August Musings On September Issues

I’ll be honest- August is one of my least favorite months. I don’t know why but weird, not-so-awesome things always seem to happen in August, or the month has routinely carried the weight of transition for me. I moved during August (two years to the date!), school frequently starts up again in August, the calendar starts to get too busy in August, and summer movies are never quite as good in August. It could be the looming start of a new school year and the existential reminder that all good Rosé seasons must come to an end, or it could just be me.

So over the years I’ve tried to find little ways to take back this month and be intentional about enjoying it, and for nearly ten years now one of those ways has involved getting really, really, reeeeeeeeally excited for September issues. If you know me, you know this. The annual crowning achievement of every fashion magazine editor is their September issue, and while the magazine industry seems to be in upheaval now right alongside retail, we can bet that no matter what happens there will forever and always be excitement surrounding the inaugural weeks of fall fashion. I’m not sure why people don’t get this excited for spring fashion in February. It must be the pumpkin-spice-loving, Ugg-boots-wearing, Bath-and-Body-Works-obsessing white girl in all of us.

So let’s look at a couple September covers, though we’ll be sans Vogue today because they have to be all queenie and make a grand entrance after everyone else. However, we WILL make some speculative guesses!

Blake Lively for Glamour

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I like this cover. It’s cheerful. It reads a little more March than September to me, but it’s still very beautiful. I’m not a huge fan of the large flower on Blake’s neck, but the soft focus on her face is easily the first thing you notice anyhow. Glamour has really been playing with its cover design the past couple years and the playful font lends a decidedly millennial feel to this one, clearly reaching out to younger readers. Lively apparently spends a great deal of her interview discussing the Child Rescue Coalition, an organization that “provides law enforcement with technology to track and prosecute child predators.” It might be heavy subject matter for a September issue, but I have to say it’s great to hear a celebrity pushing the focus outward instead of talking about their latest reinvention of themselves.

Alicia Vikander for Elle

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This, in stark contrast to Glamour‘s, is actually the kind of cover I prefer. It may be a little boring to some but I like that it makes a plain, straightforward statement. The bold fonts combined with Vikander’s dress and shoulder-y stance give off a kind of eighties vibe. Speaking of Alicia Vikander, it isn’t as interesting to see who is chosen for a September cover as much as it is to discover why. I like trying to predict September covers based on who has projects coming up that month. Alicia probably snagged the cover in anticipation of her late-August movie Tulip Fever, and to ramp up buzz for her Tomb Raider remake in March.

For Vogue, rumor has it that a certain actress in an upcoming Darren Aronofsky film will be taking their September cover. If this proves true I’ll be a little disappointed beings that she had this coveted cover just four years ago AND she was on Vogue‘s cover this past December, less than a year ago! Give it a rest, Ms. Wintour. And a second prediction- Rihanna will almost certainly grab a September cover somewhere, be it with Allure or Marie Claire, due to the launch of Fenty Beauty on September 8. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for this launch. You know there’s bound to be some top-of-the-line lipstick in any beauty launch that Rihanna’s responsible for.

Selena Gomez for InStyle

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Ah, and now for the one that I subscribe to and don’t just pick up on occasion. This magazine has been undergoing a nonstop overhaul since Laura Brown replaced Ariel Foxman as editor-in-chief last November. Some of the changes I’ve loved, others not as much. The covers that Brown has overseen have been consistently fresh and eye-catching nonetheless. She really has done a bang-up job.

It’s seemed the entire print mag industry has been trying to get its sea legs as it adjusts to constant change these years. Some have shuttered completely (RIP Lucky, Self, and probably People StyleWatch, or whatever it’s called now, very soon). Waning relevance thanks to social media and online content, a struggling retail industry (affecting fashion in general), and a political climate in upheaval have made it a challenge for fashion magazines to keep up readership and relatability. It’s been good to see InStyle as one of the few print periodicals that has taken the bull by the horns and leaned in to the maelstrom of change these days. And Selena, the woman with the most Instagram followers in the world at 124 million, is having her moment with a Coach partnership and a new album out probably sooner than later.

Adriana Lima, The Weeknd, and Irina Shayk for Harper’s Bazaar

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And now for the wildcard. Selena and her boyfriend must be high-fiving each other over both claiming September covers this year- not something you’d expect to find on any male celebrity’s resume (save for the obvious i.e. GQ). I have to admit that I laughed out loud when I first saw this. The expressions on their faces somehow read super Zoolander to me. I’m pleased, however, that Adriana and Irina are the only models on the September cover lineup so far. The rest are musicians or actors. I have to say that I’m pretty burned out with the resurgence of the supermodel. I know for a while we all complained that the world of fashion had been given over to the celebrity and there was not enough respect being given to the model, the original and true muse of the industry. However, we’ve turned on the supermodel firehose these days with an endless barrage of Gigi, Kendall, Joan, Bella, Hailey, Kaia, Emily, Cara, and Karlie. Their omnipresence on our social media feeds has had a numbing effect on me personally, and I’ve struggled to relate one little bit to today’s supermodels. But I guess the point of a supermodel isn’t exactly relatability, is it?  And the day I do relate to one, well, that probably means I’ve somehow become one in some alternate universe.

Any covers you especially love? Or any predictions for those yet seen? Do tell, and first and foremost, try to enjoy your August! xo, MR

Photo credits by order of appearance: Nathaniel Goldberg/Glamour magazine, David Bellemere/ELLE, Phil Poynter/InStyle, Brigitte LaCombe

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Summer Makeup Essentials

I’m not exactly sure when summer begins on the calendar, but out here in the MidWest, it unofficially-but-very-unquestionably began yesterday.  The temps were in the mid nineties all day, and after a quick little walk to grab some iced coffee my shirt was sticking to me and my cowlick was in full lick mode.  And my toes were swollen.

Changes in season tend to demand a new strategy when it comes to things like what we wear, what our skincare routine looks like, if maybe we’ll just drive to get our iced coffee instead of walk, and what makeup we use.  You could stick to the same song and dance all year, but why not make it easier on yourself?  Go ahead and drive to grab that iced coffee, and stick to items like these:

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Tinted Moisturizer – I don’t know about you, but something about powder foundation in hot weather feels so dusty and yucky.  Images of Dorothy on the tornado-ridden plains of Kansas come to mind.  And yet a regular ole’ liquid foundation in hot weather feels like I’ve willingly modge podged myself.  Something like BareMinerals Complexion Rescue is perfect for higher temps.  Decent coverage, a cooling, gel-like effect, and SPF all make for that perfect summer glow trifecta.  And the finish on a tinted moisturizer doesn’t have to be sheer or glowing!  There are other options, too: Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer, Black Up Mattifying Tinted Moisturizer, NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint, and Boscia’s BB Cream all have excellent reputations and a range of finishes.

Cream blush – How I feel about foundation in the summer applies to blush, too.  Powder blush on sweaty skin can look ruddy, do strange things to pores, and be difficult to blend well.  A nice cream formula, whether liquid or in a stick, can be a great solution for adding color to the cheeks without the heavy effect of a powder.  AND you only need your fingers!  Cream blushes also tend to look more natural, as if the pigment is coming from the inside out as opposed to sitting on top of your skin.  I love Glossier’s Cloud Paints as well as Stila’s Convertible Color, which doubles as lip color.

Self tanner – So, during the hotter months (or maybe year-round for some of us), I have a tendency to use a lot of bronzer.  On my cheeks, around my jawline- something about the season just beckons for its use.  But I often encounter the problem of my body not matching my bronzed face thanks to the months of being covered from head to toe in a wearable sleeping bag.  And because we’re not about frying in the sun (naughty!), I’m here to sing the praises of self-tanner.  Or specifically, Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer.  It’s subtle, the way I like my jokes.  And if I find myself in a swimsuit, the stuff actually manages to make me look even and – dare I say it – somewhat toned?  The heat must be getting to me.

A moisturizing lip stain – Unless it’s during the cool hours of the evening and I’m sipping a refreshing cocktail on a breezy rooftop bar, wearing lipstick during peak hours in the summertime can make me feel like a dog with peanut butter on its lips.  And yet burning, cracked lips without any moisture are the epitome of too-long-on-the-lake-and-now-you-look-like-a-burnt-Cheezit.  Look to something like one of Revlon’s Ultra HD Gel Lipcolors for hydrating and lightweight color, or one of BeneFit’s many lip and cheek stains like Posietint or Benetint so you can just stain your lips for the day and then only worry about reapplying SPF balm.

Something bright! – Come on!  It’s summer!  Teal eyeliner?  Coral lips?  The pink eyeshadow trend that was literally everywhere at the Met Ball?  Try something celebratory and colorful at the next party or wedding or happy hour you find yourself attending.  And there are a gazillion options out there.  Marc Jacobs’s Highliner Gel Eye Crayon alone comes in thirty three shades.  Hung Vanngo used the bright pink shade called (Pop)ular all around Selena Gomez’s eyes for the Met Ball, and I would love, love, LOVE to see someone wear the powder blue Deja Blue shade- just a line across the upper eyelid.

Tell me what you use, tag me in your pics, and enjoy the newfound heat!  xo, MR

Best Of The Met Gala 2017

And tonight, once again, we witness Kardashian & Kompany turn out of for fashion’s most garish, most opulent night- Anna Wintour’s annual Met Gala.

Of course, we always hope to see more than just Kendall and Kylie competing for highest slit in a sequined gown, but in recent years that’s sort of what’s happened to this event.  The themes continue to remain quite highfalutin, but the guests and what they choose to wear and try to accomplish have seemed to wane in sophistication as of late.  The Met Gala used to appeal to me as the very height of fashion on parade, the epitome of bougie-ness and unattainable class.  Now it’s got more of a who’s-who-of-Snapchat flavor.  But that’s what makes a celebrity these days I guess, and the times have undeniably changed.

The theme of this year’s Met exhibit is “Rei Kawakubo/Commes des Garçons: Art of the In-Between”.  To make it clear, the exhibit is honoring revolutionary female Japanese designer and founder of Commes des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo.  Her designs are known for being high concept, visually stunning, architecturally forward, and typically weird.  And I mean really weird.  Her craft is the definition of avant-garde.  Kawakubo’s work has never seemed to be about making a flattering dress or celebrating the woman’s body as it is with some designers.  It has seemed her work is more about her.  “Pretty” isn’t what she goes for. Or at least, your definition of pretty.  Give her a rule, and she’ll break it.  The woman does what she wants, and so she has forged for herself a formidable career.  To read more about her exhibit and see more of her work (and trust me- you want to), check out this Harper’s Bazaar article.

So what can we expect with tonight’s looks?  Well, based on the theme, we can expect weird.  And that’s good!  Although, I wouldn’t have pulled a Solange Knowles and shown up in a puffer coat.  But we’ll get to see what many celebrities define as “weird” or at least a little off the wall.   A ball honoring Rei Kawakubo demands something far beyond the boundaries of a column gown.  As always, my same rules apply when choosing favorites: dress/outfit, hair, makeup, and accessories must all work beautifully in tandem.

Most This-Is-What-I-Would-Do – Rose Byrne in Ralph Lauren 

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I talk a big talk when it comes to the Met Ball, but I know I probably wouldn’t be brave enough to actually wear one of Rei Kawakubo’s designs.  Because they’re Charlie Sheen levels of crazy.  However, this I can do.  I like the wild hairdo.  I love the architectural neckline of this dress in this bright shade of true red.  I like the artsy jewelry.  And the makeup is beautiful.  This, I can do.

Most Not-On-Theme-But-Still-Fabulous – Jennifer Lopez in Valentinojennifer-lopez-met-gala-2017-ftr-1

Paging Betty Draper!  Or Meghan Draper.  Or Joan!  Or all of them at once!  Anything that makes me think of Mad Men is more than fine with me.  The powder shade of blue, the chiffon, the cape, the high neckline, the incredible jewelry, and obviously the hair and makeup made this a stunner look straight out of the sixties.  And thank you, J.Lo, for abstaining from a naked dress!

Best Model That Didn’t Try To Just Look Like A Model – Lily Aldridge in Ralph Lauren Custom Collection

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Even though none of my favorites have worn Commes des Garçons (yet…), I still appreciate models like Lily for taking a risk and clearly pushing boundaries with the intent of paying homage to the design house’s outlandish creations.  It’s interesting to see a lot of Ralph Lauren at this event; that’s a designer I would’ve guessed as too safe for the Met Gala.  But the accessories and styling of this white gown have kept it from just looking like another skin-baring dress on a model.  I love Lily’s crazy red boots (Balenciaga) and her fuchsia blush netting that she’s wearing across her face.  Her makeup is also spectacular.  I saw a lot of incredible makeup this evening regardless of what folks were wearing, with this being a particular favorite …

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Now that is eyeshadow fit for the gods.  Alright, now for my last pick …

Best Fantasy Moment – Zendaya in Dolce & Gabbana

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This woman is such a chameleon.  She wears anything she wants, and she does anything with her hair that she wants.  It’s so evident that she loves fashion, and I love watching that.  Her hair and makeup are gorgeous, and I already such a huge affinity for parrots- this is the dress of my dreams.

Most Perfectly-On-Theme-And-Still-Fabulous – Rihanna in Commes des Garçons

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Ok, finally we have someone that interprets this year’s theme literally and wears Commes des Garçons!  And of course it’s Rihanna.  I love that she’s always such a team player when it comes to the Met Ball themes.  Remember when she wore this insanity for China: Through The Looking Glass?!  That gown was the creation of a legendary Chinese designer and there was no better opportunity to wear it.  That’s what you’re supposed to do at the Met Ball.  So yes, this dress … or outfit, whatever we’re calling it … is perfect for a Met Gala dedicated to Kawakubo.  It’s one of her own creations, it’s a breathtaking-if-not-baffling work of art, it’s weird, and it’s Rihanna, who doesn’t seem to mind weird.  And be sure to search close-up shots of her makeup.  It’s incredible.  Perfect.

There’s lots to still sort through from tonight’s extravaganza, but other honorable mentions go to: Dakota Johnson in some excellent Gucci, Kate Bosworth in Tory Burch that looked dangerously similar to Dakota Johnson’s Gucci, Jennifer Connelly in Louis Vuitton (because DUH I’m obsessed with her), Elle Fanning in some very Cinderella Miu Miu, Doutzen Kroes looking natural and relaxed in Brock Collection, Ruth Negga in a very avant-garde cape thingy, and Lupita Nyong’O in a gorgeous shade of orange.

Let me know what you think, if things got weird enough for you, or if they just couldn’t get weird enough.  Anything goes at this party.  But you know who didn’t go to this party?  Taylor Swift.  xo, MR

Photo credits in order of appearance: Instagram, Rex/Shutterstock, Rex/Shutterstock, Instagram, Getty, Getty/John Shearer

Let’s Talk (More) About Glossier

A little over a month ago, a skincare and makeup brand named Glossier asked me to join their rep program. And if you know me, you know that this was very, very exciting. I figured it might be worth doing a full post to give you the low-down on what exactly this means (and what it doesn’t).

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Let’s start with a brief word about the brand.  Glossier is the beauty brand born out of long-favorited blog IntoTheGloss.  Glossier’s goal is to “lay the foundation for a beauty movement that celebrates real girls, in real life.”  Their aesthetic revolves around the philosophy of “skin first, makeup second”, and that “skincare is essential, makeup is a choice.”  With the meteoric rise of makeup gurus like James Charles, Huda Kattan, and Jaclyn Hill with their extreme, maximalist makeup techniques using everything but the bathroom sink, it’s nice to see a brand essentially counter that movement with a minimalist, skin-first aesthetic.

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I can’t relate well to matte, exaggerated liquid-lipstick-lips or perfectly stenciled brows. There are moments for makeup like this, but it’s just not an everyday thing for me. Skincare, on the other hand, is an everyday thing for me along with a bit of color and accenting of features I like such as brows. Glossier’s ideas about beauty match mine- you should always look like you, and your skin should still look like skin, even with the extra bit of color or false lashes or foundation. And so their products like Boy Brow, Generation G lipstick, Stretch concealer, Milky Jelly cleanser, and the Super serums have been perfect matches for my everyday routine. Simple and natural, putting skin first, while adding just enough zing.

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And so, Glossier has released their products slowly, with maybe one new launch every other month. Each product is meant to address a very basic need with the intent of being one of your staples. Whether it’s a truly excellent everyday moisturizer, or four brilliant shades of blush, or the perfect facial cleanser, Glossier products are meant to be your favorites that you wear everyday and repurchase over and over. Glossier also has the very democratic habit of crowd-sourcing their products, meaning they take the advice and input of their readers on IntoTheGloss to create the perfect skincare or makeup item based on the consumer’s desires.  Oh, and their design and branding are soooo dang cute.  Snapping a pic of your adorable pink pouch feels natural, even when mixed in with your other favorite stuff.

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So what exactly does it mean now that I’m a “brand rep?” Well, it mostly means I love Glossier and the folks who work there noticed. I was asked to join the program by a Glossier team member because of my love for the brand as displayed on social media, and my frequent commenting on IntoTheGloss. A page was then created for me with a little introductory video, along with a list of my favorite products. When any purchases are made specifically through my page, I receive a bit of commission (5%- it’s baby commission!).  And for those who are purchasing Glossier for the first time, you receive a 10% discount when you purchase through my page too.  Below is just an image – click here to see my little vid (I talk to you!) and shop through my page.

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Now, here’s what being a Glossier rep doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean I have inventory that I need to sell; all purchases through my link are fulfilled by Glossier alone. In other words, I make no direct sales. Being a rep doesn’t mean I paid startup costs either, since, again, you have no inventory as a rep and becoming a rep is free. Additionally, I will not be asking anyone to “join me on my journey” as Glossier reps don’t and can’t recruit other reps. The only way to become a rep is to be asked by Glossier. Also, there’s no incentive for me gaining a new, first-time customer. In fact, the only incentive there is for the new customer herself to the tune of a 10% discount on a first purchase. And finally, Glossier reps can’t see who purchases through their page; I can only see what is sold and how much commission I’m making that month (which, for me, rarely hits over $10!).

What I get to do: I get to tell you about new launches, probably share photos with you, and talk about the products that I love and how I use them. Also, if just one purchase is made through my page each month, I receive a $30 credit the following month. Not bad, and way to keep a loyal fanbase! And of course, if you do decide to click “Add To Cart” through my page, that’s not so bad either. Just look for the “You’re shopping with McKenna Rishmawy” icon to the top right like you see in the photo.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the brand or any products.  I’m more than happy to make recommendations. glossier.com/reps/mckennaxo, MR

My Chemical Romance- Serums, Acids, and the Frontier of Antiaging

About a year ago, I decided to get a little more serious about skincare.  And by that I mean I detected a couple thin creases on my forehead, glared at myself in the mirror, and calmly, resolutely stated, “Negotiation’s over. Sentence is death.”

Okay, not really.  I mean, I haven’t exactly unleashed the wrath of Valhalla on my face since then, but I have done the following within this past year: purchased (and finished!) my first vitamin C serum, purchased my first chemical exfoliant, purchased my first night moisturizer specifically for its antiaging and brightening properties, and purchased my first retinol serum.

Now, you may think this all sounds like ten levels of Joan Crawford insanity but trust me- it’s not.  You should see the skincare routines people have out there.  I’ve seen bathroom shelves that look like a Pfizer lab, with upwards of ten products used both morning and night.  And I know comparing our own shortcomings to those of others is no way to properly gauge where we stand morally, but believe me when I say that this foray of mine into antiaging is really no big deal.  My main motivation for all this is the hope for beautiful skin when I’m 60+, so I’m playing a long game here.  I’m not toiling over today’s skin problems as much as looking to prevent the next decade’s.

So what exactly have I done and what exactly have I used?  And how do I use it?  Peek away, and learn a thing or two about acids while you’re at it:

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Kate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating Treatment – Remember this time last year when I wrote a post on dipping my toes in the antiaging pool and I mentioned receiving ExfoliKate as a gift?  And how I was scared to use it?  Well let me tell ya, I tried it, and that stuff is a game changer.  I’ve never seen such instant results from a single product.  The full size costs $175 for a reason (and I’ll probably continue purchasing the mini for $24 and just use it sparingly).

This is a physical exfoliant in that it has tiny granules that physically rub off dirt and dead skin cells from your face, but it is also a chemical exfoliant.  ExfoliKate contains lactic acid and fruit enzymes (pumpkin, in this case).  These are acids – also known as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) – that naturally, chemically exfoliate your face, revealing a brighter, smoother complexion with improved dark spots and skin tone.  One site described such acid exfoliants as capable of “removing the glue that holds dead skin cells together.”  Most exfoliants either are just physical (think St. Ives scrub) or just chemical/acid (think peel pads).  ExfoliKate is both physical and chemical in its exfoliating properties, and it’s incredible.  My face glows after using this stuff.

Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster – This is the first vitamin C serum that I’ve purchased.  It’s known for its great reviews and a yummy citrus scent.  Truth Serum is marketed as being able to brighten, help restore elasticity and firmness, and improve skin’s texture against hyperpigmentation and sun damage.

However, I have to admit that I didn’t really see noticeable results.  The serum hydrated my skin well, but I didn’t notice much of a reduction in small scars or dark spots on my face.  This may be partly my fault, however.  Vitamin C in skincare is sensitive to light and basically loses its effectiveness upon exposure, and I left my bottle of it in the car on a sunny day last summer.  There are a lot of biochemical factors that go into making an effective vitamin C serum, from the pH balance to environmental exposure to the serum’s ability to actually “deliver” the vitamin C into the skin.  Science, people!  It’s important to do your research and take proper care of your skincare products.  I have another vitamin C serum I’m using now so we’ll see how that goes.  It definitely hasn’t seen the light of day, you can be sure of that.

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – Wow.  Wowowowowowowow.  This, by far, was my favorite skincare purchase of last year.  This night cream has a variety of rose extracts and oils in it so it may not be for everyone (some are sensitive to rose), but this cream has been like a big whoosh for my skin.  I love seeing my complexion in the morning after having worn it to bed; my skin always looks fantastic!  Everything from dullness, dryness, dark spots, and even fine lines seems to improve after wearing this overnight.  Of course, I believe the effects of most skincare routines are rather temporary so you have to keep using it, but this is one product I’ll probably continue to repurchase.

I’m not sure about the vitamin C in it though because as I mentioned earlier vitamin C has to remain fully shut away from air and, ideally, light.  This cream is in a jar so it’s constantly being exposed to air.  I’ve learned to be skeptical of vitamin C creams in jars because they just can’t be that effective with so much air exposure.  But aside from that, everything else in this cream has been doing wonders for me.

Glossier The Supers – I was gifted these three serums last September by Glossier and they have been lovely additions to my routine.  How timely!  You can read my early, full review of them here.

I have loved Super Bounce (and have since repurchased!) for its healthy dose of hyaluronic acid.  Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance that is excellent at retaining moisture within the skin, giving it that youthful plumpness that we naturally lose with age.  Super Bounce is great before makeup because it smooths and hydrates the skin so well.  I’ve also loved Super Glow as a stable vitamin C serum (using it now after having finished Truth Serum), and Super Pure has been great for any breakouts coupled with a blemish lotion like Mario Badescu’s.  And yes, I still get breakouts and have learned that most of us will continue to throughout adulthood.  The idea that you somehow graduate from them once you turn 21 is absolute crap.

I should also add that I consumed hyaluronic acid in supplements for about a month and had noticeably excellent skin for about 1-2 months thereafter.  No really, I got compliments in the dead of winter!  I took Olly’s Vibrant Skin Plump Berry Gummies with hyaluronic acid, collagen, and sea buckthorn.  My face was plump as a baby’s!

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Pixi Glow Peel Pads – These, sold at Target and much hyped all over social media, are little cotton pads soaked in glycolic acid and rose water.  They’re another example of a chemical exfoliant (or acid peel- the terms can be used interchangeably here), and they’ve been a good, quick solution for tackling dark spots, dullness, pore size, fine lines, and acne.  They are actually great for acne.  I had a breakout last week in a couple spots on my face and used these along with my Super Pure serum; I was zit free about 48 hours later.

Using an acid peel isn’t as intimidating as it sounds.  What I do is wipe my face and jawline with one or two pads and then wait three minutes; I then neutralize the peel with tepid water (as the instructions will tell you) and then continue with a regular facewash.  Your face will tingle a bit from the acid, and that’s normal.  And no, nothing physically peels off your face that you can see.  No Raiders of the Lost Ark reenactments here.

I love that these have been a nice one-step solution for tackling blemishes.  I don’t struggle with acne as much as I struggle with dryness and dullness, but there are millions out there who’ve battled acne as their complexion enemy-number-one.  If you’re looking for a whole systematic routine to combat acne that’s been plaguing you for a while, Reviews.com published an extensive, excellent research study on the best and most effective acne kits with their favorite four out of forty-two contenders.  I wasn’t too surprised at their choice for number one; I’ve yet to try anything from this brand but have heard nothing but rave reviews.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Serum – This retinol serum is the newest addition to my lineup, and I’m still trying to figure out the best way to include it in my routine.  Retinol is really just a science-y term for vitamin A, and while it can come in different forms (retinyl palmitate, etc), pure retinol is a powerhouse for minimizing wrinkles and fine lines, reducing the size of pores, and rebuilding firmness that has been lost.  Like vitamin C, retinol is also sensitive to air and light, so be skeptical of any clear packaging or jars that you have to open up.  Now, many with sensitive skin will find that they may peel a bit when using a retinol and that’s normal.  There are retinols of varying strengths out there so it’s important to gauge what’s right for your skin and start slowly and modestly.

Things get really tricky, however, when you try and determine where exactly to fit a retinol into your routine.  Can you pair it with a vitamin C serum?  Is it safe to use an AHA exfoliant with a retinol, too?  You always think of mixing chemicals and making things go boom, and your face isn’t the ideal place for that.  You want to use things the right way!  However, I’ve found that wading into the deep waters of advanced skincare is not unlike mathematics and the interpretation of the law- the theories are endless.  I washed my face in the evening and applied this retinol serum on top of my vitamin C serum for a few nights.  I noticed no results, and actually developed red blemishes in the exact spots where I’d applied the retinol.  One authority I consulted advised not using the two together, though paulaschoice.com states that you can for extra benefits.  I’m going to try alternating my vitamin C serum and retinol now and see how that works and if the blemishes continue.  Most sources I consulted did say that you need to be patient and consistent with retinol.  I’ll also add that most quality retinols are expensive- $100+.  Mine cost eighteen bucks.  Only time will tell if these fine lines on my forehead demand a greater investment.

Now that we’re days away from the beginning of spring, at least I can say that I powered through winter with good skincare.  I didn’t feel nearly as dry this winter as I did the last!  Well, that may have something to do with the weirdly and freakishly warm winter we’ve had here and of course that may ultimately have to do with global warming and the possibility that the world is dying.  But for now, I’ll keep my anxiety at bay and just focus on that little wrinkle.  xo, MR

 

Best Of The 2017 Academy Awards

And here we are, once again!

This is technically the fifth Academy Awards that I’ve blogged and it’s my favorite post each year.  I’ve had a lot going on this evening work-wise so this post has been a process of constantly refreshing my phone before and after in attempts to get some quick peeks at attendees as they’ve arrived on the red carpet.  Not ideal, but I’m making it work.

A couple notes- Firstly, I’ve seen more impressive red carpets.  We were doing really, really good during this awards season but we seem to have pumped the brakes a bit.  I had hoped to see more bold color and risk-taking tonight.  We saw mostly gold and other soft metallics, and Janelle Monae was probably our only kooky-crazy gown.  I only noted a bit of red and perhaps just Scarlett Johannson’s pretty purple.  Secondly, Natalie Portman did not attend tonight’s ceremony because she’s in her third trimester of pregnancy.  I mean, whatever, okay, FINE.  But in all seriousness, I was bummed because I know she would’ve shown up looking glorious but I guess third trimester pregnancy merits some rest and a break from uncomfortable shoes and everyone staring at you.  OKAY, NATALIE.

And finally, I can’t seem to find Amy Adams!  Has anyone seen her?!  I looked all over social media and I did the Google, and she appears to be nowhere.  I do concur, by the way, that it was wrong of the Academy to nominate Meryl Streep over Amy this year, but I’d thought she’d surely attend tonight to support Arrival!  I also missed seeing Cate Blanchett. She wasn’t involved in much this year, but she always wears the best stuff.

And so with that, on to my favorites!  And again, a reminder- It might be a great dress but if the styling doesn’t appeal to me, it doesn’t make my list!  And it might be a cooky/ugly dress but if the styling streamlines the look and makes sense of it all, it might make my list!

Best This-Person-Would-Look-Good-In-A-Burlap-Sack – Charlize Theron in Dior

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Charlize is the one woman who has made my Best Dressed list every year she’s attended the Academy Awards.  I get that it’s hard to make someone of her features look bad, but despite how we may feel we all know that it can be done.  I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m continuously so impressed with her- she always knocks it out of the park and keep things classic and beautifully flattering, and doesn’t rely on her physical beauty to carry a look.  She still makes the right choices.  Her styling is always glamorous but simple, and her contract with Dior has probably been the most successful partnership I’ve seen between a celebrity and fashion house.  This particular gown looks like liquid gold and those earrings are bonkers!

Best Overall Because LOOK AT HER – Taraji P. Henson in Alberta Ferretti

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I mean, okay. OKAY. There is literally nothing wrong with this whole thing.  There is no flaw.  At the SAG Awards, Taraji seemed to have her frothy, feminine fantasy moment.  But she wasn’t having any of that tonight and THIS look is just about as sexy as it gets in my opinion.  No, not in my opinion.  IN ALL REALITY EVER.  This neckline with that slit all in deep blue velvet (scratching my David Lynch itch, Cookie!) with those diamonds and that haircut is just deadly.  Deadly, I say!  Taraji looks like she was just poured into this dress like an expensive glass of the finest champagne.  She has never looked better. I can only pray I come across an occasion where I have to wear something this glamorous in my lifetime.

Most Welcome New Darling Of The Fashion World – Ruth Negga in custom Valentino

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So, I think Ruth Negga likes clothes.  I mean, I think she really likes them.  Most new actresses that arrive on the scene tend to play it rather safe for a couple years before taking a couple risks once they get a high-profile stylist or a new haircut or something like that.  Or they wait for a contract with a fashion house and suddenly every dress seems to be wearing them and not the other way around (paging Jennifer Lawrence …).  Such has not been the case for Ruth Negga (or Lupita Nyong’O, the other exception in this case).  Right out of the gate, Ruth has been a person made for fashion.  She clearly loves the artistry of clothes-making, and she appreciates unique and sometimes quirky pieces.  I loved this Victorian style custom Valentino gown she wore.  It was similar to what Ginnifer Goodwin wore, but Ruth’s seemed to have a more Gothic feel.  Her makeup and hairpiece matched the mood, too.

Best Old Hollywood Throwback – Emma Stone in Givenchy Haute Couture

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As I write this, they’ve only just announced the winner of the Best Supporting Actress (go Viola!) and so we’ve yet to learn if Emma will indeed win in tonight’s Best Actress category. I have a feeling she will, and this is a lovely dress to win in.  I love Emma’s 1920’s style dress paired with very 1940’s hair and makeup.  It really is a very classically beautiful look. I was hoping to see more color on Emma during this awards season, but for what we’ve lacked in color her styling team has made up for in texture.  Fringe, glittering stars, floral appliqués- we’ve seen plenty of gorgeous handicraft in the texture department on Emma this year.  I did like her look when she attended the 2015 Academy Awards for Birdman more than tonight’s look – I loved her updo paired with the chartreuse gown and coral lips – but this is still nothing short of stunning and worthy of a winner. I’m getting some Rita Hayworth vibes with her hair, too.

Best Holy Cleopatra Batman! – Jessica Biel in Kaufmanfranco

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I told you there was a lot of gold this year!  I wasn’t kidding!  But I have to say, this is my personal favorite.  Don’t you dream of wearing dresses like this?  I mean seriously. That necklace is incredible, and the gown reminds me so much of Nefertiri in The Ten Commandments.  Nefertiri was probably the first woman in film that I idolized and wanted to look like and dress like as a child.  Of course, I was supposed to be drawn to the humble shepherd girl played by Yvonne De Carlo, but that would take some Mount Sinai-levels of convincing throughout my adolescence and beyond.

But anyhow, this dress had me.  And the necklace.  And the styling!  I love Jessica’s bold cat-eye made with thick eyeliner (again, Cleopatra!) paired with peachy lips and cheeks.  I also love the sleek updo with the center-part in Jessica’s deep brown-black hue.  I can’t wait to get a view of the back!  And again, if you know me, you know I like it when something’s just a bit off. In this case, it’s hairstylist Adir Abergel’s genius work with this updo- it’s totally off-center on purpose.  It adds characters and just barely tweaks the perfect symmetry of the center-part.  Details like this that play with shape and balance are my favorite; details of color and texture are a close second.

So there you go!  Now tell me your faves!  Anything you hated?  Anything you hoped for but didn’t see?  And don’t forget, there are always the after-parties with plenty of gown changes and extra folks who just weren’t important enough to invite to the awards ceremony.  Have fun!  xo, MR

 

Photo credits in order of appearance:  Getty Images, Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, Noel West for The New York Times, Getty Images

Best Of The 2017 SAG Awards

Our next stop during our 2017 awards season brings us here, to the red carpet of the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards.  A glitzy red carpet feels strange and quite off at the moment considering the tumult of this past week, but I invite you to beat back against any frustration, despair, or anxiety you may be dealing with and just enjoy something frivolous and pretty.  My dad frequently quotes Willy Wonka to me- “A little bit of nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.”  Let’s have some nonsense, if just a moment.

And now, to summarize- I have so, so appreciated the noticeable amount of risk-taking and weird-making during this red carpet season.  Gone are the column gowns!  Out of sight are the solids!  I am so pleased with all the sequins, patterns, appliqués, architectural designs, and animals that adorned this year’s SAG Awards’ gowns.  It’s been a good year so far (in this realm, at least).  I can’t wait for the Oscars.  Let’s get started!

Best Mix of Salty and Sweet – Taraji P. Henson in Reem Acra

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This dress is sweet.  It even has little bows!  It’s girly and femme and frothy and magical.  I love this dusty shade of mauve.  Maybe it even has some purple in it?  It’s hard to tell based on all the photos you see because the lighting is so different in nearly every one.  But what I love about this overall look is that Taraji’s hair keeps this Reem Acra dress from drowning us in sugar.  Taraji’s assymetrical bob with shaved sides is the lewk right now.  I had this haircut for about six months (sans shaved sides) and it adds salt to everything you wear, seriously.  Cookie got it done tonight.  And her eyebrows are always fiyahhhh.

Best Maternity Style – Natalie Portman in Dior Couture

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In case you haven’t noticed, Natalie Portman is pregnant.  She’s actually been pregnant during both of her special awards seasons (the previous being for Black Swan in 2011, for which she won a Best Actress Academy Award), and yet I’ve loved this go-round of maternity style so much more than her first.  Of course it might be the constant Jackie O inspiration we’re seeing in her styling lately, but Natalie has looked so regal this month.  She and her stylist Kate Young have chosen gowns that are the epitome of elegance and class.  And a sidenote- statement sleeves like these are going to be major this spring, and the choice of white may have been a nod to suffragettes.

Best Use of Kingdom Animalia – Thandie Newton in Schiaparelli Fall 2016 Couture

The 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Red Carpet

What. A. Fantasy!  I would wear this dress, hands down.  I love the futuristic silhouette and the crazy amount of sparkle.  There are stars, there are birds, there are horses, there are horses that appear to have feathers on their heads (think Cinderella?), and there’s a ferris wheel!  It’s also tea length, which always seems to add a bit of whimsy.  Maybe the word “tea” just makes me feel whimsical.  But anyhow, paired with understated makeup, hair, and nails, Thandie looks incredible.  This dress is a dream.

Best Pleasant Surprise – Sofia Vergara in Zuhair Murad

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I can typically predict what Sofia Vergara will wear on the red carpet: something body-con, perhaps sequined, probably in a solid jewel tone, floor length, with lots of diamonds.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a formula that you really can’t go wrong with.  Sofia is maybe thee definition of va-va-voom, and her looks always complement that.  However, it was fun to see her in a knee length dress that felt a bit more fresh and youthful than her go-to aesthetic.  Plus, the styling is just so classic- a black tulle skirt with red lips and nails, coupled with a brilliant boustier and, of course, diamonds.

Best Call-Me-Crazy-But-I’m-Obsessed – Nicole Kidman in Gucci

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Ever since Alessandro Michele took over Gucci at the beginning of 2015, the Italian fashion house has done lost its damned mind in the best way EVARRR.  Anyone happen to keep up with the press tour for Suicide Squad?  Remember Margot Robbie’s crazy sequined unicorn dress?  Gucci.  The dress she wore with the tiger on it?  Gucci.  Jared Leto’s pink pants and kelly green coat that made him look like the captain of the Lollipop Guild?  Gucci.

And you know what?  I love it.  I looooove it.  Of course, Michele can play it fairly normal, too (think Brie Larson at last year’s Oscars, Zoe Saldana at this year’s Golden Globes), but I  never want normal on a red carpet.  Ever!  Something like Nicole Kidman’s parrot insanity here is so much more fun, so much more exciting, and so much more worth my time than any tired column dress.  Such dresses always look good- that’s never the problem- but like I’ve said, if you have access to all the fashion in all the world, why not wear parrots on your shoulders every once in a while?  But that’s just me.  xo, MR

 

Photo credits in order of appearance: Rob Latour/Rex/Shutterstock, Rob Latour/Rex/Shutterstock, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, Frazer Harrison/Getty Images, Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Four Favorite Berry Lippies

You know that one makeup item you keep buying over and over?  For me, it used to be purple eyeshadow.  I’d find one at a drugstore or at Sephora thinking I’d stumbled upon something so unique and different for me, only to realize post-purchase that I’ve got five that are just similar enough to make me feel like a dummy.

But nowadays, it’s something different.  It’s any kind of berry-hued lippie.  I’ve never jumped on the red lip bandwagon the way I have the berry lip bandwagon.  I’ve always had this thought in my head that a red lip isn’t quite me, that I’m sort of playing dress up or pretending to be someone else when I wear one.  However, whether more purply or reddish, a berry-hued, wine-stained lip feels like me (in a dark, black turtleneck sort of way).  It’s just different enough from everyday to feel special, but it still feels a little to the left of your typical red lip.  And berry shades suit a wide variety of skintones.  I find it easier to pick out a great shade of berry for someone than a shade of red.

A couple favorite formulas for those interested in a roll in the berry patch:

Glossier Generation G lipstick in Jam – This is a great option for those who want only want to gently dip their toes into the wine vat.  Jam is a grape-y, sheer matte (so it’s shine free, like a stain) and is more like a balm than any of these.  No red in this one, just purply-pink.  They’ve changed the formula since I purchased this and I hear the new formula is much better, though I like the original enough.  Jam is easily worn everyday with just concealer and mascara, or alone.

Revlon Super Lustrous lipstick in Black Cherry – Such a classic.  This looks purple-black in the tube but wears as a yummy, juicy shade of cabernet.  It’s the perfect dramatic blend of red and purple, sort of magenta but not too bright.  It’s buildable enough to create a really vampy look, or you can blot it for a super flattering, more reddish stain.  If you’re into knocking out a list of drugstore must-haves, this one’s been famous for a long time.

Honest Truly Kissable Demi Matte Lip Crayon in Mulberry Kiss – It was when I bought this a week ago that I realized I have a problem.  I saw this shade on a picture of Jessica Alba at the opening of Laduree in Los Angeles, and I figured it had to be an Honest Beauty shade.  I had to have it!  And of course, I was certain I didn’t own anything like it …

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This shade has much more of a rosy, innocent feel, and it’s so cheerful!  It’s one of those “in between” shades that I was so sure I didn’t own.  And while I don’t own anything exactly like Mulberry Kiss, it is in the berry family and I couldn’t help but shake my head at myself.  I love this formula though; it’s very moisturizing and comfortable.  It’s the kind of thing you like applying frequently.

Maybelline Color Sensational lipstick in Midnight Merlot – This is for when you want to get serious.  Midnight Merlot is a deep shade of red-burgundy that is not really glossy or matte; it’s somewhere in the middle.  It’s the most opaque of all these formulas, and is the longest lasting.  It’s quite bold, and the only thing I caution folks about when wearing colors like this is they can make your lips look smaller and drier if you don’t prep well.  You’ll want to exfoliate and moisturize your lips, and then blot and reapply once or twice.  If you just wear it straight out of the tube without any prep, dark colors like this can look sort of ruddy and can minimize your lips.

I swatched each formula in the following order from top to bottom: Glossier Jam, Revlon Black Cherry, Honest Beauty Mulberry Kiss, and Maybelline Midnight Merlot.

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Aaaaaaand I tried them all in front of the same window!  However, the sun was going down at the time so the lighting got worse and worse.  I went sans filter for these, too, though I upped the exposure on the bottom right because the sunlight had all but left at that point.

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You may think there’s no difference between a couple of these, but those who know makeup and color know putting two shades of any similarly colored lipstick still leaves quite the decision to make.  On the left is Honest Beauty Mulberry.  From the top down on the right we have Glossier Jam, Maybelline Midnight Merlot, and Revlon Black Cherry.

Do you have any favorite berry or wine-ish lippies that you love?  Fill me in, and let me know if you try any of these!  xo, MR

Photo of Jessica Alba credited to CelebMafia.com (public domain).

Winter Has Come- Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich

Returning to Chicagoland in early January from a vacation back home in California isn’t ideal.  Your body braces for that first blast of windchill once you’re off the plane, and your style goes from something that once resembled femininity to survival gear in a communist gulag.  Fashion in a Chicago winter is more “Wookie” than fashion.  Which isn’t the worst thing, but you get me.

But knowing that a certain Glossier press sample was waiting for me in the mailroom upon return made things a whole lot more bearable!  And to make this latest launch even more perfect, it’s made specifically for meeting the needs of very dry, winter-worn skin.  Um, living in a climate that’s allegedly been colder than Mars lately?  I’m in.  And so, I’m honored to once again be asked by Glossier to try and share about their latest baby, Priming Moisturizer Rich (PMR).

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There she is, sitting next to my good ole’ friend Super Bounce!

For an introduction, here’s some verbiage from the press release and an email or two:  Meet Priming Moisturizer Rich- the sumptuous and dense sister cream to our best-selling original Priming Moisturizer.  Think of this as the answer to your dry skin woes. Rich in ceramides and fatty acids, it reinforces the skin’s barrier and locks in moisture over time, while an anti-redness complex and oxygenating agents prime skin for makeup (or not!).

I had less time to use this new product before its launch date today, so I’ve had to be very intentional about looking for its strengths and weaknesses.  We’ll start with the obvious- the packaging of PMR is adorable and lovely.  The pretty jar with a clear, lucite body and pink lid is undoubtedly meant to be shown off on your #topshelf.  The open post where IntoTheGloss asked readers to describe their ideal heavy-duty moisturizer turned up lots of requests for no jar (potential bacterial growth and contamination with one’s fingers are a complaint), but the gTeam was pretty good about providing a detailed explanation as to why they went with a jar anyhow.  I get it.  My only request would’ve been a cute little pink spatula, mais c’est la vie.

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Didn’t brush up my eyebrows because it was bedtime.  Sorry guys.

So when I first opened the jar, this moisturizer looked like the most luscious, buttercream-y frosting.  I might’ve drooled.  I showed my husband and he went ‘Ooohh’, as we’re both now intrigued by luxuriant moisturizers thanks to our current residence on Hoth.  The fragrance is a mild rosy lavender scent, but nothing overpowering.  I’ve used Korres’ Wild Rose Intense Sleeping Facial and while it’s a product that works, you absolutely cannot use it if you don’t care for the scent of rose and it’s made my eyes water once or twice.  I think PMR, on the other hand, will work for most sensitive noses.  But beware- if you’re sensitive to lavender, you might proceed with caution.

As for the effectiveness of PMR, I’ve done some quick evaluating based on three situations I find myself in these days in Chicagoland: inside in a dry, often-overheated apartment, outside in the dry, brutal cold, and in the process of layering multiple skincare products together at night (such as toner, serum, moisturizer, etc).

I’ll discuss layering PMR and how it handles dry indoor heaters first.  For one thing, PMR absorbs quite nicely while still leaving your skin pliable and soft to the touch.  I first used it after washing and just applying toner.  Three hours later in my hot apartment and my skin still felt comfortable.  I assume its effects would last even longer if my apartment weren’t so dry to begin with.  I then used it a second time at night after washing and toning, but this time after applying a vitamin C serum too.  PMR did not cooperate as well this time, and it would sort of roll and rub off if I touched my face.  However, when I used Glossier’s vitamin C serum instead- Super Glow- the PMR did not rub off.  I think the culprit might actually be the first vitamin C serum I used (which shall remain nameless here), as it hasn’t layered well with other products before.  So, just be sure you use serums that absorb fully before applying PMR and you’ll be fine.  If you’d like to know which vitamin C serum I’m referring to that doesn’t absorb well, you can message me.

My highest hopes for PMR, however, boiled down to how it would withstand single-digit temperatures and windchill temperatures of even less than that, especially regarding its anti-redness promise.  Most moisturizers are gone like a vapor misted on to my face after four minutes outside in this weather and my complexion quickly turns pinkish thereafter, so I knew this would be a tall order.  However, I also didn’t want a moisturizer that would just sit on top of my face like a thick layer of Vaseline- barf.

I applied a moderate amount at 8:30am on Sunday and felt immediate relief from the dryness of sleeping indoors with the heat on.  I stepped outside in 3-degree weather and got into the car.  I checked the mirror one minute later after being blasted by windchill on the way out- zero redness, zero stiffness or tightness, and a mild sheen to my skin.  My face felt soft, but the PMR had also fully absorbed.  Not bad!  My skin felt comfortable and without irritation until about 1:30pm, after I’d been back in the apartment for an hour or so.  That’s about five hours of comfort there.  Pretty good I’d say, especially when your environment is doing everything to work against your skin.  I applied one more time, for fun.  The next day, my skin felt comfortable enough to possibly go without any moisturizer, but I knew better that considering the windchill so I applied PMR anyhow.  My face felt protected and hydrated all day at work, without any irritation in a dry, heated office.

So, all this to say (and if you’ve stuck with all this- wow, you’re committed), if you’ve got dry, itchy, possibly reddish skin and you’re stuck in a climate or indoor environment that’s perpetuating that, Priming Moisturizer Rich may be a new friend for you!  Plus, it just feels so nice using it.  There’s nothing better than a quick minute of luxury to go with your morning coffee or your wind-down time at night.  And at thirty-five bucks, that’s a better price point than most quality skincare items you’ll find out there.  Tell me if you try it; otherwise, tell me your favorite yummy winter moisturizer!  xo, MR