Benefit Advent Calendar Days 15 – 21

I can hardly believe that there are only three days left in the calendar, but I can’t lie – I’m beyond excited! I’m enjoying the holiday season more this year than I have in recent memory, and I have a feeling this festive little calendar may have had something to do with it. It could also be that I have a wonderful husband and fabulous friends and family to help me celebrate. Perhaps a little of both!
Benefit Ooh-la-lift and That Gal
This week was filled with a good variety of treasures, some better than others. Day 15 held a little vial of Ooh-La-Lift, an under eye brightener that I’ve always wanted to try. Unfortunately, after several uses, I have to say that it didn’t do much of anything for me. I didn’t see a change in my under eye appearance at all, and it’s milky texture made it feel too slippery for my face.

Day 16 revealed a mini bottle of High Beam, which is pretty much my favorite Benefit product and the secret to looking well-rested when you just aren’t. Swipe and blend over cheek and brow bones and BAM! You’re glowing. Not surprisingly, I have a bottle of it already, so this one went to my lovely sister!

The notepad behind door 17 is cute but probably too small to be useful – a little disappointing. Day 18 held a little bottle of “That Gal” brightening face primer. Now, if you’ll remember, I was burned by the last primer I tried from this calendar (dry patches! chalky skin!), but I gathered my courage and gave this one a try. Here’s what I found: even though I didn’t notice any brightening effects, my makeup stayed pretty much flawless all day! Again, I’m not a huge fan of primers, but if you’re looking for one, this one goes on very smoothly and really did make my makeup last.
Benefit Ultra Plush Lip Gloss in Fauxmance and Watt's Up
Door 19 was hiding another hair tie, and this one is by far my favorite – a lovely light blush-pink sort of color with tiny white polka dots. I could not love the color more, and the tie is working very well – it’s in my hair as I type this!

Day 20’s gift was another Ultra Plush Lip Gloss, this one in the shade Fauxmance. It’s kind of a berry purple-pink shade in the tube but is sort of reddish on the lips. I haven’t decided if I like the color yet or not, but to be honest, I’m still so in love with the Dandelion gloss I received earlier in the month that I’m not really looking for a replacement just yet!

Today’s treat was a tube of Watt’s Up, a golden champagne shimmery highlighter. Another favorite of mine, and lately it’s been my go-to – I swipe it beneath my brows, blend and go. I still have a little left in my current tube, but this one will go into my beauty stash to replace it when it’s gone. I’m thrilled to have another one!

Be sure to check back on Christmas Eve to find out what’s behind the final three doors!

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Fresh Faced

I don’t know any girl who wouldn’t love to wake up each morning and go about her day with glowing skin, perfect hair and a kick-ass outfit. I certainly would. And luckily for me, although my perfect hair days are few and far between and my outfits are usually just a little bit off, I’ve got pretty great skin. Sure, good genes play a part in the equation, but I also credit my skincare routine and a few key beauty products. And so, in the spirit of the season, I’d like to share some of my favorite products and best practices, so you, too, can enjoy the gift of great skin!

First and foremost, it’s important to stick to a regular skincare routine. Daily cleansing and moisturizing is a must, and weekly treatments such as face masks or chemical peels will only improve your complexion. I personally start each day by splashing my face with warm water, patting it dry, and following up with a tinted moisturizer with SPF. My favorite happens to be ultra-affordable: CoverGirl CG Smoothers Tinted Moisture. I have combination skin that’s on the dry side, and this SPF 15 formula leaves my skin soft and flake-free without ever looking oily. Plus, the light tint smooths minor blemishes and evens skintone – it’s my number one tip for faking flawless skin.

Another pretty-skin secret? Complexion enhancers and cheek stains. It’s a rare day that I don’t apply one. I love Benefit’s various versions. My favorites are High Beam, a light pink highlighter, and Posie Tint, a poppy pink stain that creates the prettiest, healthiest, most natural looking glow. It’s my go-to product when I’m looking for a bit of a flush.

Once I’ve smoothed on my tinted moisturizer and a complexion enhancer, I usually finish my face with a dusting of powder. I’m still obsessed with Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder. A bit on my nose and chin and my pores vanish and any extra shine is kept at bay.

Those are the products I use on a daily basis to keep my complexion looking fresh, but the easiest way to look like you have healthy, glowing skin is to actually have it! I only use plain water to wash up in the morning, but at night I lather up with my favorite face wash, Philosophy Purity Made Simple. This one-step cleanser is mild and effective; I gently massage it into my skin for at least 60 full seconds before rinsing off with warm water. Then I follow up with a thicker nighttime moisturizer. I vary my evening moisturizer based on season, but right now I’m using Philosophy Miracle Worker. This ultrasmooth anti-aging formula has a satiny texture that my skin drinks right up. After a few days of using it I noticed my skin felt softer and a persistent blemish on my chin was fading fast; after weeks of use, it’s my new favorite skincare product.

These products may work for you or you may have your own favorites, but no matter what you use, the most important thing is to be consistent. Take the time to take care of your skin, and it will pay off. Before you know it, you may wake with a gorgeous, glowing complexion. A perfect hair day can’t be far behind.

Make Me Blush

Something about Spring always makes me crave a good blush. The reappearance of lawns after months of nothing but snow as far as the eye can see, the sunnier days and the fresh green buds on all the trees makes me long for a youthful glow. Luckily, there are many options – new formulas and old standbys alike – to get me ready for this most optimistic of seasons.

My all-time favorite blush is relatively new, but has amazing staying power and looks stunningly pretty. Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in Dollface is the best things to happen to cheeks since Nars Orgasm. The soft pink powder is gorgeous, giving my pale complexion a cheerful wash of color that literally lasts until I wipe it off at night. Plus, it contains Amazonian clay, the hot new cosmetic ingredient that is great for skin and, let’s face it, just sounds cool. The blush comes in an array of colors, but Dollface was by far my favorite; it makes me look flushed, not wind-burned.

Nars Orgasm is of course a classic, a nice medium pink powder blush that looks good on virtually everyone. It goes on fairly sheer and you can layer it for your desired level of color. I personally don’t think it has the same staying power as Tarte’s offering, but it’s a classic for a reason.

If you’re more of a cheek stain kind of girl, Benefit Benetint is another cult favorite, and nothing beats it when it comes to a getting a nice rosy glow. The red liquid is great for lips, too. Unlike other stains that I’ve tried, I find this one easy to apply – you actually have a few seconds to rub it in before it dries, so you don’t end up with an obvious streak across your face instead of the intended wash of color. Benefit also has a pink version, Posietint, for days when you’re feeling less bold. In fact, you can buy a trio of sample sized Benefit complexion enhancers – Benetint, Posietint and the light pink highlighter High Beam – for $15. It’s a great way to add a little variety to your makeup routine.

My favorite way to wear blush is with clean skin, a swipe of mascara, and a clear or light pink lip gloss. It looks incredibly fresh, like you just came inside from a refreshing Spring stroll. And who couldn’t use a breath of fresh Spring air?

White Lies

Confess. You’ve done it. You’ve stayed up late on a school night. You only got a few hours of shut-eye before an early day at the office. Maybe you drank too much at karaoke night. Or perhaps you were just way too into Twilight to put it down and go to bed. Either way, there’s been a time or two when you woke up looking, well, tired.

Lately I’ve been noticing how pronounced the dark circles under my eyes have become. Overly tired is certainly not a youthful look. No matter how cute an outfit may be, it is definitely overshadowed by purple smudges below bloodshot eyes. So, my mission as of late has been to find a way to look well rested.

Just a little white lie.

Turns out, the trick to this white lie is white liner. Flipping through January magazines, all the beauty looks I liked had one thing in common – bright-eyed models, sporting white liner. It is surprisingly subtle, and instantly makes eyes look brighter and more awake. I bought a cheap Wet N Wild pencil last weekend, and am now officially hooked.

To give yourself some extra help in the no-I’m-not-hungover-and-sleep-deprived department, use your white liner in conjunction with these other eye-brightening tricks, and you’ll be looking more lively in no time.

1. Curl your lashes, curl your lashes, curl your lashes. I know I say it all the time, but it makes a huge difference. Your eyes will look twice as wide, I swear.

2. Dab on some concealer. A little on the yellow side is good for under eyes, as it helps counteract the blue tones. I like L’Oreal True Match Concealer. And be careful not to apply too much – nobody wants that streaky concealer ring around their eyes.

3. Use a highlighter. A light reflecting highlighter on your cheek and brow bones brightens your complexion and makes your eyes look about 1000 times more awake. Right now I can’t get enough of Benefit High Beam. Try the travel size for $10 (available at sephora.com).