Total Beauty: What Comes First?

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What Comes First, Eye Cream or Moisturizer?

Amp up products' effectiveness by applying serums, creams and treatments in the right order


Do antioxidant serums go before acne treatments? Eye cream before moisturizer? Does it matter? Read up to see what experts had to say about your morning and evening regimens.

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For the Men Fridays: Matte for Men

Sephora has released a new line just for men called Matte for Men. There are five products in this line, and it's quite comprehensive. They include:

  • Complete Head Care Lotion: an all-in-one moisturizer for face, neck, forehead, scalp, and ears
  • Antioxidant Shave Gel: A shaving cream alternative created for head and face
  • Complete Cleansing Cloths: an all-in-one cleansing and toning solution
  • Antioxidant Daily Facial Cleanser: foaming cleanser designed to clean without drying
  • MAN Powder: a body powder that keeps skin dry and comfortable

Looks like some great stocking stuffers at a fairly reasonable price. Available exclusively at Sephora.

Total Beauty: Worst Concealers Ever









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Worst Concealers Ever

These proclaimed dark circle and spot camouflagers left TotalBeauty.com readers utterly exposed


Concealer has the most important job of all -- to hide the imperfections we'd rather not show (agreed?). So when we read our reader reviews on these second-rate concealers, we had to share -- immediately!

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No. 8: MAC Select Moisturecover, $15.50

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 6.9*


"The color quickly disappeared and it didn't last long... and if it got wet, bam! It was gone in a flash..."

No. 7: CoverGirl Fresh Complexion Under Eye Concealer, $10.27

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 6.8*


"It doesn't really cover my under-eye shadows all that well, and that's after applying it twice."

No. 6: Avon BEYOND COLOR Radiant Lifting Concealer, $7

TotalBeauty.com average member rating: 6.7*


"The product sinks into fine lines and does not last throughout the day."

Want to see the rest of the list? Click here

Product Review: Flying Fox Shower Gel by Lush Cosmetics

I'm a Lush fan. Every year after the holidays I find myself a Lush store (kind of hard to do, the closest one to me is about 400 miles away) and grab their biggest gift sets, and then get my second one free. This enables me to have all my amazing Lush products for the rest of the year, almost. Although I will admit to refreshing the bath bomb collection periodically through the year.

So, really, I only do major Lush shopping once a year. That is, until I went in this year to sample some of their new products (all of which I will be writing about in short order). I walked out after spending $100 with some great stuff, but also a ton of wrapped gifts free! Talk about making my holidays a bit easier.

At any rate, I hadn't tried Flying Fox Shower Gel yet, but I had heard really good things about it. The description from Lush really says it all, I think:

Lots of women would love to believe that they were Cleopatra in a past life. Chances are though that they were somebody more like Mildred. Or Bob. Fortunately, a bunch of fabulous jasmine flowers decided to reincarnate as Flying Fox shower gel. Its infinitely sexy and mysterious scent makes any shower fit for a queen. And we added some honey so you can stay sweet in case all that power goes to your head. Divine!


Divine indeed. I've never been a huge jasmine person, finding that it's often just too sweet for my taste, but this might change my mind. It's gorgeous, and certainly not a one note wonder. You don't just get the jasmine with this one. There is something else there, and it's fantastic.

Another must have from Lush.

Flying Fox Shower Gel by LUSH, from $17.45 to $24.75. Available at LUSH or Amazon.com.

Holiday Gift Idea: Tiffany Style: 170 Years of Design

Do you have a Tiffany fanatic in your life? I admit that I love the brand, and purchase myself a little something every time I am in NYC. What I love about it is not the iconic association with Audrey Hepburn, but the design of the pieces. So beautiful, sleek, and chic. And Tiffany blue! Love.

The product description for Tiffany Style: 170 Years of Design states: In Tiffany Style, Tiffany’s design director John Loring gathers for the first time in one volume the most renowned and memorable pieces ever produced by the company. In this “best of Tiffany” collection, readers will find a spectacular array of objects, from Louis Comfort Tiffany’s famous lamps and vases to opulent silver tea sets to Andy Warhol’s whimsical Christmas illustrations to Elsa Peretti’s signature heart pendant. Drawing from a rich selection of design sketches and vintage and contemporary photography, all taken from Tiffany’s unparalleled archives, as well as new photography taken especially for this book by Harry Benson, Tiffany Style reveals the company’s fascinating history and evolution through its most unforgettable creations.

This belongs on my coffee table.

Tiffany Style: 170 Years of Design, $31.50, at Amazon.com.

Total Beauty: The Deodorant Challenge

TotalBeauty.com
The Deodorant Challenge

See which popular brand ranked No. 1


Tired of failing deodorant leaving our arms pinned at the end of the workday, we had three busy Pilates students put five buzz-generating brands -- natural and not -- to the test. View our countdown to see which product fared best.

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Holiday Gift Idea: Michael Kors Very Pretty

All this talk about Tom Ford has made me almost forget my main squeeze, Michael Kors. I do love me some Michael - he consistently makes fashion accessible to many, and his fragrances are among my favorites.

One that I haven't tried yet, although I'm dying to, is Michael Kors Very Pretty. Although the name sounds like something I'd find at my local Victoria's Secret, the description sounds wonderful.

Intense sparkling citrus drenched coconut meshed with sheer white florals add a touch of femininity. Sensual vetiver and lush sandalwood create a sophisticated balance, resulting in an indulgent floral interpretation of the original Michael Kors fragrance. Housed in a luxurious, sparkling bottle, this new fragrance is all dressed up for the holidays.

Every time I spritz on a Michael Kors fragrance, I always want to head to a beach somewhere. They just have that effect on me, but this one seems a bit more complex.

Michael Kors Very Pretty
, MichaelKors.com, $75.

Book Review Tuesdays: The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style

The premise of The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style: How to Wear Iconic Looks and Make Them Your Own
is to take iconic looks and make them your own. Lucky breaks it down into 10 different looks:

  • Euro Chic
  • California Casual
  • Rock and Roll
  • Posh Eclectic
  • Mod
  • American Classic
  • Arty Slick
  • Bohemian
  • Gamine
Most of these will seem familiar to you, a few might be new, like arty slick or posh eclectic. These are hard to define, but when you see the look, you know it immediately.

Each look has pages of "essential pieces" that combined, make up the look. From daywear to accessories, everything is covered. They show you then how to mix the pieces together to give you a look, and give you shopping resources, both brick and mortar stores and online venues. Fit and styling of each iconic look is examined, and two real-life examples are pictured with items directly out of their closets.

All of this is really helpful, and it's fun to see how the looks come together. The main problem here is that most of us are really a combination of two, three, or even four of these styles. Rarely do any of us purchase exclusively out of one of these styles. Fortunately, Lucky has a small section at the end that shows how Lucky staffers mix and match the looks, pulling from two of the styles.

A lot of the resources will be fairly obvious (Ralph Lauren for the American classic look), you will find some great resources to explore. The last section of the book has "Lucky Breaks," which is a listing of stores that are offering discounts to the book's readers, from such companies as Urban Outfitters, Tarte Cosmetics, and Hayden-Harnett.

All in all, I think this is a great resource to have if you're trying to achieve a very specific iconic look, but if you're looking for a resource to help you pick out quality clothing that is flattering to your body type, you might want to skip this one.

The Lucky Guide to Mastering Any Style: How to Wear Iconic Looks and Make Them Your Own, Amazon.com, $19.80.

Holiday Gift Idea: Tom Ford James Bond Sunglasses for Him

Tom Ford James Bond TF 108 Sunglasses - Quantum of Solace

Not that your man needs anything like some Tom Ford on his face to make him even sexier, but you know. Tom Ford makes everything in this world sexier. Tom Ford is sex. Seriously. And I'm thinking these just might make my husband even hotter than he already is (in his own mind).

Holiday Gift Idea: Tom Ford Private Blend Rollerball Collection


I'm a Tom Ford fanatic. I'm sure my regular readers are well aware of this, but I feel compelled to point it out every so often. The man is just sex in human form. Black Orchid is my holy grail fragrance. I think his design is on point. Which is why I think this gift set would be perfect for any Tom Ford lover on your list.

Has the following scents:

  • Amber Absolute: A hallmark private blend fragrance. Amber Absolute is a honey-colored scent infused with the purest form of amber, joined by a tenacious refrain of African incense, labdanum, rich woods and a touch of vanilla bean.
  • Black Violet: Crisp citrus surrounds a modern pulpy fruit accord, fused with black violets. Woody accents fold into oakmoss adding the universally comforting sensation of warmth.
  • Bois Rouge: This woody oriental opens with a blend of elegant citrus and spice. The luxurious heart reveals cedarwood, patchouli, jasmine and muguet. Sandalwood, vetiver, amber and refined leather are warmed by vanilla and tonka, adding lasting depth and texture.
  • Japon Noir: A contemporary fragrance enriched with flavors from the past opens with an inviting spice bouquet and warms to reveal patchouli and porto noir accords. Night-blooming jasmine, leather, amber and vetiver add a deeper, sleeker touch.
  • Moss Breches: Dark and complex, this mystical chypre combines fresh wood and warm spice notes with the delicate essence of beeswax absolute. The scent intensifies with the addition of ingredients such as Moroccan clary sage, Hungarian tarragon, Corsican rosemary and labdanum, patchouli and benzoin.
  • Neroli Portofino: A modern intercontinental version of an iconic fragrance theme balances luminous citrus oils and floral notes with amber undertones that awaken the senses and leave a splashy yet substantive impression.
  • Noir de Noir: A dark chypre oriental, this scent opens with an earthy mantle of richly woven saffron, black rose and black truffle, with hints of floralcy. Underneath, vanilla, patchouli, oud wood and tree moss soften the intensity, making the scent a sensual experience.
  • Oud Wood: Exotic rose wood and cardamom, blended with exuberant Chinese pepper, envelop the wearer in warmth. Eventually, the center exposes a smoky blend of rare oud wood, sandalwood and vetiver. Finally, the creamy scents of tonka bean, vanilla and amber are revealed.
  • Purple Patchouli: This '60s-inspired floral woody fragrance opens with an elegant orchid accord and wet, succulent citrus notes. The heart blends noir leather and a signature patchouli accord with exotic spices, supported by the intense depth of amber, patchouli, Peru balsam and vetiver.
  • Tobacco Vanille: A modern take on an old world men's club. A smooth oriental, Tobacco Vanille opens immediately with opulent essences of tobacco leaf and aromatic spice notes. The heart unfolds with creamy tonka bean, tobacco flower, vanilla and cocoa, and finishes with a dry fruit accord, enriched with sweet wood sap.
  • Tuscan Leather: A chypre blend of notes brings a raw yet reserved sensuality to this original take on a classic leather scent. Saffron, raspberry and thyme open to olibanum and night-blooming jasmine. Leather, black suede and amberwood add an intricate richness.
  • Velvet Gardenia: A heady floral blend of ripened black gardenia and succulent orange deepens into a heart of jasmine, rose and muguet. Tuberose blends with dark plum, honey and beeswax, finishing with a smooth accord of incense and labdanum.
And I'm not kidding when I say that Velvet Gardenia rocks my world more than anything else I've ever smelled. Every time I've tried to pick it up, it's been out. But now all of his Private Blend scents are available in one kit, at a reasonable $225. I need a wish list!

Tom Ford Private Blend Rollerball Set, Nordstrom.com, $225.

Total Beauty: Make Your Hair Look 10 Years Younger

TotalBeauty.com
Make Your Hair Look 10 Years Younger

Get advice on nursing drab, graying hair back to health


We get this question a lot, so here's our answer, backed by a celebrity hairstylist.

View answer

New Giveaway! Sothys Home Spa Kits


It's the season for giveaways, isn't it? So many great blogs are giving away some great things, and I'm going to put together a great list for you soon.

In the meantime, I'm so happy to be giving away some amazing products. Sothys, based in France, not only has a beautiful spa (go check out some photos at Sothys.com!), but some amazing products. One lucky reader will win an at-home spa kit, choosing from Sensitive Skin, Normal Skin or Oily Skin. They are described as follows:

Normal Skin
Contains: retail size Hydra-Protective Creme, retail size Vitamin Serum, trial size Desquacreme
Sensitive Skin
Contains: retail size Immuniscience Creme, retail size Clearness Serum, trial size Clearness & Comfort Mask
Oily Skin
Contains: retail size Hydra-Matt Fluid , retail size Clarifying Correcting Serum, trial size Absorbent Mask.

Enter between now and 12/5 for your chance to win! Only one entry per person, please, and this contest is open only to residents of the U.S. (sorry!). Good luck!

Getting Compliant with the FTC

The FTC says that you all need to be told how I obtained a product that I'm reviewing. So to make it easy, I've come up with graphics that will be at the end of each product review.



This one tells you that I spent my own cold, hard cash on it.




This one tells you that I received a sample from either the company directly, a sales rep, or a public relations company.




I made this one up, although I've never had a reason to use it. This one will tell you that the post is sponsored by a company or person.

I hope this makes what I do here more transparent. I can honestly say that no amount of press samples, products, or even gifts will ever coerce me to set my ethics aside and give a dishonest review. It's just not worth it.


Product Review: Narsskin EFA Night Infusion

Did you even know that NARS had skincare? I'll admit to being in the dark about that one, although I've always had a love/hate relationship with NARS. Love Orgasm, can't stand most of the eyeshadow duos. Not a fan of the foundation, but love the body oil.

I recently had the chance to try NARSskin EFA Night Infusion. I'm always a bit leery of any kind of oils on my face, since I'm so prone to breakouts, but I had great luck with this. It didn't feel greasy at all, and left my face feeling smooth to the touch.

Here are the benefits, according to NARS:

The exclusive NARSskin Omega-3 Lipid Support System™, an essential fatty acid complex, nourishes and repairs the skin cells deep within the lipid layer. The skin’s absorption ratio is optimized as the complex simulates the skin’s lipid content, ultimately allowing the skin to increase its intake of hydration.

Essential fatty acids have long been recommended as part of a nutritious diet, and have multiple benefits for the body, so it makes sense that they would have benefits for the skin as well.

While the price is high, Narsskin EFA Night Infusion makes an excellent moisturizer, especially if you are concerned about dry skin.

Holiday Gift Idea: Gorgeous Cashmere Cardigan

Dorothy Lee Two Tone Silk & Cashmere Cardigan - Cashmere & Cashmere Blend - Nordstrom

Oh, my. Doesn't this just make you want to cozy up to a fire with some hot tea or cocoa with vanilla marshmallows? Even better with some gray cashmere knit pants, and you would be in heaven. And what an amazing gift! I'd be thrilled to find this under my holiday tree.

Total Beauty: Thanksgiving Beauty

TotalBeauty.com
Calorie-Free Thanksgiving Beauty Treats

These recipe-inspired beauty products make doing hairstyles and makeup looks so much more delicious


Better on your lips than on your hips, we say! With pumpkin season in full force and turkey day just around corner, now's a great time to try these holiday dinner-inspired skin, makeup and hair products. Be forewarned: Many smell good enough to eat... but please don't.

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Ask Me Mondays: Wrapping Hair

Q: I'm not African-American, but I have very thick, coarse, curly hair that I straighten. A friend of mine told me that I could avoid the flat iron every day by wrapping my hair, but I don't know what that is. Help!

I love it when my readers force me to learn new things! I have thick, coarse hair that requires constant straightening too, and I didn't know anything about it. However, an hour spent on the intertubes and asking people that I know paid off! I have a new beauty routine to add to my evening.

Basically, wrapping your hair is just that: taking your (usually longer, but not always) hair and literally wrapping it around your head, then tying it with a scarf before bed. It seems like everyone does this differently, and there is no real "right" way to do it.

Before you begin, you might consider having the following items on hand: wide-toothed comb, stiff (but not plastic) bristled brush, duckbill clips, a glossing spray, and a silk scarf.

To begin, spray hair with glossing spray or spray-in conditioner, and make a part down the back of your head, as if you were making pigtails. Starting on one side (whichever side you choose), start combing your hair clockwise around your head, gathering hair as you go. Depending on how thick your hair actually is, this might start looking like a beehive - that's totally fine. No worries, since you're not going out for the evening. Keep wrapping your hair around your head literally in a circle. If you need to, use clips to keep hair in place. Some people will clip hair at the hairline to keep strays where they need to be.

Next, grab your scarf and tie it tightly around your head, making sure no strays are poking out. Pull any clips out (if you're like me, and can't stand anything pushing into your head when you're sleeping) and take yourself on off to bed. In the morning, you can unwrap your hair and find that it doesn't need any straightening whatsoever.

I hope this helps!

Lazy Sunday Music: Adele



I'm just loving Adele's sound lately. I'm on a bit of a soul/jazz/downtempo kick, and this entire album keeps popping up in my iTunes.

You can grab it at ADELE - 19 too.

Total Beauty: Are You Ready for Botox?

TotalBeauty.com
Are You Ready for Botox?

Fillers, peels, lasers -- find out if one is right for you


Take this quiz to see what - if anything - you need to keep your skin looking great.

Take the quiz

How to tie a winter scarf

Five minutes of greatness in regards to getting that scarf to do something besides lay around your neck.

Total Beauty

About Me

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Meredith Edwards-Cornwall is the founder of online lifestyle websites RetrodivasBeauty.com and RetrodivasCloset.com. She is also known as @retrodiva on Twitter. She specializes in drinking large amounts of espresso, shopping, and enjoying social media. In all of her free time she writes for StyleBakeryMom.com twice a week, and does various other freelance gigs involving writing, designing, and generally being awesome. While she believes that success is indeed a job in New York, she currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband, two children, and two cats and has hung on to her day job.
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