What I’m Using: December 2018

It’s December! It’s party season! Aren’t you so excited?! All the dressing up, all the food, all the calendared events, all the traveling, all the extraverting, all the schedule maneuvering, all the multiple-party-consulting … oh wait. Maybe you want to hide under a blanket for a month. With a bag over your head. While wearing earplugs. In a cave.

Well, no matter what kind of mood you’re in this season, you must be sure to indulge in our generation’s latest coping mechanism for existential dread some “self care” to ensure that your makeup is properly on fleek and your skin is properly slaying and your hair is properly on point. NO PROBLEM.

But seriously have fun. Getting ready for parties is fun. Here’s what I’m using this month to help.

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The new skincare staple: Honest Beauty Organic Facial Oil

New fave ritual- Wash face, spray on toner, maybe add essence, and finish with this face oil (particularly if I’m prepping for makeup). It’s THEE BEST if you’re in a colder and/or drier climate. There’s something very assuring about patting an oil on to your face that you know won’t just be cheaply absorbed in four seconds flat. Also, this one is yummy because it’s actually USDA-certified organic and not just like “Oh I’m natural and kinda green I swear!” like so many products out there. Hydrating, luxurious, and completely clean- oooohh.

The thing that made an actual difference: Ouai Memory Mist

I frequently wash my hair in the evening. I’ll let it air-dry while watching the billionth episode of Forensic Files late at night but unless I want it to look like the rabid child of Jane and Tarzan the next morning, I have to be sure to put some waves in it that evening with a curling iron. However, I used to run into the problem of putting those waves in my hair at night only to have them go wonky and flat after a night’s sleep (which, is an obvious and very first-world problem). Enter Ouai Memory Mist, which not only claims to protect hair against extreme heat but also to maintain its texture and shape from whence you styled it (‘whence’ … very likely I’m misusing the term).

Well, I’ve used the Memory Mist about six times now and it actually works. I spray it on my hair in sections and then find that my hair really does look relatively the same the next morning. Not an easy thing to pull of, especially after a night’s sleep. In the past there has always been need for touch-ups the morning after waving my hair, but maybe four out of the six times I’ve used this stuff, I’ve just shaken my hair a bit and walked out the door. Wild.

The use-for-every-color liner: Maybelline Color Sensational Lip Liner in Toast

In November and December, I have a stereotypical tendency to do more lip-forward looks with a wine- or red-hued lip. However, I’ve never liked using red liner with red lipstick because few things drive me crazier than that lipstick fading and leaving behind a weird red outline. Makes me feel clowny and like I’m some Edward Scissorhands extra. This lip liner is not only cheap, but it’s also a peachy nude that will do the job of keeping lipstick from running without leaving behind a weird lip line should that lipstick fade. It would probably work for a majority of lip shades. Also, it’s a great color to use all over the lips should you fancy that. I actually think I bought it because I saw it used on Gigi Hadid and I thought it looked good. I know. I’m a sell-out.

The canvas: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Èclat Le Teint Radiance Awakening Foundation SPF 22

I’ve run out of my BareMinerals Complexion Rescue, and that stuff was the real business. So, in the meantime, I’ve got this to go through. I like it– I’m not loving it –but it’s making me more creative in experimenting with different methods of foundation application. So for instance, I’ll use a much thinner layer and apply with a beauty blender, or I’ll mix in a bit of liquid highlighter (NARSxCharlotte Gainsbourg Hydrating Glow Tint) for a luminous finish. I think they changed the formula so it’s not quite the perfect foundation it used to be, but I’m still an overall satisfied customer. And it smells nice!

Bonus! The recipe: kale chicken pesto pizza

Spread Trader Joe’s Pesto all Genovese all over Trader Joe’s pizza dough. Dump Trader Joe’s mozzarella cheese all over that. Cover in fresh chopped curly kale with a little olive oil (do NOT use the bagged Trader Joe’s pre-chopped kale- they can’t do everything right and it smells like the Plague). Add cooked chicken (maybe precooked in Italian herbs and balsamic hmmm?). Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes … maybe a lot if you’ve got firemouth like me. Stick in oven at 375-F for 15-ish minutes. Take out. Shove in your face. Get self-righteous about eating kale.

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What I’m Using: November 2018

Hi, hello! It’s been a minute.

When it comes to beauty, I’m most passionate about sharing what products I use and love; I enjoy learning about what others are using as well. And so I’ve decided, after taking some serious time off from this blog, that I’m going to return to it with the vision of focusing specifically on what products I’m currently using with a monthly post. These posts may be punctuated with the red carpet season craziness that we all know and love, but the primary intent with this writing project is to simply share what I’m using, once a month.

And so, here we are! November. And snow will very soon arrive to put the, um, “no” in November. Temperatures are steadily dropping, dryness abounds, and hair begins to get that oily-on-top-but-parched-on-the-ends awkwardness. But these are merely seasonal woes. There are other, more peculiar long-term challenges that I’m interested in tackling: namely, the creases on my forehead. Expression lines, as I like to call them- makes me sound so elegant! Scroll down for my current products in rotation.

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The retin-something: Ole Henriksen Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Créme

At age 28, I got my first pair of glasses. I also found my first grey hair. I also noticed for the first time the faint creases cropping up on my forehead. I wasn’t alarmed, exactly; I was more just interested in seeing if the decades of anti-wrinkle research I’d been reading and hearing about all my life was actually going to pay off in the form of a truly effective treatment other than an injectable. I mean, think about how long our scientists have been going after fine lines, wrinkles, crow’s feet, whatever. Defying the symptoms of impending death (you bristled …… am I wrong?) is the very raison d’être for the skincare industry and they’ve been working at it forever. And now, the options are just about as endless as a Dostoyevsky novel. So what’s one to do other than do a little research, pick something that seems right for you, and dive forehead-first into the vast waters known as the anti-aging industry?

Retinol- a topical derivative of vitamin A- has long been regarded as the “breakthrough” ingredient to returning a youthful look to the skin by stimulating collagen production and cellular renewal, but there are so many options that it’s hard to know where to begin. Retinol is far best suited for night and so I wanted something that I’d only be tempted to use at night, like a cream. I tried a retinol suspended in oil for a while, but it really was too oily and nonabsorbent to be comfortable at night. I also am only using this about twice a week as retinol can have a sensitizing effect on your skin; you have to give it time to see how your skin reacts and adjusts. Ole Henriksen’s Goodnight Glow Retin-ALT Sleeping Créme seemed like a new formula that was worth a shot. It features bakuchiol, a plant-based ingredient that supposedly works as a retinol alternative (so maybe not as sensitizing?). It smells lovely, absorbs well, and the texture and dullness of my skin is noticeably improved overnight. The fine lines? Still there, but slightly more faint. I’ll have to get through the whole jar and see where we’re at by then.

The second-in-command: MAC Upward Lash

Why second in command? So the way I work with mascara is this: I always have a CoverGirl LashBlast formula on hand. Always. I feel like they are THEE best. But, I always need a second formula to sort of give my lashes that final “bump”. The CoverGirl ones are amazing but I can’t ever seem to work on one formula alone. And so, things get really exciting when I play around with different “second-in-command” mascaras as I like to call them. I usually choose something with an inkier consistency and a smaller, more precise brush. MAC’s Upward Lash does the job expertly.

The old fave: Glossier Super Bounce serum

Seriously amazing for dry skin. I don’t reach for Super Bounce much from about May through September because my skin seems to rebalance, but wow- as soon as the chill starts up again I’m going through about two bottles in six months or less. I love it right after toner and essence, but before moisturizer. It really does give my skin that bit of plump and coolness when I feel tight and awful after I’ve eaten too much cheddar popcorn the night before. I also love it for makeup prep and find it does a beautiful job at soothing redness.

The (very) intense conditioner: Davines Melu conditioner

I think if I had to select one product I weirdly hoard or am always tempted to buy more of, it’s hair conditioner. I promise, every time I step into Target you will find me wandering down the haircare aisle opening up those tubs of thick, buttermilk-textured conditioner that smell like all kinds of delectable desserts or yummy bubble tea (don’t you think?!?). I’m not particularly inclined to eat the Davines Melu conditioner, but I will tell you that it is rich. Meant to hydrate dry ends and prevent breakage so long hair can sustain itself, it feels more like a hair mask than anything and it makes my hair so soft. The fragrance is more floral and sophisticated, which is a nice thing because let’s face it- our noses must graduate from the fruit cocktail explosions of Bath and Body Works at some point.

Bonus! The espionage read: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Wow. Right? I feel like every other person I’ve mentioned this book to has read it. And I can’t believe I didn’t know it’s being brought to film (the news broke last April- I feel like I should’ve known this already but apparently I don’t follow enough fun people on Twitter)! And if you’re unfamiliar with this work, you should jump on the train before it magically turns into a bandwagon and your mom and your brother and your cat are all there, saying how much they love it too. I will only reveal what IMDb reveals about the storyline: “A former spy is called up out of retirement to assist in an unusual investigation.” Seriously. It is GOOD.

Dry Skin Solutions: How Not To Be An Iguana

Welcome to December in greater Chicagoland. The skies are blue, Lake Michigan is looking peaceful, and the wind feels like daggers. And that’s just today! It’s one of those days when it’s literally too cold to snow. All this affects you in more whiney ways than one. Never before have I known such a need for deep, abiding moisture than I have here in the MidWest.

And all this comes after the previous October and November have already done a number on your skin. During those autumn months, allergies abound and the temperature forecast reads like a rollercoaster. I get little breakouts every autumn here, in the hollows of my cheeks and around my hairline. And with every sneeze and cough you can feel your skin’s moisture and vitality slowly going into hibernation with the bears (who apparently have already been in hibernation out here in Chicago with no plans of ever coming out … ahem).

Unbelievably, I have made a football reference in one of my posts and I really hope you caught that. Because this is a rare and unique occurrence.

So what do you use during these months to keep your skin surviving, if not thriving, especially during party season when you really want your skin primed and ready for good makeup? I’ve got a couple products that I rely on, and a couple that I’m giving a first go this season. Keep in mind that this is basically a night routine; my day routine always involves sunscreen moisture not mentioned here.

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CLEANSER – Glossier Milky Jelly

I don’t touch any other facial cleansers year-round besides Milky Jelly, but I get that everyone’s skin is different and one product might not be a perennial go-to for all people. However, if you’re considering a winter cleanser to help with dryness, this stuff is the business. It doesn’t froth or foam, and you can put it on dry skin to remove makeup. It leaves your skin feeling soft and hydrated, with not a trace of that squeaky-stripped sensation. I wash my face more because of this creamy cleanser. It’s truly a delightful experience each time I use it.

TONER/ESSENCE – Origins Original Skin Essence Lotion with Dual Ferment Complex

I’ve historically used spray toners from Lush Cosmetics as my next step right after cleansing, but I was never sure if they were actually doing anything. I recalled a K-brand product called May Coop Raw Sauce that I once tried in place of toner that left my skin glowing, and I figured I’d look for something similar and more reasonably priced.

An essence, if you’re wondering, is basically another way to add more nutrients and moisture into your skincare routine. They are hydrating and usually designed with mild exfoliants that prime the skin and allow for other products – such as serums, which we’ll get to next – to penetrate more effectively. I particularly love them for their makeup-prep qualities- essences are excellent under makeup! This particular one from Origins is very brightening and helpful for improving texture and tone.

SERUM – Simple Water Boost Hydrating Booster & Glossier Super Bounce

Serums are meant to deliver an intense concentration of powerful ingredients into your skin. There are serums to address a multitude of skin concerns- acne, anti-aging, dullness, and in my case, dryness. I’ve been particularly faithful to Glossier’s Super Bounce for its supply of hyaluronic acid and glycerin- this stuff really made a difference last fall/winter when I first gave it a try. I’m using Simple Skincare’s Hydrating Booster this season to compare something cheaper.

While the Booster does leave my skin feeling soft and looking supple, I have to say the ingredients list and effects are not as impressive as the Super Bounce. Its effects are much more temporary and its ingredient list is a bit too long (not necessarily a sign of quality, in my opinion). And, for all the length of that list, it is lacking in powerhouse ingredients like hyaluronic acid or vitamin B5. I look forward to going back to the Super Bounce once I’m finished with this. Another recommendation I could make in this category is Caudalie’s VinoSource SOS Thirst Quenching Facial Serum- plenty of hyaluronic acid AND polyphenols!

MOISTURIZER – Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Consider this the Big Kahuna of winter moisturizers. I will find myself using this dense, luxurious cream in the dead of winter (you know it’s not even winter yet, right?) when the heater has been blasting in our apartment all day and I’ve just finished a shower with temperatures that should by all accounts melt my skin off. Things like murumuru butter, fatty acids, ceramides 3 and 6, and lavender oil pack a wollop of intense moisture before bedtime, so I can feel like a true granny with my chamomile tea and super-thick night cream.

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SUPPLEMENT – Olly Vibrant Skin

Besides the joy of eating berry-flavored gummies everyday, these vitamins are brimming with … well whaddya know … hyaluronic acid (hope you’re seeing a trend here), sea buckthorn, and collagen to help stimulate cellular turnover. My first fall/winter season out here consisted of frantically trying to find solutions for how dry my skin was (unanticipatedly) feeling. My second fall/winter season out here was a complete 180 having discovered the combination of Milky Jelly, Super Bounce, and these gummies. And who knew you could ingest hyaluronic acid?!

BODY – Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair

But of course, as we all know, the absolute driest parts of our bodies usually lie nowhere near the face. Personally, the areas that drive me nearly insane are my shins of all things. There are some evenings when I will come out of the shower and a couple minutes later, my shins will seriously be on fire and I have no idea what I did to my shins to cause such trouble (and no- shaving is not the culprit). Just now, I’m staring at my right forearm that is actually flaking and slightly pink, and I’m wondering where on Earth this is coming from!

Now, I’m not one for slathering myself in lotion everyday, especially those with petro ingredients. I believe such routines can actually have adverse affects on our skin’s ability to replenish its own moisture along with subtle harm to our endocrine system over time, but when my poor shins are itching mercilessly and resemble something closer to iguana skin than lady legs, I promise I have found the best drugstore lotion to remedy the situation. This stuff works, and fast. And there’s no headache-inducing scent that lingers because it’s fragrance-free. And it’s been awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance. So there’s that marketing trick going for it.

What skin concerns do you encounter with the change of seasons? What do you use to keep your complexion in good shape? Let me know in the comments! xo, MR

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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

 

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

The Supers Are Here!

It’s no secret that I’m an avid reader of famed beauty blog Into The Gloss.  I’ve been reading and commenting since its early days, and it still is probably one of the first four websites I hit up each day when I want to do a little leisurely browsing just to get the creative juices flowing.  It’s also no secret that out of Into The Gloss has come Glossier, a skincare and makeup brand inspired by what real girls (and guys, quite frankly) need in real life.  Glossier’s marketing is genius, their branding is fresh, and their products are BOMB.  You may have read my review for their brow product, Boy Brow, that I posted some time last year.  I’ll be going on my third tube of that stuff in maybe a month or so.

So when I was contacted by an editor at Into The Gloss asking if I would be interested in receiving Glossier’s newest product a week before it launches to try it out and spread the word, I very, very, very quickly said “GIMME”.

Just kidding. I said a very professional why-thank-you-I’d-be-glad-to-help kind of thing.  With probably too many exclamation points.

But it was in the response I received after that, that I knew I’d hit truly the jackpot- the new launch consisted of not one, not two, but three new serums.  And as a tribute to the original supermodels from the 1990’s days of yore, these new serums have been dubbed The Supers.  Because let’s face it- Kendall, Gigi, and Bella would be nowhere without the original Cindy, Naomi, and Linda.

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If you’ve never used a serum before, you may find that they’re a great way to level up your skincare routine as they can deliver very concentrated ingredients to target specific concerns.  Prior to receiving the Supers, I’d been using a vitamin C serum to treat dark spots and improve my skin’s texture.  However, it leaves sort of a film on my face that doesn’t make applying sunscreen or makeup very easy.  I can always tell when I’m not a huge fan of a product when I forget to use it everyday, or even every week.  I’ve had this serum for a while and I’m only halfway through- I can’t blend makeup very evenly on top of it and I can’t put moisturizer on top of it without it rubbing off.  Absorbency is key.

Now on to the Supers.  My first observation was one of relief- trying to meet the needs of every skin type in one kind of serum is incredibly hard, and I am so glad that Glossier really went for it and created three serums and not just one.  I mean, does everyone use the same kind of moisturizer?  Do even you use the same exact moisturizer every single day of the year, day and night?  Of course not.  So why would creating one type of serum make sense?  Everyone’s skin is different, and even our own skin’s needs change from season to season.  In the winter out here my skin becomes extremely dry and dull, whereas in the summer I’m exposed to the sun much more and my eating habits aren’t as great thanks to nights out and restaurant food, which typically means greater acne risk.  So, a combination of three different serums to meet a variety of needs is a dream to me.

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Here’s what each serum is meant for, according to the press release I received from Glossier and from left to right as pictured above:

Super Glow – Vitamin C brightens and Magnesium energizes for days when you didn’t get enough sleep or your skin looks sallow.  It evens skin tone and creates a light-reflective complexion.  The water-like texture immediately absorbs into skin without a trace.

Super Pure – Niacinamide soothes redness and Zinc helps calm blemishes.  Junk food and stress are other skin-disrupting triggers that Super Pure helps counteract.  The light, water-gel formula quickly absorbs into skin.  It helps let go of irritation and flushes out impurities, including excess sebum that builds up inside pores.

Super Bounce – Hyaluronic Acid plumps skin up with moisture and Vitamin B5 brings elasticity back to tight skin for supple softness- the “bounce” you want.  Good for skin that’s depleted from blasting A/C or high high heat.  The smooth, milky texture soaks into skin without any stickiness or residue for instantly softer skin.

Here’s my very, very, very shorthand interpretation of each of these: Super Glow is for anti-aging and dullness, Super Pure is for acne and skin congestions, and Super Bounce is for dryness and roughness.  All three can be used to both prevent and tackle a variety of issues, or perhaps just one can be used daily to treat something specific.  It’s really up to you and what your skin needs.  Here’s what I did …

I chose to use Super Glow each night after removing my makeup, washing my face, and before applying my night cream.  Its consistency is just like water so I admit it’s not very “fun” to apply- no yummy texture.  Also, I’d place the dropper right on my skin and apply the serum directly, quickly patting it in.  Otherwise, if I placed it on my fingers first, it would absorb right into them and would never reach my face.  In the morning, my skin looked refreshed with a light glow.  A notable dark spot on my right cheek seemed to improve along its edges throughout the week, too (and I hadn’t used my previous Vitamin C serum consistently enough to track such changes).  Out of the past six nights, I’ve used Super Glow four nights.

In the morning, I chose to cleanse my face and then apply Super Pure right after applying toner.  Super Pure has that nice whoosh texture- it absorbs very fast and leaves skin ever so slightly mattified, from my perspective.  I liked using this in the mornings because I am always guilty of eating a bit of salty food late at night, and this week was no exception.  I’d hoped to counteract the havoc my popcorn consumption my wreak on my skin by using this, and it did seem to work.  I had no major blemishes throughout the week to track for effectiveness, but my pores were less visible after application and the little bumps I get on my cheeks (the telltale sign of my salty snacks) settled down after about two applications.    Out of the past six mornings, I used Super Pure on three of them.

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I chose to save Super Bounce for the weekend because I had a feeling it would be my very favorite of the Supers, and boy am I glad I did.  It’s definitely my favorite with the quickest payoff in terms of making your skin feel “yummy”, as I so love to say.  This is the most viscous of the three serums, and “bounce” is a completely appropriate term for describing its texture and affects on your skin.  I love using my favorite skincare products right before applying makeup, so I cleansed and then prepped my skin on Saturday and Sunday with Super Bounce.  Whew- my skin looked faboosh!  Glossier definitely delivered on the promise of improved elasticity with this one.  And in the winter out here, I know this stuff will not leave my side- soooo hydrating.  I’ll probably go through a whole bottle just getting through December and January alone.

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I’m going to continue to use all three of the Supers in tandem to see their long-term affects, but I’ll keep saving Super Bounce for weekend makeup prep because I know it’ll really be a lifesaver once the air gets drier.  My main focus will be on dark spots and anti-aging with Super Glow, and fighting little breakouts and pore clogging with Super Pure.  For long term results, I’m most excited to see what Super Glow will do with my dark spots.  For immediate results, I’m loving Super Bounce for its instant softness.

So there you go!  And if you’ve often thought about trying a serum but have been scared away by the expensive price tags, here’s some encouragement- each of the Supers only costs $28, and all three as a set costs just $65.  To put that into perspective, Caudalie’s least expensive serum costs $50.  Ole Henriksen’s least expensive serum costs $50.  The price tag for the Supers, I’ll admit, had me pleasantly surprised.

Let me know if you decide to pick one up, or perhaps try the whole set!  And I want to hear what they do for your skin over time.  The Supers go up for grabs on glossier.com Monday morning, probably at 6AM Eastern time.  So like, in four hours or so.  You’d better get some sleep.  xo, MR

Current Faves In The Green Beauty World

When I was in my early twenties, I went through a period of time where I was very vigilant about the strict use of green skin care, hair care, and body care products.  I changed my whole routine around age 19 to reflect a more natural approach to self-care as the result of reading up on the pervasiveness of weird, unregulated petrochemicals in the things we slather on our bodies.  I feel like I tried to change nearly everything in my home, all the way down to what kind of toilet bowl cleaner I used (and the buck stopped there; I hate to say that natural is not the way to go when cleaning the porcelain throne).

However, please note that there are still plenty of non-natural products that I’ve tried, loved, and continued to use alongside my natural ones.  I’m never a fan of being pharisaical when it comes to “greenifying” your life.  You’re not a brainwashed sheep if use a drugstore shampoo and really love it, or if you eat a fast food cheeseburger and really love it.  There’s no need to condemn or talk down at others for the way they eat or clean their homes, or assume that you’ve done the “right research”, read the truly accurate websites, and have been given special revelation.  Simply educate yourself, encourage others in love to do the same, and understand that we’re all trying to do our best.

My hair and skin both benefitted greatly from a few years of dedicated green treatment.  The excellent condition my hair and skin were in on my wedding day was, for the most part, owed to a routine that consisted almost entirely of products found at Whole Foods or any other natural grocer found near by.  I still use many, many of these products today, years after initially having discovered them.  Below, I present you with a list of my very favorite green beauty products from almost ten years of trial and error (and the most expensive one is $32).

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Shampoo- Rahua shampoo

This product is expensive, but it lasts me a very long time and I admit that I’m willing to spend a bit more on my hair (and it ultimately helps preserve my color, which cuts down on salon expenses throughout the year).  This shampoo doesn’t lather the way most shampoos do, mostly because there’s really no detergent in it (and this is a good thing).  For the past five years I’ve used this shampoo for every other wash up until a couple months ago, and I’m excited to start using it again once I run out of my Alterna Caviar Moisture.  Read the ingredients list of Rahua- it’s packed with all kinds of amazing stuff, nothing petro-ish, and I think I’ve repurchased it about four times.  If you’ve liked the way my hair has looked over the years, you can at least attribute a small part of its condition to Rahua.  And bonus- it also looks like a fancy bottle of cognac in your shower.

Deodorant- Desert Essence Organics Tea Tree Deodorant

Now, will you still sweat if you use this deodorant?  Probably.  Will you still be a little damp at the end of the day?  Maybe (though I’m usually not; I find that when I wear this deodorant, my armpits are only damp when I wear a sensitive fabric or have been stressed).  Keep in mind that this is just a deodorant; it’s not an antiperspirant and I really don’t think there’s such a thing as a natural antiperspirant on the market.  Our bodies were made to excrete waste through sweat, so the idea of stopping that sweating process all together seems a bit alarming to me.  Attempting to neutralize odor is one thing; attempting to block and stop the natural excretion process of sweat is something entirely different.  So, this deodorant has been my tool to try and achieve a happy medium.

This deodorant does an excellent job of getting rid of odor, and I’ve been using it long enough that my body has adjusted quite well to it.  The one time I always, always use it instead of a conventional deo/antiperspirant is when I’ve just shaved in the shower.  I never put conventional deo/antiperspirant on my armpits when they’re freshly shaved and the pores are open from the steam of a shower.  That’s when your pores are most vulnerable and I don’t like the thought of rubbing an aluminum compound on open pores near my lymph nodes.  So, give it a shot.  I say it’s worth it.  Oh, and a word of advice- use this deodorant, and not Tom’s of Maine, if you’re shopping for a natural solution.  Tom’s contains propylene glycol as its first ingredient; I used it for about two years and then suddenly my armpits rashed over and felt like they were on fire one day.  They had become bright red and were peeling, as if they’d been scorched by the sun. After doing some forum research I found that the same thing happened to numerous folks and the effect is attributed to propylene glycol.  Desert Essence’s deodorant contains none of this.

Night creme- Acure Organics Night Cream

This might be a forever favorite.  I’ve repurchased this four times and I don’t really see much of a reason to look for anything else.  I love this stuff.  I love its ingredient list, I love its texture, I love its price, and I love how my skin looks in the morning after I’ve used it.  Think of it as giving your skin a ton of nourishing vitamins and oils to just work their magic while you sleep.  I find that if I have a bit of pore congestion or dullness in the evening that this stuff just really, really helps to clear and brighten things up overnight.  It also has the immediate payoff of being so moisturizing.  My skin feels cool to the touch after applying it, and the scent is very calming and very “bedtime”.  It does contain lavender and lemon oils, so beware in case you know if your skin is sensitive to one or the other.

I plan on using this for years, and I hope Acure never changes the formula!

Face wash- Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Cream Cleanser

I used this cleanser to combat the drying effects of another natural cleanser that I’d been using for a long time that had a lot of tea tree oil in it.  The tea tree oil formula had castile soap as its first ingredient, and over time it really stripped and dried out my face (as I’d been using it for half a decade by that point).  I chose this Burt’s Bees cleanser for its great ingredient list and just as something that wouldn’t try to “do too much” to my skin.  Sometimes it’s about meeting your skin’s basic needs rather than trying to “fix” things by going into overhaul mode.  You do not need some nuclear-strength regimen that is about assaulting your face from the outside-in!  I simply do not believe that’s the way our bodies were made to work in the long-run.  I’ve long been convinced that gentle and natural is the way to go when your skin is upset and showing signs of distress, along with a bit of patience and lifestyle assessment (i.e. assessing your sleep, level of activity, sun exposure, stress levels, food habits, and water intake).

This cleanser is so gentle, and the scent is soothing and relaxing (although I do like the scent of their Sensitive cleanser even more).  I’d recommend it for those with drier skin that are looking for something gentle and non-foaming.  Some folks may feel that this doesn’t “clean” the skin deeply enough, but this is actually a preference of mine.  You do not want your skin stripped dry.  I first used it one weekend up in the mountains back in California, where my skin would always get horribly dry and then kind of break out in response.  My skin was soft and moisturized all weekend, with none of the usual problems.  It’s a perfect choice for the dry winter climate out here in the Midwest, too.

Conditioner- Desert Essence Organics Moisturizing Coconut conditioner

I’ve used a lot of the shampoos and conditioners from this line because they’re very reasonably priced and have a decent ingredients list, but this particular product yielded the most noticeable results to me.  I am always looking for hair products that moisturize effectively, as dryness is my main problem when it comes to hair.  I tried the coconut conditioner on a whim, and it left my hair beautifully soft and pliable after rinsing.  I’ve now purchased it twice.  This stuff also manages to fully rinse out, which is more important than you may think.  There are those conditioners that just seem to stay on your hair like a film and weigh it down, but that’s not the case with this one.  Sometimes I’ll use it (or actual coconut oil!) as a pre-wash treatment, and the condition of my hair has been great.  I’m also addicted to the yummy scent.  Tropical scents have a special, transporting quality to me that put a smile on my face (especially out here in the Midwest).

This conditioner combined with the Rahua shampoo is my best natural hair solution.

Lip care- Burt’s Bees Beeswax lip balm

There’s no better lip balm on the market, in my opinion.  A good lip balm is one that doesn’t get you into the habit of needing to use it every hour- you shouldn’t have to; your lips should ultimately be able to bring forth their own moisture.  The menthol in this one is so soothing, works quickly to help lips replenish their own moisture, and brings forth the lips’ natural flush.  And the effects seem to last for hours!  I only find myself reapplying this balm maybe twice a day.  I also love the matte finish it gives; I never like shiny lip balm finishes (and the shine is usually a dead giveaway for petroleum, which you do not want on your lips).  I have a bajillion of these in the bottom of all my bags, but I somehow seem to go through them all.  It’s the best.

Body wash- Weleda Wild Rose Creamy Body Wash

This stuff is a bit of a splurge for the amount you get, but it’s pretty dreamy.  I love a luxurious body wash to look forward to in the shower, and this is one of the more high-end natural brands that I consider more of a treat than a staple.  There’s a pomegranate version that I’ve also tried and loved, but the rose fragrance just feels kind of clean and extra glamorous (and I’m not sure how those two marry, but they do in my mind).  My husband and I used Dr. Bronner’s soap for a long time as body wash, but it left our skin just so dry that we had to try different things (though the Dr. Bronner’s is great for just about any other household use).  When we’re not using Dove, I love to grab a tube of Weleda for some fancy Gwyneth Paltrow Goop-y vibes.

Face moisturizer- Weleda Skin Food

I have yet to find my holy grail daytime moisturizer- contains SPF, doesn’t rub off and pill to the touch, a natural formula, and a glow-giving finish, all in one.  I confess that I’m still looking for that perfect mix.  There are many moisturizers that can carry three of the four aforementioned qualities quite well, but I’ve never found one that hits all four.  Most natural formulas with SPF I’ve tried have the problem of rubbing off and pilling.  So, putting any makeup on top is out of the question, and most formulas like this also have the trouble of just sitting on top of your skin and never fully absorbing.

Weleda’s Skin Food does the following: it gives a beautiful glow, has a solid natural formula (packed with some seriously lovely fruit and botanical extracts), and doesn’t rub off (though I’d still give it a minute or two to absorb).  It is categorized under “hand and foot creams” on Weleda’s site, but I’ve read about many a makeup artist using it on the face (including me!).  If something is relatively natural and works great for the skin on the hands, chances are it’ll cause no different effect if applied to the skin on the face.  I love mixing this with liquid foundation, and the scent is kind of mellow and citrusy.  However, Skin Food contains no SPF and some may find it too heavy for everyday use.  It is very rich and can be used anywhere on the body, but those with oily skin will probably not enjoy it as a facial moisturizer.  I’ll keep you posted on if I find anything that fits all my ideal requirements, but for now, this is the one with the best ingredients list that I know of.

And there you have it!  But I’d like to offer an important sidenote- after perusing through these favorites of mine, you may have noticed that none of these products are labeled as “organic”.  That’s because none of them are.  In order for anything to truly qualify as USDA certified organic, every single ingredient within the finished product must also be USDA certified organic, and the finished product itself will be visibly labeled as “USDA Certified Organic”.  Within the realm of beauty, such a thing is still pretty difficult to find.  Now, one singular ingredient within a finished product may be organic, or the word “organic” may be used in the brand or product name, but that does not mean that the product you are using is organic.  And the use of the word “natural” in labeling and branding in beauty carries about as much weight as your body, on the moon.

So, with that having been said, you really have to just kind of learn to navigate an ingredients list.  It’s difficult to find any kind of beauty product that is entirely USDA certified organic, but it is easy to learn the difference between a list of petrochemical and synthetic ingredients as opposed to a list of easily-pronounced, familiar botanical extracts.  But again, just educate yourself, pay attention to the lists of ingredients you encounter, and keep doing your best.  I’m right there with you.  xo, MR

My Three Very Favorite Makeup Brands

I’m not known for being loyal to one brand in beauty.  This goes for the haircare variety, skincare, makeup, perfume, whatever.  I will try anything, from any brand, whether it costs five dollars or five hundred (and no, I’ve yet to try any five-hundred-dollar products yet because cash money).  But if you look in my train case, you’ll see the Revlon mixed with the Dior and I like it that way.  I’ve used drugstore products on brides and they have worked.  I’ve also invested in a couple pricy eyeshadow quads that nearly every one of my brides has worn as well.  I’m game for nearly anything in makeup, and my brand allegiance goes about as deep as that of the sweet ladies that Chris Brown likes to sing about.  And I don’t plan on changing.

This is also one of the reasons why I never intend to become an associate for any direct sales cosmetic or skincare line- I could make all the money in the world and I know I still won’t be loyal.  I don’t want to be tied down to or obligated to rep any one name.  That is, unless I create a line of my own one day …

But every so often, I am asked to name my very favorite makeup brands.  That’s honestly a hard thing for me to nail down, but I’ve got a few.  You’ve probably got items from each of these brands in your own makeup bag because they’re so popular, but they’re popular for a reason, and you don’t make a bajillion dollars from bad product.  Each of these companies is over twenty years old, and all of them possess a single, brilliant founder that inspires me with both their creativity and entrepreneurial savvy.

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Bobbi Brown– This makeup brand is responsible for allowing me to have peace with my own aesthetic as an artist.

When I’ve done brides (or myself, anyone really), I’ve always felt a little less-than for not wanting to go all out with the theatrical, transformative kinds of makeup that is so popular these days. It’s true that I simply do not possess some of the skills for really dramatic makeup, but honestly, I don’t really like that kind of makeup and I don’t know if I’d use those skills much even if I had them! At times, this has left me feeling a little incapable and “uncool” in the world of contouring, baking, YouTubing, color correcting, strobing, spackling, and champagne-popping.

However, in 1991, Bobbi Brown apparently felt the same way. “To be honest,” she says, “I wasn’t really a great makeup artist—I wasn’t one of these makeup artists who could transform a face. I just always had shortcuts to make things work because I loved it so much.” That year she debuted a line of ten natural lipstick shades as the very first part of her mission to create “a great collection of edited, natural-looking makeup”. The rest is history that you can see at Nordstrom, Sephora, or Bloomingdale’s the next time you happen to wander in. The brand that Bobbi Brown single-handedly founded is very much what I’m about in life and in beauty- perfected basics. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy, no circus tricks- just really beautiful, classic makeup. Her eyeshadows share nowhere near the same range as say, MAC, but they are just what you need (and yes, her “Taupe” shade really is the perfect taupe!). Her lip shades are flawless, her concealers (in cream or stick form) are legendary, and her Long-Wear Gel Liner is not to be matched. And let’s face it- when Kate Middleton decides to do her entire face in Bobbi Brown for her own wedding day, you know it’s legit. Bobbi is a huge inspiration to me as a female entrepreneur, and she has made me feel like there’s room for me in the beauty world.

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NARS – And now for a favorite brand that is near polar opposite of the aforementioned.

The packaging for NARS is sleek and modern, but their color offerings are even more so.  NARS has the absolute best range of blushes I’ve ever seen, and no other brand I’ve tried seems to match the innovativeness and quality of their shades.  Their basics such as the Creamy Radiance Concealer, Bronzing Powder in Laguna, and All Day Luminous Foundation are amazing, but they’ll go for the shocking color makeup, too: a shadow duo featuring lime green paired with cobalt (“Rated R”), a matte purple-black lip pencil (“Train Bleu”), and a vermillion red blush that looks like it belongs on a clown (and that very blush, called “Exhibit A”, was the inspiration for this blog’s title).  However, it’s not as if NARS is cranking out any and every eyeshadow shade you can imagine; you can tell there’s still a thoughtful editing process behind the collection.  In the end, you sort of feel like Rihanna when wearing NARS- really, really pretty, very fashion-forward, and kinda naughty.

Founder Francois Nars continues to be one of my major inspirations in makeup.  You can definitely sense the fashion influence in his brand; Nars’ personal eye for photography and his background in fashion make his line feel sexy and provocative.  His collaborations with more controversial artists like Steven Klein and Andy Warhol give the line an unmistakable edge, and yet as an artist Francois Nars has always seemed very grounded.  I have one of his more famous quotes pinned to my inspiration board at home: “Do not be too serious.  It’s only makeup!”

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bareMinerals– Every time I think I’m going to graduate from this brand, I get sucked back in.  I can’t help it.

A couple months ago, I was speaking to an associate at Sephora about bareMinerals.  She stated that she felt the brand was sort of for beginners, for those that are just starting to get into makeup, but that it wasn’t something you stick with forever.  I was contemplating a new foundation, and I considered moving on to something else besides the SPF 15 Original Foundation of theirs that I’d used for SO long. This loose-powder mineral foundation saw a miraculous kind of overnight success when bareMinerals founder Leslie Blodgett was given a spot on QVC to pitch it back in 1997.  I was sort of sad at the thought of quitting this beloved brand’s foundation because it’s also one of the most high quality natural lines you will find (seriously, the foundation has just five mineral ingredients), but I figured it was time to be an adult and move on!

However, I randomly popped into a bareMinerals flagship store the other day and had one of the employees go crazy on me, just for fun.  It turned out that the foundation shade I’d been using was now too dark (thank you, Illinois), and she matched me with my correct shade tested it on my face.  And there it was, the reason that I’d loved bareMinerals for so long- my skin looked perfect.  The associate had cleansed my face using their new skincare line (a gorgeous oil cleanser that I’d totally consider for myself, by the way), applied primer, then applied the makeup, and my adoration for the brand was suddenly renewed.  After some decent skin prep, this line’s original foundation just makes your skin look so unbelievably fantastic that I cannot stop singing its praises even at 28.  Their blushes possess the same qualities, their primer receives remarkable ratings, their concealers are all over Instagram, and their variations on foundation are unique and great for all skin types (and I personally love their Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel for warmer weather).  Whether the brand is actually for “beginners” or not, I say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

And there you have it.  Like I said earlier, I honestly have no loyalties, but if I had to choose three, these would be the three.  At first I thought it was funny that my favorite brands are a bunch that seemed to have absolutely nothing in common with one another, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they all share a significant, common thread- they all place a strong emphasis on good skincare.  Bobbi Brown, NARS, and bareMinerals all feature their own beautiful skincare lines, and each brand very much emphasizes the importance of a canvas that is well taken care of.  Bobbi’s luxurious creams and oils have been around for a long time, bareMinerals has always been about makeup that is good for the skin even though they only just debuted a full-range skincare line of their own, and Francois NARS himself said, “If the skin looks beautiful, everything else will look great.  Skin is the most important part of makeup.”

There are some really great makeup brands out there that turn out incredible color product, but the skin isn’t made to be the priority.  Kat Von D, Urban Decay, TooFaced, and Stila all are incredible makeup brands, but they’re not about the skin and they don’t feature skincare.  My personal makeup philosophy has always been about putting the skin first, and so I’m rather pleased to see that my most favorite brands come from a similar line of thinking.  I would probably include Glossier on this list as well, but they only have skincare at this point (except for BoyBrow) and have yet to debut their color makeup.  Well, I mean, they are debuting color makeup this Monday, so this list may grow a lot sooner than later.

Let me know if you concur, what your favorites are, and what you’re trying these days!  Have fun!  xo, MR

#EmptiesChallenge Update 2

Let’s see.  When we last talked about my empties challenge, I’d forgotten that I was doing it in the first place and got a blowout that wasn’t even worth it.  Kudos to me.  Over the past two months, I’ve managed to remember my challenge but Christmas, Sephora gift cards, and an appointment with my home hairstylist happened.  Yikes.  And I was silly and decided that I wanted to try ColourPop cosmetics, too.  I felt like I could justify it because ColourPop items are six bucks each, but add in the shipping and you’re basically at eleven bucks.  Oh well.

My main expenses, when it comes down to it, were the hair appointment and the extra money I spent at Sephora on top of my gift card.  Because you know how getting one item for free at Sephora somehow makes purchasing two more seem okay?  Yeah, I don’t know how that works in the brain’s economy, but somehow it makes sense, kind of like the real estate bubble of 2008 and subprime mortgages.  Oh and I also stopped by Lush Cosmetics and picked up their Eau Roma Water Toner, because I had a staff lunch right next door and I wasn’t sure when I’d be there next.  I’m really exercising such a great sense of self-discipline.

Anyhow, I have run out of a couple things this past month.  I’ve finished off my Origins A Perfect World Age-Defense Treatment Lotion With White Tea, A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense Moisturizer With White Tea, and another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara.  I’m closing in on the following: NARS Creamy Radiance Concealer in Custard, Unite Eurotherapy 7 Second Condition Leave-In Detangler, Sally Hershberger Hyper Hydration Super Keratin Spray, Acure Organics Argan Chlorella Night Cream, Burt’s Bees Sensitive Facial Cleansing towelettes, and quite possibly my BareMinerals SPF15 Original Foundation in Light.  Still little progress on any color cosmetics, but I have been doing better at applying more frequently.  I don’t exactly blast through stuff like this blue and purple eyeshadow duo from NARS quickly.

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So if I’m going by the ratio of the challenge (and not counting any of the things I received as Christmas gifts, because it’s just too difficult), I’ve “paid” for my hair appointment by running out of the two Origins products.  I purchased some Simple Micellar Water again too, so the mascara and one of the others that I’m almost out of will pay for that.  The two other things I picked up at Sephora and the Lush toner, however, are unpaid for until I officially run out of the rest of the almost-empty products plus one additional item.  Time to keep working.  And notice I’m just not even counting the ColourPop, I’m just that over it.  Whatever.

All this to say, it’s very easy for non-necessities to accumulate.  It happens quickly, and we tend to make purchasing decisions impulsively.  I need to learn to take my time.  It’s becoming much easier to see what I really need though, which is kind of neat.  I found I couldn’t do without the micellar water as a makeup remover after a couple weeks, and I repurchased my same Origins moisturizer with my Sephora gift card after deciding not to spend it on something more frivolous.  So, I’m learning, but I’ll keep hammering away at the color cosmetics in the meantime.

I have to say that the ColourPop decision wasn’t exactly the worst, though.  I took my time figuring out what color of their UltraMatte liquid lipstick I wanted to try and I finally landed on a shade called “Chilly Chili”.  Like the Stila kind I’ve mentioned before, this stuff does not come off but the color payoff is pretty great.  I can’t wait to wear this plum-brown in the city, and I like it with my bangs.

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All right, I’ll probably be back soon with a SAG Awards post, so see you then.    xo, MR