In Which Voxy and Chaos Singlehandedly (Doublehandedly?) Restore The American Cosmetics Economy

What can we really say about this? While Chaos was visiting Voxy-ville, somehow we managed to take all of these home with us.* How did it happen? We’re still not sure.

Reviews to come!

*Oh, plus four lipsticks that Voxy bought that didn’t make it into the photo. Oops.

The Most Gorgeous, Useless, Expensive Holiday Cosmetics Item You’ll Never Get Your Hands On

There ought to be a special edition of the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book that’s just for frivolous and outrageously expensive cosmetics and skincare. If there were, the centerfold of this year’s edition would be (based on brands that have released promo materials thus far): NARS’ Bento Box.

Go ahead and oooh and ahhhh. They sure are purty.

These little cups each contain a hand-poured, new-and-exclusive shade of NARS lipstick. (The cups are not filled up with lipstick like a candle; the lipstick is applied in a waxy layer that follows the contour of the cup, which is why they look so freaking cool.) The colors are based on the bright lip colors of Japanese Kabuki theatre, and it comes with a specially designed brush which you can use for application and for mixing the colors together.

Because for the low low price of $125, you ought to get a brush with the thing.

And just because it’s NARS, it’s extremely limited-edition. Only 2,000 sets created total, and only 1,000 of those available for sale in the United States. If you want to be notified when they are released, you can sign up at http://www.narscosmetics.com/bento_box_set.aspx. It’s supposed to be released November 1, but I bet it will sell out in an hour, so you are advised to stalk the website and your inbox if you want one.

Photo via NARS.

Santa Baby

Santa Chair by ladydragonflycc.Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year. I have managed not to kill, maim, set on fire, trip in the hallway, throw coffee on, arrange to have whacked, or otherwise inconvenience any most of my coworkers this year. For that I think I get a gold star. Pardon me while I go over to my MAC Fluidline review and steal the one I handed out there yesterday.

Anyway. Dear Santa, I would love a little teeny tiny sparkly present for Christmas. Maybe a nice necklace. Diamonds are, as you know, a girl’s best friend, and pearls are always elegant. Maybe a necklace with a couple of each?

Oh, look, Santa! Here is one on HauteLook that would be just perfect. And it’s on sale, too! Wow, 70% off!



Look how much money you can save! It’s only $15,295.50 — 70% off of the regular price, which is $50,985.00. OMG, what a bargain. At that rate I hope you will throw in some matching earrings. They have some nice white South Sea pearl and diamond earrings for only $11,812.50, 70% off the regular price of $39,375.00.

Of course I have no self-interest in this; I’m just trying to save you money in this difficult economy. No, no, don’t thank me. Just doing my bit for the team.

I’ll leave you some nice chocolate-macadamia nut cookies and a glass of organic milk next week. Chances are that we will also have received some fruitcake and/or springerle cookies that we would be happy to shove off on someone else share with you.



Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/19646481@N06/ / CC BY 2.0

I Vant To Suck Your Blood… And Then Inject It Back Into Your Face

Brian bought me a can of blood from Dave Eggers' pirate store thinger by wellohorld.… oh, and I want to charge you $1100 for it.

Selphyl is a new facial filler made from people! It’s people! your own blood. (Yeah, not much better than the struckthrough version, is it?) Known popularly as “Dracula Therapy,” it is the newest thing hitting dermatologists’ and plastic surgeons’ offices worldwide. I wonder if you can get a Twilight/True Blood/Buffy/Selphyl combo pack discount?

According to Selphyl.com,

“The SELPHYL™ System enables the safe and rapid preparation of autologous Platelet-rich Plasma (PRP) and an activated Platelet-rich Fibrin Matrix (PRFM)…. The SELPHYL™ System is an autologous platelet and fibrin processing system, which uses your own blood to prepare a product enabling the administration of your concentrated platelets and tissue building elements (Platelet-Rich Fibrin Matrix or PRFM)…. SELPHYL™ is designed to enable physicians to collect and process your own natural tissue building elements for administration. SELPHYL™ prepared PRFM can be applied just below the surface of the skin.”

I think they are hoping that if they throw enough acronyms at you, you will forget that what lies behind the acronyms is a procedure involving the extraction, centrifuging, and reinjection of People! stuff they just siphoned out of your own body. The website says that the procedure yields 4 cc’s of “product,” which is enough for facial contouring. After the initial swelling goes down, results may be seen as soon as 3 weeks after the procedure.

I know that we already inject our faces with botulism toxin, hydroxylapatite (found only in human bones!), collagen extracted from the skin of cows, and human fat (home-grown by you). So I don’t know why this one seems worse to me. Maybe it’s just the last straw. Also, given that the procedure is so simple (you can read the directions on their website, for heaven’s sake), I don’t quite know why it costs $1100 per shot. I mean, geez, I could get a bit over an ounce of Clé de Peau Beauté Synactif Intensive Cream for that kind of money!

Would you do it?

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wellohorld/ / CC BY 2.0

Review: Clarisonic Skin Cleansing Brush

clarisonic 1The holidays are coming up, and I can’t think of a single better beauty purchase to find sitting under the tree, stuffed in your stocking, wrapped in gold foil, pinned to your Yule log, or tied up with a “Happy Winter Solstice!” bow on it than a Clarisonic. I bought mine last year around this time and it is still the best beauty purchase I’ve ever made. Yes, it cost me $200, but I haven’t regretted one copper penny of it. Not one.

The Clarisonic is the equivalent of a sonic toothbrush for your skin. It uses sonic vibrations to help loosen and remove dirt, makeup, and surface oils from your face. The inside of the brush (inside the black circle) rotates back and forth, very very fast, in tiny arcs. The bristles do not actually scrub your face (more on this in a minute); the sound waves loosen the debris and the bristles of the brush help sweep them away.

When the Clarisonic first came out, many people were upset because it didn’t seem to exfoliate as well as they had expected. This is because that’s not what it’s for. That’s what I meant when I said the bristles do not scrub your skin. This is not like taking a carpet cleaner to your face, which a) is good, and b) is what some people evidently expected from looking at the product. You are not supposed to scrub at your face with this piece of equipment; you move it around your face slowly with very-light-to-no pressure and it does all the work.

It comes from the factory with some pre-set timings; the default is a one-minute cleansing cycle in which 20 seconds are spent on the forehead, 20 seconds on the nose and chin, and 10 on each cheek. The handset beeps to tell you when it’s time to move on to the next area. You can change these settings, although I’ve seen tax forms that were more intuitive than the directions for this process. It comes with one of three different brush heads: normal, sensitive (what I use), and delicate (which the company says is safe for people with rosacea, but I’ll let someone else talk about that!). The brush heads should be replaced every 3 months. They cost $25 each, but now these are starting to be marketed in multi-packs at a discount, so that’s all to the good.

The box includes some sample size cleansers, but I wasn’t a fan of them so I use it with my regular cleanser and it works just fine. From the first time I used it, I was really taken aback by how clean my skin looked. I mean, I had thought my skin was clean before, but it reached heights of cleanliness that may even have transcended godliness, not just been next to it. I use it either once or twice a day; overuse makes my skin a little sensitive, so every now and again I give it a rest.

Since I bought mine, they have come out with some smaller models that run about $150, so you can get one for slightly less than I paid, but there’s no question that this is a significant outlay of funds. However, think of the two or three facials you won’t be needing, and it suddenly becomes a good investment. If you ask Santa for one, tell him he should get it at a store with a good return policy (like Sephora) so that you won’t have any trouble taking it back if you find it’s not for you.


Clarisonic Skin Cleansing Brush: $145-$225

Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): Excellent (albeit spendy).

Purchase again? Absolutely, though I hope I never need to!

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Math Skillz: Price per ounce

DSCF0129 by Krissyho.You know, I kept thinking about that “what if money were no object” question from last week. And so I thought I’d see what the most expensive kinds of things were that one could buy in the skincare department. (There were several more I would have included but the websites did not list how many ounces of product were in the container, which in all cases looked absurdly small.)


Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Shampoo: $140 for 12 oz. = $11.67 per ounce

OK, ounce for ounce this isn’t the most expensive product in this post, but it’s a SHAMPOO. One that costs ONE HUNDRED FORTY DOLLARS.

Creme de la Mer: $130 for 1 oz. You know, before I did this post, I used to think this was outrageously expensive. I see now that I should have saved my outrage.

Amore Pacific Time Response Renewal Creme: $400 for 1.7 oz. = $235.29 per ounce

Darphine Predermine Replenishing Anti-Wrinkle Serum: $325 for 10 0.1-oz ampules = $325 per ounce

Perricone MD Neuropeptide Eye Contour: $195 for 0.5 oz. = $390 per ounce

Kanebo Sensai Collection Premier The Cream: $650 for 1.4 oz. = $464.29 per ounce

Sisley Paris Sisleya Daily Line Reducer: $498 for 1 oz.

Clé de Peau Beauté La Creme: $500 for 1 oz.

Chantecaille Nano Gold Energizing Eye Cream: $260 for 0.5 oz. = $520 per ounce

La Prairie Pure Gold Platinum Radiance Concentrate: $570 for 1 oz.

La Prairie Cellular Cream Platinum Rare: $1,000 for 1.7 oz. = $588.24 per ounce

ReVive Intensite Volumizing Serum: $600 for 1 oz.

Clé de Peau Beauté Synactif Intensive Cream: $1,000 for 1 oz.


Suddenly, I don’t feel so bad about spending $40 on a moisturizer now.

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/missyho/ / CC BY-ND 2.0

Review: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm

decleor angeliqueTo me, Decléor is a brand that has always communicated luxury and mystique. This is mostly because I think their packaging is incredibly alluring (take a look at this, and this) — who knows what miraculous elixirs and potions might be housed within those seductive and mysterious bottles, bottles that whisper to be held and caressed and gently opened to reveal the exotic unguents within? Unfortunately, they’ve been launching more and more products in boring, ordinary squeeze tubes rather than little glass ampules, and as hard as I try I just can’t seem to get up the urge to caress a plastic squeeze bottle.

Also, a disturbing number of their products seem to be yellow. Case in point: Decleor Aromessence Angelique Night Balm.

Decléor was one of the first major lines to incorporate aromatherapy and essential oils in their skincare products (35 years ago, believe it or not; how time flies). The Angelique products have essential oil of angelica in them; this line is designed for dry skin. Most of the Aromessence products also come in a Ylang-Ylang version for oily skin and a Neroli (yum) version for normal skin.

One thing I like about this product is the simple list of ingredients, which reads merely:

Essential Oils (Rosemary, Geranium, Chamomile, Angelica), Plant Oils (Borage, Avocado, Red Palm), Essential Waxes (Narcissus, Rose, Cassia).

I bought this one winter when I was having a lot of dry, flaky undereye skin and I wanted something really emollient. The saleswoman at Sephora gave me samples of several products, and this was the best of what I tried at that time, even though it’s not specifically a product for the eyes. It is, indeed, extremely emollient. In fact, it is so emollient (it is, after all, oils and waxes) that it might be too much for some people. I haven’t tried the oily- or normal-skin versions; it might seem paradoxical to put a balm of waxes and essential oils on oily skin, but I have recently come around to thinking that that might actually work in some cases.

In the manner of saleswomen, this one told me that this product would “help my dry skin learn to heal itself.” Uh… maybe my skin didn’t study enough, or needed tutoring or something. I didn’t notice any lasting change in my skin from continual use. I still use it as an undereye balm in winter (sometimes at night), and during the driest and coldest days of winter I use it as a face balm also.

To use this as an undereye balm, apply a small (tiny, minuscule, almost-invisible) amount with your ring finger. To use it as a balm for the whole face, take an only-slightly-less-tiny amount and rub it between your hands to warm it. Pat gently and lightly (but thoroughly) over the face. I’m not a fan of rubbing or pressing this product in; the patting works just fine for me. The warmth of your skin helps distribute the product evenly over your face.

If you want to really enjoy your Decléor products, I highly recommend that you do not look at the price tag, because this is one expensive line. On the other hand, the products last forever, so you’ll probably only ever need to buy one.


Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? No (it’s a nice product, but I can’t imagine ever running out or needing to purchase another one)

(Have you used this product? Love it? Hate it? Want it? Let us know in the comments!)

Review: Smashbox HALO Hydrating Eyeshadow

smashboxThese eyeshadows are so brand spanking new that they’re not even in stores yet. I bought this one from QVC (my first QVC purchase!) in what was, I suppose, a “pre-sale,” and it was just shipped out last week, arriving at my door today.

These eyeshadows are companion products to Smashbox’s HALO Hydrating Perfecting Powder, which claims to both hydrate and reduce wrinkles. (It’s a powder, right? This one is going into the Skeptic Files for me, but I’d be happy to test it if it came my way.) The packaging is like the HALO powder foundation packaging — the powder is tightly pressed in the container and you turn the perforated metal center to shave off a precision amount of product. Kind of like a cheese grater for cosmetics. Sounds strange, but the packaging has won awards. In the case of this eyeshadow duo, the darker color is in the center and the lighter on the outside, with a thin metal wall between the two concentric areas to ensure they don’t mix together.

Of the four color combinations available, I chose “Petal/Plum,” which (unsurprisingly) is a light pink/dusky purple combination. The QVC package also included two Smashbox brushes: #3 (blending brush; left) and #10 (crease brush; right).

On application, the eyeshadow does feel very smooth. The powder is a nice consistency when it comes out and is easy to apply (and the brushes are of very good quality and are themselves worth the price of admission). However, it’s also disappointingly unsaturated, especially the plum shade, which I expected to be more vibrant. There just isn’t a whole lot of color in this color. My Sagittarian nature means I’m easily annoyed by people trying to think for me, and the packaging, albeit clever, pushes those buttons as well. As you can see from the photo, turning the grater will shave off a lot more “petal” than “plum.” I assume that the fine folks at Smashbox have calculated the proportions of each product they think you will need to produce a nicely shadowed eye, but given how unsaturated the colors are, I had to keep grating out tons of “petal” to get enough “plum” to be even slightly visible on my skin. Now I have all of this “petal” left over, which I find a frustrating waste.

The big question, of course, is whether it will actually hydrate and/or reduce wrinkles in the eye area. We’ll see.


Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): good, if the product works for you

Purchase again? Not in these colors; would test other colors in stores to see saturation levels and if the percentage of each shade that the packaging doles out is the right ratio for my skin. The brushes, while perhaps not my absolute favorites, are quite nice and definitely keepers.

Review: Ole Henriksen Roll-On Blemish Attack

ole_hI’m a big fan of some other Ole Henriksen products, so I thought I’d give this one a try. Although I’ve had almost no breakouts since I bought my Clarisonic (about which you will definitely be hearing more in future posts), from time to time I go to sleep without washing my face stress gets the better of me and I end up with a blemish.

One of the things I found appealing about this was that it was a roll-on, which I thought was fabulous. Those of you who have used benzoyl peroxide products for acne control probably (if you are at all like me) have some tell-tale spots on pillowcases, pajamas, or towels where the benzoyl peroxide has bleached them. (OK, maybe I’m the only one who’s that klutzy.) But a roll-on! I thought, with, frankly, glee. Just roll that baby right over the pimple — no benzoyl peroxide ever getting on my hands, and therefore no benzoyl peroxide ever getting on anything else. All right, I would still have to take off my nice pillowcases to sleep with the stuff on, but hands-free application was a big step forward as far as I was concerned.

Unfortunately, the product directions tell you to use the rollerball to apply the product to your finger, and then use your finger to apply it to the blemish.


(What’s the point of the roll-on, then? Really, what’s the point?)

The product does do a reasonable job with helping to kill bacteria and shrink pimples; the benzoyl peroxide (5%) is joined by salicylic acid, kaolin, and zinc, so there’s a nice handful of helpful ingredients in there. However, this one for me was only OK, and not worth a repurchase, especially since it’s very unlikely I’d get through the whole bottle before the expiration date. I also think it’s strange that it’s not in opaque packaging, since benzoyl peroxide loses efficacy when exposed to light, and the clear glass roll-on container isn’t helping there. I suppose you could just vow to keep the thing in a drawer, but it just seems like there might have been a better packaging decision that could have been made there.

It has Sephora’s “natural” seal, though given the lack of regulation of the term “natural” (which is why it appears in quotes in categories/tags on this blog), that may or may not be saying much.


Provenance: Purchased

Price/Value Ratio (high-end: poor/fair/good/excellent): fair

Purchase again? No