Beauty

Mo Lotion Mo Problems

My nails went without a lick of polish for 2 months. (Only half true – my toenails saw color all summer long). It was really quite freeing, actually. No upkeep, no trendy shade to tire of (as if the polish ever stays on my fingers long enough to reach that stage, anyway), no thin, discolored nails – “no polish, no problem” is what I discovered.  And so what if it was just a bout of laziness masquerading as a show of solidarity to a more simplified lifestyle? I switched my $26 mascara for a $6 one and my $20 shampoo for a $7 model – I think it’s fairly obvious that I’ve been paring down. But when I got a surprising ruling from my dermatologist last month, my newfangled vigor for easy living was shaken.

He told me not to wear lotion. None. Nyet. No moisturizer for my face. Here I am, 24 years old, feeling quite proud of myself for taking proactive measures with my never-missed (NEVER) nightly skincare regime: cleansing, toning, medicating, moisturizing. And to find out that I’ve been, in my derm’s opinion, doing more harm than good by slapping on a layer of lotion (clogged pores, blah, blah…I can’t remember)…well, to be honest, I left the office feeling baffled. The advice goes against everything I believe in when it comes to beauty, skincare, and overall wellness.

He assured me that it could be done. The skin is built to oil itself. Other patients mentioned feelings of tight skin, but the sensation would only be temporary. Ok, doc, I’ll try it! (Skepticism at an all-time high.) Well, I did try it, and guess what? I survived…

…for an entire day. Seriously, I am not up for it. My skin felt more than tight, it looked lackluster, and it started to flake in a spot or two. Back to the lotion I went. At least this time I was armed with the right stuff.  I was shocked to hear that my current course of action, Cetaphil, was not up to snuff. Apparently, even though the product markets itself as non-comedogenic and dermatologist recommended, nothing could be further from the truth. Fooled me again! Now, I apply a very light layer of Moisturel per the derm’s suggestion in response to my extreme skepticism. It seems to be doing its thing. Crisis averted.

What’s your stance on skincare? Are you an avid moisturizer? Can you do without?

moisturelMoisturel Therapeutic Lotion | $12.99 | CVS Pharmacy

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Beauty

Smooth as a baby’s bottom

It’s clear to anyone who knows me well: I love babies. I coo over any baby within the nearest square mile and talk about my little friends for days after I’ve spent time with them. As a result, I’ve spent a bit of time with bath and body products intended for the wee ones, and I can tell you that I have been enticed by one or two.

If Into The Gloss says it’s okay for grown women to use products intended for babies, then by all means, I’m going to take advantage. And it’s true. Powder-fresh scents and gentle ingredients are two legitimate reasons for adopting these formulas. I can attest to their allure.

During a routine trip to Target, I found myself adjacent to an aisle of wonder, one that I hadn’t traversed before – The Baby Aisle. I carefully inspected different lotions and creams and decided upon a duo of old standbys: Johnson & Johnson Baby Bedtime Bubble Bath & Wash and Johnson & Johnson Baby Bedtime Lotion. The formulas are infused with the scent of calming lavender, intended to induce a better night’s sleep. And let’s be real, everyone; not just babies, can benefit from that. I’ve used the products for a couple of months now and am pleased with both. Of course, at the low, low price of about $4, you aren’t going to be slathering on or bathing in any revolutionary ingredients; but the J&J products are enjoyable to use all the same. With the warmer weather approaching, high-intensity moisturizing lotions won’t be quite as necessary, anyway. So if you are looking for a light-weight body lotion for the spring and summer, this could be your winner. As for the bubble bath (a true gem: the perfect amount of froth and a pleasant, mellow scent), I am certain that I’ll be using it for years to come.

Ultra-reasonable price tags make testing these products a fairly low-risk game. Give them a go, baby doll! (Pun intended.)

DUO

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Beauty

Microdermabrasion in a bottle

This is exciting for me, guys. I’ve been so frustrated with facial exfoliators that feel unsatisfying. The working particles are few and far between, so you push them around on your face, maybe feeling friction in a spot or two, and – meh – you rinse off the substance and the job is totally not done. Meet my solution in a bottle: Botanics Age Defense Microdermabrasion Polish. Available at Target, this product has millions of microparticles that work their magic evenly across your face as you massage the skin in a circular motion. And the job gets done; so much so that the directions recommend using only once a week. The best part? It rings in at only $12.99 a bottle. It’s a smart choice, people.

botanics

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Beauty

The Vanity Diaries

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I feel like I’m falling in love. For years I have been in a tumultuous relationship with fashion, and the partnership seems to be falling by the wayside. It’s not that I don’t love her anymore, it’s just that there’s someone else. I have a mistress, and her name is Beauty. Beauty Products.

I’ve been experimenting with different products as much as possible, given the always inconvenient obstacle of limited funds. Currently, my vanity is adorned with certain products that I use before bed and when I wake up. My other goodies are tucked away elsewhere. Some are new and some are old. Would you care for my take?

Chantecaille Flower Harmonizing Cream

I purchased this a few weeks ago as a treat to myself on a trip to Chicago. I haven’t used it for long, but I like the lightweight feel of the formula; and so far my skin has been looking a bit brighter. Granted, it’s always hard to tell if that’s a true evaluation or not. Buy it here.

Aesop Amazing Face Cleanser

Also purchased on my Chicago trip. I can already tell that this bottle will last forever, so it was well worth it. The cleanser has a spicy, citrus scent with notes of lavender; and it’s great to wake up to in the morning. Plus, the packaging is SO foxy. Buy it here.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

I’m not the only one obsessing over this product. I’ve read about it and seen it coming from the blogs, columns, and Instagrams of trusted beauty editors. I’ve been using it faithfully for about a year now. Spritz it on your face in the morning for a burst of new-day energy, after foundation for a lasting ‘set,’ or at any time of the day. I could use a bottle in a week, but I try to employ restraint. It’
s entirely refreshing and rejuvenating. Buy it here.

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist Deodorant

A deodorant that doesn’t feel like deodorant. It glides on like a lotion and smells baby-powder fresh. I switch back and forth between this and unscented Ban, depending on my mood. This is certainly a more luxurious option. Buy it here.

Dyptique Perfume – Olene

I can’t wait for this to be gone so I have the excuse to walk into a HEAVENLY-SCENTED Dyptique boutique on my next trip to a location smart enough to maintain one. It’s so good. A white floral that is far from ‘old lady’ and even incorporates a bit of warmth. Buy it here or double the pleasure by holding off until you can make it to a brick and mortar.

Provence Sante Eau De Toilette – Linden

I had been admiring this for awhile and received it as a Christmas gift this year. If ever you’ve desired to smell simply clean and fresh, this is the scent for you. Not overpowering in the slightest. Totally reasonably priced. Buy it here.

Items not pictured in the line-up, but equally as loved:

Aesop Resurrection Aromatique Hand Balm

Indulgent scent that evokes a spa vibe. Not overly greasy. I’ve been enjoying it thoroughly. Buy it here.

By Terry Rose Balm

I only have a sample of this, but I’ve been milking it for all it’s worth. The saleswoman told me I would come back for more. Pretty sure she’s right. A thick and luxurious texture; not at all sticky; rose-scented. It is just what I want to apply to my lips at night before climbing into bed. It feels like a reviving treatment that is so far removed from Carmex (but  I use that, too). Buy it here.


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Beauty

Sunday Funday: Faux Glow Edition

It’s officially the dead of winter. Are you feeling a little pasty? If you’ve learned to embrace your pale skin, by all means….continue to own it. I’ve never been a tan gal – definitely not in the winter and rarely even in the summer. I do, however, enjoy a gentle glow when I can get it. Enter: Kiehl’s  Sun-Free Self-Tanning Formula. It is the best (most subtle, least streaky) sunless tanner that I’ve used to date and it works double duty for both the face and body. This small bottle will last you awhile – especially in the winter when often the only skin that peeks out from your wool sweater is that on your face and neck. I apply a thin layer in the morning beneath my makeup on occasion and it’s just the ticket. Do yourself a favor and give this formula a go for a sheer and natural glow. Did that just happen? Maybe I should reroute my resume to a jingle-writing talent agency…

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Beauty

Year-Round Beauty Must-Haves

Few things please me more than a new beauty product. I consider myself a connoisseur of sorts, having tested many of the most popular makeup standbys (on my own dime) and weeded out the weak and helpless, effectively establishing the leaders of the pack. Yeah, makeup is that serious…getting all Animal Planet on ya’ll. Regardless of whether or not you are offended by my strong priority for anything that I can apply to my facial area, you will benefit from scanning (or reading very thoroughly) the following review of my all-time-favorite-(so-far)-beauty-products.

1. NARS illuminator in Copacabana

At $30 a pop, this item may seem like a frivolous buy. Truthfully, though, the bottle will last you for months – 5 or 6 at my estimate. Each application needs only about a pea-sized squeeze of product – hence its long-lasting nature. I apply this to my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose immediately after smoothing on my tinted moisturizer and concealer. At this stage, the skin is still dewy and it is much easier to blend the illuminator. I follow up with…..

2. Georgio Armani Loose Powder

I’ve long struggled with finding a powder for my face that strays from getting cakey and feeling heavy. This one absolutely does the trick.

3. NARS Concealer

I use this creamy cover-up in conjunction with Lancôme’s “correcteur” – Nars for added coverage on general areas and Lancôme on any small spots or discolorations. I only use tiny dabs of the Lancôme concealer here and there, so it lasts and lasts.

4. NARS Orgasm and Deep Throat blush

I’ve been using Orgasm for a few years. It’s a great standby with coloring that flatters many different skin tones. Recently, however, I’ve discovered Deep Throat and am favoring it because of its subtlety and peachy tone.

5. Guerlain Terracotta Light Sheer Bronzing Powder

Carried by certain Sephora stores only (much to my chagrin during my last refill purchase excursion), this product is a bit pricey. I haven’t quite decided if it’s worth it or not. Though I love it, Nars Laguna does the trick for $16 less.

6. Anastasia Clear Brow Gel

If you have full brows like mine, you cannot “be” without this product. Stop what you’re doing and get out your credit card right now, your life is about to change. This is honestly and truly a standby product for me every morning. Without a quick brush-through with this wand, my brows would look and feel totally un-groomed. One swipe and – voila – shaped and “Brooke Shields/Bambi Northwood-Blyth cool” once again.

7. Becca Brow Powder

Follow up your brow gel by using an angled brush to apply a light dusting of Becca Brow Powder. It fills in sparse areas while maintaining a natural look.

8. Bobbi Brown Tinted Moisturizer

I’ve tried my fair share of tinted moisturizers on the market (Nars and Laura Mercier to name two top contenders), but one has consistently left me feeling more primed than others. I am 100% loyal to Bobbi Brown’s product (with an added bonus – SPF 15) and I’m never going back again!

9. Buxom Amplified Lash Mascara

Mascara has been frustrating for me. It dries out much too quickly, clumps up, and lacks volumizing and lengthening power. Imagine my pleasure when I stumbled upon this gem. I’ve never used a Buxom product before this one. In fact, I have hardly even heard of the brand. A sales girl at Sephora brought this lash-booster into my world and I’m forever grateful for it! The product’s greatest strength is its ability to sustain without drying out. Ultimately, it will last longer in your makeup drawer and will save you $$.

10. Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara

With a $10 price tag, this item is certainly worth a try. If you’ve ever had a problem with mascara smudges and clumping lower lashes, this is your answer. Even if you don’t think you’re having this problem – trust me, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. This tiny wand gives you more leverage as you navigate the sometimes-treacherous lower lash line.  It grabs, coats, and separates each of your lashes making for a swoon-worthy ‘smize’.

11. Mac Lipstick in Myth

If applied liberally, you will look like a frost queen. But, if applied with care and restraint, you will be able to achieve that subtle nude lip that’s been a covetable ticket for the past few seasons.

That’s a wrap. Next up…lotions and serums and balms – oh my!!

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Beauty

Brand Spotlight: NARS Cosmetics

“I worship the God of NARS.”

A bold statement uttered by Jane Larkworthy, the beauty director of W Magazine. I strongly identify with this catchphrase, now scattered in beauty blogs across the web. Launched in 1994 by Francois Nars, NARS is a covetable, modern-day cosmetics company. Beginning with a collection of 12 lipsticks at Barneys New York, the brand has now morphed into an international establishment praised by fashion/beauty connoisseurs and every day women alike. The company offers appealing shades and standby products that I (and countless other believers) could not get through my morning routine without. In addition, the packaging is swoon-worthy.

As the NARS website states,

” The NARS packaging is as classic, modern, luxurious, and chic as the product it houses. Created by Fabien Baron, Creative Director and Founder of the renowned creative agency Baron & Baron, NARS’ sleek black soft touch casings are the ultimate union of aesthetics and function. Custom design by Fabien, NARS packaging reflects the simple, elegant clean lines that Francois loves and his belief that his products should be experienced on all levels.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. In addition to luscious product, the brand boasts a beloved and cuddly mascot (whom I just learned has passed away!) – Marcel Nars. One final note, I was surprised and thrilled to learn that I was accepted as a member of the NARS Makeup Artist Enrichment Program (30% discount – yes!). If you’re a model, actor, makeup artist, or cosmetology student (I think I covered all of the bases), check it out here.

I’ll leave you with some images of my favorite products and other NARS-related goodies.

Ashes to Ashes

Shimmer Shadow in Ashes to Ashes, found here.

Etrusque

Shimmer Shadow in Étrusque, found here.

Illuminator in Copacabana, found here.

Copacabana The Multiple

The Multiple in Copacabana, found here.

Deep Throat Blush

Blush in Deep Throat, found here.

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Marcel Nars

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Marcel Nars in the 2011 NARS Christmas Card

A 2009 advertising image

Leighton Meester in NARS

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