Summer Makeup Essentials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Let’s Talk (More) About Glossier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Four Favorite Berry Lippies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Has Come- Glossier’s Priming Moisturizer Rich

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vid Tutorial: Beauty Blender For Beginners

So, what difference can a twenty-dollar sponge honestly make with foundation application?

In my honest opinion, a lot.

For a long time the BeautyBlender sounded very gimmicky to me.  I mean, couldn’t I just go buy the pink knock-off sponges at CVS?  Well, you can, but the BeautyBlender is soft, silky, washable, and reusable.  It’s meant to handle a lot of work, and it is not the same as your typical drugstore sponge.  The results when it comes to foundation application are true to the hype, and I believe this tool works better than foundation brushes!  I purchased one perhaps a month ago and I have to tell you that I haven’t picked up a foundation brush since.

So, here’s a quick how-to on applying foundation with a BeautyBlender (along with a bonus how-to on Glossier’s BoyBrow).  Enjoy!  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

Boy Brow? Oh Boy!

It’s no mystery that I love famed beauty blog Into The Gloss.

I was lead to discover it one day as I read an interview with Derek Lam in Allure magazine; he suggested it as a beautifully curated beauty blog from an insider perspective (that of beauty editor Emily Weiss).  I was in a classroom when I first searched the blog; I remember exactly what computer I was on.  At the time I’d been reading junky, more celebrity focused blogs here and there, but that deep craving for real product knowledge and in-depth discussion over the nitty gritty stuff in beauty wasn’t really satisfied by such content.  I also loved seeing what other people used in makeup and hair, but I didn’t have much of a broad platform for these discussions other than my friends and magazines.  I loved going through other people’s makeup bags and medicine cabinets (still do!) to see what they used; finding a fancy bottle of shampoo behind someone’s shower curtain is like finding hidden treasure!  And yes, that’s me sneaking behind your shower curtain like Norman Bates’ mom so leave out all your good stuff for me to see and play with.

Anyhow, Into The Gloss, and particularly their interview features, successfully scratched this itch that I’d apparently been dealing with and it had me addicted around February of 2011.  The site seemed to clarify my perspective and ideas about beauty and the specific things I love about it.  For instance, not liking makeup for the sake of makeup, but enjoying it (and shampoos and perfumes and facewash) for the environment it creates and the ability you have to curate your own special little collection.  It’s like an expression of your identity- the eyeliner you like to wear, the way you like to wear it, when you choose to wear it.  ITG felt like it had more philosophy and nuance behind it than blind allegiance to a certain look or brand; more discussion and just plain sharing than crazy video tutorials.  ITG also played a large part in building my confidence in going makeup-free.  I came to see that your bare, well-treated skin could be just as great a luxury as a rich, smoked-out eye.

So when Emily announced the birth and creation of a beauty line in late 2014 based on ITG philosophies and the desires of their readers, I admit that I reacted in a somewhat possessive manner.  No!  No no no.  The blog had gotten too big and too well-known already since I’d begun reading; it was no longer my special little secret and now there’s a product line coming out?  Too much!  Can’t handle it.  I basically hipstered out on the whole thing for a while.

But the line- named Glossier (say glossy-YAY)- is just so beautiful and is marketed just so well.  You cannot help but be impressed by the entire experience that Glossier gives its customer.  The packaging and social media interactions are unique and adorable, down to the very cardboard box your shipment arrives in and the emojis they use that come as stickers with your order.  Their “skin is in” philosophy comes through loud and clear with products like the Skin-Perfecting Tint that seeks to just keep your complexion even and glowing in a way that doesn’t cover up or even “make up” your face.

Glossier has a vision that feels clean, fresh, and also very French (which you know I love).  The focus is on items like masks, face mists, and balms, like a no-nonsense-but-somehow-still-indulgent spa day for your face.  You can tell how much careful thought and editing went into this line, with my favorite example being the trademark shade of “Glossier pink” on all their packaging which reminds me of that pink door in Palm Springs.  In fact, that’s what all of Glossier reminds me of- Palm Springs.  Modern, luxurious, and yet still a little raw thanks to it’s natural environment.

I just can’t help but applaud the whole innovation of Glossier, even if I am feeling a bit jealous of how popular and awesome they’ve become and how everyone now knows it and wants to have them in their medicine cabinet.

Today, however, I am celebrating Glossier’s newest addition to its line, and it’s their very first color product.  This is Boy Brow!

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I knew a color product was on its way from the line, but when I discovered that it was a brow product, I might have done a mid-air heel click.  Brows are having their moment, and I feel like we’re all looking for that one product (ideally not two or three or four) that takes care of the whole picture.  As shown in my post from just a few weeks ago, I sometimes use up to four products at once on my brows (dry brush, two pencils, and gel), and that’s not counting tweezers and any browbone highlighting I choose to do.  Even my CK One product that I love so much still has two steps to it.

So when Glossier announced Boy Brow as “brows goals achieved” in one step, I was skeptical.  If it was to be an all-in-one, this meant the following needed to be true: the brush would need to be strong enough to brush brows into your desired shape without leaving too much product behind, the formula pigmentation would need to be concentrated enough to not need more filling in with some other product, the formula would need to leave a nice finish with some shine, and the formula would need to last without being stiff.

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I purchased Boy Brow in black because I perceived the brown to possibly be too auburn/red for my brows.  I received it yesterday, and …

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BOY BROW!

To have my brows look the way I want with just a couple literal strokes of a wand is pretty dreamy.  The wax formula is inspired by traditional hair pomade with beeswax and canauba wax, which makes sense since guys typically use a creamy but tough pomade when they want their hair to stay in place; why not the same for brows?  The formula also lasts all day, as in I’m looking at myself hours later as I write this and my brows haven’t moved.  However, Boy Brow doesn’t stiffen in the way that one other product I use does.  I enjoy this other formula-that-shall-remain-nameless for its shine qualities, but it can leave my brows very stiff and you can feel the gel stretching when you make expressions with your face.  Not so with Boy Brow.

Application was a cinch.  A couple tiny, gentle strokes with the tiny, gentle brush delivered enough pigment to my brows without leaving clumps of goop behind, and my brows were given a thicker, more full appearance which meant no need for extra filling in with a pencil.  The finish has a slight shine to it without looking wet, and the small, tapered brush separates every hair.

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After using Boy Brow with completely successful results for the past two days, I’ve placed this puppy on my bathroom counter, where I try to leave the products I don’t want to leave home without applying first.  If it’s going to be that simple, why not keep this out where it’s always handy?

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Boy Brow comes in three shades, and I’ve left no filter on the first selfie above so you can see how the black shade matches my brows spot-on.  I’m sure there’s a Boy Brow match for you, too.  To shop Boy Brow or to browse more of their awesome products, go to Glossier here.  Thanks for the fun, Glossier!  xo, MR