faves, and philosophy. The true pleasure of this large, glossy, full-color, coffee-table-type book, however, is its "eye candy" appeal: slick photos of  gorgeous models and celebrities, coupled with feminine, whimsical  illustrations that are guaranteed to motivate you to raise your own glamour quotient a notch. In our celebrity and youth-obsessed society, it's only natural that a beauty book will pack the pages with celebrity content and gloss over the concerns of regular women over a certain age. Not everyone is young, or has the luxury of traveling with a beauty entourage. To Ms. Mercier's credit, there are at least a sprinkling of photos of women who are over age 40 (E.g. Meg Ryan, Madonna, Susan Sarandon and and Julianne Moore). Whether you want a treat for yourself, or you want to spread a bit of holiday joy to someone special this is a great choice.

 . The holiday season can be a lonely time for singles who would like to be in a relationship, but haven't found the right one. The Everything Dating Book 2nd Edition, Meet New People And Find Your Perfect Match! by  Alison Blackman Dunham (Adams Media, 2005) is gift to give yourself, or someone needing a jump-start or a tune-up on their love life. The book isn't full of tricks or surprises (sorry folks, but there really isn't anything new in the universe about how people click, or don't) but you will literally a bit of "everything" you need to help organize, energize, and move forward through a love search and into a true relationship. The information relevant to every age, but it is especially important for anyone over age 30, the newly-single that has been out of the meet market for a while, and even seniors, who are meeting and making new matches later in life. *Did you forget someone's birthday or other special occasion and need an impressive, unique gift, fast? Do you know someone who struggles with the same issues or problems - over and over and over again with a resolution?  I offer private, personal online advice. This is a gift that lasts a lifetime and will never be "re-gifted" Simply provide your recipient's information and I will do the rest! Click Here for details.



Dino Morra is a skincare guru in California, with a "bad boy" vibe reminiscent of magician Chris Angel. His exclusive, Crème Candle $37.50 will also make a statement, and really capture your attention. It is actually two candles in one--a lovely, scented candle to light your days and nights, and (once the wax is melted) it is also a spa- treatment for your skin featuring Morra's Crème formula -- a super-hydrating collagen formula fortified with antioxidants and phyto-minerals. The bennies of this have been appreciated by stars such as Lucy Liu, and Ryan Seacrest. Now you can get both a great candle and this Beverly Hills treatment at home. This Crème Collagen Candle in it's go-with- everything, clear, glass votive, comes in  "Grapefruit" (pink grapefruit with hints of lemon, lime and Mandarin Orange); "Spa Comfort," ( eucalyptus, lemon grass, lavender, Spanish marjoram, sandalwood, tangerine) or "Lavender Vanilla " (Belgium lavender with warm notes of French vanilla). As the candle burns the Crème formula will melt into a pool on top of the candle. Then once the flame is extinguished, apply the melted Crème (with a small spatula or wooden spoon) as an all-over body massage, or directly to problem areas such as elbows, knees and feet.

Candles are the classic way to enhance a holiday mood, and they're always a great gift, especially if you don't know someone's size or interests.  An exclusive line  the Advice Sisters have just been introduced to is Jerome Privé Pour La Maison $19.00 available at Perfumania stores, or at These are truly lovely, and quite affordable. The substantial, clear glass votives go with any decor. They contain generously-sized, very nicely scented candles in genuine holiday fragrances that will make you feel "merry and bright" even if you just light one after a hard day at work, for your own enjoyment. The product info told us that these candles have "notes" just as bottled fragrances do (nice to know what is creating the yummy scent you're smelling). We tried "Gingerbread Cookie," a sweet and spicy rust colored candle with top notes suggestive of homemade cookie dough and caramel, with middle notes of gingerbread, cinnamon, and sugar cookie, and bottom notes of white musk, vanilla extract, and tonka beans.T he snappy, spicy scent  really perked up our senses and made us want to sip cider by the fire, or at least take five, and read a book to recharge and refresh.  There's also "Cranberry Garland" and "Festive Fir."

  Letters For Her is a romantic line of aromatherapy products that are inspired by love letters to a young woman (Rachel) in 1943,  discovered in an attic, nearly 60 years later.  You can tell immediately that a product is by Letters For Her  by the light and delicate script "lettering" that adorns every product, along with a cute, "postage stamp" label that usually has a picture of what's in the product, signifying also the region of the world where the original letters came from.  For the holidays, the Holiday Set $36.00 in "Wildflower" reminds us of Provence, in France. It is a great choice not just for your home, but for gifts for all those people you need to thank in a special way.  The set includes a full sized (8 oz) clear coral-tinted Liquid Hand Soap (photo) and Hand Lotion. The hand soap is luxuriously scented with tuberose and ylang ylang essential oils, and the tall, elegant, glass pump bottle is decorated with a coral grosgrain ribbon and a little, round, id tag featuring a wildflower.  The hand lotion is a delicate, opaque coral with the same, romantic, ladylike floral scent and packaging. Both are housed in a delicate, black wire basket, with romantic loops and curls of wire forming the basket, a tall carrying handle separating the two.  This is an impressive gift for not a lot of money and a nice little splurge for yourself.

Set a holiday mood while you remove unwanted or stale odors from the air. It's easy, with the Essential Oil Diffuser $34.00 by Ashley Archer. This diffuser features 15 rattan diffuser reeds that soak up pure essential oils of Ylang Ylang, Clove, Orange & Vanilla Extract, and scent your room for months, around the clock. Simply reverse the rods every few weeks to keep the scent, going strong. Scented oil diffusers give you all the benefits of home scent, without the danger of fire. Since they last a long time, they're economical, and a great gift idea.

What could be cuter than a scented soap in holiday shapes? Some that are holiday-perfect are the triple-milled soap collections, by Gianna Rose.   Reviewers loved the Antique Ornament Soaps $18.00 shaped like antique Christmas  tree ornaments. These are boxed in a pretty red and pink lidded cardboard box stenciled with a paisley design that reminds me of wallpaper from the old West, with "peace, love, joy and celebrate---in French--around the sides of the box."  Inside, 7 small round ivory-colored "ornaments" look amazingly like the real thing, complete with a hint of sparkle. The fragrance is fantastic:  a strong and festive blend of evergreen, pine, sweet fir, cinnamon, vanilla, and clove. Reviewers also ooh-ed and ahhh-ed over the  box of Snowflake Soaps $18.00 Inside tall, square box (similar to the one housing the ornament soaps, but with an intricate snowflake pattern), are four hand soaps in the shape of snowflakes. These lovely, white soaps are scented with a warm blend of vanilla, rosemary, mint and fir--less spicy and more fruity-herbal (one reviewer insisted that it smells like pomegranate, but it's a lovely, uplifting scent everyone will like). TIP: If you think these are too cute to use, pop a few into your sweater or lingerie drawer to make everything smell like the holidays! Both of the soaps are also included with a scented votive, as a  Holiday Tower $54.50, stacked together and tied with a red, grosgrain ribbon and a gift tag.

One of the many Royal Extract products available from Lady Primrose includes a super-elegant, extra tall, Royal Extract Crystal Pedestal Candle $85.00. If you are a romantic, this is the candle of your dreams!  A  beveled cystal gobler nearly a foot tall with a graceful, tulip-shaped bowl, holds a naturally colored, scented candle with a scent for the romantically inclined: golden honey, milk, apple blossom, and woods.  For a less fancy presentation but a luxurious scent at a lower cost, check out the Frosted Snowflake Candle (refill) $32.00 . A gracefully-shaped, large, smooth opalescent blue bowl votive is packed with a scented candle infused with fir balsam and pine, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon plus a cool touch of "frosty" notes.  The effect is cheerful, spicy (I sensed a hint of mint, although it's not listed) and invigorating. This candle is actually made to fit inside a larger, Crystal Urn $290.00 embossed with snowflakes, which we didn't see. However, this 11 oz refill looks lovely on it's own. It will go with virtually every decor and has a generous, 55 hour burn time. We are new fans, and hope to review more Lady Primrose products for you in future columns!

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About The Works Beauty Reviews:  Products reviews are conducted by Alison Blackman Dunham (aka. Advice Sister Alison). In some instances, the review reflects additional opinions of qualified, anonymous reviewers and the term "we" instead of "I" is used in the commentary.  Nobody gets financial compensation for reviewing products, and they are not affiliated with the companies mentioned.  If you have comments about the column, or if you would like to be considered as a reviewer and can pick up products from the New York area,  Email us at:



There's nothing nicer than giving or receiving a luxurious hair styling tool, and one that is a "must-have" for you or a splurge for someone special is the  MAXIglide Hair Straightener. This is the larger and more deluxe version of the MINIglide we reviewed in our  Holiday, 2005 column. You can buy just the MAXIglide $79.95, or you can purchase one of several packages that begin with a basic package $99.00 includng the MAXIglide and a bottle of Beyond Straight Hair Straightener, The End hair protector, a "how-to" DVD, and a zippered case and run $109.00, $119.00 and $129.95 for packages with additional items such as a brush, shampoo and conditioner, and rollers. Instead of a flat plate or brush, little rows of tiny metal tangling pins with rounded edges detangle and hold each group of strands neatly, so the result is straighter and smoother, but without harming sensitive cuticles like bristles can. Wide ceramic plates (nearly 4") allow you to straighten more hair, more quickly (my really thick hair only took a few minutes). The advanced steam burst technology uses water to help soften and hydrate even dry and frizzy hair, making it easier to style without harming it.  The plates heat up super-fast, but there are protective "styling ribs" that keep the heat from burning the skin. A variable heat control (#1-10) lets you easily dial just the amount of heat your hair needs, without over or under-heating it. The on-off switch is on the top of the handle, so you can't turn it on by accident. As a bonus, you even get a flat plate for touch-ups. I have hair that gets frizzy, but my personal test of the MAXIglide smoothed the frizz, fast, and left my hair stick-straight and shiny-smooth in just a few minutes (much faster than with traditional straightening devices). It really was amazing. You get what you pay for--straight, shiny hair!  This is a must-have for you, and a luxurious gift, too.

There are always a few occasions during the holiday season when my regular hair style just won't do, and I don't have any time to fuss.  Apparently, neither does superstar songstress and actress Jessica Simpson.  She's recently collaborated with celebrity hair stylist Ken Paves,  to create HairDO Clip-In Extensions:  Vibralite (Synthetic) Clip-In Wavy Extensions - (15- and 23-inch/ $85 - $95);  Clip-In Straight Extensions - (10- and 22-inch $85 -$95);  HairDo 100% Human Hair Clip-In Extensions - (21-inch set/ $500. According to the press literature we received with our sample, these do-it-yourself extensions are exactly how Ms. Simpson changes her hair length, quickly.  The Vibralite versions we tried are available in both straight and wavy styles and in 15 multi-tonal shades. Unlike salon-style extensions, these temporary ones look and feel like human hair. You can use them again and again (great!). You can use these extensions to make your hair look shorter as well longer clip your longer hair under the extension). These are easy, although not effortless (there are easy to follow illustrations and videos on the web site) but with just a bit of practice, you'll be a "pro." For a change of pace, a bad hair day, or a  party "do," these are must-haves for the holidays. We didn't review the 100% human hair versions, but they'd make a fantastic splurge.

Good tools are essential to a good hairstyle and healthy hair. The So Smart Brush Collection $4.99 by Goody offers you a dozen, amazingly inexpensive but high performance brushes. They have all the bells and whistles of the more expensive brands: static-resistant bristles to keep the frizzies at bay and maintain that smooth, shiny, healthy look we all want, and comfort grip handle, too. Choose from: styler, cushion styler, monofilament, medium hot round, monofilament hot round, tufted salon, paddle, full oval cushion, round salon brush, XL hot round, large hot round, and tunnel vent brush. For under $60.00 you can get the entire collection for yourself, or wow someone special with a gift! We also liked the Ouchless Collection of brushes, with nylon, one-piece comfort tip bristles, that are recessed a bit into a cushioned brush head to be gentle on your hair and easy to clean (hair won't collect at the base). These come in soft, pretty colors (ours was a clear, light green plastic) and they'll make a chore, more fun. TIP: these are great gifts for anyone with a sensitive scalp or as a gift for kids -no more tears! 

Don't let dandruff flakes ruin your confidence or your holiday image!  Lots of people have it and it often arrives just as the weather turns, or when you've really got to make a good impression the most.  While you can't ignore dandruff on your head, or someone else's) or wish it away,  Redken's Dandruff Control Shampoo $12.50 10.1 oz and Conditioner $14.50 8.5 oz.  helps you give those flakes, a fight! The products use lavender extract and glycerin to help soothe, calm, and clarify your scalp, while pyrithione zinc, an effective dandruff fighter, controls the itching and flaking. Usually, effective elixirs for dandruff smell bad and feel worse, but why suffer? These are luxe, and they smell minty and feel refreshing! Leave shampoo on for 5 minutes and follow with the conditioner. You'll find the flakes, fleeing, and your hair will still look, feel, and smell, wonderful. There is also a Dandruff Control Leave-In Treatment $16.95 1.7 oz that works fast and is a "must-have" to deal with dandruff.  Just apply a bit to your clean scalp and massage in daily. It won't look greasy, smell, or ruin your style.  Reviewers who tried these products reported that they did work, and they actually (for once) didn't  dread dealing  with dandruff. We also like the clean, white, plastic bottles with grey lettering that look unobtrusive in your bathroom. 

BaByliss hair appliances are known for their high quality, and I've been eager to try on the Tourmaline hair dryers that use Ionic technology. For home or travel, an affordable choice is the BayBliss ProTT Tourmaline Mini Pro Dryer. $37.99  This little powerhouse has the same technology as it's bigger sisters, the Tourmaline 35000 $229.99 and Tourmaline 3000 $119.99, but it is small and lightweight,, and even comes with it's own nylon travel bag. What makes a tourmaline dryer so special, is the fact that genuine tourmaline gemstone is used and it is a  natural source of negative ions. When negative ions collide with positive ions on your hair, static electricity is reduced and your hair looks shiny and silky. For people like me, with thick, wavy hair, the fact that negative ions also help to break apart water molecules, reducing drying time. My hair dried fast, minus frizz.  Less drying time means less damage to hair, too.  This little mini really dried my hair amazingly well--much faster and better than my usual, large, 1800-watt dryer. There are two heat settings (high and low), a cool shot button to lock in curls and waves, and a concentrator nozzle to focus heat just where you need it. The zippered carrying case is also top notch. The mini is amazingly affordable for this technology (the larger models have more drying speeds) and so portable, you'll take it everywhere            . This is a great gift as well as one of our "must-haves" for the holidays and it's great for the guys, too.


Last month we introduce you to the Maestro Mascara by Giorgio Armani. For the holidays I think I've found the perfect bit of "body bling" in the Armani Black Gem Top Coat Mascara $25.00.  The black, shimmering mascara is more that just a way to color lashes, it is a top coat that gives eyelashes a generous sparkle of black crystal! The mascara tube is clear, so you can see the intense shimmer within (beautiful on your dressing table). Inside, a plastic "comb" wand separates lashes as it gilds them. You can wear this mascara as-is, or over another product. The effect is glittery, but not "club kid." it's really beautiful...a special occasion look that makes every night "merry and bright." TIP: we "smudged" just a  bit of this mascara onto our eyelids for a shimmery, smoky eye look that is pretty and party-perfect. 

BoHo Exotic Eyes Kit  $40.00 by Global Goddess, has a ready-for-giving, shiny, pink and gold, cardboard compact. Inside, you'll find everything you need to create sexy, sultry, Hollywood/Bollywood eyes for parties, or "just because."  You get two eye shadows in a slightly shimmery rose, and a soft brown (beautified with a thin, gold, paisley stencil),  three soft and blendable, mini Kohl/Kajal pencils in black, deep, metallic blue, and coppery brown line eyes, a slim mascara in black, and a set of faux eyelashes plus eyelash glue. Easy instructions are included to make day, evening, or va-va-voom glam, looks. Exclusively at  Sephora, this season--hurry!

Very Sexy Makeup Mosaic Eye Shadow $18.00 by Victoria's Secret Beauty, pairs 4 shimmery shades of coordinated powder shadow in one compact: two larger rectangles of lid shadow, and two smaller ones for contour and liner.  We found them silky and easy to apply, and found them beautiful worn solo, fun to use, blended for our own, unique looks. For the holidays, "Sultry" is great, day or night for it's gold-glitzed colors: two soft neutrals (taupe and soft camel) a gorgeous, golden bronze, and a deep, charcoal grey. You'll want more than one of these luxurious, shimmery quartets, and there are eight in all to choose from! 

When you purchase anything from NARS you know it's going to be high quality, and super chic,  but the NARS Holiday 2006 collection is beyond's shimmering, glimmery, and glittery without being gaudy. The colors are so elegant and appealing, you'll reach for them again and again. From the six different products for eyes in the holiday collection, we reviewed the NARS Cream Eyeshadow $20.00 in "Nomad," a striking, high pearle bronze with a  touch of deep green that literally burnishes lids with color and sheen.  You can make this very intense by adding a lot, and create a dramatic, smoky eye look, but if you use just a little and blend it (and the colors color goes on super-creamy) it simply looks pretty. The cream is easy to apply, but it lasts like a powder...that's good to know when you're out dancing, and mingling. TIP: you can also use this long lasting cream under a powder eye shadow, as a'll get great, glam, results.

For a glam stocking stuffer or a little gift for yourself, splurge on a set of Micro Mini Eye Paints $25.00 by Laura Mercier. A slim rectangular, mirrored compact holds a trio of silky, luxe, powder eye shadows in neutral shades both matte and shimmery, in a choice of two glamorous palettes: ("Dawn") or a slightly cooler version ("Dusk").  The "Dawn" palette has an exclusive color "Nugget" that is a warm, golden glow I can't live without! "Dusk " features exclusive "Nuggest" a soft, pearly, lightly-mauved, pink).

Purples, metallics and gray are always popular eye color choices, as Fall turns to Winter.  Prestige has packed four coordinated beauties into their Pressed Powder IQuad $5.95 called "Electronic."  There's an intense, matte purple and mauve, and also a shimmery steel gray and metallic silver. You can use any or all of these as liner or shadow for a  variety of eye looks from daytime casual, to evening glam...and for less than $6.00 we call it a "must have." For more definition, Line eyes with a Classic Kohl Eye Pencil $4.95.  One that works well with these colors is "Poly" a metallic-y plum. 

The Midnight Cowboy Set $28.00 is a limited edition, ready-for-gift-giving, boxed set featuring Urban Decay's most popular Eye Shadow: a light beige with tons of silver glitter called "Midnight Cowboy," paired with a Midnight Cowboy Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner--a party-in-a-tube of gold glitter that slides on generously with it's thin liner brush/wand, and stays put. For even more, high-wattage bling, get Heavy Metal Glitter Eyeliner Trio $39.00. These liquid eye liners are packed to the brim with glitter (ours had rose, gold and iridescent --the press literature described a set with aquamarine, copper and iridescent sparkle). Regardless of the kit you get, you'll find that the thin line brush/wands let you line your upper and lower lashes, or "smudge" the liner over your existing eye color or bare lids (for a blindingly glam but sheer coat of glitter), with ease. The clear presentation box makes this appealing for gift-giving (just add a bit of ribbon or a bow). This glitter is fun, but the products are seriously high quality. These glitter lines stay put unless you rub your eyes, or wash it off, and if you love glam and bling, it's your ultimate party look!  For more eye-loving looks, get the Urban Ammo Eye Palette $34.00. This 10th anniversary palette presents 10 best-selling Urban Decay shades in 5 coordinating duos, with beautiful, high-quality, wearable colors from subtle to deep, shimmery, to glittery. These powder shadows are nestled in a slim cardboard compact with lilac foil and flocked plum velvet design (check out the tiny animals, hearts, skulls, and flourishes - gently wafting from an UD pistol)! A dual-ended sponge- tipped applicator is included. The slim size and light weight that's long on nearly infinite eye looks, makes it perfect for purse, for travel, and for a gift for eye-product loving friends!

Mally Beauty is new to our reviews this column. The first thing that impressed us was the quality of the packaging: Mally's City Chick Smokey Eye Kit $39.50 for example, is not plastic or cardboard, it's a mint green metal. It  arrives in a clear plastic, snakeskin-pattered pouch with magnetic closure. The bottom of the long, rectangular, mirrored compact is decorated with a  photograph of a snake skin. Into this, four sexy rounds of powdered eye shadow, are nestled. You get all the items you need to create a perfect, smoky eye in a variety of citified color themes: "Brownstone" (neutrals), "Central Park" (greens), 'Nolita Navy" (blues), " Skyscraper" (gray); "Plum Chelsea," (plums) and "Midtown Merlot" (warmed berry). The colors are intense, but blendable. Makeup artist Mally Roncal has worked with Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez and  other divas. She knows what she's doing (and passes along her expertise by including a "how-to" with the products). These would make an impressive gift, and if you're into drama, these kits are definitely for you!  We hope to review more Mally Beauty in the future. 

Sue Devitt's World Holiday collection has products named for various places around the world and a range of bold and bright colors are that fresh and fun. We love the three bold and bright colors in her Silky Sheen Eye Shadow $18.00 that look very bright in their silvery, mirrored compacts, but can be layered, and have just a hint of shimmer. This means you've got the best of all worlds: bold, modern colors with a hint of shimmer that are wearable during the day, dazzling at night (with a bit more layering). "Jaipur," for example, is a bright clear pink with a bit of holographic sparkle that might seem worrisome for an eye shadow, but translates on your lids to a violet purple (not red) that is fun and flattering, not shocking. Ditto "Hopetown," a deep purple/plum that we like as a liner as well as a party shadow.  "North Pole" is a lush, soft, silvery shadow that works as a highlighter or lid color, and helps you deal with a day-to-night party, with ease.


Contouring and highlighting is a big fashion trend. If you want to try it, the best way is with a natural looking blush and highlight combo, such as the Blushing Duo $4.95 by Prestige, in "Tapestry,"  from their 2006 Holiday Collection. This is a pretty pink blush with a 3/4 circle of lighter pink highlight merged right into the round compact.  The sheer blush is layerable for more intensity, but it's still bight, so you really can't make a mistake and end up with "tiger stripes" instead of a healthy glow. 

There's nothing better than makeup that looks like it's going to be fun to use, except makeup that is fun to use and a good value, too. Such is the case with N.Y.C. New York Color Wheel Mosaic Powder $4.99.  A simple plastic compact houses a mélange of four super sheer pressed powders to enhance your complexion. Swipe a soft brush over all the colors, and you have a single shade that balances and enhances all skin undertones. "Translucent Highlighter" brightens and finishes your face while helps to reduce oil and shine. "Pink Cheek Glow" adds either a super-soft blush, or a brightening, all over pick-me-up.  The "All Over Bronze Glow" wheel looks dark, but it's sheer, so it gives you a hint of color to keep your glow, going, without looking like you've been hiding out in a tanning booth too long. You can't make a mistake with these because they are light and subtle...and they make great stocking stuffers!

I like eye liner pencils, but I like them even more when they are retractable, such as the Eye Appeal Pencil from Black Radiance $2.99 that allows you to keep the pencil "fresh" without sharpening, and stays clean and closed in your makeup bag. make a precise line, or smudge (as a lid color if you wish)--the color is smooth and long-lasting. There are six classic colors to choose from. Ours was "Delightful, a deep blue that adds a modern touch to lid and lash line. Those with sensitive eyes will be happy to know that these are gentle enough for them to use, as well. Add a finishing touch to your eyes with the Clear Mascara/Brow Tamer $2.99. This two-in-one products helps separate, curl, and give lashes a soft sheen, and also holds hard-to-tame brows in place. These are "must-haves" in your makeup bag.

Benton Jordan Weinstock creator of the Los Angeles-based line Henry Beautiful Skincare and Makeup, created a makeup line with a man's name, but a woman's interests in mind. New to our reviews this column,  Henry Beautiful is sold directly through the company's representatives. To sample the line, we tried the Creme to Powder Foundation $30.00. There are six, relatively light colors, and all arrive in a matte and shiny black, round, mirrored compact with vented space below the product to house an included, applicator sponge. The foundation starts out as a cream, and slides on smoothly with very good, medium to heavy coverage (depending upon how much you apply), drying quickly to a powder, matte finish that isn't dry or flaky. But what sets this foundation apart, at least for me, is the healthy dose of SPF 20 full spectrum sun protection in it. You know that applying SPF daily is a must, so why not eliminate that step with the application of an SPF-infused, foundation like this one? 

Sue Devitt's Silky Blush $20.00 in"Koh Samui" is a soft pink that seems nearly nude-pink in the compact, but adds a subtle, pink glow to cheeks that transcends color, making every complexion look natural--and just a bit better. The silky blush goes on smoothly and stays true to color, which means fewer touch-ups.  It also has the gentle touch of water lily extract, giving your skin a soft and youthful glow. What better way to deal with the holidays, and Winter?

We liked the glamorous, shiny, black and gold-embellished compacts from Dr. Hauschka. The ultra-sheer, loose powder, for example, has a screw-on top instead of a push on-pull off, that makes it less likely to spill the contents, and a moment's ritual to open it. The powder itself will help to keep your foundation longer-lasting, and reduce oily shine, but it's uniquely made from powdered silk fibers.  Apparently, the proteins in silk have an amino acid composition that is almost identical to skin and, as a bonus, silk has antimicrobial and protective qualities, too. The end result is a  luxurious, super-silky, lightly scented product that is good for your skin. We also like the Dr. Hauschka Rouge Powder $26.00, created with natural mineral pigments and pure silk, to nourish your skin while it adds a sheer wash of  believable color to your cheeks. One of the good-for-your-skin ingredients is rose extract, that contains the healing properties of roses in concentrated form). We tried "#3 Accento" a warm pink (there's also a deeper rose, and a rusty rose. All three can be used by virtually everyone, since the colors are layer-able. The mirrored compact comes with a small but useful mini blush brush, too. If your skin is just too pale, the Bronzing Powder $33.95 also has silk fibers along with china clay (for a smooth application), and jojoba oil and carrot extract (to smooth and hydrate), making it gentle enough even for sensitive skin. I'm not generally a fan of bronzers, but this one has a neutral and super-sheer appearance that added just a touch of warmth to my complexion with a light application, making a natural glow that brightened up all our pale complexions (more or less, depending upon how liberally you apply it). This is a great bronzer, especially for now, when you don't have a base of tan from the Summer, anymore. We are impressed with this makeup and will be reviewing more in our January 2007 column, so watch for it!


There is something so glamorous about  Rouge Dior Replenishing Lipstick  $24.00 by Christian Dior. Open the shiny, blue box with red and silver lettering, and find a lipstick compact of midnight blue with cross-hatched "caning" in the sides, reminiscent of the exo-skeleton of a modern high rise tower. This is ringed at the bottom with a silver band with DIOR name, and a silver CD on the top (to let everyone know  in a subtle way, that you're a Dior, woman).  The lipstick is available in  32 shades to suit a wide range of intensities, colors, and tones. It also does more than just provide great color:  two new "complexes" do double duty to stimulate collagen production and plump the lips, moisturize, and also reflect light for a gorgeous sheen, color brilliance and density. We loved the luxurious, satin finish, the glamorous, couture-inspired long-wearing colors, and the way this lipstick seems to glide on effortlessly. My fave is " #434 Interview Pink," a rich, soft, mauved-pink that you can layer for a little, or a lot of unobtrusive, warm color. For a brighter, pink lip, we like "#475 Pink Preview," a clear, bright deep, nearly-retro pink. Another star is  "616 Brown Ceremony" (soft brown with just a hint of shimmer and lots of moistness.  "Rose Fiction" is a deep, warm pink that tints lips a few shades deeper but still natural.  Applying lipstick should be a joy and a celebration. Rouge Dior Replenishing Lipstick really brings back fun, and glamour.

We love Jane Ireldale's natural cosmetics, so it's natural that we would also love her LipKit $35.00. Packed in a matte, maroon metal case with interior mirror and see-though window, is a round pot of silky, timed-release lip plumper, plus a fabulous selection of six mini lip glosses in wearable pinks, nudes browns and berries. The clear lip plumper is exceptional--it adds a pleasing, moist glow to lips and has a slight tingle (not harsh). The lip plumper has so many  good-for-your-lips ingredients we don't have space to name them all, but green tea leaf extract, aloe vera leaf juice, and soothing caster oil seed are just a few. You'll love the glosses, too. They're sheer, with light-reflecting shimmer that makes lips look fuller, smoother and sexier, with or without the lip plumper. The deepest "Black Currant" stains lips with just a hint of deep berried red and makes them truly  glamorous. "Candied Rose," Apricot Fizz" and "Iced Mocha" give lips daytime allure with or without another lip product underneath. You can use the lip plumper and glosses with other  products you already own, but these glosses are so pretty and versatile (and so tiny you can fit several in the tiniest bag or tight jeans) that you'll reach for it again and again during the holidays, and all year round. This is a perfect gift for a lip-product-loving, friend!

Win a heart, or give yours, with a Keepsake Heart Gloss $18.00 by Hard Candy. A large, metal compact embedded with starry, baby blue crystal rhinestones opens with the push of a button, to reveal a heart-shaped mirror, and  two generously-sized half circles of  lip gloss (a sheer, shimmery nude and sparkling sheer pink) to mix (or not).  Each gloss is silky and slightly scented (reviewers reported honey buns and vanilla), to give your lips a glassy shine. The compact itself looks very substantial, but it is lightweight enough to carry without causing shoulder bags, to sag. The presentation is nice too: the compact arrives on a bed of blue satin in a light blue with clear presentation window, (just add a silky, light blue bow for a romantic gift. 

Longing for a shimmery lip color that won't break the bank? Prestige LightShine Lipgloss $4.95 in "Abaco"  from their 2006 Holiday Collection, is a glorious, medium rose that has less pigment than a lipstick, but more than a super-sheer gloss. You can't help but love the silky texture and light, slightly vanilla-y scent, and the way it's loaded with shimmery, patent-leather shine so perfect for partying. At this price, you can be generous!

We like the smaller sized lip-glosses that companies are embracing, this season, and one we really like is the Mini Lip Gloss $18.00 by Sue Devitt. The lip gloss is so tiny it will only take a few tries to use it up (it's approx.2/3rds the size of a normal tube) but it is small enough to fit into a thinner and smaller makeup bag, making it perfect for travel and parties. There are three new colors, but my favorite is "Alanya," a rosy pink that has a bit of light-reflecting shimmer, but not so much it competes with other shimmery products you may want to wear (too much "bling" is gaudy, not festive--so choose just one part of your face to shine"). "Riffa" is a silvery ivory that makes a nearly-nude look, new and different. For more color, "Shiraz" is a stunning, sparkling raspberry that adds a flattering tint to lips alone, or with another lip product. The glosses are silky and shiny (never sticky) and a must-have in your lip product arsenal. For lipstick lovers, the latest and greatest is a Balanced Matte Lipstick $20.00 that has a very soft and hydrating, velvety matte finish (especially great now that lips can tend to be a bit dry). "Woolloomooloo" may be hard to pronounce, but the clear, soft pink glow on your lips will have everyone, talking!

Bobbi Brown Lip Sheer $21.00 in "Ruby" is the perfect answer to acquiring ruby-red lips that look right, day or night. Even pale complexions can wear this deep, neutral red, and avoid the Elvira or Betty Paige va-va-voom effect against pale skin. With this lip product, you control the intensity of the color. And, since this is a sheer ruby red, you can just barely tint lips, or add more for drama, if you wish. No matter how much color you add, it's designed to be long lasting. TIP: Ready to get a bit more dramatic? We liked "Ruby" Lip Gloss $19.00 --a  rich, semi-sheer red gloss with patent-leather shine -- alone, or more glam, slicked over the Ruby Lip Sheer.  

 There's nothing more sinfully-fun than applying a truly sexy, shimmering lip gloss, than having the option to use six sexy, shimmering lip glosses in one package!  The Bobbi Brown Shimmering Lip Gloss Palette $40.00 is perfect to enhance all your lips looks for the holidays, and makes a coveted gift, too. Inside a signature shiny, always-chic, black compact with mirror are six squares of shimmery, sheer, light-reflecting gloss in wearable shades ranging from shimmery nudes, to pinks, to berries. A wooden handled lip brush is also included (or use your finger--these slide on like silk, anyway). These high-quality glosses look beautiful on bare lips, but slicked over another color, you get an entirely new (and festive), shiny, glimmery look. I can't pick a favorite: they're all great, but you can find your fave easily (they're named in a diagram on the back).

The golden-clad Lipstick $21.00 by Dr. Hauschka comes in eight, natural colors that are truly lip-enhancing. "Your lips will look  natural, but much better" they reported. But the lipstick is more than just something to add natural color to your lips, it also has shea better and carrot extract to keep lips moist and nourished, while rose and jojoba waxes soften and protect. As the weather cools down and skin tends to be drier, this is a welcome choice. The finish is moist, but not overly gooey and long lasting, too. For more shine and to play a bit with the colors, try the new, Novum Lip Gloss $16.95 in four jewel-toned shades that has nourishing botanicals along with mango butter and apricot kernel oil,  to help soothe, hydrate, and protect. I coupled a warm pink Lipstick in "#2 Legato" with a Novum Lip Gloss in a surprising, sheer, deep purple "#2 Amethyst"  and created an incredibly sexy color two shades deeper than my own lips (but still, somehow, believable), and six times, better! My lips felt sensuous, and nurtured.

PeaceKeeper Lip Paints $16.50 have a chic, rubberized, grey coatingcome in a dozen colors and are choc-full of good-for-your-lips ingredients and conditioners, one of which is titanium dioxide (although there is no SPF listed, titanium dioxide is generally a sun screen). Also,  they do not test products on animals. All of the names are empowering such as the one we tried: "Paint Me Loving," a subtle, soft pink with the barest hint of shimmer, and a velvety feel that won't cake or dry your lips.

The Laura Mercier Micro Mini Lip Paints $25.00 is a mirrored, purse-sized logo compact containing three of Laura Mercier's popular Stick Gloss colors: "Maple" (a warm red), "Sugar Plum" (medium rose) and "Brown Sugar" (neutral medium nude). The Stick Gloss is particularly great for the Winter, when dry lips prevail, since it is part lip balm, part color, part gloss, giving you a sheer wash of long-lasting, good-for-your-lips color, along with shine. You add the lip brush (or use the tip of your finger to apply). Coupled it with the Laura Mercier Mini Brush Set (see right hand column under "Beauty Tools") you've got a special gift for a very special woman.

Global Goddess Moroccan Mystique Lip Veil  $15.00 is a squeeze tube filled with lovely, light-reflecting lip gloss in sex, sheer, shimmery colors in rose, copper, plum, apricot, and shimmery pinks. But that's not all:  you'll get tons of nourishing hydration, and good, SPF 15 sunscreen protection. The tube is glitzed with gold in a delicate, exotic-type design. I keep reaching for the rose-coppered-shimmer called "Casbah." These are exclusively at  Sephora They're really nice glosses...a great "stocking stuffer" gift, too.


  I recently reviewed the Pevonia Botanica Silky Skin Body Scrub and Preserve Body Moisturizer used in my blissful exfoliating treatment there.  A gift certificate for a treatment at a spa is a great holiday gift, but giving certificates for in-house spa treatments can cripple your budget, The solution? Give a spa-quality, holiday gift from Pevonia, featuring the same lovely, pro-style spa products.  Pevonia has a number of beautifully-packaged gifts sets available for holiday gifting (or for indulging yourself) but the one I like best, suitable for men and women of all ages, is the Holiday Splash Bathing Indulgence $56.00, beautifully packaged in a festive silver box with silvery, tuxedo style bow and a custom inset try which include a Silky Skin Body Scrub 1.7 oz, preserve Body Moisturizer - 1.7 oz.,  (see review in the October, 2006 What Works Column), Dry Oil Body Moisturizer - 6.8 and an Anti-Stress Bath & Shower Gel 1.7 oz.  which, by the way, smells uplifting and divine...just the thing to wash cares, away. 

If products are fit for a queen, they're something special.  Lady Primrose, a line of luxurious, beautifully-presented bath, body and scent products new to our reviews this column, are loved by everyone from Queen Elizabeth, to commoners like Barbara Streisand, Beyonce and The Advice Sisters. An example of the elegance, style, and quality of Lady Primrose (and a perfect gift for  your favorite "princess") is the Royal Extract Body Créme $50.00 5 oz.  A heavy, round, clear beveled glass jar with a  screw-on, engraveable, nickel  plated silvery lid embossed with an intricate design of graceful curlicues is a show-stopper on it's own. Inside, however, is a thick, rich, silky body cream that absorbs quickly, leaving your skin feeling as pampered as a princess could presume to want!  It has lots of good-for-your-skin ingredients, including vitamins A and E, ceremides, honey, peptides, anti-oxidants, and collagen builders to banish dryness and make skin softer, moisturized, and more supple. It also has royal jelly. Royal jelly is fed by worker bees to the Queen bee's larvae in the hive, and is considered a highly concentrated protein source to enrich your skin. You'll feel pampered and you'll love the divine scent: a light whiff of orange blossoms and soft florals that's fresh, not overly sweet. What could be more romantic or special?

JASÖN has natural & organic products that will delight you, even on a beer-and-peanuts, budget. Beautifully packaged in a cranberry-colored box for gift giving is the Cranberry Satin Shower Body Wash (12 oz) and Hand & Body Lotion (8 oz) Gift Set $9.99. The Body Wash contains pure cranberry oil and green tea (antioxidants) and rose hips to help soften and hydrate. It's a great cleanser at any price. The Hand & Body Lotion is equally impressive, with aloe vera, sunflower seed and avocado oil, and Vitamin E to protect, soothe, moisturize and revitalize. We liked the packaging too: creamy plastic bottles (body wash has a  pump, body lotion, a flip cap) with an appealing photo label featuring a bunch of cranberries. The tart, cranberry  scent is invigorating. This is a perfect little pick-me-up for yourself, a great gift, and an excellent way to get into a good mood

The Holiday House $32.00 by Philosophy is packaged in a  cardboard, house-shaped, snow-covered chalet, worthy of a fairy tale, complete with snowman and holiday decorations. But the three products inside will truly remind you of a festive, holiday home  fantasy:  The products are scented with sinfully delicious scents of holiday goodies, but you won't gain weight from these,  You get one of my favorite Philosophy products, a 3-in-1 Shower Gel (4oz) that can be used for face, body and even as a shampoo, This one is sinfully pleasurable infused with the scent of old fashioned "Eggnog" so rich, you'll almost be tempted to eat it. After your bath or shower, help ban dry skin with a tube of Moisturizing Body Soufflé (2 oz) in "Cinnamon Bun, that smells like fresh-baked cinnamon buns on a weekend morning. You also get an awesome, .05 oz High-Gloss Lip Shine called "Powder Sugar Cookie" that will be as close as you ever get to having your proverbial cake, and eating it too (not to mention super-shiny, sexy, hydrated lips).  This gloss really smells like sugar cookies.  This whimsically-packaged gift is a "can't-miss" with people, young to old. TIP: if this kit inspires you to  make the real thing, there are actual recipes for cinnamon buns and eggnog on the packages! 

Archipelago Botanicals has natural products that are easy on the eyes, and on the budget.  One we like features Pomegranate, a powerful antioxidant that also smells invigorating and tart. The Pomegranate Gift Set $35.00 features three pomegranate-focused products with Phase II Enzyme Boosters (botanical extracts) that help detoxify and cleanse. You'll get a Pomegranate Hand Lotion (4.08 oz), a wonderful, creamy and moisturizing  Pomegranate Triple Milled Soap (6.08 oz) and a 35-hour Pomegranate Soy Wax Candle which is beautifully scented and comes in a handy, travel tin. The final touch is a terry wash cloth. All are packaged in a perfectly clear, flexible plastic package (just add a bow)!  The Mineral Mud Travel Set $24.00 is another great gift. It comes in a zippered, micro fiber bag that's most clear plastic, (especially great due to new, airline security restrictions) with five popular, Archipelago Botanicals Mineral Mud products: (2)/4 oz bottles of Mineral Mud Hydrating Lotion, Body Scrub, and Face Mask. There's also a 5.2 oz exfoliating Mineral Mud Bath Bar. The barely-there, fresh scent and grey, black and white packaging and bold lettering makes this a unisex product great for everyone. Archipelago Botanicals Mineral Mud is made from Organic Silt - rich in nourishing minerals and vitamins - blended with other gentle ingredients to soothe your skin. These are a great value, too!.

Peppermint is one of the quintessential scents of the season, and LALicious serves up their mint in a yummy Holiday Gift Set $50.00 (we tried "Peppermint") that you won't be able to resist! Inside a pink and white striped zippered bag with pink handle and clear sides (great for airports, these days) you'll find an 8 oz Body Butter and a 16 Oz Sugar Scrub that will make that exfoliating and moisturizing routine into a festive experience all season long. The Sugar Scrub is really, really, good: tiny grains of pure cane sugar (less abrasive than salt) make short work of dead skin cells, while natural oils such as coconut, Vitamin E, and almond, soften and moisturize. The yummy peppermint scent is just the icing on the cake! Banish itchy, dry skin entirely with the lovely Body Butter, a whipped moisturizer that is luxe, light and fluffy, but delivers superb moisture to your skin that is not greasy, and lasts a long time.  Celebrities such as Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Eva Longoria love LaLicious as much as we do. You will be hooked, once you try these! Get these sets in Peppermint or Brown Sugar/Vanilla for the special people on your gift list. 



One of the fun things about the holidays, is allowing yourself to experiment with colors and styles that normally, you'd only save for special occasions. We think that Snow Queen Glitter Eye Liner $15.00 by Red Earth in "Silver," a brilliant silver glitter, is one of those products to have fun with when you're hoping to make a statement at a party or event. This liquid liner comes in a slim, wanded tube, that makes it easy to apply a thin line, even if you're normally all thumbs with liquid liners. The liner goes on smoothly, even with the bits of silver glitter in it, and it lasts quite a long time.  More importantly, the glitter stays on your lash line instead of falling all over your face. This liner is fun, inexpensive, and sure to get you noticed. Go ahead...indulge! The shiny, holographic silver box with white snowflakes makes it a perfect stocking stuffer for girls from teens and above!

Valley of the Stars $28.00 by BeneFit is described as a "mini iridescence kit," and this face-in-a-case kit is full of five, glowing, glam products.  BeneFit has done it's usual, great job of producing a makeup kit that is not only high quality and pretty, but fun to use. This one featured a pink, cardboard compact decorated with metallic gold stars, has a magnetic closure and large round, interior mirror. Featured are three adorable, mini-sized wanded tubes to shimmer face and lips, along with two holiday-worthy shadows. You get a "High Beam" ( pink cream to powder highlighter) and "Moon Beam"  (peachy cream to powder highlighter) perk up a complexion with a pearly, shimmery glow that looks gorgeous, not gaudy.  "Her Glossiness" is  a super-shiny, sheer, clear -pink lip gloss for sexy, party perfect lips (and a nice alternative to deep colors). On the far right of the compact are two powder eye shadows: "Snow White" is a white, high pearl  shadow for under the brow bone, or on your lids (try with a colored eye liner) and  "Tequila" is a shimmery, simmering copper that will universally flatter all you glamour gals. These kits will bring a smile (and glamour) to the faces of everyone.

Loose glitter powders are always popular at holiday time, when your usual, evening makeup is just too ordinary. If you've wanted to try a glitter eye look but want to do so without looking like a stripper or a club kid, the loose powder Eye Dust $19.00 in "Presence" by FACE Stockholm  from their Holiday, 2006 collection, is a great choice. The light lavender color is flattering to every eye color, and the tiny particles allow you to dust the powder smoothly, and with a light touch if you wish (add more for a more glittery effect). For more definition with a light glitter powder like this one, add a liner such as the grayed lilac Eye Pencil $14.00 called "Theodore Coal" goes on softly and smoothly, and is easy on the eyes. Even if you've never tried a glittery look before, you'll find this one pretty and wearable. 

Bobbi Brown Diamond Dust $21.00 is a fabulous product-- a super-sparkly  bit of "eye bling" that comes in a pressed powder form for better control and wearability.  The pressed powder arrived in a small, round compact with flip-top cap and interior mirror   Perfect for the holidays, this sheer color can be applied with a brush, or your fingers. There are 4 colors. My favorite is the smoldering "Rockstar: (medium gray) that looks dark in the compact, but leaves a wash of starry silver sparkles on your lids. There's also "Platinum " (Silver), "Pink Metal" (medium pink) and "Snowflake" (white-can be worn as a highlighter, too). We see a lot of glittery products, but this one is from Bobbi Brown--so it's sophisticated as well as glittery. We love these and we're calling them a "must have." 

Last season, shimmery body and face powders cropped up like snowflakes, at holiday time and were so popular, we saw versions of them all year. A new version that is definitely dressing table material due to it's lovely, shiny, silver-y top, is from FACE Stockholm. Silver Loose Powder $22.00 doesn't just look nice in the jar, it  looks nice on you. The superfine powder adds a sheer and shimmery (not glitter-based) dusting of silver "bling" to body and face that's enough to shout "festive!" but not "gaudy." The generously-sized jar allows you to dust with gusto, anywhere you want, throughout this party season. These are great for holiday gift-giving as well as to perk up your party look. 

Super Model Runway Glimmer Mist $18.00 by Victoria's Secret is just too much fun!  It smells soft and fruity, reminiscent of ripe melon, but it isn't just a nice fragrance, it's also a glitter mist that leaves your skin sparkling with tiny golden flecks of golden sparkle!  For glamour day and night, all year long, mist this everywhere from head to toe. Our reviewers reports that it is addictive! This is the luxe but affordable gift to get for all of your friends. We can't stop spraying this for both the scent, and the "body bling" so we figure, the way we have been using ours, spraying it on everything (even the cat) we know you'll need more than one bottle to get through the holidays.

Jemma Kidd Makeup School Cosmetics are so popular both in England and elsewhere that we could only get one piece to review in this column. The Jemma Kidd Colour Dust Shimmer Stick $25.00 is a loose powder that is controlled by putting it into a spill-proof stick. The shadow is distributed through a sponge tip, so there's no mess and it's very smooth and blend-able. We liked the look -- subtle and sheer, but still "glowing." We tried "Platinum, a soft silver that is holiday-festive. There is also a gold-ish color and an off white. The price may seem a bit much for just a small stick of color, but a little goes a long way, and it's long-lasting, so you won't need to re-apply it often, or at all. This is a great way to get a holiday eye look and try Jemma Kidd.



  As a beauty and fashion reviewer, I carry my virtual office in my handbag.  Usually, organizer bags are heavy and styled more like orthopedic shoes (for function) rather than style. Then I met the Butler Bag (Classic Bag $85.00 14" x 4 "x 5" Urban Classic Bag 15" x 6 "x 9.5" $135.00). This handbag takes organizers to a whole new level of functionality, and with tons of style! The leather bag comes in black, brown and camel. It looks sleek and chic, with a minimal amount of embellishment so that it will go with virtually everything you wear. The aspect of this handbag that makes it different, and that has spoiled me for virtually anything else is how lightweight it is, despite a rigid internal organizer system. That organizer, however, makes diving into a handbag and finding just what you need, in seconds, a reality. There are seven roomy compartments into which all your "stuff" can easily fit...and be easily found. At first I thought I might not be able to fit everything I carry (and I carry a lot) in six compartments, but in went my PDA, phone, pens, pads, keys, card case, beauty items, makeup bag, invitations, digital voice recorder...and more than that, and there was still room in two outside pockets for more! Even more amazingly, this top grain leather bag was light...even with all my things stuffed into it. The bag is chic enough for me to wear at high profile events without  feeling out of place--never do I have to fumble for business cards, my camera, or anything else. These bags are reasonably priced but the look is lquite uxe.  If you're a busy woman on the go, or know someone who is, you'll want to get one in every color. A Butler Bag makes a superb holiday gift.

When a friend I hadn't seen in a few weeks exclaimed: "You've lost so much weight!" over and over again, I wondered why she was saying it (I  hadn't lost any weight). Then I remembered: I was wearing a pair of Tummy Tuck Jeans ($88 to $99).  The tag line on these jeans is: "Not Your Daughter's Jeans. I'm not a kid anymore, but these amazing jeans will appeal to women of all ages. Youngsters who are feeling a bit bloated will appreciate the "give" in these jeans as much as older women whose middles are not as flat as they used to be and need some control in their mid sections. Since they're stretchy and tone all over, if you're not terribly overweight, these jeans will not only flatten your tummy, they'll lift your buttocks, and you can wear a size smaller (sizes are from 2-24). There are six different styles form classic to rhinestone-studded.  No matter what type you get, I can tell you that they're stylish, but more incredible, they're really comfortable -- almost as much as sweatpants that's sure to get your attention!  Compared to designer jeans in the double-digits, these are a bargain...and they're flattering. These are a "must-have" in every woman's wardrobe, if only for those times of the month where nice jeans feel uncomfortably like a vice! In a few weeks, when indulging too much is a major past-time, you'll really appreciate the look and feel of good looking jeans that are a bit forgiving. A pair of Tummy Tuck Jeans makes a fantastic gift for a new mom still dealing with post-pregnancy poochy-ness, or anyone who wants style and great fit at a great price. Get yours now!

When a company creates a clever product that's limited edition, we wish they'd never stop making it. I suspect that will be the case for the Lip Lock-It Color Charm Necklace $18.00 by MARK. This is more than just a dual-compact lip gloss, it's an  amazingly-priced, two-for-one:  a charm necklace featuring a substantial, pewter chain with a large, clear, faceted bead,  from which hang two jeweled, smoky-crystal lockets with flip-tops, containing small portions of a matte pink, dusty pink lip color in one--the other, a  gorgeous, clear, shimmering gloss. It's a bit heavy on a bare neck, but on a sweater or turtleneck, it is simply divine! We also like the Join the Circle T $35.00. It's an eye-catching, black and white T-shirt with the anti-smoking symbol--a white, starry circle. The T-shirt is trimmed with white piping  all over. "Uniting To Be Smoke Free" is the message stenciled in white across the back of the neck. The shirt is stretchy (95% viscose, 5% spandex) so it is comfortable, and it comes in four sizes (small-extra large). Exclusive to MARK. designer Tracy Reese has partnered with MARK to give 100% of the net profits of this shirt to the American Legacy Foundation,  to support their efforts to stop young people from smoking. Whether you know a friend who is trying to quit smoking and would love a show of support, or you're quitting yourself, or you just want a stylish T supporting a smoke-free cause, you'll love this one all year.


BeautiControl's line of products for men is called  Skin Strategies, so it makes sense that their men's fragrances should also be called Skin Strategies. We couldn't get specific information about the notes in these, but the Day Cologne $25.00 1.7 fl. oz is a clean, crisp refreshing scent:  a hint of citrus, a bit of greens and ferns. It  is a traditional fragrance that men of all ages will like. We also like the clean, square, glass bottle with bold, blue graphic topped by a chunky cube of blue plastic.  That same bottle takes on a "black tie" look with black graphics and smoky grey top in the Night Cologne $25.00 1.7 fl. oz I really like this and so did our male reviewers. It's a spicy, sexy blend of notes (I am sure I sensed amber and herbally greens, and perhaps, some musk. In any case, The scent dries down to a soft and exotic spice that is perfect for holiday parties, special dates, or dinners, etc. The price is so reasonable you can gift your special man with both, and still not break your budget!

The OC for Him Eau De Toilette Spray $22.50 1.7 fl. oz  $12.00 0.5 oz. is the perfect gift for a young man, especially  if he's one of the 6 million viewers that watch The OC, a  television drama about Orange Country, California. For all you adults, it's this generation's "Beverly Hills 90210."  What reviewers really liked about this one (besides the price) is the fact that this light, fresh, clean smelling scent that is light enough for casual wear, but still appropriate for the office, is good for men of all ages, and they really loved the bottle: a slim rectangle of blue glass, topped with a matte silver cap with a blue "stone." The effect is definitely laid-back Southern California style!  The fragrance startswith crushed foliage and a sparkling citrus blend of citron, mandarin and bergamot, blended with fresh ozonic notes and cooling sea spray. The heart is surprisingly floral, but subtle:  lavender, rose, and jasmine with a hint of black pepper. A blend of golden amber and clear musk with rich patchouli and some other sensual woods, gives the masculine finish men love. We think this affordable fragrance will be very popular for holiday gift-giving. 

The Deodorant Powder $6.95 by LUSH isn't just for men, but we think that they will particularly be digging the cute, black shaker jars containing 1.7 oz of loose, deodorant powder. These are 100% natural, free from aluminum sales and preservatives. They're ideal for use after shower or gym, or for a quick "refresher" at work (don't ever let them see--or sweat) or for travel. They're developed with natural astringents that minimize sweat and they have antibacterial qualities as well, to prevent odor from developing in the first place. Even better, since these are mild, and a powder, you can use these on your armpits and other body parts (e.g.. between your toes or on your entire body).  There are four types. Our favorite is the "Coconut," that smells slightly coco-nutty but not over-the-top. There's also "Powdry," a zesty, lemongrass type scent, made with kaolin and essential oils of lemon, frankincense and juniper wood. Also unisex for those who need a little bit more sweat control is 'Mr. T." The "T" in this one stand for  tea tree (known for helping to minimize odors caused by bacteria found in err..."sweaty" areas) and also featuring clubmoss,  an anti-fungal . The fourth choice is probably most appealing to women:  "Powder Puff" has rose and orris powder that comes from the root of the Florentine Iris (exotic!) and it is a sweet but authentic smelling floral.  These are effective, novel and lots of fun to use, but they'd also make a great gift for a guy (or a teen) whose hygiene you'd like to improve, without hurting their feelings. 

The Heel Smoother $39.99 (with a 1 oz jar of Topaz Foot Butter), $29.99 (non waterproof version with 1 oz jar of Topaz Foot Butter), $19.99 non-waterproof version without Topaz Foot Butter) by Artemis Woman is a perfect couples gift (after all, everyone has feet)! This small pedicure pal  removes dry, cracked and calloused skin from feet and heels. It is  powered by two AA batteries and is similar to ones you may have used for manicures, but it has two speeds (high and soft) and two heads made with the same crystals used in professional microdermabrasion treatments (aluminum oxide) a large tip that removes calluses on heels, and a smaller thinner tip that removes skin around toes and cuticles. You don’t need training to use the smoother (although practice will make perfect) and you don’t need creams or anything else to get smoother skin (although soaking your feet first will help). Just pop in two batteries, turn the unit on, and move it over those dry, calloused spots. This is great to maintain your feet between pedicures, and, since depending upon where you live, nail salons can’t or won’t use tools to really smooth away calluses and hard skin, this is a must-have for anyone who hates hose that "sticks" to your heels, and who likes to wear slingbacks and sandals. Men will like it too, making it an ideal couples gift TIP: The Topaz Foot Butter $24.99 2.5 oz or $9.99 1 oz has genuine topaz crystals, plus shea butter and essential oils of bergamot, tea tree, and lemon, to make your skin even smoother and softer. Artemis Woman will donate 2% of profits to support alterative cancer screening and treatments for women, too.

"What Works"  columns are archived HERE

Acqua di Giò Fragrance $150.00 by Giorgio celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2007 in a big way, with a 400ml (13.6 fl. oz) limited bottle of this amazing fragrance for men that we most recently reviewed in our June, 2006 column: Inspired by Giorgio Armani’s island paradise of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, the fresh, aromatic, woody scent, totally captivates. The press literature describes this sophisticated, masculine scent as "With notes of Calabrian bergamot enlivened by the zest of green tangerine and a heart of ozonic marine notes). The actual notes are: bergamot, mandarin, persimmon, rosemary, nasturtium, jasmine, amber, patchouli, and cedar.. We didn't see the actual bottle this time, but it is described as featuring "The pure, strong lines of a rectangle with a frosted transparency and subtly rounded shoulders. It is topped by a satin metal, cylindrical cap, and completed with a gunmetal grey logo."  This is impressive enough, but there is also an entire range of Acqua di Giò for Men including: Eau de Toilette spray and pour in 50ml, 100ml and 200ml, After Shave Lotion, After Shave Balm, Alcohol-free Deodorant, Hair &  Body Shampoo, and Moisturizing Body Gel.  Size matters! Get it with this limited edition "super-sized" bottle. Quality matters too -- you always get that from Giorgio Armani.

The holiday season is a perfect way to introduce your special man to quality skin care. He may not buy it on his own (just yet), but he is more likey to embrace skincare after trying something great and seeing what a difference it makes in how his skin looks and feels,. True Gentleman is a luxe line of skincare products just for men, which can help! Our male reviewers tried the Pre-Shave Oil $20.00 1.7 fl. oz, that has botanical oils and plant extracts, combined with natural essential oils, to soften and prepare his skin for shaving. This product is unscented and good for all skin types. It also helps weaken and raise ingrown hairs and helps to prevent razor irritation. Reviewers liked the beige and brown package with silver accent, and the clean, square glass bottle with spray top that keeps everything clean and neat.  True Gentleman After Shave Balm $35.00 3.4 fl. oz is a light, unscented lotion that has Vitamin E, sea minerals, and shea butter to help moisturize skin after shaving, plus aloe  vera and chamomile to soothe razor TIP  Add a nice, new razor to your gift-- a nice touch!

Fans of the gorgeous Antonio Banderas rushed to get the latest fragrance bearing his name:  Antonio $30.00 Eau de Toilette Spray 1.7 fl. oz, $21.50 1 fl oz, $16.50 .5 fl. oz.  with top notes of bergamot, mint, lavender, Italian lemon, mandarin, black pepper and pepper berries, a heart of orange tree's flower, cinnamon leaves, cumin and nutmeg, and a bottom of cashmere wood, fir-balsam, sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, leather and musk. In our July/August review, we reported that our reviewers loved the flexibility of this modestly priced scent which works for day or evening.  Now, there are two great Gift Sets: 1.7 fl. oz., Eau de Toilette Spray & After Shave $21.00 and 1.7 fl. oz., Eau de Toilette, After Shave Balm, and Shower Gel  $25.00 These make very nice gifts, at very nice prices.



You use your hands and feet all the time, to do routine chores, but during the holidays, those hands and feet should be as fashionable and festive as the rest of you.  A quick and easy way to dress up your nails is with a quick coat of Shades Nail Polish $8.00 by Barielle. "Intriguing" gives your nails a dusting of silvery glitter that reminds us of the type of beautiful glimmer you get when the sun or streetlights shine on newly-fallen snow. I particularly like this look because it's so festive, especially when candlelight hits your hands or toenails, but the glitter is tiny, so it's not so garish you will need to remove it by daybreak. The polish goes on smoothly, dries quickly, and one coat can get your through a week of holiday parties.

Milani Cosmetics  is a multi-cultural brand offering affordable, high-intensity color cosmetics to women of all ages and complexions. Their Nail Lacquer $2.49 is amazingly long lasting and environmentally friendly. The polish slides on easily and completely, and leaves a super-glossy shine, no matter what color you choose (and there are 46 trendy ones to choose from). For the holidays, go dramatic, with "Black Cherry," a blackened red that is very dark, but not "ghoulish." Reviewers also liked "Brown-A-Licious," a metallic, gold-glitzed deep brown. and the shiny, smooth, deep "Radiant Ruby." For a light and ladylike look, try one of the Milani French Manicure colors such as the white-pink "Baby Pink" and nude "Linen" look great and last a long time (mine lasted 5 days). "Glitzy Glam" adds a glorious, glittering, deep red to fingers and toes. These are budget-minded products, impressive, at any price. 

Any brand called PeaceKeeper, is certainly compelling. New to our reviews, this line was founded by political activist Jody Weiss.  The products are good quality, and nice to use, but what makes them unique is the fact that all profits, after taxes, are used to support women's health advocacy and human rights issues.  The company's idea is that if you purchase a product supporting women's issues, you are automatically transformed into a PeaceKeeper, yourself. Whether you subscribe to this notion or not, if you get or give the PeaceKeeper French Manicure Kit $34.00 you'll feel good about your purchases, while doing something to help others (and isn't that the spirit of the holidays, after all)? This luxurious kit presented in a just-add-a-bow, clear, plastic packaging,  features four products: a nail renewal oil with sweet almond, oil and extracts of seaweed, ginseng root, and myrrh plus vitamin E, to nourish cuticles and nail surface; a Paint Me Eternal Top/Bottom Coat formulated with amino acids, vitamins A & E, and nurturing seaweed; and two lovely soft and sheer nail colors (with aragon oil, rich in amino acids): "Paint me Tranquil" (soft pink) and "Paint Me Tender" (white, for nail tips).

We missed the window of opportunity to review Creative Nail Design's Fall Collection of Nail Polish $6.00 at the start of the season, but Fall is not over yet, and there are a few colors we think you will want now, through the holidays. The products are fast-drying, long-lasting, and shiny--great quality at an amazing price. "Baroque" is a very deep (nearly black) metallic burgundy (seen on the runways at Douglas Hannant) that shimmers with eye-catching appeal. Another take on the deep-and-dark look is "Fedora," a blackened brown that's all shine, no shimmer. Either would look amazing peeking out of a gold or silver sandal for a special event. Another elegant choice is "Perfect Miss-Match," a rich, ruby shimmer. For those who prefer a warmer tone, "Tweed" is a shiny, velvety rusted red seen at Ellen Tracy, Ashley Isham and Issa. You can have a designer original at "stocking-stuffer" prices!  No time for polish? Rub a bit of SolarBalm $9.95 (solid tin or jojoba and sweet almond oil plus Vitamin E you can use on chapped lips, elbows and knees, too) into your cuticles and buff your nails with the Creative Glossing Block $5.40. This two-sided buffer gives you naturally pretty, buffed nails that need nothing else. Use the green side, then the white. When you hear a "squeak" you know your nails are "done." Easy!


Amouage (fragrances): and Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman (USA) and Harrods (UK) 

Antonio by Antonio Banderas (fragrance): and retailers nationwide

Apt. 5 Cosmetics: and at Duane Reade drugstores

Archipelago Botanicals: fine boutiques, and

Artemis Woman:

Ashely Archer:

Aveda: or call 800.328.0849 for locations or more information.

Avon: or call 800-FOR-AVON

Babor: and at Takashimaya, N.Y.

BaByliss: at fine beauty suppliers nationwide



BeneFit Cosmetics:

B. Kamins Chemist: www.bkamins.

Black Radiance: mass market drugstores and retailers nationwide

Bobbi Brown: and Bobbi Brown makeup counters, and

Bourjois:  Bourjois at 


Color Club:

Confessions of A Beauty Editor (Book):  at retail and online bookstores

Core Rhythms: or call 866-777-8151

Dino Morra:

DIOR:  at Dior beauty counters nationawide (Dior Confidential is exclusive to Bloomingdale's, Saks, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcis and Sephora

Dior Midnight Charm (fragrance): Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Saks, Neiman Marcus & Sephora

Dr. Hauschka:

Essie:  call:  800-232-1155 for product and store info or visit

FACE Stockohom:

Gianna Rose Atelier: and Anthropologie Stores nationwide

Giorgio Armani Beauty: and Armani Prive is available at Giorgio Armani Boutiques, and Harrods, London

Global Goddess: &

Goody: and at Target

HairDO: and Great Lengths Salons: 

Hard Candy:

Henry Beautiful:

IMAN Cosmetics: and select ULTA stores. 

Indigo Wild:


Jane Ireldale:

JASÖN: at health & natural food stores in the USA and Canada

Jemma Kidd Makeup School: also Bergdorf Goodman and other select, fine stores

Jerome Privé  exclusively at Perfumania stores or

Lady Primrose:

LaLicious: and selected stores and spas nationwide


Laura Mercier: http://www.lauramercier,com and fine department stores. Call 888-MERCIER for store locations

Letters For Her:

PURCHASING INFORMATION:   The Advice Sisters offer this Buying Guide as a service to readers. For information about purchasing or about specific products, please contact the companies directly through the links in this guide. Buying beauty-related products is a personal decision. The products reviewed here should work well for the majority of people but not every product will perform equally well for everyone. For safety's sake, we urge you to be a wise consumer. Get information and use products only as directed, using common sense and basic safety precautions.  


LUSH Cosmetics:

M·A·C Cosmetics:


Maxius: Linens & Things, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Shop at Home TV

Maybelline New York: and drugstores & mass market retailers

MD Skincare:  http://www,

Medicalia: US/Canada Toll Free: 866-314-1975

Milani Cosmetics:

NARS Cosmetics:

Not Soap Radio:

N.Y.C. New York Color: at chain stores and mass market retailers and info:

Pantene:  at mass market retailers and



Perfectsense Paraffin:  distributed by

Pevonia Botanica: or call 1.800.PEVONIA for spa locations/retailers

Philip B: and Barneys New York

Prestige Cosmetics: drug stores, mass market retailers, and

Red Earth: at ULTA stores nationwide

Redken: or 800-REDKEN8

Sephora Products: Sephora retail stores and

Streekers: and at ULTA and select cosmetics stores and salons

Stila Cosmetics: and

Sue Devitt Studio: amd at Barneys New York, Select Sephora stores, and

Sugar Cosmetics: at Sephora


The Healing Garden: and mass market retailers and drug stores

The New Beauty Secrets: Your Ultimate Guide to a Flawless Face (Book):  at retail and online bookstores and

The OC (Fragrance) at select retailers

Temptations:  and Bath and Body Works nationwide

Trish McEvoy:, and upscale department stores

True Gentlemen: or ca;; 800-380-3050

Tummy Tuck Jeans: Nordstrom, and other selected department stores


Urban Decay: &

Victorias Secret Beauty:

Z. Bigatti: & also Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom stores nationwide, Bergdorf & Bendels NYC, Bliss Spa, Inc. Avon
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