Oct 18, 2012

Saved by the Ball: Win Your Way to New Year's Eve in Times Square

On a pleasantly warm October night overlooking Times Square, I shared a seat with Mario Lopez. If, like me, you have entire Saved by the Bell episodes memorized and feel oddly connected to Mario Lopez and fiance Courtney Mazza due to obsessively watching their (way too short-lived) reality show, then you can imagine how hard it was to maintain my cool. The couple was there to announce that they will be the hosts of the Nivea Kiss Stage in Times Square this New Year's Eve. In even better news, Nivea is giving one couple the chance to win a trip to spend New Year's Eve with Mario and Courtney in Times Square.


After the couple announced that they would teaming up with the Nivea Kiss Stage, I had a chance to sit down with Mario and Courtney alongside my friend Rachna from Urban Milan to chat about what made them decide to join Nivea in selecting the Kiss of the Year, how they've managed to keep the romance after becoming parents, and of course, their favorite beauty products. 


Mario shared that he and Courtney love Nivea's commitment to taking time to show love and affection for your partner. "Spending our first New Year's as husband and wife in the city where we fell in love and had our first kiss is incredibly special." Mario also shared that their wedding will air December 8th on TLC. Not every moment in their lives proves quite as romantic since the couple has been parents to two year old Gia. According to Courtney, "making time for date nights" has become a priority for the couple, something that is sure to become even more difficult now that Mario is the recently announced host of The X Factor.

After staring at Courtney's perfect smokey eye, ridiculously long lashes, and chiseled cheek contouring, I had to ask her go to beauty brands. Courtney prefers the 130 year old Japanese powerhouse Shiseido and Giorgio Armani Makeup, proving her excellent taste in not only men but also cosmetics. Forget the VIP treatment in the epicenter of Times Square festivities on New Years Eve, I may enter the contest just to get more makeup tips from Courtney.

The Times Square Ball
You can enter Nivea's Kiss of the Year contest from October 18th to November 7th at Facebook.com/NiveaUSA. Mario and Courtney will head up the panel to select three couples who will then be flown to New York City to appear on The Wendy Williams Show. The public will then vote for their favorite couple online. More information on the contest is available here; good luck to all! 

Oct 15, 2012

Chambray Shirt Salvation

Haunted by childhood memories of my denim jacket decorated with glow in the dark, sparkly puffy paint that declared "I Love Jesus" across the back, I was justifably slow to embrace the denim or chambray shirt trend. I'm not sure if you can even call it a trend anymore or if people are just still rocking their purchases from previous seasons.

Nonetheless, I've been on the hunt for the perfect chambray shirt for awhile now. I've tried on maybe a dozen and they were either too ill fitting for my abnormally long torso, too expensive, or made me feel like a cowgirl, and not in the good kind of way. Breaking news, I have finally found my chambray at the most unexpected of places- PayHalf! The discount store takes a little sighing but for $19.99 I am a happy little denim wearing gal again. Now if I could just find some glow in the dark puffy paint...


Oct 13, 2012

The Accidental Caudalie Vinexpert Spy

I didn't mean to sneak my phone into the spa treatment room. Sneaking may be an exaggeration because certainly you have the right to bring your phone wherever you like, whether or not you will be unable to actually see the phone due to a red vine, ivy, horse chestnut and moisturizing sodium hyaluronate anti-dark circle eye contour patch getting in the way. It was out of pure habit, I guess, that my phone ended up in the large pocket of the plush robe I'd changed into prior to my Vinexpert facial at the Caudalie Spa at the Plaza Hotel press launch.


Once the Vinexpert facial began, the green blinking of my phone that was sure to be permeating through the robe pocket was quickly forgotten. The facial started with a lifting massage that was designed to smooth and plump the skin and also included a shoulder, neck, hand, leg and foot massage throughout the hour. The products used in the facial are part of the relaunched Vinexpert line which has been improved to include Caudalie's fourth exclusive patent for active ingredient Resveratrol-Oleyl. Recognized by Harvard's Department of Medicine as being among the best anti-aging molecules,  Resveratrol is recognized in the field of cell degeneration research for its healing properties. In order to prove the effectiveness of Resveratrol-Oleyl, Caudalie partnered with Mount Sinai in "the first in-vivo study in humans to dissect the effects of Resveratrol-containing creams on skin at a genetic level" according to Dr. Ellen Marmur. The results of the study include significant improvement in the appearance of deep wrinkles, crow's feet and skin quality for 78% of participants, skin firmness for 72% and 89% saw an improvement in skin texture. Even though wrinkles are not my primary skin concern at this time, the treatment nourished my skin cells leaving my skin moisturized and more radiant.    


I had just returned from my 48 hours in Warsaw, meaning my initial attempts at discussion of what was being done during the facial soon faded into a very quiet, relaxed silence. The silence became mandatory when the reshaping thermal mask was applied at the end of the facial, a mask that is painted onto your face over cotton strips hardening over time, its heat boosting penetration and effectiveness of the Vinexpert Serum. Having the treatment over your mouth is optional, but I'll always opt for smoother, plumper lips so I went for it, with no discomfort at all despite my initial fears I may find it constrictive and hyperventilate or something.  


When the aesthetician stepped out of the room at the end of the treatment, I immediately ran to my phone suddenly energized by the need to get a shot of the hardened mask just sitting on the counter. This turned into stealth photo mode within the treatment room and my accidental choice to bring in my phone felt quite justified even if I did feel like an undercover spy. Are all spies undercover actually? Strike that, just a spy. As it turns out, I will make a hideous mummy some day.


Caudalie's Vinexpert Firming Serum can be purchased online through Birchbox, or purchase items from the entire Vinexpert line at US.Caudalie.com or at Sephora. If you're interested in pampering yourself with an amazing facial, book an appointment now.  


Please read disclosure statement as this review includes samples received.

Oct 5, 2012

Beauty Unbiased Turns One Today!


A year ago today, Beauty Unbiased started with a dream and an Emerson quote. The dream was to write, something I've been doing since elementary school when I was creating stories about fictional pregnant teens giving up their babies for adoption. The topic seemed poignant to a ten year old who spent way too much time reading contemporary Christian novels and hearing her parents discuss their volunteer work at the Crisis Pregnancy Center. The problem was that I spent so much time focusing on how to describe the hair, makeup and clothing for these mini-novellas that I often got distracted before creating an actual story line. In retrospect, perhaps I can pinpoint the birth of Beauty Unbiased after a particularly fierce argument with my writing partner (and best friend) about her choice of the main character wearing a scrunchie. 

Today marks the first anniversary of Beauty Unbiased, a milestone that I was uncertain I would even meet when I first started blogging. My first few posts are evidence that I had no clue what I was doing but that I was ‘just excited to be here’. This year has taken me on incredible adventures including covering beauty backstage and from the front row at New York Fashion Week, numerous events (including my own Benefit House Party) being an alternate in the Allure Beauty Blogger Awards contest and of course my recent opportunity exploring the cosmetics industry in Poland. I’ve also been introduced to amazing brands that I never knew existed and now cannot bear to live without. But the best thing of all that has happened in this past year has been meeting so many wonderful, supportive, and inspiring people along the way. 

My goal for the upcoming year at Beauty Unbiased is to bring you more consistent content on makeup, skincare, and hair, as well as keeping you in the know with exclusive beauty news, event coverage, and interviews. And rest assured that I’m definitely committed to keeping this site a scrunchie free zone that encourages diversity and celebrating all types of beauty. 


Oct 4, 2012

Birchbox and goop Special Edition Box for October

Another month, another new collaboration for Birchbox! In what is arguably the prettiest collaboration box yet (I'm already anticipating the need to quell the urge to cradle the box in my arms and pet it while saying "Pretty bird" Dumb & Dumber style), this October Birchbox is introducing their subscribers to what lifestyle website goop has to offer. I admittedly know very little about goop other than the fact that Gwyneth Paltrow helped create the site in 2008 and one of my go to daily reads, Jezebel.com, has often poked fun at the site. Time has taught me to take everything posted by a Gawker owned site with a grain of super-sized sea salt, and I'm looking forward to exploring more about goop through my October box. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty pumped  to have a box with Gwyn and staff approved beauty samples. My ultimate hope for the box? Please oh please let the secret to Gwyneth's perfect hair be revealed.

If for some inexplicable reason you are not yet a member of Birchbox (what's wrong with you, it's only $10 a month and it fits inside your mailbox unlike some other beauty boxes), you can still sign up for the limited edition goop box at Birchbox.com/goop.

Oct 3, 2012

Face Off: Kiehl's Creme de Corps Lotion vs. Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream


Something has been troubling me lately. I find myself asking the same question over and over, with little resolution. The thought that's been gnawing at me? I simply cannot seem to decide which is better, Kiehl's Creme de Corps or Fresh Seaberry Lotion. To absolve myself of the beauty voices in my head and in the same vein of my Prove It! challenges, I'm launching a new initiative: Face Off.   

Face Off will take two similar products and pit them against each other in order to compare the main selling points of each. The first Face Off falls under what I call the Basic Beauty category: body lotion. While it doesn't have the glitz and glam of a bold lipstick, a good body lotion can transform your skin and serves as a vital part of my personal daily beauty ritual. After recently discovering Kiehl's and Fresh's lotions, I fell for both of them pretty hard and now cannot seem to figure out which one to buy full size.

Allow me to introduce you to The Face Off contenders: Kiehl's Creme de Corps versus Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream.

Image from Birchbox.com
    • The formula has been popular for over 40 years old
    • The phrase 'Creme de Corps' is a fancy aka French way of saying Body Cream 
    • Truly fragrance free
    • Price ranges from $11-$70, from 2 oz to 1 liter; standard size is 8.4 oz at $29.50
    • Star Ingredients: Squalane; Beta Carotene; Cocoa Butter; Sesame Oil
    • Contains Parabens  



Image from Fresh.com
    • Seaberry Oil has been used as a natural cure for generations in Siberia, the childhood home of Fresh's co-founder Lev Glazmen
    • The word Restorative in the title refers to seaberry oil's restorative properties 
    • Lightly scented with a lavender fragrance
    • Price point is $28.50 for 8.12 oz; only available in one size
    • Star Ingredients: Seaberry Oil; Cranberry Seed Oil; Sal Seed Butter; Sea Lavender (note: also contains squalane but this is not advertised as a "key" ingredient) 
    • Paraben-free
And the winner is... still not clear to me. If you see a clear winner or have a preference based on trying either product, please help me out on this one by letting me know which you'd choose.