Foundation has gotten a bad rep, and some of that is justified. For a long time, all foundations were super heavy and had a pink undertone to them, which gives the skin a lovely mask-like effect if you don’t have pink undertones in your skin. And many foundation lines don’t offer a full range of shades, which is messed up. That’s gotten better but is still not where it needs to be.
However, you can find lines that cover a full range of shades and undertones, and do not feel or look heavy on the skin. Those are the foundations lines I stock my kit with.
Foundation is the starting point for the rest of your makeup. I view foundation as a product to be used sparingly to even out the skin. I strongly prefer using a sheer or at most, medium, coverage foundation. I then apply concealer if more coverage is needed on certain areas. I think a lot of people don’t like foundation because they think it’s heavy and unnatural looking, but that’s not how all foundations are.
My foundation love of my life is MAC Studio Face & Body. I have been using this on clients and on my own face since I started doing makeup. It’s a water-based sheer foundation that changes into a medium coverage foundation the more you rub it into your skin. It gives a little glow without getting super shiny (although I do normally use MAC Oil Control Lotion under it on oily skin). But this post isn’t about my beloved F&B. It’s a how-to for using liquid foundation.
And here we go!
Step 1: Dispense product onto a palette or the back of your hand. The exact amount you need will depend on the foundation you use. If you are using Face & Body or a similar foundation, give it a good shake first. Start with the smallest amount (half a pump, if it’s in that type of packaging) and dispense more if needed.
Step 2: I do this differently on clients, but on my own face, I like applying foundation with my hands. I start by putting a good sized dot of foundation on the center sections of my face–center of forehead, center of each cheek and center of chin. I do not put a dot on my nose, because nose skin is a different texture on most people, and too much product directly applied there can get cakey. But don’t worry–we will get to the schnoz. The reason I apply foundation on these areas first is that most people need coverage on the center of their face more than the outer edges. So applying it there then blending it outwards allows the majority of the product to even out the areas that typically need it most.
Step 3: I use my hands to blend the foundation into my skin. I do this in a smoothing type of motion. Starting at my forehead, I’ll spread half of that foundation dot across the right side of my forehead, and half across the left. I make sure it’s blended up to my hairline and above my brows. (And this is why I do brows after foundation–because sometimes foundation will touch your brows as you apply it, so it makes more sense to do the brows after so you don’t mess up your hard work.) Then I spread the dots on each cheek, going downwards and outwards, over the jawline. I make sure I bring it all the way to my ears. On my chin, I spread the foundation to the right and left and under my chin. By this point, I have a little foundation on my hands, so I run a hand over my nose to deposit some product. I do not apply foundation under my eyes because I use a concealer for that, as my undereyes have a different undertone (one might call it “purple”) than the rest of my face.
Step 4: Next, I press my hand on each section of my face for 5-10 seconds. I find that the body heat from my hands helps the foundation melt into my skin better. I don’t always have time to do this step, but when I do, I swear my makeup looks better.
Step 5: I take my Real Techniques buffing brush from the Flawless Base Set and gently buff over all over my face. This gives a final blend, ensuring that if I got too much product on any area, it’s gets blended out. I then pick up what’s left of the product from the back of my hand and apply it down my neck with that brush. Necks are often a different color than faces, so I always do this on myself and on clients. I run what’s left on the brush over my ears, because those can also be a different color (especially on some people when they blush or get hot, so doing this minimizes the redness flush if that happens).
That’s it! I really broke it down for this post, but my whole foundation process typically only takes around five minutes. You don’t need to wear foundation, but if you want to even your skintone–which makes you look more awake, polished and younger, if that’s a concern–foundation is the way to go.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ve probably pieced together my philosophy on beauty in regards to makeup. It comes through a little at a time in most of my blog posts. But today, I’m going to share with you the five tenets of my beauty philosophy.
Am I doing this because I know I can crank this post out somewhat quickly and if I don’t do this now I won’t have time, and I don’t want to ruin my perfect streak of one blog post per week since January 1? That’s in the realm of possibility.
The Five Tenets
Skincare is Queen. If you are not taking care of your skin, your makeup will never look its best. You can buy all the makeup that MAC can make (props if got that TLC reference), but if you don’t regularly cleanse, moisturize, exfoliate and properly treat your skin, you can only get so far. Yes, it takes some effort and some cheddar to make sure your dermis is living its best life, but it is more than worth it.
Do You. If you want to try a makeup trend because it looks fun, by all means, do it to it. But if you want to try a makeup trend because you think you are supposed to have very thick eyebrows or matte lips, stop right now. The only thing makeup is supposed to do is enhance what you already have and give you an outlet for self expression. If that means you rock a thinner brow because it’s more flattering to your bone structure, or you like a bright pink lip gloss when the trend is a wine matte lipstick, GO FOR IT. Don’t let what’s in right now dictate your look.
Branch Out. A lot of people get into a rut with their makeup routine. It’s great to know what works for you and what you like, but there are probably a lot more looks and products out there that would work on you than you think. Sometimes you’ll be shocked about what looks good on you. If you’ve always wondered if you could wear an electric blue eyeliner or a liquid foundation instead of your trusted Bare Minerals, stop wondering and start playing around. Here’s the great thing about makeup: it washes off. So you’ve got a world of possibilities and no real reason why you can’t explore them.
Know Thyself. A lot of choosing the right makeup comes down to knowing what you need and what would be most flattering on you. Figuring out your skin type, undertones, eye shape, face shape and eye color (that last one should be easy, I hope) will make the beauty world a little less intimidating for you, because that knowledge will allow you to choose the type of products that will work best on you.
Don’t Be a Hoarder. Still using that mascara you got for Christmas…two years ago? THROW IT OUT. When I do makeup lessons with clients, I have them bring their makeup bags so we can see what’s salvageable. These bags almost always contain at least a couple crusty old products. Beauty products have expiration dates for a reason–they lose their efficacy after a certain point. And some products, like mascara, can collect gross amounts of bacteria after a while that can cause irritation if applied to the skin or eyes. Get rid of the products that are old, never worked for you or you just don’t like, and you’ll have a fresher perspective on your makeup routine.
I think I’ve covered all of my basic core beauty values, and I’ve finished this post in time. I am feeling oh so productive.
Genetics are a funny thing, aren’t they? I got my dark, thick, naturally curly hair and giant deep set eyes from my 100% Italian father’s side. (I also got the Sicilian temper, which does not serve me well in traffic.) I’ve got the same build as many of the women in my father’s family, as well as some of the characteristics of my 100% Italian maternal grandmother. Three quarters of my DNA is Italian, and I think that’s pretty obvious when you look at me or notice my absolute inability to talk without my hands flying around.
But then there’s my skin color. That’s where my 25% Irish side comes in. I have light skin with freckles. I’m not the lightest of the foundation shades, but no one is calling my skintone “medium.” I can (and have) tanned to a solid Medium before, but my time in Esthetics school combined with having some biopsies and pre-cancerous moles removed over the past eight years made me put an end to my beach days. (I also know that sun damage is the number one way to speed visible signs of aging on the skin, so vanity plays a part in my decision.)
The problem is that I love the look of a tan on me. I feel like with my very dark brown hair, almost-black eyebrows and hazel eyes, I should have darker skin. I think I was meant to have a darker skintone, but there was a glitch. With my hair, brow and eye coloring and the fact that people who look like me often have medium skintones, it only seems right that my skintone is bumped up a few levels.
And oh, how I have tried to get there. I’ve used self tanning lotions, sprays, gels, mousses, gradual tanners and towelettes. I’ve done spray tans, both the airbrush and machine kinds. I’ve been orange, I’ve been streaky, I’ve been patchy and I’ve smelled like I bathed in DHA. I’ve gotten good results from airbrush spray tans, but I hate the way they look when they start wearing off. Until recently, I’ve relied on Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizers (one for the body, one for the face). I’ve been using the face one in particular regularly for years, as my arms get a little color when I’m out for a run or walking around, but I keep my face sunscreened up at all times, so I need to make it match my body. Anyway, I recently realized that Natural Glow seems to be making my face break out, so I started the search for something new. (No breakouts from the Jergens Natural Glow body moisturizer, but I was open to trying a new one there too.)
I checked with my friends at the Newport Sephora, and they directed me to the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops. You add these drops into your regular face and/or body moisturizers and they tan you up. They come in Light, Medium and Dark shades. I went with Medium, because that’s the skintone I was meant to have, remember? I’m no fool, so I asked for a sample before committing.
I did a patch test of the product behind my left earlobe that same night. (I specifically always patch test there because I normally wear my hair parted on the right side and swept over my left shoulder, so my hair covers my left ear.) I checked the next morning and saw that a) the color had developed into a nice, brown (not orange) tan and b) I had no breakouts or irritation.
While I was patching, I read through Sephora reviews of these self tanning drops in Medium. I had a bad reaction to the popular self St. Tropez self tanner a couple years ago (after I neglected to patch), and I had the recent breakout from Jergens Natural Glow Face Moisturizer, so I was specifically looking to see if any of the reviews mentioned allergic reactions or breakouts. I figured if I found several reviews mentioning either of those things, I would proceed with caution, but I didn’t see any with that specific negative feedback.
Still, I waited 24 hours after patching to make sure I didn’t have a reaction. I didn’t, so on Night 1, I added one drop of the product to my Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck and ears. I noticed a slight smell, but it wasn’t horrible and didn’t linger. It did feel sticky on my skin, but it was also a humid night so that may have had something to do with it.
When I woke up the next morning, I was tan. Not orange and not streaky, and a good shade for my skin. I didn’t put face makeup on that day, because I wanted to have plenty of opportunities to inspect it and see if the color developed more (and I think it did, a little).
On Night 2, I went with two drops mixed into the same moisturizer and applied it to my face, neck, ears and chest. It deepened my color, but still felt a little sticky. The next time I used it on the same areas, I mixed it in with my SPF35 version of the Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer, and then my skin felt only the tiniest bit sticky after. So the moisturizer you mix with the drops definitely impacts the sticky-ness factor.
Before I continue, let me explain the drops thing. My Sephora sample came in one of the mini-spray bottles that they use for perfume samples. The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops are a serum consistency, so don’t try to spray them out if you get a sample in the same packaging. If you are trying them as a sample–and you really should–and you get them in that bottle, you’ll have to unscrew the top of the packaging and dispense the drops directly from bottle. This method will dispense bigger drops than you get using the dropper that comes with the actual product, so that’s something to keep in mind. When dispensing from the perfume sampler bottle, I recommend you pour it slowly into your moisturizer.
I got four uses out of my sample, and I was sold. I went back to Sephora and bought the full size bottle. As far as packaging goes, A+. I like the design, the top stays on securely and the dropper works. No complaints there.
Once I had the full size bottle, I began applying the tanner to the rest of my body. I’ve mixed it in with my Palmers Cocoa Butter and my Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Butter in Vanilla Apricot, which are the two body moisturizers in my current rotation. Both have their own scent, so that masks any self tanner scent. Again, I haven’t noticed much of a scent anytime I’ve used the drops, but I’ve been self tanning for years, so maybe I don’t smell DHA anymore unless it’s crazy strong. But that’s another reason for you sample it yourself.
The Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops instructions say to add between 1 – 12 drops to your moisturizer. That’s a huge range! My suggestion is to start with one drop, see how it develops, then add two the next time, three after, and so on until you find your perfect mix. I am currently using four drops to every pump and a half of face moisturizer (which is the normal amount of moisturizer I apply to my face, neck and ears. For my body, I first dispense enough of that moisturizer to cover one arm. Then I add six drops of the product to my moisturizer, mix it together and apply. I match the amount for my other arm. Then do the same amount of moisturizer and five drops of the product to apply to my stomach and back. For my legs, I dispense the amount of moisturizer I would normally use for one leg and foot and add six drops of product. Then I repeat on the other leg.
A few suggestions I have for you after you patch test:
Exfoliate First. If exfoliation is not contraindicated with any skincare you are using, a good exfoliation before you apply the self tanner will help it look more even as it develops, as it won’t catch on any dry patches or dead skin.
Start Small. Again, start with the minimum amount of drops and add more each day until you achieve the color you want. It’s important to start with the minimum, as the few bad reviews I read seemed to be because the reviewers jumped right in with five or six drops and it sounds like they also didn’t use enough moisturizer.
Keep It Up. To maintain the color, I would alternate days of your moisturizer alone with the same amount of drops and moisturizer you used to get the tan. The moisturizer alone with help keep the skin hydrated so the tan doesn’t get patchy as you shed dead skin cells, and the every-other-day application of the self tanner and moisturizer will keep your shade of tan as is so it won’t fade.
Mix It Up. You need to realllyyyyy mix the self tanner drops into your moisturizer. If you don’t do that, you will get an uneven tan. After the moisturizer and drops are in the palm of your hand, stir them together with your other hand or rub your hands together for about 15 seconds to ensure they’ve melded into one product.
Don’t Be Stingy. Once you have your self tanner moisturizer cocktail ready, make sure you apply a generous amount everywhere. The best way to get streaky is to use only the little that’s left on your hands to apply to an area. When you can feel it dragging as you apply, you are making the streaks happen. I know better, and I still did that one night while using these drops. I dispensed a little less moisturizer then I meant to, so although I evenly covered my face, I didn’t get enough on my neck (and my neck is notoriously bad with self tanner to begin with). I woke up to some patchy areas on my neck where I hadn’t applied enough moisturizer. Did the same thing on one arm too. I think with any type of self tanning lotion, it’s best to use a little more than you think you need to ensure that it gets everywhere.
Take Your Time. Spend some time rubbing the cocktail in. I haven’t noticed any transfer on my sheets, even though I usually tan right before bed, and I think that’s because I spend a lot of time rubbing in the product so it really absorbs into my skin. I massage it in until I can’t feel anything on my skin, which usually takes several minutes. But I think it is a key factor in getting an even self tan.
The Easiest Part. Wash your hands after applying. This stuff will stain your palms if you don’t.
As far as color, the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops give me the same type of color I have when I used to get real tans. Not orange, not olive, not red. Just 24 Year Old Allison tan. I don’t know if the drops react with your body chemistry and give you the type of tan you normally get, or if the color they give happens to be the same color I tan, but they work perfectly on me. I do want to add that I have a very yellow undertone to my skin, which could impact the color. If you are concerned about the color, you could try a bigger swatch of color on your stomach or somewhere that isn’t visible when you have on your everyday clothes to see how the color develops on you. (I realize this can be a tough one for those of you who participate in bathing suit season.) My point is, I can only give you my experience with this color, and that may be impacted by my undertone and the way my skin looks when it really tans. But judged off the many reviews I’ve read and pictures I’ve seen, the Medium shade in particular seems to work on a lot of people.
The Medium drops have a green tint, which they claim is color correcting, as green cancels out redness. I don’t typically have any redness in my skin and I’m not convinced you can get color correction from a self tanner, but I can’t say for sure since I didn’t have any redness to start with. So jury is out on the color correction.
I really don’t have anything bad to say about this product! As long as I apply it correctly, it gives me exactly the type of tan I want. I am loving the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops and may end up crowning them my Favorite Product of Summer 2018. You can get them at Sephora for a cool $29.
Are you regularly using a face oil? If not, you should really re-think that. Unless you have truly acneic skin (active breakouts covering the majority of your face), face oil should be a part of your skincare routine. It is the ultimate moisturizer and the best product to use for facial massage. It’s also perfect for using on top of prescription retinol to help prevent any peeling. And if you do get peeling for any reason, a good face oil will heal that up with the quickness.
I’ve tried many face oils over the years, but Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil is my favorite. I buy the 1.7 oz bottle, which lasts me several months. I only use about half a drop over my retinol every other night. I use maybe four drops when I do my facial massage once or twice a week, and when I wear it under my makeup in the winter or spring, that’s a two drop job. My point is, you don’t need to use a lot of product for any of these applications, so a bottle lasts a while.
Argan Oil is rich in Vitamin E and essential fatty acids, so it’s got two of the strongest healing and moisturizing ingredients out there. Most moisturizers seal moisture into the skin with wax ingredients, but oils are able to really penetrate and supply that moisture (aka oil) that our skin needs. Organic and natural face oils like this one won’t clog pores, so you don’t have to worry about it causing blemishes.
Who is this stuff good for, you ask? Great question. It’s an obvious choice for those with dry skin, as dry skin lacks oil. Especially if you have dry patches or flaking, this Argan Oil will make a major difference. I would start by applying it at night, over any creams or serums, as once oil is on the skin, any skincare product you layer on top of that will not penetrate as well. If you are still feeling/looking dry, you can also use it in the morning as a moisturizer (just make sure to apply SPF or a moisturizer with SPF over it).
Got some fine lines–or “tic tac toe lines,” as my father calls his–on your face? Argan Oil will help plump up the skin by moisturizing the skin cells, and that will make lines less noticeable. Dry skin and visible signs of aging often (but not always) go hand in hand, so I may have already had you when I explained the benefits for dry skin.
If you’re thinking “My skin is already oily! I shouldn’t put more oil on it!,” that’s not really true. People with oily skin often use oil free products and products geared towards oily skin, and those products end up completely stripping the skin of all oil. Know what happens when you strip your skin of all oil? Your sebaceous glands go “Oh shit, the dermis is dry! Produce more oil!” So the oil deprivation plan backfires. But if you allow some oil into your skincare life, your sebaceous glands will chill. If you’re really hesitant about this, Josie Maran also makes an 100% Pure Argan Oil Light version, which is lightweight and leaves more of a matte finish on the skin.
If dull looking skin is a concern, facial massage with this Argan Oil will rock your world. Lisa Eldrige explains and demonstrates facial massage best. She uses a cleansing balm in this video, but I do the same thing with the Argan Oil after cleansing. I put something good on Netflix and spend 10-15 minutes doing this once or twice a week. It makes a big difference in how glowy the skin looks. Some people think glow comes from makeup, but it actually comes from a good skincare routine, including facial massage.
Trying to think of other reasons not to use it? It’s cruelty free, vegan, gluten free, paraben free, phthalate free, synthetic fragrance free, mineral oil free, formaldehyde free, GMO free and PEG free. Now what?!?!
With any skincare product, you gotsta always do a patch test 24 – 48 hours before using on your whole face to make sure you don’t have a reaction. I’ve never heard of anyone having a reaction to this product, but better safe than sorry. I do my patches, as I affectionately call them, on my neck on the part of skin that gets hidden by my earlobe so if I do have a reaction, it’s pretty hidden. Hashtag genius.
I wouldn’t recommend face oil for acneic skin, only because my experience as a licensed esthetician and makeup artist tells me that the less product you put on and the less you touch truly acneic skin, the better. But if you are not dealing with acne, you should at least consider Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil or Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil Light. You’d be hard pressed to find a better moisturizer.