Blush, rouge, cheek color–call it what you will, and wear it if you want. (I’m going to go with “blush” because it’s quicker to type than “cheek color,” and a little more current than “rouge.”) Blush has been getting slightly more love in the beauty world the last few years, but I think it’s still an underrated product. Blush can make you look healthier, younger and it can even help with emphasize your bone structure or downplay things you don’t love about your face shape.
We don’t lack choices in the eye makeup, foundation and lipstick worlds, and blush is no different. There are several blush formulations to choose from. You’ve got your powder blushes, cream blushes, liquid blushes and stick blushes. I generally consider anything that’s not a powder blush to be a cream, in terms of when to apply it and who I would use it on. I work with powders and creams and usually use both on a client and when doing my own makeup.
I’ve become quite fond of several blushes during my career as a makeup artist, and I think it’s time I share those with you.
I’ve been using MAC Powder Blushes since I started doing makeup, and I still use them today. They are long-lasting, well pigmented and come in a huge variety of shades. My favorites are:
Burnt Pepper. A dirty tangerine that looks beautiful on deep skintones.
Fleur Power. A soft bright pinkish-coral that is pretty on those with medium skintones.
Gingerly. A bronze shade that works well on medium and deep skintones.
Melba. A soft coral peach that works well on medium skintones.
Peaches. A pure peach that is beautiful on medium and medium-deep skintones.
Pinch O’ Peach. A peachy pink that I use on many of my clients with light skintones.
Pink Swoon. A soft candy pink that looks great on fair and light skintones.
There are also a couple MAC Mineralize powder blushes that I use. I typically don’t like shimmery blushes, as I think they have a tendency to look fake, and bigger shimmer particles will settle into pores. But Mineralize blushes have just the the right amount of subtle shimmer.
Dainty. This light yellow pink with gold pearl is a favorite of my clients who love blush. It works best on light and medium skintones.
Warm Soul. When I have a client with rosacea, I don’t use anything with red or pink in it on their cheeks because that only brings out the redness I’m trying to cover. So this midtone beige with gold pearl is the perfect choice.
Storm. I’ve used this warm rose on all different skintones. I find it easiest to work with on medium and deep skintones but I’ve used it on light skintones as well (just with a small amount of product).
Dawn. This sunny coral looks pure orange when you first apply it, but then it calms down a little. It’s stunning on medium and deep skintones. I wouldn’t use it on fair or light skin.
Puff. This light cool pink is so pretty! It’s gorgeous on fair and light skintones, as well as light-medium skintones.
Beam. I mainly use this soft peach on light and light-medium skintones. It gives a nice glow without being overpowering.
MILK MAKEUP GLOW OIL LIP + CHEEK
I discovered these pigmented stick blushes in December, so I haven’t had a chance to try them on clients yet (because I was in Charleston for the winter, then I came back to RI and beauty businesses got shut down).
Halo. A pink shimmer that gives my skin a beautiful healthy glow. The shimmer particles are so fine that they’re undetectable, but they leave a little sheen on the skin.
Flare. A coral shimmer that I like better when I have some self tanner on. Again, I don’t notice the shimmer in this one because the particles are so fine.
I’m sure there are other great blushes out there, but these are my go-to’s. If you don’t already wear blush, give it a try! It can really bring a makeup look together.
You’ve been waiting for this, haven’t you? Okay, then. Let’s do it!
I bought a foundation, blush, concealer, lipstick, cream eyeshadow and mascara. I tried each one at least a couple of times. Here’s what I thought of each one.
Revlon Colorstay Foundation Matte Finish in 200 Nude. When I first starting doing makeup in 2008, I had some Colorstay Foundations in my kit, left over from Esthetics school. I was on a waitress’s salary and needed something to practice with at school that wouldn’t break the bank, and I had heard good things about these foundations. I remember thinking they were a little too thick, so they didn’t last long in my kit. Fast forward 12 years later and…still not loving them. It might have been because I chose the matte version and I’m used to the healthy skin glow I get from MAC Face & Body Foundation, but I felt like my skin looked really dull and the foundation felt heavy. It didn’t look horrible and the shade itself was good, but it was too heavy for me. I come from the school of makeup artists who like skin to look like skin, and I unfortunately didn’t get that with this foundation. I will say it lasted long, even without a primer, but length of wear alone won’t hook me. Did I keep it? Nope. I couldn’t imagine a world in which I would want a heavy foundation on my face.
Maybelline Fit Me Blush in 25 Pink. This powder blush was a very pretty shade and it blended well. I was impressed by the level of pigment. However, it faded extremely fast compared to the MAC powder blushes I use. I think a primer would have helped, but I don’t wear foundation primer on a regular basis because I don’t need it with the products I use. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it lasted longer.
L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer in 01 Classic Ivory. I bought this in a shade that would work under my eyes but I knew was too light for the rest of my face. It was a good undereye color match for me and did a solid job of minimizing my undereye darkness. I first tried it under my eyes without any moisturizer there, and I found that it got very cakey. The second day I put a thin layer of moisturizer under my eyes first (which I normally do anyway), and it applied very nicely. This concealer is well pigmented and covered my undereye darkness almost as well as my usual MAC ProLongwear Concealer in NW20. The length of wear was very good as well. When I tried it on my face, I found that it caked up quickly, but it was great for undereye coverage as long as I applied a thin layer of moisturizer first. Did I keep it? Kind of. I didn’t return it and I used it pretty regularly for a couple weeks (just swapped it out with my regular ProLongwear when I wanted more coverage), but I ended up giving it to my mother because the concealer she was using wasn’t working well, and I knew this was a good one.
CoverGirl Exhibitionist Lipstick in Hot 105. I love a red lip. If I’m wearing lipstick at all, 8 out of 10 times, it’s red. I loved the red of this lipstick, which looks orange-red in the tube but more pink-red on. It lasts for an impressively long time without drying out my lips. Sure, it transfers like most lipsticks will do, but what do you expect? Did I keep it? I certainly did! And I wear it at least once a week.
Maybelline Color Tattoo in Socialite. Cream eyeshadows are underrated. They’re quick and easy to apply, and if you’re lucky, they’re pigmented and stay on well. I wasn’t so lucky, particularly in the longevity department. I tried Socialite, a bronze shade that caught my eye. I first tried it with no eye primer under, and it faded after a few hours. The next time, I used Too Faced Shadow Insurance under it, which made a big difference, although I still didn’t find it to be very long-lasting. The level of pigment was decent and it didn’t crease, but I’d go for a Laura Mercier Caviar Stick or a MAC Paint Point over this product. Did I keep it? That’s a negative, Nancy.
L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara. My feelings about this mascara fluctuated as much as spring temperatures in New England. The first day I tried it, I didn’t like it at all. I thought it gave my lashes zero volume, and it smudged a little. To be fair, I was in a rush so I didn’t have time to separate my lashes like I usually do, and I didn’t have translucent powder on my browbone like I often do (to prevent smudging when lashes touch my browbone). I tried it the next day with my typical lashes separation and translucent powder, and I liked it a lot better. Ditto for the next few days. This mascara has a spiky, rubbery wand, which I find uncomfortable to use, but I was really liking the formula. Then I compared it to my beloved Dior Diorshow (one on each eye) and it lost. Diorshow gives my lashes more volume, and there’s no denying that. It’s not a drastic difference and I do think Voluminous Million Lashes is a good mascara, but it didn’t win the battle with Diorshow. Did I keep it? No, but I might have if it had a better wand. I find spiky, rubbery wands really uncomfortable to use. I am picky about mascaras, so I will say this is a good one for most people.
So that’s it. Two out of five keepers, and I didn’t even expect it to be that high. I think drugstore makeup has overall improved since I last really used it, but when it comes to pigment and longevity, I think the higher end lines are still where it’s at.
I rack up CVS ExtraBucks like you wouldn’t believe. Sure, part of that comes from the regular purchasing of toothpaste, contact solution, gum, etc., but a good chunk comes from makeup and beauty products. And you’re dying to know what those products are, aren’t you? Okayyyy….
Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder. I don’t use this on clients because it’s not as long-lasting as the MAC powders I use, but I use it on my own face for day to day use. I have combination skin that gets super shiny in the T-zone in warmer weather, so I’ll usually have to touch up once or twice a day, which doesn’t bother me. The Stay Matte Powders feel lightweight and aren’t as quick to cake up as other drugstore powders. I’ve been using Stay Matte Powders for several years as setting powder, and I think they’re great for everyday use on normal and combo skin. $3.95 at CVS.
Neutrogena Shine Control Powder. I use this powder for on-set touchups, and it works really well. It mattifies the skin without making it look dull or caking up. If you’re a shiny gal, this is a great one to keep in your purse for touchups throughout the day. $14.99 to erase shine on to the go.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick. I don’t have any Revlon lipsticks currently in my own personal makeup bag, but I do have one (Choco-Licious) in my pro kit. I’ve a 90s Girl, so I’ve been into Revlon lipsticks since the days of Coffee Bean and Blackberry (which has sadly been discontinued). Some of the shades can get pretty frosty, but there are also some great shades in the line. I’ve always found these lipsticks to be well pigmented and non-drying, two important qualities for a lipstick to have. If you’re drawn to one of the 72 shades in this line, I’d say give it a try. $8.79 a pop.
Revlon Super Length Mascara. I’ve tried higher end waterproof mascaras, but found that the waterproof version of this mascara works just as well as the waterproofs I’ve tried in the $20+ range. And for a makeup artist who goes through a tube every two – three weeks during wedding season, a lower price tag for a just-as-effective product is well worth it. I don’t suggest waterproof mascara for daily use and in fact, I forbid it. Daily waterproof mascara removal is tough on the lashes, which can lead to breakage. But special occasions, photoshoots or long work events that you want your makeup to stay put through? Go for it. I’ve also used this mascara in a punch to cover grays between color touchups. $8.99 isn’t bad to keep your mascara from running, in my humble opinion.
Clean & Clear PERSA-GEL 10. Got a blemish? Watch it shrink down or disappear after applying this benzoyl peroxide spot treatment. The first time I tried this, I had a monster blemish on my jawline. I applied a tiny dot of PERSA-GEL on it before bed, and woke up to a blemish that was 50% smaller. You can use it up to three times a day, but be aware that it will leave a white film after it dries. Benzoyl peroxide is a strong ingredient, so only use a little of this spot treatment at a time on active blemishes only. It’s typically around $8.00 a tube, depending on where you buy it, and especially if you only get the occasional blemish, it will last you a while.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter. If you need a good body moisturizer for dry skin, Palmer’s has got you. I’ve used this stuff for years, and I love it. It really moisturizes and has what I consider a pleasant (but not overpowering) scent. If you can’t tell, I hate when a moisturizer is slow to absorb or leaves a sticky film, but I have no such problem with this cocoa butter dream. At $6.50, I consider this a steal.
Revlon Nail Enamel in 680 Revlon Red. Back when I lived in Florida in my early 20s, some guy I was talking to at a bar told me he thought it was sexy when women painted their toenails red. I didn’t know this guy and never saw him after that drunken conversation, but he must have said it right when the “nail polish color choices” part of my brain was impressionable, because I’ve been painting these little piggies red since. I bought a bottle of Revlon Red several years ago and found that it stays on my toenails really well. It doesn’t last half as long on my fingernails, but it’s worth it for the toenail polish longevity. $5.99 is a hell of a lot cheaper than a pedicure!
L’Oreal Elnett Satin Hairspray. I’d read about this hairspray in interviews with many a celebrity hair stylist, so when I found myself in need of some hairspray while I was in Ireland last fall, I picked this up at a pharmacy. I don’t love the scent of it, but man, does it work. Unless it’s mega humid out and I haven’t gotten a Brazilian Blowout recently, it holds down my strands so they don’t frizz up. It’s a pretty strong hold so I don’t go crazy with it, which might be why I haven’t noticed any stiffness, stickiness or buildup from it. $14.99 for all of that? I’ll take it.
Psssst Original Dry Shampoo. God bless the person who invented dry shampoo. And Psssst Dry Shampoo is as good of a dry shampoo as I’ve ever tried. It’s not overly scented and as long as you rub it in–which you need to do with any dry shampoo–it doesn’t leave white residue, even on raven-haired beauties like myself (kidding about the “beauties” part but serious about the absence of residue). $7.29 for a bottle of this instant hair refresher.
I’m looking forward to hopefully adding some new favorites to my list after my Drugstore Haul #1 testing is complete. In the meantime, if you’ve got some drugstore favorites, comment away.
I recently asked for suggestions for drugstore makeup products, so here we are. I understand the request for this type of blog post, as non-drugstore makeup can get expensive. I went out and bought a few makeup products from CVS to test out, but before I start using those and before I give you a list of drugstore beauty products I’ve liked for a long time, I need to explain my philosophy on drugstore makeup and why I can only take testing products so far.
Let me first say that just because a product is pricey doesn’t mean it’s good. I’ve tried makeup, skincare products and hair products that were $$$ and were crap. However, it’s true that some of the ingredients and/or processes used to make a product last longer, absorb quickly, apply more smoothly or make it pigmented are more expensive, and that is typically reflected in the pricing of those products.
I haven’t tried every drugstore product out there, and there will be some that I don’t like that work great for other people. In general though, I have some thoughts on each type of makeup that you can find at a drugstore. I may change my mind after testing out the products from my CVS haul, but I’m writing this before I test anything out.
Foundation. I’ve always told clients that if you can only splurge on one makeup product, make it a foundation. I’ve yet to try a drugstore foundation that comes anywhere to close the quality of the foundations I like best (MAC Face and Body, Armani Luminous Silk Foundation and Make Up For Ever HD Foundation). I find that drugstore foundations often have weird undertones and/or limited shade selections, and the ones I’ve tried don’t blend or absorb as easily as the higher end foundations. The biggest difference I’ve noticed though is the length of wear. Every drugstore foundation I’ve ever tried has worn off wayyyyyy quicker than the non-drugstore foundations I use. Maybe that’s fine with people for their everyday use, but in my line of work, I require products that stay on well. I would think though that most people would want their foundation to still be on by their lunch break, and I’ve had clients tell me that a disappearing act from their foundation was their biggest gripe. So between length of wear, color matching and blendability, I haven’t historically had any love for drugstore foundations. I picked up a Revlon Colorstay Foundation in my recent drugstore makeup haul, so I’ll be testing that out.
Concealer. The drugstore concealers I’ve tried all either wore off very quickly or were thick/quick to cake up. There also seems be an issue with undertones and/or selections of shades in some lines. I think drugstore concealers are similar to drugstore foundations in these ways. Also in my recent haul is the L’Oreal Infallible Pro Glow Concealer, so we’ll see if that one is better than the ones I’ve tried in the past.
Blush. I’ve tried drugstore cream and powder blushes, and I’ve yet to be impressed by any of them. I’ve found drugstore blushes to fade much more quickly than higher end blushes. I also think they tend to have a limited shade selection, although that seems to be getting better the past few years. I picked up a pink Maybelline Fit Me blush in my haul, so I’ll review that in an upcoming post.
Primer. It’s been a long time since I’ve tried a drugstore primer. The last time I looked for one, they were all silicone based, and silicone based primers can ball up and cause foundation to roll off the skin. That happens because silicone doesn’t interact well with the ingredients of some foundations. I’ll test a primer next time I do a drugstore haul, but in the meantime, I’m sticking with my tried and true non-silicone primers.
Powder. I think drugstore powder is fine for everyday use, and I use one myself (details in an upcoming blog post). I don’t use it on clients though because I don’t think it lasts as long as a MAC or Laura Mercier powder. If you’re not super oily and/or you don’t mind touching up a few times a day, I think a drugstore powder can work fine for you.
Eyeshadow. I think you can sometimes get a decent drugstore cream eyeshadow, but I’ve never been impressed by drugstore powder eyeshadows. The color payoff tends to be weak, meaning it takes several applications of shadow to achieve the same intensity you would get from one or two applications of, for example, a MAC eyeshadow. That’s the pigment in drugstore powder shadows being weaker than its higher end counterparts, because the pigments and/or processes used to intensify the pigments are more expensive. So whether it’s the actual type of ingredient used for the pigment or the ratio of non-pigmented ingredients to pigmented ingredients, you’re ending up with a weaker product. Think of a drugstore eyeshadow like a watered down gin and tonic–it’s got more tonic than gin. If you only wear eyeshadow once in a great while and you don’t mind having to apply several layers to achieve the intensity you want, go for it. But if you’re a regular eyeshadow wearer and you think you’re saving money by going the drugstore route, you’re probably not. You’ll likely have to use at least twice as much (probably more) eyeshadow as you would if you bought a higher end powder eyeshadow, so you could end up spending the same as you would have had you bought the higher end eyeshadow first. I picked up a cream eyeshadow and will buy a powder one for my next haul, but I have a feeling the drugstore powder eyeshadows are still weakly pigmented.
Eyeliner. I didn’t pick up any eyeliners in my recent drugstore haul, but I’ve tried enough in the past to have some perspective. I’ve found drugstore pencil eyeliners to either be dry and uncomfortable to use, or extremely smudgy. The crayon and gel liners I’ve tried have all been weakly pigmented or quick to wear off. I do think it’s possible to get a good liquid liner at a drugstore. I don’t personally use liquid liners and it doesn’t make sense to use them on clients because I can’t use the applicator directly on them, but for your own personal use, I think you can find a good liquid liner at the drugstore level.
Mascara. I like waterproof drugstore mascaras and have found one that works better than the high end waterproofs I’ve tried (keep your eyes peeled for the next post in this series). For non-waterproof though, I’ve yet to find one that’s as good as my beloved Diorshow. I’ll be testing a L’Oreal mascara from my haul, so we’ll see how that goes…
Brow Powder and Gels. I’ve found the drugstore versions of these products to be weakly pigmented and quick to wear off. Two things you want opposite of in a brow product! I’ll test out some new ones in my next haul.
Lipstick. I think you can get a good lipstick from a drugstore. I especially like Revlon lipsticks, both for their shade selections and their textures. I’ve tried some drugstore lipsticks that were weakly pigmented or quick to wear off, which again, I think comes down to the cost of certain pigments, processes or long-wear ingredients. But out of all of the drugstore makeup products, I’m most likely to buy a lipstick. I picked up a pretty red CoverGirl lipstick in my recent haul, so I’ll review that soon.
Lip Liner. There are good lip liners at the drugstore level. They don’t tend to have the color selection that a company like MAC does, but with the exception of a few high end lines, I don’t find drugstore lip liners to be that drastically different than many of their higher end counterparts.
We’ll see if I change my tune after I test out the products from my recent haul, but for now, I’m not sold on the quality of drugstore products. Pigment, length of wear and blendability are three very important factors for professional makeup artists, and I think those are the three areas that drugstore products tend to fall short in.
I’ll do another drugstore makeup haul at some point, but I can’t make it a habit. I’m primarily a makeup artist, not a beauty blogger, so I can’t have a kit full of drugstore makeup to use on clients. But because I want to give the people/readers what they asked for, I’ll keep it in mind that people are interested in reviews of drugstore makeup products.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Then I remembered!
Ignore the outfit change and check out that glow! The texture of my skin has improved since November.
I might be aging backwards a little.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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:
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…
But I think I at least look like 2015 Allison now. I’ll take it!
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.
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.
Day 14, right before and right after using the NuFACE Mini. Look at that brow lift!
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 this 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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! 😉
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 into 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.