Sunday, August 18, 2013

Find of the Week: Smooth, Silky Hair

Sorry for the absence--I've been out of town but that hasn't stopped me from discovering great new products that I just have to share. It has been a rainy August so far and my new short do is acting up in the way of piles of frizz. So far, I've found this stuff to work the best to tame that mane: Extreme Smooth Combing Creme from Vidal Sassoon.

From Vidal Sassoon. com
It works great as a work-through when applied all over to damp hair and as a tamer to apply after the do is done and throughout the day to keep that frizz down! Also, only about $4 at your local drug store. How awesome is that? 

Downside: it isn't a hard hold so you may have to re-apply throughout the day rather than set it and done. If you like your smooth to last, I recommend a firm hairspray to keep the hairdo in place.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Find of the Week: Easy Smoky Eye

I love a good smoky eye but not everyone has learned the technique and sometimes it can turn out a huge mess. I am a big fan of Almay's Intese I-Color shadow kits because the colors are great for bringing out your natural eye color and they are a fantastic budget option. The new smoky eye kits take the guess work out of finding the right color for you and they had a how-to video right on their webpage so the application is nearly foolproof.

Courtesy of
The colors are lovely and build-able so you can have daytime eyes or nighttime eyes. I've always loved Almay for sensitive skin; back in the day it was all I could wear! All you need is a little liner--I like a dark black or brown shadow and an angle brush to line the top of the eye lid and lightly line the bottom.  So striking!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bronze Beauty: how to get that bronze glow without the sunspots

I apologize that my makeup Monday post is a little late--an out of town trip turned makeup Monday into do-over Tuesday. Nevertheless, since the summer is growing so much closer to ending (tear), I would like to share some of the summer's best bronzers that you can wear on your face year round.

High End:

Nars Bronzing Powder courtesy of Sephora 
Nars Bronzing Powder goes on smoothly and is the perfect kiss of sunshine. Apply it to the temples, sides of the cheeks and at the hairline with a buff brush to get just a hint of it tan. It comes in 3 great colors so you can match your skin.

Downside: It's $36 for the compact. It hurts the wallet but it does last a long time if used as directed (you never want an all-over-bronzed face or else you will be in danger of the Snooky look). 

Mid Range:

Tarte Mineral Bronzer courtesy of Sephora
Tarte Mineral Bronzer is skin-loving and good for you. It brushes on lightly and gives a healthy, natural glow. The minerals are good for your skin too! This is my go-to powder because my skin loves it and it blends perfectly.

Downside: not too many colors. They have had 2 or 3 different options available in the past but Sephora has only Park Avenue Princess right now which is perfect for me but might now be right for everyone.


Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder 
The Body Shop has some of the most luscious stuff and this is no exception. A matte bronze, this gives a hint of color for those who don't like glitter with their bronze. It comes in 4 colors so color matching to your skin is easier, at $19 regular price it is not so inexpensive, but it is on sale for the end of the season and at $9.50 it's a steal! 

Downsides: Not necessarily for sensitive skin. I've had mixed results with Body Shop makeup and some of it irritates my sensitive skin. Chances are this powder will be just fine for most. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bright, Rested Eyes

I am very happy to talk about this week's find of the week: Ole Henriksen Perfect Truth CC Eye Creme  with Broad Spectrum SPF 15. I usually try to stick to budget items for the find of the week, but this CC Creme was soooo fantastic I had to share.

Courtesy of Sephora 
Very lightweight and yet full of coverage, a little goes and very long way--making it worth the splurge. It is also moisturizing so if you don't have dry skin, this would be the only eye product you'll use all day. It even got rid of my tired, baby's-been-up-all-night bags. It covers, corrects, reflects light perfectly to give your eyes a rested glow.

Downside: the price. It is $36 an ounce at Sephora but you could save by not needing and eye cream + a concealer every day. Also, since it stretches so far it'll be a good 6 months before you need more, which is a great bang for your buck!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Biggest Foundation Mistakes and how to Fix Them

I've had my fair share of foundation flubs and have gone through dozens upon dozens of foundations over the years. Here are a few tips to help you find your perfect foundation and how to make it look flawless.

Find the right color

This is somewhat of a trial-and-error process and it may take a few tries to get it right. I myself found that most of the drugstore brands tend to be too orange on me so I had to go to the makeup counter for a more perfect match.

How to find a match: going for the right tone is the most important thing. I have a more yellow pallor so I choose foundations that are yellow or olive toned. If you have a more rosy complexion, go for cool toned foundations. Test a little on the underside of your wrist, where your tan line starts to appear. If the foundation blends into your skin, it's the right tone.

Find the right shade

Too light and you look like a ghost, too dark and you get a makeup line at the side of your face. Your skin is most likely dark in some patches and lighter in others--otherwise why would you need foundation? Find a shade that is between the darkest and the lightest--a happy medium--that way it should blend the dark areas with the light. Don't change shades between summer and winter, either. Use a light-weight bronzer for summer to warm up your complexion to match your new tan.

Make sure your concealer matches

Your under-eye concealer can be a little lighter than your regular skin to get rid of circles, but your spot concealer should be spot-on in color. Make sure it blends into your skin. It is just as much a trial-and-error as foundation and you should test the color on your arm first.

Choose a foundation that works with your skin

Whether powder or liquid, your foundation should choose one that has moisturizing properties if your skin is dry and matte-ifying properties if your skin is oily. I have oily skin so I choose powder foundation in an oil-free variety. If your skin is prone to dryness, go with a moisturizing liquid foundation.

Blend, blend, blend

Whether you go liquid or powder, you have to blend the lines at your jaw, the side of your face and anywhere the foundation stops. Make sure you make it so that the foundation completely blends into the skin so that there is no dreaded makeup line.

If you follow these tips, you should be on your way to a beautiful complexion in no time!

Find of the Week

Want shiny, nourished hair but don't want to pay an arm and a leg to get it? You don't need those spendy salon brands. I recommend Organix Macadamia Dry Styling Oil. Just a dime-sized amount worked through your damp hair and it is soft and shiny all day--and only for $7.99 at your local drugstore.
Courtesy of
Downsides: don't use too much. If you go overboard this could make your hair look greasy, so go easy.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Fall Color Preview

On this beautiful, and hot, summer day it is hard to imagine that fall is just around the corner, but these fall color palettes make the idea of crisp weather more than bearable. Some are a little spendy, but I've thrown in their budget equivalents for those of us with lighter wallets.

Marc Jacobs Style Eye-Con No.7 Plush in Tease
Marc Jacobs' new palettes and lip gloss for Sephora are beautiful and rich. This lovely palette in "Tease" features bright purples and deep smoky hues--perfect for fall.

Down side: $59. Yes, it is a definite splurge. With richly pigmented color this is worth it--if you have the money.

Revlon Photoready Primer, Shadow + Sparkle 
Alternative: Revlon Photoready Eyeshadow palettes. They come with bonus eye primer for those of us that need the color to stay all day and a sparkle overshadow or "topcoat". They come in several shades, including this purple palette "Watercolors". Only $ 8 at most drug stores.

Marc Jacobs lust for Lacquer Lip Vinyl
Marco Jacobs lip gloss--sorry, lip "vinyl"--promises shimmery color and a healthy champagne-grape infusion. Comes in 5 fantastic colors including this one in "Studded Kiss".

Down side: Price again. The lip vinyl comes for $28 at Sephora stores and online. Ouch. 

Burt's Bees Lip Gloss, courtesy of the Dermstore
Alternative: Burt's Bees lip gloss. Know for their natural products, this gloss is no exception. Nourishing with omega fatty acids, this is great for your parched fall lips. The colors are also amazing, like this one in "Starry Night". It also won't break the wallet at about $8.99 at most drug stores. 

So get those fall colors going and enjoy the changing of the seasons!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Best Fake Tanners Out There

Yes, I know: fake tanners can be orange-y and gooey and gross. But, many of us would love that warm, summer glow either without the sun damage. Here are a couple of the best self-tanners on the market and a few tips to keep from making a big, tan mess.

 Jergens Natural Glow

This light lotion is nearly fool-proof. It darkens gradually but results can be seen after 1 use and it won't get your hands all messy. It goes on clear like a lotion so it is nearly impossible to get streaks. It also comes in a firming variety so you can tighten as you tan.

Down side: it takes a couple applications to sink into skin so no instant gratification. But, if you prep your legs a couple days before that great skirt for that big date night, then you are good to go.

 St. Tropez
Courtesy of Sephora
Definitely instant gratification. This self-tanner comes in gradual and one-step so you can choose your level of tan. Easy application, washes off hands easily and little to no streaks, it leaves a realistic sunlit glow.

Down sides: spend. I's $32 for 4 oz, as compared with Jergens $5 average per bottle. But, if you have the cash it is worth it!

Monday, July 15, 2013

To Prime or not to Prime? That is the question...

Is primer really necessary? That is a question I've seen a few times by those who've never used primer (or never used a good primer). The truth is, if you wear very little makeup or can do a few touchups throughout the day, you probably don't need primer. If you just wear a good tinted moisturizer or bb cream and have no large visible pores, pimples, dark spots or red spots you want to cover, you are probably fine without. But, for the rest of us, primer is a very useful tool.

I use primer because I have very little time for touch-ups--generally one a day. I also use primer to correct any issues I have. In the summer, to fight the oily shine I see halfway through the day, I'll use a mattifying primer or a light, oil-free primer. In the winter, I love a primer full of vitamins and nourishing elements for drier winter skin.
Neutrogena Shine Control Primer from

Prime Time from Bare Escentuals

This summer I'm loving Neutrogena's Shine Control primer--lightweight, matte, and it's only $12.99 at the local drug store. It stops my makeup from settling into my pores for that large-pore look and it also stops the fine makeup creases from forming around my mouth. 

Last winter was Prime Time from Bare Escentuals. Packed with vitamins, it keeps my skin from getting chapped even in 10 below zero weather. It is the best year-round primer i've found as well since it is lightweight and gives your skin a smoothness few other primers do. 

So, how to choose a primer? Go with one that promises to correct problems your skin has such as large pores, oiliness or dryness, and always make sure that you see a visible difference in your skin's smoothness after application. If it doesn't seem to make you makeup last longer, switch to another. Finding a good primer is just like finding a good foundation; it takes time. So stick with it and if you change makeup from liquid foundation to powder, if you primer no longer works well with one or the other, change primers. I've found not all primers are formulated to work with powder foundation and some work better with powder, so experiment! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Find of the Week!

Every week I bring you a great buy for a great price and this week is no exception. Sally Hansen Insta-Dri nail polish--dries in seconds, comes in 32 fun colors and retails for about $4.00 at most drugstores. Perfect for those pedicures to show off your new sandals and perfect for touchups too!

Sally Hansen Insta-Dri Nail Polish in Instant Iris

This stays for weeks with normal wear and looks smooth, not tacky.

Down sides: because of the quick-dri you need to be pretty steady-handed when applying or use more nail polish remover to fix any boo-boos. Other than that--perfect polish in great summer colors!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Must-Have Products to Take Camping

So your new boyfriend loves the great outdoors and the last time you went tent camping your biggest worry was how to fit your teddy bear in your backpack. Fear not, I have the low down on all the products you will need in your knapsack to keep yourself looking great without running water or a sink.

1. BB or CC Cream

A good beauty balm is a camping girl's best friend. If you are lucky enough to have subtle fine lines or slight skin discolorations, a BB Cream is the way to go. Most have light-reflecting pigments that make your skin look radiant without making him too suspicious that that glow comes out of a tube. They even have mattifying versions for those of us with excess oil.

If you have darker spots or redness from acne or rosacea, a BB Cream may not be enough. New CC Creams are a heavier-duty version that have more pigments for color correction and the same one-step application.

Sephora CC Cream--color correcting, moisturizing and comes in 7 colors!

2. An All-in-one Concealer

If you have dark circles (maybe from staying up late around the camp fire) and dark spots or hard to cover pimples, try a concealer that is liquid but not drying and the same tone as your skin. I recommend a stick concealer for dry skin or a liquid concealer for oily skin.

Body Shop's All-in One Concealer is natural and comes in 4 colors

3. Dry Shampoo

If you are lucky enough not to have frizz, dry shampoos are your friend to get that fresh feeling without the shower. Most come in easy spray bottles (and even travel sizes) and work to fight oil and smell great. Just spray in at the roots and comb through. For those of us with frizz problems, I recommend dry shampoo in conjunction with a wet comb to bring back some of the style from the day before.

Suave Dry Shampoo--$4 and it works great, smells great

4. Make-up removing clothes

For removing that day's grime and the first day's eye makeup, a good make-up remover clothe is perfect. No water needed, these little buddies are usually enough to take off eye makeup, dirt and oil. They even double as a facial cleanser for the next morning and a good sponge bath. There are moist versions for dry skin and oil-fighters for oily skin. I recommend a gentle clothe or sensitive skin clothe since these are being used on the eye area as well.

Neutrogena Cleansing Cloths in Night Calming--great for eye makeup and dirt as well as redness. $5.99 from

5. Combo Eyeliner/brow Pencil

If you are someone who feels completely naked without your eyes defined, go for a travel-sized pencil that will do double duty to lightly line your eyes and your brows. Try to find one with a brow brush on one side. Don't overdo it--just lightly line the top lid a blend well.

Tarte Brow Pencil--3 great colors for eyes & brows

6. Lip balm with a hint of color

Lip balm is the perfect covert operator--it looks like a chap stick and works like a gloss to provide shin and a hint of color. If you are someone with lips that disappear into your face, this miracle product will make them re-appear. And it fits in your jeans pocket!

Korres Lip Butter--7 great, glossy shades

Now, the practical: get all the primping done you can before you go--waxing, leg shaving, mustache bleaching, face peeling and tanning. Either wake up before the man to do your primping or find a little private time. No one would blame you if you say you need time behind the bushes!

Monday, July 8, 2013

The 5 Best Household Products for Skin Care

Here are 5 easy ways to make your own at-home facial masks and skin care remedies using products from your kitchen or under your sink. Each works to brighten, tighten and calm the skin for a great complexion.

1. Baking Soda

It is a little known fact that baking soda makes a great exfoliant. It can be little harsh so I recommend diluting a little in water and adding a little more dry to the palm of your hand. Wet face with warm water first and then work in the baking soda with your fingertips, concentrating on your problem areas. Your skin will be smoother after 1 application.

Down sides: it can be a little harsh. Try to limit the treatment to 1 a week.

2. Oatmeal

So good for dry skin, oatmeal can make a great mask. Wet your face with warm water and make up the oatmeal in hot water or milk. The heat opens the pores and the oatmeal moisturizes the skin as well as tightens.

Down sides: make sure the hot oatmeal isn't hot enough to burn the skin. Keep it warm, but not too hot.

3. Eggs

Egg whites make a great tightening mask and the yokes make a great moisturizing mask. You can separate the yokes from the whites or leave together for both effects. Rinse clean skin with warm water and pat egg evenly onto skin with fingertips. Rinse off with cooler (but not cold) water. The cool water serves to close clean pores the way hot water opens them.

Down sides: egg shells carry salmonella. Be careful when handling eggs, especially the shells. Wash your hands afterward and don't get too near your mouth or eyes

4. Yoghurt

Great for moisturizing and for healing, yoghurt makes a fantastic mask. Use plain, unsweetened yoghurt and whip with a spatula to get a creamier effect. Leave the mask on for 5 minutes and see softer, moister skin.

Down sides: make sure to get unsweetened, plain yoghurt. Sticky, sweet yoghurts can have ingredients that irritate the skin.

5. Strawberries

Nature's acidic face peel. Take one strawberry, wash and spit open and then apply to clean skin. Leave on for 5 minutes before washing off. The natural acids eat away dead skin cells and leave smoother skin.

Down sides: don't leave on too long. It can irritate more sensitive skin and can redness.

As always, don't get carried away. Test a small part of your arm with any of these just in case your skin doesn't like the ingredient. Have fun and start experimenting!

Lips to Die For: a Lip Stick that Shines like a Gloss

It's Monday and that's make-up day! Time to bring you the best make-up products out there and in that spirit I have a high-pigment lip color that shines like a gloss but wears like a lip stick. Urban Decay Super-Saturated High Gloss Lip Color is highly pigmented and packs a vibrant punch with a glossy finish. It wears as long as your average lipstick, which could be extended with lip liner.
Courtesy of Sephora
I recommend pairing it with Urban Decay's 24/7 Lip Liner to extend the wear, like I have in the picture below.

Here I'm wearing F-Bomb (a fantastic neutral red) lined with 24/7 lip liner in Gash, a darker red. I've worn the combo from 9 am through 7 at night and eaten twice--only 1 touch up. 

Down sides: only a few shades, and not all of them match with a 24/7 lip liner color. I love Naked, is a shimmery natural color that is the best nude lipstick I own, however if I want it to last longer, I'll have to put a layer of lip liner under it and my choices are either play up the pink with "Wicked", a brighter pink shade of the 24/7 lip liner, or give it a brick undertone with "Midnight Cowboy", a dark brown-pink. It makes me search for perfect liner to match and that's not too kind on the wallet though Super Saturated's initial cost of $19 is not too shabby. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Find of the Week: the Best Bargain Product for Shiny Hair

Every week I will bring you one product that is kind to the wallet and works better than the spendy alternatives! This week it's my new favorite product line for shiny hair: Moroccan Argan Oil Shine System from Suave Professionals.

Courtesy of
I haven't tried Suave in many years but after reading this was the top pick for shine-inducing shampoos in a national magazine, I had to try it. The fact that it is about $4 a bottle in most retail stores can't hurt, right? I've tried Argan Oil infused products before and haven't always been impressed, but this shampoo-conditioner combo did what it claimed. My hair was super shiny and super soft. I find you can get most of the same results using just the shampoo or just the conditioner so if you need let's say a volumizing shampoo you can pair it with the shine conditioner and have the volume and the shine.

Down sides: the smell. It is a little baby-powdery for me, but it dissipates after an hour or so. I've found that if I just use the shampoo or the conditioner and not both, the scent is almost non-existent.

Top 5 Ways to Clear Skin Through the Decades

As a woman in my 30s, I have battled acne all my life. I have been following the fads as well as the advancements in skincare for the last 20 years. Here are a few top treatments I have used in the past--from grease busters to re-surfacers to drying lotions--and a few tricks to help your complexion from day to day.

1. The Pill

Image Courtesy of
Yes, the number 1 cause of acne breakouts is hormones, not, the foods you are eating or sweating too much at the gym. The pill can balance out your hormones and tame acne breakouts. This is the best way to tame your acne in your teens and 20s, when your hormones are fluctuating the most. Alternatives to the pill that give you the same dose of hormones, like the patch and certain implants can have the same effect, but the pill has been tried and true for decades.

Down sides: you have to take it at the same time every day and there are possible side effects as noted by your doctor or pharmacist. Just consult with your doctor to see which birth control option is best for you. There are a lot of different pills out there so ask you doctor which he/she recommends.

2. Benzoyl Peroxide

Photo Courtesy of
A common ingredient in acne-fighting creams and the main ingredient in Proactiv, benzoyl peroxide works to dry out acne and sterilize the area to prevent more breakouts from occurring. This treatment is great for someone who doesn't have sensitive skin and who has large pimples and oily skin. You can find "gentle" versions of creams and face washes that have smaller amounts of benzoyl peroxide. I recommend trying these first to see how your skin reacts and then moving to a higher dosage. I would also recommend trying 1 product with this ingredient, either a cream or a face wash and not both to prevent over-drying

Down sides: can over-dry your skin, especially sensitive skin. Because of its skin-bleaching properties, it can also bleach you clothes. Yes, bleach your clothes! So be very careful when using it and don't use it on your body unless you plan on only wearing polyester clothes that don't bleach and washing then separately for the rest of your life. Because of this, I only use a benzoyl peroxide cream (Terminator 10 with time-release medication) on my face and very sparingly. 

3. Salicylic Acid

This acid is naturally found in willow bark and acid foods like strawberries and works to peel off a layer of skin and speed skin regeneration. It can work wonderfully for people in their teens through their 40s and can been gentler than benzoyl peroxide for many. Unlike benzoyl peroxide, this doesn't stain your clothes so it is suitable for use on your body to fight those pimples that crop up under your bra strap or on your front or back. 

Courtesy of
Down sides: can be drying or irritating and is not recommended for pregnant women. Because it works to take off the surface layer of skin, it works great for little black heads and to reduce those larger pimples, but those with sensitive skin might find it too drying. The highest over-the-counter dosage is 2% so find either a face wash or a spot treatment that has 1% or less and work your way up to 2. Also, because it is closely related to aspirin it is usually not recommended for pregnant women.

4. Sulfur 

That's right, sulfur. There are quite a few masks and spot treatments out there with sulfur as an ingredient and they can work to dry a pimple out as wells as treat it. 

Courtesy of Sephora 
Many of these masks recommend using it as a spot or overnight treatment to diminish the size and look of pimples. They work for most people and are usually not too drying.

Down sides: the smell and not too effective. The sulfur smell can be too much for some people (my husband can't stand it). Also, the masks work to dry out the oil in the pimple and calm the skin. They don't usually work as fast as the stronger medicines like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. 

5. Tea Tree Oil

A natural ingredient, tea tree oil is an antiseptic and can work to heal pimples. Coupled with other calming ingredients like sulphur and green tea, it can work well to treat pimples after a breakout.

Courtesy of
Great for sensitive skin and safe for pregnant women, this ingredient can work best for certain skin types. 

Down sides: the smell, effectiveness. I love the smell of tea tree oil but for some reason it is too antiseptic-smelling for my husband so I have to cover up the scent before bed time. Also, it is not as strong of an ingredient so those of you with severe acne might not find it works as well as others. However, since it is safe for pregnant women (hormones in the 1st trimester can ravage the skin), I used Belli's spot treatment through pregnancy and an still using it today. I was the only thing that worked since my skin became too sensitive for even smaller doses of other meds. It works great to dry out pimples and counter redness. 

Bottom line:

Ask you doctor what would work best for you and try out a few different options. There are a lot of treatments out there and they don't all work for everyone. You'll have to keep trying until you find the right one for you. Until then, don't pick at your skin, concealer is your best friend and ease into new treatments to attain the best possible results!