Monthly Archives: March 2016

Playing (with) Favorites Part 2: Beauty Tools

When I started writing about my BFFs (not sure what I mean? Check out part 1!) I quickly realized I would have to devote some time to tools. Beauty tools are a fascinating topic for me. I love hearing about new innovations and new techniques, because sometimes the way you apply can completely change a product. The right brush can change an eye shadow from ‘eh’ to eye-popping! As much focus as there is on products in the beauty field, I find what tools I am using can seriously make a huge difference, so I definitely have accumulated some serious BFF’s in beauty tools too. Lets take a look!

The group!
The group!

To start, lets talk about the  E.L.F. Flawless concealer brush – because this was one of the first items I thought of when I decided to write about favorites. When I first got it and tried it, I was so excited about it I immediately planned to get an additional one. Its just the right size and shape to get right into the under eye area and blend concealer or corrector all the way up to the lash line, and it is soft and dense enough to blend gently instead of wiping product away. I have definitely seen brushes like it in other collections, but I have a serious love for e.l.f. Brushes. Their brushes are soft and well made, I find they remain reliable through multiple washings. (Do you wash your brushes? Look for that post coming soon!) Lets get a closer look:

See how its fluffy but not too big? Perfect!
See how its fluffy but not too big? Perfect!

While I do love my e.l.f. brushes, they are not the only good yet inexpensive ones out there. My next BFF is also a brush, but this one is the Sonia Kashuk Small eye shadow brush (#106) I constantly reach for this brush when it’s time to apply shadow to my lids. (I went into more detail about using this brush here!) I like it because the shape is good for getting the inner corner, and sweeping the shadow up to the crease line, and it holds a good amount of product. Honestly I think with eye shadow brushes the shape of your eye and personal preference are really what make a brush good or bad for you, and this one fits my needs very well.

A great little brush!
A great little brush!

Next up, I must devote some time to one of the more well-known -and sometimes feared!- Beauty tools out there. The eyelash curler. I just have a regular Revlon curler from the drugstore, and I honestly reach for it every time I put on makeup. I have lashes that tend to point out straight, (maybe even slightly downward) which makes them not show up very much on their own. When I curl my lashes before applying mascara, I have a much easier time achieving a pretty fanned out effect (like those mascara ads are always promising). When I’m wearing hardly any makeup, odds are I have still used this tool, because eyelashes are the original eye definer! Making them stand up helps make your eyes stand out.

Yes lash curlers can be scary, and yes I HAVE pinched myself using it before, but mastering this little tool well worth it!

Some people might think this next BFF should have been included in my products, not with tools. However, I think of setting spray as a tool to increasing staying power and perfect my final look, so I’m including it here. I love finishing my makeup with a quick spritz of setting spray. As someone with combo skin, I prefer to set most of my face with powder, so following that step up with a light misting of setting spray can help make the finish a little more natural. My BFF is the NYX dewy finish setting spray. It gives the skin just a little bit of that natural sheen that powder tends to takes away, but it also helps your makeup last longer. If lasting longer is the more important part for you, you might prefer something like the Loreal Infallible setting spray. I like this one too, but I just prefer the look I get with the NYX spray, so I consider this my backup option.

It smells nice too! 🙂

The final item I consider a top BFF tool is not only well known but has spawned MANY copycats of varying prices. The Beauty Blender. This is one of those famous tools that actually lives up to its hype, in my opinion. This tear drop shaped sponge makes blending into the various curves and planes of the face a breeze. Anyone who has ever had trouble getting a natural looking finish from liquid foundation would do well to try one of these!  It is important to use it dampened though. It’s recommended by the creator, and it not only makes the sponge softer, it helps prevent the sponge from soaking up your product instead of blending it onto your face.  You can use these for blending any liquid or cream products – foundation, concealer, corrector, even contour & highlights- and you can even use them to apply powder!

On the left it is dry, on the right I have wet it (and squeezed out the excess water)-ready to use!
On the left it is dry, on the right it is dampened (excess water squeezed out) and ready to use!

Once I took all of these out, I couldn’t resist putting them to work for my look today, which I posted on my instagram -(come follow me!)

I think its important that makeup be fun, and I think having BFFs or favorites or whatever you prefer to call them is a big part of that. Knowing that you will get the result you want definitely helps make applying makeup a more enjoyable experience.  I hope my list introduced you to a potential new BFF of your own, or maybe reminded you of an old favorite you haven’t reached for in a while.  Tell me about some of your favorites,  or please, ask me more about mine!

Quick-Fix Makeup!

One of the things I find most satisfying about makeup is the ability to do quick fixes, or shorten routines to roll with an expected change.  So lets discuss a few scenarios I’ve put together for these times that require quick action!

Scenario #1- The last minute Dash-To-Somewhere

I’m very good at causing this one. Waking up late, but still needing to look polished for work, or any other appointment is never a great place to start your day. Some people are comfortable applying their makeup on the subway or in the car (hopefully not while driving!), but I have never been one of these people. To get myself together quick I generally reach for:

Tinted moisturizer (or a BB/CC cream), corrector, cream eye-shadow in a stick or a pot, Mascara, a neutral or sheer lip color.  This is my list because of what I consider to be my key factors in feeling pulled together: evened skin tone, definition for the eyes as well as coverage for under eye circles and a little extra color on the lip. Your go-to look will vary based on what you consider key to your own look.

Scenario #2 The Quick Change

When plans come up for after work, I find it very infrequent that I have time to go home and change. (as most NYC folks do, I would imagine.)  So when I have to go straight from work to evening, changing up your look can be  simple if you prepare. My preference for this is adding a dark brown, purple or black eyeliner (depending on what I’m already wearing on my eyes) on the top and bottom lash lines, and selecting a brighter, bolder or darker lip color to replace my office-friendly selection.

Scenario #3 Makeup Gone Wrong

Something I always hate is checking my face while I’m out and finding some of my makeup is not the way I left it.  The most well known touch-up is probably a shine on the forehead or elsewhere on the face, and is easily corrected with either blotting papers or a powder compact, and needs little explanation. But unfortunately, other things can go wrong. When mascara flakes, I usually clean it up with a pursed-sized (or travel-sized) powder brush- you always want to be gentle when clearing flakes away, because pressing down to wipe at them can cause them not only to stick, but will possibly make them smear and become far harder to remove.

Left: flakes on my face. Middle: deploying brush! Right: Eye area restored to pristine conditions. Yay!

If you have smudged mascara or eyeliner, a makeup-remover pen or swab can be a great option, because it allows you to apply remover in a more controlled & targeted way. I have this pen from e.l.f., and here is an example of the swabs. I like to tap the pen tip over the smudged area, and then blot away the mess with a tissue. This allows you to take away the mess without removing much other makeup. I like to finish by applying a little pressed powder to the area, which not only compensates for any lost coverage, but can help prevent further smudging.

Another “gone wrong” scenario I’ve dealt with comes from long wearing lipsticks, like stains and liquid-to-mattes. Lip color that sets can be great, but if only some of it comes off, and its hard to remove, it can be tricky to touch up. A good way to deal with this is to keep a very moisturizing lip balm on hand, like this favorite of mine.  What I  will do is pat a heavy layer of balm onto my lips, and let it sit for several minutes, then I can usually wipe off nearly all the color with a tissue or napkin, and reapply the product. I like this method because it moisturizes your lips in the process, which will help the color application look its best.

I have found that whatever the given situation, it is important to:

  1. Not panic. If you stop and take a breath before acting, you’re less likely to scramble and make a bad choice.
  2. Remember not to take things too seriously. Is it frustrating if your makeup smudges or your fake lashes fall off? Of course it is, but its not the end of the world. Makeup is supposed to be for fun and expression, and I try not to sweat it if things don’t go as I planned. Sometimes you just have to remove what isn’t working and move on.

Do you have a quick fix I haven’t thought of, or are you in need of a fix for a problem I haven’t mentioned? Comment and let me know!

Playing (with) Favorites!

I feel like the term favorites is over-used in the beauty community. Possibly because the term is so ideal for the products that we reach for over and over, and immediately repurchase when they run out. A lot of people use the term Holy Grail for the favorites that wind up holding a permanent place in their arsenal, but I’ve never been fond of that term. Instead, I will refer to these diehard favorites as my BFFs. (Beauty Favorite Forever? Beauty Fabulous Find? Maybe I should stop….)

I started thinking of this today because I was unhappy with how my hair looked, and was relieved that I had a small brush and something that has become a BFF for me: Psssst! dry shampoo. As someone with fine hair, this is a lifesaver. The problem I often run into is that my hair, especially around the ends, dries out very easily if washed too frequently, but my hair is fine enough that it starts to look oily quickly after washing. With dry shampoo, I can restore a fresher look without torturing my ends with additional washing and styling (and most dry shampoos also have a lovely scent, which can be helpful when you postpone wet-washing your hair!). Another benefit is that dry shampoo gives your hair a bit of volume, so if your hair is clean, but too flat for your tastes one day, a quick blast of dry shampoo can fix that up as well. It’s no wonder the stuff gained so much popularity in recent years.  There are tons of brands available now, so if you don’t care for my BFF, there’s plenty of candidates out there that could become yours!

Another one of my BFF’s is Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eyeshadow in Bad to the Bronze. While I do recommend that line of shadows in general, this particular one is great for a “one and done” eye look. Those days when you’re rushed or just not feeling like doing a lot with your makeup, it’s always nice to have a product you can reach for that will give your eye the definition you want without much effort, and this product is great for that. A good eyeshadow for a “one and done” will generally have some dimension and shimmer. Ideally, you get a different effect when it is patted in place vs. being blended out, which makes for a more complete look on the eye. I generally do this by blending the color out over the whole lid and crease area, and then patting more color in place on the lid to finish the look, I’ve taken a few photos to try and demonstrate this, I realize its rather subtle, but its not meant to be a bold look anyway. Notice how the lid gets shimmer, but the crease along the outer corner just gets some darker shading:

From left to right: a clean eye, then color blended out over the lid & crease, and finally, additional color added to the lid for more definition
From left to right: a clean eye, then color blended out over the lid & crease, and finally, additional color added to the lid for more definition











Something I reach for even when i’m wearing hardly any makeup at all is Benefit Erase Paste (I use shade no. 2). What I most appreciate about Erase Paste is its peachy tone, which acts as a color-corrector.  It can cover up under-eye circles and minor redness with equal ease. This is my favorite because it makes short work of perfecting my face. Even when I’m not in a rush, this is my BFF because you don’t need to apply a lot of it to get the desired effect, so it’s easier to keep the look natural. (Color corrector is an interesting subject, and I intend to get deeper into that in an upcoming post, so stay tuned!)

BFFs go beyond just actual makeup, though. When you want your skin to look good, you have to take care of it before even applying makeup with a good skin care routine. One product that has become semi-essential to me is the Avon Anew Vitale eye gel cream. I find it keeps the area nicely hydrated without getting greasy or oily during the day. Anyone who needs eye primer to keep their makeup in place should pay attention to their eye cream, because using one that’s too rich could be working against you, causing the area to get greasy/oily much quicker than it would otherwise.  (See my post about eye shadow woes “Dark Shadows” for more on the struggle of keeping eye makeup in place!)

Another important prep step is keeping my lips in good condition. Not only is this a comfort issue (chapped lips HURT!), but if you’re applying lip color, a smooth surface is key to a good result, especially if you enjoy the matte lip trend – and I definitely do! Something I have found invaluable to keeping my lips lovely is the Vaseline Lip Therapy line. An amusing bonus is that they come in adorable mini versions of the classic tub! (It’s not shown on their site, but there is also a Creme Brulee variety that I have that is extremely yummy!) I love this product because it lasts a long time. I can even apply before bed and still feel it on my lips in the morning. It really keeps them in good shape!

So that’s a short list of my BFF products. Let me know if we share a favorite! And if you think I’m missing out on one of your BFF products, I would love to hear about it.

COMING SOON!  Part Two: BFF Beauty Tools!