March 30, 2014

My "I'm Turning 30" Skincare Routine

Anti-Aging Skincare Routine

Eeeek! It's almost April....which means next month, I'll be the big 3 - 0. The real surprising thing is, I'm not dreading it as one might think I would be. I actually don't really give a rat's ass. It feels no different than 29, or 27, or even 25...okay, well maybe it feels a little different than 25.

I thought I might put a little cheat sheet together for anyone feeling like they may need to start thinking about wrinkle prevention/treatment but not quite ready for peels and lasers and botox and needles or any combination of the aforementioned. This is an effective and more importantly EASY way to get started and the best part? Super affordable! Full disclaimer: this works for ME. I do not have sensitive skin and typically do not respond negatively to different exfoliating fruit acids and things of the like. If you have sensitive skin, this probably is not the routine for you and I will work on putting together an anti-aging routine for sensitive skinned gals.
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I stumbled on the Neutrogena Pore Refining line about a year ago and I ab-so-lutely love it. It is loaded with alpha and beta-hydroxy acids which are a couple of my closest friends. I have been using the Exfoliating Cream Cleanser these days since its still a bit cold and rainy here in Washington, but I usually switch to the gel cleanser in the summer time. I use the Toner at night and then I follow up with the Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream (you only need a tiny pea sized amount for your whole face). There is retinol in the moisturizer which can make your skin more sensitive to the sun so it's great that there is SPF 15 in it. However, during the day, I like an extra layer of protection against the sun, so I use Coola Mineral Face SPF 30 Matte Cucumber sun screen. I LOVE this for the face because unlike almost every sunscreen out there, this one has a matte finish and doesn't leave your face feeling like an oil slick. Plus it smells like cucumbers. Bonus points! I'll be real honest about my eye "cream" (in quotes because it's a gel/serum consistency). It's not my favorite. I have found that it does a fantastic job at tightening and firming, but it doesn't do much in the area of lessening dark circles (even though it claims to do so). So...if you need help with puffiness and loose skin around the eye area, this might be a great choice. If you also need help with dark circles, this probably ain't gonna cut it. For the days I don't feel like wearing full-coverage foundation, I am L-O-V-I-N-G Origins VitaZing Energy-boosting moisturizer. It comes out of the tube white, but it adjusts to your skin tone and makes you look instantly more awake and refreshed and somehow....tan. See here for more reasons I love this stuff. Lastly, I have really been digging Smashbox Photo Finish Hydrating Primer. Here's what's up with this stuff: it's hydrating (no duh, right?) but it dries totally matte without being over-drying. I apply it about 2 minutes after my moisturizer and then wait at least 2 minutes to apply either my foundation or a BB cream. My makeup lasts ALL day with this stuff. Go to Nordstrom and get a sample if you can. There are 9 (I think) different Smashbox primers that all address a different concern and this one is just my personal favorite, but there's literally an answer to every problem in this line. Pick your poison!

Like I said up above, this is just what has been working for me. I've been extremely happy with my skin these days and every time I get carded for booze, I remind myself to go home and thank my skincare products (and Mom for passing her good genes along). Smell ya later, wrinkles!
March 26, 2014

My Top 10 Foundations

Top 10 Foundations

While this isn't a "core shaking" post, I do get asked A LOT what my top foundation picks are. I have a pretty even mix of high and low brow choices that work beautifully every time. I have used each and every single one of these foundations on many more than a few occasions and I keep going back to them. Without further ado...*clears throat*
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1 | Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Full Coverage Foundation the title of this one pretty much sums up exactly what it does. Long lasting, full coverage, feels weightless on skin. The Amazonian clay somehow adjusts itself to moisturize dry skin yet absorbs oil where needed. Perfect for combination skin types.
2 | No7 Beautifully Matte Foundation SUCH a great foundation for oily skin types. Delivers up to 12 hours of wear and a totally matte finish yet it's still somewhat sheer on the skin. Great for oily skin that doesn't want a super full coverage.
3 | Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation oh my....look away from the price tag. This foundation is welllll worth the price. It's like the Bentley of foundations. It's oil-free but it has this incredible luminous, dewy finish to it. Perfect for dry skin types (but works on all skin types) that want a sheer coverage that is buildable where needed.
4 | L'Oreal True Match Lumi Healthy Luminous Foundation this would be kind of a drugstore dupe for the Armani Silk (above) although not quite as luxurious. This guy is buildable as well and delivers a beautiful "glow" to your skin. Improves skin over time with vitamins, antioxidants and sun protection.
5 | Laura Mercier Silk Creme Foundation this one may make my "top 3" foundation list. It's that good. It's the creamiest texture and covers like it's no one's business. Such a great foundation for people with rosacea and hyper-pigmentation. Oil-free but gives a really pretty radiance.
6 | Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Radiant Firming Makeup this is one of those foundations that whenever I wear it, I am constantly getting complimented on my skin. No one believes me that it costs under $10. The coverage is incredible but I still feel like I'm seeing my skin (only better) and not a face full of foundation. It runs a bit dark so even the "Classic Ivory" is closer to a pinky beige. Best to color match in person on this one. Great little drugstore gem.
7 | Makeup For Ever Face & Body Liquid Makeup this is a Makeup Artist favorite because it can be used on almost all skin types, it is waterproof, SUPER light on the skin but offers great full coverage with a satin finish. It is formulated so it can be worn on the body as well which is great if you have hyper-pigmentation, sun spots, freckles, acne scarring, etc. on your neck or chest.
8 | L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Foundation this is another great drugstore gem for so many reasons (besides the price). First, the shade range is phenomenal. It is virtually impossible not to find your shade. Secondly, this is a great choice for sensitive skin. It's free of fragrances, oils and fillers. I just love how my skin looks with this foundation. I almost never have to set it with powder because I get this flawless, smooth finish that I like the look of alone.
9 | Makeup For Ever Mat Velvet + a little bit goes such a long way with this one. If you need a full coverage makeup that controls oil, mattifies and gives a powder finish, this is your foundation. The result literally looks like velvet (hence the name). This is a professional version of what I wear daily (#10 below) and in MY experience, the only difference is I don't feel like I need to set or powder this one like I do with my Revlon Color Stay. Some people prefer this one, some prefer Revlon. It's personal preference. However, the Revlon is a fraction of the cost so try them both and decide for yourself.
10 | Revlon ColorStay Makeup for Oily/Combo Skin I wear this foundation almost every day in color "Sand Beige" (minus the days I'm going "light" and wearing this CC cream). I'm obsessed with it. Sometimes I convince myself to try fancier brands but I always find myself favoring this foundation. It's full-coverage but it never feels cakey. I either apply it with my damp Beauty Blender sponge or my fingers. I just can't say enough good things about it. They make it for Normal/Dry complexions as well which is still oil-free, but just a bit more moisturizing for those gals that need it.

And there you have it! Maybe you'll find a new favorite tucked in there somewhere!
March 22, 2014

Spring Beauty Update & Makeup Shelf Life

Springtime Beauty Update

It's officially Springtime, y'all! It's. About. Time. Seriously...for some reason, this Winter seemed to drag on forever. I'm not complaining (I don't think). I love Winter, but this year my cabin fever was starting to get to me somethin' fierce. Like the rest of the world, I will be doing a major Spring cleaning of my house, including my closet. It's a great time to purge, purge, purge. Spring is a time of renewal and updating. Your makeup bag and beauty routine should not be overlooked! Time to toss out all the nasty, germy, broken up powders, thick, gummy mascaras, and basically anything else that has an "off" smell...yeah, I'm talking to YOU, waxy crayon smelling lipsticks! Here are some quick changes you can make to your beauty routine to take you from Fall/Winter to Spring/Summer:
1 | Try switching your heavy, full-coverage foundation out for a BB or CC cream or CC cream stick with SPF.
2 | Switch powder blush for a cream blush or a blush stick. Most of these can also double as a lip color as well!
3 | Ditch the heavy, matte lips and try a punchy, sheer berry color or a fun shade of coral!
4 | Instead of a dark, liquid lined eye, try a smudgy, soft pencil that also doubles as a cream eyeshadow.
5 | Switch out a matte, full-coverage finishing powder for a translucent powder instead.
6 | Try experimenting with a fun, colored mascara instead of black! My favorite way to wear this trend is to apply a light coat of my regular black mascara as my "anchor" and then use a fun color like bright blue or purple just on the outer tips of my lashes. This way I still have the black closest to my lash line which really makes my eyes stand out, but then I have a bright punchy color towards the tips (kind of an ombre effect) that really intensifies my eye color!
If you're wondering about makeup shelf-life, I've made you lovelies this little cheat sheet that you can "Pin" or if you're into killing trees, print it off and keep it somewhere handy next to your makeup! It's so important to get rid of expired makeup for a few reasons: 1) Germs, germs, germs 2) They start losing effectiveness after a while 3) It's an excuse to buy new makeup (as if we needed another reason, RIGHT??)

Happy Spring!
March 20, 2014

Makeover Monday...on a Thursday!

I've known Stephanie (better known as Steph around these parts) since junior high. She was a blonde back in those days. Steph has always been a looker with incredible and expressive eyes. She is one of the funniest broads I know and I am very grateful she keeps coming around to hang out with me. I dig this chick. Check out her incredibly stylish and useful home/design/decor blog here. Steph started coloring her hair dark back before she and I reconnected in our adulthood and it totally suits her! I have been dying to do her makeup for ages and tonight I was able to do a "no makeup, makeup" look for those times you want to look perfectly flawless but don't want to look like you're wearing makeup. Then we kicked it up a notch and did a deep berry, vampy lip and deeper contouring as well as a sexy, tousled side fish-tail braid. The very cool part is we went from the natural "day" look to the deep "vamp" look in less than 5 steps! This would be a great way to transition your office or everyday look to a night out with the gals or drinks after work in a few easy peasy steps.

Here is our before and after "I'm not wearing any makeup" makeup look (products used below photo). As usual with all my before and after shots, there has been NO retouching to any photos, no filters, nothing but a lot of natural and artificial lighting. She already looks perfect before, but we just enhanced things a bit to make her feel more put together and refined. See how much more awake and alert she looks? Eyes are brighter, skin is glowing and face is instantly slimmer!
Here's what I used:
Primer | Foundation (color "Ivory") | Concealer/Highlighter (color "Ivory") | Concealer (color "NW20") Contour (color "N7") | Blush (color "Orgasm") | Powder | Brows (color "brunette") | Eyelid (color "Riviera Rose") | Eye crease (color "Trax") | Eyeliner (color "Graphite") | Mascara (color "Black") | Lip liner (color "Innocent") | Lip cream (color "Natural")

To take this look from day to night, all I did was deepen her contouring underneath her cheekbones (using the same contouring product as her day look) and along her temples, and added a powder highlighter right above her cheekbones. Then I added another coat of mascara and deepened her crease color with a deeper shade, then dragged a pretty copper along her upper and lower lash lines. Then I lined her lips (color "Couture") and added a very deep berry shade of matte lipstick. Literally 5 steps and she went from.....
Oh, I also teased the crap out of her hair and gave her a quick messy fish-tail braid to sass things up a bit. You could also do a fun messy low chignon bun or a trendy top knot if you aren't up-to-snuff on your self-braiding skills. I can't get over how flawless her skin looks. This, my friends, is the power of the Beauty Blender sponge (well, that and good genes).

Steph had her lash extensions done recently and it just made me want to get mine done even more! If you are in Washington and around the South Sound area, check out her lash guru HERE. Steph just raves about her and I can attest first hand that they were done flawlessly.

I had such a blast doing this makeover and will try to do more of them so I can post them here for y'all to see! It's much nicer for my readers to get to look at faces other than my boring old mug every once in a while, amIrightoramIright?? Just for funsies, here is a before and after shot with her makeup-less face next to her dramatic look so you can really see the transformation:
Thank you SO much, Steph for being my beautiful model! And now I leave you so I can go grow out my hair so that I can give myself fist-tail braids EVERY SINGLE DAY.

March 19, 2014

Wedding Style on a Budget

 It's almost wedding season! Can you believe it?! It always sneaks up on me and then, seemingly out of nowhere, the invitations start rolling in. I love weddings. I'm not a traditional romantic, I hate mush and cheesy things make me shudder like a bad shot of whiskey, but I do love a good wedding. Something about getting dressed up, getting a (hopefully) nice dinner and cocktails, watching people make asses out of themselves on the dance floor, and OH YEAH the exchanging of the vows and all that (see?? I'm not a complete monster!) Sneaking up on 30 years old here come May, I've been to my fair share of weddings. Hell, I've even had my own wedding back in 2009 and it was the epitome of perfection (thanks, Mom and Dad!) minus the whole 105 degree temperature outside that day. Seriously, Washington?!?!

Here we are. Young, in love and 10 pounds lighter. I love this rascal even more today than I did back then.

But I digress. Back to the point of this post. I'm sure there are quite a few people out there who are trying to plan a wedding on a small budget. It can seem very daunting when reading through wedding magazines and looking at all the "over the top" venues, dresses, place settings and designer bridesmaid dresses. You may be wondering to yourself  "can I have a beautiful and stylish wedding without racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debt??" The answer is a resounding YES. If you can think outside of the box (SO critical) and keep an open and creative mind, you can style a wedding without going broke. Let's start with the Bride, shall we?

All of the above gowns cost $300 or less! Say whaaaaaa?! I'm not even close to kidding. Here's your first opportunity to think outside the box. You don't have to buy your dress at a traditional bridal boutique. There are lots of other options and some major retailers are even carrying "wedding" lines in their inventories now. Hop onto Nordstrom, Macy's, Dillards, Ann Taylor, JCrew (to name a few) and just do a search for white or ivory (or whatever color you're going for) gowns and dresses. IF you make the decision to order online, make sure they have a great return policy just in case. And make SURE you give yourself plenty of time for shipping and time for alterations. Buying online is not for the procrastinating types. If you have a great tailor or seamstress, they can really make an "off the rack" dress look very expensive. Ask around for recommendations for killer tailors in your area. Another way to make a dress "your own" is by adding a chic belt or sash or......

Another one of my favorite ideas is to find a very simple white or ivory strapless dress and add a beautiful lace "jacket" over the top like this. So stunning and unique!

Alright, now that the wheels are spinning, let's move onto the Bridesmaids. Just as discussed above, try to think outside the realm of bridal boutiques. Bridesmaids hate hearing "and you'll actually wear the dress again!" (as they're staring at a radiant orchid chiffon number) more than anything in the world because...well...most of the time it just ain't true. Think of places like Rent the Runway where you can choose a dress (they even send a backup size), choose either a 4 or 8 day rental (8 days costs a bit more) and they ship the dress to you in a garment bag that you get to keep, along with a self-addressed return envelope you just have to drop in the mail! Because these are designer dresses, I'm not sure exactly how many of each dress they carry and how many of each size, but this would be such an amazing thing to do if you are giving your girls the option to choose their own dress. I totally wish I would have thought of this for my bridesmaids! Check out some of my favorites below. The prices listed are the rental prices. Links for each dress (left to right) below.

Some of my other favorite places to look for AFFORDABLE bridesmaid dresses are Asos, Nordstrom, Ruche (for casual weddings), 6pm, Banana Republic, Piperlime and LOFT. If searching online for ideas, try not to use the word "bridesmaid" in the'll most likely end up with a bunch of links for David's Bridal and a ton of other online bridal boutiques with cookie cutter options and steep price tags. Search for things like "cocktail dresses", "evening gowns", "little black dress", things like that. 

Beauty & Hair
As far as beauty goes, if having your makeup done by a professional is just NOT in the budget, here are my top drugstore picks as well as some useful tips for makeup that photographs beautifully that I've learned over the years doing makeup for weddings. There are a few things you want to keep in mind when choosing your makeup for the big day:

1 | Mineral foundations and powders typically DO NOT photograph well. They tend to get a whitish, chalky appearance so stick with liquid, cream or cream to powder foundations.
2 | Even if you don't normally wear blush on a regular basis, you'll want to wear it on the wedding day. It really gives the face a beautiful healthy flush and flash photography tends to wash people out when they aren't wearing blush. Stick to soft, warm pinks and rosy shades.
3 | Wear waterproof mascara and eyeliner. I'm not a "crier" but you never know when something will make you tear up. If not the vow exchange, you never know if one of your college friends is going to get plastered and trip and spill their red wine on your dress, and THAT would make ANY gal cry.
4 | Wear color on your lips. You can go pretty neutral but make sure you have SOME color on your lips. For the same reason as the blush above. Trust me on this one. And make sure you re-apply before any photos are taken.
5 | Get the best powder you can afford. If it's a drugstore powder, just make sure it is very finely milled so that if you have to re-apply, you don't get cakey. It's also a good idea to have one of your bridesmaids keep a package of blotting papers tucked somewhere.
6 | Think of anyone you know that always has flawless makeup and see if she might be available to help you out (if you're really clueless) on the big day. If you do this, make sure you tell her that under no circumstance will you accept a gift from her, her beauty help is gift enough. There are some makeup counters that will do complimentary makeup applications but they typically like you to purchase at LEAST one of the items used. Call around to see what their policies are. I know many of the counters at Nordstrom have a $50 charge for a full makeup application but that $50 goes toward your purchase for whatever you want to buy afterwards. If you really can't come up with anyone to help you, then.....
7 | PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE, and then practice some more. Get everything you'll need for the big day (see my picks below) and then spend some time on YouTube searching for "bridal makeup", "wedding day makeup" and things of the like. Here are some of my favorites: click me, click me, click me. Make sure you go outside in natural light when you're finished and have someone snap some pictures of you to see how your makeup looks in photographs. 
8 | Invite a girlfriend over, give her some champagne (but don't get her too schnockered), and bribe her into playing with your hair. Make sure you have some pictures on hand that you can see if you can replicate. One of my all time favorite blogs for DIY hairstyles and updos is The Beauty Department. They show you step by step how to recreate the hairstyles in the pictures! Check out these tutorials here, here and here.

Here are some of my favorite drugstore items to use on brides that photograph beautifully. The formulas are long-lasting without being heavy and the colors give that "blushing bride" look for when you want to "look like you....only better."

Milani Baked Powder Blush in colors "Corallina" or "Luminoso". These blushes are the PRETTIEST warm pink colors and they are fantastic dupes for MAC Mineralize Blushes.
CoverGirl Olay Concealer Balm Stick this little guy is the creamiest concealer stick in all the land. It's beautiful for under the eye area but still has enough "oomph" to cover any problem areas.
L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lipcolour in "Fairest Nude". OMG. You guys. Hands down the prettiest shade of lipstick for your wedding day. I don't know how they married (see what I did there?) the perfect blend of pink and nude...but they just so did.
Ardell Flare Lashes. I have these bad boys stashed ALL over my house. They are such an easy way to get beautiful full lashes without the telltale sign of falsies all over your lid. They are about 7392% more comfortable to wear than strip lashes and they are so much easier to apply. Again, practice makes perfect. You just apply a bulb of lash glue to the end and gently place them on top of already mascara'ed lashes.
Maybelline Full n Soft Waterproof Mascara is an oldie but a goodie. It's been around forever and has nearly perfect reviews, because, well, it works. Full AND long lashes, doesn't clump and won't run down your face.
My two favorite drugstore foundations Revlon ColorStay for a full coverage virtually no touch ups needed and L'Oreal True Match Lumi for great coverage, but a really pretty "dewy" finish.
Revlon Photo Ready pressed powder sets makeup perfectly and doesn't get heavy or cakey. Looks great in photos.
NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder will forever be my favorite drugstore brow powder. Period. I use it daily. Just make sure you use a good angled brush like this to apply it as opposed to the crappy little crap stick they give you in the package.
NYX Illuminator in "Narcissistic" ohhhhh so pretty. I love this highlighter! Make sure you only apply this to the cheek bone area and maybe a little on the brow bone. You must highlight very carefully (read: sparingly) when you are going to be photographed, otherwise you run the risk of looking like a grease monkey vampire.
NYX Retractable Lip Liner there are a few shades that would work here. "Pretty in Pink", "Soft Pink" or "Pinky Beige".
BH Cosmetics Floral Blush Duos okay if you don't know about BH Cosmetics....y'all better familiarize yo self! Such great palettes for next to NOTHING and they are incredible. These blush/highlighter duos are seriously amazing and they're on sale right now for $4! "Daisy" is my favorite.
e.l.f. Studio Conditioning Lip Balms my faves are "Peaceful Pink" and "Mellow Melon". This is another little drugstore diamond in the rough. The perfect lip balm for brides. Super moisturizing and the prettiest wash of color.
Revlon PhotoReady Perfecting Primer just a really stellar little drugstore primer. I really like how this one feels and it creates a flawless canvas for foundation.
Essence Sun Club Matte Bronzer you know what's hard?? Finding a bronzer with no shimmer! This is a great matte bronzer with a believable color to it. ONLY apply where the sun would naturally hit your face (cheek bones, high points of forehead, bridge of nose, collar bone).
L'Oreal Infallible Eyeliner oh I just love love love this eyeliner. Seriously. It does what it says it will. The black is a must-have but the charcoal is SO lovely on brides. Gives just enough "pop" but isn't too harsh.
BH Cosmetics Forever Nude Palette I totally saved the best for last. This palette is EVERYTHING. It's almost like it was created for brides, by brides. The colors are perfect and it includes 6 eyeshadows, 2 blushes and 2 lip colors! Talk about bang for your buck! And it's on sale for $11.95 right now! You could essentially use this as your entire look book!

Whew! This post is getting looooong. Hopefully like your marriage will be! Man, I'm just full of jokes! I'm going to stop myself here because 1) I'm getting loopy and 2) since I specialize in primarily beauty and fashion, I will leave the other "money saving tips" up to the other professionals like Martha Stewart and The Knot. I really hope you were able to get at least a few ideas here for your big day! If I can offer any advice, it would be this: try to focus on the MARRIAGE and not the WEDDING. Wedding guests never remember what the bridesmaids wore, if your dress was white, ivory or cream or what dinner was served. They remember whether or not the couple looked happy and in love! If you can master that, then the details will fall into place!
March 13, 2014

NO Makeup Brush Challenge: How to Create an Everyday Look Using JustYour Fingers

Yesterday as I was cleaning all my makeup brushes, I thought to myself "I wonder if I could do an entire look using just my hands". The thought dawned on me for a couple reasons 1) I love a good challenge and 2) I needed to slap some makeup on but needed to wait for my brushes to dry. Ugh. First world problems, right?

So...I set out to create an everyday "day" look that was fresh, pretty and most of all S I M P L E. The funny thing? I never realized just how dependent I am on my makeup brushes. I kept reaching for them and then practically had to slap them out of my own hands and continue on. I knew applying things like foundation would be a breeze, but I had to get creative when it came to contouring and things like shine control (I couldn't set everything with a powder just can't do that with yo fingehz!)

The other thing I wanted to do was create this look using ONLY drugstore products and just using around 10 steps. Sometimes when I'm doing a "quickie face" I reach for my higher-end products because it's so easy to get a pretty result when the products are finely milled, smooth, highly pigmented and long-lasting. SO, in addition to not using ANY brushes (other than the wand of my mascara) I used only drugstore products to see if I could get a result that rivaled my luxury lines. The outcome? I was pretty darn happy with it! The above pictures were taken with a LOT of natural light and the flash on my iPhone camera. No apps, no filters. Not bad, eh? Read on for the deets, yo!

What I used...

1 | Because I knew I wasn't going to be able to apply a pressed or loose powder (no brushes or sponges!) I wanted shine control. Typically I use Smashbox Photo Matte, but in the sake of sticking with drugstore brands, I used Rimmel Stay Matte Primer all over my face (after moisturizer) let "dry" for at least 2 minutes before applying foundation otherwise your primer will "pill" or ball up on your skin.
2 | Apply foundation to entire face using the pads of your fingers to blend and smooth outwards toward hairline and jawline. I used Revlon ColorStay Foundation (in color "Sand Beige") for oily/combination skin ('s a fave).
3 | Apply Maybelline Dream Lumi (I used "Ivory" but "Radiant" is also a fave) under eye area in an inverted triangle shape, down the bridge of my nose, around my lips, above my eyebrows and in between brows. Once these areas had product applied to them, I used my fingers to "press" it in as opposed to rubbing or sweeping it off my face. This ensures you don't rub all the product off and you keep that pretty "highlighted" effect.
4 | Here's where things got interesting fun. I wanted to contour a bit to slim my face and make sure it had some "life" but I knew I couldn't use a powder brush or blending brush, so I used my L'Oreal True Match Super-Blendable Crayon in a shade MUCH darker than my own (I used Medium/Deep Neutral) to draw directly onto my face where I wanted some contour. In this case, any place I would use a brush to contour. Underneath my cheekbones, around the top of my forehead (close to the hairline) down the sides of my nose and very lightly along my jawline. Then I just used my fingers to lightly blend it all in! I was very surprised how easy this was!
5 | For blush I used a tiny drop of e.l.f. Studio HD Blush in color "Diva" which is a verrrrrry hot pink shade. I put the drop directly onto my middle finger and before I put it on my face, I rubbed it between both sets of fingers to make sure it applied a bit lighter. Then I just kind of dabbed and rubbed in circular motions until my cheeks looked "flushed". Easy peasy!
6 | For a pretty iridescent look, I used NYX Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator in "Sunbeam" to my cheekbones using the exact method I used above for my blush.
7 | For my eyes, I just used my middle finger to apply a coppery shade (top row, second from left) to my entire lid. For the crease, I used my other middle finger to apply a deep plummy shade (bottom row, second color from left) right into the crease and slightly up into the brow bone. This is a cheapy e.l.f. palette that I think is discontinued, but you can find a similar one here. Now, for the price, the pigment is surprisingly good. What you WILL find with cheap palettes like this is, the fallout is pretty severe, meaning it kicks up shadow dust all over and it can sometimes fall onto your cheeks, so just be aware of that when working with inexpensive shadows. Otherwise, these are very blendable for the price!
8 | Apply a semi-thick line of liquid liner, I used L'Oreal Lineur Intense in "Carbon Black" to upper lash line only. Let dry.
9 | Apply a hefty dose of black mascara. I used just "step 1" of CoverGirl LashBlast Bombshell mascara to top and bottom lashes (always apply to bottom lashes first and then do your top, this keeps top lashes from getting mascara all over your brow bone while you apply to your bottom lashes). "Step 2" of this mascara is a really pretty and GLOSSY kind of seal to the first step. The "step 1" has that fat, rubbery type brush that really gets your lashes plump and then "step 2" is a more traditional style brush that applies the glossy almost waterproof layer which is great when you really want your lashes to stay put (great for going out) but since I was just doing an "everyday" look, I didn't find it necessary.
10 | I used Maybelline Define-a-Brow pencil in "dark blonde" to fill in my brows and NYX Wonder Pencil in "light" to rim my waterline and trace underneath my brow line to really perfect the shape.
11 | So, it turns out CoverGirl "re-did" their old Lipslicks and they're now called Lipslicks Smoochies...I have not tried them since they got new packaging, but I would imagine they are the same thing. If so, I LOVE them (the old ones anyway). They are a perfect hybrid of lip balm and lipstick and they are so super smooth! I used the old color called "Princess" but I have almost every shade. Worth it. You don't have to be super precise like you would with a lipstick so these are really great when you're short on time!

Boom. Done. This entire look took me less than 10 minutes to complete! This would be a great "emergency" makeup kit to put together without brushes for the times you need a very quick, yet put-together look or for traveling. So simple!
March 11, 2014

Female Balding: Immediate Fixes for Alopecia, or Fine/Thinning Hair

As women, there are just some things we don't go around shouting from the roof tops. Things like stretch marks, adult acne, boobs that have had the meat sucked out of them from nursing hungry babies...*frantically searches room for shoulder to cry on*. One of the biggest areas of embarrassment for women is losing their hair. Now, I'm not talking about hair breakage or damage that has caused the hair to thin or break off around the mid-shaft or ends, but rather the actual loss of hair at the root due to alopecia or female pattern baldness. This is a hot-button issue for women because so many of us associate our hair with our identity as females. As shallow as that sounds, it is true for so many women even if they don't want to admit it. When you think of "balding" you immediately think of an older man, a grandpa, a creepy uncle, a dad...not a seemingly healthy woman. But the truth is, this is a very real thing and if you or someone you know is experiencing thinning hair, you (or they) are not alone!

There are many factors that may be causing your thinning hair. I will attempt to break them down as simply as I can and then I'm going to focus on providing immediate solutions as opposed to permanent or "medical" solutions. However, if you are interested in reading about some of the medical options (most often prescribed is Minoxidil or "Rogaine") Harvard Health Publication has one of the best breakdowns of info I've found (scroll down to "treatment with medications") Before I get into the temporary fixes, there ARE some things you can do to help long-term. For starters, take a good look at your diet. Are you eating a bunch of processed junk with no nutrients and a ton of preservatives? Are you deficient in any key nutrients like iron or Vitamin B? There are some foods that you can incorporate into your daily diet that can really affect the health of your hair and skin. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, iron, biotin and vitamin A to name a few. Here are the top 10! If you add a biotin supplement to your diet, make sure you are getting plenty of water to flush out any extra that is not needed by your system. This doesn't happen to everyone, but some people experience painful cystic pimples if they start taking a biotin supplement and aren't getting at LEAST 8 full glasses of water to go with it.

Alrighty then. Let's get down to brass tacks...

Female pattern baldness is not as well understood as male pattern baldness, but may be related to:
  • family history of female or male pattern baldness
  • aging 
  • changes in our hormone levels (androgens)
Now, there ARE some causes of female baldness that can be explained, and those are things like:
  • certain autoimmune diseases (such as thyroid disease, vitiligo, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis)
  • alopecia areata or "patchy hair loss". Alopecia is NOT contagious and it is NOT due to nerves. What happens is that the immune system attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss.
  • breaking of hair (from treatments such as weaves, pulling or twisting of hair (braids), or abnormalities of the hair shaft
  • vitamin deficiencies (such as iron, Vitamin B, etc)
  • hormone problems
  • skin diseases that can cause blockage or scarring of the hair follicle
  • temporary shedding after a major illness, surgery or pregnancy
  • medications such as chemotherapy
Now that we have some of the "nuts and bolts" out of the way, you may be wondering what can be done to fix this?

Temporary fixes: these are some great options for immediate satisfaction. These solutions will give you the illusion of thicker, fuller hair at the root and will camouflage the scalp. One option is applied directly to the scalp with what looks like an over-sized eyeshadow applicator and colors the scalp so that it matches the hair, therefore giving the illusion of thicker, fuller hair at the root. The other option is either sprinkled or sprayed on at the root and deposits very light fibers that attach to the existing hair. Both options should be washed out when you shower as to avoid blocking or covering the hair follicles for an extended time period. Check them out!

DermMatch | This is the option that is applied directly to the scalp. See how to apply here. DermMatch comes in 8 colors and each "disc" lasts an average of 8 months. This is also a great way to cover up gray roots in between trips to your colorist! You can order it here and it comes with a 100% money back guarantee! Here are some before and after photos from women who have used DermMatch:

Toppik | This next option is my favorite. It instantly gives the appearance of a thick, full head of hair. This is a great option for someone struggling with pattern baldness, but also people that just want to "beef up" thin or extremely fine hair. Directly from the Toppik website: "Toppik Hair Building Fibers are actually natural Keratin of the highest grade, the same type of protein found in real hair. The Fibers have a strong natural static charge that creates a magnetic effect, tightly binding Toppik Hair Building Fibers to even the finest strand of human hair. The results have changed the lives of millions of women and men in various situations, ranging from fine or thinning hair to alopecia." Pretty cool, right? Toppik can be purchased directly from their website, or you can get it at Sephora (available online only at Sephora). If you're still struggling to understand how Toppik works, I pulled this neat-o illustration from their website to give you a better understanding (see below).

Before Toppik

After Toppik 
(illustration showing how the fibers attach to existing hair)

Check out this little video as an example of how easy it is to apply

COUVRe | made by Toppik is a similar concept to DermMatch. It is a scalp concealing lotion that eliminates the contrast between the scalp and the color of the hair. It is waterproof and is applied with a sponge.

Fullmore | also made by Toppik. This is a similar concept to Toppik, but it is a colored spray (aerosol) that instantly makes hair look thick and full. It does not have the tiny fibers that Toppik has. This would be a great option if you only have a few seconds to address the problem. Also a great option for "in between colors" to cover gray roots.

If you are looking for more topical options, Folica has one of the widest range of hair loss products I have seen online in one place. They have treatments, shampoos, conditioners, vitamins, and styling products.

And there you have it! Hopefully this offered you at least one option to try and assures you no more suffering in silence! If you end up giving any of these a try and are brave enough to talk about it, let me know if any of them worked for you!

March 10, 2014

My FAVORITE Drugstore Brushes on Sale at Ulta! (Plus Coupon)

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Ulta is featuring their Real Techniques and Eco Tools brushes with their "Buy 1, get 1 50% off" sale (3/9/14 - 3/15/14)! This is SUCH a fantastic time to stock up on brushes as these are my two most favorite "drugstore" brand brushes in the world. The quality is unmatched for "budget" brushes. The wash well, there is no shedding and they are all synthetic which also translates to cruelty free!

If you add $10 worth of goodies to your cart, make sure to use coupon code "208994" to receive an extra $3.50 off your total. If you'd rather go in-store to save yourself shipping costs, you can print the coupon off at home, here's the link (expires on 3/15/14).

Real Techniques Brushes
I have so many favorites from each line, but this is a killer opportunity to get yourself the Real Techniques "kits" at such great prices. The "Starter Kit" basically has everything you'd need for your eyes and the "Core Collection" has just about everything you'd need for your face (I'd also recommend their powder brush, and their stippling brush). All of the brushes in the Real Techniques line have flat bases so you can stand them upright on your vanity or counter which is really handy and very sanitary!

Eco Tools Brushes HAVE to get your hands on their Face & Body Sculpting Brush. This thing is so incredible for contouring. Trust me, it will change your life. It is the perfect size/shape for getting right underneath your cheekbones, along your jawline, around the forehead, etc. It's also such a perfect brush to apply bronzer. Eco Tools also has some really great "kits" similar to Real Techniques (a few of my faves here and here) but don't overlook their "Deluxe Fan Brush" which is SO nice to apply powder highlighters/illuminators or if you need an extremely light touch when setting your foundation with a powder. This entire line is cruelty-free, recycled aluminum ferrules (the silver part that holds the bristles together) and bamboo handles.

And if you've been looking for a chic brush holder to display all your new brushes, I am really into using unconventional cups and such to store brushes in, especially if they're out on a counter or vanity. It makes them look so pretty! You can find really pretty depression glass at your local thrift store for a vintage-inspired look (they can be spray-pained any color if you prefer them to be opaque). Or think outside of the box and look for fun and decorative candle holders, cups, shorter vases, art supply stores (for painter brush holders/stands), office organizers with pull-out drawers, etc. The idea here is to keep the bristles well-protected and up off the counter and from the inside of dirty and murky makeup bags where they can collect all kinds of germs.

Now go apply your makeup with your new, fabulous (and affordable) brushes and maybe you can even splurge on a new shadow palette with all the money you just saved yourself!
March 4, 2014

L'Oreal Paris Youth Code Coupons and Rebates

There is some major buzz surrounding the new L'Oreal Paris "Youth Code" skincare line. I don't know about y'all, but I am VERY excited to try it out and see what all the fuss is about! In my ongoing quest to save a buck, I discovered some pretty killer coupons and deals that would make each of the above items around $11 (after all coupons are applied, after mail-in rebate and before tax). That's not bad considering each item is almost $25 a pop! Here's what to do:

Ulta is having a "Buy 2, get 1 FREE" deal on L'Oreal Paris skincare until 3/15/14. So that saves you some serious bones right there. Since there are 3 products I've been dying to get my mitts on, I automatically get the third one for free! Here's what I'm eyeing:

1 | Youth Code Texture Perfector Day/Night Cream
2 | Youth Code Texture Perfector Serum Concentrate
3 | Youth Code Texture Perfector Pore Vanisher (I'm going to try this as my primer)

You'll have to go in-store to use the manufacturer's coupons (below). Ulta accepts manufacturer's coupons in addition (or "stacked") with their $3.50 off a $10 purchase, the cashier will just ring up the manufacturer's coupons first and then apply the $3.50 off coupon at the end.

Save $1.00 on ANY L'Oreal Paris skincare item (excludes trial size)
Save $2.00 on any L'Oreal Paris Revitalift, Youth Code or Age Perfect Product (excludes trial size)
Ulta Coupon $3.50 off any $10 purchase

When you've printed off your above 3 coupons, make sure to print and fill out the L'Oreal Paris $10 mail in rebate. All you need to do to get your $10 rebate is:
  • Spend $30 on ANY L'Oreal Paris Revitalift, Youth Code or Age Perfect products (purchases must be made in one transaction) between 1/1/14 - 3/31/14
  • Complete the offer form
  • Include the original dated sales receipt with eligible purchases circled
  • Rebate submissions must be postmarked by 4/30/14
  • Send in an envelope with the proper postage to:
L'Oreal Paris Revitalift, Youth Code or Age Perfect Rebate
Dept. 36184
P.O. Box 6259
Douglas, AZ 85655-6259

Boom! That's it! Such a great deal. I can't wait to do a post with my results after using this for a while so stay tuned my pretties!
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