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!

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.