October marked the beginning of the cooler months. No better opportunity to test out some outstanding items, ranging from hair care and cosmetics to skin care and clothing and jewelry. Dig in!

gradeAwiltcardiWilt: Long Sleeve Cardigan in charcoal
One of my favorite t-shirt lines, this cardigan is cool and easy to wear. Buttoned up or undone, it's the perfect throw on over skinnies. The best part for me, tush coverage. I could live in this easy layer all season long.

gradeAObagi: Hydrate Facial Moisturizer
My skin has already begun to show signs of winter with dry, parched skin. Obagi Hydrate answers it with innovative hydromanil technology that delivers even hydration that lasts throughout the day. Derived from the tara seed, this natural moisturizer reduces water loss and holds water on the surface of your skin. It continuously releases active moisturizing compounds within the skin, too. It feels silky, yet means business. My skin saw an immediate turnaround (within 30 seconds) that lasted all day.

gradeB2Acquaflora: Reconstructor
This leave-in conditioner is formulated for damaged hair and is loaded with all the good stuff, like every product in the Acquaflora line. This conditioner contains keratin and aminoacids. It leaves your hair soft and manageable. And just like the other products, smells divine!

gradeB1TSDistrictBraceletTwisted Silver: District Bracelet
Is Catching Fire out yet? Perfect timing with the District bracelet. This blackened brass bracelet speaks to fall's jewelry trends — a single statement on the wrist. In this targeted piece of urban goodness, you can lunch with friends, meet up after work for cocktails or tear up the dance floor.

gradeAVincent Longo: Lip Vinyl in Arena*, Pearl X Eyeshadow in Luna Beach*
I am so in love with this new lip gloss, Lip Vinyl. The click-pen packaging makes it a snap to apply, with absolutely no mess. The velvet-tipped applicator dispenses color evenly, with no stickiness, and coats lips in rich color and shine. And the berry color is beautiful! Luna Beach is the tiniest palette you have ever seen, boasting over six colors. This compact brings multi-textured shades, from matte to shine, that effortlessly blend. It may look intimidating, but it's the easiest palette I have ever used. You can single out color or swipe across all of them for a truly unique look. This has become my new 'go to' compact.

gradeB1Kevyn Aucoin: The Essential Mascara in rich black*
Kevyn Aucoin knows how to make a great mascara. And this new multi-functioning mascara is no exception. The ginormous plush brush delivers the look of two coats of mascara in one application. While the brush may seem like you'd make a mess around your eyes, it's quite easy to use. You can use different sides of the brush, too, to create more volume and length. The only sacrifice is amount of time you get out of the tube. But it's worth it!

gradeAKACelestialBronzerKevyn Aucoin: Tropical Nights Celestial Bronzing Veil*
This has to be one of the most gorgeous bronzers I have ever laid eyes on. The ombre multi-purpose powder can be used to bronze, highlight and sculpt. You can even use it as eyeshadow. The nylon-enhanced formula provides a flawless application.

The team of testers were not paid to review these products. However, most of the products listed above were supplied as samples for review purposes.

*Available at Jeffre Scott in Charlotte and Turner and Scott in Asheville.

 


August and September zoomed by. Don't they always? However, the products did not go unnoticed. Settle in for a twofer of reviews — two months of fashion, beauty and skin care goodness.

isabelmarantbootsgradeAISABEL MARANT: Caleen boot
Isabel Marant is one of my favorite designers. So when these spring shorties came out, they were mine. I'm not much of a summer boot girl, but spring and fall/winter — all the time! This particular style boot is incredibly comfortable, no breaking in required. The concealed wedge gives you a little secret lift, too. I love the ivory color and aged look with darker coloration around the toe bed. And the studded gems ... delish!

gradeB2YSL: Baby Doll Volume Effect Faux Cils Mascara in black
This mascara glides on smoothly and evenly, giving eyes major impact. It provides both volume and length and does not smudge, smear or flake. The only downfall is the sticky nature of the formula. It's great on upper lashes only. However, when applied to lower lashes as well, it tends to catch when you blink.

gradeAtwbaroqueTwisted Silver: Baroque necklace
This Baroque-inspired vintage beauty brings tons of visual interest in one simple piece. The length works perfectly with most necklines and it is easy to layer. The best part, Twisted Silver will be having a LAST CALL SALE October 1-4 and this can be yours for merely $20!! Check out all the other fabulous jewels, as well!

gradeB2Jockey: Double Lined Contour Bra, Tailored Contour Bra both in nude
When jockey introduced their new Jockey Bra, I had to see what the fuss was about. I am a Chantelle girl when it comes to bras. However, there aren't many bras that come in a width size of 30. I ordered the Volumetric Fit Kit and figured out my size, which was fairly easy. The difficulty really lies in trying on and when ordered from your home, it's trial and error. The first bra came and the fit wasn't quite right at the top of the cup. However, after one quick phone call, I was confident the customer service rep pointed me in the right direction. A week later, the perfect fit arrived in the form of the Double Lined Contour. I love this bra. It's comfortable and fits me better around the rib cage than any other bra. Soon thereafter, I ordered the Tailored Contour Bra. It, too, fits perfectly. And the girls stand at attention! The only draw back is that there does seem to be a little too much separation.

gradeAdarbybootightsBootights: Lacie Lace Darby in black
Bootights are my favorite fall/winter tights. The built-in sock makes it so much more comfortable to wear with boots. The weight/fabric of the sock is substantial, so they keep your feet warm, yet your feet do not sweat. The material keeps your foot from slipping in your boot, too. Recently, Bootights introduced a knee-hi version with an attached ankle performance sock. I love the lace at the top of this opaque knee-hi. They stay put all day. Makes it hard to go back to regular socks that fall down in boots!

gradeAAcquaflora Nutrição Celular: Shampoo and Conditioner, Power Dose
This line of products from Brazil is designed to nourish, regenerate and hydrate hair. Formulated with a unique combination of carbocystein, keratin and panthenol that together replenishes lost nutrients and, in my case, leaves the hair moisturized, shiny, and dare I say, thicker. The shampoo is foamy and cleans really well. It left my hair perfectly clean without feeling stripped, like other foamy shampoos. This entire line smells really good, and the shampoo has a delightful scent — think fresh and light with a dash of pleasant musk. The biggest plus I can report is that my hair was already detangled after shampooing, before I even got to the conditioner. My hair is naturally curly and I have to use some sort of detangler or conditioner to avoid a matted mess. My hair was smooth after shampooing, which is definitely a unique result. The conditioner has more body out of the bottle than most conditioners. The texture is quite different. It holds its shape in the hand but is still creamy. I have a lot of good things to say about it! First, all that texture and still so light! This product does not weigh the hair down. The results were phenomenal, as in hydration, softness, bouncability, flexibility and natural vavoom. You don't even have to leave it in, I just combed it through my wet hair in the shower with my fingers and rinsed. Clearly the formulation of this product is effective at plumping up the hair shaft. My curls were nourished and amazingly shiny and happy. The power-packed dose is formulated with moisturizing ingredients — hydrolyzed wheat protein for rebuilding the hair, Vitamin B5 for revitalizing the scalp and hair and amino acids which support the healthy structure of the hair. The product has a milky white color, slightly creamy, and a lovely scent, which stays infused in the hair post usage. I used mine after shampooing and conditioning, left it in for 15 minutes and then rinsed. The effects were immediate. My hair felt healthier, smoother and softer. My hair gained body and strength after the use of this product. This deep treatment met every expectation and then some!

gradeB2Acquaflora: Forma
The products in the Forma line are specifically designed for curly hair. The Forma moisturizing leave-in styling product conditioner contains phospholipids and plant extracts which work to penetrate the hair shaft. I used this product following the Nutrição Celular Shampoo and Conditioner, and while it did help my hair stay detangled, as well as holding the post application curls, I didn't have the bounce I was hoping for. The product delivered anti-frizz properties, it smells good and my hair remained soft — must for this anti-crunch girl.

gradeAAcquaflora: Intensiva
I love, love, love this leave-in conditioning spray! It is super hydrating — my hair was silky, soft, touchable and frizz free. Intensiva is formulated with vegetable collagen, which explains why the moisture from the spray seemed to bond to the water in my post shower curls. My, sometimes crazy, hair became zen. A few minutes blowing the curls around with a blow dryer and I was ready for the day. Did I mention it smells dreamy?

yogasmogagradeAYOGASMOGA: Tippy Toe Legging in boy blue
This is definitely my favorite compression workout pant, hands down! I am in Pure Barre class daily, and I need options. While I don't typically gravitate toward tight fitting yoga pants, I have come to appreciate this particular pair. It has just the right about of compression to make you look and feel good, but it's movable. There's no yanking or hiking pants up during class, which happens with all of my other yoga pants. The waistband is wide, higher than most and super comfortable. I could actually live in these pants all day (but I don't, I promise).

gradeB1Splits 59: Freestyle 3/4 Sleeve Layering Tee in b/w
This is the perfect piece to throw on over a workout tank on your way to barre class. It's so comfortable, you just may not want to take it off. It's cut loose with smooth, super soft fabric which makes layering a snap. My only wish, is that it was a titch longer. Otherwise, perfect.

gradeB1Chantecaille: Brilliant Gloss in Love
I am not a big lip gloss girl, as I wear my hair down daily, which isn't always conducive to lip gloss. However, this particular formula is less sticky and has surprised me with its wearability, even with my hair down. The botanical microspheres plump lips. This color is soft and easy with a dramatic eye, or for a natural look. And Love happens to be one of Angelina Jolie's favorites!

The team of testers were not paid to review these products. However, most of the products listed above were supplied as samples for review purposes.

July allowed for a bit of relaxation in between workouts with some great products from our review queue. And getting dressed afterwards, easy peasy with these key staples!

sweatybettypilatesocksgradeB1Sweaty Betty: Pilates Socks in Charcoal Lime
This stylish pair of socks is great for barre class. I love that they are thinner than most barre socks, so they feel better on your feet during class. The grips on the soles function better than most grippy socks, as well. The over foot elastics ensure that the sock stays in place. They launder well and last a fair amount of time.

gradeASachajuan: Dark Volume Powder*
I love the original volume powder for hair, however this formula is better for deeper shades. The spray powder creates volume and provides structure. It leaves a matte finish and smells delicious! It's perfect in between shampoos. It's a 'can't live without' kind of product!

tskeynecklacegradeB1Twisted Silver: Key Necklace
This vintage brass skeleton key necklace is an everyday favorite. The chain features delicate feminine details. The necklace is versatile and fun. You'll reach for it everyday. I like wearing it long, but you can double it up, too. And no two keys are alike so you know you're getting something truly unique!

gradeAWilt: Slub Slouch Boyfriend Tee
The price tag may take some getting used to, but wearing it certainly won't. This is one tee you can't pass up. In fact, you'll buy it in duplicate. This t-shirt makes whatever you're wearing look that much cooler. While one of my Wilt tees got a tiny hole in it, it was easy to sew/repair myself, with no issues since. Wilt also makes dresses, tank tops and cardigans. However, this brand goes super fast. If you find it in your local retailer, snatch it up!

gradeAElta MD: UV Aero Broad-Spectrum SPF 45
The first continuous spray sunscreen with zinc oxide! 9.3% to be exact. This transparent zinc oxide sprays on white so you can be sure of coverage, then it dries clear. It provides fast, convenient sun protection. It's oil-free and water resistant for up to 80 minutes. 

energybrabluegradeB1lululemon: Energy Bra in Twin Stripe Spry Blue and Groovy Stripe Nimbus
Whenever a new version of this sports bra comes out, I immediately make my way to the nearest lululemon store. This is one style that fits every single time. I don't even have to try it on. My only wish, inside cup separators. The back straps are so pretty, you won't mind them peeking out from your workout top.

gradeASanuk: Rasta Knotty sandals
These are the best flip flops ever! They require no breaking in — they're comfortable from day 1. The styling is better than your typical flip flops, providing dainty rope detail along the front, sides and back. They look great on feet! If you fall in the 1/2 size category, buy down. They stretch slightly. And beware, you will want these in more than one color option!

The team of testers were not paid to review these products. However, most of the products listed above were supplied as samples for review purposes.

*Available at Jeffre Scott in Charlotte and Turner and Scott in Asheville

These past two crazy busy months have flown by. To the point where reviews simply had to be combined. There's lots of product goodness to share, so settle in and enjoy!

gradeB3Kate Somerville: 360 Body Tanning Towelette
It's nice to find a quick and easy way to self tan. Especially on the go. This towelette gives you a nice, deep tan. However, it's not fool proof. Even with a little lotion around my toes, ankles, knees and elbows I still found mistakes. The convenience and color are nice, but the mistakes made are pricey.

gradeAtsgeometricnecklaceTwisted Silver: Stardust Necklace
Inspired by the iconic 1950s Vegas Stardust Hotel, this geometric deco brass necklace embraces simplicity to its fullest. It gives oomph to any outfit, casual to dressy. Layered or not, you can't take your eyes off of it. And bonus, double wrap it around your wrist and wear it as a bracelet!

gradeB1KateCeuticals: Multi-Active Repair Lifting and Lineless Eye Cream
This eye cream is amazing! It feels light, though it's hydrating. The first thing I noticed was the color-correcting micro pearls which diffuse light. Definitely makes you look wide awake. It also contains caffeine to help reduce puffiness, a proprietary blend of peptides to stimulate collagen production, Commiphora Mukul Resin Extract (from an Indian tree well-known in Ayurvedic medicine) to produce a volumizing effect and a special blend of Soybean Lipid Extracts to repair the skin’s lipid barrier. This is the first thing I reach for each morning when I wake up because it truly makes a difference. I'd prefer different packaging, though, as product can easily get wasted if you push down too hard.

gradeApatchpantsFree People: Patched Twill Herringbone Pants
Favorites! Love! In fact, I have two pairs in different colors. These pants are comfy and they make everything you put with them look super cool. They stretch a bit, so go a size down. Happy to have found these.

gradeCGap: Destructed Always Skinny Skimmer in white
While I love the distressed nature of this particular pair of jeans, the fit is a bit odd. I have a few pairs of Always Skinny jeans from Gap, which fit great. This pair doesn't even come close. Even at the super duper price, I'd rather find a great fitting pair of jeans and distress them myself.

gradeB1Lily and Laura: Glass Beaded Bracelets
The easiest way to layer this summer is by adding simple beaded bracelets. I love the color variety and comfort in this particular style. The fine glass Nepal bracelets roll right over your hand. The Nepalese women artists custom design these creations which are handcrafted in the Kathmandu Valley. Lily and Laura use the finest glass and sterling silver beads. Their focus is on improving the quality of lives of the Nepalese women while providing top quality, handcrafted beautiful glass beaded bracelets.

gradeB2rosegoldwedgesRosegold: Lars wedges
Finding a wedge that goes from spring into fall without missing a beat is not easy. However, this one by Rosegold changes everything. From jeans to shorts to dresses, this pair of shoes goes with practically everything casual. The incline is only 3 inches and they are relatively easy to walk in. And the price is fantastic.

gradeAN-Fini: Lycra Shapewear Seamless Bra with Underwire
I hadn't heard of a sleeping bra before a year ago. And since I found this one, I cannot live without it. In fact, this is my second. It's well constructed, stays put, slips on over your head (or you can step into it and pull it up) and it's unbelievably comfortable. I suppose you could wear this bra during the day, but I prefer to keep it as my sleeping bra. With a teenager in the house, skipping a bra is not an option.

gradeB2theoryblouseTheory: Afta Beausoleil Blouse
This is almost the perfect popover blouse. It goes with everything from jeans to silk pants to skirts. The fit is phenomenal! The disappointing factor is the material. It's 100% rayon and if you drive, which most of us do, the seat belt does a number on it. At full price, the material should be of better quality.

The team of testers were not paid to review these products. However, most of the products listed above were supplied as samples for review purposes.

Where did April go? We're not quite sure. But we know for certain that the products we reviewed over this flash of a month captured our attention. And made the time that passed too quickly oh so enjoyable.

gradeB1Vincent Longo: The Curl mascara*
A lovely addition to the VL Cosmetics family, this mascara is easy to layer for a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed look, all day long. You can bend the tip to give you the best angle for application. The slim size means you can carry it with you to apply one more coat at the end of your work day as you are heading out to meet friends for dinner.

gradeAraglanlululemon: Clari-Tee Short Sleeve in white/green
I have to admit, I like this tee too much to work out in it. The raglan style and fabulous green color make it a cinch to style for a sporty-meets-edgy look (think ripped up white jeans, long pendant necklace, layered bracelets and fabulous wedges). The tee is sheer, so layering underneath works best. It launders well, and it's even pre-shrunk. I did go up one size in this particular top to get more length. And I do wear it to and from my workout. I just prefer to wear it with jeans.

gradeANatura Bissé: Oxygen Mousse*
I am no stranger to Natura Bissé. Just like I'm no stranger to the latest and greatest entries in a line. Enter, the new Oxygen Mousse in the Oxygen line. Smells just as delicious as every other product in this line, but performs to new standards. This purifying foam cleanses superbly while restoring skin’s youthfulness and radiance. It's formulated with biotechnological water extracted from Spirulina, a green algae containing proteins, vitamins and minerals. It also contains Mushroom extract to regulate and balance skin, visibly reducing pores. It finishes with an even, matte appearance. But watch out, the men in your lives will steal it. I've caught my son and hubby red-handed numerous times. You might want to get them their own.

gradeAtswonderlandTwisted Silver: Wonderland bracelet
This is one of those bracelets you won't want to layer around. It's fabulous all on its own. Made out of brass and cut to showcase a beautiful summer day, this statement piece has definitely been grabbing attention. And rightfully so!

gradeALe Métier de Beauté: Peau Vierge Anti-Aging Complex
I am a sucker for an amazing tinted moisturizer. Well, this one is all that and then some! More of a treatment, this formula contains retinol to improve skin over the long term. It's sheer and weightless, and its light-diffusing pigments reveal nothing less than a flawless complexion. It looks gorgeous on skin! Bonus — it contains Titanium Dioxide to help shield those harmful UVA and UVB rays. If you're prone to dry skin, use only during the warmer months of the year and switch to something more hydrating in the cooler months.

The team of testers were not paid to review these products. However, most of the products listed above were supplied as samples for review purposes.

*Available at Jeffre Scott in Charlotte and Turner and Scott in Asheville