Search Results for: label/beauty

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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Over 40 Beauty: Shaving Face

In new series, I’ll review a single beauty product I either recently purchased, was sent to me for review, or is a product that I’ve been using for a long time and deserves some recognition. Since I’ve found my beauty needs have changed quite a lot, I’m calling the series Over 40 Beauty.

Shaving Face: My experience shaving my face with Tinkle razors. Discussions of over 40 beauty and dermaplaning by Wardrobe OxygenI’ve always felt that I was a hairy person. I began shaving my legs in 7th grade, and it seemed I had darker and thicker hair than my friends and hair that grew back faster. In high school, I felt my arms were too hairy and regularly bleached them. In college I became obsessed with what I felt was a mustache on my upper lip and would use depilatories, wax, and bleach on it. I tweezed and waxed my brows into tasteful arches and became quite expert with a razor. However, I never felt I had any issues with hairs anywhere else on my face… until I turned 40.

Those jokes about old ladies with chin hairs are legit. My friends and I can attest to the fact that the older we get the weirder our body hair. Strange 2” long wires poke out literally overnight and often in places where we busy rushed women don’t immediately see in those five minutes we have to get ready while trying to brush hair, change a diaper, drink coffee, apply mascara, and sign a permission slip.

One day my friend Sydney (a great stylist in Richmond, VA) shared a video on her Facebook page of a woman who shaves her face. I didn’t like the video, and I didn’t like the woman’s premise that you should shave your face to be more attractive to men (some said she was trying to be funny but I didn’t find it humorous). However, the woman used these facial razors called Tinkles and I was intrigued. On Amazon, they have a three-pack of these razors for less than $5 and free Prime shipping. I bought a pack and figured if they left me with a five o’clock shadow I’d just start waxing on the regular like I already did for my upper lip.

I’ve been using these razors weekly for almost two months and I have to say they are a major game changer.

The Tinkle razor doesn’t look like a standard razor. Available in pastel shades, the razor is on the end of a long handle similar to a brow brush. You hold it similar to a toothbrush and swipe down on the face in short strokes. I do it after cleansing. The first couple of times my face felt a bit raw after shaving, but now I don’t feel anything, but I still do it in the evening or on days I don’t wear makeup so my skin can breathe recover.  I have read to do it on clean skin without moisturizer, but also to do with moisturizer which protects the skin.  I have done both ways, irritation level for me is the same; I prefer without moisturizer because that seems to gunk up the razor faster.

I always feared that hair would grow back dark and more obvious but that doesn’t happen. It does grow back in, but I hardly even notice it. The hair on my jaw line and chin is far finer than an upper lip and when it comes back in it remains soft and light colored. There’s no five o’clock shadow, I promise!

Many women shave their face claiming makeup lies better and it exfoliates skin (a la dermaplaning) to have a smoother finish. I really haven’t experienced that. In fact, the first time I shaved I got a couple breakouts, but I don’t experience that any more.

I used to sit in front of a magnifying mirror plucking individual hairs with tweezers and it could take forever. Also, it’s not good for the ego or the soul to spend a long period of time in front of a magnifying mirror. I keep the Tinkle in my medicine cabinet in a cup with other tall slim things like eye cream, cuticle scissors, and a blackhead remover. I just pull it out and swipe swipe swipe lickedy split in the bathroom without needing to get super close and careful. And yes, you can use it in your nose if you wish without any pain or issues. Now that I started using the Tinkle, I don’t get my upper lip waxed at the salon. I save money by taking care of it at home.

Facial hair is a personal choice. Some wish to remove it, some do not. Some don’t have any, some do. There’s no right or wrong decision. But if you want a quick, cheap, and easy way to take care of facial hair, the Tinkle facial razor is a great choice. And if you try it and you decide you don’t like it, don’t fear you have to shave for the rest of your life. You can stop, and the hair will grow back just as it was previously.

Do you remove facial hair and have a favorite method?

Over 40 Beauty: L’Oreal Lumi Cushion Foundation Review

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

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

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

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

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

loreal lumi cushion review - wardrobe oxygen

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

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


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


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


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

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

Over 40 Beauty: NuFACE Mini Device Review

Wardrobe Oxygen - NuFACE Mini Facial Toning Device ReviewOther than a tough year in middle school, I’ve had pretty good skin. I worked for a skincare company after college so I learned early the benefits of regular cleansing, polishing, and protecting. However, I was a sun worshipper and spent a good percentage of my college years inside a tanning bed. It seemed as though as soon as I turned 40 my skin changed. Suddenly I was dealing with dry patches, loss of elasticity, and wrinkles.

I’ve been using anti-aging skincare products for years, but they just didn’t seem to be accomplishing enough. I went to a dermatologist to get a full body scan (a very… exposing experience but one I recommend to get a very detailed check) and asked about Retin-A. Many of you had recommended it for improving skin. My doctor gave me a prescription, but informed me it would be at least six months before I saw results and in the mean time I would have to stay out of the sun and would deal with redness, peeling, and irritation. And then I found out my insurance doesn’t cover any of it and one tube would cost almost $200. It just didn’t seem like the right choice for me. I also don’t feel Botox or other injectibles were the right choice for me at this point in life. I figured it was a fact of life, this is my skin in my 40s, I just should baby it as much as possible.

Then I was reading Bobbi Brown’s interview with Into the Gloss and she mentioned NuFACE. I follow Brown on Instagram and she looks great – she doesn’t look 25, but she glows and looks healthy and well cared for. NuFACE is a device that sends microcurrents to the skin, helping tone the skin and lift jowls, contour jawline, reduce nasal labial folds and wrinkles, lift eye brows, and open eyes. NuFACE is almost $500 which is completely outside my pricerange right now, but I researched and many said the NuFACE Mini was just as effective and more than half the price. Around the same price as one tube of Retin-A, I figured why not try it? Selling anywhere between $160-$200 on sites such as Amazon, QVC, Ulta, and Sephora, I chose to buy it from Nordstrom ($199) knowing that if I had an issue with it I could easily return it.

This is a long but detailed video from when NuFACE Mini was featured on QVC and one of the few videos where the models aren’t 25.  It explains the difference between the original and mini and shows how microcurrents work.

The NuFACE Mini comes with the palm-sized device, a charging cord, a tube of their gel primer, and a laminated card with the general 5-minute daily routine to complete with the device. If you download their app (advertised in the package), not only will it send you notifications when it’s time to do your treatment (optional), it has videos for more elaborate treatments. To use the NuFACE, you must first cover that portion of your face with their gel primer, which has a consistency similar to aloe vera. The laminated card and videos on the app are very clear to follow.

I charged the NuFACE Mini for 24 hours before first use, and plug it in to charge overnight every few days. The NuFACE Mini is set to turn off after five minutes; when getting familiar with the device or if you wish to do the more elaborate just turn it back on and keep going (this is one of the things different between the Mini and the full-size version). You can safely use the device up to 20 minutes a day. The device stays charged for almost a full week, but I found it was best to plug it in overnight every Wednesday and Sunday to keep it ready to go.

nuface mini review - wardrobe oxygen

A screenshot from the QVC video; see how her left side of the face looks less puffy and the brow is higher?  Yeah, that’s exactly what I saw on myself!

If you use enough gel and stay far away from your eye sockets, there’s little to no feeling when using the NuFACE Mini. I have had a bit of a metallic taste in my mouth after using but it goes away pretty quickly. If you don’t have the gel or have a sensitive part of your face you may feel a slight pinch or twinge on the skin like a hair getting caught in a spring. You slowly glide the machine over your skin and the round metallic balls on the gel makes it very smooth and comfortable. When you do the more elaborate routines on their website or app, you may hold the NuFACE in one place for a few seconds, but again there’s no pain or discomfort.

So Allie, this is all fine and good, but does the NuFACE actually work?

NuFace Mini Before and After - Wardrobe Oxygen

I completely forgot I texted this picture to my friends back in March to show how it works.  So yes, there is a photo of the before and after.  I did my left side of the face in this picture, my forehead is all shiny from the gel you use with the device.

Yes, it does. It works really well on me. I can do one side of my face and it looks as though I have a half-smirk and have raised just one eyebrow. It reduces the furrows on my forehead, and makes my jawline more pronounced. My skin in general looked healthier, not so dry, not so flat.  The effects last for at least 48 hours. I recommend doing it at least five times a week keep the results; I would do the 5-minute treatment most days and when I had time, would go more in depth and do it for about 15 minutes.  But even five minutes fives times a week will be enough that people will ask if you’ve gotten more sleep, maybe lost a couple pounds, changed your makeup.  That subtle something different (unless your partner walks in after only doing one side and freaks out and wonders if you had a stroke).

The combo of the gel and the machine can cause some serious breakouts if you don’t clean very well afterwards. I was getting insane deep whiteheads around my mouth and I thought it was hormonal, I thought it was my diet, my new night cream. Then I was reading around online and found many other NuFACE users experienced the same. With a deep cleaning after use, the breakouts stopped.  So I NuFACE, wash my face at the sink with CeraVe, and then hop in the shower and wash again with CeraVe or a random facial scrub or wash sample I have, and sometimes with my Clarisonic.

If I wrote this post two weeks ago, I would end it right here. It’s great, the NuFACE Mini can be purchased at Sephora, Nordstrom, QVC, and plenty of other places. But I’ve been slow with my Over 40 Beauty posts and this time it’s a very good thing.

Because my NuFACE is possessed.

I used it fine for about three months. If you follow me on Snapchat, you’ve seen me snap myself using it and a few of you reached out for more details about it. I couldn’t rave enough; while $199 may be a lot at first, the results were better than all the random tubes and pots I had purchased over the years.

Then it seemed to lose its charge earlier than usual. I plugged it in; it ended up charging for two days straight. It wouldn’t turn on again. No light, no beep, nothing. I was pissed, how dare a $200 item break down after just a few weeks? I left it on the top of my toilet and figured that weekend I’d box it up and return it (this is why I bought it from Nordstrom after all).

I didn’t get around to it, and so it sat uncharged for over a week. Then one day Emerson was taking a bath in our bathroom and she starts screaming. I race up the stairs fearing the worst. “Mommy your machine started talking!” And sure enough, the NuFACE Mini was beeping the way it does when it’s in need of a charge. So I plugged it in again, excited it was working again. I waited 24 hours, tried it, and still it wouldn’t turn on. I left it there, plugged in to the charger. That night around 3am it started beeping. Beep beep, be-buh-la-la-beeeeeppppp beep. Beebeebeebeebebeeb… I went in and all the blue lights were flashing in different patterns. It was CRAZY! I unplugged it and it stopped… and wouldn’t turn on. I left it unplugged and went back to bed. That morning around 5:30 my alarm went off and I, half-asleep, wandered into the dark bathroom and sat on the toilet and the unplugged NuFACE started going bonkers again, lighting up the bathroom with blue strobes. I was no longer half asleep!  I turned it off and it was quiet for a few days… but then Monday night while brushing my teeth it started going off again.  I shared the insanity on Snapchat and saved the short videos from the app so I could show them to you.

My NuFACE is back in its original packaging and ready to go back to Nordstrom this weekend.  It’s been boxed up for more than 24 hours at the time of writing this and is still beeping, turning itself on and off, making crazy noises.  But I am exchanging it. I have to think this is a dud, and not all NuFACE Minis are possessed. And yes, it’s good enough that it’s worth it to try again.  I miss my NuFACE face.

So do I recommend the NuFACE? Yes… if you purchase it somewhere with a very lenient return policy. I hope yours isn’t possessed and I hope my future one isn’t as well. I will keep you posted.  If the next one isn’t a dud like this one I’ll provide more visuals (hopefully a video) to show how it works.

The NuFACE Mini is available at many skincare and department stores. Order at your own risk!

Over 40 Beauty: Sensodyne True White Extra Fresh Toothpaste

Sensodyne True White Extra Fresh Toothpaste ReviewWhen I was a kid I dreaded going to the dentist. I could just look at a lollypop and get a cavity, and dealt with sealants, wisdom teeth, retainers, caps for chipped teeth, and more. But once I was an adult, I looked forward to going to the dentist. Other than needing an NTI to stop grinding while I slept, my 6-month visits were positive, with the hygienist complimenting me on my flossing and tooth care. I came to enjoy dental care, from flossing to mouthwash and brushing my teeth three times a day.

But once I hit 40 it’s like my mouth decided to get old. Suddenly I was experiencing the occasional bleeding when I brushed, and I was getting sensitivity to heat and cold. My dentist put some bonding on the most sensitive tooth, but that fell off almost instantly and left me with an even more sensitive tooth.

My dad had terrible teeth and used Sensodyne and I dreaded using it. He was a secret smoker and I think brushed his teeth to hide the smell of cigarettes and it didn’t work. It just made me think Sensodyne was crappy toothpaste. But I was sick of the electric twinges and eating strangely so I got a tube of Sensodyne Extra Whitening. I was using whitening toothpaste and didn’t want to lose that perk.

Sensodyne Extra Whitening did help with the sensitivity, but it didn’t help with breath freshening or whitening. It was… fine. I ended up using mouthwash with it because I didn’t feel fresh, and I saw my teeth get more yellow with the weeks I was using it.

Sensodyne True White Review

I have no idea what this image has to do with the toothpaste, I found it when looking for a product shot and it cracked me up so much I had to share!

Then I saw an ad on TV for Sensodyne True White Extra Fresh Toothpaste and was intrigued. Was this the same stuff just repackaged? It’s hard to tell even on the Sensodyne website; the Extra Whitening has the active ingredients of Potassium nitrate and Sodium fluoride w/v fluoride ion and the True White (not linking to their site for this because it has an auto-play video of their ad and it’s LOUD) had 5% Potassium nitrate and 5% Sodium fluoride. I figured it couldn’t hurt to try the new version.

I don’t know if it’s good marketing or a different formula, but I think it makes my teeth whiter, and it works just as well as sensitivity. Doesn’t make my teeth as white as with Crest 3D White but I believe more than with the Extra Whitening version. And it works just as well to reduce sensitivity. But the biggest plus is my mouth feels fresher after brushing; I missed that cool tingly “aaah” feeling after a session with my electric toothbrush and I have it again with the Extra Fresh formula (though not as strong as with standard toothpaste). If you have tooth sensitivity, don’t suck it up and don’t make weird faces to try to drink that water without it touching certain parts of your mouth. Sensodyne isn’t the same crap from decades ago, and a confident smile is far more chic than a white yet painful one!

Recent Beauty Purchases – Hits and Misses

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

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

All I need is some new makeup!

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

Shop The Items Mentioned in this Post:

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal

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

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

Clinique Line Smoothing Concealer in Moderately Fair

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

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

Sigma F64 Soft Blend Concealer Brush

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

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

NARS Blush in Sex Appeal

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

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

L’Oreal Volumninous Miss Manga Rock Mascara

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

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

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

NARS Lipstick in Tolede

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

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

Bobbi Brown Creamy Lipcolor in Rose Petal

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

Lancôme L’Absolu Rouge Definition Lipstick in Le Carmin

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

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

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

Over 40 Beauty: My Daily Makeup Look

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

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Lip Colors:

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

My Favorite Setting and Face Products:

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

My Favorite Brushes and Tools:

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

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

This is 40: My Winter Skincare and Beauty Routine


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

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

Night Skincare Routine:

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

Morning Skincare Routine:

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

My Basic Makeup Routine:

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

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

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

Friday Favorite: Jerdon JS811W LED Makeup Mirror

Wardrobe Oxygen - Review of the Jerdon JS811W LED Makeup MirrorFor over a decade, I have been using a basic lighted makeup mirror from Conair. I believe it’s this one. Simple, elegant style, a bit of light so I can do my makeup while Karl is sleeping, it got the job done. But then when I cut my hair short, I went down a YouTube rabbit hole of hair styling videos that went into makeup videos and I came across one saying if you’re over 30 you need better lighting for your makeup because it’s easier for it to look cakey or not blended. I was wondering if my older eyes were the reason why I needed to practically kiss my mirror to apply makeup or if it was the insufficient (or dimmer over the years) lighting.

So I ended up researching makeup mirrors. I wanted something that wasn’t ugly; as soon as you walk in our bedroom you see my dressing table so I had no desire for something of electric blue plastic, with wings sticking out, or anything too teeny-bopper looking. I also didn’t want anything huge. I ended up choosing the Jerdon JS811W LED Makeup Mirror. Not only was it not huge and not too ugly, it was under $30!

Unlike my Conair mirror, this mirror doesn’t have a cord and instead runs on 4 AA batteries. I didn’t see this as a plus when ordering but now that I have one fewer cord on my dressing table and the ability to easily pick up and move the mirror I love this feature. The mirror is on a small plastic base with a tray in it, which I thought was silly but now I have the perfect place to hold my tweezers, which always get lost in my makeup brush cup. The mirror requires minor assembly – you screw the base to the mirror. The mirror can tilt; there is also a small round magnifying mirror that can swivel behind the big mirror out of view or you can pull forward if you need a close-up.

I didn’t realize how bad my old mirror was until I got this one. The reflection is extremely sharp. The LED lights are embedded in the mirror; they give a cool glow and light up at least three times brighter than my old mirror. While my old mirror may have been more flattering with its soft golden glow, this mirror helps me really see my face and I can see if I’m not blending well enough at the jawline, if I have makeup stuck in fine lines, and I can easily see that eyelash that fell into my eye. I don’t need the magnifying mirror any more to tweeze that random dark hair that sprung up below my brow overnight, and while the light is very bright, it doesn’t light up the whole room and it doesn’t blind me while working on my face.

It seemed wasteful to replace a perfectly good makeup mirror, but the improvements are so worth it. Now that I can really see everything so well, I find I wear less makeup yet look more polished. No more do I finish my face and think I look great and then catch my reflection in the car or the office bathroom and feel overdone or my shadow too light or my blush too dark. I think this mirror will save me in the long run with purchasing cosmetics and with not trying to rub blush off with a brown paper towel in a public bathroom.

I bought this mirror at the end of April and have been using it ever since. No need to replace the batteries yet, no issues with the lights burning out, and it’s easy to clean. Sometimes it’s worth it to go down a YouTube beauty guru rabbit hole, you may learn a new technique and you may end up with a budget-friendly tool that improves all aspects of your cosmetics application!

Friday Favorite: Emerita Pro-Gest Cream

Wardrobe Oxygen: Review of Emerita Pro-Gest Progesterone Cream. Sharing how it helped with insomnia, heavy periods, cramps, and more.Wait… what???? What the heck Alison, this is not a cool gadget for the home, a beauty product, or a silk pillowcase. Are you really hocking progesterone cream on your blog?

Yes, yes I am. Because Emerita Pro-Gest Cream is my new BFF.

I mentioned before my issues since getting an IUD and how my “new normal” still wasn’t that enjoyable. I had become a walking Midol ad, and on top of that was dealing with insomnia, irritability, and the return of migraines.

If you follow me on Snapchat (which you should!) you may have noticed my diet and the supplements I have been taking. Around February, Karl started reading the book Foods That Fight Pain and convinced me for one month to change my diet to be more in line with the book. I ended up cutting out most dairy, all meat except seafood, most wheat (I knew it was an issue from my Whole30 experience but had been ignoring my body), and cut out all alcohol except the occasional white wine and even rarer vodka. We began having a plant-based vegan protein shake once a day, and started taking Hanah One, borage oil, and B6 along with our multivitamins and my fish oil pills. I felt a difference within a week, and it was a far more positive and transformative experience than my experience with Whole30.

Anyway, in Foods That Fight Pain, there was mention of progesterone cream. Karl mentioned it in April, and I started doing research on it which led me down an internet rabbit hole and had me ordering Dr. John Lee’s book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause for my Kindle. Coincidentally I experienced insomnia that evening and gobbled up the first few chapters before the sun rose. Only halfway through the book, I went on Amazon, read pages of reviews, and ordered myself a tube of Emerita Pro-Gest Cream.

Since then, I have applied the cream almost every evening to my skin. I take it once my period stops until a couple days before the next one starts.  I started with a teaspoon-sized dollop twice a day, but after a couple weeks went down to just at night, and now am down to a pea-sized amount. Sometimes I do it on my wrists, inner forearms and up into the crooks of my elbows. Sometimes I rub it on my stomach. I regularly deal with heavy achy breasts before my period and when I do I’ll rub it that night onto my breasts. I’ve rubbed it on my thighs, my neck, you pretty much want to put it on the thinner skin, places where you naturally flush.

Within a week, I felt calmer. I was sleeping better, not waking up as often and when I did, it was easier to fall back asleep. I haven’t had a migraine since. But the biggest change is my periods. I started the cream right after a period and if it weren’t for my Period Tracker app on my phone, I would have hardly noticed my next one was coming. While that period was still heavy and long, the next month my period went down to five days and after the first day was light enough that I didn’t have to use any protection overnight. I have fewer food cravings and no more breakouts on my chin, but I don’t know if it’s this or the change in my diet (and in the case of my skin, if it’s the change in my skincare).

Before you take my word on it, I recommend you go down your own internet rabbit hole and do research. Read the book (FYI the last half to third is all about specific women’s issues so if you don’t have them you really don’t have to keep reading), read other books and articles, read the negative reviews and warnings online, ask your doctor. Don’t take a blogger’s post (or all the reviews on Amazon) as some sort of gospel.

I’m writing this not so you’ll run out and buy a tube, but because you may be like me and not know that there’s such a product out there and may think you’re just stuck feeling the way you do.

Sure, as we get older our bodies change and we’ll feel more aches, pains, and have issues. But some of them are preventable. The changes I’ve made this year with diet and supplements may seem extreme but they were easier to deal with and maintain than any diet I have tried in the past. I haven’t lost a significant amount of weight, but at 41, my goal isn’t to be thin or wear a certain dress size. It’s to have the most enjoyable life I can have and experience things fully. I didn’t realize I was in a fog until I started making these changes, I didn’t realize I didn’t have to deal with pain and discomfort, and much I didn’t even realize I was experiencing until it was gone.

What can be a miracle for one may be seen as snake oil for another. But when it comes to your health, your happiness, and your daily comfort it’s not about pleasing others. We’re too old to care what others think, especially when it comes to our health. If you aren’t feeling your best, don’t chalk it up to age. Do some research. You’ll research for the best price on a car, you’ll research what to wear to a 7pm wedding in Texas that says, “festive cocktail,” you’ll research how to make a carb-free version of your favorite dessert. Next time you get on Google, research that twinge, that ache, that issue. You never know, there may be a simple solution that will completely change your life.

As for using Emerita Pro-Gest Cream, it’s like a thick body lotion. It claims to be fragrance-free, but it has a bit of a scent that smells a bit like… like a medicinal cream. It smells a bit like a hospital, a bit like something minty, some say it smells a bit like wheat. I didn’t notice the scent until after a couple of weeks, but the scent goes away. Karl has never noticed the scent. It absorbs well, it’s not a lot you use so there’s no sticky or tacky finish. I keep it on my bedside table and apply it at night after my lip balm and almond oil. Each person is different and uses it for different symptoms, it’s something you should discuss with your doctor and adjust to what is best for you. Reading all the online reviews and the book helped me have a better conversation with my doctor. Remember the oxygen mask scenario – you need to take care of yourself first to be able to properly care for others. But also, take care of yourself because YOU DESERVE IT!

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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Weekend Review: Grande Naturals BrowFILL Brow Gel

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

Grande Naturals BrowFILL Brow GelAfter years of plucking and waxing and since getting older, my brows aren’t as thick as I would like. I currently use Tarte Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse and it works well, but I feel my brown end up looking at bit too drawn on for casual days. I can’t recall what blog I saw that reviewed Grande Naturals BrowFILL Brow Gel, but I figured I’d give it a try.

Have you ever used one of those fiber mascaras? BrowFILL is essentially like that, but only one step. The tube is like mascara, the brush is very short. The formula is colored and thick. Wipe the wand on the edge of the tube or a tissue so you don’t get clumps. Brush backwards, against the grain to add thickness, then brush up and out to smooth and shape the brow.

This works, but don’t expect it to replace your brow powder or pencil. It gives the appearance of thicker brows, but won’t fill in bald spots since it only attaches to brow hairs you have. This is a great product to use if you like the shape of your brows but want them a bit darker or fuller, or if you want to use in conjunction with a powder or pencil. Be sure to wipe the wand or you’ll end up with clumps. This doesn’t dry super fast, be careful in brushing into shape while it’s still damp as you can end up with it smearing onto your forehead. A little goes a long way, one tube should last several months. There’s some trendy cosmetics that are carrying a similar product; this is cheaper and does likely just as good of a job.

BrowFILL comes in two colors, Dark, and Light. Light is for blonde, light red, brown & gray hair; Dark for dark brown, dark red, black. I chose Dark which is a perfect color for my medium to dark brown hair; I feel the lighter would have been too light so if in down, go darker. You can find Grande Naturals Brow Gel online at various places but I found the best price at Amazon.

What I Wore: Off the Shoulder


dress | bag | belt | shoes

WO24WO21jpg WO23Dress: c/o Soma (L) | Bag: vintage Coach (similar) | Belt: vintage (similar) | Shoes: Vince Camuto (similar) | Bracelets: Coin Collection, Rebecca Minkoff (similar), c/o Joseph Nogucci | Lipstick: Bite Beauty in Chai | Necklace: bellezamia

Soma? Yes that same Soma where you get your fabulous bras, undies, and sleepwear also offers a great selection of dresses.  I had to try them out, and like that this one incorporates the hot summer trend of an off the shoulder silhouette.  But as you can see in one of the photos the dress is also quite lovely worn with the shoulders up.  This is the regular length (also comes in tall), which on my 5’3″ self would be almost ground skimming but still wearable with flat sandals.  I made the dress look more early spring with brown leather accents, but I think this dress looks pretty without a belt and would look smashing with white, turquoise, or some big gold or silver hoops.  If you don’t like the print, the dress also comes in black.  Comfy, flattering, pockets, and machine washable, this will be a summer favorite!

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!


Worst Beauty Buys of 2014

Reader Bubu asked in the comments of a post if I would write a worst style purchases of year, but I think that’s a bit tough. Style is subjective; one person’s hideous is another’s Holy Grail. Not even that, things I don’t like in the spring can end up being a favorite by fall. However, beauty reviews aren’t as subjective. When you have a similar skin type, hair type, coloring as a reviewer, negative reviews can be very beneficial. And so, I am sharing reviews of my worst beauty buys of 2014.

worst beauty buys of 2014

First Aid Beauty Eye Duty Triple Remedy

Why would I take beauty advice from Selena Gomez?  I read her Into the Gloss interview, she raved about this eye cream and for some reason I decided her opinion held value to my almost-40 fair skinned self and bought a tube. Well, the description on Sephora also helped:

Eye Duty Triple Remedy instantly erases dark circles while delivering serious, long-term skincare benefits to the orbital eye area. Upon application, it instantly brightens the entire eye area with a soft universal tint and light reflecting pigments that create an illusion of bright, smooth, and youthful skin. Over the long term, actives in the formula significantly improve the appearance of undereye puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines.

Sounds pretty awesome, yes? I tried it the evening after I got the tube. The formula is a nice consistency, easy to blend without tugging. The color is a weird calamine lotion-pink that doesn’t completely disappear, but under makeup does help lighten and brighten at least on my fair skin. And after three days I felt my undereyes less puffy and not as dark. However, I started having sensitivity around my eye area, like I do when I’m around horses or cats. Also my contacts were driving me crazy. It was late summer/early fall and I chalked it up to allergies, until I woke up one morning to have what looked like a rash in the inner corners of both eyes. I didn’t put on eye cream that day and the rashes were gone by noon. I stopped using the product and then a month later thought… maybe it wasn’t the cream? I tried it and immediately felt itchy and raw and threw the product in the trash.


I bought this for my birthday last year, started using it at the end of January/beginning of February. Supposedly this product would give me longer, lusher lashes just like the prescription products. They said it took a while for the effects to kick in. I applied it daily per the instructions. It didn’t itch or burn, didn’t mess with my contacts. I didn’t see much change; I did see a few more lashes fall out than usual, but didn’t know if that was coincidental or maybe stress-related (I broke my arm two weeks after starting RapidLash).

And then one day I went to curl my lashes, my elbow that was propped on the side of my dressing table slipped and my lash curler yanked every lash out of my left eye. What was crazy is that it didn’t hurt, didn’t even get red. Those lashes slipped right out. Eh, it could have been circumstantial and not RapidLash’s fault (though some online reviews say it weakened people’s lashes and roots) but I stopped using the product immediately. But I knew it was RapidLash when Klutzy Me a few months later did the same exact thing and ended up only yanking out 2 lashes and it hurt like heck.

L’Oreal Glow Renewal Face Oil

My skin isn’t super dry, but it reacts well when I layer a serum or oil under my day or night moisturizer. I had run out of the serum I was using (which was… fine) so I decided to try this oil blend from L’Oreal, a brand that usually plays quite nice with my skin. I’d put 4-5 drops in my hand and dab onto my skin, and then massage it into my face and neck. It absorbed well, smelled nice in a subtle spa/essential oils sort of way, and I did think my face looked as though it was glowing. That was, until I started getting blackheads and whiteheads and all kinds of things I hadn’t experienced in such quantity since high school. At first they were near my mouth, and I thought it was maybe stress related or me falling off the Whole30 wagon. But then I got then on the sides of my nose, on my temples, and between the brows and I had one of those endless whiteheads near my mouth that seemed to regenerate each evening while I slept. I stopped using the oil and in three days my skin was almost back to normal. I’ve gone back to L’Oreal Youth Code serum and my skin is super duper happy.

L’Oreal EverSleek Humidity Defying Leave-In Creme

I tried it on very wet hair, damp hair, dry hair, hair dryer or air dry. Directions say 1-2 pumps; 1 pump was more than enough to battle frizz on my hair but left me lip and a bit greasy. I tried just a dab on my fingertips and it too just made my hair look greasy and limp. I think this would actually work quite well on thicker or coarser hair and those who have naturally very curly hair, I just think my hair is too fine for it.

Head & Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care 2-in-1

Come winter, my head gets super duper itchy awful.  My grandmother dealt with winter psoriasis and I wonder if I have the same thing.  In the past I’ve used Neutrogena T-Gel in the past but that stuff stinks and eats away hair color. Since changing my diet my dry skin and sensitivity isn’t as pronounced, but with the first head scratch of winter I decided to switch my shampoo. I was at the grocery store and saw Head & Shoulders. I read that Sofia Vergara agreed to be the brand’s spokesperson because she and her family had been using the product for decades. Well Ms. Vergara has amazing hair, so I figured what the heck, can’t hurt right?

You know a shampoo is bad when your husband says it sucks. First use… fine. I don’t like the new smell but whatever. Second use… my hair felt weird after drying, like I had mousse in it though it was product-free. The next morning I woke up to a grease pit on my scalp, and I had not used any product and let my hair air dry – such a method (even with using just conditioner) usually gives me two days fine and one day dry shampoo before having to wash again. I washed again, went to dry my hair with the dryer and round brush and my hair looked greasy and limp but heavy as though it was dirty or full of product. By the end of the work day I looked as though I hadn’t washed my hair in a month. Oh, and my scalp still itched. Karl said his hair felt like Barbie hair with it and stopped using it after a week.

Best of 2014: Beauty Edition

I tried a lot of different beauty products this year. Working a good portion of 2014 with one hand (and it being my non-dominant one), it forced me to switch up my beauty routine. I also had a decision to stop trying to look young. While I still baby my skin and use products to prevent wrinkles and discoloration, I allowed myself to enjoy makeup trends that may not be the most youthful. I’m not ashamed of my age, and don’t want to miss out on fun trends and techniques that better fit my personal style because I’m trying to look younger than my driver’s license. Speaking of age, maybe it’s being 39 or maybe it’s the toll 2014 has taken on me but I feel my skin and hair has aged dramatically this year and that too affected the products I’ve chosen and ended up loving. So without further ado, the best beauty purchases I made this year:

best beauty buys 2014

Garnier Fructis Texture Tease Spray

I don’t like polished hair. More than once I have gone to my stylist with a picture of Fearne Cotton in my hands. I like that slightly rocker/just had sex tousled look but my hair is too fine, too slippery, too curly in places and too smooth in others to really make it work. I’ve tried all sorts of products to make hair look dirty and it just makes my hair look… dirty. I saw this video on Tammy’s blog A Loyal Love and decided to give Garnier’s Texture Tease a try. The pricepoint is low enough that if it’s a fail I won’t have too much buyer’s remorse. Well no remorse, I LOVE this stuff. It makes my hair look messy and dirty but in a sexy way, not an unshowered way. I can still manipulate my hair and it doesn’t look ashy on my dark tresses. I can’t make it work Day 2, it gets really gummy, but it’s still a favorite when I want to make next-day hair look purposeful or have a bedhead look.

Revlon ColorStay Foundation

I raved about the whipped version last year, well this summer I got the combo/oily skin version and it’s my jam, even more so than the hydrating version. I wrote about it here, but it deserves more rave.  It’s a touch thinner in consistency which I think gives a more natural feel. I also find the colors to be slightly warmer in the oil free version, better matching my skintone. This stuff stays put all day, through crying and sweat and allergies and rain.

TIGI Bed Head After Party Smoothing Cream

This product is great for smoothing the ends of my hair. When I curl my hair it can look a bit Shirley Temple; if I gently brush it out with a wood-bristle brush (love this one), it makes it natural eaves but the ends (especially when I’m in need of a trim) can get fuzzy. I put a tiny amount, smaller than a pea on my finger and rub it on my finger tips and grab each curl and smooth it. This will separate the curls without making them look greasy and helps them keep their shape. I also like it on the ends of my hair when I style it straight; it keeps humidity and frizz at bay and adds a touch of weight to keep the look polished.

Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Glow Pads

I wrote about these here, but I don’t think I properly explained the awesomeness of these little pads. I was reading Man Repeller this early fall and she made a comment about how her dark circles were more prominent which meant her summer tan was fading. It was an aha moment and I realized I looked so exhausted because my tan had faded, making my lifelong undereye circles stand out. So I used one of these pads that night and the next morning I looked well rested for the first time in weeks. Not only that, when I use these pads, my skin is happy and it seems to clear up the little bumps I get on my chin. I don’t use these more than twice a week or else I look like a Real Housewife; I usually use them on a Friday night so the change in skintone isn’t as obvious to coworkers, and then another used on Monday night will keep the glow going with a subtle fade through the days. I use one pad, I do my face, being sure to swipe up into my hairline and over my ears, then get my neck, and do the whole décolleté using my bra straps and cups as a template. I then take the pretty-much dry pad at this point and do quick swipes over my hands and forearms. Then I wash my hands very well, apply my regular eye and night cream and go to bed. I don’t look fake, I don’t get streaks, and my skin is happier for it. Heads up, you can get 50-packs of these pads on Amazon for much cheaper than other sites; if you shop at (which I love because great GWPs and free shipping and cash back on future orders and combo your order with you can often get one of these pads as a free sample at checkout if you’d like to try before you buy.

OGX Coconut Water Conditioner

Another item I have already raved about. This was the only product I used to cleanse my hair until about mid-October when the weather finally went cold and my hair went from full and wavy to limp and straight. Still, I use this as an actual conditioner on my ends and Karl uses it as the sole cleanser on his hair. Great price, great smell, look forward to using it again as my main hair cleanser this coming summer!

e.l.f. Studio Mist and Set

I raved about this before but it really is a phenomenal setting spray for your makeup and the price can’t be beat. I received a similar spray from MaryKay during a partnership with them and while their setting spray works, smells better and has a finer mist and better quality bottle, it doesn’t compare to e.l.f.’s in regard to holding makeup in place through EVERYTHING. I keep the MaryKay for the work week and e.l.f for long days, nights out, and the summer heat and humidity.

Revlon LacquerBalm in Enticing

Revlon’s Just Bitten BalmStain in Romantic has been my go-to for quite a while, and I regularly use many other colors and consistencies of these chubby lip crayons from Revlon. But none held my heart like Romantic did… until Enticing. Enticing is a more intense, higher pigment red with a glossy finish. I like it alone for a more polished version of bitten lips – red, glossy, but not too perfect. However it is an awesome product layered over a matte lipstick or stain. I love the Revlon matte lipsticks and will wear Enticing over them to increase the pigment and add shine without losing longevity; Enticing will wear away gently and naturally leaving the lipstick below and preventing a ring around the lips or completely bare lips come the end of lunch.  You can see this combo when I was featured at Style IT.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Mousse

I wrote about this product here, and it is still my favorite brow product. I no longer use the brush that came with it, feeling that it gave too harsh and obvious a line; I now use my Trish McEvoy 32 Eyebrow Brush because it has shorter, stiffer bristles letting me get in color without a harsh obvious line. This color stays put until I wash it off with soap and it looks very natural.

Ben Nye Banana Luxury Powder

Yep, I tried the contouring trend that was hot this year. I didn’t want to look like Kim Kardashian or someone from the ‘80s, but wanted to try a more subtle version. Everyone had been raving about this powder and I found it new on eBay and decided to try it (you can also find it on Amazon). I watched a couple YouTube videos and did contouring… and looked ridiculous. Completely lovely for a photo, but insane IRL. However, I really came to like the Banana powder. On a normal day, I apply foundation and then use this over the foundation under the eyes and it diminishes puffiness and darkness without looking cakey or false, and I think it does a better job than concealer. I apply it with the MaryKay Liquid Foundation brush because I had it and it was clean when the powder arrived in the mail. And I continue to apply it in that manner because the brush is soft and fits under my lower lashes nicely while blending the powder beautifully.

So I’d like to hear from you, what were your best beauty buys of the year?

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 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 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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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.

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.

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 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 is having 20% off all BareMinerals products today, and if you first go through Ebates, you’ll get 4% cash back from (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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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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