Beauty Unbiased: November 2011

World AIDS Day 2011

Over 33 million people worldwide are living with HIV and AIDS today, according to the World Health Organization. Every December 1st marks World AIDS Day, a day to bring awareness, raise funds and honor those who have been affected by this disease. Whether you are an expert or a complete novice on HIV/AIDS, there are simple ways to get involved and start contributing towards World AIDS Day 2011's goal of "Getting To Zero".
Photo of Rapid Test Strips from

1. Donate HIV Test Strips through UNICEF: UNICEF has amazing inspired gifts, where anyone can purchase a specific item that is then sent immediately to a high needs are. This World AIDS Day, you can give back with the purchase of HIV test strips provided to pregnant women and mothers in developing countries. Rapid test strips are invaluable for both mother and the child's health. Purchase these test strips for $125 through UNICEF.

2. Purchase from MAC's Viva Glam line: Every cent of MAC's Viva Glam products goes directly to the MAC AIDS Fund supporting men, women and children impacted by HIV and AIDS. Year round you can purchase Viva Glam products, but take the time on World AIDS Day to discover the lipstick shades created by Lady Gaga. The Melt Your Heart lip bag includes two Lady Gaga Viva Glam Gaga lipsticks in a red metallic makeup bag, available for $36 through MAC and many department stores.

Beauty Unbiased Goes to the Ball: UNICEF Snowflake Ball 2011

Dress by Diane Von Furstenberg,
via Rent the Runway 
Hair by DryBar
Proof that karma is real and thanks to a generous donation by Téa Leoni I was given the opportunity to attend the 2011 UNICEF Snowflake Ball at Cipriani's last night. My affiliation with UNICEF as a volunteer for the UNICEF Tap Project over the past three years has deepened my admiration for the organization which provides food, clean water, immunizations, and even schools for the most impoverished children worldwide. The Snowflake Ball is an annual black tie event and fundraiser that brings out celebrities, philanthropists, and this year a table of slightly rowdy volunteers, together for a night of inspiring UNICEF stories, decadent food, and a sing-a-long with my new girl crush Natasha Beddingfield. Well, in actuality it wasn't supposed to be a sing-a-long.

It was during cocktail hour standing next to Adrien Brody as I watched Kevin Jonas and his wife Danielle holding hands across the room that I realized the event may actually live up to the excitement and hype that up until this point had all only been in my head. The evening began with two songs by the Young People's Chorus of New York City, wearing colorful headbands that I would have killed for in junior high school.  Finding the perfect balance to the important yet somber realities of international disasters and child poverty is no easy task, but host Andy Cohen was certainly up for the job. Andy introduced Caryl M. Stern, President and Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF who shared several touching stories about the vital work of UNICEF. After an award was given to Prudential for their partnership with UNICEF, the Audrey Hepburn Humanitarian Award went to the Executive Director of the Japan Committee for UNICEF, Ken Hayami. Mr. Hayami received a standing ovation from the audience as he shared the struggles of the people of Japan after the March 2011 earthquake and thanked UNICEF donors.

The auction featured UNICEF inspired gifts such as mosquito netting and an SUV built for rural areas, as well as a private dinner for 12 cooked by Marcus Samuelsson and Tickets to Watch What Happens Live and cocktails with Andy Cohen. The grand finale of the evening featured several songs performed by Natasha Bedingfield, clad in mod high waisted black tuxedo pants and wearing a gorgeous coral lipstick. A personal highlight for Beauty Unbiased was being introduced to the lovely Christina Zilber, Founder and Creative Director of Jouer Cosmetics. Christina is also an Advisory Board Member for the Southern California Chapter of UNICEF and even designed this ridiculously adorable charm necklace for UNICEF.  

Following the event my night can best be described by Jay-Z: "After the show is the after-party, and after the party is the hotel lobby..." which is just a fancy way to say, after the Snowflake Ball we went to the hotel lobby (or bar) across the street to finish off the night. Jay may have meant something different, but those were pre-Beyonce years, I hope. So close to the end and here I go digressing. There I met blogger Ashley from Ashley and New York, a California native recently transplanted to New York and blogging about her NYC adventures. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a UNICEF event, donate to UNICEF, or even volunteer yourself, please do! Volunteers and restaurants are need for the UNICEF Tap Project campaign. More information at Trust me, you will never regret giving back.

UNICEF Volunteers and Staff

Holiday Makeup Look: Thanksgiving Edition

2011 MUC Challenge- Happy Thanksgiving Edition:

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint in Enchanted
Sephora Blush Me
Sephora Liquid Liner in Glitter Black
Neutrogena eyeshadow- pink and brown shimmer
Benefit They're Real! Mascara
Laura Mercier Concealer
Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint

The Perfect Thanksgiving Side Dish- Sweet Potato Souffle

The kitchen in my studio apartment doesn't even have an oven in it. Which is my perfect excuse to order take out for dinner more often than any normal healthy 20 something year old should. But when it comes to the holidays, there is nothing like a home cooked meal to make up for the sins of your multitude of orders. Last Thanksgiving I was inspired to cook a few dishes for my family Thanksgiving dinner, as a way to spend some time with my little brother and an excuse to use a real kitchen at my parent's house. I found this recipe which I have renamed the Sweet Potato Souffle but is actually a Ruth Chris inspired recipe for their Sweet Potato Casserole. I just hate the name casserole, and souffle sounded so much French-er and prettier. This recipe was such a hit that for the first time in my LIFE people were asking me for the recipe as well as wanting to pass the recipe on to their friends and family. It's also been requested that I cook it again this year, so I decided to spread the love from my home to yours by sharing the perfect side dish to bring to Thanksgiving. I came across this recipe on The Girl Who Ate Everything's blog which linked back to a chef from Ruth Chris' video and recipe:

Photo from The Girl Who Ate Everything
Ruth's Chris special sweet potato casserole - aka Beauty Unbiased Sweet Potato Souffle
Makes 12 servings

1 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans preferred)
1/3 stick butter, melted
Combine brown sugar, flour, nuts and butter in mixing bowl. Set aside.

Sweet Potato Mixture
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, well beaten
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a medium-size casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Combine sweet potatoes, sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs and butter in a large mixing bowl in the order listed. Beat thoroughly with a hand mixer to increase the fluffiness of the sweet potato mixture.

Pour mixture into the baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes. (At this point, dish can be covered and refrigerated.)
Sprinkle the surface of the sweet potato mixture evenly with the crust mixture and return to oven for 10 minutes. Allow to set at least 30 minutes before serving.

The brown sugar and pecan crust should be slightly browned and crunchy.

Relax and Unplug 2011 MUC Look- Sephora Color Diary

Today's 2011 Makeup Challenge Look comes from a larger palette- the Sephora Color Diary. With six different smaller palette options to choose from, each with six eyeshadows, a blush, and a lipgloss I'm often too overwhelmed by this kit to even use it on a daily basis. The MUC has been leading me to re-discover products I've long forgotten in my makeup drawer and the Relax and Unplug palette reunited with me for a punched up work look today.

Get Your Glitter On: Urban Decay Ziggy Nail Polish

 The glitter nail polish trend only seems to be picking up steam as the Holiday season brings with it the excuse to wear the sparkliest accessories and outfits one can muster the courage to combine. I've loved the fun, playful look of glittery nail polish from afar but when I won the Urban Decay Holiday Nail Kit from Real Beauty I was most excited to try out Ziggy, a gold based polish flecked with purple, green, and blue. While one coat would have added a bit of glitter to any color polish, two coats were sufficient to use on Ziggy on it's own. Perfect for my friend's bachelorette party weekend, without a top coat the color gentle faded in some areas but stayed put for the most part. Now that I've tried it I can't wait to paint my little nieces' nails over the holidays with this color. I was warned by some friends that glitter polish can be difficult to remove, but that's a small price to pay for a bit of fun.

Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint Review

It's not often that you come across a product that will increase lip moisture by 6000% in 28 days based on clinical testing but Tarte LipSurgence claims just that. I was introduced to Tarte LipSurgence just this week when Eva Chen, Beauty Director of Teen Vogue, responded to my question about her favorite lipstick shades of the moment during the hosted discussion. Since I'm one of those people who always has a lip balm or two (or three or six) in my possession at all times, even when I go for a run, a product that will increase my natural lip moisture would do me a world of good.

While it may bankrupt Chapstick, I've decided to take Tarte Cosmetics up on their 28 day claim with my Prove It Trial. While measuring the actual 6000% is a nearly impossible task without the help of a clinical lab, I will use my LipSurgence lip tint for 28 days and document the changes I experience. Anyone else interested in joining the Prove It Trial can purchase LipSurgence online through Tarte's website here or go to your local Sephora like I did for mine and pick one of the many shades available! I purchased Enchanted, however, in retrospect the Peaceful nude-peach may have been a better bet. I do like the subtle color though and I guess I'll have a signature lip shade for the next 28 days. Good luck to our lips!

P.S.: Eva Chen's favorite Tarte LipSurgence Lip Tint shade is Lust for inquiring minds.

UPDATE- Product Review 
My Prove It Trial has concluded and pictured to the left is what it left of my lip tint. Over my 28 days I grew to love the light minty scent and the sheer yet deeply moisturizing feel of the lip tint. What I didn't love was the pink stain left on my lips as the color faded over several hours of wear. All in all I would highly recommend checking out Tarte LipSurgence lip tints, just pick a more neutral color or a color you'll enjoy staying on your lips for a long period of time.

My First Facial

Tucked away on a lush road in Key West, Pranna Spa is as inviting and relaxing as sitting on your grandmother's front porch with a frosted over glass of lemonade. My grandmother didn't have a porch but I'm guessing if she did, it would be a lot like Pranna's entrance. Maybe that fantasy what lured me in for my first facial ever. I certainly was not planning to go to Key West and spend an hour of my time having things extracted from my face. At the time I had been struggling with acne which flared up after moving to New York City months earlier, where I knew not a soul and had recently started a graduate school program. Stress has always shown on my face, in subtle and not such subtle ways which is probably why I love beauty products so much. As my friend and I passed the spa I decided to stop in. I was quickly whisked away into a serene room with music playing and candles lit. For the most part the facial was relaxing, even for my troubled skin. There were a few moments of discomfort during the extraction process but there was an underlying feeling of satisfaction that my skin was finally receiving its due for all the trouble it was causing me. After that initial experience it was hard to top my first time, though a recent trip to the Plaza Hotel Caudalie Spa was another mind blowing spa experience. I recently ventured back to Key West and passed the spa (sadly it was closed for the day, but glad to see it is still up and running!) and had to take a picture to memorialize my first facial and share the experience.

2011 MUC- Everything But the Kitchen Sink

Everything that was part of my makeup process on 11/17/11 (including the bathroom sink, BUT not the kitchen sink):

Joeur Luminizing Moisture Tint
Bobbi Brown Champagne eyeshadow
Urban Decay 24-7 eyeglide
Sisley Express Flower Gel
Benefit They're Real Mascara
Laura Geller Spackle
Caudalie Premiere Cru Eyecream
Sisley Hydra Globe Moisturizer
Maybelline Mineral Power
Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer
Sephora Blush Me
Sephora Sunbaked No 2

Refinery 29 Launches Winter Warrior Nail Color Set

Refinery 29, the 360 degree website featuring fashion and beauty deals and trends, as well as hilariously random musings, launched the Refinery 29 Winter Warrior nail polish collection in collaboration with Color Club at the Blind Barber. Twas an unseasonably warm and drizzly New York autumn night at the speakeasy in the East Village. After a bit of chaos including an angry woman being turned away at the door and witnessing a near fight when a homeless man stole a cell phone and attempted to get away, I was allowed to enter the barbershop front which leads into the bar. Who doesn't love a secret entryway? I was relieved to find the Refinery 29 attendees much friendlier than the crowd outside, though I was surprised when no one attempted to top the earlier near fistfight while waiting in the long line for manicures.

Complimentary Dewar whiskey smash in hand, bag full of gummy bears from the dessert bar tucked into the crook of my arm, the Winter Warrior nail color collection begged to be explored. Six nail colors (pictured below) with an impressive range from the champagne shimmer of Swan Lake to the rich green of Happy Hunter provide a vast winter nail color options. It may be spring before you get through all of the Refinery 29 Winter Warrior nail colors, but what better way to get through the cold months ahead than with polish bursting with color.  

Dandelions and Roller Derbys-2011 MUC

#2011 MUC look of the day: 
  • Benefit's Dandelion Blush,
  • Mirenesse Secret Weapon Mascara,
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance,
  • Urban Decay's Roller Derby Palette

When the Fortune Cookie Speaks- You Listen

The fortune cookie gods must be enjoying my blog and Tweets- @BeautyUnbiased

BirchboxMAN Launches Limited Edition Box

Help the men in your life discover the finer things with the new limited edition Birchbox MAN box. For over a year Birchbox has been providing deluxe beauty product samples through their $10 a month subscription service for thousands of women across the country. Birchbox certainly has never disappointed in their efforts to expand their subscribers' beauty horizons, from innovative products by Caudalie to Incoco nail strips designed by Cynthia Rowley. Now Birchbox is going where few beauty experts have gone before- focusing solely on male geared products in their Birchbox Man limited edition box. For only $45, the Birchbox Man box includes not only tools for men to groom on the go and keep moisturized this winter, but also an actual gym bag, a gentlemanly pocket square and rockstar worthy SkullCandy headphones. Even the pickiest of men is sure to find an item or two they'll secretly fall in love with in this holiday gift jackpot.

Full contents of The Birchbox MAN box:

Anthony Logistics for Men:  Advanced Formula Lip Balm SPF 25 & Shave Cream
Jack Black:  Double-Duty Face Moisturizer SPF 20
Kerastase:  Pate Capital Force Densifying Modeling Paste; Bain Capital Force Densifying Shampoo & Homme Gym Bag
Bulgari Man: Eau De Toilette
Supersmile:  Professional Whitening Toothpaste
Bonobos:  Pocket Square & $25 Gift Card
Field Notes:  Notebook Mixed 3-pack
EBoost: Super Berry Shots
Skull Candy:  Houla Earbuds

That Sunday Glow

On the weekends I love using these particular products to spruce up my errand running and house cleaning since they  give a subtle glow, just the right amount of color, all with minimal time & effort: Smashbox O-Glow gel blush, Benefit's Girl Meets Pearl, NARS Illuminator in Orgasm, Blinc tubing mascara, and Joeur Luminizing Moisture Tint.

2011 MUC- Refresh Your Face

#2011MUC for the day: Meet my afternoon/after work refresher team for the day: Too Faced Lash Injection, L'Occitane Desert Rose Lip Balm, Anastasia Hydrafull Gloss in 'Moi', and Laura Mercier Secret Concealer.

2011 Makeup Challenge- A Girl's Gotta Work

I'm excited to be joining the 2011 Makeup Challenge where beauty lovers are featuring products they've used that day. Making my 2011 MUC list today is my " Girl's Gotta Work" look. Simple yet polished with-- Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Wash Eyeshadow in Champagne, Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Whiskey, Anastasia's Brow-Highlighting Kit, and Benefit's They're Real! Mascara.

So just what IS the 2011 Makeup Challenge? Allow the founders of the challenge to do the honors of explaining since they describe it best:

"Determined to share their love of makeup and creativity with the world, a group of former (and current) beauty gals and bloggers decided to undertake a challenge: a look + photo a day in the months of November and December 2011. The goal? Revisit old favorites, find new must-haves, and get inspired by each other to create great looks every day! Want to get in on the fun? It’s easy, simply tweet your look of the day with #2011MUC and include a photo! Photos can be just of the products if you’re camera shy (like @SYMB)."

The Morning After with Sisley Cosmetics

There's nothing quite like discovering an unexpected package passively waiting for you, begging to be opened. You eye it, walk around it, gauge how large it is, what types of items could fit inside, and then finally ask yourself "Which online shopping addiction did I feed this time?" On this particular morning I was pleasantly surprised to find Sisley Cosmetics had mailed me over a few samples including the highly anticipated Black Rose Cream Mask. Having been a member of Birchbox for over a year you would think getting new samples would be pretty mundane for me. Somehow I only seem to get more excited with new samples over time. If you've never heard of Sisley Cosmetics, the French company known for their botanical and essential oil based products, is definitely on the high end of my scale, which ranges from 'Dirt Cheap' (and probably shouldn't be touching any part of the body) to 'Luxury Splurge' (please massage and bathe me in these products).

Sisley's Cleansing Milk with White Lily, Floral Toning Lotion, and Express Flower Gel Mask (don't the names alone make you want to slather them on your face?) were a welcome change to my face washing routine. Sisley's Moisturizers, including the Confort Extreme Day Skin Care with Linden Blossom and Mallow (those ingredients must grow in France, because I'm not sure what either Linden Blossom or Mallow actually are) and the Hydra Global Intense Anti-Aging Hydration were both excellent for my dry to combination skin. The day skin care product had some mixed reviews online, but for my skin it seemed to do the job of my regular moisturizer and then some. Quite frankly, I  recommend all of the above mentioned products, especially my favorite, the Express Flower Gel Mask which is like a leave-in conditioner for your face.

With each product holding a subtle and distinct botanical fragrance, Sisley Cosmetics' products provide a beauty experience across the senses. The Black Rose Cream Mask can be used two to three times a week, left on for 10-15 minutes, and removed with a cotton pad. The mask was lighter in consistency than I'd imagined it would to be- possibly because the word cream is in the title. It went on easily in a thin layer and was simple to remove. The immediate results were positive-- my skin felt soft, supple and smooth. While I liked it, it wasn't until the morning after when I did a double take in the mirror that I realized my skin was glowing and it still felt moisturized from my mask the day before. Sisley Cosmetic's are perfect as a holiday gift that will thrill a girlfriend, impress a mother in law, or spoil your own skin.

Monday Inspiration

Monday mornings hold with them the promise- and sometimes dread- of a new week. Sometimes I find the need for a little inspiration to kick start my week rather than giving in to the Monday complaints. Today's inspiration comes from a rather random source- actress Salma Hayek, pictured below with her adorable daughter meeting Disney princesses:

"People often say that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder,' and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves."      

Link to picture's source- Huffington Post

Benefit Cosmetics and 100 Layer Cake Girlie Night Out

Though I'm not getting married quite yet, I did find my Mr.(B)right tonight. Benefit Cosmetics new SoHo Boutique graciously included even the single gals like me at their Girlie Night Out, an event co-hosted by 100 Layer Cake and featuring delicious treats and champagne by the vivacious Little Miss Party Planner team and photo ops by Jen Huang Photography.  

By the end of the night I may or may not have planned most of my imaginary wedding in my head in addition to discovering and buying a new favorite mascara- Benefit's They're Real! Mascara. Honestly, I haven't been this impressed by what a mascara has done for my lashes in years. The free Finding Mr. Bright gift set with purchase sweetened the deal. Finally a recap of the evening would not be complete without mentioning the fabulous crowd of ladies that made it to the event! Benefit really knows how to pick 'em.

Tonight also marked an era of epic self-controlled proportions. For months I grew out my eyebrows after an unfortunate eyebrow threading salon incident following my move across town and trying to find a new salon. The one place I felt safe enough to suspend my trust issues? Benefit's new SoHo boutique. Erin who waxed my brows may have gained a new best friend.Opening about a month ago not only can you buy Benefit Cosmetic's  makeup and skincare products, you can also have a makeup lesson, get full body waxing services, and also spray tanning services at this ridiculously cute boutique.

Inheriting Beauty - Caudalie contest

While checking out the blog of fabulous vinotherapy facial products Caudalie USA, I came across a contest to win a copy of the book "Inheriting Beauty" by Roger Moenks. Featuring successful and influential women from across the globe, including founder of Caudalie Mathilde Thomas, this book highlights different ideas of beauty. Since I clearly love talking about beauty (so much that I started a blog), naturally I entered with this comment:

Beauty is all around if you are willing to find it. There is beauty in the warm sunshine as well as in the cold drizzling rain. Beauty is not only an opinion but also a state of mind. If we allow others to define what beauty is we will surely be encumbered with our own insecurities.

I won one of the copies of the book and was pleasantly surprised a few days later with a huge box featuring not only the beautiful Inheriting Beauty book, but also a box of Caudalie product samples. Proving to me once again that Caudalie knows how to treat not only their customers but even their blog commenters!