Take it all off

One of the most important things to learn about makeup is how to take it off. Our skin needs a chance to breathe and repair itself while we sleep, and it’s crucial to wash our faces at the end of a long day to get rid of any buildup, oil and grime. Neglecting to routinely cleanse the skin can result in clogged pores, breakouts, and a dull complexion.

For the past year I’ve been using Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Cleansing Towlettes in the Hydrating formula and I love them, especially for the price. For a pack of 25 wipes it’ll cost you around $7.00. Each cloth is saturated so it effectively removes foundation and eye makeup (I use a different product for eyes too, if needed, Neutrogena’s Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover) so your cleanser can penetrate deeper and actually do its job. Neutrogena and other brands offer many different kinds of wipes in many different formulas for different skin care needs, but these are my favorite so far.

The wipes have a faint scent but nothing that is put there on purpose and doesn’t strike me as offensive. Since the formula is hydrating, it’ll save you if you absolutely can’t pull yourself out of bed to apply moisturizer.

You can also use a cleansing oil, (Bobbi Brown, MAC, and Shu Uemura are known for great ones) cleansing balm or cleansing milk but I find wipes to be faster, easier and less of a mess. Even at the end of a long day if you’re too exhausted to go through a whole skin care routine, you can at least use a wipe to get the product off your face and give your skin a break.

What do you use to cleanse?

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Blur the line

I’ve been wearing liquid liner the same way since I was about 14. Now, at 26, the brands I use might have expanded but my technique is pretty much the same on most days.

When I want a more dramatic, pin-up, jet black line on my upper lash line I stick with traditional liquid liner. Lately, though, I’ve been mixing it up to create a more subtle, soft look using eye shadow and a small angled brush.

You can choose to use gel, liquid, or pencil eyeliner as your first step. I usually go for black, but this works with any color. You can also use brown, grey, or something different like eggplant or emerald green (Pantone’s color of 2013) for something fun.

  1. Line your eye as you would normally with the color and texture of your choice
  2. When you get the shape you like, go over the very top of that line with your eye shadow using your angled brush. Wing it out if you’d like a lifted, cat eye look. (This will blur the harsh edge of your liner, making it look soft and faded, and it also makes your eyelashes pop a bit more)
  3. Go over the line until you have your desired color depth, then apply mascara and you’re done with the eyes

You can also choose to skip the liquid, gel or pencil altogether and just line your eyes with a darker shadow if you want a very soft and natural look. It all depends on what you’re going for.

I like this particular technique because it’s the best of both worlds– between a defined eye and a smoky look. You have the bottom portion of your liner still pigmented, maintaining the shape of your eye, but as it goes up the color becomes gradient and it’s very feminine and flirty.

Products I use:

  • Maybelline Line Stilleto liquid liner in “Blackest Black”
  • MAC eyeshadow in “Espresso”
  • Sonia Kashuk angled eyeshadow brush

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Quick, Classic Nude Lip

It seems that no matter the season, the classic Brigette Bardot nude lip is in. It’s important to keep in mind that everyone’s definition of nude is different, and it depends on skin tone and personal preference.

I’m not a big fan of MAC’s Myth or the like that serve to entirely blank out your lips, making you resemble a corpse. Those type of lipsticks can be used to tone down deeper colors or manipulate shades, but worn alone they’re quite terrifying.

My idea of a nude lip is more of a neutral lip, and can be worn with any eye look be it smoky and dramatic or soft and natural. Most of the time I lean either true nude, peach, or pink.

When I’m rushing out the door on my way to work, I rarely have time for the 3-step liner, lipstick and lip gloss routine. Lately, I’ve been just using a lipstick and gloss and my lips are still nicely defined.

I use Maybelline’s “Afternoon Tea” and Revlon’s “Peach Petal” to create a quick and pretty pout. I love the smell of Maybelline’s lipsticks, and I don’t quite know why. It’s not offensive or strong, though, if you have an aversion to cosmetic smells.

Afternoon Tea is a pretty, slightly rosy, neutral shade. The shape of Maybelline lipsticks makes it almost so you don’t need a liner, as the product comes to a rather sharp point. It allows you to glide over your lips with a clean line. The formula is creamy and smooth.

To lighten the color just a tad and add some shine, I use Revlon’s Peach Petal lip gloss. I’ve talked about Peach Petal and Revlon’s Super Lustrous glosses before and I’m still in love them with to this day. Wait until they’re on sale and snatch one up in every color if you haven’t already.

Give these two products a try and let me know what you think. Remember, if you don’t like either color, have a little swatch fest until you find what works for you.

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Game Changers

Throughout our cosmetics lives, we delight in the moments where we find our holy grail products. The best mascara, the greatest concealer, the perfect shade of foundation. This is one of the main reasons the beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar business; we’re all constantly on the search for the next best thing.

Over the past year, I’ve come across some products that were game changers for me, products I’ve used every day since I bought them and will never be without.

While I’ve tried some great things that are certainly now part of my beauty arsenal, most of the time they become part of a rotation rather than a staple. The products/techniques below are ones I won’t soon forget.

  • beautyblender
  • corrector
  • nude liner
  • mixing foundation

Each of these probably deserves its own review, but I’ll give you a quick run down as they are important enough to be in my every day lineup.

beautyblender: While to some it may be simply a makeup sponge, and an overpriced one at that, I will tell you that it’s worth every penny.

To use it properly, run the sponge under water and squeeze out the excess. When the sponge is damp, you can roll or bounce foundation onto your skin. The result is a flawless, airbrushed finish. It’s unlike any other applicator I’ve ever tried.

The egg shape allows for seamless blending in every area of your skin, including around the nose and under the eyes. It can sheer out full coverage foundation on your good skin days, and still make full coverage foundations look natural on not-so-good skin days.

The beautyblender is sold at Sephora and Nordstrom, among other online retailers, for $20. If you take care of it and wash it regularly, it will last you a long time. If you frequent beauty.com and have products on your wish list, they are holding a promotion giving you a free beautyblender and mini cleanser when you spend $40, plus they offer free shipping on orders over $25. That offer is good until 4/30/13.

Corrector: There are all sorts of products labeled as “correctors” when it comes to cosmetics; essentially every product can be viewed as a corrector in some way, can’t it? Although I prefer to think of them as enhancers.

The corrector I’m referring to here is for under eye circles. For those who are plagued with blue tones peeking out under your eyes in the morning, look no further than Pixie, Bobbi Brown and Armani who all offer orange or peach based “correctors” to counteract those colors.

At first, I thought this was just another ploy to get us to buy another product we don’t really need. Au contraire.

I am a firm believer in correcting before concealing, especially if I skip a day. It’s a noticeable difference. If you just conceal, you will still get a slight shadow peeking out, making you look made up but still tired; no one wants that. If you first correct the blue tones, THEN go over with concealer, you will have a smooth and even canvas making you look bright-eyed and awake.

Nude liner: This is so essential that I never leave the house without it. It’s an instant brightener for your eyes, literally. I have used Stila’s Topaz and Tarte’s EmphasEYES Inner Rim brightener, and the latter is my favorite. I use it on the lower lash line (waterline) where some women tend to put black. Black closes off the eyes, making them appear smaller. When you use a flesh or nude color liner, it makes your eyes appear bigger and brighter. It also conceals any redness you may have from lack of sleep or stress. It’s a quick fix to swipe on and go!

Mixing foundations: As someone with very fair skin, finding the right shade of foundation is somewhat of a challenge. Not to mention the formula, although we have a lot more choices than we used to. I usually just look immediately to the far left, where the lightest foundation in a line sits.

While the foundation may be the lightest shade offered, it might lean golden or pink. I prefer foundations with neutral undertones, and this isn’t always easy to achieve.

So I decided to play artist and start mixing colors until I found the right one.

Luckily for me, this shade is reached by combining two inexpensive foundations, the price of which together is less than one high-end bottle. I mix Maybelline’s Fit Me foundation in 110 (golden) with Maybelline’s Dream Liquid Moose foundation in Porcelain Ivory (pink).

The two together provide a natural, satin finish that is a dead on match for my skin tone. If you find yourself in a similar situation, think outside the box a little bit and start mixing.

There are also lines like Illamasqua, sold at Sephora, that offer a white mixing base that serves to lighten any shade of foundation.

 

Hopefully you find these as helpful as I do! What are some of your holy grail products?

 

 

 

Ole Henriksen’s 3 Little Wonders

In hopes of making updates to this blog a more regular occurrence, I’ll keep the ball rolling with a product review. Well, a 3-in-1 product review in attempts to make up for lost time.

In the past 4 months, I’ve completely fallen in love with Ole Henriksen. And if you’re wondering as much as I was, his name is pronounced Ooo-Lah not Oh-lay. You also might be wondering who he is, or rather how good or bad his products are.

Last December, I was in the market for some new skin care and I had heard great things about Ole Henriksen and his thoughts on ingredients for glowing skin. I had my eye on the 3 Little Wonders kit. It features 3 generously sized products for $70, so essentially you’re getting to try a full-size product for free since the kit is valued at $101.

The kit includes:

  • 1 oz Truth Serum
  • 1 oz Invigorating Night Gel
  • 1 oz Sheer Transformation moisturizers886358-main-hero

It’s hard to say which product in the kit is my favorite, because I’ll they all play a part in visibly improving my complexion. They are all oil free, and formulated without Parabens, Sulfates, Phthalates, GMO and Triclosan. Now I don’t know what most of those are, but they sound bad so I don’t necessarily want to be rubbing them all over my face.

The first item in the kit, and possibly the front runner, is the Truth Serum which is loaded with Vitamin C that promotes brighter, healthier skin. It has a slight citrus smell, and its consistency is very thin. The bottle has a pump which is great for sanitary reasons, but sometimes it sticks and is a pain to get the right amount of product out. I use this first in my night time routine after removing my makeup and cleansing my face, but I use it in the morning as well after cleaner and before moisturizer.

Next up is the Invigorating Night Gel. This is basically a chemical exfoliant, (which I find more effective and more gentle than a physical one) so I only use it 2-3 times a week depending how my skin feels. I’ve never tried anything like this particular product, and it does make a difference. It might cause your skin to feel a bit tight and tingly at first, but that quickly dissipates when moisturizer is applied. It does wonders for evening skin tone and preventing breakouts. I use this product only at night, hence the name. My one qualm about it, and also about the moisturizer which I’ll talk about next, is that both come in jars rather than having pump applicators. Sticking your fingers in the product then on your face then back in the product night after night just screams for bacteria that is likely causing the problems you’re trying to avoid or correct in the first place.

Sheer Transformation is a light weight moisturizer that feels quite nice when applied. It makes skin noticeably smoother, or at least it does in when used in conjunction with the other products in the kit. There is no heavy scent, and it has not caused any irritation or a single breakout. I don’t think it was heavy enough for me in the winter months (for that I stick to my trust Clinique Moisture Surge) but I can tell this will be a staple for me come summer.

All in all, the 3 Little Wonders kit is a great introduction to Ole Henriksen’s line and it’s a great value. I will say that I have purchased the kit twice now, and it is a bit irritating that you don’t necessarily finish all the products at once so there is some overlap, especially with using the Invigorating Night Gel much less than the other two products. It is worth it though, at least for me, to try a new skin care regimen that actually performs the way it promises to.

Skin care is a sensitive area, and what works for me might not work for you and vice versa. As someone with very fair and sensitive skin, I will tell you this line has done no wrong for me so far in the four months I’ve been actively using it. If you’re interested, ask for some samples from your local Sephora. I also recommend introducing each product into your skin care routine one at a time, this way if you do suffer a reaction, you will be able to pin point the culprit rather than playing a guessing game.

Ole Henriksen is sold at Sephora, sephora.com and olehenriksen.com.

Celebrate Chic Week with Sephora!

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Calling all cosmetics connoisseurs! Don’t forget to take advantage of Sephora’s Chic Week! All beauty insiders get 15% off with code CHIC, 4/12 through 4/21. VIBs can take advantage beginning 4/11 through 4/22 (same code, VIBCHIC). Or you can print your email and bring the bar code to your local Sephora store.

If you’re anything like me, you keep a running list of products you’re dying to try. On mine this month are Hourglass’ ambient lighting powders (particularly Mood Light), NARS Belle de Jour lipstick (a classic NARS nude lipstick that believe it or not I have yet to try), NARS matte lip pencils in Sex Machine, Never Say Never and Roman Holiday, Urban Decay lip pencil in Paranoid, and Tarte’s cheek stain in Awakening.

With new products on the market and new collections launching what seems like monthly at least, it’s hard to resist temptation and not become a total junkie. Of course if you do give in, you might have yourself your own beauty blog! And find your wallet a little lighter. Lovelies, as we know, this can be an expensive habit so we should take advantages of discounts and perks whenever and wherever we can.

Get on over to your local Sephora or sephora.com and indulge a bit without paying full price.

What products are you eyeing?

Trending Thoughts

I know I’m not the only one anxiously awaiting warmer weather. After learning that here in the Midwest we have about a week of April showers to look forward to, I’ve found myself turning to my wardrobe and cosmetics collection in hopes of forcing spring to come.

I’ve noticed other women employing similar tactics; wearing bright blouses and foregoing their down jackets for chic trench coats. But the key here, the simple notion that has held true throughout the decades, is that whether you’re facing gloom in your life or gloom in the sky, a vivid lipstick might be all you need to help you through the day. After all, it’s easier to fake it till you make it when you’re smiling through Dior’s latest shade of hot pink gloss.

As we look toward spring/summer makeup trends for 2013, we’re seeing everything from matte to metallic eyes, dusty rose to fiery red lips, and heavy gel liner. While seasonal changes can spice things up and pull us all out of makeup ruts, I’d ask us all to keep our go-to looks in mind. While trends offer great inspiration, and boost sales, there are products and looks that work for us no matter what time of year it is. It’s this simple: wear what you’re comfortable in. This applies to everything from how your jeans fit to how far you wing your eyeliner. If you’re not comfortable, don’t succumb to a trend because a magazine told you so. Find a trend you like, and customize it to fit you.

I wanted to return to this blog with a long overdue post with this advice, or rather friendly reminders. The beauty community, after all, is supposed to be a place where women feel empowered, supported, and of course, pretty. Stay tuned for more frequent posts coming soon!

What trends are you most looking forward to this summer?

MM&M

MAC Cosmetics and a Hollywood icon have given us another reason to look forward to fall, besides boots and heavy knit sweaters. I told you about the MAC Marilyn Monroe collection awhile back, but further details have emerged! I’ve been waiting with bated breath for information about this release, and I wanted to share what I now know with you. The collection is said to be around 30 pieces, and is set for its U.S. release this October. From what I’ve seen, the packaging looks chic and sultry, much like the woman who inspired it. What we have to look forward to this fall is as follows:

Eye Shadow $15.00, Limited Edition

  • Preferred Blonde (Veluxe Pearl): Pale champagne beige
  • How to Marry (Veluxe Pearl): Soft white
  • Showgirl (Veluxe Pearl): Dark blue grey
  • Silver Screen (Veluxe Pearl): True silver

Lipstick $14.50, Limited Edition

  • Deeply Adored (Matte): Deep Scarlet
  • Charmed I’m Sure (Matte):  Dark true red
  • Scarlet Ibis (Matte): Bright orange-red (Repromote)
  • Love Goddess (Satin): Mid-tone red pink
  • Pure Zen (Cremesheen): Hot Nude

Dazzleglass $19.50, Limited Edition

  • Phiff!: Sheer yellow peach (Repromote)
  • Little Rock: Soft sheer white with pearlized pigments

Eye Kohl $15.00, Permanent

  • Smolder: Intense black
  • Fascinating: Intense matte white

Lip Pencil $14.00, Permanent

  • Beet: Vivid reddish-pink
  • Reed: Clearly red
  • Cherry: Vivid bright blue-red

Beauty Powder $23.00, Limited Edition

  • Forever Marilyn: Sheer pale peach highlighter

Powder Blush $20.00, Limited Edition

  • Legendary: (Satin) Pale soft coral
  • The Perfect Cheek: (Matte) Neutral pink beige

Nail Lacquer $16.00, Limited Edition

  • Rich, Rich, Rich (Pearl): Glittery Gold
  • Orange Kid (Cream): Coral (Repromote)
  • Vintage Vamp (Cream): Rich deep retro wine (Permanent)
  • Stage Red (Cream): Dark red berry
  • Flaming Rose (Cream): True red

On my wish list is the Forever Marilyn Beauty Powder for sure, and most likely a powder blush, Dazzleglass and a few lipsticks. The eyeshadows sound tempting since veluxe pearl is my favorite MAC eyeshadow formulation, but I’ll wait to swatch those in person and let you know my thoughts. Are you wanting anything already? Do tell! If so, I suggest getting to your MAC counter as soon as this collection hits stores, because these will sell fast not only to cosmetics connoisseurs but Marilyn fans and collectors. Make a list, and check it twice.

Nail the look for less: Deborah Lippmann dupe

If you’re a lover of nail lacquers, you’ll likely have a reaction when you hear the words Deborah Lippmann. If you don’t know the name, you should. In the world of nail polish, Lippmann is among the top ranked for formulation, texture, and unique selection. She has designed numerous polishes for the celebrities who wear them, and she’s famous for her glitters. It’s true; no one does glitter like Deborah Lippmann. Or so I thought.

She recently released a shade that’s absolutely gorgeous, not unlike her others in that way. What does make the polish stand out is the color itself. It’s called “Mermaid’s Dream,” and that’s exactly what it looks like. It’s a shimmering sea-foam green that has blue flecks of glitter and silver iridescence throughout it. I’ve been eyeing (or drooling over) this polish since I saw it at Nordstrom, but it’s hard to rationalize spending $18 on a nail polish and I can rationalize almost any beauty purchase. I was seriously considering taking the plunge until I walked into Urban Outfitters today.

A sign in the window that said jewelry was on sale lured me in, as they often do. After I found a few pieces I walked up to the register where my eyes started to browse the lovely opportunities for an impulse purchase. Sure enough I found one. But not just any one. It was a nail polish that looked strikingly familiar. It looked like an exact dupe for “Mermaid’s Dream.”

Upon closer inspection, I learned the polish was called “Sea Dust” and that it was $5. Sold.

Now, I do not own Mermaid’s Dream so I can’t give you a side by side swatch comparison, but below is a picture of the polish and a picture of my bottle of Sea Dust. You be the judge.

From what I hear there are slight differences between the two in terms of opacity in one coat (Mermaid’s Dream wins) and texture (Sea Dust is smoother), but at a price difference of $13, I say run to Urban Outfitters and grab a bottle of Sea Dust if you’re as intrigued by this color as I am.

YSL Touche Éclat Foundation!

You read right, Yves St. Laurent is releasing a much overdue companion to its best-selling product and one of the best-selling cosmetics of all time, Touche Éclat. The formula has been in development for 10 years, and will be released just in time for the 20 year anniversary of the debut of Touche Éclat.

This new line includes foundations that lean yellow, pink or neutral in terms of undertone which is rare and exciting. Usually a line will offer only yellow or only pink. Some brands like MAC offer both pink and yellow tones, but no neutral. This is the first standout for this new foundation. The second is that there will be 22 shades within the range, going from the porcelain to the ebony. This means that hopefully most women will be able to find an incredibly close match to their natural complexion.

The main draw of this foundation is its finish. It is supposed to act similarly to the original Touche Éclat which is a highlighting pen. Many women mistake it for a concealer and apply it directly under their eyes and are disappointed with the results. That’s because the product isn’t meant to conceal, it’s meant to draw light to the areas of the face that you like which are usually the tops of the cheek bones, brow bones, bridge of the nose, cupid’s now, and chin. The foundation is meant to complement its predecessor and melt into the skin for a natural, radiant finish. Since I haven’t had the chance to try it yet (it’s set to release in the U.S. at the end of July) I can’t speak to the longevity or feel on the skin. From what I’ve heard, though, it’s essential to set with a light powder if you’d like the foundation to last more than 7 hours or so. The formula is made without opaque powders, which makes sense if it’s supposed to attract light, but it also means that if you’re looking for heavy coverage you might want to look elsewhere.

It’s priced at $55 for a 30 ml bottle. It has a pump which is great because it keeps the product application sanitary, and limits how much you dispense.With foundations like these I usually find it best to apply with your fingers and allow their warmth to blend the product seamlessly into your skin, but I will try it with a variety of brushes and my beloved Beauty Blender and give my opinion on what works the best.

Consider me excited for this release. How about you?