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Beauty, Body

#ManiMonday: 4 Tough-As-Nails Top Coats

A photo posted by Val’s Vanity (@valsvanity) on

Most manis never last long on me. Having soft nails that easily bend and break, most top coats don’t stand a chance of lasting more than a day before I’ve either chipped or ripped off half of my nail. While I am a fan of gel manicures, my wallet doesn’t share my affections unless there’s an occasion that calls for a long-lasting look. Thankfully, the industry gets my — and many other’s— predicament and has answered the call with a series of top coats designed to mimic the lustrous look and long wear of the salon service, no lamps necessary. These are the top coats that ensure my nails stay in tip top shape!

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Beauty, Body

#ManiMonday: Butter London Links Up with Shoes of Prey


Courtesy of Butter London

Butter London‘s looking to perfect your pedicure with the perfect partnership with none other than Shoes of Prey.

The collaboration includes six shades inspired by the shoe line’s fall array of lush fabric options paired with names of the shoe styles available for customization on the site. The colors include

“We feel the partnership is directly in tune with our brands’ mutual mission to inspire women to embrace their individual style, authentic selves and have some fun,” Butter London President, Sarina Godin shared in a press release. Jodie Fox, Chief Creative Officer and Co-Founder of Shoes of Prey shared the same sentiment, stating, “We’re so excited to give our customers the unique opportunity to add another dimension to their fall outfits by colour coordinating their shoes and manicures and pedicures with our curated trend colours for the season.”

Aside from the fact these chic shades are on trend to be a big sensation this fall, according to Pantone — earthy tones of taupe, dusty cedar, potter’s clay, and lush meadows will be everywhere in a variety of textures and finishes, customization (albeit on the fashion side this time) has become a big driver of the beauty market. It began appearing a few years ago in the form of palettes that allowed you to pick the shadow shades housed within from the likes of Buxom, Urban Decay, and more and have evolved to incorporate other parts of the beauty counter, like Cover FX and Dr. Dennis Gross offering skincare boosters that could be combined with your established skincare routine. And it shows no signs of slowing down, as custom complexion products may lead to higher profiles for companies who can customize nail shades to suit any swatch you serve up and more.

The collection will be available exclusively on Nordstrom beauty counters and online during the retailer’s annual Anniversary Sale where mani mavens can snap up the shades in a set for $39 as early as July 14th for those with early access. Those not part of Nordstrom’s inner circle won’t have to worry, as it will be ready for purchase for everyone else on the 22nd. Mark your calendars now, so you can avoid the mani madness later!

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Beauty, Body, Skin

Volition Beauty Brings Product Power to the People


via Volition Beauty

Have you ever searched the shelves for the right formula for you but end up empty-handed? Ever have a favorite product of your end up in the trash because of a formula change? Now you can skip the wishful thinking and do something about it—create your own with the help of Volition Beauty.

Inspired by the many gaps in the beauty market, founders Brandy Hoffman and Patricia Santos banded together to create a community of beauty buffs to craft the everyday essentials they couldn’t find at their local Sephora without waiting years for big brands to give them what they need. “I think when Brandy and I were coming up with the concept, we had an idea that this would work, and we thought, ‘We believe in democratizing beauty. We believe in empowering women. We believe women can solve their own problems. We believe they’re smart and creative.’ And that’s where all of the product ideas should start. But we had no idea what would happen when we built the platform,” Santos explained during the brand’s press event on Tuesday.

So what happened? It exploded! Not literally, but thousands of women signed up for the platform back in September to submit their ideas for cool and innovative products and shipped the first batch in November. Users can easily submit their ideas and, depending on the difficulty of the formula (and whether they have to patent new technologies), you could see your idea come to life in anywhere between three weeks to a year as a prototype that you and your friends can test-drive to ensure the formula is just right and safe to use. Next, the brand posts the product as a campaign on the website where it’s voted on by the community. If a campaign wins, it’s only 3 to 6 weeks to ship to you in small batches, instead of the two years it typically takes big brands to debut a new buy, always keeping the brand on the edge of the next discovery. “I think what’s key is that it’s not just trends, it’s innovation,” Santos said. “It’s not only an outlet for creative women. I think it’s been an outlet for the underserved in the beauty industry.”

It may be in its infancy, but the platform already boasts a dozen SKUs for skin and body with more coming down the pipeline soon. And you’ll be able to get your hands on them without leaving your couch, as the brand will debut on QVC in August, so keep a look out!

Though I got a preview of some of the skincare essentials that will hit shelves soon, the one item that blew me (and everyone else) away was the Pamona: Custom Gel Mask. It works like an Easy-Bake Oven but for your face. Simply add water with fruit juices that cater to your skin’s specific needs (like berries for added antioxidants, citrus for brightening, cucumber for hydration, etc.), drop in one of the gel tabs, push a button, and five minutes later you have a mask made fresh just for you. I know editors and beauty techies will snap this up super fast for their own use, but it could easily provide a bit of pampering with your pals (Hello, spa-worthy bachelorette weekend!). Needless to say, this is a brand I’ll be keeping a close eye on!

Beauty, Body

Star Wars: The Fragrance Awakens



When it comes to Star Wars, there is no such thing as too much merch if 2015 was any indication. And the train shows no slowing down with a collection of fragrances hitting beauty counters in a galaxy far, far away (actually, it’s Europe).

German fragrance house Lifestyle Perfumes has just released a series of three scents inspired by the iconic film franchise with two scents for men, modeled after the light and dark side of the force, and one for women—all housed in bottles shaped like lightsabers! This seems to be fleshing out the blockbuster’s hold on the beauty counter, as it previously partnered with CoverGirl for a collection of makeup musts to celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Jedi is light and bright with fresh notes of mandarin, water lily, and amber while Empire is a spicier affair with notes of cardamom, clove, and patchouli. While specific notes aren’t listed for Amidala, judging by the image the brand shared on Instagram, it appears to be very sweet thanks to tangerine, chocolate, and vanilla in the image and housed in a bottle that matches the color scheme of her Elizabethan-inspired ensemble the Queen wore on her picnic with Anakin on Naboo. There’s a lot of citrus throughout the collection, according to io9. But given its release in June (prime citrus season) and the recent installment, the company could’ve focused their setting on the more lush planets in the galaxy like Endor, D’Qar, and the aforementioned Naboo.

Well if I had known about this sooner, I would’ve just snapped this up for my dad for Father’s Day! Unfortunately, the collection is only available in Europe with no word on if/when it will hit shelves stateside. Now’s the time to get in touch with your forum friends across the pond and see if they can ship you the cool cosmetic collectibles.

Beauty, Body, Hair, Skin

The Father’s Day Grooming Gifts That Will Be Used Immediately

A photo posted by @valsvanity on

As a beauty editor, I’m blessed with a slew of products to test-drive on the daily. I’m happy to share the extra lippies, liners, and other beauty buys amongst family and friends, which means I can’t arrive at a party empty-handed. On the rare occassion a men’s grooming product come across my vanity, I immediately hand it over to my dad. He covets the samples I share, saving them for special occasions. But honestly, what’s the point? They’re meant to be used! So instead of searching for value sets he may hold onto for months, I decided to search for a slew of grooming goodies that I won’t be able to pry from his hands until they’re empty. The great thing is you can bundle a bunch of these buys and create a cute basket (or pack into a nice toiletries bag) to deliver to dear old dad on his big day. But be sure to order soon to ensure it arrives on time!

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Beauty, Body, Skin

My Sunscreen Selections for Summer & Beyond

Photo May 26, 5 44 12 PM

If today’s temperature is any indication, this summer is going to be sweltering and filled with beach days, festivals, barbecues, and any other excuse to get out and enjoy the sunshine. But while most know the dangers of UV rays, they only slather on suncare when they slip into their swimwear. It also doesn’t help as a recent Consumer Reports study found that many sunscreen formulas aren’t protecting us as efficiently as we think. The report noted that many of the factors include not using enough (remember, you’re supposed to use a shot-glass amount on the body and a nickel-sized dollop on the face), not rubbing it in properly (there shouldn’t be a gray cast on the skin), or just not reapplying at all (seriously, you should know better by now!). Regardless of the excuses, the benefits far outweigh the risks. Prevention comes from daily protection and every inch of skin counts. In honor of “Don’t Fry Day” and Skin Cancer Awareness Month, I scoured my stash of suncare solutions to serve up an easy regimen to ensure your skin’s health and safety is a priority, no matter what’s on your agenda.

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Beauty, Body, Hair, Makeup, Skin

Show Your Stash: Kat Graham Shares Her Beauty Secrets

via Kat Graham's Instagram

via Kat Graham’s Instagram

I know I’m not the only one curious about celebs and influencers’ favorite beauty buys as well as  who and what shape their view of beauty in the biz. 

Kat Graham has bewitched audiences since she was six with her moves, music, and magic on the big and small screens. Aside from being a well-rounded entertainer, she’s got serious beauty chops to boot. The Caress and Wet ‘n’ Wild ambassador regularly skips the glam squad in favor of doing it herself and considers fragrance to be the finishing touch to any ensemble. After meeting The Vampire Diaries star and learning more about her girl-powered attitude on beauty, I recently reached out to the multi-hyphenate maven to get her take on all things beauty, including how she channels her inner beauty, who she turns to for inspiration, and what her major must-have of the year is so far.

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Beauty, Body, Lifestyle, Personal Musings

Surviving Festival Season & Not Sweating the Small Stuff

I like to tell people I grew up in a pit—a mosh pit to be exact. I went to local metal shows in high school and cut my teeth on the Vans Warped Tour and the Bamboozle before Coachella and festival season itself became a thing. So when I got to listening to house and EDM music after college, I thought the same concepts I could apply to my festival-filled past. Well, not exactly.

I got the chance to explore the technicolor world of the Electric Daisy Carnival when it hit NYC on May 14-15th, thanks to Secret. The brand has had a unique shift in focus from the barre babes and the Soul Cycle set to the summer music scene where calories are burned dancing in the heat of the moment rather than in a hot yoga studio, embracing the unfiltered fun and rush of summer music festivals. Last year, Tokimonsta took over as Secret’s festival face, but the brand put the power in the people’s hands (and arms, too) by offering a body paint station smack dab in the middle of the grounds. There, ravers of every flavor could water-marble their limbs and snap up a travel stick of the deodorant to swipe on between DJ sets. Though I initially felt out of my element at the vibrant affair, I learned a lot more than I expected before slipping on the neon wristbands.

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Beauty, Body

Bath & Body Works Brings Back Fan-Favorite Fragrances

Sure, it’s technically #FlashbackFriday, but Bath & Body Works is opting for a new hashtag to revive some of its signature scents from the ’90s.

The brand announced on Thursday that it would revive 8 of its signature scents from its archives as part of its ongoing #FlashbackFragrance campaign, which started last year when the company brought back 6 of its original aromas. Though the scents are under lock and key until they hit shelves on May 27th, by process of elimination we likely won’t see Pearberry, Plumeria, Wild Honeysuckle, Juniper Breeze, or Cherry Blossom. But there’s still hope for some others like Sun-Ripened Raspberry and Seaspray from your middle schools days.

Most of my tween years were spent in a cloud of Sweet Pea, Cherry Blossom, and Juniper Breeze, with the popular crowd choosing to slather on the scent in the form of hand sanitizer that they sported clipped to their backpacks like Fendi’s bag bugs. Luckily, they were all too happy to share until our classrooms smelled more like Bath & Body Works itself, and the windows had to be thrown open so everyone could breathe. As awkward as that stage in life was, the saccharine smells bonded all the girls in our sense of self as mature young women–think the classic Disney movie line, “I’m 13, Mom. I’m not a baby anymore.” We had no idea what was ahead for us, but the future smelled sweet. So I think I’ll need to snap up a bottle or two of sanitizer if only for nostalgia’s sake.

Update: According to Pop Sugar, we can now choose between Sun-Ripened Raspberry will hit shelves first on May 27th to whet the appetites of nostalgic fragrance fanatics. Meanhile Country Apple, Cucumber Melon, Freesia, Brown Sugar & Fig, Mango Mandarin, Cotton Blossom, and Peony will arrive just a few weeks later on June 6th. Plus all of the #FlashbackFragrances will be available to spritz as a scent and slather on in the form of shower gel, body cream, and lotion if you really want to re-live your school days. But be sure to snap

Beauty, Body

KFC’s New Nail Polish Redefines “Finger-Lickin’ Good”

via PopSugar

via PopSugar

Sure, I love my share of chicken fingers, but this is going a little too far.

viaThe New York Times

via The New York Times

KFC is moving from the food court to the beauty counter with the first-of-its-kind edible nail polish. Nope, I’m not kidding. It’s the latest marketing campaign for the chicken chain in Hong Kong, which features an Original Recipe and Hot & Spicy glitter polishes in a nude and red, respectively. According to Ad Week, the brand teamed up with McCormick, who provides the secret mix of 11 secret herbs and spices for the franchise to infuse into the formula so it tastes like chicken (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

All you have to do is paint on a coat or two (Maybe you just add on as many layers of flavor as you want?), allow it to fully dry, and then nab a nibble. While this spells trouble for nail biters, I don’t think many in the U.S. are apt to test-drive the lunchable lacquer, but the marketers were impressed by how it turned out from the pretty packaging to the final taste test. “I tried it myself in the office when they were doing testing,” Anna Mugglestone, marketing and communications director for Ogilvy & Mather Group in Hong Kong (the agency running the campaign) told The New York Times. “It tastes like chicken. It’s crazy. I don’t know how they do it.” I don’t know either, but I’m honestly afraid to find out.

But the campaign is all in good fun to remind younger generations of chicken fans of “the great taste and good times the brand stands for,” even going so far as to ask fans on Facebook which flavor they’d prefer. While it’s not being mass produced yet, this is not the first time fast food has been infused into beauty buys. KFC’s sister brand, Pizza Hut, introduced a signature scent back in 2013 and  Cheetos created its own Cheeteau in 2014. Neither were mass produced, much to everyone’s relief.

After all this, I think I’m having steak for dinner tonight.