Product Review: Glossier Cloud Paint

I’m on cloud nine with these blushes.

Cream blush, liquid blush, gel blush–give ’em all to me. I use and wear liquid foundation and I’ve found that liquids, cream and gels work beautifully when placed over a liquid foundation before powder has been applied. I still use a powder blush over the cream blush (after setting powder has been applied), but that’s not the star of today’s show.

For years, I used Make Up For Ever HD Blushes (the cream ones in the small compacts, not the liquid ones they came out with later). I found them to be pigmented and blendable, and they came in a wide range of shades. I’m talking in the past tense here because a few months ago, I discovered that my go-to cream blushes had been discontinued. I had tried–and not loved–several other cream blushes, so I was mildly panicked.

I’d heard a lot about Glossier Cloud Paints, and have liked most of the other Glossier products I tried, so I thought I’d start my new cream blush search there. The Cloud Paints are more of a gel-cream than a cream-cream, so they’re packaged in a tube instead of a compact. They come in six shades “inspired by the gradient pink NYC sunsets”–a warm rose (Storm), a sunny coral (Dawn), a light cool pink (Puff), a brownish nude (Dusk), a deep berry (Haze) and a soft peach (Beam). I have Storm, Dawn, Puff and Beam and have tried Dusk.

It took a few tries for me to figure out the best way to apply Cloud Paints and how much I needed, but I’ve got it down now. They’re pigmented, so you don’t need much. A little dab’ll do ya (and by “a little dab,” I mean about the size of a pomegranate seed). You can use your hands to apply the product, but I prefer to use a foundation brush then blend with a buffing brush. Cloud Paints blend really well and are buildable, so you can add more product without caking or streaking.

I’ve found Storm and Dawn to be the most flattering on medium and deep skintones. Storm gives a pretty, romantic flush to the skin. I love Dawn, and while it can look intimidating because it appears to be straight out orange when you dispense it, it gives a beautiful beachy glow on medium and deep skintones. Beam is the perfect soft peach color for light and medium skintones, and Puff is gorgeous on light to medium skintones.

Any type of cream blush is great for dry skin, and won’t catch on dry patches like powder blushes can. I’ve always used an oil-free primer on clients with oily skin before I’ve applied a Cloud Paint, and I’ve had no problem with it staying on. Basically, I think these blushes are appropriate for all skin types, but if you have oily skin, an oil-free primer should be in your arsenal anyway if you want your makeup to last.

Cloud Paints give a beautiful flush to the skin without completely covering it. So you can still see the skin (and freckles, if they’re on the cheeks), but it’s got a pretty, natural looking finish. This is one of the “instant pretty” products in my kit. As soon as I have it blended, I think “Ooooh, so pretty!” and I’ve have clients who have seen me apply it actually say that out loud.

You can buy Cloud Paints on Glossier.com. They are $18 each if you buy them individually, or you can choose two shades and get a duo pack for $30. If you’re a makeup artist or want to be one, I definitely recommend these. And if you’re a makeup civilian who likes blush, chiggity check these out.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder

The waterline liner hero.

Isn’t it amazing how small things can make a big impact? To me, black coffee is gross. But put a little Italian Sweet Cream Coffeemate in it? It becomes my favorite drink. If you tell me I need to sleep in a bed with one pillow, I’m up all night. But two pillows? That’s how I slumber. Wearing my short sleeved, scoop neck black jersey dress with no necklace? Boringgggggggggggg. But when I put on my “Notorious” chain, now we’ve got an outfit.

That’s the one! Made by King Ice.

That’s also how I feel about MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder on the waterline. A matte contoured eyeshadow look with neutral colors? Very nice. But add some of that black kohl liner to the bottom waterline, and you’ve entered Sultry Territory.

Smolder is an intense black shade in a soft kohl pencil form. Because of its consistency, and the surprising longevity of wear from its non-waterproof formula, Smolder is the perfect fit for the waterline. I mainly use it on the bottom waterline as I don’t typically do a lot of top waterline lining (aka tightlining), but it works for that too.

You can use Smolder at the top lashline, but I would seal it with a black eyeshadow. Kohl liners don’t set, which means they can move around on the lid. Tracing over the liner with black eyeshadow will help keep it in place. That technique will usually work at the top lashline, but it doesn’t always do the job at the bottom lashline. Kohl liners are not usually bottom lashline-friendly. You’re better off with a waterproof liner there, because that will stay in place when your eyes naturally water.

That’s the waterline, in case you were wondering.

Smolder on the bottom waterline will immediately intensify a look. Putting black on the waterline makes any eye color pop in contrast to the black, and having black inside the waterline gives more definition to the eyes and makes the bottom lashes look more plentiful (first time I’ve ever used that word in a blog post). But black liner on the waterline will make eyes look smaller, so that’s worth mentioning if that’s a concern.

I keep a Smolder in my pro kit, but if I’m being honest, I more often reach for a waterproof black kohl eyeliner from Topshop that has been discontinued (but I stocked up before that happened). I use waterproof everything for wedding clients, you know? But I use Smolder for waterline lining on myself and non-wedding clients, and I think it’s perfect for regular, non-crying days.

Smolder is a solid MAC eyeliner, and a pro fave for years. If you need to sultry-fy your eye makeup, this liner will do it to it.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner

Bobbi Brown does it again.

There are 397, 845 (made that number up) eyeliners on the market. And a lot of them are crap. Yeah, I said it. I’m frequently disappointed when I try a new eyeliner. I often find liners to be too smudgy, not pigmented, or, if they’re a pencil or crayon, too uncomfortable to use. What, you’ve never felt the cruel pull of a too-hard pencil or crayon liner on the delicate eye skin? Then consider yourself lucky.

When I found the Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners though, I was impressed. I keep Scotch, a brown with bronze gold shimmer and Chocolate Truffle, a dark brown, in my pro kit. I buy several at a time because there’s not a wedding that goes by when I don’t use at least one of them.

The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not gel liners in the traditional sense. They’re more what I consider to be crayon liners, but I guess Bobbi Brown considers them to be a sort of solidified gel liner. Semantics, you know?

I use these liners primarily at the bottom lashline because not only do they give soft definition, but they stay in place. Bottom lashline liners are generally more prone to smudging because when the eyes tear up or water, that thing called gravity pushes tears over the ridge of the bottom lashline, passing over any makeup there. But the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are waterproof, so once they are on and have set, they are there for the long run.

See that soft definition at the bottom lashline? That’s Chocolate Truffle. Photo: Move Mountains Co. Makeup: Allison Barbera Hair: RaNew Salon

I say “once they have set” because you do have about 30 seconds after applying the liner to soften or smudge it with a brush. I like to do this with a small pencil brush, as I’ve found that gives me the control I need to soften the liner without removing it or dragging it down and thickening the line. Especially at the bottom lashline, I think it generally tends to be more flattering to have a soft focus effect than a harsh line.

The Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners are not too hard, so no pulling on the skin. And they are not so soft that they break off when you apply the tiniest bit of pressure. Their consistency is just right, says Goldilocks. They are also pigmented enough that you don’t have to draw them on six times to see color payoff. (I will say that Scotch is the much more subtle of the two, but it is pigmented.)

You can use the Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliners on the top lid too. For my client purposes, I usually prefer a gel liner at the top lashline, as it’s more intense and helps give a more flattering shape to the eye in photos. But you could certainly use these liners at the top lashline.

They are $27, which I know seems pricey if you’re used to $9 drugstore liners, but if you’ve been struggling to find a long-lasting, comfortable, pigmented liner, maybe it’s time to try a Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner. They’ve got six colors to choose from, and you can find them at Bobbi Brown counters and online, as well as at Sephora and Sephora.com.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack

A makeup artist fave.

Another week, another MAC product review. What can I say? They make good makeup.

I’ve been using MAC Pro Longwear Fluidline in Blacktrack, a flat black gel eyeliner, for years, so I was surprised to find that I hadn’t done a post about it. It’s a pro makeup artist fave and every MUA I know has it in their kit.

The Fluidline liners come in a little glass jar with a black top. A word to the wise with any gel eyeliners or cream shadows that come in similar packaging–once air gets into the jar for too long, the product will dry out and become useless. So make sure you close the lid tightly after using, unless you like to be wasteful. A tiny bit of gel liner goes a long way, so this little jar should last you a while if you keep the lid closed tightly.

The most hygienic way to use a gel liner is to scrape some out with a clean spatula, put it on a palette and use a fine liner brush to apply it. That’s the way I do it 100% of the time for clients, absolutely no exceptions. But most non-pro’s will dip directly into the jar with a brush, load the brush up with liner then apply. This will not only usually give you more product than you need (and good luck coming back from a too-thick line of gel liner), but unless your brush is always sanitized and you don’t double dip, it means you are transferring the bacteria from your lid into the product. And guess what happens when you securely close the lid, as you have been taught, after that? I’m not saying anything bad about bacteria molecules’ lifestyles, as they can be with whoever they want, but these gals and guys get down, and they multiply in that dark, enclosed environment. So if you double dip and/or use a dirty eyeliner brush, the next time you use your gel liner, say hello to their (millions) of little friends, who are now going to live on your eyelids and lash roots.

A Ben Nye makeup spatula.

But let’s pretend you are applying your gel liner correctly. Fluidline liners are great because they can give you a very defined look or a soft focus look, depending on how you apply. You can get a graphic, liquid liner type of look if you apply it perfectly then let it set (dry). Or you can apply a thin line then pull it up with angled brush before it sets, diffusing it but still keeping definition. That is my favorite way to use Blacktrack, as soft focus is generally more appropriate for the type of makeup I do. I then usually top the liner with black eyeshadow to give it more intensity with the blackness without making it too harsh.

Blacktrack is definitely black, but it’s a soft black, which I like. I’d rather have the option to make it more black with shadow than have it look too harsh, which is how an intense black liner can look on those with lighter coloring.

Some gel eyeliners (honestly, usually the cheap ones) are not very pigmented, so not only will you have to apply a few layers to get the color payoff you want, but you’ll see a kind of watered down or patchy looking line if you draw it on thick. Blacktrack won’t do you like that. The pigment is there and you’ll get a consistent line as long as your brush is properly coated.

I used Blacktrack on this beautiful bride then traced over it with black eyeshadow. Photo: Sarah Bastille Photography

Fluidline in Blacktrack is one of the staples in my kit, and I think it has a place in everyone’s kit or personal makeup bag. But what do I know? I’ve only been doing this for over a decade…

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

My MAC Eyeshadow All Stars

One of my many MAC eyeshadow palettes. Photo: Rebecca Arthurs Photography

I’ve been using MAC eyeshadows since the beginning of my career as a makeup artist. Especially with an eye primer underneath, I’ve found these shadows to be the longest lasting, most pigmented powder shadows in the game. But if you’re at a MAC store or counter or on their website, the sheer selection of colors (currently 108 of them) can be daunting.

So allow me to present my go-to’s and thoughts on who I’ve found they work best on. I’ll include the shade descriptions MAC gives for each, but I won’t be shy in voicing my opinion if I see them differently.

All That Glitters. Beige with gold pearl. To me, this looks more rose gold than beige gold on most people. I think it works best on light and medium skintones. It’s pretty shimmery, so stay away if you’re a Matte Girl.

Photo: Temptalia

Antiqued. Ash brown with bronze. This is gorgeous on deeper skintones with any eye color.

Brown Script. Warm chestnut brown. Works especially well on medium and deeper skintones, either on the lid or in the crease. It’s matte, so it can work for either. (I stay away from shimmer in the crease, as it defeats the purpose of making an area look recessed.)

Photo: Holy Grail Nails

Brule. Soft creamy beige. One of my matte go-to lid colors for fair, light and light-medium skin.

Brule on the lid. Photo: Meagan Emilia Photography   Hair: Emily Buffi for Allison Barbera Beauty     Makeup: Allison Barbera

Brun. Muted blackish brown. I use this cool, matte shade as a liner on light and medium skintones, any eye color. I also use it to fill in brunette brows.

Carbon. Intense black. Everyone should have a good black eyeshadow, and this is my favorite. I mostly use it at the lashlines, as it’s pretty rare for me to use black on the lid or in the crease unless it’s for an editorial look.

Charcoal Brown. Muted taupe brown. I use this a lot at the lower lashline on light and medium skintones. It provides soft definition. It also works as a neutral matte lid color on deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Club. Red brown with green pearl. Club is a really unique shade. Depending on the skintone and the lighting in a room, it can look green, silver, gray or brown.

Photo: Makeup and Beauty Blog

Coquette. Muted grayish taupe. I like this as a lower lash liner on green or hazel eyes, as it brings out the green.

Photo: Tempatlia

Cork. Muted golden brown. Another lower lash liner choice for light to medium skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Embark. Intense reddish brown. Really pretty on deeper skintones and on green eyes (green and red are complimentary colors, so the red undertones makes green looker greener).

Photo: Temptalia

Era. Soft golden beige with shimmer. Works well as a lid color on medium and deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Espresso. Muted golden brown. I use this warm brown a lot as a crease color on deeper skintones, or an outer V color on light and medium skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Goldmine. Intense gold with shimmer. It’s a very yellow gold, so I tend to use it over other golds (from different lines, sorry) or over a darker shimmery color that I want to lighten. I find it usually pulls too yellow to wear alone.

Photo: Temptalia

Mulch. Red brown with bronze pearl. Gorgeous on green eyes, but it can be too dark on fair and some light skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Naked Lunch. Minimal pink with shimmer. Pretty on fair and light skintones with any eye color. Can look frosty on medium and deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Nylon. Pale gold with icy shimmer. This one can get intense, so I mainly use it for inner corner highlight or as part of the look for a shimmery gold lid. It’s pretty in small doses.

Photo: Temptalia

Omega. Soft muted beige taupe. I mainly use this for brow fill-in for blonde brows, but have also used it on medium and deeper skintones on both the lid and the crease.

Phloof. Frosted off white. Similar to Nylon in my application of it. I also use it with a light hand on the lid for Flower Girls.

Photo: Temptalia

Ricepaper. Peachy gold with shimmer. This works on light skintones, but is especially pretty on medium and deeper skintones. It’s what I reach for when a client shows me an inspiration photo with a very shimmery lid.

Satin Taupe. Taupe with silver shimmer. Great for light and medium skintones. It can get a little ashy (due to the silver) on some deeper skintones. Especially flattering on brown eyes.

Zero in on the bottom right. Photo: Makeup Alley

Scene. Muted blue gray. I work this into gray smokey eyes, as it tends to look more gray than blue when blended into other grays. Works with all eye colors.

Photo: Temptalia

Soba. Gold brown with gold shimmer. Really pretty in a subtle way on medium and deeper skintones.

Soft Brown. Soft golden peachy brown. This is gorgeous on those with blue eyes, as it’s got an orange undertone and orange and blue are complimentary. It can pull too orange on fair skintones though. Also pretty on deeper skintones.

Photo: Temptalia

Wedge. Soft muted beige taupe. This is my go-to crease color for fair, light and medium skintones. If this one ever gets discontinued, MAC and I will have a problem.

Wedge in the crease. Photo: Joseph Laurin Photography http://www.joelaurinphotography.com Makeup: Allison Barbera

Woodwinked. Warm antique gold. Perfection on medium and deeper skintones. Can pull orange on light and medium skintones. Flattering on green eyes.

Photo: Temptalia

Yogurt. Soft pale pink. Very pretty on fair and light skintones with blue eyes.

Photo: Temptalia

MAC has discontinued some other shades I use and have backups of so I’m good for a bit, but I won’t tell you how great those ones are since you won’t be able to buy them. I mean, I’m not a jerk!

If you have any MAC shadow faves, I’d love to hear. Comment away.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Product Review: Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk

Isn’t she pretty?

Some makeup products become instant classics, and Charlotte Tilbury’s nude pink lipliner, Pillow Talk, is one of them. The color is gorgeous on many different skintones, and if you don’t believe me, check out the “See it on your skintone” section of this page.

Something about the smooth-but-not-slippery and waxy-but-not-overly-so formulation allows this lipliner to glide over the lips perfectly. For whatever reason, that consistency also allows you to (slightly, please) overdraw the lips without being as obvious as other lipliners. It’s also waterproof and long-lasting, because who wants to worry about touchups?

My favorite way to wear it is as a lipstick. I line and fill in my lips with it, then top it with some clear lip balm. I like the color of Pillow Talk so much that I’d rather not hide it under a lipstick. I do realize Charlotte makes a Pillow Talk lipstick, but I’ve seen it and it looks different than the liner, so I’m sticking with my liner.

The nude pink shade works well with a lot of lipstick colors, so it’s a versatile liner if your lipsticks range from nude pink to pinky nude (aka all of your lipsticks are basically the same shade). It also works great under mid-tone pinks, and if you have a nude that is too brown or beige, if you layer Pillow Talk under it, it will warm up the lipstick.

I always think of Pillow Talk Lip Cheat as the makeup equivalent of that simple but perfect casual outfit that everyone has. The one that isn’t necessarily a show stopper but looks great every time. For me, that’s skinny jeans, a plain white tank top and neon pink Old Navy sandals in the summer, and black skinny jeans, a fitted white t-shirt, a tan long cardigan and black wedge boots in the cold months. (Of course I have two.) Both Pillow Talk and my favorite casual outfits make me feel pretty, but not too done up.

It’s $22, which might seem like a lot when compared to some other lipliners, but it is really good. And it will last you a long time, so that’s worth something too. It’s vegan, paraben-free, sulfate-free and not tested on animals, so nothing to feel bad or be concerned about! If you’re looking for a new liner that will work well with a variety of lipsticks as well as on its own, consider Pillow Talk.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

The Beauty Gifts Guide

Or how about some setting spray?

You know what time (of year) it is. If you are still working on your holiday shopping–I know I am–and you have someone in your life who is into skincare and/or makeup, I’ve got some suggestions for you. (Or maybe you want to add these to your own holiday wish list!)

In no particular order, I present the strongest players in the beauty game.

Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil. Oil cleansers are THE best way to remove makeup and cleanse the skin.

Josie Maran Pure Argan Oil. Face oils restore moisture to the skin like nobody’s business, and this one is the OG of face oils.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. The best hydrator out there. Apply this to damp skin after cleansing or showering, then follow immediately with moisturizer.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF35. Great for normal and combination skin.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micellar Water. If you prefer not to feel like bees are stinging your eyes when you remove your eye makeup, you’ll love this gentle makeup remover.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. My favorite face mask. This can also be used as a tightening primer under makeup.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance. What to use if you like your eyeshadow to stay on and not crease.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. The way to go if you want to pump up the volume on your lashes.

Clinique High Impact Mascara. For length and inky blackness on your lashes.

MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation. If you like your skin too look like skin when you wear foundation, try this makeup artist favorite.

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. Great for both undereye and face coverage.

MAC Oil Control Lotion. An oil minimizing product for the shiny peeps.

MAC Conceal & Correct Duo in Pure Orange/Ochre. Perfect for concealing hyperpigmentation on deep skintones.

MAC Lipstick in Lady Danger. A cult favorite red lipstick.

MAC In The Flesh Eyeshadow Palette. A solid array of neutral eyeshadows.

Rimmel Stay Matte Powder. A quality drugstore pressed powder.

Algenist Green Color Correcting Drops. Use this under foundation to cancel out redness.

Algenist Apricot Color Correcting Drops. An awesome dark circle color corrector for light and medium skintones.

Bobbi Brown Perfectly Defined Gel Eyeliner in Truffle. I use this dark brown eyeliner on most clients.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. I use this on anyone whose makeup needs to last alllll day.

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. Everyone should have this.

Stila Convertible Color. I use these primarily as cream blushes, but you can use them a lipcolor too.

Benefit Hoola. This matte bronzer is another cult favorite. Hoola Lite is better for fair to light skintones.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector. These powder highlighters come in several shades to compliment all skintones.

Ben Nye Banana Powder. If you are trying to conceal dark undereye circles, this should be your final step to lock in your undereye color corrector and concealer.

I hope this helps with your shopping. Happy Holidays!

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops in Medium

My new favorite product.

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.

That’s me in the 80s, dancing with my dad. See his skintone? That’s what I was supposed to have.

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.

If you Veronica Lake your hair like I do, you can patch test freely behind your ear.

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.

The Sephora sample spray bottles look like this, but just say “Sephora” on them. I thought you might like a visual…

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.

Mix it, mix it real good.

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.

 

Me (far right) at my most tan, circa 2006. Livin’ that South Florida life. This is the same tan color I get from these drops

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: Josie Maran Argan Oil

Josie Maran Argan Oil
One of my skincare essentials.

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.

Is this what my father is picturing? Who the hell knows.

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.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Product Review: MAC Pro Longwear Concealer

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer
A tried and true kit essential.

Some things I read really stick with me. I once read an article about a woman who had a disease that made her eyeballs slowly protrude out of her sockets, and now I check my peepers on a daily basis for signs that they are moving. That article terrified me. There are a lot of other examples of articles that have fed into my hypochondriac tendencies, but better I keep those to myself.

Professionally, the articles or posts I’ve read that have stuck with me most are those from makeup artists who traveled to jobs and had their luggage–including their pro kits–lost along the way. They then had to scramble and do a job based off what they had in their purse and could find at local stores. That’s always made me think, What are my absolute essentials? My pro kit is stocked up and so heavy that I sprained both wrists last summer lugging it around, but what do I really need?

I have a few essentials, but the first one that came to mind is MAC Pro Longwear Concealer. This matte fluid concealer is pigmented enough to provide serious coverage, and if you work in thin layers–which you should–it won’t cake up. Because it is so pigmented, you only need a small amount. Two pumps can just about cover an entire face, which is not what concealer is for, but you need some kind of standard of measurement, right? I use one shade for under eyes and a different shade on the rest of the face on most people, and I’ve found that half a pump of each shade is often enough for many of my clients. If I need to add more, I do, because this stuff is buildable.

With some concealers, I’ve found they are either too thick to use under the eyes or not pigmented enough for the face. But the Pro Longwear Concealer works on both areas. It comes in range of colors, and I’ve never had a problem getting a color match on anyone.

My only issue with this concealer is the packaging. It comes in a tiny glass bottle with a pump, but like with most pumps, you can’t get to all of the product with the pump. And the the pump mechanism doesn’t twist off and allow you to get in there. From what I understand, you have to use pliers to get the pump off if you want to reach the several-applications-worth of product often left after the pump stops pumping. So I have a whole bunch of these almost-goners at my parents’ house, waiting for my father to finally bring home the pliers has says he has. (Could I buy my own pliers and try doing it myself? Sure. But will I? Nope.)

Other than the packaging, MAC Pro Longwear Concealers are perfect. They are an essential both in my pro kit and my personal makeup bag. If you are looking for a good fluid concealer, give this a try. Available at MAC stores, counters and online for $24.

Have a beautiful day 🙂