Category Archives: Uncategorized

Review it: Smashbox X-rated mascara

I love mascara samples, because they are one of the samples that really allow you to get a feel for the product.

I received the Smashbox X-rated mascara in my May Ipsy bag.  To refresh your memory, here’s a shot of the tube and brush:

Ta da!!
Ta da!!

So what is this mascara about? In Smashbox’s own words:

Smashbox’s Triple Threat brush was designed with 3 deep channels to hold the perfect amount of formula for mega-coating lashes plus 3 rows of bristles to isolate and extend lashes while Tripod fibers wrap around each lash for amplified volume. Maximize all 3 sides by rolling brush up and out as you work from base to tip of lashes, taking lashes from PG to X-Rated.

I happen to really like the rolling method for applying mascara, so that appealed to me right away. I find rolling the brush up and out through the lashes really helps not only get a good thorough application, but helps avoid clumps. ( If you’ve never tried it, I would warn you to try it when you’re not in a rush, it can take a few tries to get the hang of the movement and not smudge mascara on yourself. )

Personally, I have kind of short lashes that are rather straight on their own. So I had a little trouble getting you a before shot where you could even see my lashes, but I persevered:

[insert obvious eye pun here]
[insert obvious eye pun here]
As you can see, I do have lashes, but they don’t go terribly far. However. After curling my lashes and applying this mascara:

Pow! Hello there!
Pow! Hello there!

And this is only one coat. This mascara dries pretty quickly, so if you like building up multiple coats, I think this would work well for that. I tend to keep it light, as i’m usually wearing my makeup to work.

The next thing i always consider with mascara is how it wears. I have trouble keeping eye makeup in place, and mascara is definitely one of the culprits there.  I often get smudges below the bottom lash line, even when I’m only wearing mascara on the top lashes. I’m happy to report this mascara was NOT guilty of that dreaded smudge! After a full 12 hour day where I even got sweaty (this is August people, it happens) this mascara happily stayed where it belonged!

For a mascara that does not list itself as waterproof, I am super impressed. Usually to avoid that smudge and keep the curl in my lashes, I have to reach for waterproof mascaras, but this one holds its own beautifully. This is a mascara I would not only buy again, but recommend to friends!


Disclaimer: I received this mascara in my Ipsy glam bag, which I pay for. I have received no compensation from Ipsy or Smashbox for this review.

Sephora Play! for May

I’ve been wanting to try the Sephora Play! box since it was announced, and just a few weeks ago, I finally got the opportunity to sign up.

Let's take a look inside!
Let’s take a look inside!

It ships in a sturdy cardboard box, and all the samples are tucked inside a cute cloth drawstring bag. When the box arrived, all the items seemed very tightly secured, so it traveled well. And whats in it?

First, there’s the Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! deep conditioning mask. This is a hair mask (no parabens, silicones or phthalates) that claims to repair, enhance shine, and reduce breakage by up to 81%. It smells absolutely wonderful, which is always a bonus. The sample is a full 1oz,  so I feel confident I’ll be able to get a full use out of the sample, possibly more than one, depending on how easily it disperses into the hair.

Came in a nice handy tube, something easy to open with wet hands!
A nice handy tube, something easy to open with wet hands!

Next I have the Korres Wild Rose Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial. Its an intensive moisturizer you apply before sleep that is supposed to improve your skin while you sleep, but this one claims to be a lightweight souffle that will “melt” into the skin. Night masks have become quite popular lately, and I have a few favorites, so after testing this out I may do a write-up of all the different ones I’ve tried.  This also has a definite scent of rose to it, so anyone sensitive to fragrance might not appreciate that.  But some night masks can leave an odd feel on the skin, so that’s something I’ll be looking for when I try this out. I do appreciate that in a box going out to a wide-range of subscribers, they chose a product that specifically states it is good for all skin types.

Also a tube, this one is .34 oz of product
Also a tube, this one is .34 oz of product

Next up, there’s a tarte tarteist lip crayon in latergram. I have a few tarte products, and even a lip product or two, so I was looking forward to this. It is a nice, neutral pinky brown tone, and I’m sure I can put it to use. However, it is very tiny, at .04g of product! I am not sure how many uses I will get, but I’m still looking forward to trying it.

Small! but pretty
Small! but pretty

Next up is a brand new product from Origins. Maskimizer skin optimizing mask primer. This is apparently a spray you put on your face before using a facial mask, which claims to make it easier to apply and remove masks, and make them more effective. The description notes it is not for use with peel-off masks. What I like about this sample the most is that they included samples of TWO of their own masks to try with the product, which I think is a fairly thoughtful inclusion.One is a charcoal pore cleansing mask, and one is an overnight hydration mask (see? overnight treatments ARE everywhere!), so I look forward to getting a good couple of tests out of this sample.

Masks are foil packets, the spray treatment is a tiny spray bottle
Masks are foil packets, the pre-treatment is a tiny spray vial.

Next up we have a cologne sample from Atelier Cologne, Orange Sanguine.  I’m a big fan of citrus smells, so even though I don’t wear a lot of fragrance, I was looking forward to this one. From the website, the notes of this cologne are : Blood Orange, Bitter Orange, Jasmine, Geranium, Amber Woods, Tonka Beans, Sandalwood.  The scent of this is rich and bright, anyone that likes orange would enjoy it. The only downside is that this is a plain vial with a plug, which I always find messy to use. I prefer sample vials with a sprayer.

Mmmmm, blood orange.
Mmmmm, blood orange.

I saved my favorite sample for last. Its a Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche lipstick in Kimchi. I have several Bite Beauty lipsticks, though none from the Amuse Bouche line, and I was excited to try this style. Their lipsticks are known for excellent pigmentation and moisture, and also known for being made with food grade ingredients.  The packaging is a mini version of their normal packaging, and there is a subtle sweet scent to the product, but it seems to fade quickly. The color is a lovely, bright pink and I cannot wait to wear it.

I love mini-lipsticks, so cute!
I love mini-lipsticks, so cute!

Also included in the box is a short booklet with a few details about the products, which was nice, but even better was the included Play Pass. This is a card I can bring into Sephora next time I make a purchase, and I will get an additional 50 Beauty Insider points on my account! (Beauty Insider is a loyalty reward program where you get points for purchases which you can redeem for bonus products)

Overall I am pretty happy with this subscription. The samples seem generous and I felt like I got a nice mix of makeup, hair and skin-care.  For $10 a month, I feel like I got good value for my money, and some very fun new things to try.

Do you get the Sephora Play!? What do you think? Do you want to know more about it? Want to tell me about a subscription you think I’d love? Please comment below and let me know!

Wonder Woman Makeup!

I was honestly too excited about this collection to think of a clever title. This collection, from what I’ve been able to gather, is a Walgreens exclusive, but also available via (Thank goodness!) I first heard about it when this flyer hit the internet, and I immediately started watching out for it. None of the Walgreens around me seemed to receive the collection (aside from a few pieces, more on that later), so once I heard it had hit, I placed an order.

WOOO! (me when i opened the shipment)
WOOO! -me when i opened the shipment

If you compare this to the flyer,  I was not able to get everything. I have not be able to find the lip balm tins anywhere, which was disappointing. I saw the brush kit at a store, but frankly, it looked fairly cheap and the brushes didn’t seem very useful or unique so I passed on it. I haven’t seen the bronzer & brush set for sale anywhere, so that was not an option either.  But lets focus on what I DID get!

Liquid liners!
Liquid liners!

As you can see, they are pretty standard liquid liners with a fine brush applicator. The bottles feel like hard plastic, and the caps are bright red with the logo in gold foil, pretty!

The names are on the bottoms, Warrior Black, Golden Lasso and Superhero
The names are on the bottoms, Warrior Black, Golden Lasso and Superhero

I found these liners to be inconsistent. If you are looking for a deep, glossy black liner that’s fully opaque in one pass, you WILL be happy with Warrior Black, but if you want that result from the other two, you will be disappointed.  Golden Lasso is gold glitter in a clear base, so like any other glitter liner, requires several passes to even begin to show up as a solid line.  Superhero was a bit of a let down. It is a satin finish bright blue, and was rather watery on one pass, I had to go over it several times for it to finally resemble the color in the tube, and while it looks pretty opaque in the photo, it did not look quite as rich in person.

the black is one pass, the blue and the gold were each 3-4passes with the brush
the black is one pass, the blue and the gold were each 3-4 passes with the applicator

Next up I have the solo eye palette (Paradise Eye-land). This is a small red plastic case with mirror (the Wonder Woman design is a plastic overlay that feels removable), and contains 8 eyeshadows.

Colors are Olympia, Wisdom, Strength, Heroic Beauty, Spitfire, Spirit of Truth, Victorious and Freedom Fighter
Colors are Olympia, Wisdom, Strength, Heroic Beauty, Spitfire, Spirit of Truth, Victorious and Freedom Fighter

As you can see, the palette is very sleek, not much excess packaging at all. I found the eyeshadows in this set to be very creamy and smooth, the texture is lovely. I was actually surprised at how wearable I found the shades, since Wonder Woman tends to be associated with fairly bold colors.  Despite that, this is a pretty, neutral palette.


I would point out that the first few shades there do look sheer, but its actually just that they are pale, they were just as smooth to use as the other colors.  That shiny blue (Spirit of Truth!) is clearly the standout of the palette, and I plan to feature it in a look soon.

Next up, the lipgloss set. I almost didn’t buy these, as I don’t wear a ton of lip gloss, but I am SO glad I did. These really surprised me! This comes as a set of three squeezy tubes with an angled tip applicator; with red caps and gold foil logo and star accents. They also have a hard-to-pin-down scent, somewhere between cake and candy, but I find it very pleasant, and not too strong.  As you will see below, these actually have a good amount of pigment to them! The sheerest of the set is the darkest one, which actually works out well, as it makes it a very flattering and wearable color. They are also very smooth feeling on the lips, and not at all sticky, which is nice.

Colors are Athena's Kiss, Mighty Aphrodite and Wonder Woman
Colors are Athena’s Kiss,Mighty Aphrodite and Wonder Woman (order of the swatches)

Of course, the collection had to include a red lipstick. Unlike the glosses, I noticed no discernible scent from it, and the finish seemed fairly matte, and very nicely opaque in just one pass. The packaging is very lightweight, but the red plastic case features a very nice illustration of Wonder Woman, making this an awesome piece of the collection.

The color is Heroine- take that Mac! ;)
The color is Heroine- take that Mac! 😉

Finally, the biggest piece of the collection, and frankly my favorite, the Beauty Book.

The cover flips open to show two different look suggestions
The cover flips open to show two different look suggestions

This really is my favorite piece of the collection. It contains 9 eyeshadows, one blush/bronzer, one liquid eyeliner, one tube of eyeshadow primer, a small lipstick and a sponge eyeshadow applicator.  I’ll start by answering the first two questions I had:  Is that the same lipstick, and is that eyeliner from the other set?  The lipstick is not the same color. The one is this set is called Amazonian Red and its definitely a different shade of red from the standalone lipstick. The standalone is more of a berry red and matte, while the one from the set is a deeper, more true-red color, and has a more satin finish:

Top color is Heroine, bottom color is Amazonian Red
Top color is Heroine, bottom color is Amazonian Red

As for the liner, it is the same. It is also called Warrior Black, and the formula feels exactly the same. Though the packaging is different(and smaller), it is the same sort of fine brush applicator.

Dig that cute eyeliner bottle!
Dig that cute eyeliner bottle!

The set also includes an eyeshadow primer. While the packaging only references Walgreens as the distributor, some of my reading about the collection revealed that the company Markwins was involved in the production. They are responsible for Wet & Wild and Black Radiance, among other drugstore brands. I mention this now, because they are responsible for my BFF eye primer, the Wet & Wild Fergie Take On The Day primer (this is no longer available, but I believe their new Photofocus one is the same formula-I’ll be testing that soon).  Having only given this a quick look (and test on my arm) I suspect this might also be the same formula. It looks and feels the same so far, but I haven’t tested the durability yet.

The tube is all red with gold foil logo and says "Bulletproof"
The tube is all red with gold foil logo and says “Bulletproof”

That leaves the ten powder products: one blush/bronzer and nine eyeshadows. The blush is Grace and Power, the eye-shadows are Golden Age, Legendary Pink, Modern Age, Golden Tiara, Amazon Princess, Marine Ultra, Secret Identity, Emancipation and Valiant. Happily, I found that these shadows have the same texture as the Paradise Eye-land palette, smooth and almost creamy feeling. But even better, none of the colors are the same, so you aren’t doubling up any colors if you get both items. The bronzer/blush has a slighty firmer texture, but it was still smooth and easy to work with.

I love the color names.
I love the color names.

And I was quite happy with the color payoff on them. Just like in the other palette, the lightest shades are a bit weak, but those deeper colors are just fabulous.


The sheen on Golden Tiara and Amazon Princess was even prettier in person.  Honestly these are great shadows and i’m excited to try them out, maybe I’ll test out the looks in the foldout cover too.

Overall, I’m happy with the collection. I think the packaging is gorgeous and really fun, and the products are ones I think I will happily use repeatedly. One of the most amazing parts of the collection is its affordability. The most expensive item here, the Beauty Book, only cost $11.99, and I thought the pricing on everything was more than reasonable. In fact, the lipstick, at $2.99, almost feels like a steal!

I’m glad to see a collection like this come out, I like the recognition that girls like being heroes too! I did notice something on the spine of the Beauty Book while putting this post together, and I have to wonder, does Walgreens have more up their sleeve? I for one would be quite excited!


V.1? like, Volume 1????

Could it be? Well, in my opinion: MORE SUPERHERO COLLECTIONS YES PLEASE!

April Ipsy Bag

Ipsy sends everything in a cute bag each month!
Ipsy sends everything in a cute bag each month!

If you are not familiar, Ipsy is a monthly beauty sample subscription service. Unlike the Allure box, this one is much more customized; with ipsy, you can compare bags with friends, and its possible that you all got different items! I always look forward to discussing the items with other subscribers.

You take a quiz when you sign up, and you select preferences on the types of items you like (for example, if you’re more into nail polish than lip gloss), they select your samples based on that. Another way you inform them of your preferences is by reviewing your samples every month.

Something else I enjoy about Ipsy is that each month you get your samples in a new makeup bag. The styles are always different, if one isn’t your taste, it’s likely you’ll get one you love in another month.  I do like this one, but there have been a few major favorites in past months.

The products this month are pretty awesome too!

I’ve had tarte Lipsurgence products before, and this one is a very pretty warm pink. I’ve always found that while these lip colors don’t have a lot of staying power, they are very comfortable on the lips and easy to apply quickly.

I’ve never tried Pretty Woman nail polish before, but this purpley-pink (almost orchid?) color is really fun and I will definitely use it- possibly for a pedicure.

I’ve gotten products from City Color before, in fact, I got those from Ipsy too! This highlighter set is very nicely made, and the powders are nice and smooth. I don’t use a ton of highlighter, but these make me want to play around with highlighting more!

This bag feels very well put together, receiving a highlight palette and a highlight brush in the same bag is very handy! The brush is full and soft, and I think will work quite well for its intended use.

This last item kind of surprised me, I don’t often get fancy skincare items from Ipsy, but I certainly don’t mind- I wouldn’t subscribe if I didn’t like trying new things!  “Resurfacing” pads are essentially a chemically-soaked exfoliant disc, which can seem scary but its just another way to slough away dead skin cells to make the skin smoother and more radiant. Some exfoliants can be very hard on the skin, so whether it’s primarily physical or chemical, its important to be gentle when exfoliating!  When I haven’t tried a new exfoliant, I prefer to test them first. I will likely to test one of these pads on one of my arms and then wait a day to make sure there is no reaction before using it on my face.

I have been getting Ipsy for about 3 years now, and I always look forward to that puffy pink mailer arriving ; I have discovered some great products through it, but I also have learned what I don’t like in different beauty products, which is very helpful to figure out.

Do you get Ipsy? What  do you think of my bag this month? Do you get an entirely different subscription? Tell me about it, I would love to hear from you!

Allure Beauty Box for April!

The Allure Beauty Box comes with a handy booklet!
The Allure Beauty Box comes with a handy booklet!

I have been getting the Allure Beauty Box for a while now, and I’m a fan. I get to try a lot of products I might not have tried before, some because they are pricier than I would buy untested, and some because they are so new I haven’t heard of them yet! The box also comes with a booklet or “mini-mag” each month, giving a rundown of what each product is, and often, recommendations on how best to use it, which can be quite helpful when you get something you’re unfamiliar with. Also I’ve found that even on expensive items, the samples in this box are always generous, you can really use something for a while and form an opinion.
This month I’m very excited about the L’Occitane shower oil – it smells great and I’ve heard lots of good things about this, especially that its great for shaving!  I’m also quite excited to try the Fekkai glossing cream – I love a good styling cream, especially going into summer when I try to avoid heat styling at all costs.

I’ve never heard of DDF, but if the serum does as promised it I should be very happy with it. I noticed that the full size of this is fairly pricey, and the sample, especially for a serum, is quite generous!

The Mally lip pencil is nice,it seems smooth and creamy. I’m familiar with the brand (I have a great eyeshadow stick from Mally), but this pencil is a bit of an orangey red for me, so finding a way I like wearing it should be fun. (I find strange things fun…) And the L’Oreal mascara, while its not a new product, is actually one I’ve never gotten around to trying, so I’m pleased to receive a full size of it.

I don’t wear a lot of perfume, but I have to say I love that the sample of Bvgari Goldea is a tiny version of the bottle (pretty!) instead of just one of those hard-to-use vials. The scent is rather strong, but its not cloying or overly sharp or musky, so I’m going to give it a try.

Do you get this box? What do you think of this month? Do you want it?  If you’re interested in getting it, you can try it for $5 off the first month!  (I don’t get anything from that link, thats just their standard signup page)


I pay for this subscription myself, I have no relationship with Allure Beauty Box or any of the brands in this post. 

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!  

Ask Me: Dark Shadows?!

An old friend, Suzanne, came to me with some eyeshadow woes:

I have always had a hard time blending eye shadow and coming out with a result that draws attention to my eye without looking too unnatural. It seems that every direction I go in leads to its own problem. Liquid shadows crease. Pressed shadow colors seems to smudge together and never seem to be distinct enough. Loose shadows seem to require more brush technique than I seem to possess. Do you have any advice for me on blending different shadows?

Now, there’s quite a lot to respond to here! Lets break it down. 

The first thing I want to cover is shadows that crease, and shadows that appear indistinct. The answer for both of these things is, in my experience, base and/or primer!

If your pressed shadows are getting muddy and not showing up well, you may benefit from using an eyebase or primer. Finding the right one can be a bit of a guessing game, as it can depend on your skin type. The purpose of the base is to even out the eyelid, smoothing the surface and evening out the color as well, so nothing stands in the way of your shadows.  So if your powder shadows are coming off “indistinct”, a good base can usually fix that for you. If a boost for your color shadow’s appearance (often called “payoff” in makeup circles) is what you’re after, there’s a number of options available, and some are very affordable!


A few drugstore bases: Milani Shadow Eyes in Almond Cream, and Maybelline Color Tattoo in Nude Pink and Matte Brown
A few drugstore bases I like.

You may have noticed each of those are different colors, because a base can complement the shadow you’re using rather than skin tone, so these are a few bases that I like when I want to punch up the color of a shadow.  This is simply what I have in my collection, there are tons available!

 However, if, like me, you happen to have oily eyelids, a primer acts like a base, but ALSO serves to extend the life of your eye makeup,and prevent breakdown of the products.(Yes, I realize that many bases can do this as well, but in my experience bases provide far less staying power than primers, so forgive me.) Before I found the right primer, my eye-shadows usually didn’t make it through lunch, but now, my eye makeup generally looks the same as it did in the morning when it’s time to take it off at night. For someone like me that suffers the dreaded CREASE, you need more than a simple cream base, you need something designed to keep that shadow in place. A fully fledged Primer can help keep things in check.

Behold my primers!
Behold my primers!

As you can see, my collection of primers is a bit more extensive. I have tried MANY in my attempts to keep my eye looks locked in. My favorite in this photo is the skinny black tube in the middle, the Wet N Wild Fergie Collection Take the Day eye primer. This is my absolute favorite, and has outlasted everything else in this picture.  (To be fair, the Urban Decay primer potion put up one hell of a fight.)  And again, there are PLENTY more out there, but these are the ones I’ve collected over time.

I find with a good primer or base, most shadows will apply far truer to the color they appear to be in their packaging, and also will stay put better, even a liquid shadow – as long as you let it dry before moving the lid around! I have been known to layer a color base over my primer when I want the color on my lid to really pop. That can be very effective, as long as you give each layer time to set (just a matter of seconds normally) so that you’re layering and not mixing them together.

One thing Suzanne noted when I asked her some follow up questions was that she often used the applicators that came with powder shadows in application. While I’m not one to speak ill of these little sponge tips, I find they are only good for placing shadow onto the lid, and when its time to blend, they tend to do more harm than good. 

A set of makeup brushes can really simplify your makeup application more than you might expect.  And it doesn’t have to break the bank. There are lovely brushes available for less than you might think. Some of my absolute FAVORITE brushes are from E.L.F. and most of their brushes are around $3, and they often have sales or gifts with purchase!

For simple looks, you only need a few brushes.  A small flat shadow brush to place shadow on the lid (and again, you could use sponge applicators for this if you prefer).  I would also note that a flat shadow brush is generally a good way to apply a loose shadow, as it is easier to control not only how much pigment you pick up, but where exactly it gets placed. A small dome brush, sometimes called an eye contour brush, to blend shadow into the crease (where the eyelid folds) and at the outside edge of the lid area. If you want further definition, you definitely want to define your lash line. You can get a smaller tipped ‘pencil” brush, which you can use at the upper and lower lash line, for blending out eyeliner or using a dark eye shadow as liner.  One more brush i might recommend is a larger, fluffy shadow brush, which you can use to blend your shadow for a softer look after application. By using an additional, softer brush with no product on it, you will be able to smooth the edges of your shadow without muddying the colors or accidentally over-applying any color.

Some examples!

My current favorite brush for placing shadow is the Sonia Kashuk small shadow brush – no.106. You can usually find this one at Target.


For blending in the crease, I don’t have a favorite so I grabbed a few that I like to show you, here on the right I have the e.l.f. Blending Eye Brush (and note: this brush is only $1!)and on the left is the contouring brush from the Soho Disney Belle Enchanted Eyes brush set   (This set is now fairly hard to find, but I assure you, the brush shape is easy to get.)

Fun Fact: the metal part of the brush is called the ferrule!
Fun Fact: the metal part of the brush is called the ferrule!

Next up, I have pencil brushes. On the left is actually a two-sided brush, the Crown no.C476 Crease/Shadow Brush, and the other is simply a small brush that was part of a set my sister gave me for my birthday many years ago, which I cannot link to.

One fancy, one nameless. Both effective!
One fancy, one nameless. Both effective!

And finally, some excellent fluffy blending brushes. The one on the left is the other end of the  Crown no.C476 Crease/Shadow Brush (which is currently only $7) , and the one on the right is part of the Soho Disney Belle Enchanted Eyes brush set

I hope you all appreciate I’m doing my own hand modeling. 😉

I joke, but the reason I opted to hold some of the  brushes was so you could have some idea of the scale of the brushes. Because I’m not trying to sell you these particular brushes. I bought all of these myself or received them as gifts, there are no endorsements here. I just wanted to provide a clear idea of some useful tools for the job.

Well, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground here, but there’s so many places to continue on from this point. I think loose shadows, or pigments could easily be their own post, and I have quite a lot to say about one-shadow and two-shadow looks that are quick,easy and give the eye definition. Not to mention a discussion of complementary colors to use based on eye color.  I would love to know what you might like to learn about next! Please leave a comment or  tweet me at @askaboutmakeup!

Any questions? Ask me!

Does that really work?

Anyone who carries their makeup around on a regular basis is likely to be familiar with the terrible realization that your favorite eye shadow, face powder, or other powder favorite has exploded.   I experienced this cocktail of emotions (ranging from annoyance to absolute gut-wrenching devastation) when I managed to drop and shatter an eye shadow single I am quite fond of. (The item in question is a Wet n Wild Color Icon eye shadow single in Kitten – I would have linked to it on their site, but this color is no longer available!)  This misfortune seemed like a great opportunity to test out the idea I’ve seen around the web that you can reconstitute a broken powder with a little alcohol and some patience.

I always love reading lists/articles full of helpful tips and things that supposedly provide quick fixes for problems that you might never have thought you’d experience. However, we all know that some of these are simply not truly quick, or truly helpful.  So I decided that since my whole goal in being here is to be helpful, that I should test tips and tricks, and let you all know how it goes.

Step 1: Assemble your materials.

I much prefer assembling all my tools/ingredients before I start a project. Generally you’ll be grateful if you did! Thankfully for this one, its not all that much:

the TOOLS!
Rubbing alcohol, toothpick, and several tissues.

I wound up pulling in another tool, but we’ll get to that. I would also note that there is a clear plastic cover on my table cloth which is VERY easy to clean, so if you do not have that, you might want to put down some paper towels or newspaper.

Step 2: Finish breaking it.

Might seem counter intuitive, but to properly rebuild the shadow, you need to make the powder as even as possible, since there were still some chunks of unbroken powder in the container, I used a toothpick to finish breaking it up:

shattered, i mean eye shadow.
shattered dreams…er, i mean eye shadow.

Obviously, on something like a face powder you might want a larger tool, but for this small eye shadow, the toothpick was fine.

Step 3: Mixing

For this step, you add several drops of alcohol, depending on how much powder you have, until it mixes evenly. I used the cap of the bottle to make sure I didn’t accidentally drown my shadow. I think I wound up using about 3 drops total to fully wet the powder. I used the toothpick to mix it up, and when it was fully incorporated, I started trying to smooth it back down into the pan.  At this point, I found the toothpick stopped being helpful, and I wound up grabbing a flat bottomed makeup brush to finish tamping down the product:

time to let your inner perfectionist shine-the smoother the better!
time to let your inner perfectionist shine-the smoother the better!

At this point, you see that it got kind of messy, but I was able to contain the mess without too much difficulty. Perhaps there is a better way to do this, but I never saw a particular tool recommended when I saw this tip online. Please leave a comment if you know an ideal tool for the job!

Step 4: The wait!

The next step is simply to allow the powder time to dry, which will likely vary depending on the size of the item being repaired.  But once it dried….


As you can see, it looks almost normal again! Of course, any design embossed in the powder will be long gone, but I was able to swatch it just like any other shadow, and apply it using an eyeshadow brush.   I would note that the shadow is now softer than it was prior to repair, and more prone to kicking up excess when you dip your brush in, but I think that’s a small price to pay to get a favorite product restored.

In conclusion, is the repaired shadow as good as new? Honestly, no. Is it worth doing?  I would say yes, especially for an expensive or hard to replace favorite. It was restored to a usable state, for only a small amount of effort. The whole project probably took about 30 minutes including drying time.

Do you think this is worth the effort? Can you remember a shadow disaster you wish you’d known about this for? Leave a comment so we can trade methods, or at least commiserate the loss of our beloved powders!