July 2014 archive

Birchbox Store and Mini-Haul

Today, I went to the Birchbox Store, a.k.a. beauty heaven. Its the first store from Birchbox, an ecommerce company that sends you deluxe-size samples of high-end beauty products every month. The bright, modern space just opened in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood on July 11. Check it out:

Birchbox Store Soho

Birchbox Store Soho, upper level

Birchbox Store Soho, lower level

The full-size products are organized by category, not by brand. This display strategy is handy if you are looking for a particular product, say a BB cream, but want to compare different brands. The store also has a Try Bar, where you can spritz, swipe, and try everything. Feel free to go nuts! iPads throughout the store are loaded with reviews and videos to help you navigate and make sense of it all.

For $15, you can also b.y.o.b.: build your own Birchbox. You pick one sample-size goody from each of five categories: Body and Nails, Skin Care, Fragrance, Hair, and Makeup. Here’s mine:

My Birchbox Store mini-haul

I got Supergoop! Daily Correct SPF 35 CC Cream, Macadamia Natural Oil Healing Oil Treatment for hair, Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream, Caudalie S.O.S Morning Eye Rescue, and Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue.

Manicure and hair styling stations are located downstairs. The store offers nail art, manicure polish changes, makeup application, and hair styling services.

It also offers group classes which are free to Birchbox subscribers, and $30 for the rest of us. A recent offering was Learn How to Contour, and How to Master a Colorful Eye is coming up on July 30. I definitely plan to try a class: it sounds like such a blast!

Birchbox first launched in September, 2010. A month later, I interviewed founders Katia Beauchamp and Hayley Barna for Daily Glow, now EverydayHealth Beauty. The Harvard Business School grads told me that Birchbox is like “your best friend who is a beauty editor,” like Barna’s friend Mollie Chen, a former beauty and travel editor at publishing powerhouse Conde Nast. Chen is now editorial director at Birchbox.

Since then, they have launched Birchbox Man (most guys could use a little sprucing up!), and gone international with the acquisition of France-based JolieBox. Not bad at all, ladies!

Do you subscribe to Birchbox or a similar service such as Glossybox? Will you check out the Birchbox Store?




I mentioned in a previous post that I was in Las Vegas for the Aesthetic Show, a trade show for medi spas, derms, and plastic surgeons.

At The Aesthetic Show in Las Vegas.

A photo posted by Charlotte LoBuono (@clobuono) on

While I was there, I saw a cool 3D flyer about Neotensil, a new solution for under eye bags. The name Neotensil is an acronym for (Neo) new, (T) transforming, (E) elastic, (N) non-invasive, (S) supportive, (I) invisible and immediate (L) layer. The product is sold as a kit containing a 7-week supply (recommended price about $500).

Living Proof's Neotensil

Living Proof’s Neotensil

Neotensil is only available through doctor’s offices. A spokeswoman for the company told me via e-mail it is important that patients are diagnosed with “eye bags,” and not just under eye puffiness, so they get the most benefits from using the product. After an initial diagnosis, people can just go back to doctor and replenish their kit, and don’t necessarily need an appointment.

The science behind Neotensil is pretty interesting. Using a trademarked technology called Strateris, the two-step application process forms a breathable film that acts as what the company calls “invisible shapewear” to reduce the appearance of under eye bags.

You prep your skin with special pads before applying Neotensil, and then use a tool to apply the Reshaping Base followed by the Activating Layer. You use a special remover and pads to remove the invisible film. According to the company, the product can be worn for up to 16 hours, and provides hydration for up to 24 hours. An article in Plastic Surgery Practice, posted to the Neotensil web site, says the effects are visible within 1 to 3 hours,  but are not permanent, although some improvement may be cumulative.

Incidentally, Neotensil was developed by scientists at Living Proof, the hair care company co-owned by America’s good Friend, the 45-and-fabulous Jennifer Aniston.

Paintbox Nail Studio

Today I had fun and did something a little different: I went into the city and had a manicure at Paintbox, a new nail salon with a modern twist. It was founded by former beauty editor Eleanor Langston, and celebrity manicurist Julie Kandalec, who serves as the salon’s creative director. The Paintbox space in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood is bright, clean, and modern. The coolest feature is a photo box, where you can take a photo of your mani, and send it to friends or post it on Instagram. Here’s mine:

My #paintboxmani Hot Tips Thanks Shirley and @paintboxnails! #FabulousForeverblog

A photo posted by Charlotte LoBuono (@clobuono) on

The amazing nail designs change seasonally. I chose the design called Hot Tips, and I went with Estee Lauder nail lacquer in Ballerina Pink and Illamasqua nail varnish in Spartan. But you could swap out the pinky nude for a pastel blue, mint green (Essie’s Mint Candy Apple?), or pastel purple, and the gold tips for silver. I can’t wait to see what designs Eleanor and Julie come up with for the holidays!

Paintbox opened in early May. According to a company spokeswoman, they are currently focusing on their Soho location, but in the next 12 to 18 months, they will definitely consider opening another location.

You can book your appointment online, and follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr.

Will you check out Paintbox?


NARS Night Caller for Fall 2014

I have been in Las Vegas for the Aesthetic Show, which is why I haven’t posted in awhile. While I was there, my fave NARSissist sent me the press materials for the new Night Caller collection for Fall 2014. It’s gorgeous! My picks:

The duo eye shadow in Jardin Perdu, a metallic dove gray and a metallic amethyst:

Nars Fall 2014 Night Caller Eye Shadow Duo in Jardin

NARS Night Caller Duo Eye Shadow in Jardin Perdu


And the lip pencil in Mandore, a rich cranberry:

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Mandore

NARS Night Caller Satin Lip Pencil in Mandore

For those who prefer warmer tones, the collection has another lip pencil, a rose brown called Bansar, and a second duo eye shadow, a rose quartz and chocolate brown called Dolomites. The new Night Series eyeliners are black pencils that shimmer with flecks of blue, purple, gold, or green pearl. There is also a powder blush and a Multiple for eyes, lips, and cheeks.

Night Caller is currently available online and at NARS boutiques, and arrives August 1 at Sephora and NARS counters in department stores.

Check out a behind-the-scenes video of the Night Caller campaign shoot:



Beauty All Stars

I thought I’d post about a few of the beauty staples I always reach for when getting ready.

First, some amateur photography:

My beauty favorites

My beauty favorites

How much do I love Hydrating Moroccan Argan Oil Dry Body Oil from Organix? This stuff keeps your skin soft, smells incredible, and is light enough for even the most humid summer days.

I am a woman obsessed with Maybelline’s Volum’Express The Falsies Big Eyes dual-ended mascara. I have yet to find a mascara, prestige or mass market, that makes my eyes look so enormous.

I recently tried a CC cream for the first time, and really love Smashbox Camera Ready CC Cream. I have noticed that since I began using it a few months ago, my skin tone, particularly around my jaw line, has become a lot more even.

Any beauty junkie appreciates the classics, such as Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion. Its great for blending in concealer, especially if you get a little overenthusiastic.

I love Aveda Be Curly Curl Enhancer with Wheat Protein. I have a natural wave to my hair, and this stuff smells amazing and keeps my waves smooth and bouncy.

I love Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmers. These colors are Strawberry, Cherry, and Apricot. They are great if you just want to keep your lips moist and get a hint of color.

I use Peppermint Cooling Foot Lotion from The Body Shop year round. It smells wonderful, I want to use it on my knees and elbows, and it keeps my feet in sandal-ready shape all summer long.

What are your beauty all stars? Please share! As much as I love these guys, I am always looking for new suggestions.



Jolene Hart and Eat Pretty

Jolene Hart, author of Eat Pretty

Jolene Hart, author of Eat Pretty

I recently met Jolene Hart, a beauty and health coach and former beauty editor, as she was signing copies of her book, Eat Pretty, at Shen Beauty in Brooklyn. I bought the book, and thought her advice was both sound, and loaded with yummy, nutritious food suggestions.

I followed up with a phone interview, to see what anti-aging advice she had to share. It turns out your diet is one of the best ways to turn back time!

Is it possible to reverse the aging process through your diet?

Absolutely! Your body is working every day to repair itself, and if you give it the best building blocks to do that, you will notice a change in the way your skin looks. You may notice, for example, that your hair is stronger and more flexible, and your nails are stronger, too.

If you missing those important nutrients, you are not going to be able to produce collagen as quickly, or repair sun damage.

What are some of the best foods to support collagen production?

Foods that are high in vitamin C and zinc are wonderful for collagen production. Red and yellow bell peppers, brussels sprouts, and cabbage are great sources of vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds, cashews, mushrooms, tahini, and even oysters are great sources of zinc.

What about repairing sun damage?

Many of the foods that help you repair sun damage are the same ones that help you defend against sun damage. The phytochemicals lycopene and beta carotene are really important for fighting sun damage, so foods like tomato and watermelon are wonderful for repair. Green tea is good as well.

Cantaloupe and many of the red and yellow summer foods are great for sun protection.

What foods nourish a healthy scalp and help fight hair loss?

A healthy scalp is about making sure you are getting plant-based healthy fats in your diet, such as avocado, raw nuts and seeds, and coconut oil. Having those healthy fats in your diet also goes hand on hand with hormone production, and keeping your hormones in balance is great for preventing hair loss.

These fats are also important for your skin, because you don’t want it to look dry as you age, you want your skin to look supple. You want your body to be able to produce enough oil.

And its also important to make sure that your diet has high quality proteins in it, because proteins are the building blocks of your hair, nails, and skin. One of my favorite proteins is wild salmon, because it contains omega-3 fats. If you a vegetarian, quinoa and hemp seeds are really amazing for fats, and fresh pastured eggs are wonderful, too.

What about women who are going through perimenopause or menopause?

I think that the best thing that women can do, regardless of their stage of life, is to keep their hormones in balance through their diet. Make sure you have some protein and healthy fats at each meal.

Eat frequently enough throughout the day: do not go for very long stretches without food and let your blood sugar drop. Keeping your blood sugar steady is one of the best things you can do to make sure that your body isn’t constantly manufacturing hormones to control your blood sugar levels.

And don’t eat a lot of refined sugar, because not only does that cause your blood sugar to spike, it also causes inflammation, a precursor to sensitive skin, blemishes, and wrinkles. It speeds up the aging process, so cutting back on refined sugar and processed foods in general, is a huge step to take against aging.

One of the big points in your book is seasonal eating.

One of the things you want to do with an anti-aging diet is to eat the most nutrient-dense foods possible. And one of the best ways you can do that is by eating seasonally, because those foods are going to be the highest in nutrients. Seasonal eating is just an easy guide to help you eat what’s best for your body.

I will definitely take Jolene’s advice, and bring her book with me to the market. She actually intended it to be a handy guide to take to the grocery store. It also has recipes that I can’t wait to try. Blueberry lentil salad or Swiss chard and tomato frittata, anyone?

Do you try to eat what’s in season? Are you a regular at the local farmer’s market?

(BTW, if you have never been to Shen Beauty, and live nearby, I highly recommend making a trip. Its a small independent beauty boutique in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill neighborhood. Skincare to die for.)