Monday, January 30, 2012

So many brushes, how do you choose?

If you've ever wandered through a cosmetics department, you may have seen the utility belts stuffed full of makeup brushes strapped to the waists of makeup artists beating away at the faces of their clients. I've always loved a gorgeous set of brushes, but when I was one of those artists I understood the panic and confusion when a client would ask "but which brushes do I need?" I thought about it, and came up with a basic collection of three eyeshadow brushes for powdered eyeshadow (loose or pressed).
My favorite brand of brushes is Laura Mercier (all photos courtesy of . While they aren't cheap, they are definitely the best brush for the long run. I've had my brushes for easily 8 years, and they are still in perfect shape with minimal maintenance.

First, is the Eye Colour Brush. It's a basic brush with flat and tapered bristles and an oval tip, ideal for applying all-over lid color and brow-bone highlight colors.
Eye Colour Brush

Next is the Eye Crease Brush. Rounded with tapered bristles, allows for easy application to and above the crease (for "hooded" lids) and makes blending easier than with similar softer brushes.

Lastly, my favorite brush is the Corner Eye Colour Brush. This brush helps create the most sought after "smokey" effect by allowing for definition and gradual layering. Holding the brush vertical and along the top lashline, sweeping from outer corner in towards the center of the eyelid, a bedroom eye-smokey lashline is quickly and easily applied with whatever deeper shades you choose. Additionally, it makes taking that same deeper powder shadow and making a soft undereye smoke effect effortless.

Creating intense or natural looks are easier than you think, especially if you have brushes that you know how to use. Patience and practice is always recommended for beginners and remember, less is always better. You can always add on color or intensity, it's impossible to take it away (though with blending you can get pretty damn close). Don't be afraid to play with your eyeshadow!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Eye can SEEEE you!! (just kidding!)

So I've been trying to take a decent picture of just my eyes for what I'm embarrassed to say about 2 weeks. I know. It shouldn't have been such a pain, but it was!
This post is a reference post and a "look, see!!" post in that I took a results picture from my Best Mascara I Ever Used post.

Here is my eye without any makeup. The lashes are virtually non-existent. The tips are blond-ish and with my McWhiterson skin, they get completely lost.

And here is that same eye, with the lashes curled and two quick coats of the Covergirl 24 hour mascara.
It's a pretty remarkable difference, even with just a simple curler.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Getting the basics & High-tech product review

It's a two-fer!

With the multitude of options out there, it's easy to get confused on what is "right" for your skin care regimen. I say regimen because let's face it, (ha, face!) there are lots and lots of products out there geared towards the care of the face! Let's put all the toners, lifters, serums, alpha-hydroxy, outer space stuff aside for a moment and get the basics covered, shall we?
Here are (in my opinion) the only things a person truly "needs" to do to maintain their skin. Cleanse. Hydrate. Exfoliate.
That's it! Allow me to break it down further.

1. Cleanse - From makeup to pollutants, the face gets dirty. Try not to think about it too hard or you'll end up afraid of your own face. (ACK! Bacteria!) A gentle cleanser is something that should be in every bathroom. Whether it's in cream form, towelette form, gel form, oil form; whatever, a good basic cleanser is a must. I prefer to abide by this rule: Treat your skin the way you want it. Translation - if you WANT oily skin, use the cleansers geared toward Oily Skin. I know, that sounds backwards. "Who wants oily skin??" Think about it though. The primary reason skin can be oily (other than genetics or ethnicity) is stripping. Not the kind with g-strings and glitter; but when all the natural moisture is taken away, leaving the skin "squeaky" clean and tight. That is actually a bad thing! It causes the skin to go into overdrive to replenish pumping out excess moisture (oil) to try and compensate; but THEN the dry skin that's on the top layer actually can get caught up and mixed with the dirt and crud in the air and clog your skin up, resulting in a break out. And a never ending cycle. That's very very common. It also has created a multi-billion dollar dependency. However, I digress. Think about trying a basic, gentle, normal cleanser (labeled normal) or normal to dry or something that says "normal" or as close to it as you can. You want a balance in your skin. Removal of the uck without taking the good stuff with it. A dear friend of mine wrote about washing your face with a combination of oil which I must admit makes me want to try it! Find what works for you, but try and open your mind about what your skin can be like. Don't mentally lock in to "dry" or "oily", give your skin the benefit of the doubt.

2. Hydrate - Every skin needs a little touch of something moisturizing. More often than they realize, people with "oily" skin need the heavier moisturizers because of the dry surface (that's causing the excess oil, see above rant) area they have inadvertently caused. Some people use separate day and night moisture (I do!) and some people don't. Whatever you use, use it. You don't need to slather anything on (other than sunscreen) heavily, a light touch of moisture is best. By the way, that means eye cream too. I know, I know. Usually people say "but but that's separate??"; yes. It is. Again, a light eye cream shouldn't be expensive and it's more dense than regular face moisturizer. The eye area is delicate and yes, should have it's own moisturizer. Always put it on along the orbital bone and with your ring finger (it's the weakest) and it should take little time to absorb. If it's too thick it will stay on the surface and do you no good. That's true with any hydration; facial or body.

3. Exfoliate - This one is the forgotten. Helping along the natural shedding process of the skin makes everything work better with skin care. I don't recommend highly abrasive cleansers (with sand/pits of fruit) because what they do is gouge deeper than you realize into the skin surface resulting in a dryer appearance and feel; instead of sloughing off the cells evenly. Rounded bead type elements work best. OR some sort of brush system. However fingers and hands work just fine. The denser packed the beads are, the smoother your skin will be. If there's more "cleanser" than bead, that means you aren't getting as much exfoliation as you think you are. It should feel scrubby without feeling scratchy.

Ok! Those are the basics! Don't get me wrong, I have a love of the serums and such too, but if my skin starts to act up or not be the way I want it; I go right back to the basics.

Here's a high-tech find for you: The Clarisonic Mia 2 as seen in SephoraUlta, and QVC (though QVC may be out of the Mia 2).

It's a sonic cleansing system (yay for sonic! sorry, I'm a Whovian) that vibrates your skin so you're actually getting a lot more benefit from everything! It's not cheap, at all. But it's the one that works! It cleanses AND exfoliates gently (I don't have to use a separate exfoliation product) and allows my moisturizer to absorb quicker and I use less because it goes further! I use one pump my basic cleanser, Aveeno Positively Radiant with my Mia 2 morning and night. Avoiding the eye area (hey, it's a sonic brush. You can't use it on your eye). the new Mia 2 has a self-timer ( two 20 second time frames on the T-Zone areas, and a 10 second time frame for each cheek) so you know when to move on to the next section. The Mia 2 is one minute of my morning and night skin care regimen that I'll gladly perform. It's not cheap, but it's one of the best purchases I ever made.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!!

I probably should've posted about this fantastic find before the New Year, but hey it wasn't readily available (I'm not sure it's even worldwide released yet!) and I needed to give it a good solid try so I could gather my thoughts. Here goes:
THIS IS THE BEST MASCARA I'VE EVER USED!! I do not use those words lightly. I've become somewhat of a joke among my girlfriends because I'm always looking for new mascara. I follow the not-so-widely-known-nor-practiced rule of Department Store Mascara should be replaced after 3 months, Drugstore Brand Mascara should be replaced after one month. The discrepancy has to do with the levels of preservatives in the formulas and that clumpy-lumps that cling to the bristles and your lashes are the results. Never mind the bacteria (barf!) I know some people not only don't know the rule, but they don't really care. It's up to you, but I would rather shell out a few bucks for a fresh tube than fight the uphill battle of trying to separate my lashes from one another from a cruddy mascara application. MOVING ON!
This is the newest member of the CoverGirl LashBlast Family, however I've yet to see it turn up on the website. I've been a fan of the chubby tubed LashBlast since it launched, however I was dissatisfied with the curl hold. It gave volume in spades, but one half coat too many and my lashes would lose any and all curl. So on with the search I went. With the release of this newest formula, I can say, with complete conviction that this mascara meets all the criteria of amazing.
  1. Volume - LashBlast is known for volume, the brush helps to build up volume in lashes without leaving bulk
  2. Hold - I curl my lashes the way I like then apply the mascara. Once I'm done with the coating, the curl will stay all day until it's time to wash my face. I have yet to experience any loss of eyelash curl throughout my wear. That's remarkable! Usually there's at least some, but not with this little beauty!
  3. Length - just like the other LashBlast mascaras, I find the "added length" to be adequate. Unless a mascara has actual fiberous elements (which can flake off and irritate the eye), most lengthening mascaras don't actually add to the lash. Since most lashes are blonde at the tips or lighter brown, adding color (aka mascara) makes the hair look longer. It's an illusion.
  4. Wear - Since I haven't seen a commercial or ad print about it, I don't know if they are touting CoverGirl LashBlast 24 hour mascara as waterproof, and I prefer non-waterproof formulas of mascara (they tend to make my lashes brittle in the long run) so I can't say for sure if they will in the future. There's no flaking or fading and my lashes aren't hard or crunchy. However I can tell you from experience, this mascara must must must have a separate makeup remover in order to get it off. I tried the baby shampoo trick I posted about, but that mascara barely smirked at it. I tried an oil based makeup remover, and had to use it 3 times at least before washing my eye area with the baby shampoo. I ended up buying the CoverGirl Makeup Remover which is a creamy remover and using a cotton round, found that it works the best. However, I definitely recommend doing the baby shampoo trick after since it leaves the eye area covered in residue.
So there's my first recommendation of 2012! CoverGirl LashBlast 24 hour Mascara, follow this link to an Amazon storefront with the details on the ingredients, you can also find opportunities to purchase on, etc.