Product Review: Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Clarins Beauty Flash, foundation primer
The bombest balm.

I’m a Gemini.* That’s the sign of the Twins, for those of you who are zodiac-impaired. The Twins symbolize two different sides of a personality, which I totally relate to. I have a Work Life side and a Personal Life side. I am an ambivert, which is an extroverted introvert. I even live in two different parts of the country! (Rhode Island for the warmer months, and South Carolina in the winter.) So I like and can relate to people and things with duality. Not in a Jekyll and Hyde way, but in a good way.

And that’s where Clarins Beauty Flash Balm comes in. I first heard about this product years ago in a Lisa Eldridge tutorial. Lisa is an experienced, insanely talented British makeup artist, and she has never steered me wrong with her product recommendations. So when she recommended the Beauty Flash Balm, I went for it.

This product can be used as a primer. It has a tightening effect, which makes it my go-to for clients with mature skin. It’s also great if your skin needs a pick me up the morning after a night out or when you are getting over a cold and your skin looks dull. But take note–you have to apply this product properly or it will backfire on you. Apply a thin layer with your hands, as a brush will absorb too much of it. Make sure you have covered your entire face (not undereyes though) but do not rub it in too much as that will change the consistency. It’s more that you want to smooth it on then rub it in. You feel me? Then immediately–and I mean immediately–apply your foundation. If you wait too long, the Beauty Flash Balm will dry and become a mask, which I’ll get to next. You can apply your foundation with a brush and gently blend with a sponge. Don’t buff it in, okay? I’ve found that MAC Face & Body Foundation works really well with the Beauty Flash Balm. Every time I use this combo on a client, someone comments on how gorgeous the client’s skin looks.

Now for the Beauty Flash Balm’s second side: the face mask. To use it as a mask, apply the product with your hands and rub it in a little. Leave it on for 15 minutes then rinse off. Your skin will look glowy and feel soft as hell after. I think the term “radiance” is overused in the beauty industry and often just a bullshit false claim for many products, but in this case, using the Beauty Flash Balm as a face mask will give your skin some legit radiance. This is my favorite face mask, and there’s nary a skin type it wouldn’t work on.

As great as this product is, you are not supposed to use it every day. (Some of you will ignore this paragraph, but just remember that a makeup artist and licensed esthetician of almost ten years is giving you this advice for a reason.) It’s one of those products your skin can get used to, at which point it will lose its efficacy. So if you are using it as a primer, save it for special occasions. And if you use it as a face mask, I would recommend doing so only two or three times a month.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm is not cheap at $48, but since you wouldn’t be using it every day–right?–you would have it for a while. And if you are a Sephora VIB or Rouge member, you’ll have access to some good sales and discounts in the coming weeks.

If you want to be two faced in the best possible way, this product is worth it. It really delivers. There is a reason it’s a makeup artist favorite. This Gemini would not lie to you.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

*Actually, I’m a Temini–on the Taurus/Gemini cusp–but playing to my Gemini side works better for this post.

Beauty Tips for the Millennials


Millenials, beauty tips, retinoid
My cousin and I (I’m on the right) on my 25th birthday. If I only I knew then what I know now about skincare. (And everything, really.)

I’m solidly in my mid-30s (and it’s a great age, FYI). I’m part of the Oregon Trail Generation–those born in the late 70s through the early 80s–so I feel I am experienced and wise enough to offer advice to Millennials. You know those “Letter to My 25 Year Old Self” posts that pop up every once in a while? They are advice posts disguised as self help/growth posts, but I know what’s up. And I’m into it. But as much as I want to, I’m not going to give you life advice, Millenn’. Because you’re going to date him/her anyway. You’re going to have meltdowns over a bad day at a job you know you need to leave. You’re going to have nightmare roommates, landlords and neighbors and you are going to bitch about them until you move and realize no living situation is perfect. But you need to go through that yourself, boo.

What I do feel qualified to give you is beauty advice. I’ve been in the industry for almost a decade and oh, the things I have learned. I meet women my age and older with beauty issues that bother them, and they are often things that could have been prevented. So in this gem of a blog post, I’m going to tell you some things you can start doing right now that will allow Future You to put your best face forward. Aging is a natural part of life, but physical signs of premature aging don’t need to be. When I see a 37 year old woman with skin damage that she inflicted upon herself in her teens and 20s, I want to put us both in a time machine so I can teach her what to do to prevent that damage. (I would also of course make a quick stop to March 9, 1997 and save Biggie’s life.)

I take care of my skin, but I wish I had known what I’m about to tell you fifteen years ago. What you do in your teens and 20s dictates what your skin will look and feel like when you get older. You might think “Whatever, it’s fine if I have wrinkles when I’m 70.” (And it is.) But I’m not just talking about the senior citizen years of your life. I’m talking about you at 35. And trust me, many of you will be upset if your skin starts looking like what you’ve envisioned at 50 when you hit your mid 30s. Because you will be in your 30s before you know it. Believe that.

I may not be able to convince you to stop listening to Drake or lay off the selfies for a bit, but I can help your beauty life. Think of it as an investment in Future You.

Let’s get into it.

Protect Your Skin. If you want to jump start the premature aging process, spend as much time as possible in the sun. Nothing causes physical signs of aging–wrinkles, lines, sagging and dark spots–like UVA and UVB rays. In my opinion–and I’ve only seen like a thousand faces up close and personal–sun damage is the number one cause of premature aging. I can tell a sun worshipper the moment they sit in my chair, even if they are a reformed sun worshipper. Once the damage is done, it’s there unless you have a lot of money, time and high pain threshold for the procedures that might be able to reverse it.  So SPF, SPF, SPF. Always. I think I’ve made my point.

Step Out of The Tanning Booth. These things are horrible. Not only do they increase your risk of melanoma by 75%, but they contain only UVA rays, which get to the deepest layer of skin and wreak havoc while they are there. The bulbs in tanning beds/booths can emit as much as 12 times the amount of UVA as the sun. That speeds up premature aging, which again, I’m pretty confident no one wants to do. Listen, I get it–you want to look tan. I too like the look of a tan on my skin. I think it makes my eyes look brighter and my skin look healthier. But there are safe ways to get the same effect. Spray tans and self tanners have come a long way since they came on the market, and there are some fantastic formulas out there. If you’re a Millennial who goes to a tanning salon, I beg you to stop.

Drop Some Acid. Hyaluronic acid, girlfriend. I am all about The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid, which comes in a dropper (hence my perfect pun). If you get ahead of skin hydration at a young age I mean, damn, your skin will look and feel amazing as you age. You can tell people you are into the No Makeup Makeup trend so they don’t get jealous that your skin is that good. Want to know more about it? Peep my blog post about that magical skin elixir.

Request The Ret. If you can get your hands on a prescription retinoid in your 20s, do not pass up that opportunity. A lot of women experience some adult acne in their early to mid 20s, and some dermatologists will prescribe a retinoid to combat it. I’ve found (both in my experience and what I’ve heard from others) that a lot of derms will prescribe a retinoid for you if you ask for it. They know it works. And from what I’ve been told, most health insurances will cover prescriptions for acne, as it is considered a medical issue. So if you can access to it and it’s affordable for you if it’s not covered by your insurance, do ittttttttt. If you want to know more about retinoids, I’ve got a blog post about that too.

Put Down The Tweezers. In this Era of the Thick Brows, over-tweezing is not as much of an epidemic as it’s been in past decades, but there are still some compulsive brow tweezers out there. I’m all for tweezing away stray hairs or manicuring your brows into a shape you like. But if you’re heavily tweezing, just make sure that is a shape you will also like in your 70s. Repeated over tweezing will eventually damage the follicle, stunting hair growth. And keep in mind that hair growth slows as we age anyway. Accidentally tweeze a brow hair at age 12? Give it two weeks. It’ll be back. (But don’t ever wait around for a guy/girl like that. Screw it–I have to give some life advice.) Tweeze that same hair at 67? It may be a few months before it grows in. Tweezing the middle of the unibrow is fine–unless you think you may want to go full Frida Kahlo some day–but avoid tweezing above the brow, as that is where part of your shape comes from. Many of the women over age 60 I see have thin brows, and they usually almost immediately tell me some version of “I tweezed my brows too much when I was younger.” It makes sense, because these women were in their teens or 20s in the 1960s and early 1970s, when thin brows were en vogue. But decades later, they paid the price. Consider this your cautionary tale.

Don’t Be a Picker. For the love of God, stop popping and picking your pimples! That is the best way to create acne scars and uneven skintone, both of which can only typically be eliminated by expensive and painful laser treatments that don’t even always completely work. Each time you poke a gel manicured nail into a blemish, you are causing tears in the skin. Frequent tearing–or even one big dig (shoutout to Boston)–will likely cause a divot in the skin. And you know what can’t cover that? Makeup. Sometimes those scars you form from picking and popping will turn dark as they heal, and those kinds of dark spots often don’t fade or cover well. Why put yourself in that position? Resist the urge to pick and pop and your Future Face will thank you for it.

Respect The Basic Trifecta. Cleanse every night, moisturize every morning and exfoliate 2-3 times a week. (Skip the exfoliation if you are using a retinoid or any other products that are contraindicated.) If you are using the right products, these three very simple steps will be your building blocks to good skin. They will also only take up maybe six minutes per day and yes, you do have time that.

Lose The Lighter. Do Millennials even smoke? I feel like I rarely see young people (wow, yup, I said that) smoking anymore. I don’t know if it’s because you can’t smoke anywhere or even within 20 feet of anywhere, so maybe they are only smoking inside their homes. In my day–up until the summer after I graduated from college–smoking was allowed inside of bars, and it seemed like everyone took advantage of that. You know that smoking is horrible for your lungs and overall poison for your whole body. But do you know how it affects the skin? Yes, wrinkles and lines around the lips from the repeated lip pursing (which I think you can also get from frequent duck-faced selfies, so be careful) will happen. I think smoking also changes the texture of the skin. Much like I can tell a sun worshipper when they sit in my chair, I can also usually tell a smoker when I touch their skin. It’s often both oily and dehydrated, typically with enlarged pores. The only thing that should be smokin’ is that picture of you in your favorite OOTD. So do yourself and your wallet a favor and QUIT.

Listen, this isn’t about being superficial or vain. Skin is the largest organ, so I personally like to take care of it the same way I take care of my liver, bones, etc. Think about this: 86 years old is the average life expectancy for a Millennial. Do you want as many of your organs to be in as good shape as possible for as long as possible, or do you want to spend a couple decades having issues because of completely preventable damage you inflicted on yourself? I mean, it’s your choice.

Do other beauty bloggers talk about life expectancy in their posts? Probably not. But my brain, you see, is not one of a normal human. Like one of the artists who works for me said recently “You think a lot!” I do, and most of my thoughts have to do with improvements–improving my business, my relationships, my health, etc. If I can help you improve one facet of your life–by preventing some early signs of aging–that makes me so happy.

Most people wait until they see signs of damage or premature aging to start doing something about their skin. In many cases, it’s too late to make much of a difference. But you, you are in this awesome position of being able to prevent or slow down some of those things that may bother you in the future. Do you realize how awesome that is?

You’ve got a lot of possibilities in front of you, Millennial. And you’ll also inevitably encounter some challenges. Why not avoid or slow down some of the skin issues that may concern you in 10-20 years? This certainly won’t be the biggest challenge of your life, but if you already have a lot going on, why add concerns about the way you look to that? From what I’ve observed, it does bother many people (or at least women) when they start to see signs of skin damage or premature aging. Some people are deeply bothered by those issues, to the point where it affects their confidence. If you can avoid having those concerns so you can fully focus on the important things–your career, your family, how many Instagram followers you have–why wouldn’t you?

Have a beautiful day 🙂