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Weekend Review: L’Oreal EverPure Cleansing Balm

I have received and purchased a lot of products lately, ones that may not be worthy of a Friday Favorite, may not be specific to over 40 beauty, so I’m going to occasionally share them on weekends.

66cb1e8a-1bc2-416e-8d87-f1542b84d272.jpg.w480L’Oreal sent me a giant care package earlier this year with a ton of different (and some extremely random) beauty products in it. One was the L’Oreal EverPure Cleansing Balm. Toted as six products in one, this product is your shampoo and conditioner, as well as a treatment, detangler, softener, and shine product. All this and it shouldn’t strip my haircolor. For a busy woman, this sounded pretty fantastic.

And it was for the first week or so that I used it. My hair was super soft and shiny and felt really healthy. Then I got a haircut and color and I felt like my hair looked so… frumpy. It was getting frizzy so quickly, it felt greasy at the end of every day, and I just had… well Mom Hair. It was full in the wrong places, flat on top, and I felt like Cindy Walsh.  I couldn’t figure it out, I only got a trim. I tried air drying, blowing it out, crunching into curls, trying different products but nothing would shake it. I wondered if it was the weather, my change in diet, or just a bad cut.  I was ready to call up my stylist and ask her to fix it when I decided to see if it was how I was washing my hair.

Sure enough the next morning I switched to my old shampoo and conditioner and I loved my hair again. This stuff made my fine yet plentiful hair thicker, but so soft it wouldn’t behave. It felt like little kid hair, which I may have enjoyed if I had long tresses. But with a shorter cut it was awful. But you know who DOES have long hair that could use some detangling? Emerson. So now she washes her hair with this stuff and her hair is GORGEOUS. It’s not as hard to brush out in the morning, and she can go longer between hair washings without looking like a neglected child. It also gives her hair more bounce and shine and her bangs don’t separate and look wonky as quickly.

This has the herbal scent of L’Oreal’s other EverPure products (similar scent concept to Aveda and Pureology). No sulfates, no parabens, no silicones, no dyes which is nice, especially for a drugstore brand. You use about six pumps per cleansing so one $12 bottle is going to last around three months.

So fail for the adult but win for the kid. If you have long, thick, or unruly hair you may dig this. They also have a version for curly hair and one for dry damaged hair (considering how EverPure is, that’s gotta be some very damaged and coarse hair to handle it).

L’Oreal RevitaLift Review & Giveaway [Sponsored]

I’m a L’Oreal fan and have been for a while (I regularly profess my love for their Youth Code Serum, and have been pleased with many cosmetic and skincare products over the years) so when I was asked to review some pieces from their RevitaLift™ line I was excited. While I’ve had pretty good skin most of my adult life, now that I’ve hit 40 I’m seeing the effects of time on my face. Dry patches, fine lines and wrinkles, a loss of elasticity, and suddenly the occasional breakout, usually at that time of the month. I’ve learned with my skin and thanks to your comments and emails for the blog that no two people have the same skin story. L’Oreal has also realized this and created www.lorealskinexpert.com. L’Oréal’s goal with this site is to help consumers find the right solution for their unique skin concerns.  

loreal revitalift skincare review

Considering my specific skin story, L’Oreal sent me three products to try out – RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Eye Treatment, RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Day Lotion Moisturizer with SPF 20, and RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Intensive Overnight Mask. I received the products a month prior to the writing of the post, used every day without fail so I could provide as useful and accurate a review as possible.

L’Oreal RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Eye Treatment claims to, “Repair Wrinkles. Reduce Bags. Lift Eye Area.” It is a slender tube with one of those cooling metal caps. I know the point of these caps is to blend the cream into the eye area, but I find them hard to use and believe I give a softer touch with my ring finger. I didn’t even try the metal cap, and used the cream with my finger, applying every morning and evening before my moisturizer. The eye treatment is very creamy, almost slippery yet it absorbs nicely. I can apply and five minutes later put on my makeup without fear of slippage. L’Oreal claims that with this eye treatment, “In 1 week, skin texture appears smoother and skin tone is more even. In 4 weeks, wrinkles are visibly reduced.” I prefer the feel of this product over my regular anti-aging eye cream and think the silky texture prevented me from having to put in any effort to have it absorb, helping me not add any more damage or reduction of elasticity to the eye area. It’s hard to say whether my skin appears smoother or my skintone is more even, as I did a lot of travel, late nights, and soaking of the rays during the 30-day process. However, I like the consistency and lack of irritation, which I’ve been known to experience with many anti-aging eye products.

L’Oreal RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Day Lotion Moisturizer SPF 20 claims to, “Repair Wrinkles. Smooth Out Fine Lines. Fade Spots + Discoloration.” Combining the powerful anti-aging action of Pro-Xylane and Bright Active XP3 with broad spectrum protection against the sun’s UVA and UVB rays, this product sounded like a perfect fit for my skin needs. Again, I really liked the silky, emollient consistency of the product. It glided over the skin, absorbed reasonably well for a product with sunscreen, and didn’t cause my makeup to slip throughout the day. Even with a bit too much sun one weekend, I found this product hydrating my dry patches but not leaving me greasy. I always choose an anti-aging moisturizer with a higher SPF, but this did just as good a job as my regular anti-aging daily moisturizer in smoothing out fine lines; as for spots and discoloration I didn’t see a change but again my environment and lifestyle the past month didn’t help the situation. No breakouts, even the week before my period, which lately is rare for a new moisturizer. If this had a higher SPF I’d repurchase it.

RevitaLift™ Triple Power™ Intensive Overnight Mask is my JAM! Seriously, I love this stuff and am so glad they sent it for me to review. If not, I likely would pass it buy on the drugstore shelf. It’s like L’Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense in that it’s hard to fully explain why it is so awesome. But that night after the jar arrived in the mail, I applied the eye cream, my Youth Code serum, and then this mask and when I woke up my skin looked as though I just got back from a week at the spa. Seriously, my skin looked as happy as it does after a really great facial. Plump, small pores, dewy, glowy, happy. The mask features an innovative ELASTI-FLEX texture that supposedly acts to mimic skin’s own elasticity. It’s also the first night treatment to combine concentrated super ingredient Pro-Xylane with botanical extract Centella asiatica to help improve skin’s firmness & elasticity overnight and visibly transform the look of aging skin. I haven’t used the mask every night, I switch it up with my ordinary night cream, but each night I use this I wake up with a happy face. When I got a bit of sunburn, that night I slathered this mask all over my face, neck, and shoulders and woke up with softer, less red, and less itchy skin. A little goes a long way; I’ve used it at least three times a week for a month and have slathered it from forehead to bustline and I’ve hardly made a dent in the jar. This will be a re-purchase for sure.

I encourage you to visit www.lorealskinexpert.com and find out the L’Oreal skincare products that are best for your unique skin story. Learn more about this new site, the RevitaLift™ line, and L’Oreal by visiting L’Oreal on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Giveaway

In the comments below, tell me your unique skin story or a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.  No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  • Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  • Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  • Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  • For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 9/17/15 – 11/15/15. Be sure to visit the L’Oréal Paris RevitaLift™ brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Over 40 Beauty: L’Oreal Lumi Cushion Foundation Review

L'Oreal Lumi Cushion FoundationA few months ago, L’Oreal sent me a box with three shades of the True Match Lumi Cushion foundation. Two were far too dark for my skintone, but the third, N3.5 Classic Buff I decided to try.

One of the popular cosmetic trends from South Korea is cushion foundations and BB creams, and L’Oreal jumped on this bandwagon before most drugstore brands. This is a larger thick compact in white and very on-trend rose gold mirror. When you open the compact there’s a mirror on the inside of the lid and a top layer to hold the applicator pad; flip up that layer to access a sponge that is drenched in the product. You press the pad into the sponge and then apply to your skin. Unlike many gimmicks, this one makes sense. The compact is well made; it can be thrown into your makeup bag and you don’t have to worry about it popping open. The sponge keeps the liquid in place, no drips or leaks. Having the sponge separated keeps the product clean and the sponge from getting gross too soon. This is an excellent system for travel or beauty on the go.

L'Oreal Lumi Cushion Foundation Review - Wardrobe OxygenL’Oreal states Lumi Cushion foundation is a, “luminous refreshing formula [that] creates sheer to medium coverage.” I think this is an accurate description. The product is thin, thinner than most foundations. When applied to the skin it feels more like a tinted moisturizer in that it’s thin and feels hydrating like a lotion. It gives a dewy finish, and feels cool so I get the ‘luminous’ and ‘refreshing’ descriptors. The finish is sheer to medium; it can layer well and go from BB cream or tinted moisturizer level of just evening skintone to adding more coverage where you need it.

I usually end up with products called Fairly Light, Buff, or Beige and look best with a color that isn’t too warm or too cool. Back in the day when I wore L’Oreal True Match as my daily foundation I was a N3. So N3.5 Classic Buff made sense and proved to be a perfect color for my skin.

How you apply the product can determine how well you like Lumi Cushion. The back of the compact has three photos as instruction: press, tap, build as needed. For the first few times I pressed the applicator pad on the sponge and then wiped on the skin as I would use my fingers to wipe on a tinted moisturizer or foundation. Not impressed. Then I tried tapping like the photo and it was a whole other experience. Big taps on the cheek, tiny taps to blend, tiny taps all around the eyes, teeny taps around the nose, another press of the sponge, some big taps then little taps to blend. The tapping is what helps it build coverage and seems to help it stay longer throughout the day.

loreal lumi cushion review - wardrobe oxygen

The left side is bare face, the right side is with L’Oreal Lumi Cushion (and a bit of yellow concealer on zits)

I have normal to dry skin and find the formula is hydrating, but not greasy. I don’t set it with powder; I apply it directly over my moisturizer, apply concealer over it, and then the only powders over that are blush and eye shadow. Even so, the product lasts for several hours. At the end of the workday, I still look polished, though the redness under my nose and my undereye circles may be more visible than they were when I left for the day. I think it holds up better on my face than tinted moisturizers or BB creams I have tried in the past and has a slightly heavier coverage without being as heavy as a traditional foundation.   I liked it so much, when I ran out I bought two more – one for my dressing table and one for my cosmetic bag.

PROS:

  • I desire a luminous dewy look that makes my skin look healthy and glowy and youthful and this does just that.
  • I find tinted moisturizers too light of coverage, BB creams always are odd for me, and foundations look too heavy especially as I have gotten older and my skin more dry. This has a perfect weight that is that happy medium between tinted moisturizer and foundation.
  • Once I started using it, I felt this was such a gimmick and it would run out before a bottle. However, I’ve been using it for two months almost daily and it hasn’t run out, though it’s not as saturated of a sponge as it was weeks ago.
  • It lasts far longer on my skin than any BB Cream or tinted moisturizer I’ve ever tried.
  • No smell.
  • You can’t feel it on your skin. I hate when I feel like there’s makeup on my face; I can’t feel Lumi Cushion.
  • You can’t see it on your skin. Especially now that I am over 40, makeup can look really obvious and get into little nooks and crannies. This doesn’t. It’s the kind of stuff where guys I work with who know nothing but Star Wars, Comedy Central, and Drupal say I look healthy.

CONS:

  • The applicator pad sucks. But usually the applicators that come with products usually suck. It’s soft and can bend to do some blending around your nose and such but the sponge is cheap and falls apart before you’re finished with the product. I switched to using a BeautyBlender which does just as good of a job.
  • If you stick with the applicator, be sure to wash it.  It will get gross, smell gross, and sitting around all day in leftover foundation is not healthy or good for your skin.
  • It’s pretty pricey for a drugstore foundation and you get less product in this format than in a standard bottle.

FINAL VERDICT:

It’s funny, I wrote this post a several weeks ago but if you follow me on Snapchat you know I’ve been dealing with some acne which has put off photos for this review.  And then I was slammed at work… well this has been months in the making.  When I first wrote this I said it was okay but I wouldn’t buy it again.  Then I ran out, started using something else I had on hand and realized how much I missed Lumi Cushion and bought more.  I don’t think this will be a good mid-summer foundation because it slips when I sweat and can make me look greasy, but I really enjoy the hybrid it is, something between a tinted moisturizer and a classic foundation.  I like the luminous aspect, and I like that I can layer it or do touch-ups during the day without looking cakey.  I’ve also found it plays nice with NARS Setting Powder for hotter or longer days. Goes to show you really need to use a product for a long while before you can give a valid review!

L’Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion Foundation usually retails for $16.99 at drugstores and big box retailers, though I found it cheaper on Amazon.

Hair Did

blue highlights blue highlights blue highlights blue highlights

Foundation: L’Oreal True Match Lumi Cushion n3.5 (c/o) | Concealer: Clinique Line Smoothing in Moderately Fair | Highlighter: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal | Blush: NARS Sex Appeal | Mascara: L’Oreal Voluminous Superstar (c/o) | Shadow: L’Oreal La Palette Nude | Liner: Lancome Drama Liqui-Pencil in Côte D’azur (c/o) | Brow Colors: Tarte Amazonian Clay in Rich Brown | Lipstick: NARS Pigalle

blue highlightsI was ready for a change.  I have been a natural medium to dark brown since Emerson was born.  In past lives, I had hair that was black, blonde, red, plum, pink.  I’ve had highlights and chunky streaks of platinum, caramel, auburn, even purple and magenta.  But as I got older I felt I needed to be more natural, and to be honest I kept my hair “normal” because I felt it was a good choice for the business of the blog.  Well I got a bee in my bonnet and told my stylist Kathleen (who has been itching to do something fun on my hair for YEARS) she could get creative.  I asked for a cool dark brown as the baase; she bleached highlights and put a cool dark brown on the rest, then covered the whole thing with a gorgeous blue.  It just looks like a very dark brown or black-brown to most, but when I move or hit the light just so you see pops of sapphire. I don’t work in a conservative office environment so the only person putting a restriction on my hair was me.  Why not have fun with it, the great thing about hair is if you don’t like it you can always fix it, cut it, or grow it out. Now I can’t wait for the next sunny day to show off my fun blue highlights!

Recent Beauty Purchases – Hits and Misses

Beauty reviews - cosmetics for a woman over 40 - Wardrobe OxygenEvery January, I get uber melancholy. I feel fat, I feel old, I feel tired, I feel stuck and stagant. There’s something wrong with me, I need CHANGE! A tattoo! A haircut! Skydiving! A trip to a different country! But it’s Emerson’s birthday, then my mom’s birthday, then my sister’s. And this January had work changes – my department became part of a different division, moved to a different location, and had a very high-pressure project to complete.

Then my birthday happens on the 28th of the month and I realize it’s not something wrong with me, it’s just me getting older and putting too much pressure on myself to accomplish something that would look really impressive on paper. When I think about it, I feel pretty damn good about my station in life. I’m healthy, I’m happy, I’m surrounded by love, I have a good job, I have this wonderful blog… tons of blessings in life.

All I need is some new makeup!

So since I turned 30 and had these “woe is me my life sucks” feelings as soon as the New Year begins, I have battled it with a makeup splurge. When I turned 30, I bought my first compact of NARS Orgasm blush and a brush that wasn’t from Target. Since then, I have used my birthday as a time to try something new and exciting in beauty. Through the year, I will budget for makeup, buy drugstore options, make do with what is in my dressing table before purchasing but for my birthday I buy that It Product that every vlogger claims is a gamechanger, the mascara that costs more than dinner, the primer that will make my pores disappear.

Shop The Items Mentioned in this Post:

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal

While I have my beloved Mary-Lou Manzier from theBalm, I was looking for a highlighter that would be a liquid. Something I could put on under my foundation for very subtle dewy-ness, blend with foundation or tinted moisturizer, and have more creative control. I bought something from NYX, something from Revlon, and both made me look greasy so I decided to go high-end. This product from Becca gives me exactly what I was looking for.

While I have fair skin, I found the colors Pearl and Moonstone to be too light and obvious for daytime. I’ve been playing with the product and there’s a lot of ways to wear it but I find the most success for everyday is to put it on after my foundation but before my blush. I squeeze the absolute smallest amount on the top of my hand and apply with a foundation brush to my cheek bones and blend. I then use my ring finger and dab a small amount on my brow bones and inner corners of my eyes, the cupid’s bow of my mouth, and then if there’s anything left I put it up at my hairline. It doesn’t make me look glittery or shimmery, just dewy like I have happy hydrated skin. It looks more natural than my pressed highlighter (less shimmery) but it doesn’t make me look sweaty or greasy. Applying blush over it helps blend it and also diffuse it; putting it under my foundation often blended it too much so it hardly showed. You really need very very little, one squeeze is often too much so I expect this bottle to last an extremely long time. Price is painful (though I linked to Amazon where it’s far cheaper than Sephora or Ulta), but results are exactly what I wanted. Hit.

Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer in Moderately Fair

I watched a YouTube video that recommended this concealer for those over 40 because it blended so nicely and didn’t emphasize fine lines. The video (can’t find it now!) used the Sigma brush I mention below and it blended so beautifully I was mesmerized and immediately bought the pair.

And it does blend beautifully, especially with the brush. However, this is not a product to hide a pimple or a dark spot. It’s a liquid, and it is sheer. I am using it under my eyes and in the inner corners to lighten the dark circles and reduce the appearance of the bags and for that, it’s brilliant and doesn’t look like I used concealer. It stays all day, it doesn’t irritate, and it’s a natural finish. Hit!

Sigma F64 Soft Blend Concealer Brush

I have never used a brush like this for concealer. It’s quite large and fluffy, I’ve always used a flatter and smaller brush for concealer, but then I have always used a cream or stick concealer. This brush made me feel like a YouTube beauty vlogger and I was floored that in my little makeup mirror I saw myself buff away dark circles and minimize the bags under my eyes.

If there’s one beauty product I splurge on, it’s brushes. I’ve tried all the cheaper brands that are supposedly as good as department store brands and they rarely are worth their cheap price. I have brushes from MAC and Trish McEvoy that are almost two decades old and still in excellent quality – you can only tell their age from the style of the handle. Brushes are something you don’t have to keep replacing if you treat them well, so it makes sense to buy the best you can afford the first go-round. This brush is quality. The shape, the feel, the weight, the blendability… it’s my first time buying a Sigma brush but it likely won’t be my last. Hit!

NARS Blush in Sex Appeal

I’ve been using NARS Orgasm for over a decade and while it’s versatile and awesome… I find with age it has become too strong a color and too shimmery. A reader told me once her favorite is Sex Appeal, it’s a softer, less sparkly Orgasm. I prefer a peachy tone to my blush so decided to give it a try.

This is daytime blush. It gives a very subtle flush, which is something I didn’t desire at 30 but I do find far more flattering at 41. It looks extremely natural, as though I just woke up with this lovely subtle flush. Paired with the Becca highlighter, my skin is still 41, but it looks healthy and happy at this age. And speaking of brushes, my favorite for a flush of blush is the Bobbi Brown blush brush. Over the years I have accumulated a ton of blush, bronzer, and face brushes and I think the Bobbi Brown blush brush is the softest, best quality, and best shape to give the right amount of color for my face shape. Another hit!

L’Oreal Volumninous Miss Manga Rock Mascara

I needed a new mascara, and I bought this thinking it was the one Phyllis reviewed and liked. Nope, different drugstore mascara in a yellow and black tube. But it seems to be the same concept – big thick spiky lashes but online reviews that say it actually works well for normal lashes that are just long and thick looking.

The plus: You really can get thick, lush, long looking lashes that don’t have any hint of spider or Twiggy to them. Wipe the wand with a Kleenex the first couple of times, wiggle through the lashes while applying, and the effect is awesome. The mascara stays in place all day, even if you sweat or cry or rub your eyes.

The minus: This mascara doesn’t want to come off. Coconut oil, Neutrogena wipes, old-school oily makeup remover, a steamy shower, even cold cream and you THINK it’s all off, and then you wake up with crunchy sticky eyes and you washy again and think it’s all off and then you put in your contacts and it feels like there’s sand in your eyes and you take out your contact and it’s coated in little black flecks. For me, the negatives outweigh the positive. Miss.

NARS Lipstick in Tolede

I’m always on the hunt for a lipstick that is my lip color but a bit more intense. Everything is always too orange, too purple, too pink, too something. I did love Laura Mercier’s Sparkling Pink but it’s discontinued (and Sarah I know you were going to get me one in the UK, I have my pile of magazines for you I haven’t forgotten!) and I wanted something a hair darker. When I was in New York this summer my friend and beauty guru Sarah recommended Bite’s Lipstick in Shiraz and it was the closest I had found to what I wanted (you can see it in this post, with NARS gloss in Viva over it), but still a bit too dark and too cool. I’ve liked NARS lipsticks, I have Dolce Vita and it’s a bit too light so I went with Tolede, thinking if my blush is warm my lips should be too.

And Tolede is pretty fantastic. It’s semi-matte, so it doesn’t look dry and cakey but it stays on really well. And the warmer color isn’t orangey or weird, it’s like my lips. In fact it’s a bit too much like my lips and I don’t feel “done.” I usually wear it with my ‘Viva’ gloss over it so it looks more purposeful, and the formula plays nice with gloss and stays in place. But I need something a hair darker and this tone or slightly cooler. Still looking… so this isn’t a miss but it’s not the biggest hit.

Bobbi Brown Creamy Lipcolor in Rose Petal

This is also a nice “my lips but better” color but it’s a bit more shimmery than I usually like. I don’t mind a gloss, but when it has shimmer and it’s a soft pink, the look can be uber dated. I feel this is so pink and shiny I need to be careful when I wear it. It’s also a heavy formula; when I put it on I can feel the lipstick, my lips feel heavy, sticky, and I feel more dried out after wearing it. Though I do wear this sometimes I’d have to say it’s a miss.

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Definition Lipstick in Le Carmin

I didn’t buy this one. Lancôme was kind enough to send me this amazing box of products at the end of October and this lipstick was in there. I’m always on the hunt for a new red, and it was the first item from the box I tried. It hasn’t left my makeup bag since. This is the red I am wearing in the “after” shots for my Clairol post and I’ve worn it several other times. Each time I wear it someone asks what lipstick it is. It’s a pretty perfect classic red with a pretty perfect finish that isn’t too matte, too glossy, too anything.

As for the actual product, this is what an expensive lipstick should feel like. It’s velvety, doesn’t dry my lips, doesn’t feel like I’m wearing lipstick. It’s not long-wearing, but it fades nicely and evenly so I don’t end up with a red line around my lips. It smells like lipstick, which I like; it adds to the luxury experience. The case is divine; it’s pretty and it has a magnet built in so the cap snaps on and stays on no matter what.

Have you purchased any recent cosmetics worthy of a mention (or a warning)?

What I Wore: Updating a Wardrobe Favorite [Sponsored]

wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog size 14 petitedress | shoes | bag | necklace

wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog featuring sole society clutch bag wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog size 14 wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog wearing payless wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog by alison gary wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blogger featuring baublebar wardrobe oxygen over 40 fashion blog wearing ann taylor Dress: LOFT (old; similar) | Bag: Sole Society | Shoes: Juliette Ghille Pointed Pump c/o Christian Siriano for Payless |  Necklace: Baublebar | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Lipstick: Infallible Pro-Matte-Gloss in Aphrodite Kiss c/o L’Oreal

As I mentioned in this previous post, Payless provided me with the opportunity to check out their spring collection and I am super impressed.  Another pair of shoes I got from them are these lace-up heels from the Christian Siriano for Payless line.  I like the trend of the lace-up flats, but a heel is more my style; this shoe offers both!  I think these shoes are so fun and flirty, they’d be a great way to update pieces currently in my closet.  I bought this dress a year ago on clearance (last seen on the blog in this post) and I love how these shoes give it an updated look and a bit of a dressier feel.  This dress has been worn to work several times, with pumps in the warmer months and tights and booties in the fall and winter.  With a statement shoe like these, the dress is glammed up enough to wear to a day wedding.  This is exactly why I love and continue to recommend Payless – on-trend shoes at great prices to update your current wardrobe staples!

Shop The Look:

Note: Because I have thicker ankles, I didn’t like the look of these shoes lacing any higher on my leg so I trimmed the strings.  It was easy to do with scissors and I just added a new knot in the same style and location the shoes had originally. This post was sponsored by Payless, but I had full control over the content.

Over 40 Beauty: My Daily Makeup Look

Especially since I’ve started using Snapchat, I get a lot of questions as to what makeup I use. I shared my skincare routine last winter, but I haven’t updated since I’ve tried new products, made some lifestyle changes, and now it’s spring.

When I took photos of me using the L’Oreal Lumi Cushion I also took stills of my entire makeup routine. Figured it would be pretty text heavy, so I put them into a slideshow video. It seemed pretty sad without sound, so I added some of the music YouTube offers for free. Wow, all of them seemed so incredibly inappropriate! I ended up using, “Playing Hooky with Sloane” purely from the title. A Ferris Bueller reference?

daily face over 40 beauty wardrobe oxygenFor those who can’t watch or don’t like videos, here’s most of the still from the video.  This is my daily face; a breakdown of what is used:

  1. In the morning I only wash my face if I’ve used the NuFACE (see here). If not, I just use Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel with a reusable cotton round to wipe off any remaining night cream and any, as Emerson calls it, dust around my eyes
  2. Right now I’m applying three pumps of Elizabeth Arden SUPERSTART (reviewed here), then two pumps of Elizabeth Arden’s FLAWLESS FUTURE serum, and then a moisturizer with SPF (right now it’s one from L’Oreal I don’t especially love enough to promote). I then brush my teeth to let everything soak in.
  3. I touch up any zits or especially dark circles with Revlon Photoready Insta-Fix. It’s a bit darker and more yellow than my skin, which helps hides purple and red parts. This is not always a step I do, just when I’m looking especially tired or have a lot of breakouts. I put right on my skin from the tube, and blend with my ring finger.
  4. I then apply L’Oreal Lumi Cushion Foundation (read about it here). I use either the pad that comes with it or a BeautyBlender.
  5. Then, I use Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer. I draw half-circles from below my inner brow to under my eye, on the corners of my mouth where I downturn and have some wrinkles, a touch under each nostril. I blend using the Sigma F64 Soft Blend Concealer Brush.
  6. I then do my brows. I use Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse in Dark Brown and Trish McEvoy’s brow brush (#32). I don’t use a stencil, I sort of start in the middle and draw the end first since that’s the most sparse of my brow, then I fill in the beginning near my nose.
  7. Then it’s highlighting. I use Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal. I put not even a whole pump on the top of one hand and use the Real Techniques Stippling Brush (find it gives a softer look than my fingers) and tap along my check bone up to my temples and lightly blend
  8. Blush – I use NARS Sex Appeal with the Bobbi Brown blush brush. I brush sort of in a circle along the cheekbones and up to my temples, and a touch on my hairline, nose, and chin.
  9. Shadow. I use L’Oreal La Palette in Nudes 1. For the lid I mix the pale grey, soft gold and champagne together with the Trish McEvoy Sheer Application brush. Most days that’s it for shadow. If I’m feeling dramatic, I’ll dip my Trish McEvoy #29 dome brush into the medium matte brown and swish swish like a wiper blade into my crease to create depth. I’ll then take the Trish McEvoy #68 Everything Eye brush in the same medium brown and put it along my lashline for a subtly smoky look. If I’m going out, I’ll wet an angled brush I’ve had for a kazillion years no longer made from The Body Shop (this is awfully similar) and take the dark metallic brown from the kit and use it like liner on my top lash line.
  10. Curl my lashes (Kevyn Aucoin lash curler) and mascara (right now it’s Lancome Definicils in black).

It sounds like a lot, but I can do it in less than five minutes.

My Favorite Lip Colors:

Then it’s lips. My daytime go-to lipsticks are NARS Pigalle and Bite Beauty Chai. If I want to go red, my go-to is Lancome LeCarmin, though I’m also known to rock Revlon Certainly Red, Bobbi Brown’s Lady Ruba, and NARS Heat Wave. If I want shine, I add NARS Viva gloss over one of the neutral colors.  I also often use Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic or Smitten, which can also double as cheek color when I’m keeping things quick and easy.

My Favorite Setting and Face Products:

If I know I will have a long day, I’ll start with Bare Minerals primer. It’s a basic silicone-based primer but works well. If it’s summer, hot, or I have to look really great after work I set my makeup with Skindinavia finishing spray (ELF’s is also pretty decent and I’ll likely buy again when I run out of the Skindinavia).  I also carry NARS Setting Powder in my purse in case I get shiny; it also helps blur everything so I look more polished if I have to meet with clients or go out unexpectedly after work.  At work, the only touch-up I do is lipstick. I sometimes touch up my face with the Lumi Cushion before heading out if I’m feeling fancy or am going somewhere right after work.

My Favorite Brushes and Tools:

Over the years I have tried a lot of cosmetics but lately I want to keep things simple and routine.  Having this base face makes life so much simpler.  Instead of 50 different shadows, I just amp up the standard daily look.  I am finding some pretty perfect lipcolors lately so I don’t see the need to keep buying more.  Likely products will be fewer and different for the hottest part of summer; I’ll readdress it then.

Do you have a standard daily face?  What are your go-to products?

Lip Gloss Review – Bare Escentual Buxom Lips, L’Oreal Infallible Never Fail

Bare Escentuals Buxom Lip GlossBare Escentuals Buxom Lips in Dolly: I know that glosses are on their way out and the new (old?) thing is lipsticks and stains. Call me old fashioned or dated, but I feel my face was MADE for smoky eyes and a glossy lip. So though the world is purchasing sticks of products, I am still looking for Nirvana with a Wand.

My ultimate lip gloss is not MAC’s Lip Glass. I like enough tackiness to last more than 15 minutes but would rather have it wear off than be all in my hair and teeth. I like shine, but I don’t want to look as though I have patent leather lips. I don’t want sparkle – a touch of shimmer is fine but plain shine is best for an office environment. Finally I want that perfect nude/mauve/pink/taupe color that is me only better.

I think I have found the closest to Nirvana with a Wand with Bare Escentuals’s Buxom Lip Polish, in the shade of Dolly. Seriously, I am loving this stuff…

PROS:
• It has a menthol tingly formula but smells like cake batter
• My lips don’t get dried out – in fact I think this product hydrates and protects!
• It is shiny in a sophisticated/classic way – no porn or teenager lips here!
• The wand is plump enough to give good coverage and shaped well enough for touch-ups sans mirror; the packaging is well made, study and attractive
• The color is natural yet enhanced, no sparkle, yet plenty of healthy cool-toned neutral shine
• It wears away gently, leaving lips soft and no ring-around-the-lips
• Color – a pinkish mauvey taupey shade – very similar to Nars Dolce Vita, but a twinge darker (one of those shades that looks good on 70% of the population)

CONS:
• It lasts a max of two hours and that is without licking lips, eating, talking or moving
• Supposedly it plumps your lips – yeah have never experienced that (but never have seen it work with DuWop Lip Venom or any of the other plumping products on the market)

Yeah, pretty obvious from this pro/con list that I find it a worthwhile purchase even though it doesn’t last too long or turn me into Angelina Jolie. It’s just an elegant, comfortable and enjoyable lip product that does what I have been wanting for several months.

L'Oreal Infallible Lip GlossL’Oreal Infallible Never Fail Lipgloss in Coral Sands: I am a sucker for L’Oreal – for years I have found their products to often be just as good as department store brands, and I usually have luck with colors even though there aren’t testers at my local Target or CVS. Their concealers have been a staple in my train case since high school, and I never have issues with breakouts or irritation with their formulas.

On top of that, I have been a sucker for long-wearing lip products since I got busted using my mom’s credit card in 9th grade to order Lasting Kiss from an infomercial. To have long wear, gloss AND L’Oreal in one product, I thought I very well may find that Nirvana with a Wand.

Notsomuch.

The color Coral Sands was very pretty for weekends or days when I want a lighter lip. The color is more pale than what it seems in the tube – on my lips it almost clear, with a slight tan/peach hue. There is a bit of shimmer, but nothing a 14-year old would get excited over. Very wearable for pale complexions and those who want a light nude lip.

The packaging is meh – the wand is large and triangular and floppy. If you press too hard the wand will bend and cause a bit of a mess. Not great for mirror-free touch-ups. Also I can tell that the slightly hourglass shape of the tube means I will have a hard time accessing the last bit when I beginning to run out (HATE that). And it claims to have a mirror, but the mirror is just a super shiny bottom of the package that doesn’t really show anything (remember the mirrors in Barbie furniture? Yeah, about as good as that).

As for the formula? Not very smooth going on – ends up applying very thin. It’s very sticky when first applied, but seems to dry in a strange manner. It does last longer than most glosses, but loses it’s shine and thickness. The product dries my lips out to no end, leaving them raw and chapped. It also doesn’t wear away well – it feels as though it is still on your lips but is gone except for some weird globules in the corners or at the bow.

PROS:
• Lasts longer than traditional glosses
• Decent price tag
• Neutral color that can work for day/office

CONS:
• Feels gross
• Doesn’t stay in place
• Dries out lips
• Bad packaging

All in all pretty worthless. I’d rather tuck my Buxom Lips in my pocket for discreet touch-ups after lunch than deal with grody lips all day.

Ask Allie – My Beauty Products

I am not a beauty blog, and I don’t claim to be an expert. However, after mentioning my beauty routine in a previous post, I have received many emails and comments wanting to know more about what beauty products I use. Today’s post will be about my medicine cabinet.

Though we had our house remodeled over two years ago, we still don’t take showers in the new master bathroom. There seems to be some place where it’s leaking, and we need to seal it properly… and just haven’t gotten around to it. So while I use this bathroom for getting ready in the morning and before bed, I actually take showers in the hallway bathroom. So my medicine cabinet only holds the items I use at bed, in the morning, and when doing my hair post-shower:

A. Get My Hair Did

  • L’Oreal EverPure Smooth Frizz-free Serum. I bought this… wow maybe two years ago? I bought it when I ran out of my BioSilk serum, and that I milked a travel-sized bottle for a couple of years. I don’t wear this often because I think it usually makes my hair look greasy, not shiny. However, it’s great when I’m past due for a hair trim – I’ll add it to the ends before letting it dry.
  • Pureology Texture Twist. Sometimes I love this stuff, sometimes I hate it. Lately I have been adding a veeeery tiny bit to damp hair, scrunching and letting it air dry. It’s very sticky, so it keeps curls curly when it’s humid out. I don’t like it for much else because it’s so thick and sticky and makes my hair feel strange.
  • Frederick Fekkai Luscious Curls. This stuff rocks, this is probably my fifth tube of this product. A pea-sized amount, scrunch, let hair dry and you have lovely soft, shiny waves and curls without any stickiness.
  • Jonathan Create Motion. It’s a cream gel, so it has the best of both products. Not too heavy, not too light, not too sticky. I got this as part of a Birchbox-like program that is now defunct, and since I don’t use it every day this tube has lasted me almost two years. It’s worthy of a re-purchase, I like that it gives more hold than Luscious Curls, but does a similar thing. I also like using it before blowing out straight, and it helps hold any heating tool styles.
  • TRESseme Heat Tamer Spray. I don’t use this as often as I should. It gets rave reviews online, and I got it when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. Many YouTube beauty vloggers swear by this product, I find it sometimes makes my hair too soft.
  • Salon Grafix Spray Powder Shampoo. I have reviewed this before. This is my third bottle, I like it so much.
  • Jonathan Product Silky Dirt. I bought this for me, my husband took it over. He adores this for a soft hair look and he loves the regular Dirt when he wants a mussed look.

In the far right corner is Jonathan Dirt, a replacement brush head for my Clarisonic Mia, and a bottle of bath and Body Works body lotion from a hotel (sometimes use it as a hair styling product). Far left next to the serum is some Sally Hansen hair remover – every 2-3 weeks, does a great job of getting rid of the ‘stache without irritation or redness.

B. Hydrate!

  • Some random tube of a hydrating mask. I don’t know the brand offhand, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t think it accomplishes much but my husband loves masks and uses it.
  • CVS Night Cream. It’s a cheaper version of RoC.
  • Olay Beauty Fluid, SPF 15. I ran out of moisturizer while in Vermont and picked this up when I went into town. It’s light, it has some SPF, it’s fine.
  • Olay Definity Eye Cream. I like this eye cream because it doesn’t leave the skin greasy; it really absorbs quickly so I don’t have to wait before applying makeup.

C. Washing Up

  • Clarisonic Nourishing Face Cleanser. It’s gentle, it’s creamy, it doesn’t strip the skin but I am not in love. Doesn’t take off makeup and is very pricey for not wowing me.
  • Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser. My husband picked this up because he too doesn’t like the Clarisonic cleanser. It tastes terrible, it’s hard to rinse off, but boy does it do a great job at removing makeup. This stuff can even take off waterproof mascara and liquid liner.
  • Clarisonic Mia. I bought it as a birthday present to myself but was never immediately wowed. After a recent article on Un Femme d’un Certain Age I started using it again, either with face wash when I haven’t taken off my makeup, or alone on clean skin. It does make products like the Clarisonic face wash work better, and hopefully it will help my skin texture and clarity.

D. My Eyes! My Eyes!
I wear contacts. Here’s my case, here’s my solution (I ran out so am using my travel size for now).

E. Get My Nails Did
I am not a big nail person, I never wear polish on my hands and often go sans color on my feet. These are the basics – polish remover, clear topcoat to maintain a pedicure, and a lovely sheer pink that will make nails just look healthy and complete without color. I usually keep any colorful polishes in my dressing table.

F. So Random
This tumbler from my kitchen holds all the little random things in one place:

G. Brusha Brusha Brusha

  • My husband uses a Sonicare, I kick it old school with a cheapy toothbrush. I should switch to a Sonicare, but I just ENJOY a regular toothbrush. I have one here, one at work, one in the bathroom downstairs. I brush my teeth 4-5 times a day and replace my brushes regularly.
  • Dental Floss. Yep, I floss. My dentist is very proud of me.
  • NTIs. Nothing sexier than a couple with matching mouthguards to prevent tooth grinding. His and Hers.

H. Holy Grail

  • Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel. This stuff is awesome. I sometimes use this after cleansing to calm my face, I use it in the morning to remove dead skin and leftover moisturizer. If I accidently put on eye cream before my contacts, I use this to remove it so I won’t goop up. I also use it as a body refresher, wipe my décolleté and back of neck to feel fresh when dashing out of the house. My husband also uses it as a toner. It’s gentle, it’s a pleasant scent, and it’s natural. Score.

Next to the witch hazel is one of our three toothpastes. This was from Bonnaroo (travels well, won’t explode in heat – think it’s Colgate but when I went to peel off the safety packaging the whole label peeled off). We also have some tube of Tom’s of Maine that is almost gone, and a new tube of Crest 3D White because my husband believed the hype. It’s new, so I don’t know yet whether it will take our coffee- and wine-loving chompers to pearly white-ness… will keep you posted.

J. Got Sweat?
Does one household really need four different deodorants? Guess so. I switch between Dove formulas for day (find if I stick with one too long it stops working). For night I was using CertainDri but it seemed to stop working so I switched to Dove Clinical. The Dove is almost out, so I’ll go back to CertainDri until the bottle is empty and go back to Dove. The yellow is Arm & Hammer, my husband switches between that and the blue Dove.

And when you turn around from the sink you see the bathroom’s second door. I didn’t want this door. The bathroom is half in the master bedroom, half in our office. The contractor and my husband thought a second door would be useful if we used the office as a guest room, if we tried to sell the house. We never use the door – there’s furniture in front of it in the office and it’s a waste of space in the bathroom that could be used for a proper cabinet. So this is how I use it:

 

This over-the-door rack was originally purchased for the powder room on the main floor. I envisioned umbrellas in the basket, lightweight jackets and such on the hooks. We don’t have a closet on the main floor, so figured this would be a great alternative (we have a coat rack near the front door that is always overflowing). When I realized this bathroom has no wall space for a proper cabinet, I put this here for a “temporary fix.” Two and a half years later it’s still here. Usually there’s towels hanging there, but I took these pictures on laundry day.

In the top are all the things that don’t fit in the medicine cabinet:

  • Listerine
  • Hairspray (Elnett and Jonathan spray)
  • More contact lenses (the big box of more is in the linen closet in the hallway but I keep one box of each at the ready)
  • Diffuser (came with the dryer)
  • Brushes (two are missing from this photo – one is in the other bathroom, and one has disappeared because Emerson finds brushes to be playthings)

While the hooks hold damp towels, they also hold all my appliances:

  • Remington S9950 Shine Therapy Moisturizing and Conditioning Digital Ceramic Hair Straightener. This one was favored by many beauty vloggers back when I was trying to make waves with a flat iron. I don’t think it gives my hair shine, but it has a thermostat so I can control the heat level and I like how narrow it is – does a good job with making waves as well as straightening bangs without a weird bump at the hairline.
  • Hair Dryer. This one sucks and burns my hand if I use it too long, but I won’t buy a new one because this one gets the job done. When it dies, I will buy a new one.
  • Vidal Sassoon 1 inch Curling Iron for Fine Hair. It has a tight clamp so it holds fine hair in place. Can control the heat level and a cord that never gets all twisted up. Not bad, though if it dies I want to replace it with my sister’s – whenever we travel I use hers (think it’s a Conair) and it’s awesome.
  • Charging cord for my Clarisonic Mia.

Oh and yes, photobomb by Emerson who was using her potty as a cave for her bath toys.

Whew, are you still here? Still reading? I am impressed! So that’s my bathroom in a nutshell. Not a lot of fancy, fun, and glamorous things but things that get the job done. Still need to get a proper day moisturizer and face cleanser, but I’m frugal and wait until the current bottle or tube is completely empty. So keep sending me your recommendations, I am noting all of them and they will help me when I do finally purchase!

 

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This is 40: My Winter Skincare and Beauty Routine

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This is what 40 looks like… and my skincare routine mentioned below after a couple hours of wear and no touch-ups. Mascara, liner, a bit of matte taupe shadow and Revlon BalmStain in Romantic.

After I shared a selfie last week on social media, I received a bunch of questions asking how I take care of my skin. I’ll admit I get tempted by new and shiny products and reviews on blogs, but I’m trying to stick to my current routine because it works, and for the first time in years my winter skin is happy and hydrated.

Night Skincare Routine:

  • Garnier Clean + Nourishing Cleansing Oil – I use this almost every evening. Two pumps in dry hands, rub on dry skin, and then rinse off. Okay, you don’t “just rinse;” rinsing isn’t that easy and you will be left with what feels like a film of oil on your skin. Trust me, this isn’t a bad thing. Unlike other drugstore-brand oil cleansers, Garnier doesn’t clog my pores and it does remove all my makeup, even mascara and liquid liner. I emulsify and rinse with tepid and blot (don’t rub) my skin dry.
  • CeraVe Cleanser (Normal to Dry) – I use this from time to time, just to switch things up. I’ve used it for years and like how it’s budget friendly, gentle, and cleans thoroughly without stripping. Once or twice a month and after a day where I wore hardcore makeup, I’ll use it with my Clarisonic, and then follow up with the Garnier oil cleanser.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Eye Cream – I keep trying other brands, get disappointment, and return to this product. No irritation, absorbs nicely, makes the skin feel soft and I think helps with wrinkles and dry skin.
  • Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum – Again, I try other products and come back to this one. It works, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, and it doesn’t make my skin angry. I apply this after the eye cream to my entire face, neck, chest, and the top of both hands.
  • Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads – I don’t use these as often as I did in the fall and early winter because the rest of my body has gotten so pale it looks fake. But I do it sometimes if I have an event to go to, I’ll use in place of the Neutrogena serum. I wear a dark bra, and wipe it on my face, neck, and chest inside the lines of the bra for an even finish. Then I take the almost-dry pad and wipe down my arms and tops of my hands to give a touch of color and then wash my hands.
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Youth Regenerating Skincare Serum – I’ve written about this many times before. I’ve tried other serums and they don’t compare. I can’t clearly explain what this does but it makes my skin happy. Two pumps, on face, neck, a bit on chest and leftover on tops of hands.
  • L’Oreal Collagen Moisture Filler Cream – This is a day/night cream but it hydrates nicely without being greasy or clogging pores. I find the heavier night creams cause breakouts and this doesn’t but it still keeps me from cracking or getting red and miserable in cold weather. And how can you resist a decent cream under $10? I run on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.
  • Random Hippie Clove and Vitamin E Cream – I got this at a local shop made by a local artisan not online. But it’s a cream made with Vitamin E, cocoa butter, clove oil, and has a consistency that’s a mix between Chapstick and Vaseline. I rub it on my lips and sometimes I rub it under my nose if it’s red and raw, and I rub more on my hands and around my cuticles.
  • Water – I have a Kleen Kanteen next to my bed. I fill up, drink half, refill, and then sip on it while I read before bed and at times when I wake up. Water is a necessity to happy skin.

Morning Skincare Routine:

  • Water – I finish the Kleen Kanteen before I do anything else. Water, water, water and then more water!
  • Fish Oil – I take one Fish Oil pill first thing in the morning, and another when I get home from work. I often deal with dandruff and psoriasis in winter; taking these help greatly and make my skin and hair look better too. These don’t make me burp salmon; they’re big but I don’t have any trouble swallowing them.
  • Thayer’s Rose Petal Witch Hazel – I’ve used this for years. I apply it with a reusable cotton round. It’s way more gentle than traditional witch hazel, and smells great too! This is all I use to cleanse my skin in the morning.
  • Neutrogena Eye Cream – Same eye cream from the evening
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Serum – Same serum from the evening
  • L’Oreal Revitalift Day Moisturizer SPF 30 – This is the first time using it but my winter skin really likes it. It’s far too heavy and greasy for the summer, but right now my skin sucks it up and it leaves a dewy finish that works well with foundation for a nice healthy day look. I rub on face, neck, chest, and tops of hands.

My Basic Makeup Routine:

  • L’Oreal True Match Concealer – I don’t love this, but it gets the job done. I like how lightweight and creamy it is because it doesn’t crease or look weird over my fine lines and creases. I dot under eyes, under the nose, around the mouth and on any zits. Then I tap, not rub until it’s blended but still visible. I use Fair Light Warm, the warmer color balances my dark circles better.
  • Revlon ColorStay Foundation for Normal/Dry Skin and Jojoba Oil – I put the tiniest dot of jojoba oil into my palm, then add foundation and mix. I then apply with my fingers. The jojoba oil was an idea I got from my beauty guru friend Sarah and it gives a dewy finish without causing the makeup to slip away throughout the day. For the foundation, right now I’m using Fresh Beige.
  • Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder – I sprinkle a bit of this in its cap, and use the MAC 190 foundation brush (much softer than others I have used yet still has a precision edge) and apply it under my eyes, between the brows, and under the nose. If I want a very finished look I’ll apply some elsewhere – the forehead, the chin, over the lips (helps lipstick stay). I don’t have to work hard to blend, and it doesn’t leave a powdery or overly matte finish. The yellow tone really helps to cancel out my dark circles and redness under the nose.
  • NARS ‘Orgasm’ Blush – I am not committed to this blush. When I turned 30 I bought this blush for the first time. A couple years ago I decided it was too warm and too sparkly and switched to creams, to pinks, to all sorts of things. But this winter I am embracing my paleness, and liking a dewy face, and the subtle shimmer and peachy glow of ‘Orgasm’ feels right again. I apply with a fluffy blush brush (not sure the brand, it wore off the black handle), smiling and applying just below apples of my cheeks and up towards my temples. A very tiny pat on the top of the nose and one on the chin.
  • TheBalm Mary-Lou Manzier – A reader told me about this product and I have been a fan ever since. Thanks to a six-year-old who finds my dressing table utterly fascinating, this compact fell on the floor and the product crumbled. So now I shake the compact, carefully open, and tap my finger on the mirror to get the right amount of product. A swipe on each cheek bone, a dot at the inner corners of my eye, a tiny bit below the brows (VERY tiny bit) and a bit at the bow of my lip. This gives a very natural highlight that just looks like healthy skin.
  • Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse – It comes with a brush but I prefer to apply it with my Trish McEvoy brow brush because it’s shorter and stiffer and I have more control and it doesn’t look like I put liquid liner in my eyebrows. Dash dash dash from center to arch, then draw the end. I then go back and dash dash to fill in, and then use a brush to brush the hairs up, then in an arch. I wear Rich Brown.

The rest really varies on my mood. Sometimes I wear shadow (and don’t have any I really love and swear by right now), sometimes I don’t. I have mascaras for thick drag queen lashes, waterproof mascaras, lengthening mascaras. I do always curl first (I use Kevyn Aucoin’s lash curler), it makes a difference. And if I wear liner, it’s Maybelline Line Stiletto in Brownish Black; it’s not too shiny or black for day, it can do a very thin precise line right at the lashline, or get bigger for a cat eye. Mucho love for it. And as you know from my outfit posts, I switch up my lips all the time.

I’d love to hear from you as to what your favorite skincare and beauty products are. Some of my favorite products are recommendations from readers and your Holy Grail may be a HG product for me or another reader!

My Holy Grail Beauty Products

Many moons ago, I was a regular on Makeup Alley. There, members would often talk about their HG, or Holy Grail products. That mascara that dreams were made of, the moisturizer that truly did transform, the hair product that finally made tresses manageable. Many moons ago, I spent a ton of money at Sephora, CVS, and Nordstrom looking for my own personal HGs but rarely gave any product the time needed to truly get to know it. As I have aged, I’ve stopped with the manic shopping for perfection. Lack of time, lack of funds, and lack of thinking such items will be so life-changing. But with that, I’ve used products until I “hit pan” or emptied the tube, I’ve repurchased items if they have served me well, and given products time to really prove if they’re good for me. I’ve also learned that Holy Grail doesn’t mean a product that will change my life, but products that fit me, my lifestyle, my budget, and my personal style.

The other day as I was doing my face, I realized I do have plenty of Holy Grail beauty products. I have a pretty set skincare routine and makeup face, one that gets the job done, feels good, looks good. My HG beauty products:

My Holy Grail Skincare Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Beauty Products for Skincare

  • DHC Deep Cleansing Oil – This stuff isn’t cheap, but I have yet to find a cheaper alternative that works quite as well. Garnier is fine, but when I splurge and buy DHC (or get a sample from the BlogHer conference, thank you Rakuten!) I realize there is no comparison. This product gets my skin clean, takes off all makeup (even that kohl that seems to reappear five minutes after cleansing and then again in the morning), leaves my skin feeling softer than before cleansing, never causes breakouts, and when I use it, the next morning my skin looks phenomenal – hydrated, plump, soft, even, dare I say younger? I’ve used off and on for five years and have wasted so much money trying to find a cheaper alternative.
  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – I keep this in the shower as cleansing oil doesn’t work well in such a situation. This also does a great job of removing everything from my face without stripping it, though I sometimes need to do a second wash if I wore any primers or setting sprays. I like using this with my Clarisonic. It’s cheap, it doesn’t dry me out, no breakouts, not too harsh but effective. However, if I only use this and don’t switch every so often my skin does start to dry a bit. The best combination is me using DHC most nights and a wash with CeraVe and my Clarisonic in the shower 2-3 times a week.
  • Clarisonic Mia – I’ve gone through periods where I don’t use this, and times when I’ve used it daily. Over time I have found that my skin benefits from using it, but not too often. I like it best in the shower; I’ll do a quick wash with CeraVe especially if I’ve used primers and setting sprays, then do a second cleansing with CeraVe and the Clarisonic. It makes my pores appear to be smaller, makes my skin glow (and true glow, not scratched irritated red), and really gives me a deep clean. I buy replacement brush heads on eBay from well-rated sellers and always make sure to have an extra one in the linen closet for replacement.
  • L’Oreal Youth Code Serum Intense – I’ve now purchased this product six times, I love it that much. I have tried other serums, and they don’t compare – too greasy, ineffective, irritating. I still don’t know exactly what Youth Code does to improve my skin, but when I use it, my skin is happy. It’s a very light serum that absorbs quickly and plays nice with moisturizers. It makes my skin glow a bit, pores seem reduced, skin feels hydrated but never greasy. I use it morning and night under my moisturizer.
  • Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel – I’ve used this for over a decade and nothing else compares. I don’t wash my face in the morning, I just wipe it with this witch hazel. It smells nice, it leaves my skin feeling clean yet soft, and the price is very nice. Also feels good on a sweaty gross day; I’ll wipe down my neck, cleavage, behind my ears and feel refreshed.
  • Reusable Cotton Rounds – I am still using the same set I featured in this post, and they only get softer and more absorbent with washings. I store the rounds in an oversized mason jar (so hipster… well actually it fits nicely in my medicine cabinet), and I have a mesh bag hanging off the bathroom door and put the used rounds in there. Zip it up when I’m down to just a few clean rounds and throw in the next load of laundry. Wash and dry in the bag, and shove back in the mason jar. I use these for anything that needs a cotton round or ball except polish remover. Better for the environment, and better for your wallet!

My Holy Grail Makeup Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Makeup Beauty Products

  • Revlon ColorStay Makeup – I’ve used both formulas of this product; since turning 40 I switched to the Normal/Dry version (my color is Fresh Beige) and I find it has as much staying power as the oil-free version. The color looks natural on me, it blends well, doesn’t cause breakouts or get weird around my eyes and you can’t beat the price! Best of all… it lasts. It lasts through crying, through humid DC days, through dancing and sweating at a concert, and I can put it on at 6am before heading to the office and still have a set face at 7pm for an after-work event.
  • Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic – This stuff is amazing, and many of you have purchased it after I reviewed it and agree. It’s that perfect soft red that looks good on most every one. It’s not a lipstick, not a balm, not a stain but a combo of them all that can be applied without a mirror, be layered without being sticky or gross, and it has a bit of a menthol feel to soothe dry lips. I feel like Snow White when I wear it.  I have Romantic in my purse, Romantic in my desk, and Romantic in my dressing table at all times.
  • NARS Blush in Orgasm – I’ve been using this blush for over a decade. It has a bit of shimmer, but it’s subtle and only gives my skin a bit of a dewy finish. The coral color looks natural, but isn’t too orange to clash with cool-toned lipcolors and outfits. I have a couple other blushes in my makeup drawer for different looks but I always come back to Orgasm.
  • Maybelline Stiletto Liner in Brownish Black – I have contacts, allergies, and rub my eyes often. Pencil liners always end up a mess on me, and as I have gotten older I’ve found glossy black liquid liner looks too harsh.  I went through a ton of liquid liners from department stores, Sephora, and yes Makeup Alley-highly rated liners and none really wowed me.  I tried Line Stiletto by chance and became a loyal user for many years. It’s a felt tip that is flexible enough adjust the width of the line and get in that tiny area next to the lash line. It holds up through rubbing and sweating and tears and all that jazz, you can reapply over it later in the day if you want a darker or thicker line, yet it washes away easily at the end of the day. I keep one in my purse and one in my dressing table; I replace every three months.
  • e.l.f. Makeup Mist and Set – This is by far the best makeup setting spray I have tried. A combination of this and the Revlon ColorStay and my face can last for 24 hours even in high heat and humidity. Unlike other setting sprays and primers, I never get breakouts or clogged pores from this spray. And it doesn’t hurt that a bottle is under $5.00!

My Holy Grail Haircare Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Haircare Beauty Products

  • Rusk Thick – While I have a lot of hair, it’s relatively thin. A few spritzes of Rusk Thick before blowdrying gives me lift and body without it feeling as though I added anything to my hair. I keep trying different products and they’re always… fine. But Thick gets the job done without making my hair feel gross or look gross on Day 2. I’m on my third bottle in the past few years and I’ve learned to not waste my money on other products and stick with what works.
  • Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray – I raved about it in this post and I still adore it. I like messy rocker hair, and it helps me get that. I sometimes like full loose curls and it helps me get that. And when I am on Day 2 or 3 and want it to look purposeful and not greasy or limp, it helps me get that too.
  • Clairol Natural Instincts in 20 Hazelnut – While my stylist can give me the best color with depth, dimension and multi colors that look more natural and shiny, I’ll use Natural Instincts Hazelnut between sessions to cover gray and when my haircolor fades. It’s a bit darker than my natural brown, but I like that. I also like that this is a cool brown, not auburn or golden. It’s not the best on grays, but it’s a good in-between sessions color that isn’t completely permanent and doesn’t dry out or fry my hair.

My Holy Grail Body Care and Fragrance Products

Wardrobe Oxygen Holy Grail Body Care Fragrance Beauty Products

  • Neutrogena Body Oil – I love the smell, I love how it makes my skin look dewey and silky, and I love the ritual of applying it in a steamy bathroom post-shower. I tire of fragrances quickly, but not Neutrogena Body Oil. When I was pregnant it was one of the few scents that didn’t bother me; Karl would use it as a massage oil when my back bothered me and when I feel stressed I’ll take a bath and add some to the water for the aromatherapy as well as the moisturizing properties. Heads up, don’t waste your money on drugstore versions; they don’t smell the same. At ALLLLLLL.
  • Body Shop Coconut Body Butter – This stuff takes scaly alligator winter skin and makes it soft, silky, and happy. It’s great on sunburned, irritated, or sensitive skin; slather your feet in it before bed and put on socks and wake up with lovely tootsies. I’ve been using it since I worked for the company as a trainer 15 years ago.  I buy the jumbo tubs now and one lasts me almost a year.
  • Burberry London Eau de Parfum – I always wanted a signature fragrance, it seemed so feminine and elegant and stylish. This is not the fragrance I would have thought would be “the one” but for almost a decade it continues to be a scent I love and never tire of.  I wrote more about Burberry London EDP in this post.
  • OPI Nail Color in Big Apple Red – When summer comes I like to switch up and do the occasional fun color (right now wearing OPI’s Stop for Red), but Big Apple Red for two years has been my signature color. I don’t tire of it, it’s the perfect red that’s not too flashy, too mature, doesn’t look bad on my pale skin, and it’s a color that stops strangers on the street to compliment and ask the brand and name.
  • CertainDri – I’m a sweaty gal, and have tried dozens of natural, clinical, men’s, women’s, unisex, fancy, basic, and all kinds of deodorants but they all miss the boat (and usually leave me smelling like B.O. plus chemicals or B.O. plus baby powder or lavender).  CertainDri continues to be the one product that leaves me smelling just like skin.  If you used in the past and found it drippy and irritating, the formula has been updated and improved.  I swipe it on at night and then in the morning use a regular deodorant (usually Dove because it’s gentle, relatively effective, and the smell doesn’t make me want to hurl).

Now it’s your turn to share. Do you have any Holy Grail beauty products? Your favorite may be the one thing we’re missing in our lives, let us know what you love in the comments!


Thursday

Black stretch v-neck from Banana Republic, white twill cuffed cropped pants from Casual Corner, black leather thong heeled sandals from Mossimo, multiple skinny silver bangles from Ann Taylor Loft, black leather and silver necklace from Chico’s.

Hair is weird. In the shower I was considering loose messy waves and the front feathered out. Yeah, I watched Jessica Simpson’s stupid new video and was slightly inspired. So I added Frizz-Ease Dream Curls Spray, blew hair straight letting it do as it pleased, twisting some pieces. It ended up looking damaged and gross. I continued blowing, using a paddle brush, that made some difference. I then blew the front with a round boar bristle brush and then applied bioSilk so it didn’t look as much like straw…. not my best hair day.

Makeup is L’Oreal True match foundation in C3, MAC Studio Stick concealer, Physician’s Formula Magical Mosaics bronzer for color and powder, a bit of Nars Orgasm blush. Eyes is the ivory shadow from Revlon’s ColorStay Neutral shadow quad, then The Body Shop’s 08 (Granite) in the lids and along the lash line. lashes curled via Shu Eumura and two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black applied. On lips is Sally Hansen’s diamond lipgloss in a hot pink (the label with the name fell off).

Wednesday

Black ribbed crewneck sweater from Chico’s, black Tahari suiting trousers, long gray necklace from Target looped three times, black Enzo boots.

Hair is on it’s third day, blown straight where bedhead was.

Makeup was done in a jiffy as that I lolled in bed too long reading for my Book Club. L’Oreal True Match foundation, Nars Orgasm blush, a bit of khaki shadow, a thin line of Maybelline Ultra Liner in black on top lash line, L’Oreal Voluminous mascara and Body Shop Lip Tint.

Monday

Candy pink merino v-neck from J. Crew, white ribbed tank from J. Crew, black suiting trousers from Ann Taylor Loft, black city boots from Aldo, silver cuff and dangle earrings.

Hair is not done – alarm accidently set for PM instead of AM. Brushed out the curls, hit a straightening iron to the top to remove bumps and accepted it.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation and concealer, Nars Orgasm blush, Revlon Lipglide in Sheer Raspberry, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in neutral – ivory on the lid, khaki on the crease. L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black. Pretty basic and quick.

Wednesday


Black scoop tee from American Apparel. Black and white sequined skirt from Marshall’s. Black peep toe heels from Steve Madden. Silver hoops and silver cuff bracelet.

Hair curly thanks to Suave/Redken wanna be products for curls and a curling iron for the unruly pieces.

Makeup is L’oreal True Match foundation, The Body Shop concealer, Chanel pressed powder, Physician’s Formula Magical mosaics bronzer. The Body Shop shadows in Granite and Soft Black to have a subtle smokey eye. Two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black. On lips is Sally Hansen lipgloss in Lilac over The Body Shop’s lipliner (on whole lip) in Beech.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Raspberry merino v-neck from Ann Taylor Loft. Denim trousers from Ann Taylor (just came in the mail yesterday!), two anthracite and bead necklaces from Express. Black Enzo boots.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation, Chanel concealer and powder. Nars Orgasm on the cheeks. On the lids is Champagne Pink shadow from the Body Shop on the lids, Crown Jewels shadow from L’Oreal in the crease and along the lash line. On the lips is Maybelline lipstick in Ripe Plum.

Hair is straightened with the iron, touch of spray wax on the tips.

Wednesday

Black stretch v-neck sweater from Banana Republic, white denim skirt from Ann Taylor Loft, red stone necklace from a boutique at the beach, black leather strappy thong heels from Mossimo.

Hair is Suave Professionals Healthy curls shampoo, conditioner and mousse. Unruly pieces curled with iron.

Makeup is L’Oreal True Match foundation, MAC Studio Stick concealer, Physican’s Formula Magical Mosiacs bronzer in light, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in neutral – ivory in the inner corners and along brow bone, khaki on lid and along lower lash line. lashes curled thanks to Shu Eumura, two coats of L’Oreal Voluminous mascara and thin line of black Ultra Liner from Maybelline on the top lash line. On lips is L’Oreal’s Endless Kissable Shinewear (without the extra gloss) in color 530.

Monday

Indigo silk knit v-neck sleeveless shell from Ann Taylor, white bootcut stretch jeans from Caslon/Nordstrom. Turquoise necklace from Target, beaded thong sandals with short wood wedge heel from Seychelles. Silver hoops and cuff bracelet.

Hair is second-day dirty, the front blown while dry with a round brush.

Makeup is L’oreal true Match foundation , MAC Studio Stick concealer, Physician’s Formula Magical Mosaics bronzer in light. A touch of Nars Orgasm on the cheeks. on lips is L’Oreal’s Glam Shine gloss in… gee I do not have the color in front of me but it is a red with a pinky-orange cast. Like a reddish coral. Eyes is Revlon’s ColorStay quad in Neutral – the ivory in the inner corners and on the brow bone, then lashes curled and covered with L’oreal Voluminous mascara in black and a line of Maybelline’s Ultra Liner in black on the top lash line.

Saturday


Tibetan Buddhist Meditation seminar at the Smithsonian with my mom and husband. Wanted to be comfortable, would be sitting and meditating for six hours.

Black heavy knit wide-leg yoga pants from Champion; more like ponte than a regular knit. Black scoopneck shortsleeved tee from American Apparel, charcoal v-neck shetland sweater from L.L. Bean, gray New Balance trainers. Over it an orange crinkle silk scarf from Banana Republic and a red suede car coat from Target.

Same with previous day, washed hair night before, air dried, curled some pieces in the AM and applied Jonathan Dirt.

Makeup minimal; L’Oreal True Match foundation, Chanel pressed powder, Nars Orgasm blush, L’Oreal Voluminous mascara in black, Body Shop Born Lippy balm in Passionfruit.

Little Bits of Luxury: The Series

With age comes wisdom. It’s taken a while, but I have learned to truly buy quality instead of quantity. I unsubscribed from most retail emails so I am not wooed by 50% off (if I didn’t need it at full price, I don’t need it now), I rarely enter a mall because I know myself and I will leave at least $100 poorer with bags full of things I don’t need and will likely collect dust. When I visit a store like Target or TJ Maxx I have a written shopping list that will be a visible reminder to stay on track. And in the past year, when I have added to my closet I have looked for what I can remove – to store for the future, to donate, to sell, to admit defeat and cut up into rags.

And the things I purchase are better quality too. Now I am no Martha Stewart, so for me quality is likely Nine West, Etsy, L’Oreal. But I have learned it’s not about the name on the label, but how the piece works with my life and performs in the long run. Be it bras, BB cream, baking dishes, or boots I research, save, and buy the best within my budget. This also goes for luxury items (and items that are luxurious just to me). I have never admitted being a minimalist, and with age I have learned that some luxury items just make life better (and are far kinder to the body than cupcakes and nachos). I’ve also learned that luxury can come at all pricepoints, and some of the best indulgences are quite kind to my wallet.

I’ve found that series on this blog are some of my most popular posts on Wardrobe Oxygen. And so my newest series will feature little luxuries I indulge in, and how I budget for them, and why they are worth it. I hope you enjoy!





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