Welcome to CruiseMates Style! Our new column spotlights what's hot this minute in fashion, beauty and travel for discriminating cruisers.
I'm married, but I'm having a fling with Smashbox. Smashbox is the first makeup company I've discovered that it's possible to use all their products and be satisfied. I used to buy one company's eye shadow, another's foundation and a third's blush. But cruisers, I found makeup bliss. I love the size of Smashbox products; they're perfect for travel. I love the sturdiness; nothing fragile for that bumpy road between home and sea. Quality and stay-on power are superb. The latter is critical to all travelers, but particularly cruisers, who need make-up that can handle the salty sea air.
Smashbox makes two foundations I like. Sheer Focus is a tinted moisturizer, but it can be applied like foundation. It comes in a tube, and is less than three-ounces so it fits in that one-quart plastic bag for airline travel. It's UVA/UVB SPF 15 and provides just enough coverage for airline flights and onboard days. If my face is slightly red from too much deck time, I use Smashbox Halo, Hydrating Perfecting Powder over Sheer Focus. It's loose powder (always the best) that evens out your skin tone and I swear - makes fine lines disappear. Halo comes in a round compact style. Open the lid, give the interior a twist and just enough powder releases to lightly cover a brush. Never again worry about spills on a rocking ship or tour bus.
For true foundation, try Smashbox High Definition, Healthy FX Foundation. It's covers thoroughly and blends beautifully into the skin. Smashbox also makes tinted powders that color-correct skin. I often use Halo Yellow Color Correcting Hydrating Powder, which evens out my skin tone. This small compact also has a twist function to release the powder, too.
Metallic Cream Eye Liner Palette by Smashbox is another must-buy. The teensy rectangular container holds 10 different shimmery colors. Although they're eyeliners, and come with a tiny brush, they can double as eye shadow. Colors, like emerald, blue topaz and bronze, are saturated and sparkly - in tune with the latest bright-hues and metallic trends. The Palette (with a built-in mirror) fits in evening bags, for informal and formal night touch-ups.
Smashbox's web site is unusually informative. It offers extensive instruction on how to apply make-up, and displays photos of various looks, with demonstrations on how to recreate them. You can also "live chat" with a makeup artist, at no cost. Shipping is free in the U.S. (High Definition Healthy FX Foundation: $38. Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder: $59. smashbox.com)
While I'm the first to fawn over buttery-soft leather bags from Italy, I'm particularly thrilled when I can tout the virtues of an American-made handbag. So I'm happy to praise Brahmin, a family-owned handbag manufacturer headquartered in Massachusetts. All bags are designed and made in the Bay State. Brahmin bags are a rare breed that possesses no-nonsense sturdiness coupled with style.
When I pack for a cruise, I look at my handbag as my wardrobe anchor. It must go with everything I wear. It has to be sturdy enough to survive planes, taxis, hotels and restaurants - and still look great when I'm welcomed onboard. White or light-hued handbags won't do, nor will those delicate imported designer bags that can cost $2,000 or more. Neither my nerves nor bank account can handle that.
So when I'm ready to set sail, I pull a Brahmin bag from the closet. Brahmin makes an enticing variety of handbags, from classic to trend-conscious. Lyle Crossbody Tote, featured in Vogue, is particularly trendy for spring. Inspired by menswear, the hands-free bag has a thick canvas-and-leather strap and pops in green, orange or fuschia. A zip-top closure insures your items are secure when traveling.
Are you needing a cool evening bag? Allie Rose Crossbody is the ideal dressy night or dancing on-deck purse. It has a hanging rose fashioned of leather and long chain link strap. It's just big enough to hold lipstick, cabin keycard and other essentials.
But if I'm taking but one purse on a cruise, it's a Dagney bag. The Dagney Tramer Hobo is my favorite. It's stylish and sophisticated enough to tote when boarding a luxury ship with the Chanel and Gucci crowd. It works day and night, and is great for pre-and-post-cruise hotel stays. And it's practical. It has a zip top and lock detail. (You don't want cruise tickets falling out dashing through airline terminals.)
The croc-embossed, hand-woven leather (half glossy, half flat) is posh (and sensible) enough for the almost-Princess Kate. Dagney Tramer Hobo has double handles, an interior zip pocket, two organizer pockets, jewelry pocket, key-clip, and even, pen-loops (I'm thinking, custom forms). My favorite hue is Light Pink. It's light enough to evoke spring, but dark enough to hide any dirt or dust. How perfect for travel is that? ($395; Brahmin.com)
We know that cosmetics and hair care products can be absorbed into our skin and that chemicals and other unnatural ingredients used to stabilize these products may impact our long-term health. The list of ingredients of concern includes parabens and sulfates.
But until recently, the quality of many of the organic products weren't up to snuff. Today, the news is far better. As demand increased, companies have risen to the occasion, creating product that outperforms its chemical-laden competitors.
I.C.O.N. is one such company. Formed by two passionate entrepreneurs, Jorge Rubin (based in Spain and running ICON Europe) and Chiara (based in Los Angeles), I.C.O.N. makes sulfate and paraben-free products that are like a spa for hair. They're divided into four categories: Hydration, Detox, Anti-Aging and Indulgent. Hydration is perfect for cruisers, whose locks are subject to assaults by humidity, wind and sea air. Drench, the moisturizing shampoo, contains silk and wheat proteins to moisturize, amino acids to nourish and aloe to add shine. Free conditioner hydrates via shea butter and protects hair with babassu seed oil (from palm seeds grown in the Amazon). I do recommend using Inner-Home Moisture Mask, too. This hair mask works from the inside out, replenishing and repairing hair structure from inner to outer layers. Pack these three products, or use Inner Home in-between cruises, so your hair recovers from "cruise blues."
When packing space is tight, I travel with I.C.O.N.'s Indulgent products, which do double duty for hair and body. One Soul is a hair and body shampoo, with Vitamins A, C, E and Vitamin B Complex. It lathers beautifully and pH balances both hair and body. Soul Mate, hair and body conditioner, detangles hair and moisturizes and protects skin with antioxidants. These two bottles do it all and are unisex. Pretty nifty. (Drench; $16.50. Free; $21.50. Inner-Home Moisture Mask; $23. iconproducts.com)
When I saw the Kefty Home Gym at a GBK Gifting Lounge before this year's Oscars, I was beyond skeptical. This small handheld exerciser could provide a workout similar to doing reps on gym equipment? It looked like a late-night infomercial gadget that would fall apart in days. I was wrong. Not only is it effective (and I regularly workout at a gym as a comparison), it's also lightweight (4.4 pounds) and portable. In fact, it was selected by the Mars Institute for astronauts to use in space exploration rover simulations in the Arctic.
I decided I'd pack a Kefty on my next cruise and skip the ship gym. I took it apart in less than 60 seconds (it's a rubber-tensioned tubing frame made of high-impact polymers) and rolled it inside my yoga mat.
I like to work out onboard as I do at home the same time as other cruisers, before breakfast or dinner. I don't like waiting for machines or working out in crowded gyms. Also, gyms are breeding grounds for germs and all cruisers are aware of fast-spreading shipboard viruses.
Kefty works perfectly within the confines of a cabin. It's only 38-inches-long by 2-inches wide. It can perform more than 220 Pilates exercises and more than 450 exercises and routine combinations for an entire body workout. It can also be used by people in wheelchairs. (In fact, the web site offers a video wheelchair workout.)
Kefty Home Gym is made in the USA for safety and quality control. It comes with a video explaining its use and the web site offers comprehensive information, too. ($129; kefty.com)
A favorite of honemooners, Paul Gauguin is renowned for its romantic South Pacific cruises. And now this cruise line is making preparing for a sailing easier: In partnership with New Headings LLC, it launched Gauguin Apparel, an e-store.
The e-store covers lots of bases. Think hats, polo shirts, long-sleeved shirts (keep the mosquitoes at bay), footwear and socks for men, women and children. As befitting tropical travel, the clothing is lightweight, sun-protective, waterproof, windproof and moisture-wicking (keeps wet away from your skin).
Gauguin Apparel also offers water-sports apparel, such as wetsuits, gloves and reef shoes. And necessities like sunglasses, binoculars, sunscreen and insect repellant. Luggage, such as duffel bags and backpacks, and camera cases and security products, are featured, too.
Many products are procured from top companies, such as Patagonia, Eagle Creek and Tilley Endurables. I like Econscious All Organic Baseball Hat and get it embroidered with "TAHITI by Gauguin." Adventurer Sun Shirt is another great choice and can also sport a logo. It's UPF 25 rated (to protect against UV rays) and its long sleeves can be converted to short sleeves by using the roll tabs. It has secure chest pockets, and is crafted of lightweight, highly breathable fabric. It dries quickly, so you can wash it one day and wear it the next. (Baseball hat; $16.95. Adventure Sun Shirt; $54.95. paulgauguin.newheadings.com)