Girls, we like our products. And we're always in search of that next cosmetic miracle. None of us has the funds to try every new product that gets our attention, so here are the observations I've made on various beauty products I've tried. Hey, if it helps one person save a buck or snag that soon-to-be-treasured beauty breakthrough, my job here is complete. Cosmetic junkies, unite!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Crossing the Line

As a girl that has been exploring how to play up my eyes since about the 7th grade, there's a special place in my heart for eyeliner.  Kinda like the eyeshadows, there are many options regarding product type and application technique.  I almost never leave home without some type of product heavy around my lashline.  Here are some options:
  • Pick any eyeshadow - preferably a darker one - and use a thin-lined brush to apply it at the lashline (top and bottom).  I have almond-shaped eyes, so I tend to drag that line out a little further and make it a little thicker at the outer corners for effect.  To get a heavier pigment from it, dab your brush in water and make a paste with it before applying OR you can employ a sealant like this one from Illamasqua.  Use the same technique as with the water.
  • In terms of pencils, I've used a zillion products over the years, but I've yet to find one that delivered like the Kohl liners from Mac.  They're fabulous.  They can be applied as a line, OR you can line your eyes and then smudge the product at the lashline for an immediate smokey eye.  Genius, I tell you.  "Teddy" is one of the best browns I've ever used on my blue eyes, but it's hard to beat the sparkly blackish grey "phone number" or the classic black "smolder".  Fabulous products.  It's possible that I own four of them.  I won't confirm or deny.
  • For extra drama and to add a bit of rockstar quality, use eyeliner on the waterseal of the your eye (the part of your lid between the lashes and the eyeball.  See the picture above?  She's got liner on the inside of the lashline AND around the outside on the top lid.  So dramatic, but not overwhelming.  Some pencils will have enough pigment to use there, but many will not stick to the slippery surface there.  I often use a potted gel liner (kind of like a cake) with a super-thin brush to apply it underneath the top lashline and above my bottom one.  
  • Last but certainly not least is liquid liner.  I don't use it that often myself, mainly because a pencil or a brush tend to be way more forgiving.  But for those with a steady hand, it's hard to beat the classic Audrey Cat-eye look.  So chic.  I don't have any recommendations regarding specific products because, again, I don't ever use it.  ;)  I'm going to defer to my friend Jeni the Mac-star pharmacist for that one. 
  • TOOLS: There are a couple of brushes (dipped in various eyeshadows) that I love to use to easily produce a nice line to make my eyes pop.  
    • Your basic angled eyeliner brush is a must.  This cheap one from almost any drugstore is one I use about 5 times a week.   
    • Use a small blending brush to apply shadow at the lashline for an immediate smokey eye look.  This one is one of my favorites!  Regardless of your eye shape or lack of a steady hand, this guy is your friend.  Who knew shadow as a liner could be so easy but effective?
These are good places to start or to build on what you're already doing.  I'd love to hear y'all's suggestions or questions!  Happy lining!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Living in the Shadows...

This girl loves me some eyeshadow.  So much.  It just opens up a world of possibilities like no other individual cosmetic product.  You can use them to contour, highlight, bring focus, take away focus, enhance eyecolor, and so much more!  They come in matte, shimmer, sheen formulas, and there are loose powders, pressed powders, creams, liquids, etc.  See what I mean?  Isn't your head spinning?  And the awesome thing (well, let's be honest, it's just ONE of the awesome things about shadow) is that you don't have to come out looking like a drag queen.  You can use 4 different colors and still be rocking a subtly beautiful "I-didn't-spend-40-minutes-getting-ready", neutral-colored face.  It's all about the choices and the placement.

But I'm not going into all that today.  Today I just wanted to answer one of my best friend's requests to give her some solid shadow recommendations that I believe are solid investments since they will continue to withstand the test of trend and season.  And so I thought I'd share them with you too.  Here goes:
  1. "Kitten" by Stila is my all-time, top shadow pick EVER, and you're looking at it above.  I'm not exaggerating.  It looks good on any complexion, all over the eyelid, for any occasion.  I'm serious.  This perfect shimmering light pink is a wonder product.  Go ahead.  Get you some.  Set yourself free, girl.  (I should also give you a heads up: Stila sells the shadows separate from any type of container.  So you buy a refill pan and you either need a single case, or if you think you'll get more since their shadows are high-pigment, blendable, and stay forever, get the case that holds 4.)
  2. "Queen Tiffany" by Bare Escentuals  is a beautiful shimmery greyish taupe that also works on any skin tone and with any outfit.  It's one that you'd only want to use on the lid and not all the way to the brow.  The 80's are over, sister.  
  3. Everybody needs a good gold.  Use the Queen Tiffany link above to get to "True Gold" by Bare Escentuals.  It's money in the bank- pardon the pun, and it's especially fun for the holidays, fun nights out, or just a little extra for the day-to-day.  
  4. For those of you short on time, grab some easy-to-use cream shadow by Benefit.  It's super easy to apply (requiring only your fingertip), and it should last all day.  Pick a light, versatile color like "Tattle Tale", "RSVP", or "Birthday Suit" that can be used all over the lid or just under the browline and inner corner as a highlighter.  If you're feeling really edgy, try "Skinny Jeans" or "Busy Signal" on the lid or smudged near the lashline.
  5. Pick at least one good, shimmery brown that can be used to contour or as an eyeliner.  One of my favorites is Mulch by MAC.  It really makes blue eyes pop, and it's a softer alternative than the typical black to get a smokey eye for those of us pale-skinned girls. 
I hope these are helpful; they're definitely just a start.  My overall advice with shadows is spend the money for solid products if it's a color you're going to use a lot.  If you're wanting to try that pseudo-electric blue (not that I would know this from experience ;) ) for the season, maybe just grab a cheap version of it at Target rather than buy the >$10 brand?   With the right primer and brushes, you can make almost any shadow fabulous. 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Pssssst - I got a secret

And it's that I didn't wash my hair today.  Come on, now.  We've all done it...or do it regularly.  Second-day hair, ladies!  So many different options than on Day 1.  However, if you're like me, you get greasy.  My hair is not so cooperative on Day 2, mainly because I kept running my fingers through it on Day 1.  There's a couple of ways I've combated this in the past.  My mom's long-time tried-and-true remedy: baby powder.  And that worked perfectly for her and my sisters with their light blonde hair.  I have also tried almost all of the  powder or spray dry shampoos from Sephora, and they're okay but not any better than baby powder.  UNTIL...drumroll please...
THIS GUY .  It's a spray shampoo found in just about any drug store.  And this junk works!  It also happens to be about half the price of all the product options at Sephora.  So, buy it up, spray it on, and thank me later.  It'll be our little secret.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Prime Time!

In honor of the fabulous time I had this weekend with the lovely (and SOOOO fun) ladies of Discovery Church, I decided to discuss some of what we talked about this weekend...well the makeup stuff.  I decided it might be fun to bring all (or just most) of my cosmetics to just play and experiment with during free time at the retreat.  I can't imagine how many wives/moms have absolutely no time to be able to go to cosmetic counters or stores and just play!  This seemed slightly tragic to not be able to celebrate being a woman in this way, so I fiured I could at least make this option available.  I don't know a lot, but I've absorbed lots of tips and tricks from people that do over the years. 

One of the questions I got was: "How do you keep your eyeliner from settling into the crease throughout the course of the day?"  This was an easy one: PRIMER.  I remember distinctly when eyeshadow primer entered my life.  It was a good time.  All my artistry in shading and blending could now withstand 18-hour days!

So here are my recommendations:
I currently use Urban Decay's Primer Potion.  It comes in 3 formulations: one is nude and matte, one is slightly champaigne and shimmery (Sin), and there's a new one with more of a yellow undertone (Eden).  Ironically I currently use the Sin formula every day.  It even comes in an extra-large size that lasts longer.  The regular nude formula is shown here.

There are a few more that I think work well.  Bare Escentuals has one.  My friend Jessica Arca, who owns the local fabulous spa Fleur de Lis  on 6th Ave in Tacoma sells it locally.  I have used that one for a long time in the past. 

But don't be misled, it's totally worth it.  If you're gonna spend time placing shadow and liner where you want it, why not ensure that it stays there as long you're facing the world?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Blushing Beauty

I love me some blush.  It does SO MUCH in terms of enhancing face contour and keeping a girl from looking washed out.  So today, I'm dedicating a little post to this makeup must-have.  After setting your foundation (with Bare Minerals Mineral Veil if you're me) and perhaps adding a little bronzer on cheeks, nose, and forehead, it's time for this little guy: Bare Minerals complexion enhancer in TRUE.  It's my favorite blush out there.  I'm not gonna lie, though, it's pretty sparkly.  So if that's a concern, there's actually a version in Bare Escentuals stores called TRUDY that has less sparkles.  I also like the A LITTLE SUN color for summer to use as both a bronzer AND a blush.  So grab a contoured brush and sweep it gently from your hairline to your laugh-line just below your cheekbone.  Sparkle on, lady!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Show and Tell

If you're a basic foundation/blush/mascara girl, or maybe you're just now dipping your toes into the infinite pool of eye makeup possibilities, this post is dedicated to you.  I was once in your shoes - well, kinda.  There was a specific turning point where one of my best friends (and my roommate at the time), Brittany, made me realize that the world of artistry surrounding the eyes was a vast one...and it was calling my name.  I started realizing that with different brushes and strategic placement of various eyeshadow shades and liners - and sometimes shadows used AS liners - I could create masterpieces.  Ok, it's not that dramatic, but I still enjoy my daily application of eye makeup.  It's a creative outlet for me.

So here's what you need: a great starting brush set  This guy's got everything you need: a big brush for broad application, a skinny one for liquid or potted liner, a perfectly-domed one for shading right inside the crease, and a smudger to make any eyeliner look like the "smoky eye". 

And just for fun, I'm going to include a small video gift I made for my sister explaining what I bought her for her birthday (hence the title) and how to use them.  The other gift was this: an eyeshadow set from LORAC ,  and you'll see me explain it as well.

I hope this helps!  Shoot me any questions or suggestions.  Is anyone even reading this?  Are y'all out there?  ;)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Flashy Lashes

Mascara is of the utmost importance.  If we're honest, we can do without so many parts of the daily makeup regimen.  Mascara gives the most bang for its buck in terms of giving visible results in response to the effort put forth.  If lashes didn't enhance beauty, the fake lash industry and the lash enhancers ($$$) wouldn't be such booming industries.  Now that I've validated my stance as a super lash fan, I'll give my recommendations on some fabulous products that I currently own and use.

I should start by saying that I have decent lashes at baseline.  They're light, so without mascara they're almost invisible.  But they're decently thick and long.  This means I want a mascara that will coat (and color) my current lashes, enhance them by adding thickness and length, and NOT clump them up.  That's hard to find.  And often the brush has just as much to do with it as the mascara formulation.

For length, coating, and separation: Bare Escentuals Flawless Definition Mascara (above).  I use it every day.  It does a great job of coating and separating my lashes and adding nice umph without giving spider eyes. 

For volume and overall enhancement: Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash is the one for you.  One day that I had used it, my sister kept asking me if I had fake lashes on.  I had gone light on the eyeliner that day, so the lashes were doing all the work on their own.  It's fabulous stuff and probably better for people not starting out with much at baseline in terms of lash volume.  It coats lightly and can be coated to add more volume.  This is one of those brushes that I kept and cleaned after I was finished with the tube to use for lash separation and placement in the future.  Anyone do that?  Keep a mascara brush that worked really well, clean it, and use it post-application for last placement?  It's a great idea.

I don't know if you've heard of the more recent "tube technology", but modern mascaras are actually made of a polymer that binds around and extends past your own lashes to add "oomph".  There are some even at the drugstore formulated to do this.  I've tried one by Loreal (Double Extend Beauty Tubes) to no avail.  It was a big disappointment.  However, I was pleasantly surprised by the infamous Fiberwig Mascara from Imju.  It's been a best-seller on Sephora for a while, and it's all the rage in Japan.  I didn't so much care for the product by itself.  It comes out of the tube and seems to create little spider webs extending from each lash, but it doesn't do much in terms of adding volume and separating.  SO I like to finish my mascara application by using this product AFTER the Flawless Definition mascara (the previously-mentioned product).  It adds legitimate length and overall volume.

My last recommendation is actually a cheaper one: Cover Girl's Last Blast Mascara in Waterproof.  Drew Barrymore didn't lie.  I really do like the product to add just a little something for night's going out or a party scene where I want something special to make my eyes pop.  It's waterproof, so I use it as a last coat in the mascara phase and NEVER ALONE.  I say this because if you look at the brush, the bristles are almost invisible, which means they do nothing for separating or placing your lashes.  It's like rubbing flat paper with black stuff over them.  If you have small or sparse lashes, this would be probably be your BEST option.  Those bristles will aim wide and slather your little guys easy as pie. 
Again, I don't use this one every day, just when I'm going for high-drama lashes to support what is usually already an "eye show" on my face (with dramatic shadows and shading). 

I hope these help.  Let me know what's worked best for YOU...

Monday, January 25, 2010

About Face

Starting with our base layer, foundation is key.  Well, it's the foundation...literally.  The options are limitless;  it all depends on your skin type and the coverage you're looking for.  I tend to switch around based on what I'm doing that day, how my skin's acting, and where I'm headed.

Many folks like Bare Minerals Powder Foundation for lighter coverage, to even skin tone, and because it's quick to apply.  I used this foundation for about 2 years, and I still break it out every now and then.  I especially like their new matte foundation, and sephora is giving away a 10-day supply with every order if you enter "bematte" as an offer code at checkout.  The only disclaimer I'll give is that you'll probably still want a cream or liquid concealer for undereye use and spot treatment. 

In the past few years, I've opted for tinted moisturizer instead of "foundation".  I've tried a few that I'd recommend (and still use).  Laura Mercier  has one that's a Sephora best seller (it comes in regular and oil-free).  It offers light coverage and lasts all day.  I like the way it evens my complexion (I'm a bit blotchy at baseline) and smooths my skin texture.  The second one I'd recommend is a bit of a multi-tasker, and it should be because it's a little pricier.  A lady at Sephora introduced me to Hourglass's tinted moisturizer (shown below), and she promised it would even my skin tone, provide medium coverage, and fill in lines.  It has hyaluronic spheres that plump your skin throughout the day.  It really is impressive in that my skin looked just as full hours after application instead of dried out and patchy as it has with other makeup.  And it lasts forever.  My current bottle I bought back in September, and I'm barely halfway through it.

Before the summer I found what I believe to be the BEST bang for your buck in terms of foundation.  This foundation gives full coverage, stays on FOREVER, and has Coenzyme Q10 in it.  It genuinely improved the overall condition of my skin.  It is a heavier coverage, so if you like it light, this is not for you.  But if there's a wonder drug for face (for only $18), this is it.  It is DHC's Q10 cream foundation, and you may not even need concealer after this guy.  Sometimes I use this as concealer around the eyes when I want lighter coverage on the rest of my face.  It's some fabulous stuff.  The Q10 formulation comes in a liquid with lighter coverage and a moist color base (for complexion help and UV protection), but I haven't used those.  

After applying foundation and concealer (which I'll cover in a future post), I always finish with Bare Escentuals Mineral Veil and have done so for years.  It is the perfect ending to set your foundation, take care of shine, and minimize the appearance of pores.  I apply it prior to complexion enhancers (bronzer, highlighter, etc.) and blush.  It's like a clean slate upon which to place your color.

I'd love to hear what y'all think about these or other foundation ideas.  Feel free to shoot any questions or suggestions my way as well.  I hope this helps make yours a happy face!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Cleaning shortcuts

In honor of all my work friends heading to Haiti to take part in the relief efforts there, I wanted to share one of my favorite items for getting clean sans shower.  These body cleansing wipes, again, by DHC skincare are perfect for mission trips, camping, or just a quick refresher at the gym.  And they're cheap!  My mom and stepdad just returned from a 10-day trip to Peru, and I bought them about 3 boxes worth.  She said they were very useful.  I'm not suggesting a shower boycott; I'm simply trying to help a sister out when a shower's not an option!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wipe On...Wipe OFF

Sometimes it's late when I start the nightly face-off regimen, which means I don't want to go through all the steps we're indoctrinated with: remove makeup, cleanse, tone, moisturize.  I mean, seriously, we want to LIVE.  Who really has time for all that every night?  Well, I don't make the time.  Sometimes I cheat...with these guys: MAC's cleansing wipes.

They're perfect for traveling.  I took them to Mexico this past summer and used them as my nightly make-off regimen as well as my morning cleansing routine.  They have a toner included, so they truly leave my skin cleansed, refreshed, and with improved texture.  My skin tends to freak out with various products, so to have found one multi-purpose product that ALSO improves my skin quality was like money in the bank.  I have even read that Kim Kardashian uses and swears by them as well.  If that doesn't sway you, I don't know what will.  ;) 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Starting Fresh

In honor of my baby blog, I decided my inaugural post would be dedicated to one of the basic steps of skincare: taking my face off.  Don't get me wrong; I love putting on the layers, adding effects on the cheeks, eyes, and lips, etc.  But at the end of the day, I want it all off my face before it hits the pillow.  One of my favorite products for getting the makeup off first (before actually using a cleanser) is this guy: DHC's cleansing oil.  He's great for all skin types (mine is actually oily) because he gets all types of makeup off, even waterproof mascara.  And...wait for it...he completely washes off with water.  I even use this product to wash my makeup brushes clean.  He's versatile; he's gentle; but he's thorough.  The cleansing oil is overall a good buy.  I've used it for about 5 years now.  If you've used it before or you end up trying it, let me know what you thought.