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.

IMG_7240

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.

Advertisements

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.

IMG_7093

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.

Best Of The 2018 SAG Awards

Alright, the color is back in full force this round. I was most, most pleased with this red carpet. Some seriously stunning choices, and of course, I was all the more happy with the incredible hair make makeup styling at this year’s SAG Awards. The glam teams were bringing nothing less than their best work. Here we go!

 

Saoirse Ronan in custom Louis Vuitton-
saoirse2.jpg

I would wear this. I would totally wear this! Such beautiful art deco inspiration I’m seeing here, and such a cheerful shade of pastel, millennial pink. And I do love a modest silhouette contrasted with two marvelous slits up the side. And Saoirse’s (pronounced SER-shuh) minimalist styling is the right choice, as I don’t believe her face is one that could take “a lot” of makeup if you know what I mean. Her features are so delicate and fairylike, and dark or harsh makeup choices would just overwhelm her. Or at least, those are my thoughts. I could proven wrong, though!

 

Mandy Moore in Ralph Lauren-
rs_634x1024-180121163448-634-red-carpet-fashion-2018-SAG-awards-mandy-moore.jpg

This is the kind of look that makes me want to go on vacation. The ease of the strappy silhouette that makes you want to pack a weekend getaway bag, the dreamy shade of shimmery cobalt that makes you want to dive into a perfectly blue pool after sipping on a Mai Tai beneath your cabana …

Think I’m living in the MidWest in the middle of January? Maybe. Just maybe. Some daydreaming problems over here.

But truly, this styling is fabulous and I can’t wait for a closeup of Mandy’s makeup, too, as I’ve detected a bit of aqua on her lower lids. Oooohhh…

 

Olivia Munn in Oscar de la Renta-

olivia-munn6.jpg

Ohhhhh sequins! Luscious luscious sequins. And beautious floral appliqués. While this is overall a safe choice- and I’ve appreciated Olivia in the past for bolder choices when it would be quite easy for her to ride on her bombshell looks- the center-parted hair that’s like a shiny black sheet combined with the glowy, rosy makeup makes this a win. It might be safe, but it’s so good that the lack of risk doesn’t matter to me. And check those metallic talon nails! Daaaayyyuuuum.

 

Lupita Nyong’O in Ralph and Russo-

lupita.jpg

Mmmmm more metallic perfection. And feathers! Who doesn’t appreciate some good bird now? I used to think I’d know that I’ve “made it” by the fact that I was wearing a sequined dress on a red carpet somewhere, but I’ve since changed my mind. I now know that it’s when I’m wearing a dress with feathers on a red carpet somewhere that I’ll know I’ve made it. Feathers are just so extra, so Marie Antoinette. So unnecessary-but-why-wouldn’t-you.

And does Lupita’s skin have a shimmery finish?! I can’t tell, but I have to find out. It’s positively luminous.

 

Brie Larson in Gucci-

brie.jpg

If you’re not wearing Gucci these days, what are you even doing with your life?! I’ll tell you what you’re doing- you’re wearing knockoff Gucci. Like me. From Target. But don’t blame a girl- sequins and details and jewel-encrusted bows and so many colors and eeeeeeeverything you think of when you think of a fantasy dress- that’s Gucci. Remember Nicole Kidman’s green sequined parrot amazingness from last year’s SAG Awards? Yep, Gucci.

Also, digging the stunning shimmery blue shadows on Brie. So lovely, especially on brown eyes. In other news, Captain Marvel allegedly begins production … tomorrow!

And now, for the obvious-yet-still-too-good-to-be-ignored choice …

 

Margot Robbie in Miu Miu-

margot-robbie9.jpg

Ladies and gentlemen, another round of applause for feathers! See? I’m telling you, they’re quite fetching and irresistible. I can’t tell at this point if this dress is white or a very light shade of blush. I’m thinking the latter when I see it against the red carpet, and oh, how I love a good rosé as my white girl self should.

I’ve noticed that each of Kate Young’s choices for Margot have all had that bit of figure skating extra-ness as a nod to I, Tonya, whether it’s a touch of sparkle or something like a ribbon and feathers to create the movement that’s so important in figure skating outfits. Makes for a fun press tour, no? But I have to note that it’s the hair and makeup team that’ve really astounded me with Margot on this tour of hers- Pati Dubroff and Bryce Scarlett have been absolute heroes with the hair and makeup game. And I don’t care how beautiful she is naturally! Having a team behind you that consistently takes you from plebeian to goddess is irreplaceable as a celebrity, even for someone as pretty as Margot.

Let me know what you think, and do tell me if you think I’ve forgotten anyone especially deserving! Cheers! xo, MR

 

Photo credits in order of appearance: Steve Granitz/WireImage, Frazer Harrison/Getty, John Shearer/Getty, John Salangsang/Shutterstock, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty, Frazer Harrison/Getty

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.

IMG_5610.jpg

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.

IMG_5611.jpg

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

SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

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).

FullSizeRender 3

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.

IMG_4191

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.

FullSizeRender

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.

FullSizeRender 2

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.

Screenshot 2017-04-19 20.48.32

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:

FullSizeRender

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!

FullSizeRender 2

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

b3a09fdf04f6c1bfb586a2eb8ad5a79ef2c1c99a0a1d0ad5276372834fc73d53-687x1024

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

rs_634x1024-170226153921-634-taraji-p-hensen-cm-22617

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

rs_634x1024-170226144440-634-ruth-negga-2017-oscars-awards

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

oscars-red-carpet-1758-emma-stone-articlelarge-v3

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

you-crazy-about-jessica-biel-kaufmanfranco-gown

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

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).

img_3787

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.

fullsizerender

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

Makeup For A Night Out- My Friend Meg

It’s been way too long since I’ve done someone’s makeup for a special occasion; my last real client was before our move out here!  The only thing that’s come close is when I had the pleasure of doing a trial run for a beautiful girl attending her senior prom here in Illinois, but her plans fell through at the last minute.  So, since July of last year, it’s really just been me tending to my own face (which begets way too many selfies, let me tell ya).

So you can imagine my excitement when my friend Meg, whom I’d gotten to know through church, asked me to help her with both makeup and hair!  I admit I was a little nervous because it had been so long, but I was too excited to work with someone again to let the nerves bother me.  Meg was attending a benefit event for the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and the cocktail attire dress code provided the perfect excuse to play around.

fullsizerender-2

I prepped Meg’s skin with Glossier’s Super Bounce serum, which perhaps turned out to be her favorite product we used that day.  Luckily, even though I’d brought my own kit with me, Meg had an amazing arsenal of her own with plenty of great stuff to choose from.  We primed her skin with Laura Mercier Radiance Foundation Primer, and then I used a Beauty Blender to evenly apply Bobbi Brown’s Skin Foundation Stick in Beige all over.  After a dusting of BareMineral Original Foundation in Light to set it, I used Meg’s two Cle de Peau concealers to the undereye area as well as around the nose and lips.  If I can name one area on the face that always gets overlooked when it comes to concealer, it’s the nose area.  The skin around your nostrils and at the bottom of your nose almost always suffers from discoloration; a good concealer on these spots has a real lifting and brightening effect.  To set the undereye concealer, I used Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder.

For Meg’s eyes, I stuck with some of my most trusted friends- MAC eyeshadows in Shroom and Cork, and my Dior 5-Couleurs Eyeshadow palette in Earth Reflection.  I used the two brown shades in the Dior palette, along with the pearly-white one for the brow bone and inner corners of the eyes.  The hardest part of makeup for me, to this very day, is properly blending multiple eyeshadows.  I really try to get a look at the eyes from all angles and in both natural and artificial light; I tried to take my time getting this just right because unblended eyeshadow is truly painful to behold (and here’s a tip- shimmery shadows are much more forgiving than matte ones when it comes to blending).  I lined Meg’s eyes with my BFF- Christian Siriano for Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow in Royal- and I don’t know what I’ll do when it finally runs out because I’ve yet to find anything quite like it.  For lashes, we used multiple layers of Meg’s Bobbi Brown Eye Opening Mascara.

img_3019

I did a bit of contouring with Kat Von D’s Shade and Light Palette, and used Chanel’s blush in In Love for cheeks.  I added a bit of highlighting using MAC’s Mineralize SkinFinish on the top of the cheekbones, and a touch of a pearly NARS cream shadow to the cupid’s bow.

Finally, for lips, Meg prepped them with MAC’s Prep + Prime.  We then used Laura Mercier’s lipliner in Natural Lips topped with NARS Velvet Satin Lip Pencil in Bahama- this is the perfect dusty brick-rose with just enough color to be a “statement lip” without needing to be fire-engine red or something.  We had her pack a clear gloss with her along with the pencils, just for extra moisture.  To set everything and give the whole look a diffused effect, I dusted Meg’s face all over with Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Mood Light.

fullsizerender

As for hair, I’d known for a while that I basically wanted to take inspiration from Ahn Co Tran and go for waves with lived-in texture.  This is my favorite look, and frankly, it’s one that I know I can replicate fairly well on others.  Meg has a midlength bob so I knew this texture would be perfect for her cut.

I used my tried-and-true technique of wrapping one-inch sections of hair around a 1.25-inch curling iron, without using the clamp and always leaving the ends out.  If you try this, try to wrap sections loosely so you don’t get a wave or curl that is too tight.  As I progressed through her hair (and I did it in three layers, working from the bottom up), I’d separate any waves that were too big or tight and finish with a generous mist of Bumble and Bumble’s Dryspun Texture Finish- better than Oribe!  I also sprayed Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist into my hands and worked it into Meg’s hair, too; the Texture Mist provides bouncy hold and sort of acts like a spray-gel, but better.

fullsizerender-3

I kept laughing because Meg kept saying how I understand “the bend”- no one wants their hair truly curled these days, we all just want it to have that awesome “bend” that looks chic and lived in!  It’s the best!

One adorable Majè jumpsuit later and Meg was ready!

fullsizerender-4

I had such an awesome time playing around with this sweet mama- she looked amazing and I was so happy with how much she enjoyed the whole process!  I can tell you that it’s so much more fun with the client is interested and curious about what you’re doing, from the skin prep to the final touches.  And I was truly happy to finally lend someone a beautifying hand on the North Shore- it’s about time!  xo, MR