Category Archives: beauty

My ‘I Woke Up Like This’ Makeup Routine

I wish I could roll out of bed and take on the day with a flawless nekkid face, but sister’s over 30 and needs a little help. ‘Fake it ’til you make it,’ right?

My current daily routine is a mashup of The Zoe Report’s ‘Brushless Makeup in Under 5 Minutes‘ and Teni Panosian’s ‘No Makeup’ Makeup Tutorial; two must-watch videos if you’re into fresh-faced everyday makeup with minimal effort.

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Beauty Confessions: Skin Care After 30

All the beauty experts say women need to get serious about anti-aging skin care when they roll over the big 3-0. Suddenly cleansing and a swipe of SPF aren’t enough; apparently we need an arsenal of products to “preserve” our faces and fight the [irreversible?] damage we inflicted upon ourselves in our youth.

I’m lookin’ at you, tanning beds; should’ve listened to my grandmother.

With this in mind, I found myself in Ulta two months ago on a mission. I wandered around the skin care section for a good 30 minutes, politely declining the sales associates’ offers for assistance, determined to find a suitable “grown-up” regimen for a new decade.

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To gray or not to gray: that is the question.

I’ve been coloring my brown hair since I could drive myself to the drugstore. When I decided to grow out my ombre highlights last year — still a work in progress — I thought I’d give my hair a rest from the chemicals and go au naturale for while.

It turns out, I like my natural color… and now my head is being slowly colonized by grays.

Ironic, dontcha’ think?

It started in my late 20s with a silvery strand or two — which I yanked and forgot — but when I tried a deep side part a few Sundays ago, I found a sneaky streak hiding near my left temple that I hadn’t noticed before. (I’m sure I sprouted several more over Valentine’s week.)

When women start to gray, we find ourselves at a fork in the road: one path leads to years in our colorist’s chair waging a war against our roots, and the other embraces it. There’s even an #embracethegray hashtag, which I discovered while scouring Pinterest and Instagram for fierce ladies who let their silver shine; see: Sarah Harris.

Considering my aversion to maintenance, I think I’ll join the latter camp and let it go. For now. ;)

To blend everything in, I want to add some hand-painted balayage highlights to the crown and around my face. They’re more subtle and grow-out friendly than foils, and will hopefully camouflage the gray without the need for regular root touchups.

Best case scenario, I end up with some awesome natural highlights like this gorgeous model from Cisthene.

{Image sources: Refinery29, Cisthene, Constanza Arena, British Vogue.}

Painted in Waterlogue

My December/January Beauty Favorites

LORAC The Royal Full Face Collection – This was a limited edition holiday collection of blush, eyeshadows, Cobra mascara (the wand gets the smudge-proof formula on every tiny lash) waterproof eyeliner, ‘Alter-Ego’ lipstick in Duchess (a perfect nude) and a coordinating gloss.

C bought the kit for me for Christmas after I spotted it in a catalogue and earmarked it like a kid with a Toys-R-Us Big Book. It’s no longer available online, but check your local Ulta and Kohl’s to see if they have any left in stock. The neutral colors are great for everyday wear, and I love that the blush and shadows were packaged separately in individual pots; palettes can get so messy and muddled after lots of use.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Bold Brow Kit – This was another Christmas gift, that came with a gift certificate for some regular brow maintenance with my girlfriend, Perry. (Pssst, local readers: Perry’s a professional makeup artist and eyebrow genius). I’ve used the clear brow gel for years, but I’m new to the brow powder duo. It’s a game changer: use it to create the perfect arch and fill in sparse spots; it looks totally natural and lasts all day.

MAC Face and Body Foundation – My mom is really into YouTube beauty tutorials, which is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. She orders two of all the gurus’ favorites — one for each of us — and schools me on how to use them. This sheer buildable foundation is great for my dry skin: it dries to a dewy finish that looks really natural. I apply it with my Urban Decay ‘Good Karma‘ brush for an airbrushed finish.

Urban Decay Naked Finishing Powder – I usually hate setting powders because they make my skin look dry and flat, but this ‘Naked Skin’ Ultra Definition Pressed Finishing Powder is like magic. “Optical blurring pigments instantly minimize imperfections, diminish shine and create a stunning soft-focus effect that looks professionally retouched. ” <– It does what it says, alone or over your favorite tinted moisturizers and foundations. (A note: I bought a travel size of the ‘Naked Skin’ beauty balm and it was underwhelming.)

LORAC Tantalizer Matte Bronzer/Highlighter Duo – I used the Tantalizer baked bronzer for years, but wanted something less shimmery so I bought a travel size of this duo to try. I dropped it into the toilet three days later. ($@#!) It was a good short-lived run of 12-hour healthy glowing, though, so I picked up the full-size. I use it on my eyes, too: the highlighter under my brow bone and in the corners, and the matte bronzer on the crease.

Oscar Blandi ‘Pronto’ Dry Texture & Volume Spray – Imagine your favorite volumizer and sea salt spray falling in love and having a baby, who’s born with a knack for all-day hold. That’s this stuff. It reminds me of dry shampoo, but instead of making your hair less disgusting it makes it awesome. If you love beachy waves or full defined layers, you need this multi-tasking miracle spray in your arsenal.

The #ClearTheShoulders Movement

Kristin Ess, co-founder of TheBeautyDepartment.com and hairstylist to the stars, sparked a revolution when she snipped Lauren Conrad’s signature long locks into an above-the-shoulders textured bob last season. Then she cropped Lucy Hale. Now Instagram is blowing up with a hashtag devoted to all the brave ladies doing the chop: #cleartheshoulders.

They all look effortlessly cool and perfectly tousled… And I’m over here like, “I’ma do it!

But I’m not gonna do it. Not just yet.

I had short hair through most of my teens and twenties, and loved it; but it was a lot of work. That effortless look actually takes, um, effort: daily washing and styling, regular salon visits for trims (think every 4-6 weeks in your stylist’s chair) and really good product.

If you want something fresh and don’t mind the maintenance, chop away! But here are a few things to keep in mind before you do:

1. Remember that you won’t have a ponytail or topknot as a crutch on mornings you don’t feel like doing your hair. You’re fully committed.

2. Find a stylist you trust who’s up on the latest styles and techniques and understands your hair texture. Otherwise you may end up with a super conservative mom bob or a hacked up haircut you can’t style to save your life. I’m speaking from past experience, on both counts.

3. Consider a progressive chop. Try a long bob (lob) and see how you like the change before you #cleartheshoulders. Lobs are much easier to grow out than bobs (the awkward grow-out struggle is real) and you’ll still have some length to pull back into ponies and up-dos.

Stamped Lips, c. 1959 Art Print by Andy Warhol

10 Beauty Products I ALWAYS Restock

I love experimenting with skincare and makeup, but in the last several years, I’ve really made an effort to simplify my beauty stash and reduce/eliminate chemicals and toxins from the products I use every day. For more information about cosmetic safety and what scary ingredients may be lurking in your favorite products, check out the EWG Skin Deep database.

While I switch products through the seasons and can’t resist the occasional Sephora spree to try new brands and formulations, there’s a [growing] list of beauty products I use all year and always restock when they run low.

Keep reading for 10 products I can’t live without!

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Manicure Monday: My All-Time Favorite Neutral Nail Colors

My childhood Caboodle is stocked with Essie nail lacquers in every shade of the rainbow,  but these days all I want to wear are easy neutrals. They’re like the t-shirt and jeans of nail color: classic, comfortable, and er, polished (pardon the pun).

Annnnnd, if I’m being honest, part of me feels like my neon nail polish ship may have sailed when I crossed over the big 3-0; right alongside denim mini skirts, super low-rise jeans, and crop tops.

{Hover over images for links to each color; sources available on my Pinterest board, Nailed It.}

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My November Beauty Favorites

Oh, hi!

When I declared my intent to unplug a little more and blog a little less back in October, a month-long leave of absence from the Internet wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. Somehow, November slipped right through my fingers…

But let’s get back to business.

One of the things I’d like to [try to] do on the blog is share my beauty favorites each month (inspired by Pretty Shiny Sparkly). The fact that I’m posting my November picks a week into December just speaks to my excellent procrastination skills.

Here we go!

Physicians Formula Super CC+ Cream and Powder – This has been my daily duo for the last six weeks. It has all you need in an everyday product: sun protection, color correction, and some built-in skincare benefits; plus it’s paraben-free. The cream reminds me of NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer; it dries to a light-reflecting matte finish with a medium coverage that just looks like healthy skin. The powder compact is like a pressed dupe of Guerlain Meteorites. Here’s the best part: you can get both — with a complementary concealer — for about $20.

A Pretty Penny November Beauty Faves Butter London Lippy Tinted BalmButter London Lippy Tinted Balm – This has replaced just about every other lip product in my handbag. The formula has vitamin E and avocado, mango and shea butters that make it slip on easily like a balm, but the colors are highly-pigmented and subtle for every day. My favorites are Abby Rose (pink) and Teddy Boy (nude). These are also paraben- and phthalate-free.

Ole Henriksen Lavender Body Oil – I bought this natural body oil for 50% off at TJ Maxx — they have a bevy of beauty products, why didn’t anyone tell me? — and it’s become my daily all-over moisturizer. It’s such a simple formula: lavender essential oil, sesame oil, and sweet almond oil. The scent is super relaxing and my dry skin drinks it up.

A Pretty Penny November Beauty Favorites US Apothecary Rose Water Bubble BathU.S. Apothecary Rose Water Bubble Bath – C surprised me with a night at the Ritz for my 30th birthday last month. I splurged on this bubble bath in the spa gift shop while he checked out the golf course. I also bought the hand and body lotion (I couldn’t resist). I’m rationing this stuff like liquid gold, but I love having a little piece of that weekend at home.

Tangle Teezer – This compact little wonder tool makes easy work of brushing through my over-processed highlighted hair, wet or dry. This was another discounted TJ Maxx find, but I would happily hand over 20 bucks for one.

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Kari Gran All Natural & Organic Skin Care | Review & Giveaway

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A couple months ago, the kind folks at Kari Gran sent me a complimentary starter kit of their three-step natural skin care system. I used it to the last drop, and loved it so much I purchased the full-size cleanser and serum for myself.

I think the secret to great skin is keeping things super simple. Kari Gran skin care products are made in small batches with natural plant oils, essential oils, and vitamin E. That’s it. No parabens, preservatives, petrochemicals, drying detergents, or synthetic fragrances.

I know some people are skeeved out by the idea of using oils on their face, but you guys, it’s so good for your skin. Traditional cleansers use detergents and sulfates that strip skin of important natural oils, so it produces more oil to compensate, which leads to congested pores and breakouts. It’s a vicious cycle.

Natural plant-based cleansing oils operate on the principle that “like dissolves like.” From acne.org:

“Fact: Oil dissolves oil. One of the most basic principals of chemistry is that “like dissolves like.” The best way to dissolve a non-polar solvent like sebum/oil, is by using another non-polar solvent similar in composition: Other oils. By using the right oils, you can cleanse your pores of dirt and bacteria naturally, gently and effectively, while replacing the dirty oil with beneficial ones extracted from natural botanicals, vegetables and fruit that heal, protect and nourish your skin.”

The lavender-scented oil cleanser is my favorite at the end of a long day. I slather it onto my dry face and massage it in for several minutes until it dissolves every last bit of grime and makeup (including stubborn eye makeup) and remove it with a warm wet washcloth. I follow it up with the hydrating tonic and essential serum, which work together to leave my skin balanced and hydrated without feeling greasy. It’s all kinds of luxurious; but most important, my skin is clear, even and healthy.

GIVEAWAY TIME! I believe in this stuff so much, I wish I could buy a round for everyone. Until I hit the lotto to make that happen, I thought I’d start by giving away one Kari Gran Starter Kit, on me. To enter, just leave a comment with a way to contact you (email/URL/twitter/whatevs) before Monday, November 10th, at 5pm EST. US entries only, please. Good luck!

ETA: I’ll draw a winner at random!

Blog Schooled | 01

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The Teacher: Cupcakes and Cashmere

The Lesson: Bare Face, Bold Lip

Bright lips on a clean face is one of my favorite beauty looks. I love how it makes me feel pulled together; even with messy hair and a t-shirt and jeans. I liked Emily’s take on making the most of a bold lip with even skin and just a little bronze glow.

Here are the products I used from my makeup stash to recreate it:

MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Invisible Cover Foundation – I added a little moisturizer to a couple pumps of foundation, then mixed and warmed it in my hands before applying it all over my face for a more sheer, dewy finish. Then I went back and added a few drops of undiluted foundation under my eyes, around my nose, and to any other places that needed a little extra coverage.

 Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator in Bronze Light – I’m no longer afraid of liquid bronzer; this stuff is easy to blend and lasts all day.

Too Faced Lash Injection Mascara

FLOWER Sheer Up Lip Tint in Dewy Rose – Sheer, moisturizing lip crayons make an everyday bold lip almost fool-proof. I did a quick search on Walmart’s website to find this shade, but I think it may be discontinued (sad face). I also love Clinique’s Chubby Stick in Chunky Cherry, which is really similar.

A Pretty Penny | 6 Steps to the Perfect Home Manicure

6 Steps to the Perfect Home Manicure

I love a good salon pampering sesh as much as the next girl, but I usually don’t have time to sit down for a professional manicure.

{Sometime soon I’m going to make time for this cherry blossom mani.}

Over the years, I’ve mastered the DIY five-minutes-or-less version of a basic manicure. It’s worth splurging on a few good products to get salon-worthy results at home, over and over again.

1. PREP. I like to start with a natural sugar scrub to exfoliate my hands and remove any dead skin from the cuticles. I never trim my cuticles; I condition them with avocado oil a few times a week before bed to keep them moisturized and gently push them back with my fingertips.

2. CLEAN. Next, I remove any polish and oil from my nails with acetone polish remover. I like Butter London Scrubbers 2-in-1 nail prep and remover pads; they aren’t smelly, and one durable wipe cleans all ten nails. At most, you may need two wipes if you’re wearing a few coats or dark polish. They’re great for travel or to stash in your purse for the days all your nails start chipping at once (how does this happen?).

3. SHAPE. I shape my nails with a medium file; usually round or squoval since I keep my nails pretty short for work.

4. PRIME. Good manicures are made in the base coat. I love Butter London Nail Foundation. It creates a perfect silky foundation for even color application — especially light pinks that can go on streaky — and used alone it’s like a clean buffed mani in a bottle.

5. PAINT. After the base coat dries, I brush on 1-2 coats of color. Essie polishes are my favorite, and lately Ballet Slippers and Enuff is Enuff are on regular rotation.

6. DRY. Ain’t nobody got time for wet nails. I didn’t think I’d ever find anything I liked as much as Essie’s Good to Go rapid dry topcoat, but their Quick-E Drying Drops are pretty awesome. It doesn’t dry as fast, but it protects from nicks, smudges and peeling and has silicone that adds shine. The foolproof liquid formula is really easy to apply with the dropper, and it makes my manicures last well over a week. I don’t even use a topcoat anymore.

Beauty on a Budget: My Summer Drugstore Picks

A Pretty Penny | My 2014 Summer Drugstore Picks

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheers – If you’re looking for an inexpensive tinted moisturizer with SPF, this is an awesome option. It’s really sheer, and dries to a soft natural glow. Bonus: it has an antioxidant blend in the formula for an extra shot of skincare.

Revlon Colorburst Matte Balm – These easy-to-apply lip crayons give lots of color payoff in bright, bold hues for summer; #210 Unapologetic is my favorite shade.

Flower Color Play Creme Eyeshadow  – I’ve been wearing Geranium every day for about two weeks. It’s the lazy girl’s answer to eyeshadow: swipe it on your lids with clean fingertips and you’re good to go. It holds up surprisingly well to heat and humidity with minimal creasing or slippage, but use an eyeshadow primer for extra “insurance.”

Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator – I have this in Bronze Light and Peach Light, and I love that they’re illuminating without being sparkly. I use them as highlighters, or mix them with sunscreen for an easy all-over glow.

Maui Babe Browning Lotion – My girlfriend keeps a bottle of this stashed in her beach bag. This java-scented tanning accelerator oil is safe for use over sunscreen, promises a golden tan in less time, and moisturizes your skin with natural oils and aloe. I like that the built-in tint gives you a little extra glow while you’re soaking up rays.

Yes to Coconuts Ultra Light Spray Body Lotion – I love a light, quick-absorbing moisturizer after long days in the sun. This one gets extra points for coming in a mess-free spray bottle; just spritz it all over, rub it in, and go. Plus it smells like fresh coconut, which is quintessential summer.

Arm & Hammer Essentials Natural Deodorant – I feel like I talk about armpits way too often on this blog; I just really want everyone to get on board with exploring aluminum-free deodorant options. I prefer the unscented version of this baking-soda-based deodorant because it gets the job done without interfering with any fragrance I’m wearing.

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Body Wash – If you’re prone to body acne, or get breakouts on your back and arms from sunscreen and tanning oils, this natural healing cleanser can help clear skin without dryness or irritation.

Sally Hershberger Glam Waves Texture Spray – This is a good wallet-friendly beach spray for fine hair that needs a little roughin’ up and grip to achieve those coveted “beach waves.” I went through an entire bottle last summer; I’d curl my hair all over with a 1.5″ curling iron, pull the curls out with my fingers, and spray this texturizing spray throughout.

Eco Tools Konjac Pure Complexion Facial Sponge – My husband, the first morning he spotted it drying on the bathroom counter: “Hey, what’s that rock thing that looks like it came from outer space?” I don’t know if the new konjac craze is all it’s hyped up to be, but I do know that I could use a little extra muscle when I’m cleansing my face in the summer; there’s a lot of SPF and makeup primer buildup to contend with. This handheld sponge is really gentle and gets my face squeaky clean with minimal effort.

I love reading recommendations for drugstore diamonds-in-the-rough. Share your summer favorites in the comments! 

 

Summer Beauty Looks That I Love

A Pretty Penny | Summer Beauty Bronzed Skin & Bold Lip

Bronzed Skin & Bold Lips: I think this is perfect for a weekend BBQ or pool party. The coverage is super sheer; pick a lightly tinted sunscreen, like COOLA Mineral Face SPF 30. I love Revlon’s COLORBURST Matte Balm lip crayons for bold lips that are easy to apply and stay put.

A Pretty Penny | Summer Beauty Glow

Glowing Skin: Illuminators can be tricky; I want to look fresh and dewy, not glitteryBenefit’s Watt’s Up is my favorite: the stick makes application really easy, and the cream-to-powder formula blends into your skin and leaves behind a luminous champagne glow.

A Pretty Penny | Summer Beauty Bright Eyeliner

Bright Eyeliner: This is really fun for a night out. You can create it with a bright eyeliner — Makeup Forever makes a great range of colors in their Aqua Eyes liner collection — or turn any bright eyeshadow into a long-lasting eyeliner by adding a couple drops of saline solution (the kind you use to clean your contact lenses) to a clean liner brush before dipping it in the shadow and applying.

A Pretty Penny | Summer Beauty Liquid Liner

Classic Cat Eye: A good swipe of black eyeliner is great year-round, but in the summer you can tone it down with sheer foundation, a hint of blush, and a light pink or peach lip. The trick is finding a liner that can survive the heat and humidity; my girlfriend who’s a professional makeup artist swears by Maybelline Eye Studio Lasting Drama Gel Eyeliner.

A Pretty Penny | Summer Beauty Golden Eyes

Barely There: This “no-makeup makeup” look is my favorite for every day: a simple golden eye paired with a nude lip and tinted moisturizer. I love Clinique Long Last Glosswear in Tenderheart and LORAC’s Little Black Eyeshadow Palette for recreating this easy natural face.

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my summer {beauty} top 10

I love sharing my seasonal beauty favorites on the blog. This summer, I’m focused on good sun protection, more natural products, and a low-maintenance beauty routine with a little glow.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk – It’s a splurge at around $30, but this is one of the best sunscreens I’ve ever used. The paraben-and-fragrance-free fluid absorbs quickly and dries to a matte finish, making it perfect for everyday protection from head to toe. On pool and lake days, I know I’m covered; it’s nice to relax and skip the constant reapplications I always think I need with sprays.

Soapwalla Deodorant Cream – If you’ve ever found yourself on a search for an effective natural deodorant, it can seem like an awkward/smelly exercise in futility. Before you run back into the arms of aluminum zirconium tetrachlorohydrex — yikes! — give Soapwalla’s all natural deodorant cream a try. I started using it a few weeks ago, and so far so good. C and I spent a very hot and humid afternoon bartending at an outdoor fundraiser recently, and I left fresh as a daisy.

Some people complain about irritation from the baking soda in the formula, but I haven’t had an issue; maybe because I used Arm & Hammer’s Essentials deodorant before making the switch. If you’re concerned about possible reactions, check out this Crunchy Betty post on pH spray for baking-soda-based deos.

Fresh Sugar Rose Tinted Lip Balm – If I had to choose just one lip product to use for the rest of my days, I’d happily pick this one. It’s a must-have for me 365 days a year, but it gets extra points in the summer for having SPF 15 built in.

thebalm Balm Shelter Tinted Moisturizer SPF 18 – Confession: before I buy almost any beauty product, I turn to Beautypedia.  I tried this paraben-free tinted moisturizer purely because it was recommended on Beautypedia’s Best of the Best list, and it’s fantastic for sheer-to-medium natural coverage with sun protection. To make it hold up to the heat and humidity, I set it with a little Koh Gen Do Natural Lighting Powder.

Psst: If you keep your eyes peeled, you can find discounted products from thebalm on Hautelook every few months.

Durance Nourishing Dry Body Oil – I’m already on bottle #2. I use this after every shower. It smells light and clean, and keeps my skin lightly moisturized without feeling heavy or greasy; there’s nothing worse than thick lotion sitting on top of your skin when the heat index is pushing triple-digits.

Lush Vanilla Puff Dusting Powder – This stuff makes me smell like a sweet tart, but in the best way. I use it all over after a shower or bath on days I know I’ll be outside to stay fresh and dry. Bonus: This dusting powder has a real vanilla pod inside that keeps the fragrance going strong through the end of the bottle.

TooFaced Lash Injection Mascara – I feel like this mascara ends up on every “beauty faves” post I write, but I especially appreciate the tubing formula in the summer. Florida humidity is no joke, and nearly every other mascara runs down my eyes by lunch.

Gillette Venus disposable razors – I’m insanely loyal to these disposable razors. I literally won’t shave with anything else, and I have a stockpile in the event of apocalypse or discontinuation (don’t do it, Gillette!). A good, sharp razor that minimizes nicks, irritation and razor burns is a summertime staple.

Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator in Bronze Light – I’m so glad Revlon brought Skinlights back; the liquid and powder illuminators were mainstays in my highschool and college makeup bag. I’m currently using the Bronze Light over my tinted moisturizer for a subtle sunkissed glow, focusing on the places I usually put powdered bronzer: my cheekbones, hairline, nose and neck.

Shea Moisture Hand & Body Scrub – I love a good scrub in the summertime. Whether I’m exfoliating my heels for sandals, prepping for self-tanner, or scrubbing off layers of built-up sunscreen after a day outside, there’s nothing better than a good old fashioned body scrub. Shea Moisture’s sugar scrubs are the best: they’re inexpensive, all natural, and combine natural exfoliants with nourishing oils for double-duty sloughing and moisturizing.

What beauty products are getting you through the summer months?

Image source: weheartit