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?


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?




BB Cream

Around this time last year, I was planning a trip to Asia. I was almost en route to Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing in order to take part in some consumer research and digital marketing strategy for Shiseido. When I arrived, I immediately learned how important skin care was for the Eastern market. It was a completely different perspective on beauty, and one that makes a lot of sense. Asian women care more about correcting a problem than covering it up. They pay less attention to eyeshadow and lipstick and more attention to skin care lines and foundation. While they want their skin to be perfect and porcelain (the whiter the better) they also want skin care benefits in whatever they put on their face.

While this has been a trend in the Asian markets for some time, it is just making its way over to the United States. There is a certain miracle product beloved by Asian women and it’s known as a BB Cream. Most of the creams in Asia have whitening properties as well as pigmentation correctors and exfoliants, but thus far the ones I see popping up stateside are more along the lines of a tinted moisturizer. Nevertheless, the concept is still new and interesting in the Western world of makeup.

Essentially a BB cream is supposed to deliver the coverage of a foundation and the hydration of a moisturizer, while applying smoothly and self-adjusting to your skin tone. Most BB creams are only offered in 1 or 2 shades. The truly authentic BB Creams are slightly grey in tone until blended into the skin, and they are thicker than a traditional tinted moisturizer. The first drugstore BB Cream has come to the United States via Garnier, but I’ve seen reports of Maybelline and L’Oreal planning to develop them as well. In terms of high-end brands, everyone is jumping on the band wagon including Bobbi Brown, Dior, MAC, Clinique, Smashbox, Too Faced, Stila, Boscia, Dr. Brandt and Dr. Jart. I’m sure other brands will be fast to follow.

Out of that list, I have thus far only tried two. The first was by Dr. Jart and I absolutely love it. The second was from Clinique and I didn’t care for it at all. The main difference between the two was the feel of the product and application. For a cream that is supposed to be hydrating, I found Clinique’s version to be quite the contrary. It didn’t blend well into my skin and it felt very dry. The color match was excellent, though, so it’s really too bad. Dr. Jart, on the other hand, applied so smoothly and it felt very moisturizing. So much so that those with oily skin might shy away from it. After a few hours my skin was glistening but it was a nice healthy glow. If you have extremely oily skin you might end up looking slightly greasy, but this can be tempered by setting it with a powder as you would a foundation. It did a great job at evening out my skin tone, I just needed to add a little concealer (Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage) to hide any redness. It’s perfect for both winter and summer and I’ve already repurchased. They also contain SPF, and I don’t wear a primer underneath.

I do urge you to try a BB cream, from any brand you choose. It’s a more natural approach to makeup which is perfect for the upcoming summer months. Keep in mind though that the Americanized BB creams aren’t exactly the same as the authentic Asian ones, but at least you can test them out in store. I do know women who buy Korean and Japanese BB Creams on eBay and the like, but you have to make sure you can really trust the seller. Indulge at your own risk. Or, just plan a trip to Asia! Problem solved.

Amazing Cosmetics Concealer

Since I accepted a new position and bid sleep adieu, also the reason for my sudden absence, I’ve been on the search for a pigmented, smooth, long-lasting and affordable concealer to brighten up my undereye area. In short, I was looking for a miracle. Well, I’m back to tell you that I’ve found a pretty good product, definitely the best concealer I’ve used.

Amazing Cosmetics concealer is…amazing. I’ve ignored the hype about this product for so long; it actually says “World’s Best Concealer” right on the packaging. But I always figured; don’t they all claim to be the best? Well I think Amazing Cosmetics takes the cake. While it is a bit pricey at $28 for a 0.2 oz tube, a little bit goes a long way so it will last you quite awhile.  To test out concealers, I usually dab the product on the back of my hand and see how it does at covering up any veins. This one almost completely hid the blue on my hand so I knew it was coming home with me.

The concealer covers extremely well without looking cakey or accentuating any fine lines. It’s slightly tacky so I find it best to apply as I do all my eye products, using a tapping motion rather than rubbing it across your skin. Tapping the product in allows it to absorb more smoothly and blend seamlessly with the warmth of your fingers. I tend to use my fingers rather than a brush for that reason.

With some concealers, after application you can still see a slight shadow peaking through, but with this one due to the saturation of the color, shadows are nearly eliminated. Of course this depends on the severity of your darkness, but apply at your discretion. The product applies well in layers, so it’s best to start with a very little amount and build up to your desired coverage.

It wears fairy well, I’d say 8 hours or so with no touch-ups, and I have combination skin. It settles slightly into fine lines, but not offensively so; I’ve never met a concealer that hasn’t. I came across this product in the checkout line at Sephora and since I had a 10% VIB coupon, I decided to pick it up. Sephora doesn’t carry the entire line of Amazing Cosmetics, but Ulta does. The concealer also comes in a 0.5oz tube for $40 if you really fall in love with it. There are 10 shades to choose from, and I picked up the color Fair which is a nice match for my skin.

I’m still currently using my Bobbi Brown undereye corrector in Bisque, and I tap a light layer of Amazing Cosmetics concealer over it and voila! Looks like I got 8 hours of sleep rather than 4.

Review/Comparison: Correctors

Before really diving into the world of cosmetics, I had no idea that women needed “correctors.” I always thought a regular concealer did the trick and you could walk out of the house with confidence. I was mistaken.

An under eye corrector is a peach toned cream or liquid that is meant to neutralize any darkness one may have. Most under eye circles lean blue, and a peach corrector cancels out that discoloration, providing a smoother canvas for concealer to go over. It makes a massive difference in brightening your complexion and making you look fresh and awake.

I’ve come across two correctors that I recommend to people who may ask, one being only slightly more budget-friendly. The two products are quite similar in consistency and color, but one is more opaque and offers better coverage. This one is Bobbi Brown’s corrector in the color Bisque. Bobbi Brown, in my opinion, is second only to Laura Mercier in the creation of a flawless flace. Her foundations and concealers are fantastic, and this corrector is a major favorite of mine. It comes in a pot, and I use my ring finger to warm up the product and then pat it under my eye. I keep it just on the inner eye area to brighten it up. After it sets a minute I apply Bobbi Brown’s concealer in Ivory and I’m good to go. It sets to a demi matte finish which is great for covering any discoloration. Bobbi Brown’s corrector is sold for $22.00 for .05 oz of product.

The other corrector I have and recommend is by Pixi, which can be found at your local Target and at pixibeauty.com. This product is almost identical to Bobbi Brown’s, except its finish is a bit more dewy. It blends well, neutralizes discoloration for the most part (you may need to layer it depending on your desired coverage,) and is slightly less expensive than the aforementioned corrector. I apply it the same way that I do the Bobbi Brown and am pleased with the results. Pixi’s Correction Concentrate sells for $15.00 for 0.1 oz of product.

They differ in packaging; Bobbi Brown’s comes in a black plastic container that snaps shut and has a small mirror inside. Pixi’s comes in a glass pot with a green plastic twist-off top. In terms of portability, Bobbi Brown wins out here. The mirror allows for easy touch-ups on the go. As far as pricing in concerned, Pixi is a relatively expensive “drugstore” brand. While it is sold at Target, a foundation will run you around $30.00,  and a blush around $16.00. At that rate you might be better off spending the extra few dollars and going for a department store product.

In this case, I found Bobbi Brown’s corrector at a CCO (Cosmetic Company Outlet, where Estée Lauder products are sold at a discount) for $15.00 and jumped at it. When comparing these two products at the same price point, I have to recommend the Bobbi Brown corrector for its coverage, finish and staying power. Even if I had paid full price for Bobbi Brown, it would have been worth the extra $7.00. Bobbi Brown cosmetics are sold in most department stores and also at sephora.com.

MAC By Request

For those of us who love MAC, or even just particular products put out by the global brand, there’s a rare opportunity to bring back a select few discontinued products! Bobbi Brown did something similar in January of this year and it was extremely well-received and wildly successful.

Both campaigns use Facebook as a platform for this concept, allowing fans to vote on the products they’d most like to see come back for sale. MAC has chosen three categories of beauty products including lipglass, lipstick and eyeshadow. Fans can vote on the MAC Cosmetics Facebook page once per day until March 30th, so hop to it! The top 9 products will be back up for sale beginning this August, exclusively at maccosmetics.com.

For color options to vote on, visit MAC Cosmetics on Facebook. I’ve been voting every day since March 12, and if you’re interested in any of these shades you should too! I’ve voted for Moth Brown eyeshadow, an absolutely gorgeous shade of brown with plum undertones that flatters every eye color. I’ve also voted for Emancipation lipglass, which I missed out on in the release of MAC’s Wonder Woman collection. It’s a neutral pink that can be worn on its own for a soft glossy lip, or layered over almost any color to tone down a look. To go along with the soft theme, I also voted for 3N lipstick. It’s a fantastic nude, especially for fair skin. It’s a mix of neutral and pastel pink tones that pair wonderfully with a more dramatic eye.

It’s great that MAC has finally listened to its consumers by offering up colors that they might have missed out on; I can only hope they continue doing this in the future with even more product options and shades to choose from.

Bobbi Brown Sparkling Nudes Collection- Spring 2012

While the beauty/fashion industry promotes collections seasons in advance, here is a collection for you to peruse that is available right now. Bobbi Brown is the queen of top quality neutrals, and in her spring collection she puts a new spin on the traditional browns and champagnes.

The Sparkling Nudes collection includes four new shades of Sparkle Eyeshadow, a Brightening Finishing Powder and Brightening Lip Gloss.

The Sparkle Eyeshadows impart a subtle shimmer and shine on the lids that will brighten any eye color. I haven’t swatched any of the shadows myself yet, but Bobbi Brown’s shades are notoriously pigmented and buttery smooth.

Shades include:

  • Silver Moon- Light silvery glitter
  • Mica- Deep heather grey
  • Ballet- Light pink glitter
  • Sunlight- Warm golden glitter

The Brightening Finishing Powder features six shades that blend together to give the skin a luminous and healthy appearance. It boasts a silky texture and has skin perfecting qualities that give the complexion a soft-focus finish. Its ingredients include mulberry, grape, Scutelleria and Gentian Root extracts, and it is said to feel very light-weight on the skin. Its sturdy compact makes on-the-go application a snap.

Brightening Lip Gloss:

  • Lilac Pearl- Lavender pink with pearl
  • Pink Opal- Pink with opalescent pearl
  • Pink Lilac- Pale icy pink violet