This is Page Two of our December/Holiday What Works column, featuring gift-able and “must-have” products for every budget. Check out or suggestions for hair helpers, bath & body gifts; holiday home; beauty helpers; products that “give back;” gifts for younger generations; and the most glamorous and gift-able makeup on the market. Our exclusive Buying Guide with links to all the products reviewed, is at the bottom of this page as well. Page One – features holiday makeup kits & gifts, fragrances, and great gift suggestions for girls, guys, and couples. Visit both Page One and Page Two – it’s worth the effort! GIFT-ABLE HAIR HELPERS:
For years, straight irons have given hope to those with wavy, frizzy hair, who long for it to be straight. Of course, times change and straight irons have been super-sophisticated, working more efficiently and protecting hair as well. The Rusk Professional Straight Iron Str8 $215.00 with CTC technology is made for professional use, but it is also effective, safe and easy to use at home–a “must-have” for the holiday season if you want fast and great results. It makes an awesome, “caviar wishes” gift for someone special. CTC technology which produces even heat transfer from roots to ends, and it does it easily, quickly, and safely. The digital ionic Rusk Professional Str8 Iron features a Ryton® housing that resists heat, ceramic heaters and titanium infused ceramic plates that maintain their stability when exposed to high heats, so they work well, without going overboard. The digital heat settings are on the side (heat can be generated up to he digital read-out is a plus, and create heat up to 446F!). Although it’s hot, the iron smoothes the cuticle of the hair, helping to preserve it’s internal moisture. Another plus is the 9″ swivel power cord and the cool, matte pewter finish. The 1 3/4″ plate width is good for every length of hair, even bangs (*be careful when using any heat styling tool near your face) but there’s a 1 1/4″ size iron, too. I have thick, wavy, often frizzy hair, and I’ve tried many straight irons. This one kicks butt when it comes to taming frizz and making hair straight and shiny. Even my intentionally-frizzed and really wild hair ended up hair perfectly straight and smooth with just one pass of the iron. This is a tool for the pros that will honestly help make your hair look as if it was straightened by a pro, too. It’s as high-tech as you can get–and worth every dollar!
We are most familiar with Scünci for their ubiquitous hair scrunchies and pony holders, but their “Vintage Glam Collection”of metal and rhinestone hair accessories is meant for special occasions, such as weddings, proms, and holiday festivities. The collection features antiqued silver pieces with delicate scrollwork, encrusted with sparkling, rhinestone accents. There’s something for every hair length and style need in this collection, from a pair ofBobby Pins $7.99 to accent a short style or hold back bangs, to aBarrette $4.99 with five oval rhinestones, for up/down styles, aHead Band $9.99 with a double-row of rhinestones flowers and leaves, a Jaw Clip $9.99 in a round floral design, and even a romantic Tiara $9.99 with delicate scrollwork and two metal side combs to keep it in place. This fantasy piece could double as an affordable headpiece for a Winter bride. These are affordable, but expensive looking, and widely available…look pretty and indulge your party spirit, without going broke.
Goody’s Elegant Edge Collection for Winter 2007 embraces minimalism over lavish adornment. Hair bands are really in this year, and Goody offers a wide range of styles to suit every mood. Reviewers loved the sleek, wide, Elegant Edge Classic Suede Hair band in soft brown, nude or black add a bit of color and lots of control to everyday and holiday hair. For additional interest,Goody’s Sleek Style Headband comes in black with a large berry-colored “buckle” (also available in bronze/black, army metallic/taupe). This type of “hair jewelry” keeps limp hair in check, but also adds interest to your hairstyle. If your hair is short, a thinner hair band is best. Goody’s Slim Plastic Hair bands are classics, with little “teeth” to keep them in place, even on the shortest or thinnest hair. We liked the simple black version with an inset of antique metallic gold. Classic and classy, and always appropriate. Since the holidays are the time many women try elegant updos, Goody makes it easier with the clever, Borderline Updo Claw, a two-toned, silvery plastic clip with an inlay of copper, berry or black. The teeth on the back close together with the front to clamp hair in place, adding control and interest, without struggling with lots pins.
The dry heat of Winter can make your clothes stick and ride up in embarrassing ways, but static can also mess up your hair style, too. DSTAT Static Relief Hair Spritz$15.00 2.5 oz. by Tancar(new to our reviews this column) is a silicone-free product that adds shine and dries fast, to use whenever you need it. If you ever removed your hat and literally got static electricity sparks as your hair flew in every direction, you’ll be happy to know that DSTAT works a bit like a “dryer sheet” for your hair, smoothing and conditioning the hair cuticle to fight frizz and eliminate those nasty fly-aways. It contains a number of active ingredients with technical sounding names to make the product work: cyclopentasiloxane smoothes and enhances shine, dimethicone conditions the cuticle, phenylk trimethicone adds gloss and manageability, PCA glyuceral oleate helps repent static charge buildup and disiloxane coats the cuticle to fight fly-aways and frizz. All you have to do is spray this on your hair after styling, and again any time you need to tame the static. Reviewers tried it under various conditions and all agreed it did the job extremely well, without weighing down hair or adding unwanted scent.
NIFTY NAIL ALLURE:
Celebrity manicurist Carolyn Cianciotto’s Carolyn New York Nail Polish $7.00 is a do-it-yourself-at-home manicurists, dream. It slides on easily and smoothly, refuses to chip and comes in an astounding variety of colors. The one for this season, however, is a “must-have” called “Christmas in New York. It’s a glossy, super-glamorous, holly-berry red color that is amazingly elegant. You’ll want to wear it, even if red isn’t usually your color. It’s simply hard to resist, and yet, such a little thing to make such a huge impression! This one adds glamour to everything from that little black dress, to the holiday party at the office. Wear it, and feel like a star. The rubberized black grip top makes it easy to do dark colors like a pro.
Huey Lewis & The News sang: “It’s hip to be square,” but it’s also chic to be square–at least if you’re a luxury Nail Polish $9.00 by Cornelia Day Resort, in it’s squared rectangular bottle that hold high-quality polish in 130 shades and 9 color categories! Take your pick of neutrals, reds, peaches, burgundies, creams, pinks, and fuchsias. The bottles are slim enough to take along for touch-ups. We love “Vin,” a super-shimmery wine that looks luxe and perfect with special occasion dresses, and just as good with jeans, and “MOV,” a glorious copper so shimmery, two glamorous coats look nearly metallic on nails . On the opposite site of the color spectrum is “Crem,” a soft, semi-opaque cream that reminds me of the soft luxury of a cashmere sweater. TIP: if you visit the Cornelia Day Resort in New York and have a manicure or pedicure, the Cornelia Nail Polish used in your service is complimentary to ensure a no-chip experience between appointments.
I always associate Christmas with elves, so it’s fitting that e.l.f. (Eyes, Lips, Face) Cosmetics has developed cute packaging for their Nail Polish $1.00. The slim, elongated square bottle features a tall black cap and a cute plastic “drip” in the color of the polish, all around the edge! Although the product is inexpensive, there is a lot of high-performance packed into it. The color-lock and chip resistant formula offers 12 shades with high shine that lasts for days. The aerodynamic design of the bristles ensures that your favorite color slides on without streaking. Vitamin E helps nourish nails, and there is no toluene, Formaldehye or Dibutyl Phthalate — ingredients commonly found in nail polish that can be potentially harmful. Our holiday picks are “coral,” a shimmery warm pink that flatters pale skin and deeper tones, alike. “Dark Red,” is a dramatic, true burgundy, and “Champagne” is a shimmery nude with a touch of rose that looks right, day or night. For French manicure lovers, “White” paired with “Light Pink” offers a ladylike look for a lot less! Buy a bunch for stocking stuffers and see smile, all around!
GIFTS FOR YOUNGER GENERATIONS:
The AdviceSisters almost never review children’s products, but it’s the time for gift-giving. If you don’t want to give your best friend’s precious little darling yet another plastic toy they’ll lose interest in or that will break, before the box is even thrown in the trash, why not give something actually useful and fun? The So Cozy It Takes Two to Detangle Kit $28.00 supplies two popular products (and a little yellow rubber duckie and wide tooth comb with handy hooked handle to hang in the shower), to help exasperated moms and dads detangle “junior’s” hair without the usual screaming and fussing. The white plastic pump bottles have cheerful, brightly colored labels, designed to appeal to kids. Start with Pre-Tangling Treatment in Lucky Lime 8 fl. oz. (smells just like a green lollypop) is designed to use right in the tub to start the detangling process by smoothing the cuticle and allowing knots to relax and detangle more easily. It is enriched with quinoa seed and nettle extract to soothe, moisturize and nourish hair, while detangling it. Knots will disappear. Our “moms” reported good results and happier kids, with this one. Follow with a spritz of Fruity Delight Leave in Conditioner 8 fl. oz (it smells like sugary fruit drinks) to moisturize, condition, and stop the frizzies (yes, kids get those, too). These gentle, user-friendly products are safe for kids 1-12 years old, formulated specifically for children by Cozy Cuts for Kids salon. Packaged in a clear plastic snap-tote, this will make a no-need-to-wrap holiday gift that both parents and child will actually like, and use.
One of the best gift you can give new parents is a mess-free feeding time. DaBibb $12.99 is a thoughtfully-designed bib that is even appropriate for newborns, but grows with him, reversing to a style with a pouch at the bottom to capture crumbs as baby evolves to solid food. We gave this to a new mother and she absolutelyloved it, citing the soft, adjustable velcro tab on one side (not in the back of baby’s head where it’s hard to fasten) and the soft ribbed “scrunch” collar that holds tight to baby so milk and drool stay on the bib and doesn’t sink behind on baby’s clothes. The bib is also extra long so it really covers a large are at: 13″L x 10 1/2″W. The machine washable and dry-able, soft, eco-friendly and safe-for-baby materials of polyester and nylon in cool colors such as yellow and sophisticated stripes, makes this fun for boys and girls. You may find less expensive bibs, but not better ones. Our “mom” said she was spoiled for anything else after DaBibb!
Girls with serious “shoe envy” will covet this season’s sexiest accessory, a sassy, high-heeled, boot-shaped Stocking ($19.00-$29.00 depending on fabric) bu HOHO Heel, that looks like a slim, stiletto boot, but will hold Santa’s bounty! I only wish the deep plum-colored Velvet Boot$27.90 (with fluffy, white, fur trim and bright red hang tag) actually came in my shoe size! Watch their eyes pop when they see this sexy boot hanging instead of last years’ ho-hum sock! Maybe, if you’ve been really good, Santa will tuck a gift certificate for those shoes you’ve been eyeing inside, as well! They’re bound to become heirlooms. TIP: These boot stocking make an extraordinary way to package a bigger gift, too.
A new mother needs all the TCL she and her baby can get. Noodle & Boo, an ultra-luxe gentle collection of skincare products, packages their lovely products in light pink and white cartons with a retro-silhouette of a mother and child in black, and a black bow graphic around the bottom. combines highly desirable, quality products with timeless elegance. What we like about these products is that while they are formulated for newborns and babies with sensitive skin, these extra gentle, dermatologist tested, and hypoallergenic products can be used by mom, too. We tried theSoothing Body Wash $12.00 8 fl. oz, that has allantoin and nutrient-rich milk protein to gently cleanse without stripping the skin of natural moisture. The calming, soap-free formula rebalances skins pH while Provitamin B and Vitamin E gently condition and moisturize. A clear, non-foamy (so it won’t bubble up in baby’s eyes) formula smells just like soft baby powder. A whimsical little yellow duck, makes the white, plastic bottle with black flip top, extra cute. If course, babies can use moisturization, too. TheNoodle & Boo Super Soft Lotion$14.00 8 fl. oz. is also luxurious and lovely. It has sweet almond oil for hydration and vitamins E and C shield to smooth and protect sensitive skin. The product has a slight baby powder scent that keeps babies smelling like, well, babies. Actually, the signature scent is a blend of apricot and peach mixed with a touch of ripe mixed berries. The soft powdery body of the fragrance is a sweet bouquet of water blossoms, heliotrope and a touch of clover honey, wrapped in soft and warm back notes of rich warm milk and vanilla beans. The grey teddy bear on this bottle is a cute touch. You can give these products with peace of mind. They have been rigorously tested to make sure they are safe. They are also 100% biodegradable, and non-toxic. For moms, especially those with pre or post-pregnancy sensitive skin,Glowology Simply Divine $45.00 is a nicely-packaged gift featuring 7 ounce tubes of Heavenly Honey Wash and Lovely Body Lotion. Both products are developed for sensitive skin and are clinically-tested and hypoallergenic. Milk Protein and Clover Honey are soothing and moisturizing, and the soft scent won’t overpower her, or her baby.
Some younger people who will be enchanted by Pet Socks $12.00 by KBell weren’t around when the hottest holiday gift on the planet was a Pet Rock. The idea of “caring for” an ordinary object is both enduring, and entertaining. This holiday season, Pet Socks will be one of your cutest gift ideas. Choose from four different furry “friends” (actually, they are real socks) that come packaged in a kraft-paper box with holes (to help your pet socks, breathe) and color-coded bands (to inform you of the “breed” and name of your Pet Socks). Open the box, and “unleash” your soft, furry socks. We adopted “Guy” a grass and deep green pair of bouclé ankle socks. The heart-shaped tag told us that our new pet could “roll over,” “stay” and do what socks do best–play “hide & seek.” This little gift will appeal to the young, and the young at heart.
Graffiti used to be considered an eyesore, but now we appreciate it as a creative art form. Whether you’re from the East Coast or the West Coast, a “must-have” accessory that is a true conversation starter comes fromBombshell Accessories/Metal Mafia’s “Urban Graffiti” jewelry collection. Gold or silver-toned necklaces that spell out “New York” (photo) or “Los Angeles” or “Notorious” in curvy script, are inspired by graffiti “tags,” used on the streets to show who you are and what you represent. The graffiti necklace hangs from a 15 inch chain with a 3 inch extender finished with a lobster clasp–nice details. I think this Script Graffiti Necklace $19.00 is a perfect gift for a young (or young at heart) man or woman, but also for anyone who is perhaps a bit shy. Put one of these on, and watch people gravitate right to you! Affordable and outrageously adorable–who could ask for more?
GIFT-ABLE HOLIDAY HOME:
Scent can alter our emotions, making us feel invigorated, calm, happy, sensual, empowered and…festive. Adding scent to your home is a perfect way to add fun to your daily life, and spice up special occasions. I have always liked scent diffusers that let you add a new scent to your environment any time you like, and I love The Body Shop’s Home Fragrances, including some new, festive holiday scents: Spiced Pear, Blue Spruce, Orange Clove, Gingerbread and Pomegranate, plus a large range of other scents from flowers and fruit, to jellybeans! Each Home Fragrance Oil $7.50 0.3 fl. ozcomes in a little bottle with a secure, gold top, to be used with an oil diffuser (The Body Shop’s Antique Silver Oil Burner $16.00 – photo is attractive and affordable). I loved the “Blue Spruce” oil, that gives you a Christmas tree smell, without the pine needles on your carpet! Fruity/spicy “Orange Clove” reminds me of the pomanders we used to make as children (orange studded with cloves). Please the kids with “Jelly Bean,” a fragrance that amazingly, smells like the real thing! “Rich Plum” is also featured in The Body Shop’s holiday lineup of bath & body products.
The holidays can be very hectic and stressful. One way to help relax is with a great, aromatherapy candle. The “Calm” Soy Wax Candle $9.99, from the “Peace and Tranquility” collection of the Chesapeake Bay Candle Company,is a large, white, soy wax candle in a frosted, lavender scented votive, brilliantly infused with soft, calming lavender. All of thePeace & Tranquility candles are made from all-natural soy wax (made from natural, biodegradable materials). Soy burns longer and doesn’t smoke or add toxins into the air while burning. The calming scent of lavender is a little splurge that will get you through the holidays without feeling overwhelmed. Light it up, relax, and enjoy! This affordable luxury comes beautifully packaged in a lavender box decorated with a smooth, round, ceramic touchstone so it makes a nice gift, too.
Even with a cold, I could smell the cheery scents of the Limited Edition Holiday 2007 Collection candles from Archipelago. One of my favorites is an elegant, Gold Rimmed Jar Candle $20.00 in Red Noel.” The cheerful, bright, hollyberry-red candle is soy, and burns up to 60 hours. It fills a smooth, clear, glass jar with slim, tight fitting rim and gold border. The luscious, spicy scent is an mix of currant, spice and cinnamon that reminds me of spiced cider. Reviewers also liked the no-need-to-wrap, Boxed Candle $21.00. The substantial, silver cardboard presentation box with black band and signature, metal Archipelago “coin” logo holds a smooth, clear glass votive about the size of a soda can, is also encircled by the band and coin decoration. Our was “Vanilla Almond,” a spicy/sweet blend of vanilla bean and almond that’s not overly sweet, but smells a bit like home-baked almond-laced sugar cookies! We didn’t review it, but there is a gold-wrapped “Walnut Toffee” scent, too. A candle is an appropriate, welcome gift for just about everyone on your list. TheArchipelago candles come in Gift Sets $40.00 too.
The Essence of Beauty 100% Soy Lotion Candle $9.99 is a beauty treatment, a home scent, and a mood maker. It comes in beautiful fragrances to scent your home, but once it has burned for awhile, the melted wax does triple duty as a massage oil and lotion! The candle is natural, biodegradable soy, so it burns clean, and 30% longer than wax candles *up to 50 hours of burn time. Each 8-ounce candle also contains Omega 3, a fish-oil known for its cardio protective benefits, and Omega 6 fatty acids. The natural moisturizing properties of these ingredients increase the skin’s capacity to hold and retain natural moisture. You won’t be smelling “fish,” however–these candles offer lovely aromatherapy bennies. We tried “Passion Flower,” a feminine pink candle with a fruity/floral scent. The packaging is unique–a rounded rectangular, frosted glass votive with a tightly-locking glass cap. The candle also comes in Citrus Coconut, Pomegranate Apple and Purple Fields. Affordable, effective, and a little treat for yourself and everyone on your list.
Last Summer, I previewed the Gianna Rose Holiday and Disney collections. This line is a favorite of mine because it features beautiful soap and home products in imaginative shapes and in ultra-pretty , mostly re-useable packaging. To honor a great boss, or a special client, we like the Holiday Collection $76.00 (photo left0 featuring substantial, cardboard gift boxes covered with silver metallic paper festooned with a matte gold paisley design. The tower is wrapped with a silvery satin ribbon, a gift card, and a snowflake ornament. Inside the boxes are shaped soaps: vanilla-scented Pear, and Snowflake and Ornament soaps in Night Blooming Jasmine, Sandalwood and Pine. Also eye-catching and unique are Gianna Rose items from their collaborative collection with the Walt Disney Company. These attractive scented products will bring back childhood memories, but they’re all grown up. Alice’s Treasures $37.50, (photo right) features sculpted guest-sized soaps and a smooth, white, rectangular porcelain soap dish. They’re nestled inside a re-usable cardboard box with peaked top, decorated in a colorful, baroque-style design, and embellished with a story hang-tag/gift card and a tiny, genuine key. Inside are three creamy, ivory-colored soaps in shapes significant to the Alice in Wonderland story: a key; a pocket watch; and a heart (for the Queen of Hearts who has lost her tarts). This is as cute as gift-giving gets!
Annick Goutal is known for beautiful and luxurious fragrances for the body and for the home. A “must-have” for this holiday season is a beautifully boxed set ofAnnick Goutal Votive Candle $45.00/5 in “Noël “ which also makes an impressive, affordable gift idea. A cream colored presentation box with five clear, domed “windows” showcase five, gold-rimmed, clear, glass votives, filled with white candles scented in “Noël.” The fragrance is festive and unique, a blend of Siberian pine mixed with citrus fruits and bright, Brazilian mandarin oranges, creating a vibrant, uplifting scent that makes the entire room come to life with holiday cheer. The scent is perfect for men as well as women, and the guys love getting gifts of scent as much as the ladies. This elegant, luxe set works with every decor, and burns clean and long, so you can enjoy them for weeks.
Potter & Moore supposedly been in business since 1749, when “physic gardeners” John Potter and William Moore started cultivating herbs and flowers, with lavender as their specialty. TheirEnglish Classics line celebrates a “tradition of natural fragrance blending.” Potter & Moore’s English Classics 1749 Perfumed Candle with Lavender & Italian Lemon Essential Oils $#6.00 5.05 oz. is a white candle that is housed in a lovely, clear glass votive etches with frosted flowers. The actual candle is made with a blend of fine waxes and aromatic fragrance oils. The scent isn’t pure lavender, it’s earthy. I think it smells a bit like the ground during a rainstorm, but others picked up much more on the Italian Lemon that adds a modern, but subtle touch to the lavender, a favorite English scent.
HOT BEAUTY HELPERS:
You can have the most beautiful hair, makeup, jewelry and clothes in the world, but if you aren’t dry and odor-free, you’re not going to impress. Secret Clinical Strength srp. $7.99 – $9.99 is a new antiperspirant/deodorant for women who need more than just the average amount of wetness protection. The product comes in a stick-type tube with a “click-it” bottom. This product is actually best used at nighttime to take advantage of your body’s natural temperature variations. Two clicks under work all night and continues to protect you throughout the next day, even if you bathe the next morning! You can use it in the daytime too, of course. This special Secret contains the maximum level of anti-perspirant active offered without a prescription. Some extra-strength products contain aluminum chloride which can cause irritation and stain fabrics, but this product doesn’t have it. In fact, has skin conditioners (as dimethicone and petrolatum) to keep it kind to your skin and your clothes.
Stress, stinks–literally and figuratively! There are two types of stress-related odors: spicy odor and S-odor. And, stress causes you to sweat even more than normal. No matter what life hands you,Ban Intensely Fresh Invisible Solids $3.49 2.6 oz helps you stay dry and fresh all the time, and especially when you’re stressed. They’ll work to keep your underarms dry, too. Kihada extra and silver cancrinite eliminate, rather than just mask, these types of odors. The invisible Ban Intensely Fresh Invisible Solids have cheerful, lime green, twist up tubes with bright colored bands indicating the scents: Paradise Winds (bright fruity/floral), Regular (soft/clean), Shower Fresh (clean/fruit), Sweet Surrender (soft floral/fruit), Floral Fusion (sweet/floral/fruit), Satin Breeze (marine/fresh), Powder Fresh (soft/vanilla/floral). An anti-perspirant/deodorant costs just a few dollars, but it is a “must-have’ that’s priceless.
To view previous “What Works” Beauty, Cosmetics, and Fashion Review columns, visit the What Works Archives
GIFT-ABLE BATH AND BODY PRODUCTS:
True Rituals from the Conair Pro Division, is new to our column. Although Conair is primarily known for hair care, these products are for bath & body. Satin Smooth True Rituals Red Currant & Iris Body Collection, for example, offers products infused with a soft, floral/fruit scent, and a blend of natural ingredients to revitalize, rejuvenate, and of course, cleanse, soften and protect your skin. Red currant and wild cherry bark contain antioxidants, while Iris Florentia is an extract that improves the tone, hydration and elasticity of skin. These products do their jobs very well, offering a luxe, spa-like experience. We were impressed with theRed Currant & Iris Rejuvenating Oil Mist $21.99 8 fl. oz. A plum colored pump bottle dispenses a soft-touch oil to moisturize your skin after bath to hydrate and lock in moisture, or whenever you want to soothe and soften your skin. It can also be dissolved into your bath, to give dry skin “the boot!” We also liked the Red Currant & Iris Exfoliating Scrub $19.99 7 oz. The water-based sugar scrub doesn’t mess around–the grainy texture quickly removed dry and dead skin cells, leaving our skin impressivelysmooth, soft and glowing, but not red or irritated. For the holidays, give yourself a pampering treat, or gift someone special with theTrue Rituals Red Currant & Iris Body Collection Gift Set $59.99 featuring the Body Scrub and Rejuvenating Oil Moist,plus a beautifully lathering Body Wash,, and a nicely scented, quickly absorbing Body Cream. The set is “boxed” in a long, re-useable, hard-sided, cardboard mailing tube-style container with hatbox style top and carrying handle.
Visions of sugarplums may be dancing in children’s heads, butDavies Gate Sugarplum Warming Shave Cream $20.00 10.6 fl. oz from their Allspice collection is a more adult pleasure. Formulated with a fruity scent that is nearly synonymous with holiday cheer, this shaving/cleanser actually warms up when it comes in contact with your skin, to open up pores for the smoothest shave possible. It might be a bit pricey for a shaving cream, but this beautifully scented and fun to use multi-tasking product also does good things for your skin, with glycerin and white clay to cleanse and exfoliate, plus moisturizing sunflower seed oil and other plant extracts that soothe and keep skin velvety smooth. The light plum-colored packaging make this a no-need-to wrap gift–just add a bow. But be sure to get one for yourself–you will love it, and you deserve it!
The Pangea Organic Bath Set $32.00 by Gaiam comes in three different scents: Lavender, lemongrass and geranium. This set is very appealing because of it’s high organic content, spa-like products, and wonderful fragrances. You get a 8.5 fl. oz bottles of Shower Gel & Hand & Body Lotion, and a truly lovely, cold-pressed bar soap that has a surprise “something extra” packaging made from post-consumer recycled newspaper that’s embedded with herb seeds and plant-able in the garden, come Springtime (simply cover the box with soil, after the frost has ended). We tried the Lavender with Cardamom set that includes calming/soothing/healing lavender and cleansing/invigorating/antiseptic cardamom. The chocolate brown bottles with lavender and white graphics would enhance any bathroom, and these are completely unisex, in case you’re thinking of gifting a special guy with this set. TIP: Tell the lucky recipient that the soap box is an herb garden in the making-what a way to look forward to the next season! It’s a great gift for anyone on your list, and a little splurge for you, too.
The Body Shop offers approximately 1,200 skincare, cosmetics and toiletries products in more than 330 retail locations in the United States and elsewhere, in more than 2,000 stores in over 50 countries. The products are affordable and high quality, and we like the idea that The Body Shop, sources ingredients and accessory items from disadvantaged communities across the world, bringing bennies back to those communities. For the holidays, The Body Shop has a variety of bath & body products in a range of holiday-worthy scents. One that is sure to wake up your holiday spirit is the Shower Gel in “Cranberry,” a bright, tart scent with to notes of cranberries, green berries, blackberry, red currant, and grapefruit peel, middle notes of sour, fruity cranberry, and a sexy base of amber and musk. The scent is almost good enough to eat. We tried the Cranberry Shower Gel ($13.00 8.4 fl. oz. A clear, red plastic bottle with gold flip cap looks elegant with a maroon and gold label. In the shower, this soap-free cleanser is also kind to skin, lathering nicely and leaving skin moisturized with coconut oil. Get one for yourself, and several for hostess gifts!
Potter and Moore English Classics 1749 has a Luxury Body Crème with Tea Rose & Sage Essential Oils 45.00 5.07 fl. oz.that is wonderful for your own holiday relaxation, and for gift-giving. A large, clear glass jar with black screw top holds a luxe blend of natural gums, sugars and pure honey (known for their deep moisturizing properties) along with rich cocoa and shea butter is added to keep your skin feeling silky, smooth, and lightly scented. The scent is primarily soft tea rose, but you can sensesage and other leafy notes in the beginning. Upon drydown you get a tiny hit, but it adds interest to the fragrance.
A cheerful holiday scene of turn of joyful, turn of the century revelers in the snow, on a re-usable dark green cardboard box, is just the beginning of the charming Nourishing Beauty Recipes Gift Set by Le Couvent Des Mimines. Inside are 8.4 fl. oz clear plastic flip-top bottles of Comforting Shower Gel in Honey & Shea scent, and a matching Moisturizing Body Lotion. The apothecary style golden labels are trimmed in gold, luxe and attractive. The Shower Gel is the color of honey, and it actually smells just like a jar of honey–sensual and rich just like the real thing. However, once it is on your body and mixed with water, it lathers and cleanses and wonderful to smell, but once on your body and mixed with water, it lathers and cleanses, leaving your skin feeling moisturized, and slightly scented with honey. The Body Lotion is creamy white, does a nice job at keeping skin soft and moisturized, and also smells like pure honey. These are so lovely, you’ll use them every day yourself and they make great gifts–affordable luxury.
The Mediterranean collection of bath & Body products by Bootsis a bath and bodycare line inspired by the lifestyle of the region. The products contain organic ingredients including almond and olive oils, citrus fruits and herbs so delicious, the packages actually say: “this is not a food.” For the holidays, Boots has packaged three travel-sized Mediterranean products in an impressive Gift Collection $8.99 which is amazingly affordable, and beautifully presented in a cardboard and clear cello presentation box that’s nice enough to be re-useable. Inside, an Orange, Olive & Bergamot Bath Cream (2.5 fl. oz) is paired with a Bergamot, Basil Wheat Germ Body Wash (2.5 fl. oz) and whipped, luxurious, super-moisturizing Body Butter (1.69 fl. oz). Boots has also created a cello-covered travel set: Capturing the Essence of the Mediterranean Travel Selection $11.99 featuring other products in the Mediterranean collection. You get a mini-sized jar of decadent Almond Pistachio & Milk Body Butter (1.69 fl. oz); Thyme Milk & Lemon Verbena Bath Cream (2.5 fl. oz.); Lemon, Rosemary & Walnut Hand & Nail Cream (2.5 fl. oz); and a Bergamot Wheat germ & Basil Body Wash (2.5 fl. oz). Don’t let the prices fool you–these are high quality products that offer a luxe, bath & body experience. Both little sets are your answer to what to bring for holiday grab bags, hostess gifts, stocking stuffer, and of course, a little pampering for yourself. These are great for travel, and a great way to try this lovely line of products. For a more impressive gift of full-sized products, we like theMediterranean Almond, Wheat Germ & Milk Trio $19.99, in a re-useable, cardboard and clear cello presentation box . Nestled inside are A flip-top tube of Body Wash (6.6 fl. oz) with skin softening milk extract and wheat germ and almond oil, a large jar of moisturizing and nutty smelling exfoliating Body Scrub (13.5 fl. oz) with organic almond, olive and pistachio oils, and a sinfully silky Body Butter with organic almost oil, moisturizing pistachio Oil and milk extract.
SHIMMER, GLAM, GLITZ AND FUNMAKEUP:
Some may find glitter powders to be a challenge, , but when the holidays come around, these little pots of shimmery and glittery colors revive party moods and are a “must-have.” Face ateliermakes 13 Shimmer Powders $18.00 that are a little bit different, as they are not as garish so they appeal to women of all ages. Also, the talc-free mica shimmers come out of their shaker jars in little, concentrated “clumps,” not a virtual shower of powder, so you can blend and control them. Add a little to lids for a wash of shimmery color, or work up to super-shimmers for those special nights out. Even better, you can mix the shimmer powder with a body cream to turn it into a shimmer cream (we used “Snake Eyes,” an iridescent brown, and “Soft Bronze,” and got a golden glow). You can mix them with clear lip gloss, and it would be fun to try mixing the powder with Face Atelier Transforming Gel $13.00 lets you transform these powders into a “paint” for lids or liner, that sets and lasts.
We love MAC Cosmetics for their cutting edge, high performance products, and trendy colors. Although the holidays are a time of year when glitter and shimmer are popular, a new way to “go glam” is with MAC Cosmetics MATTE², a collection of matte products in high-intensity colors. We sampled the Powder Eye Shadow $14.00 from this collection. These are formulated with micronized pigments that combine deeply saturated color with a full-matte texture and yet, they’re soft and silky and creamy and easy to apply. You’ll get full color in a one-stroke formula. The colors are jet-milled with a very high pigment. Still, the colors are blendable into a softer, more “smoke-y” eye look. If you want to be fearless, build even more color, but you can still use the same colors to wear in the daytime. A nice plus about these intense shadows is that the color doesn’t flake when you apply it. And, you won’t be re-applying that often, because they really stay put. Contact lens wearers and those with sensitive eyes will be happy to know that these are ophthalmologist tested. The 16 colors in this collection are showy and glamorous. Some of the bolder color we like are: “Post Haste” (bright berry pink), “Clarity” (bold turquoise), “Newly Minted” (bright sea green), “Brown Script,” deep rust) and “Signed Sealed” (blackened brown. Use these as party colors, or as sexy powder eye liners. Of the muted tones, some of our favorites are: “Poison Pen” (deep mid-tone purple with grey), “Flourishing” (deep moss green), “Fig. 1” (deep eggplant) and as a highlight or to soften the other colors, “Blanc Type” (creamy beige) and “Tete-A-Tinte” (medium flesh).
The new, Vivid Impact Highlighting Mascara $8.99 by Max Factor add something inexpensive, fun, and special to your lashes for holiday parties. The dual-wanded mascara coats your lashes with a base coat using a wand with branch-like patented, Ifx bristles to get each lash, perfectly. Then, add top coat accent, paired to the base color, of iridescent, metallic color in gold, silver, burgundy or pink. The result is multi-tonal color that leaves the tips of your lashes noticeably glimmery, even if you wear glasses. The mascara washes off easily with soap and water or eye maker remover, and is save for people with sensitive eyes, and contact lens wearers. We tried “24 Karat Brown” featuring a deep brown base coat and a gold overlay, and “Blushing Blue” with an iridescent pink overlay (deep blue is the new “black”). Blazing Black features a pink topcoat and moonlit black has a silver topcoat. “Burning Bordeaux” has a brown base and a burgundy topcoat. These are sutble, not gaudy, and you can wear either side of the mascara by itself, too.
Stila Blanc & Noire limited Edition Eye Palettes $32.00/eachare part of the “La Belle Nouvelle” winter collection. A slim, cardboard palette with Magnetic Closure in frosty white flocked with a delicate, black velvet desig holds three, generously-sized rounds of powder eye shadow and a soft blush. The “Noir” palette contains cool toned shades soft gray pin, blue gray, a shimmering black (for liner) and a mauve pink blush. Warmer complexions will be flattered by the “Blanc” palette featuring a golden beige, golden copper, espresso (for liner) and a terra cotta blush. These limited edition palettes will get you through the holidays, and add “ooph” to your look during the Wintery months to follow. .
The AdviceSisters are happy to include Mary Kay Cosmetics once again in our reviews. Their new, limited edition, Mary Kay® Color Fusion Collection Eye Color Quad $18.00 offers four fashionable, coordinated, intense pressed powder shadows in a slim, mirrored compact. “Simply Neutral” features a dark and medium brown, paired with light and medium nudes. “Golden Plum” features warm and cool plum, plus < a shimmery gold and soft, light mauve. The colors are trendy, but not over-the-top, so you can wear them day or evening, adjusting the color to suit your style. They’re also long lasting and resist creasing and fading! Reviewers also loved the fact the this silky powder shadow can be used full-strength for a powder liner or dramatic eyes, but still can be easily blended for softer eye looks.
Looking to treat yourself to a luxury trio of glamorous, shimmery, intense powder shadows just perfect for holiday eyes looks? TheSatin Shadow Milano Trio $32.50 by Borghese (returning to our reviews this column) will put an end to your search! These newly-formulated powder shadows come in six different color-coordinated palettes with light, medium and dark shades of either brown, nude, plum, blue or green. We tried “Mediterraneo Blue,” a modern collection of super-shimmery silver, shimmery medium blue-grey, and a stunning, deep navy blue shimmer that makes an incredible eye liner. These shadows are awesomely smooth and easy to apply. Shimmery-and super-shimmery shades add just the right touch. The included sponge and bristle mini-applicators make it easy to adjust intensity a texture, creating looks that are subtle, bold, or shimmery, and (well blended), matte. Those with sensitive eyes or contact lens wearers will appreciate the fragrance-free formula. The Borghese signature mirrored compact with shiny black ribbed body that closes with a jewel-like “ruby” clasp makes “making-up” more festive, too.
The Body Shop’s holiday lineup includes a Shimmer Lotion $16.00 8.4 fl. oz in “Rich Plum” that comes in a rich plum-colored plastic bottle with gold pump cap and purple and gold label featuring a starburst of vines and plums. The bottle is pretty, but the light plum-colored lotion inside will add a subtle scent and silvery sparkle to your skin, while it pampers and moisturizes. I love the scent of plums, and this version adds a feminine, sensual but soft appeal starting with top notes of citrus, cassis and grape; a tart and fruity middle of plum, red berry and heliotrope; and a sensual base of amber and musk. The presentation, packaging, and of course, the product, makes this a “must-have” to add joy and sparkle to your holiday season (the shimmer is not so overwhelming you can’t wear it in the daytime unless you are in very conservative company). What an easy and fun way to hydrate your skin and add sex appeal in one step!
I love anything Dior, and I adore the limited edition I Love Dior Lip Palette $40.00 (photo) that has tongues wagging, and lipstick addicts hearts, racing. Inside the cutest black matte and patent, Dior couture-inspired, mirrored compact adorned with a heart locket are four trendy shades of shiny, silky, luxurious, gotta-have-it Dior Addict Ultra-Gloss Reflect so popular, they have nearly reached cult status! The shimmering, multi-dimensional reflective pigments give you super shine and long lasting color that looks color that lasts for hours. The palettes come in Warm (peach/coral) or Cool (or chocolate/beige). These make us feel more flirtatious, sexy, and cool, so we’re looking for more reasons to re-apply these lip products. You, or the lucky person who gets an I Love Dior Lip Palette will, too.
The Body Shop has excellent stocking stuffer, and little pick-me-ups for yourself. You can actually see the gorgeous, light-reflecting shimmer in The Body Shop’s Ultra Lip Gloss $14.50 from their “Gold Sparkle” holiday collection. Two tubes of super-silky, glittery, sheer lip gloss have golden hammered tops and brush applicators. Vitamin E and moisturizing Community Trade marula oil from Namibia keep lips soft and kissable while the gloss adds the perfect amount of glittery shine and color, making lips pouty and sexy without being “trashy.” “Metallic Pink” gives lips just a tint of berry with a fun, fruity scent, while “Molten Copper,” adds a warm, golden glow while treating us to a soft vanilla scent. Feeling creative, we mixed ours together to create a warm rose, but they’re equally great on their own. They’re glamorous, but they also do great things for your lips, so we’re calling these “must-haves” for yourself, and for gift-giving.
Wondering what to get your special friends this season? There’s no need to get your panties in a bunch, simply get them: Panties in a Bunch $39.00 by Dianne Brill. We have reviewed Ms. Brill’s “Lip Confections” in past columns, but in this gift set you get not one, but six sexy, silky, shiny, mini-sized glosses, just the right size to slip into an evening bag for a night out. The packaging is too cute: a pink and white cardboard slider box that reveals the mini lip glosses, nestled into frilly candy papers like the yummy confections they are. The glosses are not just shiny and shimmery, they also offer benefits for your skin with 20% vitamins, antioxidants, a lip pout, and humectants. Your lips not only look great, they stay soft and nourished, too. This festive, holiday set features three popular shades “Frilly Thong” (electric rose), “Sheer String” (warm nude with sparkle); “Jeweled G-String” (opalescent with sparkle) and three limited edition colors just for this set: “Pearly Panty” (cool nude violet with shimmer); “Vinyl V-String” (scarlet with gold sparkle) and my favorite, “Satin Hipster,” a cool lavender with shimmer).
J’adore “minis” so I’m gaga for Kisses from Paris Volume 2 $18.00 featuring four fab shimmery Effet Mobile Lip Glosses in pink, nude, bronze and frosty pink. The too-too-cute, tiny-sized wanded tubes come with a keychain featuring the Eiffel tower and two flirty lips in pink and rose, plus two lobster claw clasps to hold two mini glosses at once, along with your keys. This is a beautiful gift at a great price ($36.00 value).
The generously-sized pans of silky color in a slim, mirrored compact make the limited edition Mary Kay® Color Fusion Collection Lip Color Duo $18.00 the perfect choice for a holiday pick-me-up, or a stocking stuffer for your “Beautista” friends. “Raisin/Rosy” is a perfect daytime duo of deep moist rose, and a light pearly rose. Bronze/ Amber” and “Garnet/Gold” all both of-the-moment but wearable colors featuring shimmery, sheer metallic gold or bronze, with copper and berry to wear together, or separately. Apply these luxe lip colors with the tiny, included lip brush, and have lips that are beautifully tinted, soft and smooth for up to 6 hours! They’re impressively nice!
PRODUCTS THAT “GIVE BACK” AND MAKE YOU FEEL GREAT!
In the dry season, the up to 120.000 liters of water that a baobab tree stores in it’s trunk provides water and nourishment to the people in Malawi villages. Now you can enjoy the smoothing and conditioning properties of this amazing tree and do a good deed. For each Epoch Baobab Body Butter $29.954.4 oz. by Nu Skin that is purchased, $0.15 will be donated to the Nu Skin Force for Good Foundation for their “Malawi Seeds of Hope Project. This initiative focuses on the reforestation and conservation of baobab trees in local villages. And, while you’re feeling good about helping African villages, you can hydrate and smooth your skin with rich shea butter and macadamia nut oil, and get bennies form the African baobab tree as well. Baobab fruit pulp extract (adansonia digitata pulp extract) is a natural humectant and emollient, which not only relieves dry, Winter skin, but improves the skin’s appearance, and conditions skin for long-lasting moisturization. The deliciously pampering cream smells slightly of vanilla, and absorbs very quickly, leaving skin feeling immediately soft, smooth, and soothed. We wanted to stop what we were doing, and slather it all over! The large, khaki green and black jar with chic lettering and a small baobab tree on the lid also makes an appealing gift for both men and women.
Neenah Paper’s CLASSIC CREST® Papers give you tons of options, perfect for writing those holiday invites, thank you notes, and “newsy” and romantic letters. They’re also “green,” processed chlorine free and/or made with post-consumer fiber. Neenah Paper has partnered with theSusan G. Komen® Breast Cancer Foundation to create a special, Soft Pink stationery in the Foundation’s signature color. is donating $25,000 to support the Foundation. Items in the line are modestly priced: Paper $9.99/100 sheets #10 Envelopes $5.99/25 and Thank You Notes w/envelopes $9.99/20. The Soft Pink letterhead sheets are smooth finish papers you can even put into an ink jet printer. This is a nice way to help a worthy cause and keep your correspondence, beautiful.
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. We are not compensated for reviewing products (that’s how we can keep the reviews impartial) and none of our reviewers are 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:firstname.lastname@example.org *special thanks this column to Joey, John, Marcie, and Nancy