Monday, January 31, 2011

A Drugstore Version of Touche Eclat?!

Neutrogena's Healthy Skin Brightening Eye Perfector is packaged and marketed similarly to YSL's Touche Eclat, which got my hopes up that it might be a drugstore dupe.  I wasn't expecting perfection but Neutrogena's eye brightener is a fourth of the price of YSL's so I definitely wanted to try it out.

It worked really well underneath my eyes.  I think I may have purchased the wrong shade, but it did a good job of concealing my undereye circles anyway.  It's a little more matte and not nearly as light reflecting as Touche Eclat, though.  The product's downfall was when I used the Eye Perfector to cover up some redness and other discolorations on my face.  It just didn't seem to work anywhere but my undereye area.  Since I like to use Touche Eclat as an all-over concealer, the fact that the Eye Perfector didn't work the same way was a little disappointing.  Regardless, it did conceal and brighten my dark circles!  Overall, a pretty great deal.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bridal/Photography Worthy Makeup

Photo by Jessica Brown of MOONBelle Photography
With all the stressful details to obsess over on your wedding day, why worry about your makeup too?  Of the married friends I polled, the most frequent bridal makeup concerns were how to control oil and shine, how often it would need touch-ups, and whether it would look good in photographs.  Many brides opt to have makeup professionally applied for the big day, but it's also possible to (gasp!) apply your own makeup, look just as amazing, and save a little extra cash.  Here are a few DIY tips to ensure you'll look (and stay) gorgeous on your wedding day!   

  • One of the easiest yet most important steps to controlling oil and shine is to start with a primer before applying any other makeup.  Smashbox's Photo Finish Foundation Primer Light is specially formulated to mattify your skin, which is exactly what you want for shine control and also keeps your makeup in place for the rest of the day.

  • For foundation, you should avoid mineral makeup.  It has more of a tendency to reflect light, which is great for every day wear but can appear too shiny in photographs.  A liquid foundation with medium coverage that's oil-free will be perfect for covering any imperfections without looking too cake-y.  Make Up For Ever's HD Invisible Cover Foundation is popular with makeup artists, but I've also been hearing good things about CoverGirl's NatureLuxe Silk Foundation if you want a cheaper option.

  • Blush is another key element of picture-worthy makeup application.  Even if you don't normally wear blush, it will prevent you from appearing too washed out in pictures.  Again, any product with shimmer isn't going to photograph well so you'll want something matte.  Laura Mercier's Second Skin Cheek Color comes in a variety of natural looking shades and lasts forever.
Photo by Jessica Brown of MOONBelle Photography
 Makeup by Laura Griffin of Applied Glamour 

  • Your eyes will look best if you keep your eye makeup soft, classic, and simple.  Use a grey or brown eyeliner pencil to line the top of your lashline only for the most natural, wide eyed look.  Smashbox makes beautiful photography-worthy eyeshadow trios to take all the guesswork out of coordinating shades.  On Stage and Multi-Flash are lovely natural colors and will give the illusion of an effortless, no-makeup look.  Like "Oh, yes, my eyes are this bright and lovely on their own!"  Finish with a waterproof version of your favorite mascara.

  • If you really want to wear false eyelashes, avoid the long strips.  Those can lead to massive mishaps, as they have a tendency to come unglued in the most obvious way possible.  Instead cut them in half or use the individual lashes toward the outer corners of your eye, and make sure to use waterproof glue!  You could even have semi-permanent lashes professionally applied, which will last about ten days.

  •  To make sure your lipcolor lasts, start with a lip primer.  A lipliner pencil just a few shades darker than your natural skintone will also help keep your lipstick in place.  Use a lip brush to fill in with your lipstick, blot, add one more coat, and blot again.  Your lipstick won't budge!  Lipstick withstands better than gloss and looks better in pictures, by the way.  Don't dismiss lipstick!  

  • Finally, make sure your maid of honor or photographer has some blotting papers on hand just in case your makeup smudges or your face begins to shine.  Keep a compact mirror and your lipcolor handy for touch ups as well.

  • Most important of all, enjoy your wedding!  Don't worry about your makeup for the rest of the day.  You look gorgeous!  Cheers!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Best Packaging

There's something special about using products with amazing packaging.  From simple elegance to retro fun to authentically vintage, here are some companies that package their products uniquely in addition to the top notch products contained within:

Outrageous and Fun
TheBalm uses clever retro inspired packaging to house their many powders with equally clever and almost outrageous names.  Hot Mama! and Cabana Boy, for example, are two different pink powders with a little bronzer added.  Their Overshadow finishing powders for eyes are vials that feature gorgeous pinup girls on the lid plus names like "If You're Rich, I'm Single!"  The lipstick line is titled Read My Lips and coordinates newsprint packaging with shade names like "Scoop" and "Classifieds".  Adorable!

Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity
Philosophy products are packaged elegantly and simply, which makes a statement of its own.  Their perfumes and skincare prominently feature positive, uplifting words like "hope" and "grace".  Their delicious smells-like-the-real-thing shower gel/shampoo/bubble bath combos come in scents like Margarita and Vanilla Birthday Cake and also include recipes for the real thing right on the label in a stylized serif font.   

Authentically Vintage
Besame Cosmetics is a modern company seeking to emulate products women used in the 1930s and 1940s, but using natural ingredients.  Thier makeup is contained in lovely gold and red tubes and compacts that look as fancy and special as the product within.  One particularly standout product is the eye and lip liners.  They're dual sided with two different coordinating shades on either end, so it's like getting two for the price of one.  Product names include Souffle foundation, Sweetheart lip balm, Voluptuous lipstick, and Cashmere powder.  So glamorous!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guess What?

Pssst!  I've got a secret!  I made the most amazing discovery this weekend and now I'm going to share it with you!

I'm a little obsessed with products to prevent wrinkles these days and had a long discussion with an amazingly helpful and knowledgeable employee at Sephora.  After telling her what products I was already using, we decided a face serum and a better eye cream would be best.  I was immediately sold on the eye cream but a little hesitant to drop an additional $45 on the serum she recommended for me, Fresh's Soy Face Serum.  After expressing this concern, she said "Oh, I can make up a sample for you so you can try it at home for a few days.  Here, I'll make you a sample of their soy face cleanser, too."  She returned with two miniature vials of each!

The moral of the story?  Sephora ladies (and gents) can send you home with FREE SAMPLES of nearly anything in the store!  How exciting is that?  I wish I had known about this sooner!  

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Katy Perry for OPI

Mrs. Russell Brand has collaborated with OPI to bring us five new nail polish shades!  As you can see below, most of them are standard glittery fare and rich, bold shades you'd probably expect from Katy Perry.  From left to right:  Last Friday Night, Not Like the Movies, The One that Got Away, Teenage Dream, and Black Shatter.
The real standout from this collection is Black Shatter.  I adore black polish on other women's nails and not so much my own, but this black polish is particularly unique in that it dries to create a "shatter" effect (as the name implies).  You apply it over any nail color and the black will crackle in different ways to reveal the polish underneath.  This looks SO cool, I can't wait to test it out for myself.  Luckily, the wait is nearly over:  Katy Perry's nail collection will arrive at Ulta stores January 23rd!

To see the shatter effect in action plus the rest of the colors, check out this video from OPI:

Monday, January 17, 2011

An Amazing Product Just Got Better

I've previously mentioned my appreciation for Garnier's Skin Renew Daily Eye Roller, the fantastic eye serum that contains caffiene to de-puff your eyes and make you look more awake and refreshed.  Now Garnier has improved on this genius concept with their Skin Renew Anti-Dark Circle Eye Roller by adding an anti-aging formula plus slightly tinted mineral pigments to instantly conceal dark circles.  It's a surprisingly brilliant concealer that can be used everywhere on your skin, not just underneath your eyes.  It blends easily, especially if you use a concealer brush, and works well for most skin shades.  One of my friends has even eschewed all other concealers in favor of this one instead!  I'm almost equally impressed and can't wait to see results I get from long term regular use.        

Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Obsession: Lip Primers

The word of my week has most certainly been "primer".  I've primed the walls to paint my bathroom and I also tested out all the fancy lip primers Ulta has to offer.  I was previously of the opinion that lip primers were grossly unnecessary, nothing more than lip balm, and an all-around waste of money.  I'm here to tell you, my friends, that this is simply not so.  Lip primers are nothing like lip balm and some of them even work magic. 
After trying several primers under my super matte MAC Russian Red lipstick, Too Faced's Lip Insurance won out.  At first the product goes on slick and clear, like lip gloss, but then quickly dries to a flat finish.  Until now I've been wearing Russian Red over my lip balm, but wearing it over this primer is completely and entirely different.  My lipstick is matte, exactly as is intended.  Also at first my lips felt a little sticky, but in a good "my lipstick is not going to budge!" sort of way.  And it stays on FOREVER without any fading or feathering to speak of.  My lipstick suddenly has the long-lasting properties of a lip stain!  It even works under lip gloss too, making the color last much longer than usual.  I have no idea how that's possible, but I'm enamored and have been trying it under every single lip color I own.

Lip Insurance will definitely be one of a my makeup staples for a long, long time.  I wish I had found this product sooner!  The verdict is in: lip primers are definitely worth your time and money.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can't Live Without Them: Blotting Papers

Blotting papers are another genius product among the likes of dry shampoo and makeup removing towelettes; sure, we certainly could live without them, but now who would want to?  These miniature little sheets are the 21st century equivalent of powdering one's nose.  They control shine and oil much more effectively than powder, yet they don't smudge your makeup.  What a brilliant concept! 

There's almost nothing worse than casually glancing in a mirror midday and discovering your face is more shiny and reflective than polished chrome.  Luckily, blotting papers can fix this problem instantly, without the need to apply any more product.  I first discovered the miracle of blotting papers in junior high and during those years, I was never without a pack of Clean and Clear's Oil Absorbing Sheets in my purse.  I still like them, but they've become increasingly difficult to find.     

These days my blotting papers of choice are from Sephora's house line.  In addition to natural papers, they also come in other varieties: tea tree, lavender, and vitamins C and E.  The lavender papers have kind of an overpowering scent for a product used in such close proximity to your nose, but the vitamin C and E papers are pleasantly citrus scented.  I'm not convinced the extra vitamins actually do anything, but they definitely smell nice.  And at $8 for a pack of 100 sheets, they're also a better value than Clean and Clear's.  They're multi-purpose, too.  When I'm applying dark colored or loose eyeshadow, I like to hold one of these papers under my eyes to catch any fallen pigments and avoid a sprinkling of purple where I just applied concealer.  As if you needed yet another plus for blotting papers, they're also amazingly portable.  What's not to love?       

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick

There was a time when Bobbi Brown's Shimmer Brick sent beauty addicts into total hysteria.  When the Shimmer Brick was first released back in 2001, no one had ever seen anything like it.  If you recall, body glitter was a ridiculously huge (and ridiculous) trend around that time.  If you wanted to wear any sort of sparkle, this was pretty much your only option:

Your only option, that is, until the bronze Shimmer Brick was released for Bobbi Brown's 2001 holiday collection for a limited time only.  Here was a product that offered subtle shimmer rather than chunks of actual glitter and women went completely nuts for it, bidding exorbitant sums of cash on eBay for this elusive, exclusive product after the "limited time only" had passed.  Bobbi Brown took heed and Shimmer Bricks are now for sale today in six different shades of pinks, neutrals, and bronzes, plus a giant Shimmer Brick for Body.
Shimmer Brick
What else is so special about this powder shimmer compact to incite such demand?  It has amazing versatility.  For one thing, it looks good no matter where you apply it.  You can use a large fluffy powder brush to blend all five shades together as a blush, bronzer, or all over highlighter.  You can use small applicators to select one or two of the colors and wear them as eyeshadow.  The Shimmer Brick has that rare quality of being just obvious enough to make a visible difference, but still subtle enough that it's not overpowering.

While Shimmer Bricks are here to stay for sale in stores and online, Bobbi Brown does occasionally continue in the limited edition tradition and release special exclusive shades with less availability, usually around the holidays.                

Sunday, January 9, 2011


I have something of a weakness for gimmick-y mascara wands.  Show me a mascara brush that could pass for medieval weaponry, is rectangular shaped instead of round, or isn't even a brush at all and I will show you the money.  So you can imagine my excitement over the latest offering from DiorShow: not only does the applicator look like a strand of DNA, but it spins too!  DiorShow's 360 mascara promises to deliver makeup artist-caliber application with its double helix design and oscillating wand.  This is too ridiculous and awesome to pass up.  You better believe I'll be trying it as soon as humanly possible.

Friday, January 7, 2011

OPI's Little Teasers set

OPI Burlesque minis
 You may recall my glowing review of The Nail Polish That Makes Everything Instantly Better, OPI's duochrome shimmer The Show Must Go On.  I set out to purchase my very own bottle of that gorgeous pinky-orange glittery shade, but had difficulty finding it.  I did, however, come across a special package OPI created with four mini nail lacquers from the Burlesque collection cleverly titled Little Teasers.  The bottles are perfectly sized at one-eighth of an ounce and the short brush is great for control and precision.  Best of all, it includes The Show Must Go On (as seen in the above pictures, third from left)!  The other three polishes are Rising Star (a glittery solid gold), Take the Stage (glittery warm orange), and Ali's Big Break (glittery true red).  The above pictures still don't really do the colors justice, though.  Rest assured, they are lovely! 

Ali's Big Break is a perfect candy apple red.  The glitter in this polish is much more subtle and not so much "in your face" sparkle overload, which I really like.

Rising Star is a light gold glitter.  I have mixed feelings about this one, but then, anything other than red or pink on my nails usually feels "off" to me.  It's likely just a matter of preference.  I think this would look especially amazing on medium or dark skintones, but I'm not sure how much wear I'll get out of it.  Again, it's probably just my color preference.

I was pleasantly surprised by Take the Stage!  I expected this glittery orange to be my least favorite of the four, but I love it!  It looks more coppery than orange and will look particularly gorgeous in the fall.   

None of the other polishes replaced my enthusiasm for The Show Must Go On, though.  That color is truly unique and unfortunately is difficult to capture in photographs.    

What are your favorite nail polishes?  Have you been able to pull off a nail color you thought you'd hate?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Lipstick 101: What to Do About Stains? Part Three

Another reason lipstick can be intimidating is that eventually, despite your best efforts, it will likely rub off somewhere.  Little lipstick stains all over the place are certainly annoying, but really not that big of a deal once you know the best ways to remove them.  You probably have all these products in your home already!

Here's a quick list of what to do if you find a lipstick stain on your...

Apply hairspray to the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.  Yes, hairspray!  Wipe the hairspray off and the stain should come off with it.  Your shirt can now be washed as usual.

Stains on glassware can be particularly hard to remove.  The ingredients designed to keep lipstick in place on your lips are fairly resilient on glass as well.  You can erase any marks easily by rubbing salt on the stains before you wash the glass.

Cloth Napkins
I don't think I personally know anyone who uses cloth napkins, but blotting lipstick stains with a little bit of petroleum jelly before laundering is another useful trick to remove stains from cloth.

Silk (Or Other Fabric)
You can also take a piece of clear tape (masking tape will do as well), place it over the stain, and yank it off.  Sounds odd, but the stain should also come with it.  If you're dealing with a more stubborn stain, sprinkle a little bit of talcum powder and blot until the powder and the stain are gone.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best Drugstore Beauty Buys

Best Drugstore Beauty Buys
Regular followers of this blog are well aware that I'm a Sephora devotee, but there are great products to be found at the drugstore, too.  Expensive does not necessarily equal better.  I do love my Urban Decay concealer and Sephora mascara, but am just as thrilled with ridiculously cheap liquid eyeliner and Revlon lipstick. 

Drugstores are also way more accessible and widespread than specialty makeup shops and department store counters.  However, the cheap and accessible factors of drugstore makeup aisles do lead to some unfortunate impulse purchases, at least for me.  Luckily you can skip the trial and error process with this great grand list I've put together for you of the Best Drugstore Beauty Buys!  These products are great bargains and truly worth your money.

 Moisturizer: Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer
This is perfect for even the most sensitive skin.  It reduces redness and keeps skin hydrated without feeling greasy.  Plus, it's SPF 30!

Primer: Revlon Beyond Natural Smoothing Primer
It's about time primers finally arrived at the drugstore!  While Revlon also makes brightening and redness correcting primers, their Beyond Natural primer is simple and all-around better. 

Foundation: CoverGirl Smoothers Liquid Foundation
Honestly, I intially bought this on a whim for a photoshoot without really expecting too much.  I needed to purchase something quick and cheap that would look good in photographs.  However, I ended up impressed and really liking this product.  It's a fantastic bargain and gives amazing coverage.  I don't even need concealer when I wear Smoothers liquid foundation.  It's that good!

Powder: Physician's Formula Mineral Correcting Powder
Don't be intimidated by this psychedelic swirl of pressed powder.  The colors blend to highlight, reduce redness, and correct imperfections.  It evens out your skintone, sets your makeup, and makes your complexion even more gorgeous.

Concealer: Almay Smart Shade Concealer
This product is almost too awesome for words.  It comes out of the tube a weird grey color, then reacts with your skin to create your very own perfectly matched, custom color.  I don't know how it works, but it really does.  It's amazing. 

Blush: Almay Smart Shade Blush
Using similar technology to the concealer, Almay has created a Smart Shade blush version.  It's super easy to apply and gives your cheeks the perfect rosy hue, while looking flawless and natural.

Eyeliner: InColor FabuLiner Liquid Eyeliner
This is, without a doubt, the greatest beauty bargain of all time.  This amazing liquid eyeliner looks like a tiny Sharpie, never smudges, and can be made as thick or thin, subtle or dramatic as you like.  The cost?  Only $2.  Did you read that?  This is my favorite eyeliner ever and it is only two dollars.  Just don't pay attention to that horrible name.     

Mascara: Rimmel Sexy Curves
I've previously blogged about my love of all Rimmel mascaras, but this purple-tubed lovely is the standout of the bunch.  Wear it and get ready to be asked, "Are you wearing false eyelashes?"  It thickens but doesn't clump and gives ridiculous curl and volume.

Eyeshadow: L'Oreal HIP
Most drugstore eyeshadows are disappointingly lackluster.  The color that ends up on your eyelids is rarely similar to the color in the eyeshadow pan.  L'Oreal's HIP eyeshadows are the great exception.  HIP stands for High Intensity Pigment and what you see is what you're going to get with these shades.  They come in duos of a zillion different colors and combinations, which makes it really fun to experiment.  There are different finishes too, like matte and metallic.

Lip Balm: EOS Smooth Sphere
I promise, this is the last time you'll hear me extol the greatness that is this adorably packaged lip balm.  Maybe.  I really do love it that much.  And at $3, what's not to love?  Besides that, it's actually fun to apply.  I'm sounding like a crazy person here.  Just trust me and buy your own.  You'll see what I mean. 

Lipstick:  Revlon Super Lustrous Creme
My former favorite drugstore lipstick, Maybelline Moisture Extreme, is being phased out in favor of some newfangled something or other.  I found a new favorite lipstick in Revlon's Super Lustrous.  It's obviously not going to be as moisturizing since it's a creme formula and it doesn't smell like watermelons (Maybelline's did!), but just the amount of beautiful shades makes Revlon the clear winner.  There are at least five different reds alone!  And I do really like the formula.  It stays on but isn't drying.  

Lip Gloss: Neutrogena Moisture Shine
I do like to wear lip gloss once in a while, and this is what I go to when I'm in the mood to wear it.  Neutrogena Moisture Shine lip glosses seem to stay on longer than most lip glosses, but the formula isn't overly sticky.  The colors are pretty and the product applies well.