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.
I’m taking a break from my uber popular Prep School series to write about the new skincare product I’m loving. (It’s not new to the market and I’ve been using it for a while, but I wasn’t using it correctly, so it’s like it’s new.) You know when you are crushing on someone real hard? Like they make your days better and you catch yourself smiling whenever you think of them? That’s how I feel about hyaluronic acid. Particularly, the Hyaluronic Acid 2% +B5 by The Ordinary.
If you haven’t heard of hyaluronic acid before, here’s the Cliffs Notes (are those still a thing?). Hyaluronic acid is something our bodies naturally produce. It’s a clear substance that hangs out in our skin, inside our joints, in our peepers and in other tissues. It lubricates, helps hold in collagen (which would be what the Fountain of Youth flowed with, if it were real), provides moisture and gives elasticity and flexibility to our joints and tissues. Important stuff, right?
As we age, a lot of the good stuff our bodies naturally produce gets depleted. At least our society really values the wisdom of its older citizens though, right? Always a bright side. Anyway, there are foods you can eat and supplements you can take to slow the aging process internally, but that’s not my forte. What I can speak on is the products you can use externally to help your skin look and feel its best. And hyaluronic acid is one of those products.
Don’t be fooled by the “acid” part of the name, though. It’s not an exfoliator like glycolic acid, salicylic acid or alphahydroxy acid (nor will it get you high). This miracle product helps the skin by allowing it to retain water. That’s usually not thought of as a desirable thing–although maybe “PMS” will start trending someday–but it is good for the epidermis. Hyaluronic acid molecules can hold up to 1,000 times their weight in water, which is more than any other biological substance. That shit cray.
Sagging skin is partially due to the lack of water in those tissues, and hyaluronic acid keeps that water in. Sun exposure can also cause skin dehydration, but hyaluronic acid can help keep the moisture in so skin looks and feels healthier. Hyaluronic acid plumps up the skin and minimizes the appearance of wrinkles when used consistently and correctly. It’s often used in fillers and is very effective in that capacity. It also doesn’t tend to cause side effects like other fillers can, since hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body so it isn’t recognized as a foreign substance when it is injected.
There are a ton of moisturizers and serums out there that contain hyaluronic acid. But my experience is that products that contain the highest effective percentage of the ingredient without having to compete with a ton of other ingredients work best. (For example, I recommend a prescription retinoid cream over a moisturizer that includes retinol.) Part of the problem is that hyaluronic acid molecules are livin’ large. They are “bruisers” (which is what my father calls any male child who is big for his age). When molecules are that big, they can’t penetrate the skin and are therefore ineffective. But The Ordinary HA (I’m done with typing the whole product name every time) contains hyaluronic acid molecules in varying weights, which allows them to penetrate the skin. It also contains Vitamin B5, which helps increase surface hydration.
Because it doesn’t contain oil, The Ordinary HA is great for acne-prone skin or anyone who doesn’t normally do well with oily products. You can have both acne and dehydrated skin, so this is a good choice for someone in that category.
HA works great in humid environments. So if you live in the Southeast in the summer, hollahhhhhhh! But if you’re reading this from Minnesota in February, don’t you worry. HA can still work for you. The key (and you should do this regardless of your locale) is to apply HA right after you wash your face or get out of the shower. Apply a small amount–a dime-sized amount is more than enough for your face, neck and decolletage–after you have lightly patted your skin dry. Your skin should be damp when you apply HA, not dripping wet. Apply the product to your face, neck and chest and lightly rub it in. You don’t need to massage this in. Your skin will absorb it with the quickness. If you’ve applied too much, your skin might feel tight or dry. So scale it back, mama. It’s normal for it to feel a little tacky, but that will go away as soon as you apply moisturizer, which you will do next. A thin layer of that will get rid of the tacky feeling and will help seal the HA in.
I apply HA once or twice a day. (Every morning and every other night when I am not using retinol.) Don’t overdo it by applying it more often than that, and don’t use a huge amount thinking that will help either. Going buck wild with skincare products does not yield faster results and can actually cause adverse effects (on your skin and to your wallet). I started seeing a difference from HA after a month, but disclaimer: I have good skin to start with because of the rest of my routine and my diet. So your visible results time may vary depending on the condition of your skin. And please make sure to do a patch test before committing to daily use of HA. Simply apply a small amount on your neck and wait 24-48 hours to see if you have a reaction. It’s not a product known to cause allergic reactions or irritation, but I recommend doing this with any skincare product.
I can’t promise that HA or any other skincare product will work for you. But I do believe that The Ordinary HA is a fantastic product, and science supports the claim that HA is a super hydrator. Hydrated skin looks and feels better (and younger, if that’s your jam), plus it allows makeup to blend more easily. And who wouldn’t want that? If you’re interested, you can buy it here.
If you’re a loyal reader, you’ll remember I mentioned that I’ve been using castor oil on my lashes and brows lately. (If you’re not a loyal reader, you should re-think your priorities in life.) I’ve been using castor oil for a few months on my eyelashes and eyebrows, and I’ve seen a definite difference.
Got questions? I’ve got your answers right here.
Where do I get castor oil?
I found mine at a local health food store, but Amazon carries a ton too. Just make sure to get organic 100% castor oil. You don’t want to mess around with castor oil that is packed with chemicals or additives because the product is going on your eyes, and peepers can be sensitive. I’ve been using the Now Solutions Castor Oil, which they have on Amazon.
What does this stuff even do? And how?
Well, that’s two questions but I’ll let it slide. Castor oil nourishes the eyelashes and eyebrows and encourages growth of new lashes and brow hairs. It is packed with antioxidants, fatty acids and proteins that strengthen the lashes and brows and make them less prone to breakage. The molecules in this oil are teeny tiny and therefore able to get into the small lash and brow follicles. When the lashes and brows are able to be this healthy, they can reach their fullest and longest potential. If the lashes and brows you grow naturally are not healthy, they might be very slow to appear or only grow to a certain length and thickness. But because castor oil gets down deep in that follicle and creates a healthy environment for lash and brow hairs, they are able to flourish.
How much it is going to run me?
A 16 ounce bottle shouldn’t cost you more than $15, and that will last you for-freakin’-ever. I bought mine in mid-April and have barely made a dent in it.
How do I apply it?
All you’ll need is a disposable mascara wand and a decently steady hand. Dispense a small stripe of product on one side of the wand. That should be enough to coat both sets of lashes. You don’t need to completely saturate the lashes–just coat them enough so that they look shiny but not slicked back. I use what’s left on the wand on the front of my brows, where they are sparse. Some people prefer to use an eyeliner brush to apply the castor to the lash roots, which makes sense. But I apply castor oil like I apply mascara, so it gets to the roots. I also like the idea of coating the length of the lash with the product so that it nourishes and hydrates the entire lash, not just the root.
When should I use it?
At night, fo sho, unless you want to look like a little wet lashed weirdo. I’m a firm believer in applying products that need to penetrate/absorb at night. Skincare products in that category work better when your skin doesn’t have to also be on guard against the sun, pollution and bacteria you are applying to your face when you touch it. And unless you rub your eyes constantly while you are sleeping, the castor oil will have more of a chance to do its job while you’re in dreamland.
How often should I use it?
You only need to apply castor oil once a day. I think overdoing it could potentially have the opposite effect of clogging the follicles, which would inhibit growth. I know that when it comes to beauty and skincare products, some of you impulsive folks think “Oh, I’ll just do double the amount, twice a day!” That’s not how it works, and overdoing beauty product usage can sometimes cause more harm then good. So have patience and do as I say (and as I do).
Do I have to remove it?
Yeah, man. A cotton swap saturated in eye makeup remover will do the job. Run it gently on the underside of your lashes the morning after you’ve used castor oil. This will remove the oil that is left, which would otherwise get into your eyes/contacts and wreak havoc on the eye makeup you wear during the day.
How long does it take to work?
I started using castor oil on my brows and top lashes on April 13. (What kind of a inconsistent beauty blogger would I be if I didn’t record these things?) By May 1, I noticed a difference in my brows. They use to be very sparse at the front, but now they are much fuller there. It took closer to two months to see a difference in my lashes, but it’s definitely working. They look fuller than before, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on them lately.
Are there any weird side effects?
Negative. I started researching lash serums last year because I had seen some great results on friends and clients. But I learned that with serums, there is a high probability that the regrowth will fall out as soon as you stop using the product. Oh, so NO THANKS. I’m fantastic at thinking of the worst case scenario for all situations, and my worst case with a lash serum would be this: I use the serum, love it, it gets discontinued, and the relationship ends with me in tears, new lashes shedding as I sob. The way I see it, using a lash serum when you know what it can do is like re-dating the joker who broke your heart two years ago. You know what the outcome will be, but you do it anyway because it might be good at the beginning. When you stop using castor oil, the new lashes you’ve grown do not fall out right away.* They just chill. What I’m really saying is that you should date castor oil.
If you want better lashes and thicker brows, I absolutely recommend castor oil. It’s an easy, effective, affordable product that does not have any side effects. That’s as close to magic as you’re going to get in this life.
Have a beautiful day 🙂
*All lashes eventually fall out–c’mon, they’re not immortal–but lash serums can make your regrowth fall out as soon as you discontinue use.
I wear a lot of eye makeup and I don’t care who knows it. But at the end of the day, it has to come off. All of it. Sleeping in eye makeup can lead to puffiness and irritation and can cause the lash follicles to become clogged. Those clogged follicles can then form styes, which everybody loves. And if you don’t regularly remove your mascara, that can make your lashes brittle, in turn causing breakage. Breakage means that your eyelashes become short and stubby, something that no mascara can remedy.
Have I convinced you that your eye makeup needs to be removed every night? Good. So let’s talk about the best way to do that.
My personal process is to first cleanse my face using an oil cleanser. This both removes the makeup and cleanses the skin. If I have a lot of makeup on, I will occasionally double cleanse with an oil cleanser, or I’ll use an oil based makeup remover followed by a cream cleanser. I don’t apply the oil cleanser or makeup remover to my eyes, but I do splash water onto them as Phase 1 of the eye makeup removal process. During this process, I also hold a warm washcloth up to each eye to help break down the eye makeup. Some of it comes off just with water, so this is a good start.
After I pat my face dry, I put some Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution (formerly Bioderma Crealine H20), a makeup remover, onto a cotton ball and hold it over one eye for about 30 seconds. (Some people prefer to use a flat cotton pad for this.) That gives the Bioderma a chance to break down what’s left of my eyeshadow, liner and mascara. I repeat the process on the other eye. I put more Bioderma on the cotton ball and use it to very gently remove any traces of makeup left on my lids or under my eyes.
I know this is technically a product review, but I couldn’t do this particular one without my how-to. Because if you buy this product based on my recommendation but don’t know how to properly use it, you’re not going to love it and you’ll think I’m a jerk. And I am sometimes, but never when it comes to beauty tips. I take your face very seriously.
So let’s talk about the star of the show. I refer to this gem as “Bioderma,” which is the company name, not the product name. But I feel that we are good enough friends to give each other nicknames. It is a micellar water, which has tiny molecules of cleansing oil that attract dirt and oil but don’t dry out the skin. Micellar water has been around for a long time but didn’t become mainstream until a couple of years ago.
Bioderma is the OG of micellar water. Because it’s so gentle on the skin, it’s been a staple for makeup artists who need to do quick makeup changes on set or for the runway. It removes face and eye makeup without leaving any residue, which allows an artist to quickly do a new makeup look. I would bet money that the true makeup artist pros–Lisa Eldridge, Pat McGrath, Charlotte Tilbury, Mary Greenwell, Billy B, etc.–all have a bottle of Bioderma in their kits.
That being said, I wouldn’t recommend Bioderma as an everyday face or waterproof makeup remover. It does not fully remove foundation or waterproof mascara (I know you don’t wear waterproof mascara every day though, right?). But for quick makeup changes, it’s ideal.
I think Bioderma’s best use is as an everyday eye makeup remover. It’s gentle so it’s ideal for sensitive eyes. I don’t consider my eyes particularly sensitive–that’s kind of my stomach’s thing–but I have tried many eye makeup removers that made my eyes sting, burn or water up. I’ve been personally using Bioderma for years and it has never even slightly irritated my peepers. When the skin around eyes gets irritated, it can get dry and cracked, which is not something that makeup can cover (and may even further irritate). So using a gentle eye makeup remover is key.
As gentle as it is, Bioderma is also a thorough eye makeup remover. As mentioned, it doesn’t remove waterproof mascara but it removes non-waterproof makeup like it ain’t no thang. And as you now know, sleeping with eye makeup on is bad, bad, bad and you will never do it again.
I buy my 16.7 fluid oz Bioderma on Amazon, where it is usually around $16. That size bottle lasts me a good six months. If you have suffered from eye makeup remover irritation or your current eye makeup remover is doing a crap job, check out Bioderma.
If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know I have been on the hunt for the perfect brown eyeliner ever since Topshop discontinued my beloved Saddle. I’ve tried some liners that were too dark, some that were hard to blend and some that didn’t have enough red undertones to bring out the green in my eyes. I haven’t Goldilocks-ed myself out of this one yet, but I have found a liner that’s almost “just right”.
The weird thing is, I’ve had this eyeliner in my pro kit for several years. It’s been my go-to brown waterline eyeliner from the beginning. (I’m pretty sure it was a recommendation from the Pixiwoo sisters.) It’s MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy. MAC describes it as an “intense bronze,” but on me, it comes out more as a chocolate brown with red and bronze undertones.
Teddy is easy to blend, as any kohl eyeliner pencil should be. Because it’s a kohl, I usually set it with some eyeshadow in a similar shade so it doesn’t transfer on my crease or smudge under my eyes. But I’ve applied it to the lower lashline sans shadow before and it barely moved. (I did get some transfer on the upper lashline though, which I always get when I don’t set a kohl liner with shadow. That’s partly due to my eye shape, and partly because of my oily lids.) If you want an eyeliner pencil that does not move, don’t go with a kohl. That’s a general makeup rule.
If you want a good waterline liner though, Teddy will not disappoint. This liner goes on smoothly and is pigmented so you can actually see it on the waterline, unlike some liners. (I won’t give names.) It’s moderately long-lasting on the waterline, which is normal. If your eyes have moisture–and for your sake, I hope they do–eventually that will break down any waterline liner.
Because it’s a kohl, Teddy is easy to smudge out. I like to apply a thin line then smudge it with an angled brush or a pencil brush. This is big for me because I don’t usually like a defined liner on my peepers.
Teddy lasts all day for me without any touchups (at the lashlines, anyway). Longevity is also essential for me, because I don’t always have time for touchups. Some kohl liners I have known go on smoothly and are nicely pigmented, but they don’t hold up. Teddy won’t back out on you by mid-afternoon, and that’s an important quality in a liner.
Teddy is my makeup equivalent of that guy I grew up with who I never thought too much about then started to see in a different light. (For the record, I have no such guy.) Is this eyeliner the one I end up? Or am I settling? It’s hard to tell, but Teddy is a solid choice who I’ve grown to love. I’ll keep passively searching (aka swatching every brown eyeliner in Sephora on my hand when I’m there), but I’m happy for now.
If you want to give Teddy a try, you can get it at MAC stores, counters and online.
I don’t know what I did to make everyone so mad at me! I used to be able to fly by under the radar. People would occasionally talk about shrinking me down to size but their methods didn’t work. I’ve been splashed with cold water more times than I can count, but that never effected me. After a few half ass attempts at changing who I am, people would generally give up and let me live my life.
Oh, but now! Everyone wants to minimize me! And what an insulting, condescending euphemism for what they really want to do to me–they want me gone forever. And I did nothing to them, other than make them appear a little less smooth. Is that a crime? I don’t believe it is.
My life is now in danger as Public Enemy Number One in the beauty world. Before you try to minimize me (I spit on the person who coined that term) please know that I am who I am, and I wish to cause you no harm.
In esthetics school, I was taught that pore size is genetically determined and pores can not be shrunk. I learned that you can make them look smaller by extracting blackheads but nothing can be done to shrink them. That’s not entirely true anymore, but shrinking pores still can not be done at home or without a prescription. A dermatologist or laser tech can perform non-ablative laser treatments, which can boost collagen and tighten stretched pores. Those treatments do technically make pores smaller. Accutane was banned a few years ago, but generic versions still exist and those anti-acne pills temporarily shrink oil glands. That makes the pores smaller while you are taking the prescription. Other than those options, shrinking pore size is not possible.
What you can do is keep your pores unclogged by cleansing daily, using retinol or exfoliating regularly and having extractions done during a facial. Pores are much more noticeable when they are clogged, as they stretch to accommodate the dirt and oil inside of them. When the dirt and oil is exposed to air, it turns dark and blackheads appear. Those tiny black dots are never a good look, right? So clean pores are much less obvious, although they can still cause makeup to settle inside of them.
The other thing you can do–and this is what I’m really here to talk about–is use a pore minimizer. The best one I’ve ever tried is Benefit The POREfessional. If your pores are clean and free of blackheads, this light tan silky balm temporarily fills in pores (and fine lines–bonus!) allowing face makeup to glide over smoothly without settling into those pores or lines. It also mattifies any area you apply it on and does not clog pores.
Benefit calls The POREfessional a face primer. It is one, in the way that makeup applied to any areas with pores or lines applies more smoothly. I don’t use it on the whole face, as most people only have large pores and fine lines on certain areas, so I apply it before primer. (I get the longevity boosting factor from a different primer, because I don’t think the POREfessional really extends the wear of any face makeup applied on top of it.) You can also apply it over makeup to touchup if those pores/lines start showing through later in the day.
The POREfessional is one of the staple products in my pro kit and in my personal makeup bag. There are many products that don’t do what they claim to, or only kind of do their job. But this pore minimizer absolutely does what it’s supposed to. If your makeup is settling into your pores or fine lines and making them more obvious, I 100% recommend that you try this.
You may be stuck with the pore size you were born with, but because of The POREfessional, no one needs to know that.
It’s been a while since I’ve told you what I have in my personal makeup bag, so I’m sure you’ve been patiently waiting for this post. I’ve done a few of these posts over the years, and some of the products in my bag have never left me (except to be replaced by new, full versions of themselves). Others are new to the crew and may or may not make the cut.
Here’s what we’ve got.
Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture SPF 15. This moisturizer is affordable, gentle and great for normal to oily skin in the warmer months. I usually switch to a richer moisturizer for the fall and winter when my skin gets dry and flaky, but I don’t know if I’ll need to do that now that I use face oil. Time will tell. Until then, I’m sticking with this tried and true product.
MAC Face & Body Foundations in C2 & C5. I use a mixture of shades C2 and C5, depending on how much self tanner I have on. I absolutely love this sheer foundation (which can be built up to medium coverage by simply rubbing it into the skin for longer). I also sometimes use the darker C5 on my ghostly legs because I don’t feel the need to make people aware that I’m 25% Irish. My freckles and propensity to Irish goodbye a party take care of that.
Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. This is still the best primer I’ve ever tried. I use this when I know the makeup I put on at 6:00am needs to stay strong into the evening. Laura Mercier also makes hydrating and oil-free versions of this primer for dry and oily skin. If you want your makeup to last all day, you have to use a primer. There is no way around that. I think it’s actually a law in most states.
Make Up For Ever Sculpting Kit in Shade 2. Shade 2 of this powder highlight and contour duo suits my light (but not super fair) skin. I’m not big on highlighting my own face, so the contour powder gets more love. I don’t like a strong contour, but I was in the wrong line for “good bone structure” when features were being given out, so I can use a little help. (I did, however, accidentally get in line twice for “tiny feet” and “thick hair.”)
MAC Powder Blush in Pink Swoon. This matte, soft candy pink powder blush really brightens up my face. I use this particular shade on a lot of clients too. If you are tired, sick or hungover, an even skintone and a pop of pink blush will make a world of difference. So unless you are a teetotaler who always gets eight hours of sleep and never even catches a cold, you should have good pink blush in your makeup bag.
Benefit the POREfessional. This pore minimizer is a must for She of the Large Cheek Pores. I also use it to blur the slight forehead lines that have developed in the past few years (from wisdom, obviously.) I have been buying this product since it came out and I don’t intend to stop. If you have no visible pores or lines on your face, you probably don’t need POREfessional. Also, we can’t be friends.
Clarins Multi-Active Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 20. I don’t use this every day, but if I’m going for a walk or run during the day in the summer, I apply it first. It doesn’t leave a white cast (my sunscreen pet peeve) or break me out like many others. But it does smell similar to the Raid I once used to kill a bee from 10 feet away (I’m allergic and it was in my house! Not sorry), so I get a little flashback anxiety when I put it on.
Rimmel Stay Matte Powder in 001 Transparent. This pressed powder has been with me since AB Beauty makeup artist, Jen, recommended it to me. It does a good job of setting my foundation and eliminating shine without caking. I would like it even more if I didn’t consistently drop and break the cover within two weeks of buying it. That’s not Rimmel’s fault though. That’s on me, rushing around in the morning and knocking things over with my butt (apparently I got in line for that twice as well).
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20. My undereye coverage godsend. This stuff masks my dark circles, lasts for hours and doesn’t cake. I use this concealer on clients as well for those reasons. It’s not thick or dry and as long as you prep the undereye with a little moisturizer first, it applies smoothly. It’s a real winner.
Charlotte Tilbury Mini Miracle Eye Wand. I usually use the MAC Pro Longwear Concealer for undereye coverage, but this two-sided pen–moisturizer to prep the area, concealer to do its thing–saves me about 10 seconds because it’s an all in one. I sometimes I feel like that will make a difference in my day. You either know exactly how I feel or think I’m crazy for saying that, but either way, I’m doing it.
Tarte Rainforest of the Sea Marine Boosting Mist. Someone gave me a sample of this spray which is supposed to be a primer, setting spray, hydrating mist and skin refresher. That’s too multi-use for me to believe, so I use it as a skin refresher. That means I spray it on if I think my foundation is looking cakey (not Face & Body, but sometimes when I try a new one). It helps dilute the foundation so it doesn’t catch on dry patches. I won’t buy a new one when it runs out, but it’s nice to have until then.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance. My Holy Grail of eye primers. Without this, my eyeshadow fades and creases within hours. (One more thing I got in line for–oily eyelids.) Whenever I do my eye makeup without applying this first, I regret it.
MAC Eyeshadow Quad. I bought a MAC empty quad duo and filled it with Brun, Espresso, Wedge and Brule (all matte formulations). Brun is a muted blackish brown I use for shadow liner and to fill in my brows; Espresso is a muted golden brown I use for the lid, outer V or as a shadow liner; the soft beige taupe Wedge is my crease go-to color but also sometimes my all-over lid color and Brule is a light creamy beige shadow I use on my lids. These four shades work well with my brown eyes, which I like to pretend are hazel.
MAC Eye Kohl in Costa Riche. This dark brown shade of pencil liner has red undertones, which help bring out the green in my eyes. (The other thing that somehow makes them look more green is crying, but that’s not as pretty.) I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect brown pencil eyeliner since Topshop discontinued my beloved Sable, and Costa Riche is my latest attempt. It goes on smoothly–no tugging on the lid–and is easy to blend out, as a kohl liner should be. Plus, I love that it brings out my green like Sable did (it had tiny reddish glitter flecks which did the job). I haven’t experienced any undereye smudging or crease transfer and the color payoff is great, as is the case with most MAC products. I wish it was maybe a tiny bit darker, but that’s a preference thing, not a product downside.
Dior Diorshow Mascara. This is my true homegirl of makeup products. Maybe we don’t talk for a bit (aka I try a new mascara) but we always reunite. She is simply the best. And I know Diorshow is a She because a He mascara would be much more flaky and wouldn’t stay around as long.
Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume Mascara. This is my current top layer and bottom lash mascara. I like how black and inky it is, but it does sometimes smudge a tiny bit under my eyes. I generally really like Clinique mascaras for my top layer and bottom lashes, so I’ll try a different one next.
Ardency Inn Punk Eyeliner. I’m not usually a liquid eyeliner gal, but someone gave this to me so I’ve been using it. It’s a liquid liner pen with a hard tip. It’s more of a gray black than an inky black, which I don’t care for. It doesn’t move once it’s dry, but it also fades quickly. Once I’m through with this one, we’ll part ways. (Also how I approach dating.)
Topshop Waterproof Eyeliner in Ebony. “Blackest black pencil eyeliner and waterline best friend.” That would be this eyeliner’s epithet. If I’m being honest, the liner splits its time between my makeup bag and my handbag, because waterline eyeliner is something that needs to be touched up. It’s waterproof and sets quickly so I don’t like it for lashline liner (I like something I can smudge a little), but for the waterline, it’s bomb.
MAC Chromographic Pencil in NC15/NW20. It’s technically an eyeliner pencil, but I’m also technically in my mid 30s and have blue streaks in my hair, so I’m not really one for doing things the way you’re supposed to. I use this off-white color on the waterline to make my eyes look bigger or more awake. True white is too obvious, but off-white gives the desired effect in a natural way.
Too Faced Lip Injection. I have very little top lip to speak of. So when I want to temporarily make my lips fuller and am in the mood to endure five minutes of stinging, I apply this plumping gloss. Say what you will, but this ish works. It has a rosy tint to it, which I don’t love because straight rosy tones don’t look great on me, but I apply the color I want after the Lip Injection has absorbed.
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillowtalk. There is something about this pinky-peachy nude lipliner that allows me to slightly overdraw my lips without looking cray cray. The shade and velvety texture work better on me than any other lipliner I’ve tried. It’s a keeper or, as Charlotte herself would say, it’s “divine.”
NYX Soft Matte Lip Creme in Istanbul. This was an impulse buy at CVS. You know, when you go in for contact solution then you see what looks like the petal pink lip color you’ve been after for years. It turns out it wasn’t the exact color I thought it would be once it was on my lips, but it’s still decent. I find it to be a little too drying and slightly sticky, so I mix in a tiny bit of Glossier balmdotcom to make it more comfortable to wear.
Clinique Chubby Stick Intense in Heftiest Hibiscus. I had a client who was looking for a specific lip color for her wedding day, but it needed to be in a moisturizing formulation because her lips get dry easily. I knew Chubby Sticks had a good reputation for being comfortable to wear and I saw one in the color she loved so I grabbed it. I also grabbed one in Heftiest Hibiscus, a pinky red, for myself. I don’t operate on a one-for-you-one-for-me philosophy–I would have never turned a profit as a freelance artist if I did that!–but I needed to make sure the formulation was comfortable to wear. So I tested mine out for a couple weeks and it passed the test. I really love this product and will definitely re-purchase it when I run out.
Revlon Colorburst Lip Stain in 040 Rendezvous. This is one of my summer go-to colors. It’s on the orange side of coral, so I use it when I want to brighten up my look. Crayons are easily to apply, and this formulation is comfortable to wear. No complaints here.
Korres Lip Crayon in Delight. And then sometimes, I want a light pink shade. This one delivers on that desire, and I do wish it hadn’t been discontinued. Life can be so disappointing…
Lipstick Queen Rouge Sinner. This baby is my go-to fall red. (My summer red, MAC Lady Danger, is still in my purse, because I’m holding on to the last days of summer.) It’s what I call a vintage red. It’s got a slight rose tone to it, but in a muted way. If it was 1948, this color would be sold out everywhere. Every LQ lipstick I’ve ever tried is long-lasting, pigmented, non-drying and has beautiful packaging. Owner Poppy King truly knows lipstick.
Tom Ford Lipcolor Sheer in 10 Rose Soleil. My cousin, Saint Maria, gave me this beautiful rose pink that’s shot through with shimmer. It’s the perfect every day polished-but-not-high-maintenance lipstick. I love how it looks layered over the Pillowtalk lip liner (as I mentioned, pure rose doesn’t look great on me but works when it has other tones mixed in). And I want to live inside that white with gold-trimmed packaging.
That’s it (for now). I realize I have more products than the average person, but what did you expect? If this post only included a tube of Maybelline Great Lash Mascara and a Clinique lipstick I bought in college, my clients would be in trouble. Part of being a good makeup artist is trying new products. The ones that pass the test get purchased (brand new, of course) and introduced to a million new friends in my pro kit. The ones that don’t pass the test get tossed in the trash, never to be spoken of again.
Maybe this post will help you if you are looking for new products for your own makeup bag or will inspire you to take a good hard look at what you currently have. Or maybe it will help you kill time waiting at the dentist’s office. Either way, thanks for reading.
It’s no secret that I’m a believer in good skincare. So when my cousin, Saint Maria, gave me a sample of the REN Flash Rinse 1 Minute Facial, I was of course excited to try it. REN has a great reputation among legit pro makeup artists like Lisa Eldridge, so I considered it pre-approved.
Flash Rinse claims to rejuvenate, firm and smooth skin. You apply it to dry skin, massage it in, add water to activate the Vitamin C, and let it sit for one minute. The directions say to do this every three days. So another reminder to go in the Google Calendar…
Other than following the directions, I like to go into trying product samples blind, meaning I don’t read any reviews or do product research first. I’m afraid I can be an impressionable little makeup artist who is easily swayed by the written word. So I prefer to try a sample without really knowing what it’s supposed to do or what others thought of it.
The sample size allowed me to try the Flash Rinse three times. Here’s what I thought of it:
It’s Got Grit. The formula is oily and gritty, which surprised me as I was expecting a cream. There’s nothing wrong with a little grit but if you have a spray tan, I would avoid this as grit = exfoliation, and you’ll lose color if you exfoliate.
Hibachi Craving. I read reviews after I used the product and it’s described as having a metallic scent. I don’t know what the problem is with my sensory synapses, but I thought it smelled like soy sauce. I don’t mind the smell of soy sauce but my brain was having a tough time connecting that smell with a beauty product. It’s like if you went to eat some chocolate cake and it smelled like roses. Even if you like the smell of roses, that’s not what you are used to chocolate cake smelling like so it might throw you. There was also a vitamin scent to the Flash Rinse, which makes sense since it contains Vitamin C. Ah, something my brain can accept.
Feel The Burn. After I rinsed off the Flash Rinse the first time I tried it, my skin felt like it was on fire. Oh, shit, I thought, I’ve had a bad reaction. I put a cold compress on and waited for some angry, red skin to show up, but I was fine. It was then that I realized how powerful this product is. The Vitamin C in higher end products is more concentrated and potent than what is in most Vitamin C containing drugstore products (10% Vitamin C in this one). The first night I used the Flash Rinse, I applied it within minutes of cleansing my face. The second and third times, I waited 20 minutes to apply it so my skin’s acid mantle (basically a ph balanced protectant layer over the skin) had time to come back. I had no issues with burning, at least at that level, when I waited for 20 minutes.
Yo, That’s Tight. My skin felt super tight after rinsing off this product. I don’t like that feeling, but it’s nothing a little face oil didn’t fix. I have combination skin but I know many oily skin people like that tight feeling. It may be more bothersome to those with dry skin but again, a little face oil will solve the problem.
Time Sensitive. You’re looking at about 90 seconds total for this product (30 to apply, 60 to let it do its thing). That is a perk for those of us who already have 8 million things to do every day and zero time left for anything else. I appreciate an efficient product the same way I appreciate a cashier who has my stuff wrung up before I even have my wallet out or an oil change that’s done in the time it takes me to answer three emails.
The Verdict: I know some of these things sound negative, but none of them were enough to turn me off from the product (after I confirmed that I wasn’t having a reaction to it, anyway). My feeling was if my skin looked considerably better after the Flash Rinse, it would be a winner. So was it? You’ll have to read next week’s post to find out….
I’M PLAYIN.’ Although my skin looked good after the Flash Rinse, I wasn’t blown away. My skin is already in good shape, but my beauty intuition tells me that someone whose skin doesn’t get much attention and looks dull would benefit from this. I would not recommend this for anyone with sensitive skin (REN says the same thing in their product description) because of the potency, but if you are not sensitive and your skin needs a serious pick-me-up, this could be a great match for you. REN recommends doing a patch test on your inner arm before applying it to your face.
I suspect I would have seen more of a difference if I had a full-sized bottle of the Flash Rinse and used it every three days for a month. But I normally don’t buy a full sized product based off a sample unless that sample really impresses me. I would definitely consider buying a full sized bottle if my skin goes through a rough patch (or gets rough patches on it) in the future.
I am posting this review because I know that many people don’t have a consistent skincare routine, sometimes because they don’t have the time. But 90 seconds every three days? Everyone has time for that. If you go from doing nothing to regularly cleansing, moisturizing and using the Flash Rinse, I predict a noticeable improvement of your skin. You can get it at Sephora, $48 for 2.5 oz.
My mother is a fantastic cook. People request her chicken parm, they eat six slices of her pizza and they know whatever meal she puts in front of them is going to be delicious. She is not, however, a baker. I thought things that happen in the kitchen are all part of the same category, but Mammamia says she doesn’t like baking because she has to follow recipes. (We’ve got rebel blood in our family.) Substitutions, she says, work fine in cooking if you know your stuff, but you can’t go rogue with baking. (Hence her recent banana bread fiasco–turns out whole wheat flour should not replace regular flour.)
So when I see a primarily makeup company create a skincare product or vice versa, I don’t have high hopes. Many makeup companies excel in their products–eyeshadows, lipsticks, foundations, etc.–but that doesn’t mean they understand skincare. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by the Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base.
This product is meant to be both a primer and a moisturizer. It contains shea butter and vitamins C and E. Shea butter has become very popular the past few years due to its moisturizing properties, and vitamin E is known to have a healing effect on scars and marks. Vitamin C is a winner in the anti-aging category. So that trio is impressive, especially coming from a cosmetics company.
Face Base comes in a plastic black and white jar. I have a sample size (.24 fl oz) but the full size is 1.7 oz. The packaging is simple and classy, like every other Bobbi Brown product I have seen. The lid closes tightly and stays on. My only issue with jars is that if you use your fingers to retrieve the product, you are introducing bacteria into the product. When you seal the jar, you are basically throwing a bacteria party. You remember the “warm, dark and moist” breeding ground thing from Bio 101, right? Bacteria can cause breakouts and skin irritation so especially if you are acne-prone, use a clean tool of some sort (makeup spatula, scoop, even a cotton swab) to retrieve the product.
The formula itself is–say it with me–like buttahhhh. But it absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave an oily residue. To borrow a term from Lisa Eldridge, one of my makeup artist idols, this product is nourishing. It made my skin feel considerably softer. I am a combination skin gal and I tend to get more oily as we get into the warmer months, so I think this could be a little too heavy for me and others like me during the summer. It’s not the heaviest cream I’ve ever used, but anytime you see shea butter listed as an ingredient, you can assume the product is geared more towards a normal, normal-to-dry or dry skin. As a moisturizer, this product does a great job. I used it on my neck overnight several times and woke up with crazy smooth skin.
Face Base has a moderately strong grapefruit scent. That doesn’t bother me, and the scent disappears after you apply it, but if you are sensitive to scented products, this might be a turnoff. It’s not perfume-y though. It has more of a fresh scent, which I know many people like.
Primers are supposed to do one or two things. One is to prep the skin to allow for a smoother makeup application. A good primer in this sense will allow your makeup to glide on, and can give a little glow to your skin. The other priming factor is longevity. In that arena, a primer should extend the wear of your face makeup. It does that by forming a kind of protective layer between your skin and your face makeup so the oils from your skin–the culprits behind makeup fading–can’t sneak through as easily. Face Base excels in the skin prep area. My foundation sat beautifully on top of the Face Base and I did see an undeniable glow. (What’s up now, JLo?) As far as extending makeup longevity, I saw no difference. I prefer that my primers take care of both prepping the skin (although I often use moisturizer first) and extending the wear of face makeup, so this isn’t the right primer for me. Longevity is important to me because I do a lot of wedding makeup, which needs to last all damn day. Face Base might be fine as a primer for someone with dry skin, since they don’t have as much oil coming through, but I don’t consider this a good longevity primer for my oily or combination skin peeps.
There is no SPF in Face Base, so if you use it during the day, make sure to use a separate SPF. If you use it only at night, you don’t have to worry about that (unless you live in Alaska and sleep outside during the summer).
Overall, I do like this product. I think it’s great day cream and primer for anyone with dry skin (just make sure to use SPF too). For someone with combo or normal-to-oily skin, you might like this during the winter (still use SPF) or as a night cream.
Feelin’ it? You can get it at Sephora, Bobbi Brown or Bobbi Brown counters. It retails for $58. I realize that’s not cheap but I can see this being a game changer for people with normal-to-dry or dry skin who want a smoother foundation application and some glow.
Topshop Kohl Eyeliner in Saddle was the one that got away. Or at least the one that got discontinued. That was my favorite eyeliner to wear and I used my last one until it was a tiny nub. It was the perfect brown for my hazel eyes. Saddle did a standup job of enhancing the green I desperately try to bring out thanks to its reddish gold glitter flecks. Those tiny particles didn’t look like glitter or worse, act like it (no glitter fallout with Saddle).
I’ve been on the hunt for a new brown pencil eyeliner ever since I laid Saddle to rest. I was open to trying different browns and thought I would go in the dark brown direction. When I saw the Bobbi Brown Long-Wear in Pencil in Mahogany, my broken heart felt hopeful. Could this be the one?
Mahogany is a deep, dark matte brown. No glitter here, Mariah. It’s a standard eyeliner pencil with a solid plastic cap that stays on. The cap of an eyeliner pencil is important because if it is flimsy and cracks open or slides off easily, it exposes the pencil to air, which can dry it out. Even the best eyeliner pencil can’t survive the elements.
My favorite thing about this eyeliner is the color. It is a rich, saturated dark brown with great color payoff. It’s different from my beloved Saddle but I love this color just as much.
Unfortunately, it feels waxy and hard when lining the eye. It definitely drags on the skin, which I think is a universal makeup hate. I try to be so gentle on the eye area since that skin is very thin but it’s hard to be gentle and get the liner to draw on with this pencil.
The tip of the pencil is on the thicker side, even when sharpened, so it’s impossible to get a thin line. Even though it feels hard and pulls on the skin, the tip of it somehow also falls off easily. Usually that happens if a pencil feels soft (like most kohl pencils) but this one does not. It may be because it is on the drier side so the tip eventually dries out and cracks off.
I haven’t experienced any smudging or fading with this eyeliner so I think it lives up to its Long-Wear name. I realize this is a huge plus because many people have issues with eyeliner staying on.
I should have known this going into it, since most long-lasting products don’t blend well, but this eyeliner is impossible to blend. Once it’s on, it sets immediately. If you like a medium thick defined line, you’ll probably love it. I personally prefer a smudged out, blurry line so I don’t like that it sets so damn fast.
The liner is decent on the waterline. It doesn’t stay for hours, but it also doesn’t disappear right away. Some pencil liners– specifically the waxy longwear or waterproof ones–don’t even show up on the waterline so I was surprised that this one did. I didn’t experience any problems with it flaking off, which is important when you are lining the waterline.
The Long-Wear Eye Pencil did not quite do it for me. If Saddle taught me anything it was not to settle. I believe I’ll find my match someday, and I won’t stop looking until I do.