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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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.

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?

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?

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.

Quick Tip: Get your scissors!

I’d like to share a helpful tip that some of you may or may not already know. This one comes from my grandma, a very wise woman whose only cosmetic of choice throughout her life was red lipstick. Even now she has beautiful skin, so it makes sense that she never had to put anything on it.

I was going to throw a tube of my recently reviewed Shea & Cashmere hand cream in the trash, thinking I had used it all up. My grandma told me not to throw it away just yet, to cut it open and get some of the last bit of product out. “You’d be surprised how much you still have left in there.”

Boy was she right. I was foolish and didn’t listen to her on the hand cream, simply because I had another tube on-the-ready and didn’t feel like operating on my current one. But I decided to heed her advice when I discovered I was running low on my Laura Mercier primer. I cut open the tube right in the middle, and there was a ton of primer clinging to the sides and up under the cap. I scraped it out and put it into a small cosmetics container, one of those that you can buy at Target for travel needs. That container has lasted me two weeks so far. And I would have just thrown that tube away otherwise. Gasp!

My grandma is full of helpful tips and I’m lucky to be related to someone so beautiful inside and out. She’s also the only person I know who likes burnt toast, black jelly beans and cabins in Minnesota for an ideal vacation spot. So take it from a lady who knows, don’t be afraid to slice open your cosmetics!

Love you, Gram.

New from Revlon

I get pretty excited when I hear about a brand releasing a new item and/or collection. I get doubly excited when it’s an easily accessible and affordable brand like those carried in your local drugstore. Add to that the term “limited edition” and my interest is peaked. Women seem to go nuts over limited edition products. I don’t know what we think we’ll miss out on but hey, this tactic works.

Luckily, the new items set to release from Revlon are reported to be part of its permanent line, or will be eventually. I’m referring to a new line of lip balm/stains and a line of whipped foundation. I’m interested in trying both products and I’ve kept my eye out for them but no luck yet. The lip stains look comparable to Clinique’s Chubby Sticks or Tarte’s LipSurgence, but Revlon’s are a mere $7.00, depending where you find them of course.

These are the first I’ve seen of this kind of lip product offered from a drugstore brand. They are really stepping up their game both in terms of quality and product variety. The foundation is also unique on the drugstore market, being somewhere between a cream and mousse product. It might be a tad heavy in terms of coverage for the summer, but I have yet to try it out so I can’t offer a concrete opinion.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

theBalm Nude ‘Tude palette- Sale!

Eyeshadow palettes seem to be taking over the world of cosmetics as of late, in fact palettes are in general. Women seem to like the idea of having everything in one compact and the portability factor doesn’t hurt.

One of my favorite eyeshadow palettes is from a line called theBalm that used to be carried at Sephora but it is now only online and at a few select boutiques here and there. I wanted to let you know of the Nude ‘Tude palette now because theBalm is being featured on HauteLook today so you can snap it up for half price! It’s free to sign up on HauteLook and you can find some great deals on brand name items ranging from cosmetics to clothing to home furnishings.

The reason this palette is my favorite and most reached-for in my collection is because of the variety and quality of the eyeshadows it contains. They are smooth and incredibly pigmented, and blend together seamlessly to create beautiful gradient looks. The shades range from a deep smoky burgundy (my favorite) to a pure white, which I like to use to highlight my brow bone and tap on the inner corners of my eyes to brighten them and give some lift. It makes for a great travel palette as you have almost every color you’d need to create a look, plus it’s fun to pull out of your makeup bag. This palette is unique because of its ability to give you a neutral or colorful look, while most palettes are exclusive to one or the other. There is also a mix of matte and shimmer which is a nice surprise.

The packaging of this palette and of the line as a whole is beyond adorable, and I’m quite gullible to marketing efforts and product design. That being said though this palette delivers on quality as well as aesthetics which makes it all the more enjoyable. It features vintage pin-up girls as a display for each color with names like “Standoffish,” “Sophisticated,” and “Sassy.” There are two different palettes, one called “Naughty” with the pin-up girls, the version that I have, and one called “Nice” which is a vintage living room setting. Both contain the same shades, it’s just about your packaging preference.

You get 12 shades and a brush for $36, but as I said you can get it from HauteLook for $18 if you’re interested and act quickly. The offer is available through Friday 5/18 but this line tends to sell out quickly so check it out.

What’s your favorite eyeshadow palette? Or do you prefer singles? Do share!

 

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.