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Best Beauty Buys of 2012

As I get older, I purchase fewer beauty products. When I find something I like, I stick with it. So when a new product not only is on my radar but purchased and re-purchased, it’s pretty fabuloso stuff. I did a beauty product recap last year; here’s my favorite beauty products from 2012:

1. L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream
Eventually there will be a full review on this site for this product (pending approval since I got my first tube free via L’Oreal and BlogHer), but I can’t not mention it for 2012. I tried the Garnier BB Cream, got a sample of the Smashbox one, and I just didn’t get the BB Cream hype. When L’Oreal sent me their version, I didn’t have high hopes. Well, I get the hype now, and I am a BB Cream convert. This product is thicker than a tinted moisturizer, but far more sheer than a traditional foundation. The L’Oreal Youth Code BB Cream is thick and hydrating but doesn’t get greasy or slide during the day. Unlike other BB Creams, I can apply this one over moisturizers and still get great coverage. It makes my skin look pretty, not just tinted, and I think it does help minimize dark spots and breakouts. I love having a face product I can just rub in and go, this was awesome in the warmer months as well as the winter. My tube is almost empty and I know I will be purchasing another.

2. Dr. Brandt Pores No More
I bought this on a whim, thinking it may reduce the appearance of pores on my nose. Tried it on my nose, HATED it (cakey, false, smelled like tea tree oil and didn’t do much) and considered giving this to my mom. Then I tried it again on my forehead… and I fell in love. This product doesn’t work well on the nose or under the nose where it can be greasy and the pores large but it ROCKS on cheeks and forehead to hide pores and also hide fine lines. I apply a thin layer by patting it onto the skin with my ring finger; I wear on bare skin or over foundation and under powder. You can reapply during the day without it looking cakey if you dot it on and apply sparingly. It dries a bit like a powder so no shiny spots on your face. I really think it does a great job at making my skin look a little less bumpy and wrinkly and such without looking false. And yeah, Pores No More does smell like tea tree oil but the scent subsides and the scent is far less noticeable when not applied directly under your nostrils!

3. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain
I used to be a beauty product snob and went to the drugstore just for things like a trendy lip color or brow powder. However, in the past couple of years drugstore brands have really improved and the quality often rivals department store and Sephora brands. These crayons from Revlon have better consistency, color choices, packaging, and lasting ability than similar products I have tried from higher-priced brands. Romantic is my jam and as long as Revlon makes this product I will likely purchase it. It makes me feel like Snow White with soft red lips with a hint of natural shine. These crayons also work great under lipsticks or glosses for a completely different effect.

4. Laura Mercier Creme Lip Color in Sparkling Pink
Once I got a mini Laura Mercier lipstick from a Sephora GWP – it was called Champagne Pink and was a beautiful cool mauvy pink. It was tiny, I wore it occasionally, it got lost in a purse. A couple months ago I found it, the cap now cracked in half and the lipstick smashed into said cracked cap. I tried it with a lip brush and still loved it. I loved it so much I wore every bit of smashed lipstick in that smashed cap and the little bit still in the tube. I treated myself this Christmas to a full-sized version of this lipstick, now called Sparkling Pink. Don’t worry, not a single dot of glitter in this creamy, elegant cool rose shade. A perfect daytime lipstick, a perfect nighttime lipstick to pair with a dramatic smoky eye. Feels great on the lips, doesn’t have a strong smell, elegant case. Laura Mercier has yet to do me wrong, I am always a fan of products I buy from this brand!

5. Neil George Detangle Nourishing Spray
I reviewed this product here, but I am STILL a raving fan. Curly hair, straight hair, wet hair, dry hair, this product just makes my hair look better. It smells like coconuts, it lasts a long time, it’s a great style refresher when I go out after work. I am almost finished with my second bottle and already have a third waiting in the linen closet as I can’t imagine a day without this spray!

6. Maybelline Line Stiletto
I know, I am so late to the game with this one but it is now my favorite liquid liner on the planet (original review here). The Brownish Black makes a statement but isn’t too intense or shiny for the office. Now that I wear glasses, I wear this liner almost daily to make my eyes stand out. You can get a really skinny line right against the lash line or a dramatic cat-eye swoop with little effort. I consider this a Holy Grail product – I have found my liner for life.

7. Olay Smooth Finish Facial Hair Removal Duo
I reviewed this product here, but I know many of you scroll right past my sponsored posts. No worries, I get it, but do know what I state in those posts may be a bit glossy, but never false. This is another product I received for free, but loved so much I repurchased when I ran out. I have hair on my upper lip, and I don’t like how it looks. Every few weeks, I use this product and the hair is gone. No redness, no numbness, no irritation, no terrible smell. I can do it, slap on my makeup and head to work without any worries. It gets the job done, is reasonably priced, and easy to use. Big fan.

8. Phyto Phytophanere Dietary Supplement – Hair & Nails
I think I bought this at the same time I purchased the Dr. Brandt No More Pores. Had a good month on the blog and splurged on a couple beauty products. These pills get mixed reviews, but my hair had been looking old and tired, dry and brittle. A doctor said it’s normal for my hair to be like that as I age, especially with the changing seasons. I couldn’t just accept straw, so I started washing my hair less frequently, tried changing my shampoo, used hot tools less often, added more good fats to my diet, continued my water intake… and started taking these pills. I am now on my second bottle. Yes, they are pricey, but now, I just have strong hair and nails that are naturally shiny. Go ahead and look through my outfit posts and see the difference in my hair the past few weeks (I really started seeing the difference around the time I went to Key West). It took about a month to see any results other than a bit of constipation the first week and excessively oily hair the first two weeks (just used more dry shampoo), but after that the body regulated itself and in about a month I really noticed a difference.

And now I ask you readers, what are your favorite new beauty products from the past year? 
Many of my Holy Grail products are thanks to your recommendations, and I’d love to hear what you are loving and buying!

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My Favorite Simple Style Tips

Over the years I have learned a few things from trial and error, many from fellow bloggers, and a heck of a lot from you readers. A few style-based lessons I have learned that have improved my life that I thought may also help you:

Apply Dry Shampoo Before Bedtime. Colored dry shampoo can drip and gets on my hands if I forget and scratch my head and “invisible” dry shampoo makes my brown hair look ashy. One of you readers suggested I try applying dry shampoo before bedtime and let it work its way into my roots while I sleep. Brilliant! I prefer Klorane Dry Shampoo because it has a soft mist and subtle smell, but this also works with cheaper brands like Salon Grafix and Suave. I apply, I don’t really rub in so I go to bed looking as though I have gray roots. However when I wake… awesomeness. Enough time for it to really work in, not leave an ashy look, it’s not as sticky/dry feeling and gives that dry/full look I desire.

Buy Leather a Size Too Small. Leather stretches. Even lined leather stretches. My lined pleated leather skirt I almost returned because I bought a 10 and it was skin tight and I couldn’t fully zip it. So a couple days after work, I came home and changed into it. Made dinner, watched TV, and stretched it out enough to zip. Three nights and the skirt was ready to wear to work. Since then, the skirt has grown even more to where it sort of sits on my hips. Same holds true for leather pants – all my size 10 leather pants (that I shall wear again!) are actually 6 and 8 because they stretch and I broke them in with this method.

Buy Boots a Half Size Too Big. A little more room in the boot means you can wear thick cozy socks without an issue. Come winter, I often wear a pair of knee-high socks and then a pair of thick snuggly anklets over them so I have warm tootsies; the extra space gives my feet plenty of room to wiggle with all the layers.

When Line Drying Pants, Hang Upside Down. Fold the legs seam to seam and hang them in this manner, use those hangers with clips, and the waistband won’t stretch out and you end up with a nice clean crease down each leg.

Store Costume Jewelry in Plastic Bags. Fake gold and silver tarnish easily, and don’t shine back up like the real thing. If you store in Ziploc baggies (or save the plastic bags from purchases and shipments) you can see what you have and also make it look nicer longer. This especially holds true for rhinestones, which can dull over time. So you don’t have a pin-worthy jewelry collection, but at least your collection will last more than one season!

Polish Silver Jewelry with Toothpaste. Works so well, gets the job done fast, and you don’t have to dig around under your kitchen sink for the solution or in your junk drawer for the polishing cloth. Paste, not gel. Rub with your fingers, rinse off, dry with a towel or soft cloth.

Get Out Any Stain with Peroxide and Dawn. Here’s the recipe, and yes, it works like a charm on most any fabric, stains old and new.

Wash Your Makeup Brushes Regularly. When is the last time you washed your makeup brushes? I wash mine once a month with baby shampoo, swirl them on the bottom of the sink to get out the suds, and let dry on their side with the brushes hanging over the edge of the counter or back of toilet so they get good air flow. Try to not get the metal part of the brush (where the bristles are attached) wet, but wash regularly for better pigment, more even application, and fewer breakouts.

Coconut Oil is Awesome. I get allergic reactions to metal from time to time, usually on the back of my neck or on my fingers. This especially happens on my hands, and I’ll end up with raw, red, flaky and burning skin. I have tried cortisone, prescription creams, and the only thing that has really worked is coconut oil. Take off my wedding bands, apply some coconut oil, go to bed and wake up with happy skin. I also use it on my hands and elbows as an intense moisturizer, as well as a hair conditioning treatment. My friend also told me it cleared up her Keratosis Pilaris (those little bumps on the back of upper arms). We use coconut oil in place of butter and most oils at home, so it’s easy to stop in the kitchen and scoop some out for beauty use. Google or Pinterest search coconut oil and you will be amazed by all its health, beauty, pet and home benefits!

Don’t Fold Your Bras. It’s so tempting to fold your bras, especially if they have molded cups, but this stretches them out and changes their shape. Lay them flat in your drawer and they will maintain their shape longer and be less likely to have the wires poke out of the fabric.

Stitch Witchery. It’s the bomb. Tear off a strip, stick it in a fallen hem, can even make it work with your hair iron. Good stuff.

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Best Beauty Buys of 2013

I bought a lot of beauty products this year. Maybe it’s getting closer to 40 or maybe it’s changing my makeup to change my personal style, but I did a lot of experimenting, watching more YouTube tutorials, and subscribing to more beauty blogs. Through it all I lost some money, but I found some real winners. Some of these have been mentioned before on the blog, some have better reviews now than they did last time I reviewed them, some were never before mentioned which is crazy since I love them so much…

Revlon Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Natural Beige
So good. So good I’m buying a second jar this week.  It’s rich and creamy but doesn’t slip off your face by lunch or even by 5pm. It blends really nicely, doesn’t enhance my fine lines and pores, stays all day and gives a natural finish. You don’t have to head to the department store to find quality makeup, and this foundation proves it.

BeautyBlender
So my friend Lexa emails me and tells me this is a “gamechanger” so I order one the very same day. And I get it and I feel meh for a week or so, then for some reason it kicks in and I understand the gamechanger status. It doesn’t rub everything away or rub product into your pores (which your fingers can do), it doesn’t leave a weird finish on your skin (which I find with brushes), it doesn’t soak up as much product as a traditional makeup wedge, and its shape makes it easy to gently blend around your eyes and nostrils. Also if you do any contouring, it does a good job of blending without muddying it or rubbing it all away. It’s not cheap, it takes a while to get the hang of it, but I gotta agree with Lexa, it is a gamechanger.

BareMinerals Tinted Touch-up Veil
Yes, I am still obsessed.  I have a compact in my dressing table, one in my purse, and one in my desk. I don’t use it as much in the winter, but in spring and summer I swore by this compact. I used as powder to set my face before leaving the house, at noon to powder a shiny nose, and at the end of the day to refresh my look for an after-work event. It doesn’t cake, doesn’t look false, doesn’t make the dry parts of my face look more dry, and doesn’t make me itch like other mineral-based products.

NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder
Sometimes I have a lot of fun with my makeup and the time to play with it. Primer, multiple concealers and contouring products, foundation, highlighter, blush… and even with proper blending I can look pretty made up. But then I take a fluffy powder brush, swipe it over this compact and cover my whole face and everything suddenly looks toned down, cohesive, natural, finished, polished, and pretty. It doesn’t dull any shine or dewy-ness, it doesn’t cake or get weird in lines and pores, it just airbrushes everything and makes my skin look pretty and it lasts for a couple hours before needing a touchup.

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
I reviewed this before and received many suggestions on cheaper alternatives. And I tried a bunch of them and sorry… they don’t compare. Other oil cleansers left makeup on my face, irritated my eyes, wouldn’t rinse off, came in a bottle that made a mess. DHC really sticks to makeup and dirt and oil and removes it from the face. It rinses off nicely, not leaving goopy eyes or greasy cheeks. A little goes a long way, and when I use it I have fewer bumps and a nicer complexion overall. While it seems to be best when removed with Avene, it still works great with regular water.

Reusable Cotton Rounds
Still using the same ones I bought a year ago and work even better after several washings. I keep them in an oversized mason jar on the back of my toilet, and keep a mesh lingerie bag hanging in the bathroom with the towels to hold the used rounds. When I’m down to just a few, I zip up the bag and throw it in the laundry with other linens. I don’t use them for nail polish remover, but use for makeup remover, toner, removing face oil, and anything else that will wash off without staining.

PSSSST
Still the only dry shampoo I like. Blends into my dark hair, doesn’t leave it gummy or overly fragranced. It works best if I put it in before bed and let it rub into the scalp while sleeping, but I can still put it in my hair in the morning (if straight/brushable style) and a few swipes of a brush will blend it nicely.

Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette
Wrote about it before, but so good it needed to be in my Best Of list!  I use W.O.S. for the top part of my lid, Naked 2 on the lid. I will create a subtle smoky eye for day by adding Faint in the crease and along the lash line, a more intense smoky eye with Crave and a bit of Venus in the inner corners of the eyes, or wet a slant brush and use Faint or Crave like a liner. The shadows are the perfect color and last all day.

Two Faced Better than False Lashes
Good enough to mention twice!  It’s messy, it needs eye makeup remover to get it all off at the end of the day, but by golly does this product give me amazing lashes! Once you get the hang of it you can get full-on drag queen lashes, light fringy long lashes, or just a bit of oomph on the outer corners. I don’t recommend putting it on your lower lashes, I don’t recommend going to sleep wearing it, and you want a good eye makeup remover so you don’t have to rub to get it off, but it really does give you fab long lush lashes without falsies.

Kevyn Aucoin Lash Curler
I don’t even miss my Shu Eumura any more, this lash curler is fantastic. Can’t go on and on because it’s only a lash curler (and I already wrote about it), but it gives a natural curve, doesn’t pinch, doesn’t stretch out after a week of use.

ARCONA The Solution
I got a sample from Beauty.com and liked it so much I bought it… and I still love it. At night after cleaning, I put on eye cream and then choose some treatment before my night cream. Sometimes it’s retinol, sometimes it’s a sample I received, but every other night it’s The Solution. Two pumps and rub into the face and it keeps away little bumps, makes my skin glow, and I think helps keep my skin looking healthy and happy.

So what were your best beauty buys from 2013? I’d love to hear as many of the products I buy are from your recommendations. And stay tuned, I asked a few of my friends to share their favorite beauty products from 2013 and will be sharing them next week!

FYI I noticed that Beauty.com is having 20% off all BareMinerals products today, and if you first go through Ebates, you’ll get 4% cash back from Beauty.com (you also get 4% cash back from Ebates for Sephora, there’s no point to NOT use Ebates when shopping online!)

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Summer Beauty Survival Kit

Living in the DC Metro area all my life, I am no stranger to sweltering temperatures and mega-high humidity. Over time, I have learned ways to work with crazy summer weather and not have it wreak havoc on my style. Many of you have been asking what I do to not be a sopping, frizzy, grody mess each summer day, here’s my favorite beauty products and tips to look cool even when the temps are up:

1. Certain Dri
I apply the roll-on version of Certain Dri every evening before bed. I keep it on my nightstand next to my lipbalm, hand cream, and water so I do not forget. This is NOT a product to apply to freshly-shaved pits, even when my skin is calm it can still sting a bit. I tried the stick formula, but I couldn’t handle the smell (very powdery, might not be as problematic for others). Certain Dri has been a summer go-to of mine for over a decade. I don’t wear it in the cooler months because I don’t think it’s terribly healthy to stop sweating, but it keeps me from being a sopping wet stinkpot during the hottest time of the year.

2. Dove go fresh Cool Essentials Deodorant
I find it’s best for me to switch up deodorants every few months, it seems my body becomes accustomed to them and they stop working. During the fall and winter I often try out new deodorants to see if I can find a new favorite, but for the past three summers as soon as June hits I go back to Dove Cool Essentials. It’s one of the few deodorants that doesn’t have a smell that nauseates me (and the last smell I can handle on a hot day is the “unscented” smell). That plus Certain Dri keeps me funk-free for at least 24 hours, and Dove doesn’t irritate, even when applied right after shaving.

3. Neutrogena Body Oil
I’ve written about Neutrogena Body Oil before, it has been a beauty staple of mine for years. Now that I am older, it’s not enough on its own come winter, but in summer, it’s the perfect light moisturizer that gives my skin a soft healthy sheen. Not only that, the scent is quite lovely, even when my body heats up. Most summer days, this is the only fragrance I wear. I lightly towel after showering and apply it from neck to toes, concentrating on elbows and knees. then I usually stand in front of an air-conditioning vent and mutter about the humidity and check my email (TMI?) until it has dried and then get dressed.

4. Awapuhi Wild Ginger by Paul Mitchell Texturizing Sea Spray
This is a new product for me this summer, but it’s now a staple. With my last Drugstore.com purchase I ordered three bottles of it, since I ran out mid-trip to NYC and almost cried in my hotel room. While I’m mentioning this product (which I also raved about on The Average Girl’s Guide), I might as well share my summer hair routine:

  1. Wash hair with shampoo maybe once a week, twice if I get really sweaty. In the summer, I water down shampoo before I put it on my head, and concentrate on my scalp, especially the hair line where I get greasy.
  2. Condition like crazy. Once a week I do a hair mask, maybe Neutrogena because it rinses easily and can be done in the shower, maybe coconut oil if I have an hour to myself (rare). Every other shower, I “wash” my hair with conditioner. I switch between Biolage which is light, and Aveda which is thick and smells strange but gives my hair lots of body and control.
  3. Dry hair with an old tee shirt, or a quick-dry towel to reduce frizz.
  4. Add seven drops of Frizz-Ease Sheer, a tiny amount of argan oil (like a quarter of a pea and concentrated on ends), and a thousand sprays of Sea Spray to damp hair and scrunch.
  5. Stand in front of A/C, mutter about the weather and check my email.
  6. Get dressed, do makeup, eat breakfast.
  7. Come back and use the curling iron on any pieces that look less beachy and more Kip Winger, using TRESemme Heat Protectant Spray before each curl.
  8. Finger comb, and occasionally use a bit more argan oil to smooth.
  9. Day 2 or if I have plans that evening, I can usually revive my look with a few spritzes of Sea Spray with some scrunching, maybe a couple curls of the iron, if it’s really bad, a bit more argan oil. My hair is bigger and crazier on Day 2.
  10. If I can survive until Day 3 or have somewhere to go Day 2, I may use some Psssssst on the roots for lift and to suck up the sweat and grease.

So yeah, Paul Mitchell Sea Spray is my jam. It totally gives me the crazy beachy waves I crave without weighing them down or making them look dirty or greasy (which happens with many other surf sprays). I like the dry look in summer, it makes frizz seem more purposeful and I can better get away with dry shampoo and going without washing. Glossy hair will return when the humidity drops!

5. Coty Airspun Face Powder – Translucent
My mom had this when I was little, and I can remember the iconic floral container on the dressing tables of most women I knew when I was a child. I picked it up earlier this year on a whim, and I am glad I did. It’s an awesome summer powder. It has a very strong scent, and by smelling it you may realize that your aunt or grandmother or elementary school teacher wore it, the scent is very memorable. If you can get past the scent and crappy powder puff (use a brush, sponge, or a higher quality puff to apply), this is a powder that can set your makeup (or bare face) almost all day.

During the week, I do my normal face of primer, foundation, and concealer and then set with Airspun. On weekends, I often just do a bit of Dr. Brandt Pores No More and then the powder just to give a bit of an airbrushed but natural look. Since Airspun comes in a pretty big and messy container, I do touch-ups through the day with Bare Minerals Tinted Touch Up Veil.

6. Bare Minerals Tinted Touch Up Veil
Few powders work on sweaty skin. Often they create weird little beige globules, or look really obvious. With this compact, I can pat skin dry, swipe on Touch Up Veil and look pretty decent. As I sweat more, it doesn’t get strange, it seems to take my sweat and diffuse it so I just look glowy in an almost purposeful way.  I wrote about Bare Minerals Touch Up Veil before, still a big fan.

7. Waterproof/Water Resistant Mascara
I don’t wear waterproof mascara often, but come summer it’s sort of a necessity when it’s a long day or an outdoor event. I was using Mary Kay Lash Love Waterproof because I received a free tube and I do like it a LOT – it makes my lashes long, separated, and just plain lovely. However I am using Clump Crusher right now in the regular formula and am totally loving it and when my Mary Kay runs out I am thinking of getting the water resistant version of Clump Crusher. Before I put on my mascara, I always curl my lashes.

8. Maybelline Line Stiletto
Best liquid liner ever. Loved it then, love it now.  It’s a good day liner because it’s not shiny, it’s not super thick, and you can get a really thin line right against your lash line. It’s great for summer because it won’t drip or fade with sweat and humidity, but it washes away easily with most any cleanser.

9. Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Romantic
This chubby pencil (that doesn’t need a separate sharpener!) is the best beauty product I have purchased in eons. I am on my fifth, and I have one in my purse, one in my desk, and one in my dressing table. It gives a pretty soft red color on the lips that looks great even as it wears away. I can apply it without a mirror, and it’s matte enough that it doesn’t smear or get on my teeth but shiny enough that it looks right with a sweaty… I mean glistening face. I have this pencil in a few other colors and while I like them, I LOVE Romantic. Oh, and in a pinch you can rub a bit on your cheeks for a natural flush!

10. Baking Soda
My face often feels disgusting at the end of the day – dirt from the city, sweat, makeup put over makeup… it’s tempting to scrub my face with a hardcore cleanser to clean out the pores but I know it will stress out my skin. Instead, I shake a bit of baking soda into my CeraVe cleanser. It is the perfect amount of grit to really clean the skin without stripping it. Best thing, keep the box in the bathroom and add it to a bit of cleaner (we’re a Dr. Bronner’s family) and it’s also a fabulous tub scrub!

11. Footpetals Killer Kushionz
I have these in most every pair of shoes I own. I put a new set in at the beginning of the summer, and replace them once the temps cool. They soak up sweat, keep my feet from sliding around, and protect my shoes from being grody. They come in several colors, so you can slip them in peeptoes or even sandals and have them practically invisible. There’s special styles of Footpetals for sandals and thongs and such, but I’m a fan of the full-size Killer Kushionz because they absorb more moisture and also cushion the heels.  By the way, I find these cheapest on Amazon (the link in this post is to what I buy but know it’s an affiliate link.  If you don’t want to click, search Footpetals, and there’s a three-pack that is free shipping if you have Prime).


I’d love to hear from you! I always learn about the best beauty products from the comments. What are your favorite products for beating the heat and humidity?

As a reminder, before you shop online, check Ebates.  I buy much of my beauty products from Drugstore.com/Beauty.com and they often have 12% cash back through Ebates (and both stores offer store credit for future purchases based off current purchases and free shipping!).

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Greening Your Beauty Routine

In a previous post I mentioned how you can replace disposable cotton rounds and cotton balls with reusable rounds. A few of you were interested to hear more about such a product.

When I found out I was pregnant, I did a lot of research on healthy ways to rear a child. I learned so much about the chemicals used and waste created when having a baby it floored me. Karl and I felt we lived a relatively green and healthy lifestyle, but in those few months we made major changes in how we cleaned our home and laundry. One big thing was getting rid of paper towels. Seriously, we still have the majority of the last roll we bought, which was in May of 2008 (we keep it to put on the dining table when folks dogsit in the chance there is a grody mess they need to clean, and yes it’s dusty and crinkly from age). So it was a given that we would cloth diaper our child.

And cloth diaper we did, and had great success with it. Emerson’s newborn diaper stash was predominately purchased used, was loaned to two different friends and then sold – half to a sorority sister across the country, half to a blogging buddy. The remainder of her stash survived three years of heavy use and some was sold, the rest Freecycled to a crafty parent who could replace worn-out Velcro. But the greatest thing about cloth diapering was the cloth wipes.

Cloth wipes are two-ply squares of cloth, serged together. Some are cotton, some knit, some flannel, some velour, some terry. Cloth wipes are sold on most sites that sell cloth diapers, but you can also find great cloth wipes on sites that sell handmade products, like Etsy. Though Emerson is potty trained, we still use the same cloth wipes I purchased back when I was pregnant and use them for drippy noses, sticky fingers, and when I have slacked on laundry and am out of washcloths for her. Over four years of use, being thrown in the washer and line or dryer dried, the only wipes that have fallen apart are the fancy store brand ones I got as part of a baby shower gift. The rest, mainly via Etsy, are still holding strong.

I worked for The Body Shop in a past life, and even worked as an at-home sales consultant when they had that business going in the States. Through them, I could get packets of cotton rounds mega cheap – I think I paid 50 cents per package. I have been using my leftover packets for all these years and well, this January I opened my last package and started thinking about what I would use in its place. We don’t buy paper napkins or paper towels, we sure as heck aren’t going to buy disposable things to wipe my face each morning.

So I went to Etsy and typed in reusable cot… and it autofilled “Reusable Cotton Rounds” for me. Suddenly I saw dozens of shops, many who make cloth wipes for babies, who sold such things. Same size as popular cotton rounds, made of flannel or terry, serged around the edges to keep from fraying. Some even sold little mesh bags to keep them wrangled together in the washer and dryer.

I bought a pack of 30 rounds from Green Little Nest for just $13.00 and they arrived very quickly, tied with little adorable yarn bows. The prints are hysterical, they are likely made from remnants from baby-based crafts like cloth wipes, so I wipe witch hazel and Avene with peace signs, puppies, and cartoon flowers. I specifically chose these rounds because with my experience with cloth wipes, I find flannel to be the most durable yet soft and absorbent.  I chose not to get the mesh bag and instead have a standard mesh lingerie bag hanging from a hook in my bathroom. Use a wipe, drop it in the mesh bag, when I get down to only about 5 wipes, I zip up the bag and drop it in the hamper and wash them with whatever the next load of laundry may be. Since they are so small and I want them to be soft, I dry them in the dryer, leaving them in the lingerie bag. This makes it easy to take them back upstairs.

Right now, the reusable rounds are stored in a bowl, but I’ll be seeking out random containers this summer at yard sales and thrift stores to see if I can find something more creative. But so far, so good. They absorb, they don’t scratch, and they are just as durable as the cloth wipes we use, and like the cloth wipes I bet they will just soften and get better with time!

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Recent Beauty Buys

I like to do some beauty splurges on my birthday – a good way to start the new year off on the right step. A lot of my purchases I make based off you – reviews on your blogs (I may not always comment but I do lurk!), your comments here, Tweets about new purchases. I trust you more than an ad in a magazine or a sponsored post, and I like to share my reviews for the same reason. And so, my recent beauty buys:

DHC Deep Cleansing Oil
A couple years ago, I decided to try the Oil Cleansing Method after hearing rave reviews. I found it time consuming, complicated, messy, and then my little bottle of castor oil slipped out of my hands and smashed in my sink and I saw that as a sign to just give it up. But a friend kept raving about DHC’s oil cleanser saying it was a revolutionary experience and not complicated, I decided to give it a try.

Big fan. Two pumps on dry hands and then massaged onto my dry face. I can really feel it sucking gunk out of my pores and it dissolves all makeup, even waterproof mascara. It also rinses quite easily by splashing water on your face, or using a cotton pad/washcloth (or used with another product, see next review). Since switching to this cleanser, my fave seems softer, less dry (I deal with dry and irritated patches under my nose and between my brows in the winter), and more plump/hydrated. Also a little goes a long way – I have been using for almost two months straight and have only used half an inch of product in the bottle.

Avene Thermal Spring Water
Karl said I was insane for buying “fancy water,” but when reader April recommended it, I couldn’t resist. See, April has never steered me wrong when it comes to beauty products. So yeah, it’s water put into an aerosol can for a pretty penny with a bunch of hefty claims… and well, it’s pretty awesome.

When I started using the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, I was wiping it off with Avene Thermal Spring Water and cotton pads. That combo was perfection – my skin felt AMAZING, it was so soft and happy. I did it for two weeks, and was amazed with the change. Then I started worrying about the cost of Avene – I can’t justify a bottle every month of fancy water, so I switched to regular water. And that worked… though not a nicely. For a week, I used tap water instead and after two days got a zit. After four days, I started getting redness and sensitivity under my nose. While the DHC Deep Cleansing Oil is pretty awesome, it is even more awesome with Avene Thermal Spring Water. I can’t afford to use it every evening, but I am using it every third day to keep my skin happy through the winter season.

So is it an overpriced bottle of fancy water? Technically yes, but it is also a pretty magical product. Really great for those with sensitive skin or live somewhere with hard water. It seems to hydrate and soothe skin unlike regular water. And the bottle is well designed, giving a fine controlled mist.

Kevyn Aucoin Lash Curler
One I switched from my old Revlon curler right after college to Shu Eumura I never looked back. Shu Eumura gave a more natural curl, didn’t pinch, and was worth every penny. However, they don’t sell Shu Eumura curlers in the US any more. I looked around for a worthy alternative and saw Kevyn Aucoin’s received positive reviews. And after using, they are well deserved. It’s not as curved as Shu Eumura, and I actually like that. I never pinch with it, can get an even more natural curl than with Shu Eumura, and it feels better in my hand. Fan.

Tarte emphasEYES Inner Rim Brightener
I have been dealing with insomnia for a couple months off and on, and it has gotten so my eyes look tired and haggard. Wearing glasses draws more attention to my eyes, and any bags or darkness from lack of sleep. Reader Claudia said she swore by this pencil and I should try it as well.  I figured it couldn’t hurt to try this stuff – I used white liner back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s to try to make eyes look more open and it just looked as though I lined my eyes with chalk, this being a peach color I figured would look more natural.

And it does. Used with a light hand, emphasEYES Inner Rim Brightener can open your eyes and make you look less tired. It’s pretty natural looking and stays on for a couple of hours. Thing is, the product is VERY creamy, so it moves and slides. If you try to put it in the inner corners of your eyes it may creep onto the skin and make you look like you have eye boogies. It fades after a couple of hours and if you recently switched to contacts for astigmatism you may find that it smears all over your contacts after wearing about 45 minutes so you’re yanking your contacts out at a stop light and digging in your purse for your glasses. Completely hypothetical, just an example, not like I have done this on an early morning while driving down Rhode Island Avenue or anything…

Point is, I really like this product but will only be wearing it when I wear glasses!

L’Oreal Infallible Le Rouge Lipcolor in Coral
I wanted orange lips like Jessica Alba and took a chance with this. I wanted a long-wearing formula that wouldn’t leave me looking as though I had nude lips and orange liner. This did the job. The color lasted for about three hours before needing to be reapplied, and as it faded it did so evenly, leaving a nice coral-colored stain. When I reapplied, it didn’t feel cakey or gross. And the color is a pretty red-orange that stands out, but doesn’t look crazy. It’s a bit more orange and a bit lighter than NARS Heat Wave, and will be a super fun lipstick for spring and summer.

CoverGirl Lip Perfection Jumbo Gloss Balm in Rose Twist
I trust The GlossarieLara has mastered being a successful blogger and providing helpful honest beauty reviews. She mentioned she’s been wearing this product so I figured I’d give it a try. I like the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains and was happy to try an alternative in a more neutral shade.

While I will always love and trust The Glossarie, I don’t like this product. It has a more powdery feel than Revlon’s similar crayon, and the color is far too matte, gray, and pale for me. Lara and I do have different coloring and I didn’t take that into consideration, but I’ll just have to admit I’m a Revlon fan when it comes to the drugstore brands of chubby gloss crayons!

L’Oreal Voluminous Power Volume 24h Mascara, Black Smoke
Lara didn’t steer me wrong when it came to mascara! I ran out of Mary Kay, I had a tester size of Bare Escentuals that wasn’t impressing me, and I couldn’t justify the cost of another bottle of DiorShow. I then saw Lara’s review of L’Oreal Voluminous Power Volume on The Glossarie and decided to try it out.

It’s not DiorShow, but it’s the best drugstore mascara I have used in a long while. It’s a matte black finish that I like because it doesn’t look as spidery. It holds curl, it elongates, it makes the lashes really soft and thick and glamorous looking without appearing false. The brush is the type I like that reminds me of a fat fuzzy caterpillar. The only issue I have had is it occasionally flakes a bit into my contacts, but not so much I have to stop using it. I like it enough that I would buy it again.


Have you had any great new beauty buys?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments and may take your suggestion and buy it in the future!

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Ask Allie: Office Beauty

I am about to start my first internship in D.C. this fall and can’t wait. I was wondering if you have any recommendations for subtle office-appropriate lipstick? Preferably something by Revlon or an inexpensive brand. I love wearing red lipstick but don’t want to look too crazy in the office. Thank you!

Red lipstick doesn’t necessarily look crazy if you do it right. I love Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butters for they provide sheer color that you can layer for strong pigment – one swipe of Cherry Tart is cheery without stopping traffic; add a few more layers for drinks after work. I also like matte reds for the office – they may have the pop of color but don’t have the added shine to really call attention to your face – Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains are a great budget-friendly option that can let you wear color without the color wearing you.

For at least the first week though, I would steer clear of a bold lip. Get a feel for your office culture. Choosing a brownish pink is a wise choice – something similar to your natural lip color yet a bit darker or more intense. A shade that has mauve, dusty, or natural in it is a good choice. CoverGirl Continuous Lipcolor is a great budget-friendly lipstick that will last through your morning cup of coffee without drying out your lips; Iced Mauve and It’s Your Mauve are great choices for women with fair to medium complexions that are neutral to cool in tone.

Finally, I am a big fan of Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balms and now own four different colors. Rose is a sheer red that is playful yet office-appropriate, Red Dahlia is more of a sheer wine, Hibiscus is a sheer candy pink, Tiger Lily is a warm neutral that looks fantastic with a hint of a tan.

You often wear very bold makeup at work. I can’t imagine smokey eye or magenta lips in my office yet you do it and from what I assume you have a managerial position at your company. Is such makeup now acceptable in the workplace?

Each office environment is different. I work in a very relaxed environment where people are free to show their personal style as long as it is within the dress code guidelines. I also work in a position where I don’t meet with clients every day and only interact with my teammates.

Before you decide whether to wear a smoky eye or bold lip in your office, take a look around. Are there any colleagues who wear bold fashion? How are they perceived by upper management? Do they get the respect they deserve?

While I may wear a smoky eye once in a while and this winter did rock quite a few bright lipstick colors, I keep most of my “fun” makeup for after hours. No sparkle or shimmer, no intense or bold eye colors, no false lashes, nothing overly trendy. While my workplace may not blink at hot pink lip gloss, a peer company with a similar clientele may freak out over navy eyeliner. Respect your office, your position with the company and the position you desire to have in the future before going bold with your office beauty.

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Recent Beauty Buys

I have bought a few new things, figured I should share my views on them with you guys!

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion: Fellow blogger Toya swears by this stuff – she wears it on stage when she has a performance and says her shadow doesn’t budge. Enough for me, I was sold and grabbed a box of this goodness right away.

Girl was right, this stuff is amazing! It is a sponge applicator – I apply it with the wand and then smooth it with my finger. The product is nearly invisible on my semi-pale skin and shadow applies perfectly over it – no creasing or uneven pigment. As for it lasting all day – I must say the other evening I was a bad girl and went to bed with my makeup on. Woke up – still had a full shadow application down to the darker color in the crease and the line of color on the top lash line! I have tried other shadow primers before, but nothing has lived up to it’s claims as well as this bottle of perfection!

Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife: I love a bit of bronzer in the summer, but a traditional brown or terracotta product often looks dirty on my complexion. Too much shimmer and I get looks from the bigwigs at work. This blush/bronzer from Cargo seemed like a perfect choice – it has a range of colors that one can swirl together for a healthy glow without the disco glitter.

Now, as you can tell by me wearing it on a near-daily basis, it’s a nice product. The color is natural, the product feels like nothing on the skin, and it lasts through the day. Problem is, it’s a bit potent. I mean, use my traditional Sephora Bronzer brush with it (what I use for any other bronzer) and I have bright coral cheeks and peach-hued spots all over my face. I have switched to a Bare Escentuals brush that was made to lightly apply loose powders like their Mineral Veil to get decent application of this BeachBlush. Now, that’s not a terrible thing – this product will give me over a year of good use and I didn’t have to buy a new tool (already had the b.e. blush), but it makes it hard to transition to pale-skinned months and I can’t have the slightest bit of perspiration or unabsorbed moisture on my skin or I will be wearing tiger stripes.

I have always been cheap with bronzers, thinking they’re all the same. Cargo’s products feel better of quality, the product lasts through the day and the color is true to the package, but maybe I am just better suited for my Physician’s Formula and Body Shop bronzers because I can apply them practically with my eyes closed and end up with a natural glow.

Pop Beauty Eye Class for Brown Eyes: If I didn’t have Toya with me, I would have never even looked at this brand or this compact of shadows. Forgive me, but I have never heard of Pop Beauty until I couple of weeks ago, and I feel that if I haven’t heard of it, I feel it mustn’t be that phenomenal. I read Allure, Lucky, Jane, Vogue and Bazaar almost monthly… I feel slightly in the know regarding cosmetic brands.

Well Toya mentioned that the shadows for this brand are quite good, and I tried some on my hand and was impressed by the pigment, the lasting power and the variety of shades. I am not a fan of kitchy casing (gold pleather case to look like a wallet or billfold), or of compacts claiming to have every shade work for a certain coloring, but I was willing to be open-minded. One shade is an acidic green-tinted yellow (last color on the right) that I would normally never purchase, but it reminded me of a color Kevyn Aucoin applied on a curly blonde in one of his makeup books so I decided to try the collection.

Note to self – I do not look good in red eyeshadow. I tried the mauve and cranberry shadows one day and looked tres rabbit-esque. However the other shades are mostly ones I would normally purchase and I am very pleased with how they look (especially the acidic yellow), the moderate level of shimmer and the long lasting crease-free wear. Yes, the shadows are very small and I can’t wiggle my crease brush (Trish McEvoy #29 blending brush) into the pot to my heart’s delight, but these shadows still pack a punch and when wetted, make a wonderful liner. Surprised, and pleased!

L’Oreal Color Juice Stick in Berry Spritzer: I am a creature of habit. Strong eyes, light glossy lips is the way I go. I am a klutz, a nail biter, so not the poster girl for a colorful lipstick. However with these new hydrating and sheer formulas on the market, I am considering a change to my daily routine.

I already had a Color Juice in a sheer pale pink (Strawberry Fizz) – color so light it looked more like a gloss than an actual lipstick. The smell was divine, my lips felt soft and juicy, and I thought it was good enough of a product to venture into darker territory.

Well it’s a bit more… berry than I expected (which is pretty ridiculous since it IS called Berry Spritzer), it looks almost like a shade that my Aunt may favor, but I still like it. With a very minimal eye and dewy skin, it can be quite beautiful. my favorite part? it gently and evenly fades away so I don’t end up with stained or uneven lips. The scent is far less obvious than the Strawberry Fizz, but still quite pleasant. It feels creamy on the lips for a long time, and doesn’t dry me out like traditional lipsticks. The shimmer is minimal – enough to make it look soft and girly, but mild enough that it is totally appropriate for a conservative work environment. Because it’s a sheer product, I am not afraid to apply it sans mirror (very important for me because though I love all things beauty-related, I hate being high-maintenance). A great summer lipcolor!

Find great deals on Cosmetics at Shopzilla…

Oh, and to let you know, you can sign up on the right to get my blog posts delivered to you via email. Kinda a cool feature I found on the ‘net. I find it hysterical that this weekend someone unsubscribed from this blog for the reason of “not frequent enough of posts.” I thought I was a bit of a blogaholic on this site! That’s what I get for not posting on Thursday! :-)

A Fabulous Beauty Concept….

Dana Ayanna Greaves is a visitor to this blog, and a savvy yet beauty-conscious businesswoman. She has applied for a contest through IdeaWins and Microsoft to start a new business and the idea sounds like fun – an organic beauty bar – not as in a bar of soap but more like a buffet of great organic products to create treatments for your face. Think a smoothie in a day-spa setting, but the ability to take these products home too!

Check out the videos HERE, vote for the one you like the best; hopefully your favorite will be Dana’s!

Thanks!

Recent Beauty Buys

The holidays are supposed to be about giving. The joy on your loved ones’ faces when they open treats from you. Well the holidays also brings shorter days, colder nights, dry skin and the doldrums. I think the cosmetic companies realize this and bring out new products, gift sets and packaging to appeal to our wan faces and brittle hair.

As I have shopped for others (and yes, all my holiday shopping was completed this past Sunday!) I have picked up a few goodies for myself. Here’s what I have tried of recent:

The Body Shop’s Almond Body Butter – So I guess this is cheating – I didn’t buy this for myself, I bought it to add to my collection of product for my Body Shop at Home consulting business. However, to really be able to sell the product, I have to use it myself, no? So I made a few sample pods for use after the shower.

Not too much a fan. But then, that was to be expected in some respects. When I worked at Garden Botanika back in the early 90’s one of the best selling fragrances was an Almond blend. We would sell the crap out of it at holidays – people found the scent cozy and feminine and pretty. I was encouraged to suggest that scent for gifts because it was “universally appealing.” Too bad the scent made me a bit nauseous. It smelled like a Baskin Robbins store with the heat on too strong.

When I started working for The Body Shop as a trainer, they came out with their Almond Hand Care line. I would demo this line on customers – a hand exfoliator and then the hand lotion and cuticle cream. I would rub it in, giving a mini hand massage and customers, male and female would ooh and aah over the experience and the smell. “Boy this is delicious!” I would often hear as they carried the whole line up to the register. I would smile, thank them for coming, and then run to the bathroom to wash my hands of the stench.

A couple of years can add senility to a beauty junkie. The Body Shop says they have brought out Almond Body Butter to replace the discontinued Sesame scent (another fragrance that people adore but made me ill) and due to the overwhelming interest in the Almond Hand Care line. Hey, I’m older, wiser and I like more mature fragrances. Maybe Almond would be a nice change from my Coconut Body Butter, may compliment my Burberry London Eau de Toilette better.

The scent is mild, doesn’t make me ill. Problem is that it is not as moisturizing as my Coconut. In this dry winter weather, the lotion is absorbed and in 15 minutes my legs are scaly and dry again. For those who like Almond and only need a mild body moisturizer, this could be a very good choice. For me, well I was glad I was only using a sample and had not purchased the whole thing.

Smashbox’s Soft Lights in Tint – Okay I have a new favorite, and lately it has replaced my beloved Nars Orgasm blush. It doesn’t have as much color as a traditional blush, and it is shimmery. Very shimmery. Like if you do not just pat the product with your brush you will look like Tinkerbell or as though you just ran a marathon. However with a light hand and a big soft brush, a few sweeps over the cheeks, nose and the center of the brow can make you look as though you drank your requisite 60 ounces of water, did your cardio, consumed a perfectly healthy diet and just had sex. Yes, all four look accomplished with just one beauty product!

I find the product lasts a long time. I will apply it around 7:30 AM and on my ride home at 5:30 I still look dewy and fresh. With traditional blush or bronzer alone, I usually am pasty after eight hours in front of the computer.

I do not use Soft Lights alone; I use it along with blush or bronzer. I find a very light shade of powder bronzer applied over the Soft Lights makes the shimmer more subtle and add a healthy glow (and a little bronzer under the chin minimizes the waddle!).

Philosophy Lemonade Hand Cream – I SO didn’t need this. I mean really, I sell the Body Shop. I adore their Kinetin Hand Cream and have it at my desk and in my bathroom. I have a mini Body Butter in my purse for dryness emergencies. I have Bag Balm and The Body Shop’s Hemp Hand Protector on my nightstand. I even have a little bottle of Gardenia Lotion from Bath and Body Works in my office.

But I am a sucker for the lemon scent. I remember when I first interviewed with The Body Shop stores they asked me what my favorite products were. At that time I was a product snob and didn’t use anything that didn’t come from a spa or a department store. I remembered the Body Shop products I adored as an adolescent, “I love the lemon soap!” I remember the store in Georgetown having a big sale on soaps and me buying a dozen lemon soaps. It made me feel happy and clean. I was told by the interviewer that The Body Shop discontinued lemon soap right around the time that I stocked up. Oh, THAT’S why it was on sale! Glad they still hired me after that stupid response!

Over the years, I have found it hard to find lemon products that do not smell medicinal. I have bought the Kitchen Lemon Antibacterial hand soap from BBW, the Two Minute Manicure, and various lemon body washes in an attempt to recreate that sweet yet citrus scent of the Body Shop soap. Recently I was roaming around Sephora wasting time and I found this hand cream and fell in love. The lemon scent is sweet, not acrid. And what a nice scent for the hands – clean lemon!

This hand cream is decent; thick, easily absorbed, scent stays long enough to be pleasant but not so long is makes you sick. I have experienced far better hand creams (still devoted to The Body Shop’s Kinetin), but this has made it’s way into my daily purse and is applied every so often at work when I need an aromatherapy pick me up! Smells so good, I may indulge in some Lemonade cleanser or hand wash!

The Body Shop’s Coconut Body Scrub – Okay, okay I work for the company. This product is one of the best sellers yet I had never used it. You guys have not seen my shower – I have tubes and bottles and pots everywhere and no room for additions unless something runs out. I have been using the Olive Body Scrub from this company and I must say, I get lazy and don’t scrub very often. I have had the same tub of Olive scrub since I started selling The Body Shop in February. I chose Olive because I thought I many have Coconut overload, and I knew it was a neutral scent that my husband could also use. However when it ran out and I realized that my husband wasn’t using it, I decided to go with my favorite scent.

LOVE IT! It’s a great scrub that is not salt or sugar based (means it doesn’t burn and it doesn’t dissolve). It smells divine, it makes my skin feel like silk and it doesn’t irritate my super sensitive winter skin. Since it does not dissolve, a little goes a long way. I mainly use the scrub on my décolleté (trying to reverse sun damage), my elbows and upper arms (get those little bumps in winter) and my rear and hips (again, preventing little bumps). I probably use no more than two tablespoons in one shower and I feel properly scrubbed.

If you are looking for a heavy duty exfoliant, this is not your product. This is more gentle and appropriate for regular use. I find the major scrubs to be irritating and more harm than good for my skin.

Revlon’s LipGlide Sheer – I bought this on a whim. I was in the grocery store and really wanted a Mocha Chip Frappucinno. As that a frap is not on my current weight loss regimen, I thought a new lip product would be better for my waistline. I quickly picked up a shade that looked safe and threw it in my cart. Not until I got home did I realize the shade was “Sheer Burgundy.” If you regularly visit this blog, you know I don’t usually wear dark lipcolors. I find them to be too high maintenance for me, and I like how I look when I play up my eyes. I feared this color would be too dark and obvious.

Boy was I wrong, this color is the same as my natural lips, only a shade or two darker. As the name implies it is sheer. I think it looks glossy without being gaudy, has pigment without being too colorful for my tastes, is sticky enough to stay on through lunch, but not so sticky that I get my hair stuck in it and want to rub it off. It feels good on the lips, has no noticeable fragrance, and I love the dial-up style where I can control how much product comes on the sponge applicator. A little bit for a natural look, a lot for a night on the town. The slim casing makes it easy to slip in the smallest of clutches and it hasn’t gotten goopy or gross on me. I think a far better buy than a Frappucinno!

L’Oreal True Match Concealer – I hate liquid concealers. I can never understand their purpose. They usually blend so much they disappear into my skin, leaving only a ghost of color. I find them to not last, look ashy and not accomplish any coverage at all. The sponge applicator on the usual wands deposits too little color and absorbs the foundation or primer already applied.

I bought this on a whim. The last time I visited the MAC counter, the salesperson AGAIN sold me a concealer that is too light. Yes, magazines say to use a lighter concealer to cover circles, but if you go more than a shade lighter, you look like the negative of a raccoon. I was looking a bit like a raccoon, and I was feeling a bit cakey with MAC. The L’Oreal concealer was bought the same day as the LipGlide Sheer. I knew I wore C3 in the True Match foundation and knew that makeup artists suggest using a yellow-based concealer to cover dark circles. I picked up the W 1,2,3. I figured it would be a good match.

Good match it was. Unlike liquids I have used in the past, this formula is thick and sticky. It blends, but not so much that it disappears. It covers the dark circles, red veins under my nose and the occasional blemish without looking cakey or obvious. I must say, I am a convert!

My Beauty Must Haves

There is a blog tradition where on your 100th post, you write 100 things about yourself. As that I have already done this on my other blog, I have decided to log my 100 favorite beauty items. And yes… I believe I can log 100!

1. Vitamin C Face Wash from The Body Shop: I have sensitive skin in the winter, it dries out quickly, produces oil quickly in the T-zone and will turn red, peel, or itch if someone looks at it the wrong way. This face wash is a cream, non-foaming, non-soap. I use it after a makeup remover to gently remove any dirt and impurities. Works great with a face brush without making my skin more angry. The faint citrus smell is nice in the morning. When I worked at the Body Shop, some clients found this product to be too caustic for overly sensitive skin (Vitamin C can be irritating) but I have liked it. Vitamin C is an antioxidant – it fights free radicals which helps you have fresh and healthy skin.

2. Vitamin E Face Spritz from The Body Shop: Trains, planes and automobiles. This face spritz is great for hydrating your skin when on the go. I spray it every hour when on a plane. I have one in my desk drawer at the office. One in the bathroom which is used as a gentle toner and a great way to create a dewy finish post-foundation and powder. It’s very light moisture, a slight rose scent and a cooling feel to the skin. People use it under makeup to make it apply better, over makeup to help set it but give a more dewy finish. It’s a great pick me up.


3. Nivea Eye Makeup Remover: This stuff is very gentle, non-irritating, and packs a punch. I put a bit on a cotton pad and hold it to my eye for a few seconds. No need to rub – when I wipe all my makeup comes off. It even removed liquid liner and waterproof mascara! You need very little, a tube will last you for MONTHS and it doesn’t make me have to rub and tug at the skin to get rid of my eye cosmetics.

4. Oil of Olay Total Effects Cleansing Cloths: I am a lazy bum. I’ll admit it. When I am tired, I just want to go to bed. I don’t want to wash and tone and moisturize. I just want to curl into bed and leave black smears of mascara on my pillowcases. I store these wipes in my nightstand and can wash my face as I fall asleep. They don’t work as well as face wash, but they’re better than going without.


5. Bag Balm: This stuff doesn’t smell too good, but it works well. I read an interview where Shania Twain said it was her favorite beauty product. I decided to try it out – I liked the retro looking tin. Each night I slap this stuff on my lips, heels, cuticles and wake with smooth and soft skin. In the winter I often slap it all over my hands and go to sleep with socks on my hands, and in the winter I do the same to my feet.

6. Nars blush in Orgasm: You HAD to know that this would be on the list! I swear by this product, as do many other celebrities and bloggers! This is a peachy pink color that can go from a sheer wash to a burst of color depending on how you layer it. It has a slight shimmer to it, but nothing that recalls ravers, more of a slight glow or dewy finish to the cheeks.

7. I.D. Bare Escentuals Foundation: I had watched the infomercial dozens of times, and have even watched Leslie on QVC sell her wares. I was skeptical, but finally decided to try it. I ordered the trial kit available on the QVC website and was SO GLAD I DID! This foundation lasts all day, it covers my ruddy cheeks and allergy dark circles without making me look as though I am painted. Somehow it covers all that I want covered, but still lets my freckles show through! It’s tricky to apply and gets all over the sink and my top, but it’s worth the trouble for the natural end result.

8. M.A.C. Zoom Lash: When I first got this stuff I HATED it. I found it too goopy and was constantly wiping the wand with a Kleenex so I didn’t look like a raccoon. Soon I got the hang of it, and was pleased with the result. Long, thick lashes that survive eye rubbing, tearing, sweating and naps. It’s a bit tricky, but it’s worth the time for the end result – especially if you are like me and have allergies!

9. Lancome Defincils: This is one of the best mascaras out there! It doesn’t make you have drag queen lashes, but it gives very clean, separated and defined lashes. A great day mascara, or a mascara for those who fear eye makeup. No irritation with contacts or allergies, and it lasted all day. I wore the waterproof version on my wedding day – applied it before 10 a.m. and still had lovely lashes at midnight!

10. Body Butter from The Body Shop: I fell for the fragrance of the Coconut Butter, but was committed with a touch. I was in the mall, window shopping and crossed my arms. My hand touched my other arm’s elbow – just a brush. I felt as though I had touched a stranger’s skin. My elbow was soft and silky to the touch. An ELBOW! And in the WINTER no less! Celebrities can afford million dollar creams, but many celebrate the benefits of The Body Shop’s Body Butter for good reason. Unlike many replicas, this company’s butter is predominately moisturizer, not water. No waxes or petroleum – the moisture comes from shea nuts, cocoa nuts, brazil nuts. The nuts have oil that melts at a lower temperature than many other moisturizers, letting it seep into the skin more easily than say, Vaseline or regular body lotion. Try it – they sell travel sizes. I’m sure after one use you’ll run back for the big container… or two!

11. OPI’s I’m Not Really a Waitress Nailcolor: The red with the most class. I don my tootsies with it 75% of the year. Goes with everything, and isn’t too tartish for the office.

12. OPI’s Coney Island Cotton Candy Nailcolor: the pale pink/nude that doesn’t look chalky or cheesy. The only nailcolor I will allow on my hands, and I like it on my feet in the spring, when I am wearing open toed shoes but am still pale. Very elegant. I wore it on my wedding day.

13. L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream: Amazing stuff. It is so decadent – so rich, but not greasy. No candy scent, and it really seems to heal my hands. My sister says it’s one of the greatest gifts for a woman, and I agree. I don’t think any woman would be disappointed with a tube of this in her stocking or from her Secret Santa!

14. Short Sexy Hair’s Play Dirty Dry Wax: I borrowed this product from a friend when at the beach. My hair was too… clean. It was hanging limp and was boring. I lifted some pieces and took a few spritzes, figuring that if it looked like crap I could throw it all up in a ponytail. No need, for that night I had the best hair I had worn in months. The wax separated the hair gently. It didn’t feel gross to the touch, and the scent was not overpowering. It held better than hair spray, even while sweating and running around. It gave my hair body, texture and all the stuff other products claim to do and really don’t. I find it works on my hair from shoulder length and shorter. Anything longer, and it can’t seem to fight gravity.

15. Chanel No.5 Parfum: Wanna feel like a goddess? Spritz this stuff on your wrists. A little goes a long way, but once you get a whiff, you will be standing taller, walking more gracefully, and feeling like a lady. A sexy lady. Think Marilyn (who wore it as her signature scent). My mom has worn it since college, and every time I smell it on her I think of weekends as a kid watching her get gussied up for a night on the town with my dad. My sister bought me a bottle a few years ago. I don’t wear it often because it is my mom’s scent. I do spritz a bit when I need to feel more confident – a job interview, a presentation, a high school reunion. Every time I wear it, and smell it on those around me I feel as though I posses a bit more confidence, a bit more class.


16. Sephora’s Bronzer Brush: I am a brush snob. I have brushes from M.A.C, Trish McEvoy, Shu Umera, Bobbi Brown. However when I can find a bargain brush that’s worthy, I stock pile. I have two of these brushes – one for my powder foundation, one for my bronzer. This brush has tightly packed bristles, but they are very soft to provide even application. It fits well in the hand, washes nicely without losing bristles, and has worn well – they look brand new after a couple of years of use! I fully believe in buying the best tools possible – they last you for years and make all cosmetics apply and wear better.

17. M.A.C. Blot Powder: This stuff is wonderful. You can apply over and over all day without getting cakey. It really controls the shine. I used this powder on my wedding day and through tears, sweat, hugs and kisses I only needed to reapply once in a twelve-hour span. I was never a huge fan of pressed powder until I was introduced to Blot.

18. Victoria’s Secret Lip-Gloss in French Kiss: I have bought this little pot over and over through the years, always go back to it. I will buy designer lipglosses, but I find this gloss to have the prettiest natural shimmer, the most elegant nude color, the right amount of stickiness without being gross. It lasts a long time, doesn’t have an overwhelming scent, and applies well over lipsticks and pencils to add a subtle wet look without being “too much.” I have even added it to my cheeks and lids in the summer – really highlights a tan nicely.

19. A Face Brush: I pick mine up at The Body Shop because I like the length of the handle and the softness of the bristles. A face brush can make any gentle cleanser a scrub. I wash mine regularly (along with my makeup brushes) so that it doesn’t harbor bacteria and yuckies. A circular motion a couple of nights a week with your regular face wash will really help the skin stay clear, revitalized and fresh. Once I started using one regularly I saw a marked improvement in my skin – especially those pesky blackheads on the nose.

20. The Body Shop’s Soy and Calendula Face Scrub: This product is sold for sensitive skin, but I highly recommend it for any skin types as a scrub. The gel base of the scrub rinses clean and is not drying. Soy is a great product for the skin and is toted as an age deifier. Calendula is an anti-redness ingredient. The granules are round beads that don’t scratch the skin like many face scrubs. It’s not overly harsh, but does the job of removing the bad and leaving the good.

21. Aveda Be Curly: This is a lotion-like product for curls. When I used to wear my hair in long layers, I would go to bed with wet hair; a large dollop of this product mixed in, and would wake up with ringlets and beachy waves. Amazing stuff, and a little goes a long way. It seemed to keep the waves all day as well.

22. Conair’s Dry N Style Iron: I know there may be better straightening irons out there, but I love this one because I travel so much. In one product I have a large barrel curling iron and a ceramic straightening iron that gets very hot. Also, this product claims to be a dryer. The drying tool sort of sucks, but is great for getting those little damp ringlets at the nape nice and straight. It was less than $20 at Target and has traveled the country without causing me any trouble.

23. Large Round Boar Hair Brushes: I didn’t realize how great these brushes are until this past weekend when I forgot my brush and used my friend’s large barreled brush with a metal barrel and black plastic bristles. The brush helped my hair get super straight with the dryer, but I returned home with a heedful of split ends. A boar bristle brush protects the hair, adds shine, and gives body to hair that is being straightened.

24. The Body Shop Lip Liner in Beech: This is the SAME EXACT color at M.A.C.’s Spice lip pencil that is ravced about by all makeup artists. Wet-N-Wild’s 666 pencil is as well, but I don’t find it to glide as nicely as The Body Shop or M.A.C. This is a brownish pink color that blends with 99% of lipsticks and 99% of skin tones. Great color to fill your lip in with and top with a gloss for a long-lasting color for day. I know I am mentioning a lot of products from The Body Shop. No, I don’t work for them though I did. While there I saw that some of their products SUCK, and some are really amazing enough for me to still buy now that the discount is gone. This is one of them. My pencil is about an inch long – I’ll have to go soon to get a replacement!

25. The Body Shop’s Shimmer Cubes in Warm: I have raved about this shadow set in many posts before. I used to give this as a prize to my staff for achieving sales goals and always got great results. Black, Asian, White, Latina, whatever… you will find that these shadows are flattering, shimmery without being childish, and easily blendable. The quad of shadows lasts FOREVER. I bought one in 2003 and am not even halfway through. I use the pale on my whole lid, and the dark in the crease and around the lash line. I have used the copper on darker complexions for a wonderful effect.

26. Smith’s Rosebud Salve: This is a treat. It’s really just Vaseline with a feminine smell, but the whole experience – the retro tin, the pale pink color, the faint rose smell all is wonderful, and the product is quite soothing to lips. It’s also smooth enough to actually work under lipsticks for more of a wash of color.

27. Trish McEvoy Brush #29: This is an essential brush for eyeshadow application. The length of the bristles, the softness, the rounded shape all create the perfect contour on the crease. I have used this brush on multiple people with the same result – a gentle sweep of color in just the right place. It’s easy to use also – just swish-swish from side to side and you have a perfectly applied contour. The price may be frightening, but I have had my brush for about a decade and it is still going strong and working well.

28. Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer with SPF 15: Ladies and Gentlemen, if you are not wearing a MINIMUM of SPF 15 every day (even in the winter) you better START before you look like a leather purse! I love this moisturizer because it absorbs well, hydrates the dry cheeks and doesn’t drown the oily T-zone. I recommend a higher SPF in the summer, but in the winter, this is a great choice for oily/combination skin.

29. Bath and Body Works Breathe Energy Fragrance Mist: This crisp green scent is light enough to spray all over my skin and hair. I found the other pieces in this fragrance line to be too herbal, but the spray is fresh. It wears well and just makes me feel Springy without being a Mitchum Man. I wore it a lot this summer in place of perfume.

30. C.O. Bigelow Clementine Superb Body Cleaner: It’s a relatively gentle soap, the smell is utterly divine. Sweet oranges, similar to The Body Shop’s old formula for their Satsuma shower gel (that I MISS HORRIBLY SO!). The smell is a sweet wake-up. There is a matching lotion that matches but is mediocre in moisturizing. If you don’t mind mixing fragrances, I recommend this body wash!

31. Goldie Lip Gloss in Blossom: A pale coral color that just looks as though you have been licking your lips. Goes on smooth, smells like cake batter and is pretty hydrating. This is not a gloss that will last all day, but with it’s texture and flavor, you won’t mind reapplying.

32. BioSilk Silk Therapy: Buy the smallest bottle they have, you don’t need a lot. I have the travel size and have been using the same bottle for three years. Just a drop on dried hair will make it soft, silky and never greasy. A little in damp hair will help it wave softly and not look frizzy. Whatever leftover on your hands makes a phenomenal moisturizer. I know people who use this product on their feet, their elbows, whole body and even face for moisture. It feels amazing and has barely a scent. I use it on curls for definition and shine, and in straight hair for slight separation and a smooth sheen. The best glosser I have ever tried.

33. Maybelline Ultra Liner: I am a fan of liquid eye liner. I know it goes in and out of style, but I have always stuck to it. I like the Audrey Hepburn/Playboy Playmate looks it can create, and I like how it lasts through most anything. I have tried dozens of liquid liners, from Chanel to Trish to Cover Girl. I have tried the dry that you wet, the pen styles, the brush styles (hard and soft). This liner pleases me the most. It’s just the right length of brush (soft) and thick enough to give a strong line in one swoop. This may not be the best liner for those new to the liquid scene, but for an old pro, I love the price, I love the texture, I love the wearability and I love me some liquid liner!!

34. Chanel Quick Cover Concealer: This concealer claims to be waterproof. I don’t know about that, but it’s rub-proof, cry-proof, sweat-proof and hug-proof. Again, I chose this product for my wedding day and was thrilled with the results. It is not cheap – I keep this concealer for very special occasions. It dries fast with a matte finish and works well either over or under foundation… and well alone too!

35. M.A.C. Studio Tech: This is a compact foundation. It’s best applied with a synthetic foundation brush. It gives some major coverage. Perfect to cover ruddiness, dark circles and faint scars. It layers well to add more coverage, or can be applied with a damp brush for a more sheer effect. Though it’s a heavy foundation, I like it in the summer because it STAYS through sweat and even through a dip in the pool. There are plenty of colors to find your right match. I wore this also on my wedding day and had much success and little rub-off on those I hugged.

36. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer: Yet another product I purchased thanks to watching QVC. This product can be worn alone as a mattifier in the Summer, or under foundation to give a smoother look and a longer lasting finish. Usually I found primers and toners and this kind of stuff as being all hype, but this time I found this product to be useful and quite lovely!

37. Chanel Chance Eau de Toilette: I’m biased. My husband bought me this for my 30th birthday. I didn’t express an interest in this specific fragrance. He saw the ad on the back of one of my magazines, knew my mom wore Chanel, and headed to the counter alone to find a fragrance he thought smelled like “me.” I really like it. It’s feminine without being too girly, sexy without being too much for day or work. It smells elegant, classy and expensive without being pretentious. It’s a lovely scent.

38. Olay Total Effects Eye Transforming Cream: I am a fan of eye creams. As someone who rubs her eyes a lot, I have seen the skin is not so elastic as I get older. I started using eye creams about four years ago and have seen a marked improvement in the skin around my eyes. This is the most recent eye cream I have used, and I like it. I use it every morning and every night. It is very gentle, non-irritating, not greasy. It hydrates the skin without making it puffy, and I think all the anti-aging stuff is working a bit!

39. Jergens Soft Shimmer Moisturizer: I am not one for body bling. I fond body glitter tacky, hate fake bakes, and am grossed out by crazy sparkle on the face. I bought this product because a male client of mine said it made his muscles look more toned without him looking feminine or greased up. I bought a bottle that night. The very subtle shimmer makes your skin look dewy a la Mandy Moore. It does seem to add definition, and just makes the skin look luminous, not sparkly. I wear it every time I get gussied up, or when I go to a beachside bar in a sundress.

40. DiorShow Mascara: If you want drag queen lashes, you have found the right product. This is not your day mascara, your office mascara, your demure mascara. This is mascara for a night at a club, a hot first date, a dancing till dawn sort of event. DiorShow will plump, thicken, lengthen, and if you don’t watch out will clump all over. If you use a light hand you will have bat-worthy lashes all night.

41. Cargo Bronzer: I don’t own any right now because I am thrilled with my discontinued Almay bronzer (not worth noting since it has gone bye-bye), but once the current stuff is gone I plan to pick up a tin of this goodness. It has a faint amount of shimmer that works similar to the above mentioned Jergens Soft Shimmer Lotion, but for your face (and collar bone and cleavage). I like the Light in the Winter and the Medium in the summer.

42. The Body Shop Bronzer: It’s cheap, it’s neutral, it’s matte. Light skinned Black women often use this color for pressed powder. I like it for a hint of color and just that. Not contour, no straight from Bali look, just a faint hint of color to whisk away the sallowness of winter. Be warned: the packaging is annoying, the lid will pop off and the compact does not travel well (crumbles easily). However if you want a very natural look from a bronzer, this product will give it to you with not too many greenbacks.

43. Fresh Umbrian Clay Treatment Bar: I would have NEVER picked up this product if it weren’t for this adorable Sephora salesperson with the loveliest skin. I asked her what she used and she grabbed me a bar of this stuff. It doesn’t lather, it doesn’t “do” much of anything when in the shower, but used as a face wash, it removes impurities while not removing moisture. As a mask it leaves skin baby soft and glowing. I know people have used it on mosquito bites, rashes and other irritations to calm the skin and reduce redness. I have put it as a mask on knees and elbows to help soften and have had success. It’s a really interesting product. Just don’t leave it in the shower or it will crumble away. Keep it dry except when in use and that will make it last.

44. Aveda SPF 15 Lip Tint: I realized while researching my favorite beauty products that I have thought forever that my beloved lip tint was from Origins. Nope, it’s from Aveda (same company, so I don’t feel too awful). It gives more color than many lip tints, moisturizes, but is dry enough that it doesn’t get all over your teeth and face. They carry intense colors (like Spice, which I wear often) and very subtle shades for those more wary of strong colors. I really like the feel and look of this product. My lips do too!

45. Benefit’s High Beam: So I usually don’t like shimmer and shine, but sometimes the situation calls for it. Bachelorette party, New Year’s Eve, sassy summer night… this product gives me EXACTLY what I’m looking for. Ethereal shimmer, dewy shine without looking overly made-up. I put some on the cheekbones, on the brow bone, in the corner of the eye. A bit on my shoulders and collar bone. You can make it as subtle or as shiny as you like. The pink tint is quite flattering. It works best when I moisturize my fingers before applying – makes it glide better.

46. The Body Shop’s Damson Eye Shadow: This is a dusty purple color that works well as a contour or liner color. I have the most success wetting the brush before applying it to the last line, as that Body Shop’s shadows go on light and work better in layers. I think this is a flattering color on a multitude of skin tones, and is soft enough to give me a doe-eyed look when under the edges of the lower lash line.

47. Sally Hansen Extra Strength Crème Hair Remover for Face: Yes, Dilly gets a ‘stache if she doesn’t take care of herself. That Eastern European blood coursing through my veins. I have used varying products, but like this products the best. Least offensive smell, doesn’t leave my upper lip numb, and no redness. Eight minutes, rinse off and apply the balm and you’re ready to head out the door.

48. Sally Hansen Diamond Lip Treatment: I am such a sucker for a lip gloss. These smell good, feel good, have a nice soft brush to apply with, a trim bottle that fits in the tightest jeans and the colors are very natural. I own five different colors, I am that much of a fan. Not the longest lasting, but not terrible, and a lovely shine that isn’t to little-kid-like.

49. Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets: I always have these in my bag. They don’t add any powder or product to my face, just remove the shine. The packet is durable and can handle a night at the bars in my jeans’ back pocket.

50. Wow, I have gotten to 50. I really can’t think of 50 more today so I will have to continue this. Say, with Post #200?

The Beauty of Merino Wool

Merino wool is a very fine, high quality wool. It’s thin yet warm, it holds color beautifully, it stretches, it dresses up or down. And best of all? It holds up nicely to multiple washings on the gentle cycle with Woolite, and can dry overnight if hung in a doorway or shower stall.

Merino sweaters can be found everywhere. It comes ribbed, it comes smooth, in cardigans, shells, wraps, and sweaters with every neckline imaginable. I wear merino sweaters I bought in college and find them still stylish, still current, still looking new.

If you are large busted like I am, you dread the winter. The extra bulk of sweaters, fleeces and parkas quickly make us look like the Michelin Man. In comes merino wool, a fabric that can layer nicely without making one look like a line backer.

I recently found a chocolate brown merino v-neck in the Gap clearance rack. It was originally about $50, but on sale for $30. It has bracelet sleeves (sleeves that are short enough to show off your wrist and bracelet, but below the elbow), a v-neck that is not too deep, and a solid smooth color that is very popular this season. This sweater is lightweight enough to wear under a jacket or blazer, can be worn with jeans, suiting trousers or a wool skirt. The color is so classic, I can see myself wearing this sweater eight years from now.

L.L. Bean is a wonderful place to find sweaters. They have generous cuts, classic colors and necklines, excellent quality and a great price. I recently purchased a merino wool crewneck sweater from here for $39.00.

Washing instructions say to hand wash and dry flat, but a spin in the washer with Woolite and a hanging on a large hanger (think the molded ones that come with coats or suits – this will prevent little funny bumps in the shoulders post-drying) will do just fine.

Merino is more forgiving of little hands that pull on the fabric, sleeves that get caught on the edges of drawers, and jelly that is spilled on the front than silk/cashmere, cashmere and fine gauge cotton counterparts. A Shout Wipe usually keeps most stains at bay until a toss in the washer is possible. The weave is tight enough that most snags are prevented.

The tight weave gives a dressier finish as well. I have worn a merino twinset to a wedding with a brocade skirt, and then worn the same twinset to the mall with jeans the following weekend. I wore a merino shell with beaded pants to a company holiday party, and am wearing a merino right now to work with boots and cords.

A v-neck style with full length sleeves is the most classic, and the most uiversally flattering. I always have one black, one neutral (brown, gray, taupe) and one fun (candy pink, emerald green, pumpkin orange) on hand each fall and winter. I then add to my merino collection usually with a versatile twinset (wearing a merino twinset to yet another wedding in two weeks with a shantung circle skirt and strappy heels and a brooch). The shell goes under suits, the cardigan can be thrown over oxfords and sheath dresses. Turtlenecks are classic and cozy in the colder months, but not the best option for those with short necks, large busts or large shoulders. A drapey cowl neck is a better option.

If you are looking for versatility, value, durability and style, I would add at least one merino sweater to your shopping list this year!

Recent Beauty and Style Buys Recap

Life gets pretty insane this time of year but I just had to share some things I have been loving, using, and enjoying the past few weeks:

With winter, my skin is even more pale and dry, and it really shows my dark circles, uneven coloring, and fine lines. I’ve been looking for products that will make my skin look better without looking fake. A few things I have tried lately:

  • Judith August Special Care Cover. On a whim I bought this concealer; I have been a Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage gal for years, but for some reason this caught my eye. Tried it, and hated it. It was cakey and thick and false looking. Then I tried it once while my primer and moisturizer was still damp… and I fell in love. It was creamy, it blended nicely and I think did a better job of hiding redness and such. However, I found one of the colors to be insanely orange and dark, too dark to even touch. Then I watched a YouTube video where the blogger suggested orange concealer to hide under eye circles and decided to try the weird orange-brown color in this compact. Winner! I now use just this concealer – the orange under the eyes, the lightest in the corner of the eyes and in the bit of marionette lines I have so far, the medium under the nose, over any zits, and around the lips. I usually blend with my fingers, a brush if I’m trying to cover a spot. It’s good stuff once you master the application.
  • NARS Blush in Mata Hari. Again, I have been a loyal gal to NARS Orgasm since my 30th birthday, but lately I have found it to be too shimmery, and too warm to go with some of my bold lipsticks. I have a friend who swears by Mata Hari so I decided to give it a try. Big fan. It can be waaaayyy too strong of pink, but I stipple it on and then blend and it gives a natural flush that looks really pretty on my pale skin. I still wear Orgasm when I’m wearing a warm-toned lipcolor and like the shimmer for evening, but Mata Hari has become my go-to daily blush. If you try it, get a big brush that can let it be more of a flush; too small of a brush and you can end up looking as though you got burned or have a fever.
  • Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs. I know hose have come back en vogue, but they just give me the willies. I don’t mind my pale skin, but with age my legs have more visible of veins and darkness on the knees. When I went to New York for the Foxcroft shoot, the makeup artist told me she SWEARS by Airbrush Legs, even to cover tattoos and not just on legs. I decided to try it… and decided I am not skilled enough for this stuff. I read online to do it on freshly cleaned and shaved legs, I read one should do it on moisturized skin to help it spread nicely, to do it in the bathtub and blend with an old washcloth for a natural look. I did it all and still looked like I did in 7th grade when I tried Coppertone QT and failed miserably. I tried three different times and in two colors, and each time was a major fail for me. Though it is water resistant, luckily it comes off pretty quickly with a loofah and soap.
  • Revlon ColorStay Whipped Foundation in Natural Beige. In summer, even though I slather on the SPF I can get away with a BB Cream and feel as though there’s enough coverage and color. By October, I feel as though I look like a corpse and need something more opaque. I picked this up on a whim and I love it. I love that it blends really nicely, it doesn’t cake up, doesn’t make my skin look dry, and it lasts all day. Seriously it lasts; I can put it on at 5:45am and still look fresh for an after-work event. Revlon never does me wrong.
  • Two Faced Better than False Lashes. Okay, this doesn’t help my skin look better, but with age my lashes aren’t as full, and I am not the type to wear false lashes on a regular basis (I’ve only worn them three times in my life). I read that this product was awesome, and also read that it was messy and a waste of money. I took my chances… and was glad I did. The first time I used it was to my friend’s wedding; it’s not a quick swipe swipe and go, but neither is false lashes. I curl my lashes, put a light coat of the black mascara, then wiggle the fiber mascara all over the lashes, then wiggle on a coat of the black on top. I do not recommend using even the black product on your lower lashes because it is sticky and your lashes can fuse together (I just use Clump Crusher on the bottom), but this product really really makes my lashes look long and lush and not like spiders and with practice I have sped up the application process and can control how much oomph I get so it can even work for the office. It comes off easily with facial cleansing cloths or any makeup remover; hold the remover there for a while to get between the lashes, then wiggle to gently remove. Big fan.

I wrote about Splendies and Volupties before, but I just had to write about them again since they have made some cool changes since my last post. One, is the style. Volupties has even more great plus size brands and styles – they sent me a package to check out and look at how adorable these undies are!

Not only that, they fit great; Volupties now has TRUE SIZING so each pair should fit properly and size issues have reduced drastically. What I love is you can change your size of you have a membership in case you gain or lose weight, and now they have a referral program where you can get months free by getting friends to subscribe. Get the true story about Volupties on social media; members use the hashtag #Volupties on all channels (Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) to share their personal experiences.

I have some shoes that have slippery soles. No amount of scuffing has fixed it, and I fear I’ll do the splits on one of DC’s marble sidewalks. There’s plenty of products out there made to go on the bottom of shoes to provide some grippage… but to do it cheaper, better, and have a more custom size I followed the suggestion of a stylist friend and bought gripper tape. Made for stair treads and the such, gripper tape comes in a roll, has an adhesive back, comes in clear, and is easy to cut and shape with regular scissors. I’ve now added them to the bottom of most of my shoes and feel far more secure without having blatant stickers on my soles.

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Ask Allie: My Beauty Routine

I have wavy hair like yours and I was wondering if you could tell me how you styled it and the products you used.

I wash and condition with either L’Oreal Vive Pro or Pureology Hydrate. Pureology is far better than L’Oreal – thicker, richer, kinder to the hair and keeps color far longer but L’Oreal is a fraction of a price. Lately I have been DIY with haircolor which is cheaper and temporary, so I don’t feel as bad about cheating with L’Oreal.

For Straight/Slightly Wavy Styles
While damp, I put either a pea size amount of Fekkai Advanced Glossing Creme or a few sprays of Neil George Detangle Nourishing Spray on it. I do the Fekkai Creme when the weather is super dry and I am more prone to flyaways, the Neil George when life is more humid. Then I use a wood-bristle brush (this one from Body Shop, I have replaced it multiple times but have been using the same style one for over a decade) and dry with this hair dryer (no nozzle or fancy things).

I dry starting with my bangs, since they can get the most jacked up by air drying. I read in a magazine once that Ted Gibson styled Reese Witherspoon’s bangs by using a paddle brush and swiping back and forth like windshield wipers while pointing the dryer nozzle straight down on them. Then the rest is done pretty haphazardly while reading Rolling Stone or a book via Kindle app on my phone. I usually brush the hair away from my face when drying to get it to wave and twist nicely around my head. When dry, I use this flat iron on 390 degrees and will smooth the parts I missed and give a bit of wave where needed. When finished, I do a few spritz of the Neil George Spray and finger-comb it in to separate and add shine.

For Curly Styles
Curly hair only really works on me when it’s humid. Late summer, rainy days… that’s when my hair wants to loop de loop. I wash my hair at night – same shampoo, and then about 6 spritzes of Neil George. Scrunch, let air dry, get bedhead, go crazy. In the morning my hair is about 60% fabulous curls and 40% stringy Kip Winger hair. So I use this curling iron on it, always curling away from the face. Since bangs don’t work well with this method, I curl them into the rest of the hair away from the brow, parting in the middle. When they are really bed-heady, I sometimes pull the bangs to the side and clip them. Once the hair is curled and set, a few more spritzes of Neil George and very gentle finger combing to break up curls and make it cohesive.

I love your blush! It makes you look really cheery and healthy and natural? Would you do a tutorial for us?

I use this brush from Trish McEvoy, and my blush is NARS Orgasm. I apply my foundation then concealer, I set it with a very light matte bronzing powder (currently this one from Rimmel). Then I swirl the blush brush in Orgasm, swirl in circles towards the ears, while smiling so it mainly hits the apple of my cheeks, and up towards the ears.

I’ve been pondering for a few months how I can wear red lipstick …. and have it stick around. The times I’ve tried, it has faded (or rubbed away into an awkward looks-like-lip-liner line of red, and an otherwise-neutral lip) quickly. You often wear very opaque lip color … how do you manage to make it stick around and not smear all over your face?

I first dab my lips with powder so they are pretty dry, and use a dry or matte formula of lipstick or these balm stains from Revlon. I keep the lipstick in the pocket of my outfit so I have it available each time I stop by the bathroom or end up in the mirrored elevator by myself so I can reapply quickly. After applying, I suck on my index finger to get any lipstick off the inner lips so it won’t get on my teeth.

What is your skincare routine? You have great skin and we are similar ages.

In the evening, I wash my face with CeraVe. Sometimes I wash with my hands, sometimes with my Clarisonic Mia. I use this eye cream from Mary Kay, put Roc Retinol night treatment on, a layer of L’Oreal Youth Code Serum, rub it in until it’s dry, and then a layer of night cream. Right now I am using the L’Oreal Collagen cream because it was on mega sale at Drugstore.com and I had used it before and liked how it hydrated without feeling at all greasy.

In the morning, I wipe my face with Thayer’s Rose Witch Hazel and apply the same Mary Kay eye cream. I then take one scoop of this Vitamin C powder from Philosophy and mix it in my palm with two squirts of L’Oreal Youth Code serum and apply to my face. If I wear BB Cream, that’s all I do, if I wear foundation or just concealer I do a layer of Olay SPF 15.

About once a week I do some sort of exfoliation, usually via a sample that came with a purchase. However lately I have been using this microdermabrasion kit from Mary Kay and I really like it.

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Drugstore Beauty – Recent Product Reviews

Gosh it has been a while since my last beauty review! I have been pretty busy the past few months, so in general I have been sticking to my makeup “uniform” (Almay Smart Shade foundation, Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage, NARS Orgasm blush, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis, DiorShow mascara). However, I have tried a couple new items, and all the ones below can be found at your neighborhood drugstore.

In my last beauty review, many of you sang the praises of Revlon’s Lip Butters (sorry Disqus issue has the comments missing). So much so, I went out and purchased one (Berry Smoothie). You’re right – it feels amazing on the lips, it hydrates, and it gives a pretty pop of shiny color. It’s hard to explain this product – more like a creamy sheer lipstick than a tinted lip balm – I find you can wear one layer as a soft stain, or build for more pigment so it almost ends up looking like a creamy almost-opaque lip gloss. I like Berry Smoothie which is a neutral mauvey-rose color that is like my lip color but better. I can put it on sans mirror and know it will look great. These aren’t long-wearing lipcolors, but they don’t leave a stain or ring on the lips and keep my lips feeling hydrated and smooth.

Since purchasing Berry Smoothie, I have also added Lollipop, Fig Jam, and Cherry Tart to the collection. Lollipop is a bright, almost neon hot pink that has been my go-to bold lip color this spring. Fig Jam is a bit too brown for my skin and makes me feel like my ‘90s self, but I think it would look gorgeous on someone with more bronze or brown of a skintone (I sometimes mix with other colors to make them more day-friendly). Cherry Tart is by far my favorite – with my fair skin it makes me feel like Snow White, or possibly Blair Waldorf (her makeup has been pretty awesome the end of this past season). Soft, shiny, lush, not sticky and a gorgeous sheer red.

The only issue I have with Revlon Lip Butters is that like real butter, they melt. My Lollipop was in the outside pocket of my bag on a hot day, by time I got from my office through the Metro to my home, it had softened enough that the stick of lipstick had disconnected from the tube and smeared on the inside of the cap (I now wear it with a lip brush). The Berry Smoothie did the same thing, and now is a bit messy to use. Cherry Tart I keep in the deep dark recesses of my purse and will only twist up the bare minimum to apply to help preserve the product. This issue is enough that I hesitate purchasing another during the warmer months.

I succumbed to the hype and bought a BB Cream. While I like my Almay foundation, I prefer a lighter weight product come summer. I was at CVS getting allergy meds for Emerson and grabbed a tube of this on the way to the register. I chose Light/Medium.

At first, I hated this stuff. It felt cheap on the skin, looked greasy, and disappeared within an hour or two. Then I tried it without my Philosophy Vitamin C/L’Oreal Youth Code serum cocktail and it worked far better. It’s a bit heavier than a tinted moisturizer, but not as thick or heavy as a traditional foundation. My best luck was to apply it to very dry skin, while still damp apply my concealer over it, let it set and dry completely before applying any other makeup. By doing this, I like it better and wear it a couple times a week. However, I hate going without my “cocktail” and prefer to be able to use a second sunscreen for the best coverage. So while I learned to like the Garnier BB Cream, I won’t be buying another tube when this one runs out. In fact, as the weather gets warmer and my face gets greasier, I may stop using this product all together.

I have never been a huge fan of tinted moisturizer – I have tried some of the most popular brands and don’t get the hype, finding my skin to look just the way it did prior, just a tad more greasy. Garnier’s BB Cream provides more color and coverage than a tinted moisturizer, but isn’t heavy or as opaque as a foundation. It isn’t the best choice for one with oily skin or is prone to being uber sweaty in the summer, but is a great alternative to foundation for those with dry or normal skin.

I have used Maybelline’s Ultra Liner since college. While many find a brush for liquid liner to be messy, I work better with it than a felt tip. However Ultra Liner is very shiny, very black, and as I have gotten older I find it to be a bit costumey on me unless I am purposely doing a retro-inspired look. I wanted a liquid liner that was easy for me to control, didn’t have a shiny finish, was not black, but not a lighter brown than my eye color. After reading a ton of reviews (and seeing it was on sale at drugstore.com and they had double cash back with Ebates) I chose Maybelline Line Stiletto in Brownish Black.

Fan. Big Fan. This is exactly what I wanted. While it is considered a felt tip, it’s a long and flexible tip that holds a lot of pigment. The formula is thinner than Ultra Liner, but it’s not watery like other brands I have tried. The color is a dark brown with a slight gray tinge which makes it look more natural. It’s a soft matte finish, dries quickly, doesn’t irritate my allergy-prone and contacts-wearing eyes, doesn’t flake, and washes off easily with CeraVe come the end of the day. A very thin line right in the lash line just makes my lashes look fuller, a slightly thicker line provides drama that is still appropriate for the office, the daytime, and a day when I am not wearing a bold red and a smirk. Did I mention I am a big fan of Maybelline Line Stiletto? Because I am. Big fan.

It’s… fine. Very low pigment which is great for a fair-skinned lassie, but makes it hard if you actually want to look bronze or use it as blush or contour. No sparkle, which is something that makes me happy. Top doesn’t screw on, so it’s not something you can pop into your makeup bag. However Rimmel Natural Bronzer doesn’t crumble away like many bronzers; I expect it to stay intact for me to reach pan based off of usage, not disintegration. However, I am not feeling the love for the actual product like I have for higher-end brands like Cargo, Tarte, and Laura Mercier.

Have you tried any new drugstore beauty products?  Any you love and think I should try out?  Let me know in the comments!

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My Best Beauty Buys of 2011

2011 was a year where I reclaimed myself. Emerson was born at the beginning of 2009, and that year was a fog of sleepless nights, pumping milk, and I think a case of mild PPD. 2010 I started getting regular sleep and got back into the swing of things with my blog, my job, and my body. I began Weight Watchers, and started finding my personal style. And 2011 is when it all clicked again. I am not the same woman I was in 2008 – I don’t have the same exact personal style, don’t have the same body, and surely don’t have the same lifestyle. Instead of missing what I had, I created a new Alison.

In 2011 I focused on taking care of myself, be it with clothing that fit and flattered this new figure, choosing smart when eating, and also taking better care of my skin and hair. Below is a list of products I started using in 2011 that made a major difference with my hair or skin. Products that transformed, simplified, and are worthy of a re-purchase.

Crest 3D White Vivid Toothpaste. I love coffee, red wine, and the occasional Diet Coke. Thing is, these are some of the worst things for teeth. Over the past couple of years my teeth have yellowed to the point that I started a fund to get my teeth professional bleached. I tried a couple at-home bleaching systems and either they were ineffective, or caused major sensitivity. A couple months ago, Crest 3D was on sale and my husband bought a tube. I couldn’t believe it would be more effective than any other whitening toothpaste I have used.

My husband and I have seen a drastic difference in our teeth since using Crest 3D White Vivid. We don’t have blinding white teeth, but it has bleached our teeth enough that we no longer think about our teeth looking yellow, and I forgot about my teeth bleaching fund. Not only is it effective, but neither of us experience any sensitivity from it. We just got home from Target where they are selling 2-packs of the toothpaste for $5.00 – we bought two packs. I was always a Colgate girl, but Crest 3D White Vivid has made me a Crest convert.

L’Oreal Youth Code Serum. I wrote about this here, and I have to continue with the rave reviews. I use this every morning before my SPF moisturizer and every night over my retinol and under my night cream. I still don’t know what it does, but it makes my skin look better and yes, younger.

Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder. A month or so ago I had a professional facial. When I asked the esthetician what I should change about my skincare regimen, she suggested adding a Vitamin C serum for daytime to fight free radicals and even skintone. Doing a bit of research, I chose the Philosophy Turbo Booster C Powder. I put ½ to 1 scoopful into two pumps of the L’Oreal Youth Code Serum and apply each morning before my SPF moisturizer. It doesn’t irritate, it smells delish, a little goes a long way, and I think in just a month it has lightened some of my freckles and age spots.

Clarisonic Mia. I bought myself this gadget for my birthday back in January and have felt pretty meh about it. A couple months ago Une Femme D’un Certain Age mentioned how she uses the Clarisonic sans cleanser just to exfoliate. Since then, I keep it in my shower and exfoliate with it if my skin is already clean, or use it with cleanser if my face is dirty. This means it gets used on my face about 4x/week. I think it does a better job at exfoliating when not used with cleanser, and since using it consistently I think my pores look smaller and I no longer have the tiny white bumps on my chin.

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser. I have written about this before. It’s awesome. This cleanser is super gentle, rinses clean, but doesn’t leave my skin feeling taut or dry. No irritation, no redness, and no greasy feeling that I felt with Cetaphil. It also works great with the Clarisonic Mia.

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. I have been against these wipes because I hate the idea of all this waste. Then I thought about how I end up using cotton pads or toilet paper to apply makeup remover, and then use face wash to remove the greasy residue. By using these wipes when I wear liquid liner or other difficult makeup, I reduce steps, and I only need to use one product.

I bought them for Bonnaroo and became a convert. They don’t irritate my contacts-wearing eyes, I don’t have to rinse afterwards, and they really get my skin very clean without being dry or taut. I cut the wipes in half – saves money and reduces trash. I don’t buy the fancy container, I get the refill packs and just use that.

At the same time I received a pack of the wipes from Yes to Cucumbers – they can’t compare to Neutrogena in gentleness, and the ability to remove the most stubborn cosmetics.  I would wipe with the Yes to Cucumbers, and then wipe with Neutrogena and remove a ton more makeup.

Klorane Dry Shampoo. I have tried a half a dozen dry shampoos and each one is… fine. Some good points, and some bad. I feared Klorane because as a brunette I didn’t want the ashy look to my hair. While Klorane goes on hair white, it will actually brush out leaving hair shiny and its natural color. I can’t use it on curly hair because I do need to brush a lot, but Klorane will extend a blow-out, add body, de-grease my roots without a harsh smell, ashy residue, or a weird texture to my hair.

T3 Tourmaline Evolution Hair Dryer. You get what you pay for. For years I have been using my red Conair dryer and I felt it was fine. My hair got dry, and isn’t that the point? Then Misikko contacted me and asked me if I would like to try out their T3 Evolution dryer. I would never normally purchase such a costly dryer, but my Conair was getting so old it would burn my hand if I used it too long and would often stop working mid-styling.

The T3 is like a Corvette to my old Yugo dryer; it dries my hair faster, I have fewer split ends, my color lasts longer, and my hair has more shine. Before, I used leave-in conditioners, heat protectants, and shine serums on my hair to make it look and feel less damaged. Now with the T3 I don’t need any of that for healthy hair. While the dryer isn’t cheap, when I think how much I save on products to heal and protect my hair from my old cheapy dryer, it’s worth the money. I no longer fear drying my hair!

TheBalm Mary-Lou Manzier. Highlighters always make me look like a disco ball or greasy. As I age, my skin is less luminous. I wanted a product that would just make my skin look dewy and healthy, not Studio 54. April, a long-time reader suggested TheBalm Mary-Lou Manzier and I have been using it daily ever since. I apply it to my brow bones, inner corner of my eyes, cheek bones and bow of my lip. If I want it really subtle, I apply it under foundation. Lately I apply it over foundation and under powder and it gives a gorgeous, natural luminous look. This product can also multi-task – I will apply some to lipstick to make it a shimmer, apply it heavy for a shimmery nighttime look, and have even applied it to shoulders and décolleté for glowing skin on a summer night. Even though I have used it daily for months, I have yet to hit pan. One compact of Mary-Lou Manzier will likely last me over a year which makes it a great value.

Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara. BlogHer sent me a tube of this to review back in June and I was highly impressed. I am extremely critical of mascaras and usually another person’s Holy Grail is meh on my lashes. If I could afford it, I would buy a new tube of DiorShow every month. So when I got a tube of Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara I was skeptical. Come to find out, it was one of the best mascaras I have ever tried. I was so thrilled when Mary Kay sent me a second tube a couple months ago, and I liked it just as much as I did this summer.

Mary Kay Ultimate Mascara has one of those spiky brushes, but it seems to work better than the ones I tried by CoverGirl and Maybelline. It coats every lash, building volume and lengthening. It dries fast enough to not smear and it also holds the curl from my lash curler. It doesn’t flake, and doesn’t irritate. It’s not waterproof, but it stays put if I sweat or watch a sappy movie. At $15.00 a tube, it’s far more reasonable than DiorShow (and it doesn’t dry up as quickly as a tube of DiorShow).

What are some of your favorite new (or new to you) beauty products from this past year?

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About Face – Recent Beauty Buys

Since my post about my medicine cabinet, I have added some new items to the arsenal and I gotta say, they are absolute winners!

Many of you suggested in comments and by email that I try Cetaphil as a face wash; I knew I had used it in the past and couldn’t recall why I stopped. Then I was having Chinese takeout with my husband and he looked at my Shrimp with Lobster Sauce and mentioned how it looked like Cetaphil, “and would probably leave your face just as greasy.” I remembered – while I am fully aware a face wash shouldn’t leave your skin squeaky clean, Cetaphil made me feel as though I hadn’t removed anything from my face. If I wiped my skin post-Cetaphil with a pad soaked in witch hazel, it would come back brown from foundation; even with makeup remover when I washed with Cetaphil I still had raccoon eyes from mascara.

So I did some online homework and learned about CeraVe – this seems to be the answer for the small percentage of the population who doesn’t find Cetaphil to be their Holy Grail face wash. While it’s still cheap and easily found in drugstores, and it’s still super gentle, it doesn’t leave that greasy film on the skin. It also leaves my skin clean – passes the witch hazel test!

I wear contacts, and come winter my skin is so sensitive and dry it will crack under the nose and flake on the brow; with CeraVe I haven’t had any skin or eye irritation and no issues with flakiness. I also like using it with my Clarisonic Mia – it doesn’t disappear with the rotation, protecting while cleansing my skin.

I like this cleanser so much, I don’t see any reason to try another. I believe I have found my HG face wash!

Random – each time I see the bottle I start singing this song. And now, it’s probably in your head as well…

I found a sample for this serum in one of my fashion or beauty magazines. I tore out the sample card, tucked it into my medicine cabinet, soon after recycled or passed on the magazine. I finally got around to looking at the sample card… and really couldn’t figure out what this product was for. The card mentioned “genactiv technology”, said to smooth it on my face and neck. The name WAS Youth Code, so I figured it must be something to make me look youthful. From my previous experience working in skincare and cosmetics, I know a serum is something to use in conjunction with a traditional moisturizer. So I started using it under my daily SPF moisturizer.

Within a week my skin looked different. Different how? Well that is as hard to say as the sample card was uninformative. Maybe this is why the sample card was so vague – even L’Oreal couldn’t define the results!

My skin looked… better. Not so dull, not so saggy, not so tired. I still had my dark circles, my fine lines, my sun spots. But somehow all that wasn’t as obvious. I was convinced, and bought a bottle. Since then, I have had people ask if I have lost weight (I haven’t), if I am pregnant (nope), if I am getting more sleep (I wish). So whatever it is doing, it’s good.

I use Youth Code Serum on my face under moisturizer every morning and evening. A little goes a LONG way, and it really absorbs completely in the skin – no weird filmy or sticky feeling, just complete disappearance. hasn’t affected the longevity of my foundation or concealer, no irritation, no dryness. Just that unexplainable lovely something.

***

Amazing how two drugstore-brand products can make such a huge difference in my skin. The combination of the two along with my previous products (Olay SPF 15 Beauty Fluid and Olay Definity eye cream for day, CVS version of RoC Retinol and night cream for night) made everything work better, and my skin be so much softer, healthier looking, and happy. I can’t recall another winter in my adult life where I wasn’t cursing my face every morning, and wanting to slather it in Vaseline at night in hopes it would hydrate it without causing it to break out. In summary, my skin and I are happy campers!

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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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Beauty Products Worthy of a Second Buy

Beauty products are fun. It’s always exciting to tear open your bag from CVS, Ulta, or that box from Sephora and play with your new stash of goodies. I have a drawer in my dressing table, and each morning when I open it, I feel as though I am looking at a toy chest. Will I do a smoky eye today? A flushed cheek? Maybe just a lip stain. The options are endless!

If you feel this way, you probably also encounter what I often do – buyer’s remorse. That metallic teal liner that you have never worn, a foundation that the folks on Makeup Alley say is near-Holy Grail but makes your skin look sallow, a moisturizer that made you break out, a curl defining cream that make you look as though you instead bought a Jheri Curl.

When I find an item that not only is used to completion but deserves to be re-purchased, it’s a time to celebrate. Below are items that I have either recently re-purchased, or purchased and love so much, I know I will be buying a replacement as soon as this one is empty!

Skincare:
Ole Henriksen Pure Perfection Night Crème
A couple months ago, I purchased some almond oil after reading online that it can help condition and strengthen lashes. I applied it at night, and one night I applied it all over my face in place of regular night cream. I went to bed with a greasy face, but woke up with soft, plump, happy skin. I decided to make a switch from my meh night cream (freebie blogger swag not worth mentioning) to almond oil.

As the weather got colder and dryer and more mean, the almond oil wasn’t cutting it. I was getting the dry irritated skin under my nose, waking up with a tight face, and my skin looked a bit haggard. Right when I was losing the almond oil love, I read this post on Capitol Hill Style. As soon as I finished the post, I ordered myself a tub of Ole Henriksen’s Pure Perfection Night Crème. As that I ordered it on Amazon and have Prime, it arrived two days later.

I have been using this cream since Christmas Eve and have seen a marked improvement in my skin. When I wake my face doesn’t feel greasy, nor is it tight. The red, dry, irritated winter skin I get under my nose and around my mouth is history. My skin feels soft, and has a nice glow to it that is unusual to see during the coldest and darkest part of the year. No breakouts, no irritation, just happy comfortable skin that looks a bit more youthful.

The formula is thick, but not heavy. A little goes a long way, so I will have this orange tub in my medicine cabinet for many months before it needs a replacement. It is to be used on the entire face – even the eye area (recommends Ole Henriksen’s eye cream OVER it, five minutes after application of the night cream – I am using up the eye cream I currently have). So far, so good. This is my first time trying Ole Henriksen’s line but after this experience, it won’t be my last.

Roc Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Daily Moisturizer – SPF 30
When I ordered the Ole Henriksen night cream, Amazon suggested I also try this moisturizer for daytime. I hate to admit this, but I have been living off trial-sized moisturizers that I have gotten as swag, samples with my Drugstore.com and Sephora orders, etc. I know Roc gets pretty good reviews for having a good concentration of retinol, and I loved that it was SPF 30. What the heck, I added it to my Amazon order.

I really like this cream. It’s thick, but it soaks in well if you take your time. A dab on the forehead spread around, a dab on each cheek, a dab on the chin, some for the neck and décolleté and blend in. After just a couple minutes, it is soaked in and you can apply your makeup without issues.

Since I started using the Roc moisturizer the day after starting the Ole Henriksen cream, I can’t really tell how much of an impact it is making. My skin feels more hydrated than it was with my other random moisturizers, yet my makeup doesn’t slide off my face. No breakouts, no irritation, no redness. I think my skin looks better than it did a couple weeks ago, but again not sure if it’s the night cream, this moisturizer, a combination of the two, the removal of holiday stress, or just using a new regimen. Even if the retinol isn’t helping with dark spots, dryness, and wrinkles, the moisturizer is a wonderful consistency and seems to agree with my face more than any other moisturizer I have used. It feels luxe, as though it would cost much more and not be a drugstore brand.


Makeup:
Almay Smart Shade Anti-aging Makeup SPF 15
I bought this in June on a whim. Loved it. You can read my original review here. When my tube ran out, I bought another. And last month, I purchased my third tube ( I wear Light/Medium year round).

This foundation really does change to match your skin perfectly. If you don’t blend well you may end up with weird little tan streaks, but I use very little and blend well and it completely disappears, evening out my skin better than any tinted moisturizer, but doesn’t give as heavy of coverage as a traditional foundation. It sits right between both types of products, doesn’t irritate my contacts-wearing eyes, wears well all day, doesn’t cause breakouts and I can practically apply it with my eyes closed and know it will look great.

Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage
This is my Holy Grail of concealer. Other brands need not apply. I tried Laura Mercier concealer for the first time when I bought her Flawless Face Kit. I loved everything in the kit, but OBSESSED over the amazing concealer. Before I even finished the travel sizes in the kit, I bought myself a full-sized version of the Secret Camouflage.

I wear SC2 – it is one shade a bit lighter than my complexion, one a bit darker and more yellow. I can mix them together for a custom color – I use the light around my eyes to cover dark circles and it blends great, doesn’t tug at my skin, doesn’t look ashy, and really helps hide most anything. The darker color is great for covering zits, redness around the nostrils and these weird little stretch mark-like thingies at the edges of my lips. I use my ring finger so it warms the concealer and makes it easier to blend, but I have also used a small brush to tap a little concealer on a blemish and make it hide well under foundation. When I have time and it’s a special event, I will use my Laura Mercier concealer brush to lightly apply and layer the Secret Camouflage and this will give really amazing coverage without looking obvious.

I am almost finished with my second compact of Secret Camouflage (first one purchased early on in pregnancy with Emerson – a compact lasts over a year) and am tempted to buy another already so that I can have one in my purse for post-work touchups. When people comment on how rested or young or fresh I look, I always tell them it’s thanks to Laura Mercier!

DiorShow Mascara
I have tried Maybelline Great Lash and don’t get the hype – it separates and doesn’t clump but it hardly makes any impact. Lancome Defincils isn’t bad, but it’s nothing to write home about. Benefit Bad Gal is meh. Tried tubing my lashes with Blinc Kiss Me and wasn’t a fan. Tried Lash Blast, Voluminous, 2000 Calorie, Falsies and found them good, but not great.

I want lashes that stand out. I want them thick, lush, dark, long, luscious. Even for day, I want my lashes to make some impact.

I buy the newest “sooo amazing, like false lashes!” mascara… and then I go back to DiorShow. DiorShow is expensive, and I can’t just pick it up my next time to the grocery store or Target. A tube of DiorShow doesn’t last as long as other brands – it seems to dry up faster. It has a pretty strong rose scent – not an awful scent, but I prefer my makeup to smell like a whole lot of nothing.

However it goes on great – no flaking, no clumping, no irritating my allergy-prone and contacts-wearing eyes. It’s thick, coats each lash, makes them really thick and gorgeous while separating and elongating. It wears all day and gives me the look I crave.

DiorShow is worth it. I do balance it out by using a drugstore brand for day (currently using Maybelline Falsies) and saving it for more special occasions, but I can’t find anything to replace or compare.

Revlon Colorstay 12 Hour Eyeshadow Quad in Neutral Khakis
This isn’t my second time buying this, or even my third. I am currently on my FIFTH palette in this exact color story. It really is THAT good.

The ivory shade is matte and makes the perfect highlighter. I apply it with my ring finger to my brow bone and inner eyes to make me look awake. The khaki has a gold sheen that is still very wearable during the day. It is an excellent basic lid color to be worn on its own or as a base for other colors. Wet it and it’s a brassy shade that is really fun for evening. The olive is extremely wearable and I have often done an olive smoky eye with this shadow. Again, wet it and it makes a more intense color (and can easily replace liner). The brown is a lovely chocolate with very little shimmer to it. When I lost my brow color on the Metro, I have been using this and think it’s a perfect fit. It also is a great color for contour and when wet, can replace a liner.

My standard day eye is with this palette. I apply the ivory with my finger to brow bone and inner eyes. I then use my Trish McEvoy Brush 45 to have a soft wash of the khaki over my lid. Trish McEvoy Brush 29 dips into the chocolate and I swish it back and forth into the crease of my lid and in the outer corner of my eye. Finally I take my Trish McEvoy Brush 41 and swipe the chocolate lightly along the lash lines. And then as mentioned, I also use Trish McEvoy Brush 32 to feather the chocolate into my brows to fill in the sparse parts.

The khaki color seems to crumble very easily and it is usually gone before any other color. However the rest of the palette is near-perfect, lasts until you hit metal, and the compact is well made and can handle being toted around in a bag without cracking or popping open. And finally, it really DOES last for 12 hours, even if you are like me and constantly rubbing and fiddling with your eyes. Major major win.

Trish McEvoy Brushes
I almost didn’t mention these because I have only purchased them once. But the sign of a quality makeup brush is that you DO only need to purchase it once, and you never lack for a different brush.

In 1998 I treated myself to a makeover at the Trish McEvoy counter in Nordstrom and went a bit buck-wild. I left with a ton of brushes. To this day, I still use every single brush they sold me. The brow brush is perfect – not too stiff, not too soft, fills in brows without leaving obvious lines. Brushes 45 and 29 are my LIFE – they will make cheap shadows look expensive and give the perfect wash of color (brush 29 seems custom made for the crease in my lid, though I have talked it up to friends who have also purchased it and feel it was actually custom made for THEIR eyes). The M20 Face Blender is a perfect blush brush that captures the apples of my cheeks without making me look like a Dolly Dingle Doll. Brush 11 is a great way to take a dark shadow and make it a liner – it really is able to wiggle into the lash line for a very clean, precise look.

The brushes are well shaped, feel good in the hand. The bristles are animal hair, and tightly clamped to the handle and never shed. I wash them with baby shampoo and let them air dry and 13 years later are still like new. Trish McEvoy makeup brushes aren’t cheap, but if you don’t need to purchase another brush for over a decade – it’s money well spent.

Haircare:
Frederic Fekkai Luscious Curls Cream
I am on my third tube, and that says a lot. Those of you with hair like mine probably have had medicine cabinets like mine overflowing with creams, pomades, sprays, gels, balms and lotions all claiming to be able to take limp wavy hair and make it into soft, shiny spirals. Many work… for a while. Most fail, making hair greasy and heavy, or crispy.

Frederic Fekkai’s Luscious Curls Cream succeeds IF I let me hair air dry. If I wash and condition my hair, apply a marble-sized dollop to my hair, scrunch and leave it alone, I end up with beachy waves and pretty spirals. The wave and curl lasts all day and often looks even better after a good night’s sleep. No heavy smell, no greasy locks, and surely no crunchy crispy ramen noodle locks.

However if I try to speed up the process with my hair dryer (even with diffuser and on low heat) I end up with really awful hair. It’s greasy, limp, frizzy, and looks as though I am Jon Bon Jovi circa 1984.

Bodycare:

Neutrogena Body Oil
I am addicted to this stuff. I used it in high school, but soon switched for various creams and lotions and potions from popular college stores like The Body Shop and Bath and Body Works. When I graduated from scented lotions to actual perfumes, I switched to very general lotions from the drugstore (hello Lubriderm).

I believe pregnancy brought me back to Neutrogena Body Oil. My nose was extremely sensitive, and I had PUPPS causing me to seek ANYTHING that would stop the incessant itching. Neutrogena Body Oil has a very light fragrance (believe it is sesame but smells like honeysuckle to me) that doesn’t compete with my Burberry London, but still seems to calm me and make me feel fresh and feminine. The oil seeps into my skin beautifully and I get a bit of a Mandy Moore-like sheen. I glop it on and put on my terry robe and give it time to soak in and my skin is forever thankful.

Once I decided to try out the CVS brand. Ew. The fragrance is NOT the same. If I could get linen spray and candles in the scent of Neutrogena Body Oil, I would. It feels and acts and smells more luxe than you would expect from Neutrogena. The body says it is, “A sensual experience” and I would have to agree.

Dove Ultimate Beauty Care, Original Clean Deodorant and CertainDri
I don’t want to smell like a baby, a cucumber, a grapefruit. I don’t want to smell like someone else’s idea of energy or spirit. I also don’t want to smell like sweat. I sweat very easily, and need a product that will not only deodorize, but also slow down sweat production. I have so many brands of deodorants and antiperspirants – too many to count. I have found many work… for about two weeks and then stop. Many more irritate my skin. Almost all, once I get a bit warm start smelling so strong I get nauseous and it overpowers my perfume.

I finally found the perfect combination. Most nights (when I remember and am not too exhausted) I apply CertainDri. Then I use the classic Dove Deodorant in the morning. With this combination, I don’t smell, I don’t get red and bumpy (don’t use CertainDri after shaving), and I don’t smell like fruit, flowers, chemicals, or teen spirit.

Dove DOES have a smell, but it sort of reminds me of the scent of Neutrogena Body Oil – very light, fresh, feminine, subtle. I prefer it over the unscented version which I don’t think works as well and has a weird unscented sort of chemical smell.

As for CertainDri, it is the only thing I have found that really helps with sweat production. It doesn’t stop it all together, but it keeps me from having wet blouses and helps with odor. Sometimes it will sting a bit when applied, but that’s usually because I put it on too soon after shaving or showering, or it’s the end of the bottle and uber-concentrated. I have used it off and on for years without any issues, and especially find it a Godsend during humid sticky DC summers!

What products have you used and used and used again? Do you have any Holy Grail products that you just can’t live without?

Ready to Wear Beauty with MaryKay® and Project Runway®

I’ve been a fan of Project Runway® since the very first season. I love the creativity that takes place under pressure, the judges input, and who doesn’t adore Tim Gunn? One of the coolest parts of each Project Runway challenge is how in just a short span of time the beauty teams are able to take the contestants’ visions and make them a reality. Mary Kay® is the Official Beauty Sponsor of Project Runway® Season 13 and it’s cool to see an accessible brand known for everyday beauty create such creative, intense, and high fashion looks. MaryKay® asked if I’d like to experience their makeup collection, and with MaryKay Global Makeup Artist Luis Casco’s direction and recreate some looks from Season 13 of Project Runway®.

marykay project runway emerald smoke

The “Emerald Smoke” face: click the image to view the instructions to create and shop this look.

I first tried Casco’s “Emerald Smoke” look, a bold face that is perfect for the upcoming fall season. I loved how this look is totally out of my comfort range, and loved how the colors could work on a variety of skintones. I’ll be honest, I’m clueless when it comes to makeup, especially eye color application so it was great to have on the MaryKay® site instructions from Luis Casco and videos showing how to achieve this season’s bold eye looks. I’ve always wondered how people achieve a really intense color that blends nicely; with Casco’s instruction I learned a cream shadow base will help colors pop on the eyelid. I’ve used MaryKay® before, but this experience has me loving a few new products. Their Cream Eye Color is a great consistency that blended well, didn’t crease, and was long-lasting. Meadow Grass gave a subtle hint of color on my lids that made my brown eyes stand out and would be wearable for any day, but when I applied MaryKay® Mineral Eye Color in Emerald over it I suddenly had bold intense jewel-like lids. Per Casco’s instruction, I then added their Mineral Eye Color in Lime in the inner thirds of the eyes and it really did brighten the whole look. I’ve tried MaryKay® LashLove Mascara before and am always a fan. It lengthens, separates, and doesn’t bother my contacts-wearing eyes. One coat is perfect for day, but a couple coats gives the drama needed for the “Emerald Smoke” face. MaryKay Project Runway When I received the products to create “Emerald Smoke” the lipcolor and blush scared me; even in the middle of summer I have fair skin and felt that the deep plum shades would look clownish on me. I applied their Cream Blush in Cranberry and while it looked extremely dark on my skin, when I blended it I found it looked quite pretty – more dramatic than my normal blush, but perfect with such a bold eye. The True Dimensions® Lipstick in Mystic Plum and Lip Liner in Cappuccino is an intense look, but again it balanced the bold emerald eye and I could see myself wearing this lipstick come fall with a more subtle rest of the face. I like the creamy formula and how it made my lips look more hydrated and plump.

graphic eye

The “Graphic Eye” face: click the image to view the instructions to create and shop this look.

The second look was titled, “Graphic Eye” and this was a look I have always loved on others (and think I recall from Project Runway) but never thought I could carry off myself. Thanks to Luis Casco’s instructions, I was able to try it out. The Mary Kay At Play™ Bold Fluid Eyeliner in Blue My Mind is a gorgeous color and made quite an impact without looking too crazy. I was impressed by the quality of the MaryKay® brushes; their Eye Crease Brush makes a big difference with shadow application and gave a natural contour to the upper lid while being perfect for a touch of color below the eye. Mary Kay® Ultimate Mascara™ in Black is another winning mascara (though it can’t compete with my beloved LashLove), and I have been using Mary Kay® NouriShine Plus® Lip Gloss for over a year in various colors and found Au Naturel to be just as lovely and a great topcoat for lipsticks and stains. “Graphic Eye” is actually a pretty wearable look, and the bold blue could easily be replaced by a different color or just be a classic black cat eye. Having such instruction available makes runway beauty more of a reality for us beauty-application newbies! While these aren’t everyday looks, it was fun to recreate looks from my favorite television show and have a bit of the MaryKay® and Project Runway® beauty experience in my own home! If you’d like to experience the same, I have just the giveaway for you! Which of these looks would you most like to try? Leave an answer in the comments below for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card and a collection of Mary Kay® products to create one of the looks featured + some beauty essentials.

You can visit Mary Kay® on Project RunwayFacebookYoutube, and of course, their website for more ideas and information! 

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This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. 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 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 9/4/2014-10/7/2014. Be sure to visit the Mary Kay brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!