Ask Sam: My Top 10 Must Haves From The Makeup Show

Make-up show

The annual Makeup Show NYC at the Metropolitan Pavilion was packed to the hilt for two days as makeup artists, both seasoned and aspiring, muscled their way through the human traffic jam to get their hands on must-have staples and explore new products. Here were my top ten must-haves:  

Tweezerman Tweezers 

I got them in a new metallic purple. Good tweezers are a must-have for the current brow-centric looks.  


A special tape that makes lashes a snap to put on. A hypoallergenic, non-irritating, comfortable-to-wear tape adhesive that is an alternative to fighting with eyelash glues.  

Ellis Faas  

This collection I am intrigued by, as all the colors in her edited collection are found in the human body. This year I snatched up color number E305, an iridescent, greenish, creme that comes in a wand with a brush at the end similar to a lip gloss or under-eye concealer. It goes on wet, and dries down to an immovable finish within seconds. The color is iridescent like fish-scales or bugs’ wings and hard to resist! This color makes eyes look amazing. I couldn’t even wait for the people at Ellis Faas to send my office one for review—I needed it immediately. I love it!  

Naked Cosmetics Advanced Skin Cream  

It’s organic, it’s natural, it’s cruelty free. Its formula contains aloe vera, amino acids, vitamins and minerals, shea butter and other oils. It also contains a special grade of algae and manuka honey which both have healing properties. I have a very volatile skin, almost a karmic weight I must bear being in the beauty industry. Most creams, potions, lotions, primers and foundations break me out! At first I was tentative and decided I would try it the day before my dermatologist appointment. I put it on a couple of irritated spots. By the next morning they were significantly calmer. After seeing my dermatologist for a peel, I used it as my moisturizer and my skin feels amazing with no new breakouts! I bought two big tubs of it at the show. My body is also thanking me. This cream can also be used as an eyeshadow primer. It’s gentle enough to be put straight on the eyelid and under the eyes.  

Cinema Secrets Super Sealer  

The industry’s best kept secret for no-sweat beauty is Super Sealer by Cinema Secrets. It’s a sweat inhibitor for the face. If you have very oily skin, do a “Super Sealer Sandwich!”  On clean, dry skin spray the Super Sealer on your face and allow it to dry for thirty seconds or six seconds with a blow dryer on “cool”. Continue your daily makeup routine, and when finished, give your face another spray with your Super Sealer and you’ll be sweat resistant all day!  

Cinema Secrets Brush Cleaner  

The 32oz bottles got entirely sold out! As artists clamored for the much-loved formula. It is antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti microbial, yet has no alcohol in it so it doesn’t strip your brushes. A favorite amongst makeup artists and a must-have for anybody who uses makeup brushes.  

Inglot’s “Freedom System”  

A makeup artist’s dream revolutionizing what a makeup artist schleps in their box. The lugging is over. Everything can now be magnetically stacked together in flat palette-style trays that are completely customizable. The only thing you’d need to bring are wipes, brushes, sponges, and mascara after this, making the days of a rolling trunk big enough to take care of the entire set of an MGM production into a small, manageable brick.  

Too Faced “Better than Sex” Mascara  

Great buildable volume. Not at all a disappointment. The hourglass shaped brush makes for very even distribution of product and va-va-voom lashes   

Marcelle “Xtension Plus” Lengthening and Curling Mascara 

Defines and lengthens. Great after applying your volumizing mascara to separate, lengthen and comb out clumps.  

NARS “Laguna” Bronzer  

For keeping and maintaining a summer glow, make sure your skin is well exfoliated. Apply a self tanner and use a tinted sunscreen, followed by a bronze-colored primer. Replace your pressed powder with “Laguna” bronzer by NARS. Adding layers of color will add depth and dimension to your skin which will make you look very beautiful and natural. You’ll be glowing for days! 

Inglot Make-up for Valentine’s Day

Life is full of surprises! Just when I thought I’d seen it all, I got introduced to a magnificent cosmetic line created by chemist, Mr. Inglot. Their cosmetics come in their “Freedom System” magnetic packaging that allows you to build your own palettes!

I tried a a shadow duo in gold with a grayish platinum that looks gorgeous on any skin.

I’m also in love with two iridescent glosses, #544 and #546 that make your lips voluptuous and glossy. The iridescence shows of the contours of your lips when the light hits it.  Love it!

Chemical Peel with Dr Parikh at Tribeca Skin Centre

The only man who sees me with no make-up whatsoever, the one man who knows all this leopard’s spots, scars and fine lines, is Dr. Sherwin Parikh at Tribeca Skin Centre at 315 Church Street.

When I have a lot of back-to-back days in full hair and make-up, sometimes my skin can start to act a little out of control.  A facial can help, but it simply is not going to “re-set” my skin the way a peel does. Dr. Parikh is a fantastic dermatologist who understands the problems of hyper-pigmentation that can be especially challenging to darker skin tones with unruly complexions. He is also the hippest, kindest, most positive person anyone would want to meet.  Full of brilliance and warmth, you could just eat him with a spoon!

I always walk out of there glowing, looking slightly windblown, and whether we agree to set the peel to gentle or “A deep fry please!” that determines whether I’ll gently flake for a few days or start to peel like a snake on day two following.  I suggest the deep fry, followed by a mellow weekend of catching up with laundry, cleaning, reading and social networking.

The result, glowing clear skin that is brighter, firmer, smoother and more uniform. The two days of rest and putting ones’ life in order, also did some good, I’m sure!

Additionally, when a dermatologist tells me there is a product on the market they like, I listen and promptly purchase it!  In this case, it’s called M2 Mandelic Malic High Potency Skin Refinish.  It claims to do everything.  So potent, you can not use it for one week after a peel. I can’t wait!  I’ll keep you all posted!

GAL APPROVED Weekend: NYC Christmas Dining, Pretty Writing Journals and Your Own DivaGal Makeup Artist NYC!

New York Central Restaurant

DINE. Cook on Christmas? Why not throw out conventionality this holiday and dine out on the big day? New York Central restaurant inside the Grand Hyatt hotel on 42nd St. is offering a Christmas and New Year’s Eve menu (with 6 pm and 9 pm seatings). The DivaGals dined there recently and enjoyed a wonderfully hearty meal of shrimp and grits (in NYC, no less!), salad, scallops, steak and an incredible apple pie dessert. The staff is warm and attentive – ask for the server who pours olive oil divinely – the food plentiful and the location, Grand Station central! Call to make your reservation now. New York Central, 109 East 42nd St., (646) 213-6865. See more pics of our fabulous meal on the DivaGals Facebook page.

STYLE. Why should your notebooks be drab? from May Designs, you can find notebooks and cards with covers that offer a punch of color and a pop of pizzazz. You can personalize your covers with monograms, and customize the inside for a book that’s uniquely you, for only $17!


CHEER. The DivaGals had a blast at the annual CBS Holiday party. We chatted with the ladies of The Talkand traded style secrets with Person of Interest‘sMichael Emerson! Look for our exclusive coverage next week!

GLAM. Our own Image Gal Samantha von Sperling is making a guest appearance as a key makeup artist for Guerlain, D&G and YSL at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. Stop by to meet our resident expert on making you look your best! See dates and times below.

Dec. 14: D&G 12:15 pm – 8:45 pm
Dec. 15: Guerlain 11 am – 7 pm
Dec.  16: YSL 12 pm – 8 pm
Dec.  19: YSL 12 pm – 8 pm
Dec.  21: D&G 12:30 pm -7 pm
Dec.  23: YSL12 pm – 8 pm
Dec.  24: D&G 9:30 am – 6 pm
Dec. 26: D&G 7:30 am – 4 pm
Dec.  27: D&G 11 am – 7:30 pm

photo credit: Grand Hyatt, Amanne Media Group

Prepping Students for Sorority Rush (The New York Times)


Published: July 16, 2012

MARGARET KING of Birmingham, Ala., was at a loss about how to help her older daughter prepare to rush at the University of Virginia. In the South, where sororities have long been a momentous rite of passage, the road to sisterhood is long and not so clearly marked.

Cary Norton for The New York Times
Pat Grant, left, and Marlea Foster coach a client on the dos and don’ts of sorority rush, which at many campuses begins in August.

So Mrs. King, who graduated from Yale in 1984, before it had any sororities, enlisted the aid of Marlea Foster and Pat Grant, local consultants who had coached their own daughters through rush at Furman, the University of Georgia and Auburn University. Naming themselves theRushbiddies, they opened shop in 2009 after hearing about the rush misfortunes of their daughters’ friends. About 50 mothers and their “chicks,” as the Biddies affectionately call them, attended one of their two-day workshops in April ($100 a couple), complete with mock rush party, wardrobe hints and paperwork prep.

And there is a mound of it. The smart rushee, the Biddies advise, will have a résumé stressing community service, leadership, academics and teamwork, letters of recommendation from alumnae of each chapter, preferably on the campus in question, and reference letters.

With the help of Ms. Foster and Ms. Grant, who wears a pink feather boa during workshops, Mrs. King asked alumnae of about 10 chapters, several from U.Va., to write her daughter’s recommendations. To guide their plaudits, she sent them packets with a professional photograph, transcript and résumé. To thank them, she dropped off a bottle of rosé in their mailboxes.

The rush proved successful, but, she says, “I’m just glad I didn’t have four daughters.”

For a generation that grew up on tutors, admission counselors and relentless competition, prepping for rush seems only natural. A mini-industry of blogs, Web sites, books and consultants now helps them prepare for sorority recruitment and all its fallout, professionalizing what was once left to older siblings.

Samantha von Sperling is an image consultant in New York, but lately her bread-and-butter Wall Street clients have asked her to help their daughters get ready for rush at schools like Harvard; the University of Wisconsin, Madison; and New York University, which has added three chapters since 2006 and more than doubled the number of sisters, to 570.

“It’s the same kind of coaching I do on Wall Street,” Ms. von Sperling says.

Sororities are emerging in surprising force at campuses not usually associated with the Greek tradition. Students raised on Facebook and fears about post-college careers view sororities as the ultimate social network and an extension of the community service begun in high school. Nationwide, membership is up, growing a bit more than 15 percent from 2008 to 2011, to 285,543 undergraduates, according to the National Panhellenic Conference, which represents 26 old-line sororities.

Twenty-eight percent of female undergraduates at George Washington University last semester were Greek, about double that in 2006; at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa., the number reached a high of 50 percent; at the University of Rochester, 22 percent; at the University of Pennsylvania, 29 percent.

Though new chapters are being added and membership expanded, competition is palpable for hot sororities. “The most sought-after organizations aren’t able to keep up with the demand,” says Matt Supple, director of Greek life at the University of Maryland, which recently added a new chapter.

Which sororities get the most first-choice rankings is a closely guarded secret.

“Sorority recruitment is like no other experience that you will ever have for the rest of your life,” says Sunday Tollefson, author of “Rush Right: Reveal Your Best You During Sorority Recruitment.” “It’s like speed dating meets interviewing meets beauty pageant meets upscale academic summer camp, complete with a counselor.”

Rush often begins in August or early fall — for January rush, substitute Uggs for fashionable flats. At the University of Mississippi, which has nine sororities, all candidates attend a first-round “philanthropy” event at each chapter that includes learning about its charitable work. Candidates can visit up to six chapters on the second round, depending on how many invite them to return, and three on the final.

In the early rounds, they have only minutes to make a positive impression. The trick, says Ms. Tollefson, whose Web site,, aims to demystify rush, is to be memorable for 10 minutes after each event. That’s when sororities typically decide who will be cut.

Appealing facial expressions, confident body language and good conversational skills are critical. “Practice, practice, practice in the mirror, saying your name, and see what you look like when you listen,” advises Denise Pietzsch, an etiquette consultant in Ohio who works discreetly with clients heading to Miami University. “If you’re a great active listener, they will remember you because you let them talk.” Her typical fee: $125 an hour.

Ms. von Sperling offers a Friday-to-Sunday intensive, for $8,000. One day is devoted to carrying yourself properly and the art of conversation. Treat rush, she says, as you would a job interview. Avoid politics and religion. “I teach them how to make interesting small talk: what you saw at the cinema, a trip to Europe. I don’t know too many 20-year-olds who are having a debate about economics.” Another day is for getting physically ready — hair, makeup and wardrobe. Ms. von Sperling organizes “outfits down to accessories, completely strategized.” Just in case a client forgets, outfits are photographed and placed in a style file.

When Rachel Lewis was president of Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Kansas, parents asked: “Should I buy all J. Crew clothing? Do they need designer purses?” Ms. Lewis, a 2010 graduate, recently wrote “Recruitment 101: an Insider’s Guide to Sorority Recruitment” and started up Sorority Corner, a membership-based Web site. Her advice: “Dress like you are meeting your boyfriend’s parents. If it’s too short or too tight or too out there, it won’t impress.”

Sundresses by Lilly Pulitzer, the designer of happily hued clothing, are particulary popular for August rush. Two years ago, the company introduced the “Sorority Line” — totes, scarves, makeup bags and the like — using chapters’ colors and symbols. Sales are strongest in the South: “OBSESSED! E-mailing this to the entire Gamma Psi chapter at Wofford College!” gushed one fan on the company Facebook page.

Copyright 2012 Lilly Pulitzer
A swatch from Lilly Pulitzer’s “Sorority Line” of clothing.

The Rushbiddies host a fashion workshop at Saks Fifth Avenue in Birmingham; they also give individual consultations. In late May, they visited a client’s home in an affluent Birmingham cul-de-sac for a final session. They reviewed paperwork, dispensed advice and vetted dresses for August rush at Auburn. “This I love,” exclaimed Ms. Grant of a one-shoulder black cocktail dress destined for the last rush event. “It’s not too over the top.” And shoes? “Black strappy sandals,” said Ms. Foster.

During the session, the rushee, Mallie, who did not want her full name published because it might affect her chances, was mostly quiet, worn out by her recent finals. Her mother took notes and asked questions. Later, Mallie talked about rush: “It’s going to be stressful — not only making a decision for the next four years but for friends you will have for the rest of your life.” Because the experience can be so emotional, consultants provide “on-call services.”

Many aspiring sisters spend their summer working out and dieting. “Rushing shakes your confidence level,” says Maggie, who also spoke on condition she not be fully identified. She will soon be heading to Washington & Lee, and is trying to lose weight. “You are being judged on how you look,” she says. Case in point: A study of Northwestern undergraduates in a normal weight range, published in 2010, showed the thinner women more likely to join a sorority.

As rush grinds on, students often text their moms with frequent, sometimes tearful updates. “Drama Trauma Drama,” wrote one weary mother on a Greek chat forum. For some mothers, empathizing with the pain of peer rejection is excruciating.

“I lost six pounds that week,” recalls Julie Baselice, whose daughter Christina is now a Chi Omega at the University of Texas. “It was the most stressful experience of my life.” As for Christina, she is grateful for the counsel of Marjorie Burciaga, an Austin, Tex., consultant, on how to handle herself during recruitment events. “It’s so easy to go in there and start talking, talking, talking,” she says. “You need to learn how to have a filter.”

Many students who don’t get asked back by their dream sorority during the early rounds walk away from recruitment altogether. Last year at the University of Virginia, 27 percent left during January rush. Students often have their hearts set on a particular house, says Michael J. Citro, the assistant dean of students.

Or a rushee might limit herself to the house her mother belonged to (legacy status is a plus but no guarantee of a bid). Ms. Burciaga encourages her clients to keep an open mind about chapters they visit. “I talk to them about what seems like a good fit for them,” she says.

One obvious reason for rejection is inadequate grades. At the national level, sororities set a grade-point average, and individual sororities often raise the bar. Beyond that, candidates can rarely discern why a sorority rejects them.

Madeline D’Arcambal Braun, a Manhattan native entering her junior year at Indiana University Bloomington, says she had “absolutely no idea” why she wasn’t asked back. She dropped out of rush freshman year after the houses she wanted didn’t invite her back. “It’s exactly like a breakup. That’s how this feels.”

Indiana is reputed to have one of the toughest rushes. Parents have complained on the Sorority Parents blog, operated by the National Panhellenic Conference, that space is too limited. Last year, a little more than half of the 1,718 women at Indiana who registered for recruitment joined a sorority; about 800 either didn’t continue or did not receive a bid. Possible reasons, say university officials: inadequate grades, student dissatisfaction with the chapters that chose them and vice versa, or not enough spaces.

This past year, the nonresidential sorority Theta Phi Alpha was added to expand slots, becoming the 20th chapter at Indiana. Ms. Braun decided to give this one a whirl, and joined sophomore year. “It’s awesome,” she says. “I’m always raving about it.” Another nonresidential chapter, Alpha Sigma Alpha, is coming this fall.

Rush at George Washington University is a different ballgame. No résumés are needed. Nor are alumnae letters of recommendation or references. Requiring them “is ludicrous,” says Sara Fischer, who as president of the G.W. Panhellenic Association last year helped bring an 11th sorority to campus. “G.W. is not this kind of place.”

Luke Sharrett for The New York Times.
Alpha Delta Pi members talk up the Greek life at freshman orientation at George Washington University.

There aren’t a lot of legacies at G.W.; students are not drawn there for its Greek life. “Most come to school with a bad idea of sororities, like hazing,” said Marta Cofone, current Panhellenic president, struggling to be heard over the throb of Katy Perry at a meet-the-Greeks event during new-student orientation last month. Last year, a G.W. sorority lost its housing after an alcohol-fueled hazing incident.

“I wasn’t even going to join,” Ms. Cofone said, but the group leader she met at orientation was a “smart, intelligent and interesting person,” and Greek.

Several sorority members from New York and New Jersey, clustered at the Sigma Delta Tau table that night, recalled their mothers’ collective shock at their decision to go Greek. But, says Ms. Fischer, “being in a sorority is the best way to network.” She credits her Greek contacts with helping her secure an apartment, jobs and internships. She and others also attribute the recent growth of their sorority to recruiting a broad swath of women. “You’ll see that same set of Greek letters on someone with a nose piercing,” Ms. Cofone said, referring to the chapters’ names emblazoned on members’ T-shirts and caps. “That’s why it’s so successful.”

Valerie Berg, vice president of recruitment at G.W., notes that if students are open to any sorority who wants them, nearly all will get a bid. No prepping required.

Still, the elements of competition persist. Anticipating questions about October’s rush, Ms. Berg recently updated the sororities’ Facebook page. The topic: what to expect and what to wear on each day.


Abigail Sullivan Moore is co-author of “The iConnected Parent: Staying Close to Your Kids in College (and Beyond) While Letting Them Grow Up.”  A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The New York Times on July 22, 2012, on page ED28 of Education Life with the headline: Pledge Prep.

Lipstick Queen

The “Central Park” lipstick from “Lipstick Queen” has a beautiful color. This is a mix of coral and pink. The color is perfect for spring, summer for blonds year round, day or evening.

The “Upper East” lipstick from “Lipstick Queen” has a light color, like nude but with a little more “umph” which can be worn with anything. It is luminous quality so it is perfect for summer.

The texture is creamy yet semi matt and slides right on.

GAL APPROVED: Super White Teeth And Polish Your Face!


SHINE. To Get In Shape 2012, it isn’t just about your body, it’s also about your teeth! Having healthy teeth and gums are important for optimal health — and if you can have a super white smile on top of it, that’s a plus. That’s why I’m loving Rembrandt. Yes, it has rapid-release peroxide that works on contact to release deep stains inside your teeth and make them super white, it also has Fluoride, which penetrates the tooth enamel to restore and strengthen teeth. And this should make you smile, Rembrandt is giving away a $5 coupon.

PRIMP. Style Gal loves beauty products, especially ones that do it all at once! That’s why I’m beaming over Cinema Secrets Polished Face by Samantha von Sperling. Why is it great? Beacuse this custom made kit is tailored to your taste, and you get two brushes. Oh, I’m giddy now! Here’s what you can get:

1. Multi-purpose brown shadow. It’s great for the crease, perfect for eyebrow filler, good as a lid color and perfect for contouring.
2. Pressed powder in your respective shade. This powder is lightweight and easy to apply.
3. Mascara in black. It’s an oh so adorable tube!
4. Eye and lip pencils.
5. Two palettes: one lipstick palette and one cream foundation palette. The cream foundation palette is a great for covering spots and blotches before adding powder
6. Whatever color eye shadow pot you want!

The system also offers face priming products that can give you a completely polished look! Interested? Click here to see pics of Samantha and the Polished Face.

Cosmetic Review: Living In My Skin

Living In My Skin  By Samantha von Sperling


I’ve been in the fashion and beauty biz for a long time, well over a decade. In that time I’ve tried, tested, sold and purchased more product than I care to admit. Additionally, my skin is temperamental to say the least. My quest for products that work has been lifelong.


Through a twist of fate I had the great pleasure of meeting and interviewing Vera Moore of Vera Moore Cosmetics. Mrs. Moore is a lovely woman – a true lady. Her story is impressive. Her products are amazing!


During our interview we spoke of her past profession as one of the first african american soap opera stars, and her quest to find make up suitable for her complexion at a time when there was virtually nothing out there and what did exist was truly sub par.


By chance, or perhaps by destiny Mrs. Moore is married to a chemist. Years of research and hard work have resulted in a superb product line



As part of my interview I committed to living in the product line for a few weeks. Vera Moore Cosmetics generously bestowed upon me a wide variety of products to test out and play with.  To say I was skeptical would be a grand understatement. Wow! What an experience. I don’t think my skin has ever been so calm for so long. My daily and nightly routine have become a pleasure rather than a seemingly hopeless waste of time. Hope in a jar has finally morphed into a solution and my skin is transformed!


From the first use my skin felt clean and fresh, already a good start. I had no adverse reactions – even better. The next morning, no new breakouts – great! By the end of the first week my skin was calmer and clearer. By the the end of the second week I was really starting to get excited. Three weeks later, there is definitely a noticeable difference. My skin is not only calmer and clearer, but brighter, smoother, with an evener tone. I have now been using the Vera Moore line for a month and I can see my skin getting better as the days go by.


For me the magic combination was:

Purifying Gel Wash

Glycolic Scrub with AHA and Aloe

Camphor Masque with Titanium Dioxide and Sulphur (Skin is so smooth after!)

Herbal Balancer

Oil Controlling Skin Conditioner

Spot Fix with camphor and salicylic Acid (This is one of my favorites!)

Glycolic Serum Renewal System for PM (I could actually feel this one go to work)

Vitamin C Serum for AM and PM (Helps with brightening and hyper pigmentation)

Healing Calendula Oil Free Moisturizer

Microsome Eye Gel


But not only is Vera Moore Cosmetics a highly sophisticated and effective skin care line but it also includes a beautiful range of color cosmetics. Iʼm in love with a bronze lipgloss called Topaz. An eye shadow called Nutmeg and a blush called Honey.




Thank you Vera, my skin and I are grateful! Living in my skin has become a little easier.


Soon to be featured by both DivaGals Daily and Time Square Chronicles.