Product Review: MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek

I used a lot of Halo on my cheeks this past New Year’s Eve, and I don’t regret it. The perfect flush!

I love a good cream blush. (And by cream, I mean a true cream blush as well as liquid, gel and stick formulations.) A quality cream blush will blend seamlessly onto bare skin or over foundation, and I find that cream blushes often give a more realistic flush than powder blushes on their on. I normally use a cream blush then a thin layer of setting powder, then either more cream blush (if the formulation blends well over powder) or powder blush in a similar color (if it does not).

There are some crappy cream blushes out there, but the MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks are far from crappy.Β  I bought three of these little cuties upon recommendation from my friend, Ali, at the Newport Sephora. They might be my favorite cream blushes ever. I bought Flare (a coral shimmer), Halo (a bright pink shimmer) and Astro (a plum shimmer). Astro wasn’t that flattering on my skintone so I put it in my pro kit, but I had to keep Flare and Halo for myself (I’ll buy them for my pro kit as well, because my clients deserve all of the good stuff, too!). They also have Glimmer, a mauve shimmer which I will likely try and buy too.

I’ve been wearing Flare or Halo most days for about a month. They are both highly pigmented, and they glide onto the skin like a dream. The shimmer is very minimal and doesn’t settle into my, shall we call them, generously sized pores. The rice bran oil in these cream blushes make then super blendable, both over and under powder. I’ve used them on bare skin as well, and they haven’t let me down there either.

Some of Flare (on the left) got stuck to the cap. I didn’t gauge a piece out, and it’s important to me that you know that.

I’ve mostly used the Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks as cheek color, but I like the way they look on my lips, too. They’re comfortable to wear on the lips, and then look like more of a lip stain than a lipstick, which is good for you lipstick-phobes out there. I like using the same shade on my lips as I have on my cheeks, as I think that ties a look together nicely.

The packaging is modern and pretty without being frilly. The cap stays on well, and it’s easy to twist the bottom to get more product. Because Flare and Halo especially are so pigmented, one stick of this stuff should last you a while.

The Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks give a beautiful application and are pigmented enough to make them worth the price. If you like one of the four shades they currently offer, I would 100% recommend trying one. A believable, blendable flush or a pretty lip is worth $15, in my book.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

NuFACE Mini: Two Months In

Some things (or people) seem so great at first, then they disappoint you and you think “Why did I even go on Bumble again?,” or whatever. I’ve tried many a beauty product that gave a fantastic first impression, then after a while, became kind of “eh” for me. When I do find a product I truly love–like MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm or Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops–it becomes part of my beauty family. In order to receive that honor, it must do what it claims and do it well.

The NuFACE Mini has earned its spot in la famiglia, that’s for damn sure. I’ve been using it for a little over two months, and I continue to be as impressed as I was when I wrote my original review. I’m still using the second setting, but I’ve recently bumped my usage up to six days a week. After three months, I may go down to five or even four days a week, but I plan on graduating to the highest intensity level then.

As a reminder, here’s what I looked like on Day 2 and Day 30 of using the NuFACE Mini.

An undeniable improvement.

I didn’t take as many photos my during my second month of NuFACE Mini usage, but I’ll share what I have, just for you.

I completely forgot the Before on Day 39, but I never said I was perfect.

Then I remembered!

Day 40. The Before & Afters are less drastic now, because the cumulative effects have really kicked in. But if you look closely, you can see how much tighter my skin looks in the After, as well as the brow lift the NuFACE Mini gives me.

Ignore the outfit change and check out that glow! The texture of my skin has improved since November.

NuFLEECE on Day 45.

I might be aging backwards a little.

Day 59, with a full face of makeup.

And one more Before & After. The changes are more subtle as the weeks go on, but I can see the tightening happening on my cheeks and jawline.

 

Day 65. Taken in my winter home, which has garbage lighting compared to my Newport home. And full disclosure–I am wearing top lash mascara and undereye concealer in these pics.

And the final comparison. Day 2 and Day 65. My skin looks tighter, the lines around my mouth aren’t as deep, my brows look lifted and my skin looks less dull. Are you convinced yet?

Really reppin’ RI with my sweatshirt and tee shirt choices.

Again, I don’t work for NuFACE and this isn’t a sponsored post. But I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this device, and I know several people who gifted or received a NuFACE Mini over the holidays, so hopefully this helps. Why not start this decade off with tighter, glowy-er, prettier skin?

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

My MAC Lipstick All Stars

My wedding set up, featuring one of the two two-layered lipstick palettes in my kit.

As a makeup artist, I go through a lot of lipstick. At each wedding alone, I apply once during the initial service, again at touchups time and I give each client a little container of some lipstick I’ve scraped out of my palette for touchups throughout the wedding. At bridal trials, my clients sometimes want to try a few different lipsticks to see what their options are, and when I’m on a commercial or full day corporate shoot, there can be multiple people who need lipstick as well as frequent touchups. Because of all of this, I can easily go through an entire tube of lipstick in three or four weeks.

I don’t do much with pure black, blue, green, white and orange lipsticks due to the type of jobs I usually do, but there is not a shade in the nude, pink, red or berry color families that I haven’t used or created by combining shades. But it’s not just about that base (color). Undertones, textures and finishes are just as important when choosing the right shade for someone. It has to work with their coloring, their natural lip color and their preferences as well. What, you thought lipstick was easy???

I’m not brand loyal in the sense that my pro kit has products from probably 20 different brands, but I do use a lot of MAC. The majority of my lipsticks are MAC (with Lipstick Queen coming in second), and it’s because they’re damn good. There are tons of shade options and finishes, and they’re pigmented as all get out. I’m going to walk you through my 27 most used shades, giving you MAC’s color descriptions and my take on who they work best on/what I use them for. So if you’re in the market for a new lipstick and you’re considering MAC, read on.

Angel. This light, soft pink has a frost finish so it can be a little intense on its own. I use it more as a mixer lipstick. So if I’ve got a matte darker pink that I want to lighten, or a brown nude that I want to soften, I’ll add in some Angel. It can go Barbie pink easily, so just keep that in mind if you’re considering it.

Brave. This pinky-beige with white pearl has a satin finish, which means it’s shinier than a flat matte but not frosty. Satins tend to be comfortable to wear. This shade looks beautiful on light and medium skintones. AB Beauty makeup artist, Jen, recommended Brave to me a while back, and I’m glad she did because I use it at almost every wedding.

I used Brave on my knockout friend, Carina (who gets two mentions in this post) on her wedding day. Photo: Conte Sound Productions http://www.contesound.com

Cherish. This soft, muted pinky beige with a satin finish is a nice nude for fair, light and light medium skintones.

Creme Cup. Creme Cup is one of MAC’s Cremesheen lipsticks, which means it’s semi-glossy and feels more like a thick balm than a lipstick. I use this light blue pink on fair and light skintones. It tends to get chalky and a little jarring on medium and deeper skintones.

Creme D’Nude. This pale muted peach beige is another Cremesheen, and it’s a good nude for fair and light skintones. Like Creme Cup, it can appear chalky on medium and deeper skintones.

Faux. A lot of clients tell me they prefer a mauve-ish lip color, so it’s no surprise I go through a lot of this muted mauve-pink satin shade. It looks pretty on light and medium skintones. My friend Jennie Kay of Jennie Kay Beauty originally recommended it to me, and I trust her opinion so I bought it and haven’t looked back.

It’s a gorgeous shade, faux real. Photo: John Seakwood Photography Β©2014 John Seakwood. All Rights Reserved.

Film Noir. I bought my first tube of this at the MAC store on Newbury Street in Boston. I put it on while my friend, Carina, was driving my car (because we knew parallel parking was coming up, and that’s not something I do). I remember saying “Ooooh!” as I was applying it, because it looked very 1940s femme fatale (makes sense with the shade name) and I love that. MAC says it’s an intense brown, but there’s some deep reddish purple there in my eyes. It’s easiest for deeper skintones to wear, but you can pull it off it you have a lighter skintone if you aren’t afraid of an intense lip.

Film Noir feels like the perfect winter color.

Fresh Moroccan. This frost finish, brick red with golden pearl lipstick is gorgeous on medium deep and deeper skintones. I’ve used this many times at Indian weddings, and it looks beautiful against some of the sari colors I’ve seen.

Honeylove. This matte lipstick is one of my most used shades on fair, light and medium skintones. It’s a light beige toned with rose, which means it’s a nude with a little pink to warm it up. That makes it flattering and easier to wear, as a nude with no pink can come off a little too stark.

Honeylove was the obvious choice for this look. Photo: Move Mountains Co.

Kinda Sexy. MAC calls this a matte neutral pinky rose, but it looks more peachy to me. It’s beautiful on medium skintones. This is one of those shades that clients often really love and ask me the name of.

Lady Danger. You might have heard of this pro makeup artist and celebrity favorite vivid bright coral red. It’s a matte showstopper and it can work on a variety of skintones. I don’t use it often at weddings, but I usually have a tube of it in my purse.

Mehr. Oh, this matte dirty blue pink? I go through loads of it. It’s a gorgeous shade that works well on light and medium skintones. It looks especially pretty on people with blue eyes, which may sound strange until you remember (or learn) that blue and pink are complimentary colors, and the lip color you have on can enhance your eye color. Something about the undertones in Mehr make it really bring out those baby blues, so this might be a good one for you if you have light to medium skin and blue eyes.

New York Apple. I’ve always wanted to wear this muted red with pink shimmer, but I find it looks best on medium deep and medium deep skintones. It has a frost finish, but it’s not overpowering. It looks more pink than red on deeper skintones, so if your skin falls into that category and you want more a full red, I’d try a different shade.

“O.” This purplish red with golden pearl is probably MAC’s most interesting lip color. It looks bronze in the tube, but comes out purple-brown on some people and reddish-brown on others. The golden pearl of this frost lipstick is strong, but it still somehow gives more a sheen than a frost finish. It works best on deeper skintones.

Patisserie. This is one of MAC’s Lustre finishes, which means it’s lightweight and has a shine to it without being frosty or glossy. It’s a sheer creamy neutral pink. It’s the most flattering on fair and light skintones, but can sometimes work on medium skin. It’s a very pretty color for wedding looks.

Photo. This beautiful golden brown satin shade is great on deeper skintones. I also sometimes use it as a mixer when customizing a nude shade.

Please Me. This matte shade is a muted, rose tinted pink and it has a pop to it. It’s not that it’s bright or intense, but it definitely stands out. I love the way it looks against a yellow dress or top. It’s pretty on fair, light and light medium skintones.

Applying some Please Me on this beautiful bride. Photo: LoveDays Photography

Rebel. This midtonal cream plum is gorgeous on deeper skintones. I once used it on an actress who you’d definitely know if you watched The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and she loved it so much she asked me to give her the name so she could buy it.

Ruby Woo. This MAC classic is from their Retro Matte line. It’s mega matte, so make sure your lips are hydrated before you apply it. It’s a vivid blue red, and it screams vintage. This is another of my personal favorite reds and it can work on a variety of skintones.

Russian Red. I want to say this intense bluish-red matte was a favorite of Madonna’s. Like any red, it’s bold, but it can work on skintones from fair to deep. I think this was the first red lipstick I owned, and I used to try to get my friends to buy it because I loved it so much.

Russian Red, to compliment my dress.

Sin. In the mood for a deep, dark blue red? Look no further than Sin. This matte shade is stunning on medium and deeper skintones. I think it got popular in the non-pro makeup artist YouTube world for a while,Β  but trust me, it’s good.

Syrup. This cloudy pink Lustre shade has a purple undertone, and I find myself using it a lot on light and medium brunette clients. Just like Mehr works extra well with blue eyes, Syrup somehow looks especially good on brunettes.

Twig. I once won an actress’s trust by using Twig on her, because that’s the shade she wore in her everyday life (and it just happened to work perfectly for her character). It’s a soft muted brownish pink in a satin finish, and I’ve used it on light, medium and medium deep skintones.

Vegas Volt. This full power coral is from the Amplified line, which means it’s bold, pigmented, full coverage and has a semi-lustrous finish. It’s not so strong that it’s all you see, but it definitely packs a punch. I’ve used it on light, medium and medium deep skintones.

Velvet Teddy. This matte deep toned beige might have been my most used lip color at weddings in 2019. Many of the people I used this on liked it so much that they asked me the name of the shade so they could buy it. It works on light skintones, but it’s really flattering on medium skintones.

Velvet Teddy for the win. Photo: Rebecca at Photography by Nikki Cole

Viva Glam III. This matte muted brownish-plum is one of my favorite MAC lipsticks. It’s as close to a universally flattering shade as you get. And every cent of a Viva Glam purchase goes to the MAC AIDS Fund, so you can buy something pretty and support a charity at the same time.

This bride looked stunning in Viva Glam III. Photo: Armor & Martel

Whirl. Whirl is a matte dirty rose that looks beautiful on medium, medium deep and deeper skintones. It became a cult favorite a few years back (I want to say due to Kylie Jenner wearing it). I’m usually wary of cult favorites, but this one is good.

That’s all, folks. Feeling ready to buy a MAC lipstick? I’m not saying you need to, but if you want to (or if you want to buy one for someone on your holiday shopping list), hopefully this gave you a good start.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Skincare Device Review: NuFACE Mini

The answer to my skincare prayers.

Even though I often think it’s only been five years since I graduated from college, I am, in fact, in my late 30s. I have a consistent and solid skincare routine, I’ve been using prescription retinoids for a few years, I stay out of the sun and I’m lucky enough to have great genes when it comes to signs of aging. Lately though, I’ve felt like my face has been starting to show its age. Even though sagging skin before 40 is uncommon for non-smokers and non-sun worshippers, I swear it was starting to happen to me.

And so like I do whenever I encounter a problem, I thought, I need to fix this, now. After I shared my concerns with her, my cousin Saint Maria mentioned that she had used the NuFACE Mini–a handheld microcurrent skincare device–and I remembered watching this review Lisa Eldridge did about it. After reading through a million reviews and hearing yet another endorsement from a friend who said it worked well, I coughed up the $199 and placed my order.

You’re probably thinking “So what the hell is it, really?” Great question. First off, you need to know our bodies have a natural current buzzing around 24/7. The NuFACE devices (I am reviewing the Mini, but they have others) mimic that current. Because the facial muscles are closer to the skin than anywhere else in the body, the NuFACE low level microcurrents are able to penetrate the skin and get down to those muscles. They tighten, tone and contour the skin by giving those muscles a workout and increasing collagen and elastin via ATP production (I’ll let you look that one up). Tightening, toning and contouring is, you know, what a face lift does, so I think it’s safe to say microcurrent waves are anti-aging.

Microcurrent therapy was first used in the 1980s to help with nerve damage from Bell’s Palsy. Bell’s Palsy causes sagging, atrophied muscles. My father had it and half of his face was droopy temporarily, but some people with Bell’s Palsy don’t recover from that drooping. Microcurrent therapy was found to improve the nerve paralysis in some people and became FDA approved as a treatment for that. The skincare industry perked up its pretty little ears and said “Sagging skin? We know lots of people who would want to fix that!” Cue the microcurrent facials that started popping in spas nationwide. I learned how to give microcurrent facials in Esthetics school in 2008, and, well, let’s just say they hadn’t perfected it yet (aka I got shocked a few times).

NuFACE took the microcurrent technology, got rid of the risk of shocking yourself and made it something people could do on themselves, no spa day needed. It’s easy to use, painless and holy shit, is it effective. I’ve been using it since November 2, and there has been an undeniable improvement in my skin. It’s an easy process. First, you cleanse your face with a non-oil based cleanser. Then you dry your face (pat it dry, please–rubbing can cause pulling and sagging of the skin) and apply a thick layer of either the NuFACE serum, a serum you like, or aloe. I use an all-natural aloe, but you do you. Then you switch on your NuFACE, choose your intensity level, and go to town. Video tutorials are below, but let’s get to my Before & After pictures so you have your proof.

I’ve taken more selfies in the last month than I normally do in a year, so this has felt like a very egotistical four weeks for me. But I did it for you! I could tell you how great the NuFACE Mini is, but a picture is worth a thousand words (and I’m currently only at 827).

Here’s what my Before & Afters looked like on Day 2 (I forgot to take Day 1 pics) and Day 30:

Ignore the Day 2 headband, por favor.

The pictures on the left were taken right before I used the NuFACE Mini, and the pictures on the right were taken immediately after. I have no makeup on in any of the pics, and no filters were used. I tried to stand in the same spot and smile the same way (although I obviously forgot to have my hair the same way). Do you see how tight my face looks in the Afters??? And look at how much deeper the lines around mouth were on Day 2 compared to Day 30.

Maybe I don’t look as young as 2009 Allison yet…

Back when my hair was all one color. How cute.

But I think I at least look like 2015 Allison now. I’ll take it!

Minus the red eyes, of course.

Look at the change between the Day 2 Before and Day 30 After. My skin looks firmer, my eyes look lifted, my lines are less noticeable and my jawline is more defined. My skin also looks brighter–I can’t tell you how many people have told me I look like I’m glowing lately–and it even feels softer. I had one semi-deep line on my forehead that you couldn’t usually see in pictures but could in person, and I just noticed yesterday that it’s almost completely gone.

You can’t deny it. My face looks better now.

The next pictures were taken three weeks apart, and I’m wearing a full face of makeup in both. The picture on the left is of me before I started using the NuFACE Mini. The picture on the right is 12 days into it. I think I look way more awake and maybe even younger in the picture on the right.

Same sweater, different countries (Ireland and the US).

Day 14, right before and right after using the NuFACE Mini. Look at that brow lift!

From droopy and tired looking to toned and alert.

In case you can’t tell, I love the NuFACE Mini. I was skeptical–as I am of most things–but the proof is in the pudding (and the pudding is the pictures). If you feel like your skin isn’t as tight as it used to be, I would strongly consider getting this device. You can use it on your neck as well, which I know is an area of concern for a lot of people. But–and this is an important disclaimer–if you know yourself to be someone who cannot stick to a consistent skincare routine, I wouldn’t waste your money. Yes, you get instant results from the NuFACE Mini, but if you want those cumulative results, you have to use it consistently. NuFACE recommends five days a week for two months then two to three times a week for maintenance after that. I messed up the first week and did six days in a row, and my skin felt a little sensitive after. Don’t go balls to the wall with it at first, thinking that will speed up your results. If you jump right into the highest intensity and do it seven days a week, you’re being mean to your skin, and it will probably tell you that via redness and sensitivity.

A few tips if you do get this miracle device:

Use the right cleanser. I love cleansing balms and oil cleansers because they really get makeup off, but there’s a chance they can leave a little bit of oily residue on the skin. You don’t want to have any bit of oil on the skin when you use the NuFACE (I’m guessing it makes it harder for the microcurrent waves to penetrate the skin through oil), so why risk it with the wrong cleanser? Use a lightweight cleanser like Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser for best results. I use my NuFACE in the morning, and I don’t find it necessary to do a deep cleanse of the skin both morning and night anyway, so I’m fine with a gentle cleanser pre-NuFACE.

Don’t be stingy with the serum. Or aloe. You need a thick layer of whatever you use as your conductor. If you run the NuFACE over an area that doesn’t have serum/aloe on it or if it’s not thick enough, it will feel a little prickly. If your thought process is “But if there’s less serum there, it’ll be closer to the facial muscles and I’ll get better results,” you’re wrong. Sorry, but shortcuts in skincare don’t usually work.

Follow the videos exactly. This isn’t the time to go freestyle. There’s a reason for the placement and movement of the device. Using it incorrectly will…well, I don’t know exactly because I follow the rules (with this), but I imagine it wouldn’t be good. They want you to have good results so you become a loyal customer. Your idea of what you think could work better would already be their idea if it did. You follow me? Watch thisΒ basic, five minute video first, then check out this advanced one if you know you can commit to 15 minutes.

Adjust the intensity as needed. There are three levels of intensity for the NuFACE Mini. I used the lowest setting for the first 30 days, then moved onto the second setting. I’ll move onto the highest setting in another week or two, as I know my skin has been tolerating the higher intensity well. I would recommend starting on the lowest setting, at least for the first week, until you feel like your skin is used to it. Then move up and scale back as needed.

I think this has been a thorough review. I’m more enamored with the NuFACE Mini than I’ve been with some (or all?) of the guys I’ve dated. It can often take a couple of months to see results from any skincare routine changes, so I was shocked (luckily not literally, this time) to see results so quickly. I don’t work for NuFACE nor is this a sponsored post, so my endorsement of this device is genuine. I’ve been telling everyone about the NuFACE Mini because it’s probably the most impressive of all of the skincare things I’ve ever tried. And I can’t keep that kind of thing a secret.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Product Review: MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation

This beauty already had the bridal glow, but I enhanced it with MAC Face and Body. Photo: M. Studios http://www.mstudiosri.com

It’s absurd that I’ve yet to post a review of my all-time favorite foundation–MAC Studio Face and Body Foundation— so I’m here to remedy that. Sure, I did this compare and contrast review of MAC Face and Body and the Make Up For Ever Face & Body Foundation (which has now become their Water Blend Face & Body Foundation), but the darling of my foundation world deserves her own post.

In honor of the recent 20 year anniversary of 10 Things I Hate About You, I’m going to do a 10 Things I Love About You for MAC F&B.

  1. The Coverage Options. When applied and gently blended in, F&B gives the wearer sheer coverage. But due to its film formers (which deserve their own shoutout), the more you use your fingers or a brush to work in F&B, the more coverage you get. If you use your fingers, you can actually feel the foundation thicken as you work it in. If that’s not enough coverage, you can build it up by adding more foundation without having to worry about caking, like you would with many other foundations. I’ve yet to meet another foundation that offers so many coverage options.
  2. The Film Formers. Film formers are not a group of tiny movie producers in the foundation. They are the ingredients in F&B that make it stay in place. They form an invisible, water resistant film (don’t worry–you won’t feel it) that sets in place and keeps the foundation from wearing off. This makes it ideal for longwear occasions like weddings, which is why I go through bottles of it each wedding season. I’ve worn F&B on my legs (we’ll get to the body foundation part later) in the summer, and thanks to the film formers, is has stayed on through hours of day drinking shenanigans. Impressive.
  3. The Undertones. MAC F&B Foundations come in N (Neutral) and C (Cool) undertones. They are then numbered by pigment. So C1 and N1 are the same as far as how dark they are, but N1 looks more pink on some skintones and C1 looks more yellow. If you have more yellow or olive in your skin, the C foundations will work well on you. The N foundations are ideal for those with neutral or pink undertones. And like with all foundations, you can customize them to create your perfect shade. I’ve added in a drop of an N to a C or vice versa when an undertone seemed just slightly off, so there’s no reason you couldn’t too.
  4. The Scent. Or I should say, the lack of a scent. Some foundations are heavily perfumed, and I don’t like that. Fragrance is also a common allergen, so as a makeup artist, I go for unscented or very lightly scented products because I like my clients. I don’t want to put anything heavily scented on my own skin or on a client’s skin, so this is an important factor for me.
  5. The Size Options. F&B foundations can be used on–you guessed it–the body as well as the face. I tend to think the two size options MAC offers for F&B are partly because of this. I have “tanned” my legs many times with C5 and used F&B on models’ bodies at photoshoots, so I’m no stranger to body makeup.Β  I think it makes sense to have a bigger bottle for body makeup, as you’ll use lot more foundation for the body than for the face (unless you’re a social media beauty guru, in which case you’ll use more foundation on your face than on your body). For my personal makeup bag and for my pro kit, I like small products because they make for more room in my makeup bag, and anything that makes my pro kit lighter makes my body happier. (I sprained both wrists lugging that bad boy around one wedding season.) With the 50ml size, MAC keeps my makeup bag and my pro kit lighter and with their 120ml, they make it so I don’t go through half a bottle just trying to tan my ghostly legs for the day. Most foundations have in a one-size-fits-all vibe, but MAC F&B is more inclusive.
  6. The Glow Factor. F&B gives a flattering, healthy glow to the skin without using shimmer or other bullshit. Dry and normal to dry skin can look lackluster, but pop some F&B on, and get a little dewy. For my combination and oily skin types, you may want to use some mattifyer or oil-free primer first, as your abundant natural oils + the glowy magic of F&B can = a little too much shine. I’ve used this foundation on all skin types, and as long as I prep combo and oily skinned clients properly, it looks fantastic on them.
  7. The Consistency. If you pick up a bottle of F&B and shake it like a salt shaker, you’ll hear how liquidy it is. If you’re a foundation-phobe because the idea of heavy makeup scares you, that sound should be music to your ears. A foundation that is that thin and liquidy is going to be real hard to cake up. Not only that, but F&B feels like nothing on the skin. I like my clients to not only love the way their makeup looks but be comfortable with how it feels. I check in with my clients to make sure everything feels okay as I work, and none of them have ever told me that F&B felt even a little heavy, sticky or weird on their skin.
  8. The Packaging. Sure, a glass bottle can look luxe, but I like MAC’s plastic packaging for two reasons. 1) It weighs less than a glass bottle, which might not matter if you only have one foundation, but I’ve got dozens in my pro kit. 2) You can drop a plastic bottle and it won’t shatter. MAC also has a great packaging recycling program, so you don’t have to be wasteful when a bottle of F&B comes to its natural end. A+ on the packaging, MAC.
  9. The Natural Look. One of the most important things to me is that a foundation looks like skin. Part of that is choosing the correct shade, but you can be right on with a shade and if the formulation is shitty, your foundation will be obvious. I’m old school in the way that I don’t like myself or my clients to look like they are wearing foundation, and MAC Face and Body lets that happen. You can still get coverage from it, but it allows the wearer’s skin to show through, which is what I’ve found most people actually want, whether they know it or not.
  10. How It Feels. None of the nine other factors would matter if F&B was uncomfortable to wear. But obviously, it is not. It’s lightweight, absorbs quickly and is hydrating. I’ve had several clients tell me that it feels great, and as someone who wears it on full-face makeup days (which are much less common than you would think for most makeup artists), I agree. Thanks to the Taurus part of my zodiacal classification, I am hyper-sensitive to how things feel. If a sweater I’m wearing is even the tiniest bit itchy or I can feel the tag on a dress, it becomes a bad day for me. So if you think I’m going to wear a foundation that feels heavy or sticky, you’re out of your mind. (Nor would I ever put anything like that on a client.) So besides its other attributes, F&B feels just like a foundation should–which is like nothing.
Looks like my actual skin, but better.

Whether you’re new to foundation, like the idea of several coverage options or want a foundation that will help you get glowy, MAC Face and Body is there for you. There’s a reason (or 10) that it’s been a kit essential for makeup artists since it came out. In a world of heavy foundations with strong scents and weird undertones, F&B is the natural-looking, comfortable to wear champion.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Product Review: Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm

The best in the game right now.

Gurlllll, I have been through some cleansers. God forgive me for some of the crap I used to wash my face in my teens and early 20s. I have a vague memory of a Clean & Clear bottle in high school (even though I didn’t have acne), as well as some Proactiv when I did have acne at 23 years old. I stepped my game up and used Dermalogica Ultra Calming Cleanser when I was in Esthetics school because that’s the line we were trained on and we got discounts on professional sized products. In my broke early business owner years, I used Cetaphil because it was cheap (and I had some Dermalogica Precleanse I used first to remove my makeup, because Cetaphil doesn’t do that). I eventually moved onto the Josie Maran Argan Cleansing Oil, then later switched over to a NUDE probiotic oil cleanser, which I loved loved loved. They stopped making that, so I went back to Josie, but didn’t love it as much my second time around.

Then, this past spring, my cousin, Saint Maria, sent me Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. It was instant infatuation. Oh Green Clean, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

The Scent. I need my skincare products to smell good. You could give me the best cleanser or moisturizer in the world, but if I don’t like the scent, it ain’t happening. I don’t know what it’s in Green Clean that makes it smell like heaven, but it is divine. I realize scent is subjective, but I know I’m not the only one who loves the scent. Everyone I’ve talked to about Green Clean has mentioned how good it smells. So I must be right! πŸ˜‰

The Texture. Green Clean is a balm, so what I would consider to be a semi-solid liquid. To me, semi-solid means it’s not hard enough hurt anyone if I threw it at them while they were badmouthing Biggie, but you also can’t drink it. The texture is a mixture of sorbet and a cloud. Is this helping? It comes in a tub, and you use the spatula they provide to scoop some out. You apply some cloud sorbet to dry skin and massage it in. It melts into a kind of an oil, which you then remove with water or a warm, damp washcloth (I recommend a washcloth). The whole time, it feels soft and dare I say loving on the skin. The scent and the texture together make it a luxurious experience.

The Packaging. Green Clean comes in a white tub with a silver lid that closes easily but stays on. Inside, there is mini-lid that holds that small plastic spatula you use to scoop the product out. This is genius, and I don’t think enough people appreciate it. Most products that come in tubs are spatula-less. But if you continuously dip intoΒ  products with your fingers, you’re introducing hand bacteria, then closing the lid so the bacteria can have a rowdy party resulting in bacteria babies. Warm, dark and moist is the perfect environment for bacteria breeding–you remember Bio 101, right? Bacteria put onto the face can cause breakouts and irritation, so the spatula Green Clean provides is basically giving you the chance to have clearer skin. A+ on the spatch, and on the label. It’s high end without being stuffy. I like the font they chose and the flower is right where I like it–on a label and not near me, because flowers bring bees and I’m allergic.

The Makeup Removing Qualities. Layer on your primers, your longwear foundations, your waterproof mascaras. Green Clean melts ’em all off. I feel confident that there isn’t a speck of makeup left after I cleanse, and that’s not the case with many of cleansers I’ve tried. I know some people like to use a makeup remover then a cleanser, but why oh why waste precious time? I’m usually not a big fan of products that claim to do several things at once, but Green Clean really does remove makeup and clean the skin. Impressive.

All The Feels. My skin feels great after using Green Clean. A lot of cleansers leave a sticky film on my skin, but not this one. My skin feels smooth and soft after using it, as it damn well should. If a cleanser strips your skin and leaves it feeling dry and tight after, kick it to the curb (as we used to say in the 90s). Some cleansers can remove your makeup and others make it feel soft, but it’s rare to use one that effectively does both.

I can’t find anything wrong with Green Clean, and that’s why it’s got a forever home in my bathroom cabinet. It checks everything off of my cleanser Must Have list, and that’s a tall order. I would recommend Green Clean for all skin types. It’s $34 for 3.2 oz, which I realize can seem pricey compared to an $8.99 drugstore cleanser, but if you want good skin, you have to cleanse right. I’ll let you decide what your priorities are there.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Product Review: Glossier Balm Dotcom

Three of the fruit flavored Balm Dotcoms. Aren’t they cute?

I thought I did this review ages ago! I use Balm Dotcom every day on my myself, as well as on every wedding and event client and I’ve sung its praises in many an Instagram post. I’ve written about it in other blog posts, which might be why I thought I had reviewed it. But I didn’t, and so now, here we are.

Like any other human, I get dry lips sometimes. Part of it is probably due to dehydration (I’m not the best water-drinker some days) and part to the sometimes-drying lip products I test out (occupational hazard). Whatever the reason, I can not stand the feeling of dry lips. I’m from the Lip Gloss Generation (shoutout to my other 90s Girls). We were brought up on Lip Smackers, then we graduated to lip gloss in middle school and kept that going through our mid 20s. Our lips didn’t have a chance to be moisture-less! I have always kept a lip balm in my purse, and another on my nightstand. Because what kind of maniac goes to bed with dry lips?!?!

But if I’m being honest, I was never 100% happy with any of the lip balms I tried. Chapstick, Burt’s Bees, Rosebud Salve, Fresh, Aquaphor Lip Repair–I made the rounds. Some worked better than others, but none really did the trick. Then I discovered Glossier Balm Dotcom. Like many of my favorite products, it was a gift from my cousin, Saint Maria. This was back when Glossier only made one Balm Dotcom, so we’re talking original flavor here.

I was immediately impressed by this universal salve, as they call it, so I kept buying it and have now tried most of the flavors. I mainly use it on my lips, but I’ve also used the original one on areas where I’ve got little burns (via a curling iron, usually). It does seems to help the burns heal quicker, which is great. But what I’m really impressed with is how well it hydrates my lips. The only time they are ever really dry anymore is after I’ve worn a matte lipstick. As long as I apply Balm Dotcom several times for 24 hours post-lipstick, my lips revert back to their normal state.

Balm Dotcom now comes in eight flavors: Original, Birthday, Rose, Cherry, Mint, Coconut, Mango and Berry. And guess who has tried them all? Here are my reviews of each, in order of how much I like them.

Put that stick of wax down and get yourself some Balm Dotcom.

Original. It’s perfection. I keep one on my nightstand because I have to apply it before I go to sleep, and I have another in my pro kit. Like all of the Balm Dotcoms, it comes in a squeeze tube and it is takes surprisingly long to use up all of the product. I find the Original to be the most hydrating of all of the flavors. It has no tint to it, so you can use it anywhere.

Mango. This Balm Dotcom came out this year, and with my penchant for tropical scents, I knew I had to try it. It has a sheer coral tint, which I love. It seems maybe a tiny bit less hydrating than the Original, but it’s still more hydrating than other lip balms I’ve tried. Mango currently resides in my purse, and I will be buying a new one when this tube crosses over.

Mint. This ranking is a surprise to me. I put off trying Mint for so long, because I thought it would smell like mint gum, and I wouldn’t like that. But it smells like candy canes, so it’s like a sweet mint. I’m into it. It hydrates just as well as the Original, but I like the scent of Mango more than Mint, hence the second runner up spot. I do sometimes feel a little cooling feeling from it, but it’s refreshing. I’ll probably buy more of this when I finish this tube.

Coconut. Coconut is one of the untinted Balm Dotcoms, and it is 99% as hydrating as the Original. I love love love coconut scented things, which is why this was my dream balm…at first. For the first week I had it, it smelled beautifully coconut-ish. Then after that, it started to smell like–I swear to you–buttered popcorn. I thought I was going crazy, but I have since talked about this with other Balm Dotcom fans and they agreed with me about the popcorn transition. That’s not really a scent I care to have on my lips, so I didn’t end up buying a second tube. But in terms of hydration, it is really good.

Birthday. Birthday smells like cake, and has the perfect amount of shimmer. If we were going off just scent and appearance, I’d be going through several tubes a year. But when it comes to hydration, it’s not there for me. I actually find it to be a bit drying. I like it the look and scent so much though that I still wear it. I just prep my lips first with the Original, wait for that to absorb, then apply a thin layer of Birthday. There’s a work around for everything, if you want it enough.

Berry. I’m considering this a tie with Birthday. I absolutely love the look of this one. I like berry toned lip products, and this shade is especially flattering on me. The scent is great too. It smells like some kind of candy or fruit snack from my childhood (maybe Gushers?), so it’s the most nostalgic of the Balm Dotcoms for me. But like Birthday, it dries out my lips, so I can only wear it if I prep first with a thin layer of Original. I wish that wasn’t the case, but I like the color so much that it’s worth it.

Rose. Rose has a “barely there pink tint,” which I know a lot of people like. In terms of hydration, it’s as hydrating as Coconut. I’m just not a big fan of the rose scent in my lip balms (but somehow like it in Diorshow Mascara). If you like rose-scented products, I would definitely recommend this.

Cherry. I like cherries and I often wear red lipstick, so you’d think I’d like this cherry scented lip balm with a sheer red tint. Sadly, I do not. I think it smells like cough medicine, I don’t love the tint, and I find it very drying. Sorry, Cherry. I really wanted this to work out.

For the most part, I love the Balm Dotcoms. I find several of the flavors to be superior when it comes to hydrating. None of them feel sticky or heavy, and they all have great packaging. The caps stay on, and the product doesn’t leak out. They are $12 each (or $30 for three), which can seem like a lot if you compare it to $2.94 for a three pack of Chapstick. But the difference is, Balm Dotcoms work. If you have constant dry lips, you might find that $12 (or $30) worth it.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

My Top 11 Products: The Hair Edition

I have “We’re going to need extra time with this client” type of hair.

Full disclosure: I’m not a hair stylist. I have no professional background, and any knowledge I have comes from AB Beauty hair stylists or from hair stylists I’ve gone to. But I do have a lot of hair! It’s naturally curly and dark brown (most people think it’s black) with blue on the ends. It’s prone to frizz and my scalp is more dry than oily. I have gray hairs in the front, and while I don’t have a ton of them, I have enough to be annoying, so I get a color touchup every 5 – 7 weeks. My hair grows crazy fast, which is good for the times I’ve gotten a bad haircut and bad for the roots touchup schedule. My locks are long and I’ve got follicles a plenty, so for most of my life, hair stylists have needed to schedule extra time for me.

Due to my hair type and the fact that (not to be cocky) I get a lot of compliments on it, I think I’ve been using the right products. I’m giving all of the credit to the pros who have guided me, but I think they would be good with me sharing my Top 11. So here we go.

Olaplex No. 3 Hair Protector. I put my hair through a lot. Twice a year since 2013, I’ve been having the bottom third of my hair bleached and then colored blue. Blue touchups follow every month or two, and gray coverage color every 5 – 7 weeks. Up until June, I blew my hair out straight (or someone more qualified than me did it for me) once a week. I now occasionally let it air dry and rock my natural curl, but it’s usually blown out. And when it is, I sometimes add in big curls with a two inch curling iron. So between the bleaching, hair coloring and heat styling, my hair can show some damage. Olaplex 3 repairs that damage, and it does it well. I use it 2 – 3 times a month, and my hair looks and feels better every time. I’m convinced this product is saving my hair from looking and feeling like hay.

Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo. This shampoo came out after Olaplex 3, and was recommended to me by Kristin, one of the licensed AB Beauty cosmetologists. When I use it (before Olaplex 5, which I’ll get to next) after an Olaplex 3 treatment, the combination of all three products does something magical to my hair. Before this came out, I used Olaplex 3 with whatever shampoo and conditioner I had, but it didn’t feel or look quite as good as when I do the 3, 4 and 5 together.

Olaplex 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner. This could have been grouped in with Olaplex 4, but hey, I needed 11 products! This conditioner is part of my Olaplex Dream Team, so I love it. Some conditioners leave a film on my hair, but Olaplex 5 does its job then rinses away perfectly. Bravo, No. 5.

Moroccan Oil Treatment Original. I first used this for a while in my early to mid 20s, before I started straightening my hair. I thought it made my hair feel heavy, but I suspect I was using too much of it. A few years ago, I started using it again to prevent the frizz I get some days during my winters in South Carolina (I get Brazilian Blowouts to knock out the frizz during my summers in Rhode Island, but I try to keep those to twice a year). I now use the correct amount on damp hair prior to blowing out my hair or letting it air dry, and I can tell it helps with the frizz. It’s a hair stylist favorite for a reason!

Sachajuan Volume Cream. It gives volume and protects the hair from hear styling damage? That’s all I need to know! I’ve been using this for a couple years and I haven’t been tempted to switch yet. I apply a little to each section after the Moroccan Oil but before I start blowdrying. Simple as that.

Pssst Dry Shampoo. You can’t expect a girl who only washes her hair once a week to not use dry shampoo, right? This stuff works, it’s cheap and it doesn’t have a strong scent, so what’s not to like? And should I continue to only ask questions about this product? What do you think?

DryBar Triple Sec. I like messy, textured, bedhead kind of hair on myself. Too smooth or polished is not my jam. I love Triple Sec because it gives me that type of look without having to use multiple products or tools. The original Triple Sec had a strong scent that I loved, but a lot of people didn’t, so they now have a unscented version which I accidentally ordered then got mad about. Even without the scent though, it’s a stellar product.

R + Co Dry Oil Spray. Another AB Beauty team recommendation, this time from hair stylist, Emily. My hair can get a little dry looking, and nothing brings back moisture like oil. I’ve found some hair oils to be too heavy, but this spray oil is lightweight and fast-absorbing. Love.

Living Proof Humidity Shield. I like humidity for my skin, as it reacts well to that kind of moisturize, but my hair is a different story. I get Brazilian Blowouts in May and July and they keep me virtually frizz-free for the highest humidity months, but I’m still prone to frizz once my Blowouts have washed out. That’s where this hairspray comes in. A light mist of it before I leave combats mid-level humidity. My hair type needs the Blowouts for the kind of humidity that makes people complain on Facebook, but this hairspray is good for the other times.

Living Proof Nourishing Oil. This no frizz nourishing oil is heavier than the R + Co Dry Oil Spray, but I use that more for shine and this more for frizz control. A little goes a long way, and I appreciate that in a $38 hair product.

Celeb Luxury Viral Colorditioner in Blue. My hair stylist friend, Jennie Kay Plumb, recommended this to me to use as a conditioner between blue retouch appointments. It can also be used for color touchups if you leave it on for 30 minutes. I really only use it for that now. I didn’t think it was the best as a conditioner because my hair didn’t feel as soft after as it does with Olaplex 5, but as a blue color touchup, it’s one of my favorites (and I’ve used a lot). It also comes in silver, rose gold, coral, lilac, turquoise, green, red, magenta and purple, so pretty much anyone who has fun colors in their hair is covered.

And that’s it! Thank you to all of the hair stylists who have helped make my hair a better person.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

 

My Top 11 Products: The Skincare Edition

My dermis crew.

You know what I say–the skin is the body’s largest organ, so friggin’ take care of it! Here’s how I do it.

Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. Talk about a luxurious cleansing experience! This cleansing balm feels like heaven, smells divine and removes every trace of makeup. It’s a new-ish addition to my beauty life, and I am grateful for its existence.

Bioderma Sensibio H20 Micelle Solution. My eyes can be a little sensi to eye makeup remover, but the original micellar water doesn’t sting, burn or otherwise irritate my peepers. I have been using this product for years, and I can’t stop, won’t stop.

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. Hyaluronic Acid is the MVP of hydrators, and this obscenely inexpensive one from The Ordinary is the bomb. Everyone I’ve recommended this to has told me they’ve noticed results within a few weeks of using it. It’s great for all skin types, so just get some already.

Neutrogena Oil Free Moisture Broad Spectrum 35. You know, I’ve tried a zillion moisturizers, but sometimes its best to keep things simple. This is a no frills moisturizer that does the job on my combination skin, and occasionally helps me get Extra Bucks.

Josie Maran 100% Argan Oil. Yo, you like moisturized skin? Of course you do. This Argan Oil is idea for facial massage, post retinoids application and elimination of dry patches. If you’re super oily, they have a Lite version too, so no excuses.

Trentinoin Cream 0.05%. It’s the Fountain of Youth in a tube if you start on it early enough. My 37 year old face is often mistaken for a 27 year old face, and I think a big part of that is due to Trentinoin. If you can get a hold of this stuff before the fine lines get too deep, you can seriously slow done the progression of those lines. Some people call it magic, I call it science.

Hydroquinone 4%. I have melasma, a section of hyperpigmenation (dark patch of skin) above my upper lip. It gets worse when I’m in the sun so I make sure to protect my face with sunscreen, but the only thing that fades it is prescription hydroquinone . So I use it, and it works, and it makes me less self conscious about my melasma.

Lancome Advanced Genifique Eye Cream. I don’t use this as much as I once did, solely because I now have two nightstands and it’s on the one opposite the side of bed I sleep on, so I forget about it. (Weak excuse, and I’ll move it to the bathroom tonight so it goes on post-face cleansing.) When I was being smart, I used it every other night, as I use the Trentinoin as an eye cream every other night. It’s a great eye cream–no stinging, burning or irritation and it really seems to hydrate and plump up the fine lines nicely.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. If you’re thinking “Wait, didn’t you put this in your last post about makeup products?” I did, you astute little blog reader, you. That’s because it can be used as a foundation primer and as a face mask. When I’m on top of my game, I use it as a face mask every week. It brightens and refreshes dull skin

Glossier Balm Dotcom. They call it a “universal salve,” but I only use it on my lips. I’ve found the Original and Mango shades to be the most hydrating of the ones I’ve tried. They are truly the best lip balms I’ve ever used. Nothing heals my lips like the Original and Mango Balm Dotcoms. I use the Original on every wedding client, and so many of the remark on how good the balm feels. This universal salve is a staple for my pro kit and my personal life.

Glossier Invisible Shield. A serum-like sunscreen that protects my skin, doesn’t leave a white cast and doesn’t make me break out? I’m in.

And that’s how I keep my skin in good shape! I’d love to hear about your faves too.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

My Top 11 Products: The Makeup Edition

It’s basically a common law marriage at this point.

In honor of 11 years in business for AB Beauty, I figured I’d do some Top 11 lists. And naturally, we’ll start with makeup. Here we go.

Dior Diorshow Mascara. I’ve been using this mascara for a decade, which makes it the longest relationship I’ve ever been in. Nothing gives my top lashes volume like Diorshow, and until I find something better (and to be honest, I’m not even looking) I stand by this mascara.

Laura Mercier Foundation Primer. Disclaimer: Only use this primer if you want your foundation to glide on nicely and last all day.

MAC Face & Body Foundation. I use this foundation on myself and the majority of my clients. It lets the skin show through while giving a nice glow. It transforms from a sheer to medium coverage the more you work it in, so it’s really like having two foundations in one bottle.

MAC ProLongwear Concealer. This is the Holy Grail of concealers, as far as I’m concerned. Its acrylic paint-like consistency makes it buildable, and its pigment and range of shades makes it ideal for both under eye coverage and spot concealing. It’s a gem.

Blinc Mascara. I started using this mascara on my bottom lashes this summer because the Clinique mascara I was using was smudging in the heat and humidity. Beauty tubes mascara do not smudge, and since this is the OG of beauty tube technology, why wouldn’t I use it? It’s called a no-brainer.

Benefit Hoola. Some cult favorites get hyped up for no good reason, but Hoola is as good as they say. This neutral matte bronzer now comes in four shades, as it should. It’s blendable, matte and just the right amount of bronze. It’s the only bronzer I’ve found that works as a contour too. If they ever discontinue Hoola, there will be a revolt.

MAC Eyeshadows. I rarely use any other powder eyeshadows on myself or my clients because these are just the best. And that’s all.

Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk. The lip pencil allows you to overdraw the lips without looking obvious, and it’s the only shade of pink I like on myself. She’s perfection.

Glossier Cloud Paint. Don’t have a Cloud Paint? Go get one. They’re easy to use and there’s a shade that works for every skintone. Bravo, Glossier, bravo.

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. If you want your makeup to stay on all day, this should be your last step. I don’t know how they do it, but it really works.

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm. When my face is looking a little dull and tired, I use the Beauty Flash Balm before foundation. It tightens, brightens and makes me feel like a new woman.

It was hard to narrow it down to 11 products, but these ones are the cream of the crop in their respective categories. Give props where props are due. That’s what I say!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚