What great new mystery is THIS?!

I am a Sephora regular.  And by that, I mean that when I present my Sephora “Beauty Insider” card to be swiped with every purchase, the sales clerk always laughs when he or she reads the amount of points that I have.  It’s ridiculous.  And my points have just amassed to such an absurd amount because I never redeem them.  You can always redeem them for travel-size products and the like, but if you know me you know that I hate samples and travel-size items.  There’s just something in my psyche that won’t let me enjoy a beauty product when it isn’t full-size.  I have a hard time explaining it.  So basically, I’ve accumulated a humongous amount of points at Sephora, and to say the least, I am a valued customer.

I don’t know what it is about a place that houses nothing but makeup and beauty products that makes women like myself go off their trolley.  I mean, yes, I am into makeup and beauty products in a way that you could call addictive, but what is it about that stuff, and in particular all that stuff under one roof, that feels so intoxicating?  The appeal of makeup itself is a funny thing.  Sometimes I think we’re attracted to it because it looks like treasure, because it’s shiny and bright and colorful and it fits into the palm of your hand.  I read an Allure article once claiming that some significant percentage of women would actually eat their makeup if they could, because of its “candy-like” appeal.  It’s true though, isn’t it?!  When you see a bright, hot pink lipstick just sitting there under the lights of a vanity mirror, don’t you just sort of want to bite it?  It’s like that scene in Aladdin when Abu decided to give in to temptation and snatch the forbidden treasure, and as he draws closer to that ruby the size of a basketball, what does he do?  He licks his lips!  Makeup is sensual, in that we want to touch it and play with it, see what it does to our face, know how it smells, and apparently we even want to eat it.

The aggregating of all things makeup into one giant spectacle of epicureanism, however, is another matter of genius entirely.  I mean, think about what you see when you go through the beauty department at Nordstrom.  The first thing I notice are the lights.  Everything is just glowing in the beauty department.  New perfume bottles displayed in glass cases with uplighting like they’re museum exhibits, everything laid out on trays with mirrors to look an old-Hollywood kind of expensive, and so much chrome.  It’s either lighting, mirrors, or chrome. And then they inundate you with so many choices that you feel both overwhelmed and excited, but like a kid in a candy store, you don’t want to leave.  You want to taste everything.  I’ve always wanted to just walk out into the middle of the Bloomingdale’s beauty floor, stretch out my arms, turn my gaze up towards that Great Beauty Department Up Yonder, and shout “PAINT ME UNTIL I’M BEYOND RECOGNITION!  TRANSFORM ME!  COVER ME!  I’M YOUUUURRRRSSS!!!”

So, what do you think my reaction was when I received an email announcing the opening of a *second* Sephora location at South Coast Plaza, the mega-luxury-mall that I most frequently frequent?!  You know when you get so excited about something that you almost throw up?  No?  Well, there you go.  And how lucky was I to discover that I’d actually be able to stop by the new store on it’s opening day?

Not that lucky.  There was a line.  Just to get in.


But don’t worry.  I was in line for maybe seven minutes.  No big deal.  It rightfully served the purpose of crowd control and enabling everyone to have an enjoyable experience.


It was, admittedly, a bit crowded.  But it certainly wasn’t anywhere near what I’ve seen on a Black Friday.  Totally doable.  And there was the appeal of everything being perfectly clean and complete stocked.  Speaking of completely stocked …


NARS blushes, relatively untouched by human hands, and almost fully stocked.  Do you ever get the urge to hit one with a little hammer and see it smash?  No?  Well I do.  I could’ve smashed all of ’em.


A perfectly spotless new Laura Mercier counter.  It’s enough to make me flip my beanie.


Unused, untouched, pristine NARS lipsticks, just waiting to be chewed on and smeared all over the faces of unattended four-year-olds.  Oh and hey, one of the sample lipsticks is already missing.  Ten bucks says someone lifted it.  I’m not kidding.  It would be a tempting thing to do, considering their mint condition.  I swear it wasn’t me … I swear.  No, really.  It wasn’t me.


A gorgeous new Yves Saint Laurent display, complete with it’s glorious, chromatic gold packaging.  We often wonder why we’re prone to desiring products like these over, say, Dr. Pepper LipSmackers at the drugstore, and the fact that it feels like you’re dropping a little piece of the Crown Jewels into your purse might have something to do with it.


An entire section of the store has been carved out just for fragrances.  I appreciated this considering every other location just has perfume and cologne set along the perimeter of the store.


But you know, it’s not like I haven’t been here before and it’s not like I won’t be back again.  So I’m happy to say that I walked out of the store without a thing (and there’s also the fact that the line to the check-out was maybe twenty minutes long).  It’s funny because I somehow thought that this new location would offer a few different brands than the one across the way at the opposite end of South Coast Plaza, but nope.  It really was just more of the same (not that that’s really a deterrent in the end, anyhow).  And honestly, sometimes it just feels good to say ‘no’ to something that you normally have such a hard time resisting.

As I left, the attendants monitoring the line outside brought in the velvet rope and let all remaining guests in.  The chaos of the opening hours was over.  I guess when it comes down to it, it’s just another Sephora.  But somehow, it still carries the kind of intrigue and enchantment as if it’s something that I’ve never seen before in my entire life.  xo, MR

On how I was once told that I look like Severus Snape. And how someone fixed that.

I’ve never done a “before and after” makeover.  Ever.  I just haven’t had the opportunity, and I mean, I usually like to think that the “before” isn’t that bad.  However, this past week I made contact with an old childhood friend who needed a model for some before-and-after makeover shots.  Lauren had been working at the Laura Mercier counter at the Nordstrom in South Coast Plaza, and she’d been given an opportunity to pursue a counter manager position for Trish McEvoy at a different Nordstrom location.  One requirement for the position- produce some before-and-after shots of a model for direct approval by Trish McEvoy herself.  So Lauren threw up a little Facebook “Help me!” one night in search of a model, and I figured hey, I’ve never done it before, I had the time, and I’d love to catch up with a childhood friend, so why not?

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Welp, I know my initial thoughts regarding this whole thing were “Why not?”, but upon seeing the results of Lauren’s work, I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of, “Oh … that’s why”.

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Now, I do not mean to go on any kind of self-deprecating rant here.  I’ve always found an abundance of self-deprecation to be disingenuous for the most part, smacking of a sad search for affirmation.  When well-placed and given in moderation, self-deprecation can actually be my favorite kind of humor (read: Liz Lemon), but I try not to make it my go-to.  So know this: I’m being honest.

But let me tell you that upon showing these shots to my dad, he said that I looked like Severus Snape in the one to the left.  Yes, Dad was paying me the highly-coveted compliment of saying that I look like this man.  How fortunate am I among women!  But you know, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that, well, I couldn’t detect just a little bit of resemblance.  I mean, one of my regular coffee shop customers has told me within this past month that A) I look like Orlando Bloom and B) I look like a page boy.  And no, we’re not talking Orlando Bloom in full Nordic-blonde extensions Legolas-tic glory here.  While most women these days would love to be told that they look like Miranda Kerr, I was bestowed the honor of being told that I look like the dude that married and made a baby with Miranda Kerr.  But I mean, in regards to my “before” picture, I admit that I myself exclaimed that I looked like a gender-ambiguous prison inmate upon seeing it.  And it probably doesn’t help that the expression on my face seems to be bordering on Charlie Sheen mugshot territory.  But hey, it happens.  We’ve all got our Severus Snape/Charlie Sheen/Orlando Bloom days, and it’s for reasons like this that we can all appreciate miracle-workers like Lauren.

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I absolutely loved Lauren’s work.  She stuck to a palette of matte, brownish neutrals for my eyes, really played up my brows (which I loved), and we ended up doing more of a warm, coral lip.  I also loved her application of my face makeup because while she used a good number of products, she applied them in thin, sheer layers and blended them seamlessly to the point where I didn’t look like I was truly wearing makeup- it rather looked like I had perfect skin with subtle contouring.  Lauren was also honest in naming products that she was more excited about than others, and in steering me away from a couple that she wasn’t the biggest fan of.  And trust me- you are hard pressed to find a salesperson in the beauty industry that will be honest in their opinion of products that they have every opportunity to make commission on.  It’s almost always about the up-sale, but with Lauren I walked away with a gorgeous makeup job and a true education.  If you ever find yourself in need of a most excellent makeup artist while perusing the ever-intimidating grounds of the Nordstrom beauty department, know that Lauren is your girl.  I’ll be going back for that Laura Mercier Mineral Illuminating Powder in Starlight, Lauren!  You rock!  Lauren’s been working on a blog of her own recently that you can follow her at: http://www.loveyourlipgloss.com

And I have to add, simply because of all the grand compliments I’ve been receiving lately, that Lauren sent in the pictures for review (with a predictably positive outcome, thanks to Lauren’s talent) and Trish McEvoy herself called me beautiful … *squeal*.  Take that, Snape.  xo, MR