Color Me Pretty

I am, for the most part, a no-makeup makeup kinda girl. Like many other women, I meticulously apply a variety of products in hopes of achieving the desired outcome of looking like I’m not wearing a stitch of makeup yet have porcelain skin, pouty lips and sparkling eyes. It’s a little ridiculous, actually, spending so much time and putting so much work into looking like we haven’t spent any time or done any work at all. 

Every now and then I throw in the blending sponge and decide that if I’m going to put makeup on, well, I want to be able to see it. Makeup is great for hiding blemishes and enhancing your natural beauty, but it can also be a hell of a lot fun. Maybe the long, dark winter months have gotten to me, but lately I’ve been drawn to bright colors and bold hues that are both fun and pretty. And surprisingly wearable. Here are two of my favorites (which I often wear together): 

Jouer Lip Gloss in Birchbox Pink: This hot pink gloss, which was created exclusively for Birchbox (www.birchbox.com), is silky smooth and can be layered for varying levels of pigment. I find a generous swipe brightens my whole face and makes my lips look healthy and plump. An extra layer or two makes the color pop even more, but the shade is ultra-flattering and the shiny gloss looks great, not garish. Another great hot pink gloss pick? Make Up For Ever Glossy Full Couleur Extreme Shine Lip Gloss in #4. 

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner in Peacock: I never thought I’d see the day when wearing any form of bright blue eye makeup would make me feel like a stone cold fox, but it has arrived. Stila’s Peacock, a sort of electric cobalt blue, makes my eyes dazzle – they’ve never looked so blue! You can line your eyes fully with the pencil and then smudge it to really rock the color. My favorite way to wear it is a bit more subtle – I line the upper and lower lashes of the outside corners of my eyes, winging up and out for a very slight cat eye. 

Have you embraced bright makeup this season?

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Brand Crush: Make Up For Ever

There’s nothing more thrilling than a new crush. It was always starts the same way. You know you kinda like the soon-to-be object of your affection for days, weeks, months, sometimes even years before it blossoms into full-blown adoration. Then before you know it you’re smiling more, there’s more pep in your step, a twinkle in your eye, and you’re simply glowing.

This is exactly how my latest crush developed. I always liked Glossy Full Couleur Extreme Shine Lip Gloss, and I’ve known for years that the trick to the smokiest, sultriest eyes is Diamond Shadow. But it wasn’t until recently that I realized how much I absolutely love Make Up For Ever.

As you’ll recall, I recently discovered the brand’s HD High Definition Powder, a mattefying powder that lasts all day, miraculously hides blemishes and evens skin-tone. I instantly fell for the powder, so when Sephora offered me a Make Up For Ever gift with purchase (an adorable make up bag filled with mini versions of some of the brand’s best products), I jumped at the opportunity.

The first treat I tried was Lab Shine Star Collection Lip Gloss. The shimmery nude gloss glides on smoothly, smells great, and looks ever better. As far as glosses go, it’s one of the most elegant ones I’ve tried. I wear it whenever I have a big meeting at work or just want to feel especially put-together. When my little tube runs out, I’ll undoubtedly be buying a big one.

A few days later, tired of my usual daily mascara, I reached into my goody bag and pulled out a tiny tube of Smoky Lash Extra Black Mascara. I’m always weary of new mascaras because, let’s face it, the vast majority of them aren’t great. They either smudge, flake, smear or sting, and none of those are great things. But Make Up For Ever had been so dependable so far, I thought I could trust it. And I’m so glad I did! This triple-threat boasts the ability to volumize, lengthen and curl lashes, and it does not disappoint. The first day I wore it, I couldn’t stop staring at my eyes in the mirror. Suddenly they were fringed with long, thick, dark lashes and looked incredibly blue. I was smitten.

I haven’t tried all that Make Up For Ever has to offer, but I can’t wait to. No matter where this new relationship takes me, I’m sure I’ll love it.

Summer Loves

Summer is officially upon us, and with the gorgeous weather comes oily skin, frizzy hair, and often a less than fresh feeling. Happily, I’ve found a few wonder-products that help beat the heat and keep me feeling fresh and clean. Here, my top summer beauty picks:

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes – These 99.1% natural pre-moistened towelettes slick away oil, smudged makeup, and everyday grime without leaving skin feeling too dry or too greasy. They have a pleasant and super-refreshing scent, and can be used all over the body for a quick all-over cleanse. I use them at night when I’m feeling too lazy to properly wash my face, and during the day when I’m feeling particularly icky.

Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Powder – This translucent finishing powder is AMAZING. A light dusting keeps skin matte for several hours, and somehow manages to hide imperfections and perfect skin tone without any tint. I purchased the mini-size at Sephora.com to give it a try, and it contains plenty of product to get me through the summer. I’ll definitely be buying this one again.

Organix Renewing Moroccan Argan Oil Penetrating Oil – This little bottle of drugstore hair oil contains Moroccan argan oil – the hair oil of the moment – and is a perfect summer hair helper. It features a summery tropical scent, makes hair shiny, fights frizz and keeps grease at bay for several days. Plus, it helps condition hair. It’s an ideal product for beauties who don’t wash their hair every day.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine Cologne Absolue – This is my new favorite scent. It has a long-lasting, authentic orange scent, and makes me feel happy and clean when I wear it. What’s more perfect for summer than that?

Where There’s Smoke…

There are few looks as timeless and coveted as the smokey eye. When done properly, it’s a smoldering, sophisticated look that makes your eyes pop and puts a swagger in your step. When done poorly, it can look like you are in desperate need of sleep, you’ve been punched in both eyes, or, worse, you simply just don’t know how to apply makeup. None of these is good.

My go-to eye look is sort of a smokey cat eye. It’s subtle enough to be appropriate in just about every situation, but steamy enough to make me feel HOT during those times when I really want to be able to stop people dead in their tracks with nothing more than a glance. I’m not sure I ever have, but feeling like I could is the real power that comes from the smokey eye.

First things first: I start by curling my lashes and applying concealer below the eyes. As mentioned above, this look can run the risk of making you look sleepy or bruised; try to avoid that by hiding any real signs of sleep deprivation. I always curl my lashes first so that I don’t get any makeup on my lash curler, and because it slightly changes the look of the eye and I want to make sure I apply makeup accordingly.

Next, I sweep on a light beige or shimmery nude eyeshadow. Apply it all over lids, from lashes to brow bone. Two of my favorite shadows for this are Lancome Color Design Eyeshadow in Nutmeg and Stila Eyeshadow in Kitten. Kitten is a little sparklier, so Nutmeg is my pick when subtlety is key.

Now for the fun part: liner. I have used regular pencil liner and gel liner (never liquid – I’m just not that brave), and both can be good tools, but my favorite way to line my eyes is with powder eye shadow and a sponge-tip applicator. I’ve used dark purples, greens, and blacks, and really depending on your eye color, what you’re wearing, and how brave you feel, any dark shadow can work. The color I use most frequently is Make Up For Ever Diamond Shadow in Diamond Black. Carefully tap the edge of the sponge-tip applicator in the shadow. Use it to deposit the color right into the lash line, all along the bottom lashes. Do the same on the top, starting between a third and half of the way across the lashes and moving out towards the outer corner of the eye. Where the two lines meet, I like to wing the shadow slightly upward, creating the subtle cat eye look.

Using either my finger or the applicator, I smudge the lines a little, making the look more or less smokey depending on the event or situation.

Finally, I add a coat of black mascara to open up my eyes and tie the look together.

Voila! A subtle smokey eye.