ring the alarm
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Before you even open your eyes, you know
it's going to be one of those mornings: Last
night's happy hour isn't feeling so happy any-
more, you're cursing Starbucks for not deliver-
ing bedside, and the alarm piercing through
your skull isn't helping any. Thankfully, the
puffy eyes and tired skin resulting from your
late-night revelry don't have to be an all-day
sentence. Applied to freshly washed skin,
Awake Cosmetics Daily Call ($50; drugstore.com)
delivers essential amino acids to boost cell
hydration and a blend of Japanese citrus to
enhance circulation. Just a few pumps of the
skin-enhancing serum is all it takes to eliminate
radiance robbers, create a flawless canvas for
makeup, and set the stage for a beautiful morning--
no Starbucks required.

practical magic
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Anyone who's ever woken up looking like a wicked
witch only to be transformed into a beautiful princess
with a few swipes of the mascara wand can attest to
the supernatural properties of makeup. My latest ma-
gical find? Becca Cosmetics Jewel Dust ($22 each;
sephora.com)--a sparkling, finely milled powder that
transforms eyes from average to amazing in a simple
sweep. Each of the colors, which range from deep
jewel tones to pretty pastels, is named for a different
mythical creature or fairy. More important, the formula
is made from pure pigments, so there's no talc, fragrance,
or preservatives in the mix. Upon application, you'll also
find that this isn't your fairy godmother's frosted blue
shadow--Jewel Dust leaves a modern, glossy-glam
finish, instead of the dreaded disco-dry effect. Shades
like Nissa, a violet-brown with a hint of green, look
superdramatic on light peepers, while Aspara, a gor-
geous peach champagne, is perfect for making the inner
corners of eyes pop. What's more, each dreamy hue
can be layered to your desired intensity or do double-
duty as a shimmering liner. Any way use it, Jewel Dust
will allow you to channel your inner fairy--wings not
included, of course.

greener pastures
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Once regarded as a fleeting fad, the natural cosmetics market is now growing in leaps and bounds. Here, a complete guide to going green.

Just five short years ago, the term “natural cosmetics” conjured little more than visions of colorless lip balm and swirling crystal-rock deodorant. Although there were some earthy beauty offerings on the shelves, even eco-conscious gals who bought organic tofu dogs from Trader Joe’s wouldn’t dream of giving up their tried-and-true mascaras. After all, cosmetics are, by their very definition, anything but natural. Nevertheless, somewhere along the way, it dawned on us: If we’re so aware of what we’re putting into our bodies, shouldn’t we be equally concerned with what we’re putting on our skin?

The answer, according to Kim D’Amato, owner of New York City’s Priti Organic Spa, is a resounding yes: “Our skin is our calling card, and it envelops the whole body. One square inch contains approximately 71 million feet of blood vessels, 300 feet of nerves, 20 million cells, 100 sebaceous glands, and 650 sweat glands. Considering all the ingredients found in standard beauty products, every woman should ask herself, ‘Do I really want that on my skin?’” Dr. Alan Dattner, president of Holistic Dermatology in New York, concurs: “Many conventional products contain ingredients that have suggestions of carcinogens. I choose natural products because they’re safer, and I find they cause fewer side effects.”

The Good Earth
The experts aren’t alone: Thanks in no small part to pioneering natural brands, high-profile green gurus, and new research about what’s really in our staple formulas, today there are millions of natural-beauty converts. What’s more, according to the U.S. Market for Natural Personal Care Products, the natural and organic cosmetics market is expected to reach $5.8 billion by 2008—an average growth rate of about 9 percent a year since 2003. For many, the question is no longer whether to go green; it’s which products to select among the countless number of natural offerings today.

But it should be noted that not everyone is raving. Several critics have dismissed the trend as a marketing ploy, and in some cases, they have a point. At present, there's no standardized labeling system to ensure that natural products are the real deal. Plus, just because something is chemical-free that doesn’t mean it’s good for you. If you have an allergy to a natural ingredient, for example, it will cause more harm than good, while a degraded herbal ingredient may be more toxic than its synthetic counterparts.

Warning Signs
That said, there’s compelling evidence that the some cosmetic ingredients have serious side effects—and we’re not talking just a temporary rash. If you scan the labels of your favorite formulas and find that they contain any of the following, you may want to consider making a switch.
Parabens: An antimicrobial preservative, parabens can be found in everything from shampoos and shaving creams to lotions and shower gels. Because parabens are estrogenic, disrupting normal hormone function, studies suggest that they may contribute to breast cancer. They are often listed on cosmetic labels as methylparaben, ethylparaben, p-propylparaben, isobutylparaben, n-butylparaben, and benzylparaben.
Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP): Used to improve the staying power of nail polish, hair spray, and sunscreen, DBP has been linked to cancer in lab animals and to reproductive impairments in boys who have been exposed in utero. In response to pressure from The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, brands like Orly, OPI, and Sally Hansen have already begun removing DBP from their products, and Avon, Estée Lauder, Revlon, and L'Oreal have all confirmed that they will follow suit.
Aluminum: Many studies have established a link between aluminum and increased risks of Alzheimer's disease/dementia. In addition to its use in medicines, cookware, and food additives, aluminum salts are a common ingredient in deodorants, antiperspirants, and other cosmetics.
Sodium Lauryl and Laureth Sulfate (SLS): A detergent used in shampoos, cleansers, and bath products, SLS may contribute to skin irritation and, it is believed, hairloss and cataracts. It has also been reported that when SLS interacts with other cosmetic ingredients, it can produce cancer-causing nitrosomines (nitrates), although other sources assert than no such links exist.
Propylene Glycol: A humectant used in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and deodorants, propylene glycol has been linked, in some studies, with skin irritation, liver abnormalities, and kidney damage. It should be noted that other studies have concluded that it’s safe for cosmetic use.

Pure Principles
While regulations are spotty regarding what can be labeled as green, this cheat sheet will help you get closer to uncovering whole truth.
Natural: Buyer beware. Although it’s generally understood that natural ingredients should come from plant sources, the FDA doesn’t regulate the use of the term “natural.” As such, it’s not unusual for a company to take a chemical formula, add a drop of honey, and claim that it’s natural. When trying to decode this category, it’s especially important to read the label and look up any ingredients you’re unfamiliar with (Ruth Winter's A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients is a good resource).
Organic: Unlike the natural label, the term “organic” is regulated by the USDA’s National Organic Program, which specifies that it may only appear on those products that conform to the regulations put forth by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). These regulations encompass all steps of manufacturing—no pesticides on the plants used, no irradiation, no fertilizers, no preservatives. Products labeled “100 percent organic” or “organic” (the latter means at 95 percent “organic”) come with the USDA seal, while those that are at least 70 percent organic may say “made with organic ingredients.”
Mineral: If you’ve caught a late-night infomercial or strolled though the cosmetics aisle lately, you’re already familiar with mineral makeup. These formulas get their pigment from earth minerals, and most include zinc oxide and titanium oxide (each of which offers UV protection). While 100% pure mineral products should be free of preservatives, talc, oil, fragrance, and other potential skin irritants, ingredients vary from company to company. So again, check the label, and look up any additives you’re unfamiliar with.
Holistic: Although the term is unregulated, these products generally strive to keep the big picture in mind, tacking not only the symptoms of beauty issues, but also their sources. Such products usually contain natural extracts, and in some cases, they come in eco-friendly packaging too. According to Dattner, the goal of holistic skin care is to return ailing skin to its natural, self-sufficient state.
Homeopathic: With these remedies, ailments are addressed using the “like cures like” theory: By introducing small amounts of a substance that’s ailing you into your system, your body will better adapt. So, for example, if you have oily skin, a standard cleanser might encourage oil overproduction as a response, while a cleansing oil would help the skin achieve a healthy equilibrium.

teen choice
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Whether shopping at Wet Seal, eating Fruity Pebbles, or
riding a merry-go-round, there are some pleasures that,
while admittedly designed for the younger crowd, are de-
liciously fun to steal. And Tess--a new line that stands for
"Teen Everyday Skincare System"--yields such fabulous
results that it simply can't be left to the under-age set. The
brand's Almost Normal Skin Kit ($48; sephora.com) comes
in a portable carrying case, perfect for tossing in an over-
night or gym bag (or keeping at a special friend's house
for spontaneous slumber parties). Inside, the six numbered
products guide you through a solid facial routine, no "eenie-
meenie" necessary; plus, they're all paraben-free and
formulated with natural fruit and botanical extracts.
The Rise and Shine Strawberry/Jojoba Facial Cleanser
smells delicious and provides gentle exfoliation, while
the Ooh-Refreshing Apple Toner purifies skin without
stinging or making you smell like a liquor cabinet. For
day, the Out and About SPF 15 Lavender Oil-Free Lotion
comes in a handy spritz formula that will convince even
the most reluctant to use sun protection; and after the sun
goes down, the Time for Some Zzzs Vanilla Night Time
Moisturizer is ideal for combination skin that's not quite
ready for heavy wrinkle creams. My favorite product in
the kit, the Zip It Peppermint Blemish Stick, goes on clear
and undetectable, and kept my face problem-free, even
during that dicey-complexion time of the month. And the
strawberry on top is the Perfect Pout Healing Lip Gloss--
killer shine, no stick, and good for your lips to boot. My
recommendation? Put Tess on your list of things to swipe
from your lil' sis (it'll look so much better on you than her
Nick Lachey concert tee).

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In Greek and Roman mythology, the sun gods are an all-boys club,
but the moon is the sole province of the female form. Lunar deities
like Artemis and Diana preside over the wilderness as nimble hunt-
resses--not unlike the fierce, leopard-clad models that made their
way down the fall runways. Lancome's latest collection, Luna Chic,
pays homage to the season's no-nonsense muse with an array of
rich, dazzling shades inspired by another wonder of the night sky:
the Northern Lights. With the help of the brand's international artistic
director Gucci Westman, the palette translates to a range of looks,
from chic (Twilight) to sultry (Terralight) to glamorous (Red Carpet),
or you can mix and match to find your own radiant combinations.

Some of Luna Chic's stars include the Color Focus Palettes in
Terralight and Twilight ($39 each; lancome-usa.com), two luminous
eye-shadow quads that offer a warm and cool take on the celestial
trend, respectively. While Terralight focuses on daytime neutrals
like taupe, khaki, and brown, Twilight delivers a crisper constellation
of deep gray, charcoal, and pink. The Artliner in Starshower ($27.50)
is an intense gray infused with a heavenly burst of green-gold
sparkles, while the Eclipse Eye Shadow (shown, upper-left) is a
smoldering noir packed with brilliant flecks of silver glitter (sadly,
the latter is available only in France--a lemming that would make
a trip to Paris all the more worthwhile).

No less divine are the lip products, which range from otherworldly
reds to lush neutrals. For maximum impact, there's Le Rouge Absolu
lipstick in Flickering ($24), a spicy scarlet, and the Juicy Tubes gloss
in Ablaze ($16.50), an opulent berry (when layered, the saturated
shades mimic the crimson glow of aurora borealis). For subtler effect,
Le Crayon in Mauve Vibe ($20) is a versatile pinky-brown liner that
makes lips look naturally polished, along with Le Rouge Absolu's
Nova ($24), a nuanced mauve, and Vega ($24), a barely there nude.
In both cases, the shades can be topped with the Juicy Tubes gloss
in Vanished, a glistening taupe, or Thrill Seeker, a high-sheen copper,
for a look that's sure to leave everyone moonstruck.

a star is born
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In sweltering summer days, few treats are as refreshing
as Japanese food--crunchy cucumber rolls, creamy avo-
cado, crisp edamame. And much like the flavors of its
homeland, Awake Cosmetics is continuing to serve up
cosmetic treats that are wonderfully fresh, light, and en-
ergizing. My favorite late-summer goodies come from
Awake's Stardom line, a collection that calls on a Zen-like
fusion of natural and high-tech ingredients for a look that's
flawless, never sluggish or heavy. The Eye Tints ($25
each; beauty.com) are shimmering liquid shadows that
give lids a dazzling pearlized finish. Encased in a small
frosted bottle with a nail polish–like brush applicator, the
formula is also a cinch to apply: Just dot it on your lids,
blend gently with your fingertip, and it dries in seconds
(for more opaque color, dab on an additional layer).
Colors like Cherry Pink and Lavender Mist (shown, upper-
left) are ideal for achieving a confectionery look, while
neutral lovers will be more tempted by hues like Cognac
and Champagne.

Although the tints look gorgeous solo, you can intensify
your look for evening with the Gem Glint Liner ($25), a
liquid formula that comes in four vibrant jewel tones
(Purple Wine looks especially pretty on blue or green
peepers). If you've had problems mastering liquid liners
in the past, never fear--its sparkly finish makes even a
shaky application look expert. In addition, Stardom offers
the perfect lip product to ease the day-to-night transition:
Full Motion Gloss ($21). Colors like Bittersweet (shown,
lower left) deliver more intense pigments than most
standard glazes combined, and the formula, which
contains chamomile and shea butter, softens dry summer
pouts without the usual stickiness. In all cases, Stardom's
luminous shades last all day thanks to the use of treated
pearls and natural pigments. Plus, the products are infused
with vitamin E, watercress, and hyaluronic acid, so they
feel delightfully cool and soothing. Looking for something
more fall-appropriate? Well, you're in luck: Awake has
just unveiled its Heavenly Glow collection, a line that puts
a warmer spin on Stardom for autumn.

taste the rainbow

Remember summers when you were a kid?
The sweet sound of the ice-cream man that
sent you running for your allowance and
chasing the music down the cul-de-sac?
Once you finally caught up with the sultan
of treats, the possibilities seemed limitless:
grape or berry, lemon or lime.... Well, you
might not be an 8-year-old with Band-Aids
on both knees anymore, but you can still
indulge in the delicious flavors of your
youth with Lancôme's Juicy Gelée lip
glosses ($16.50 each; lancome-usa.com).
Encased in adorable pudgy pots, the sheer
lip smackers are packed with bouncy
polymers that yield a springy texture
that's more like that of a Jell-o shot than
any gloss I've ever dunked my finger in.
Unlike sticky or messy formulas, the
gelées melt smoothly and neatly onto
lips, creating a full, glassy look without
the sting associated with lip plumpers.
And then there are the flavors themselves--
seven rainbow shades, from Pink Lollipop
to Kiwi Kick, that smell, taste, and look
just as yummy as their names suggest.

strand savers

Who doesn't pledge at least once a month to
use more natural products, give back to charitable
causes, and have fabulous hair? The problem is,
cramming all of those good intentions into an
already-overstuffed gym bag is enough to give
anyone a bad hair day. The solution? Ojon's
new Animated Styling Cream ($26; sephora.com,
shown) and Leave-in Glossing Cream ($30).
More natural? Check. Ojon’s latest formulas
are packed with ingredients like olive oil butter,
sweet almond oil, natural algae extracts, broccoli-
seed oil, and vitamin E (a combination that
sounds better for you than your usual takeout
Kung Pao). Charitable contributions? You bet.
A portion of the proceeds go to help the Moskito
Indian Tribes restore their traditional lifestyle
and the surrounding rainforests. And fabulous
hair? No doubt about it. The Animated Styling
Cream works like a mousse, gel, thickener,
and glossing serum in one. After working in a
dime-size amount, my fine hair felt considerably
thicker without looking greasy or stiff--and it
passed my very scientific ponytail test (requiring
only two wraps of the hair band instead of three).
Meanwhile, the Leave-in Glossing Cream con-
ditioned and smoothed my tresses, even taming
my midsummer frizzies. Oh, and that overstuffed
gym bag? Ojon's got that covered too. Both pro-
ducts can be used on wet or dry hair with different
and fantastic results, so you can experiment with
various combinations and applications. Once you
find the regimen that works best for you, it's a pledge
you won't intend to break.

so long

Although spandex survived the '80s with its reputation
a little worse for wear, its near-identical cousin, Lycra,
emerged from the decade unscathed--so much so that
today, from making sure our skinny jeans always fit to
giving that lacy cami some much-needed support, the
synthetic fiber is universally hailed as every girl's best
friend. And what's good for couture must be good for
cosmetics, right? Such is the rationale for Rimmel's
Lycra Lash Extender Mascara ($6.69; rimmel.com),
a new formula that draws upon the properties Lycra
is best known for (superior flexibility and elasticity)
to lengthen and curl lashes to impressive proportions.
The brand's twelfth lash offering, Lycra goes on like
a dream--a single coat yields serious length and
separation, and each additional stroke makes fringe
longer, thicker, and more feathery (with this wand and
formula, you couldn't create a clump if you tried).
What's more, it boasts a unique wax-and-polymer
blend that resists moisture and preserves curl for up
to 14 hours. For a naturally long look, sweep on one
coat and go; for uber-flirty, sky-high spikes, curl lashes
first, then apply the mascara. Either way, you'll find that
Lycra really does make everything fit better. Even lashes.

the brow factor

It is often said that the devil is in the details--
a maxim that holds especially true when it
comes to cosmetics (after all, a single renegade
smear can ruin an entire makeup application).
Conversely, the right beauty details can instantly
take a look it from eh to oooh, so some of the
most valuable products are those that play
secondary roles, offering little tweaks that
pack a wallop without taking center stage.
One such product is DuWop's Browwow kit
($34; sephora.com), an easy-to-use compact
that makes arches so flatteringly well-defined,
it deserves an award for Best Supporting

The kit includes a dual-sided angled brush
for flawless application; powder, to add color
and bulk up wimpy brows; a tinted pomade,
to smooth stray hairs and add shine; and the
cherry on top, a champagne highlighter, to
dab on the browbone. Unlike juggling a myriad
of products to achieve ocular perfection,
Browwow is cleverly proportioned for makeup
kits and on-the-go touch-ups. Plus, it comes in
two shades, the lighter of which enhanced my
blonde brows without looking unnatural. The
real test? The first time I rocked my newly per-
fected arches, my friend stared at me suspiciously:
"Did you get your hair done?" No. "Something's
different. A facial?" No. And my favorite: "Did
you lose weight?" Bottom line: From now on,
my brows are now speaking softly and carrying
a big ol' stick.

hair and now

Unilever's Sunsilk has long been one
of the world's most beloved hair-care
lines, but for many years, U.S. women
would've been hard pressed to find it,
unless they were vacationing overseas.
Fortunately, last month, the collection
arrived stateside to spread its unique
problem-solving approach throughout
North America. Like a tailor-made
prescription for whatever hair woe
ails you, the line includes shampoos,
conditioners, and styling creams, all
aimed at delivering targeted solutions
for undesirable strands. The brand's
color-coded system makes it easy to
choose the right formula, which, for
me, was Anti-Flat (the yellow bottle).

Although the Shampoo and Conditioner
succeeded in adding a bit of oomph to
my mane, it was the corresponding Styling
Crème that truly delivered on company's
promise to "turn blah into body and bounce."
Applied to towel-dried hair après-shower,
the crème pumped up the volume of my
fine strands considerably and boasted a
refreshing fruity-floral scent (in addition to
a distinct color, each formula features its
own fragrance). Also of note, the Sunsilk
line contains two formulas specially de-
signed for the hair-care needs of Latinas:
Anti-Caida, for breakage resistance; and
Anti-Esponja, to combat sponginess. What's
more, the products are attractively priced
at $3.59, meaning that you don't need to
be the Wizard of Oz to afford this rainbow.
Sunsilk is currently available at Wal-Mart
and at other mass-market retailers nation-
wide; visit Sunsilk.com for details and free

doctor's orders

Making an appointment with a high-profile Manhattan dermatologist
is about as easy as leapfrogging the waitlist for a Birkin bag. But
even if you're not an A-lister, you can still get first-class skin treat-
ment with Steven Victor MD--a new line of nourishing, anti-aging
products straight from the dermatologist's Upper East Side chemistry
set. Encased in luminous brushed-gold packaging (the kind you'll
want to display like little trophies on your bathroom counter), the
collection includes the Daily Anti-Aging Facial Cleanser, the Growth
Factor Serum, the Intensive Wrinkle Repair, the Eye Repair Rx, the
Bio-Nutritive Luxury Cream, and the Miracle Serum. In all cases, the
products boast a texture that's decadent yet lightweight and glides
on smoothly even after layering. Plus, the formulas contain no un-
necessary fragrances or colors.

So where do these luxe products get their anti-aging powers? From
a trifecta of botanicals, antioxidants, and cosmeceuticals. More spe-
cifically, a mix of tiger grass and banana plants addresses skin atrophy,
an amino-acid complex stimulates collagen production and reinforces
collagen and elastin fibers, the antioxidant edelweiss neutralizes free
radicals, peptides encourage cell turnover, and mineral salts and amino
acids serves as messengers, enabling skin to absorb various ingredients.
In addition, the line boasts a long list of patented formulas and other in-
gredients (including hibiscus-seed extract, which the company claims
has a Botox-like effect), but those who aren't scientifically inclined can
breathe a sigh of relief: The ingredients and directions are available in
both unabridged "Science of Beauty" inserts and delightfully brief, Cliffs
Notes-style versions.

All of this scientific speak, of course, doesn't mean much unless the co-
llection delivers visible improvements. And fortunately, after using the
Steven Victor MD regimen for two weeks, I noticed a real difference in my
skin--the surface was softer and smoother, with the comfortably clean
feeling you get from products that are actually good for you. Although
I'll continue to use the entire line, it should be noted that it's an in-
vestment (prices start at $65 for the cleanser, but hey, I'm a Dr. Victor
gal now). However, if you do want to limit yourself to one product, my
pick is the Bio-Nutritive Luxury Cream--a creamy anti-aging treatment
that absorbs quickly and leaves skin looking dewy all day. The line is
currently available at harveynichols.com and blissworld.com and is
scheduled to appear at Saks Fifth Avenue this fall; for more information
and retail locations, visit StevenVictorMD.com.

femme fatale

As every screen siren past and present can attest,
long, full, flirty lashes are a major beauty weapon.
By the same token, creating come-hither fringe
isn't always easy, especially if your lashes are like
mine: cursedly thin, stubbornly straight, and rendered
invisible in the light of day. The good news? As I
recently discovered, Lancôme's new wonder-mascara,
Fatale ($22; lancome-usa.com), amps up pale, wimpy
spikes to serious bombshell proportions. After swiping
on a single coat of Fatale, my lashes looked as thick
and full as they do with two coats of my standard
formula--a boost the brand attributes to its Filtex
silicone formula (for dangerously va-va-voom lashes,
apply multiple coats). In keeping with the trend
toward more rigid, comb-style applicators, the
Apliform 3-D Comb brush is triple-sided and collects
plenty of product between its ridges (which adds up
to even more vamp appeal). Unlike lesser formulas,
Lancôme’s latest doesn't flake, smear, or lose its
seductive power, even after 12 hours of wear and a
four-mile run. And the curl? Let's put it this way:
I've been crimping my lashes every day since I was
12, but after using Fatale, I'm seriously considering
throwing the wretched contraption out.