Book Review: Kate Somerville’s “Complexion Perfection”

Kate Somerville gave us beauty standards like ExfoliKate and Quench, so it really comes as no surprise that this guru of glow literally wrote the book on taking care of our skin.  Complexion Perfection!: Your Ultimate Guide to Beautiful Skin by Hollywood’s Leading Skin Health Expert ($27.50 at doesn’t kid around when it comes to keeping your skin in great shape.      Somerville starts on a personal level by sharing her story and the path that lead her to make skin care her career.  After she wins the reader’s trust, Somerville jumps right in to the nitty-gritty of skin health, attacking it from every conceivable angle.  The first big instruction: Stop stressing!  A rough emotional life will wear on the skin like no other.  As for the physical world, her Skin Health Pyramid consists of five steps:  At the bottom, Protect,  is followed by Hydrate, Feed, Stimulate, and Detox.  Within each of these essential steps, Somerville stresses the need to carry them out both externally with topical treatments, but also internally, with nourishing food and supplements.  Even better, she provides the reader with a series of do-it-yourself treatments for glowing skin at home.   After laying out the basics, she moves on to demystify clinical procedures, starting with fillers and moving on to Botox, lasers, and peels.  Her no-nonsense, no-judgment approach takes any remaining stigma and guesswork out of these office treatments.   Perhaps most impressively of all, Somerville finishes with fifteen case studies of clients.  She lays out a complete regimen of at-home and in-office treatment and documents the improvements over a ten-week period with stunning before and after photos.    Throughout the entire book, Somerville never loses sight of the fact that the skin is the body’s largest visible organ.  Not only is it the shell by which the world views us, but it’s our bodies’ first line of defense, and as such, it deserves respect and care.  There’s nothing superficial about wanting to put your best face forward, and this weighty tome gives everyone with access to a bookstore the tools to do just that.   – Katharine McKenzie  

The Perfect Scar Cocktail: Scartini (plus a Giveaway!)

When The Apprentice ex-contestant Erin Elmore heard the fateful words “You’re fired,” a beauty entrepreneur was born. Using her own insecurity about the scars she had as a springboard, Elmore decided that inventing an effective scar serum would be her next quest.

She teamed up with Dr. Shareef Jandali, Chief Plastic Surgery Resident at the University of Pennsylvania, and together they conceived and created a potent “cocktail” for scrapes, cuts, surgical incisions, burns, stretch marks, and acne scars called Scartini.

Being sick and tired of those awkward silicon strips that have to be cut to size and keep peeling off, we received our complimentary sample with open arms. It had a convenient rollerball applicator that only took a second twice a day to dispense the product on a couple of scars of our own. While the silicon strips make you wait six weeks to see any results, we saw changes within days when we started using Scartini.

Centella Asiatica and Lychee Extract are Scartini’s powerhouse ingredients. Centella Asiatica is a plant extract that decreases redness, speeds scar healing and boosts collagen production.

Likewise, Lychee is a moisturizing antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that decrease redness and promote skin cell repair. There are even anecdotal reports that Lychee promotes long-term skin hydration, encourages skin rejuvenation, prevents hyperpigmentation, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles.

One fan confirmed that after using Scartini as a makeup base, her skin looked more flawless and she saw a dramatic improvement in the fine lines around her eyes.

Scartini comes in a 7.5ml bottle and retails for $29.99 at To win a bottle, tell us why you should win a bottle and we’ll pick the winners within one week!!


Saturdate with Walgreens & Neutrogena Clinical

If you want a bunch of beauty offerings to put a smile in your day, then look no further than your local Walgreens. On Saturday, Neutrogena and the drugstore are offering a beautiful, blissful partnership — and the focus is on YOU.

Been a little curious about the Neutrogena Clinical line? Now, here’s your chance to ask your local beauty advisor what your skin really needs, and how you can have the skin that is as beautiful as a baby’s. Plus Walgreens Beauty Advisors will be able to tell you what items are new from Neutrogena — from the lipglosses to the eye brighteners.

And not to be missed are the perks that will brighten any girl’s lashes and her wallet. You will receive a free Healthy Lengths Mascara with any Neutrogena Clinical or Cosmetics purchase (a $8.99 value). Which means you can use that purposefully on another latte, right?

And say that you’re in the New York City area, visit the Flagship Walgreens store in Times Square for free Neutrogena Clinical Product Samples.

Whatever you do, or wherever you may be this Saturday, stop by and check out the buzz!


La Prairie Whisper Shades Spring Summer 2010 Collection

La Prairie recently killed two birds with one stone as they released their spring/summer collection, Whisper Shades, as designed by Color Ambassador Raychel Wade.

Not only does it give us something new to lust after for our spring make-up bags, but the new shades of lipstick and gloss fill some color holes in their existing collection. My own particular favorite is Quiet Fig Gloss, a deep, sparkling berry.

All the colors of this line are bright or strong, and complemented with their soft eyeshadow palette, Cellular Treatment Colour Ensemble in Les Lignes et Lumieres, which consists of two neutral shades and a pastel green and lavender. Likewise, last year La Prairie released a cool-toned illuminating powder that sat well on fair skin, so they rounded out their spring release with Cellular Treatment Illuminating Face Powder in Warm Glow, which gives just the barest of sparkles to warm-toned skin.

It’s a very grown up way to work the iridescent trend.

Overall, the collection brings to mind an impressionist painting with a canvas of gentle colors punctuated every now and then with a splash of bold color. The color collection can be purchased at Bloomingdale’s, Saks, and at


The Benefits of Face Serums: What is a Serum and do we need it?

It seems like every week there is a new must have beauty product. Our mothers and grandmothers relied on a Dove Bar and Ponds Cold Cream but there is always a new miracle cure for our generation. The beauty buzzword these days is Serum. Every magazine and blog you read and every skin care line has a new serum to rave about.

But what is a serum? Do we need it? Or is it just another layer in your skin care routine? What’s the difference between a serum and a moisturizer? And do we layer them? If so, which one goes on first? We asked the experts and here is what they had to say:

So what exactly is a serum? According to cosmetic chemist and founder Ron Robinson “Serums act as specialists. They are formulated to address specific skin concerns such as wrinkles, firming, age spots and discolorations. Serums can address needs that aren’t covered by a moisturizer.”

The structure of the molecules in a serum is generally smaller than that of a moisturizer, which allows the serum to penetrate deeper than a regular moisturizer. Serums can deliver vitamins, retinol and antioxidants to the skin to tackle any beauty issue.

“Serums are generally lighter in texture than moisturizers. They may also have a higher level of active ingredients compared to their moisturizer counterparts” says Robinson.

According to cosmetic chemist Ginger King, serums have some advantages over moisturizers or gels “Serums absorb quickly and are often non-conflicting with other bases. Gels may flake and creams may be too oily. Also serums can be oil free.”

As for whether a serum should be used along with a moisturizer, experts agree that serums and moisturizers can be used together. Most serums do not have moisturizing ingredients.

According to Robinson, “Most serums are geared for all skin types. But if you’re skin is very dry, you can layer a moisturizer over the serum.” King agrees saying “Moisturizers give the additional emollients that extra dry skin may need.”

So why are serums the must have beauty product? According to Robinson, “Serums have grown in the marketplace because of consumers need to address their special skin concerns.”

There are many serums out there to choose from. Some notable serums include:

Dr. Michelle Copeland SkinCare Rewind Advanced Day Serum, CellCeuticals CellGenesis Regenerative Skin Treatment, and Kate Somerville’s HydraKate Line Release Face Serum.

Catia Carvalho Trooskin


Chanel Particuliere Nail Lacquer Swatch

So I finally gave in. I tried to stand my ground. I tried to make the fiscally responsible decision. But after much deliberation and many failed attempts at duplicating it, I had to give in. What decision carried so much weight, you ask? Well, whether to plunk down the cash for a $23 bottle of Chanel Particuliere, of course.

$23 is more than reasonable for a blush, very inexpensive for a bronzer and just right for an eye shadow, but I try to keep my polish budget to OPI and Essie levels. Besides, I’ve never been a fan of Chanel‘s nail polish formula. I have always found it runny and chip-prone. But after trying every “close enough” shade (Hello! Essie “Mink Muffs”, Sally Hansen Complete Manicure “Commander in Chic” and even Shades by Barielle “Putty On Me”) nothing compares to the original. The warm mushroom taupe shade has no duplicate. Believe me I tried! By the time I made up my mind to splurge – Particuliere was sold out at Macy’s Herald and every other store I looked. So I ordered it online for all of its $23 (plus $7 for shipping) and it is so worth it.

I mean, ladies IT IS WORTH IT! The usual runny formula is so nice and thick. It applies evenly without streaks and dries incredibly shiny. And the color! Oh my, the color is fantastic! It’s a mix of taupe and mushroom and grey and makes all of the “close enough” shades nowhere near “close enough.” Now trust me, if you haven’t gotten your Particuliere yet, head on over to before it sells out.

Catia Carvalho Trooskin


Indie Makeup Brand Spotlight: Aromaleigh Mineral Makeup

We’ve been mineral makeup mavens since day one, starting with Paula Dorf’s professional line used by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and estheticians to soothe and protect inflamed skin after cosmetic procedures. Bare Escentuals was largely responsible for selling the product concept to mainstream consumers, and suddenly every beauty company was jumping on the bandwagon. Unfortunately, mass production became the name of the game.

A picture of Aromaleigh founder, Kristen Leigh Bell

Lately we find the best formulated products come from artisanal brands such as Aromaleigh. Since 1998, this independent online company has been micro-formulating its proprietary blends with the finest grade pigments, natural ingredients and botanicals. Aromaleigh products do not contain micronized ingredients or nano-particles.

Most products are micro-formulated by one extremely hands-on woman, company founder Kristen Leigh Bell. Kristen also maintains the website, makes the labels and-with a little help from her friends-packs the jars and ships the orders. There is no middleman, no advertising and no fancy packaging, all of which enables Aromaleigh to offer the highest-grade cosmetics at very affordable prices.

Being very fair-skinned, we were thrilled to find out that the palest of pale foundation shades are the specialty of the house. Aromaleigh offers a true matte foundation powder without Bismuth oxychloride in 31 shades and variable coverage. Special mention goes to cult favorite “Coquille Illuminating Corrective Powder” in “Lilas,” which imparts a subtle romantic pallor when used as an all-over finishing powder. Product prices range from about $13 to $17.

Staggering doesn’t begin to describe the seemingly endless array of colors in the eyeshadow collection, for $8 or less. The matte colors are truly matte and the frosts work even for the most frost-averse people like us. With 400 options to choose from, it’s a safe bet there’s something for everyone.

Aromaleigh offers free samples with every order and free shipping on sample orders as well as orders of $50 and up. Find these products at


Lumene Time Freeze Instant Serum, Vitamin C Protecting Day Cream, Sensitive Touch Daily Moisture Cream Reviews

I once walked into the beauty department of a “high-end” department store in China and saw Olay and Revlon sold in the beauty department behind a glass case. It always amazes me how brands can be so different depending on the country you’re in. Lumene is one of those brands that crosses over in that way. The Finnish brand is sold in department stores in Europe but you can find it at drugstores in the US. I always feel like I hit the jackpot when that happens – like I just scored a pair of Miu Miu platforms at TJMaxx. So it was with great pleasure that I accepted the task of testing and reviewing Lumene.

Now I admit that I am usually a little wary of testing skin care. I am afraid of strange red spots and allergies to unknown substances. Especially since it seems my 30′s (unlike my acne-prone teens and 20′s) is my good skin decade. I did not want to upset the balance and clarity that my skin has been experiencing, but I sacrificed in the interest of research and beauty reporting, of course.

Lumene Vitamin C Day Cream

I started with the Lumene Vitamin C+ Protecting Day Cream SPF 15 a moisturizing cream for all skin types that uses Arctic cloudberry – a small berry that has 2 times the vitamin C of an orange. Lumene products use ingredients grown in the Arctic. According to Lumene – plants grown in the arctic become more powerful than plants grown in any other area of the world – which makes the ingredients in Lumene products highly effective. $19.99

Lumene Sensitive Touch Cream

The Sensitive Touch Daily Moisture Cream was created to reduce redness and tightness and support the skin’s ability to protect itself against irritants. The formula was developed along with the Finnish Allergy and Asthma Federation and is free of mineral oils, parabens, alcohol, silicones and fragrance. The cream uses Arctic Linen Seed -which has healing powers and helps to reduce redness. $19.99.

Time Freeze Instant Lift Serum

Time Freeze Instant Lift Serum uses another Arctic ingredient – white peat – a Lumene exclusive ingredient that helps skin to keep its youthful firmness. Another ingredient is Finnish heather – an antioxidant that moisturizes skin and helps with skin pigmentation. White peat is delivered via nanoparticles, which help ingredients to preserve effectiveness while releasing ingredients in measured doses into the top layers of skin. $21.99

My impression of the Lumene products is that they are effective moisturizers with many innovative ingredients. There was no greasiness, even from the Lumene Vitamin C+ Protecting Day Cream SPF 15 – which I fully expected due to the SPF. I didn’t notice any immediate changes on my skin but I don’t expect instant results with any skin care. What stood out for me was that I tried so many new products within days of each other and did not have one single breakout or allergic reaction. Not one single breakout. Effective ingredients and clear skin – that’s a win-win situation.

Find Lumene at, Walgreens and

Catia Carvalho Trooskin


Wet ‘N Wild MegaLast Nail Lacquer Swatches, Spring 2010

At over $20 a pop, department store nail lacquers are pricey enough to obliterate our weekly grocery budget. Essie and OPI? Buh-bye vodka martinis, hello free glass of water. So in the mission to achieve the perfect budget-friendly manicure, we’ve discovered Wet n’ Wild MegaLast Nail Color.

We know what you’re thinking…Wet n’ Wild? As in, prime makeup product applied circa 1997 while obsessing over Dawson Leery and Joey Potter’s love affair? Yes, that’s the one, but it’s not for junior high school kids anymore. At $1.99 a bottle, MegaLast Nail Colors are recession friendly and cheap enough that you can load up on a variety of colors. But do they look as high quality as the top brands?

We’ve found that while one coat is far too sheer, two coats of any of the colors provides a professional-looking manicure. While claiming they last 5 days may be pushing it, we’ve had the same success with Wet n’ Wild’s MegaLast as much higher priced products, so we’re satisfied. Check out the color swatches below!

Under Your Spell: With the deep color of black cherries, we were instantly drawn to this shimmering burgundy and purple fusion for a night on the town

Through The Grapevine: A rich, muted berry-purple shade that that’s fun and flirty

Undercover: A muted pink that’s an ideal shade for serious work environments

Tropicalia: A neon-pink coral with a hint of orange that’s straight out of a 1980′s music video

Caught Red-Handed: The traditional va-va-voom cherry red

2% Milk: Appropriately titled, this peachy cream is straight from the dairy

Haze of Love: A deep, rich burgundy-purple that’s lighter and more muted than Under Your Spell

Candy-Licious: Bright bubble gum pink fit for a princess

Break The Ice: A sheer white shade for ice princesses who love sparkle and shimmer

Club Havana: Perfect for salsa-dancing the night away, this tomato-red color is absolutely en fuego


Aqua di Parma’s Bergamotto di Calabria; Givenchy’s Le Secret; Emilio Pucci’s Vivara Scents

No one expects a crop of heavy perfume for spring and summer, but the perfumers have outdone themselves to bring to life fruity florals with unexpected notes like tomato leaf and green tea. Sambac jasmine, patchouli, and musk also make appearances in more than one product. I recently sampled the latest olfactory offerings. I might have been lying in a field of artistically arranged wildflowers.

Aqua di Parma Bergamotto di Calabria

For an intense burst of sunshine, Aqua di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo new scent, Bergamotto di Calabria. This eau de toilette with top notes of bergamot (surprise,) a middle of cedar wood and red ginger, and a base of vetiver, Benzoin, and musk made me want to curl up and take a nap in an orange grove. It’s available at in 60ml ($70) and 120ml ($106), as well as a soft body cream ($67) for layering.

Givenchy Ange ou Demon Le Secret

Givenchy has debuted an alluring segment to its Ange ou Demon collection with Le Secret. While definitely coming down on the “Ange” side of fence, this innovative floral uses its top notes of Italian winter lemon, cranberry, and green tea leaves to make a fresh impression. The heart of sambac jasmine, white peony, and water flowers flows seamlessly into the base of blond woods, patchouli, and white musk. This eau de parfum comes as 30ml ($51,) 50ml ($73,) and 100ml ($95,) at Macy’s, Dillard’s, Sephora, and

Pucci Vivara

Emilio Pucci has introduced a trio of variations on his classic scent, Vivara. The first, Sole 149, features tomato leaf, sambac jasmine, and vetiver. The crisp green scent stands out among the crowd of florals. Acqua 330, the second, contains violet leaf, sea accord, and musk for a decidedly oceanic feel. The very last, Sabbia 167, uses tangerine, Florentine iris, and sandalwood to create a powdered sugar effect. Each of the trio are available as a 0.3oz travel spray ($23,) roller ball ($25,) and 1.7oz eau de toilette spray ($59.) And of course, the eye-catching Pucci print on the bottles gets them a front row spot on the vanity line-up.