A Little Tingle…

I must say that I love any product that makes my skin tingle. It just makes me feel that said product is working. This is probably just a conditioned response to anything tingly, but I think most people need to feel like something is happening in order for them to be able to vouch or feel good about a product. The latest product to make my skin tingle, is Kinerase Instant Radiance Facial Peels.

Kinerase Instant Radiance Facial Peel This is exactly what it says – a facial peel that helps exfoliate and smooth the skin. It contains an “advanced” form of lactic and fruit acids infused with skin soothers to deliver smoother, more radiant skin. This kit is pretty self-explanatory, you just take the pre-moistened applicator from the pouch and gently apply it over face and neck. I used these for a period of about a month and my skin just glowed, which is exactly what a peel does for you. It literally peels the top layer of skin off and leaves you with the new, beautiful skin underneath. Now, I get regular chemical peels via the dermatologist 1x/month and they are probably 100x the strength of these babies, but nonetheless these are a great addition to any skin care regimen.

Please note, that I did skip my monthly session in order to test these out because too much peel is not a good thing either. Your face might react initially– peeling a bit and get red, but it goes away fairly quickly. My peeling was minimal, but that was due to the fact that it is used to a much stronger solution. My face just felt tingly and tight and you can feel that something is happening. The directions recommend to repeat this process for no more than 5 days straight using a new applicator each day. After the 5 days are up, you should wait at least 2 weeks between peels. My face was definitely more sensitive, but looked fabulous. If you cannot afford to go to the dermatologist or just aren’t interested, these are a great way to get similar results in your own home.

A few things to remember: be very careful about sun exposure while using this product. You must apply sunscreen liberally and daily (you should be doing that already though)! And, you might want to discontinue use of any Retin-A based product while you are using this as well. This box contains 15 treatments and runs about $75.

To Prime or Not to Prime?

Have I mentioned how much I love NARS cosmetics? I think I have and was fortunate enough to try another great product. I don’t normally use makeup primer; as it is I put enough product on my skin daily. But for a night out on the town, I will go all out and will use extras every now and then. The newest extra is NARS Makeup Primer with SPF 20.

NARS Makeup Primer with SPF 20 Make-up primers have always been a wonder to me, just exactly what is the purpose and do I have the time to apply? I have owned the pseudo-famous one by Smashbox for some time (years) now and that goes to show how often I use it. Primer is supposed to go on top of cleansed skin and serves to create the perfect canvas for applying your foundation flawlessly. The NARS Primer also covers any redness and improves the skin’s overall texture and quality. I must say, I did notice a difference. My skin was flawless; but it should have been what with the primer, shimmery foundation, skin perfecting powder (MAC), and bronzer that I applied.

Ultimately, the primer did not feel heavy, went on very easily and absorbed into my skin immediately. It created translucent, healthy-looking skin. You can also wear primer alone, with or without powder on top of it. To make this even better, NARS add SPF 20 protection against both UVA and UVB rays. The additional antioxidant protection also helps to fight free radical damage.

Bronze Beauty

It’s starting to get warmer here on the left coast which means that my beauty goals transition over to making myself as tan, bronze and shimmery as possible. Now, I would never, ever touch a tanning bed, but getting that “glow” is of the utmost importance to me starting now that spring is upon us. For something to be so bad for you and actually make you look so good is such a shame.

Tarte Sunburst Beaded Bronzing Lotion Fear not, the faux tanning products that are out on the market right now just keep getting better and better. Case in point – Tarte Sunburst Beaded Bronzing Lotion. This is a facial moisturizer that is infused with tiny little “bronzing beads.” When you slather on the lotion, the tiny beads burst open from the pressure of your fingertips which is what delivers the bronze color that you are ultimately aiming for.

The color is a nice bronzy brown, not too dark depending on the amount you use and not at all orangey. It went on very easily and more important, evenly. The moisturizer part is oil-free and feels very light going on as well. This formula also boasts vitamins A & E to help condition and fight free radicals and it is water-resistant to boot. An interesting concept to say the least, but the bottom line is you will get that instant gratification tanned- look that we are all coveting. One thing to remember though, is that no matter how bronze your face looks, if your neck and décolletage are ghost- white, it would behoove you to where a scarf or some kind of cover-up so that there is not an obvious difference. Or you can try spreading the Tarte Sunburst Body Bronzing Lotion with Self-Tanner or any kind of body tanner on that area so that you are even and ultimately not fake-looking.

The Gentle Picker Upper

I am not one to use eye makeup remover. It is mostly due to laziness as I don’t want to add that extra step at night to my face washing routine. I find that the whatever face wash I am using at the moment is sufficient enough to get all the remnants of eye makeup off. That being said, I was more than happy to try the NARS Eye Makeup Remover.

Nars Eye Makeup Remover I am a huge fan of Nars Cosmetics and love their sophisticated design and clean packaging. This particular product is simply named Eye Makeup Remover. According to the website it is a” high-performance, extremely mild makeup remover that removes all types of makeup.” Well this stuff is truly a god send. I know there are a few tried and true eye makeup removers out there, but this one does the job that much better. It has no scent to speak of, leaves no oily residue and does not sting the eyes one little bit.

When I use eye makeup remover or any soap product for that matter on my face, I am not very careful about not getting it in my eyes and I have been stung quite a few times. This product, however, was extremely gentle and there was no sting to speak of. There was no extensive tugging at the precious corners of my eyes needed, just a few swipes on a cotton pad and it was pretty much gone. Also, the formula is “layered” so to speak so you have to shake up the bottle to mix the top and bottom liquids together for it to work which is always a fun perk. Yet another great addition to the fabulosity that is the Nars brand.

Dior Pure Poison

Alas, so many blue nail polishes, so little manicure time. As of late there have been OPI Russian Navy, OPI Yoga-ta Get this Blue, Chanel Blue Satin and now the latest – Dior Vernis Long Wearing Nail Lacquer in Poison Blue.

Dior Vernis Long-Wearing Nail Lacquer This polish is inspired by the legendary Dior Midnight Poison Fragrance. I love the look of a dark blue nail – it’s all Goth and chic at the same time. This color is a bit darker than the others with no shimmer. (One coat = midnight blue, Two coats=almost black in certain lights). In comparison to Chanel’s Blue Satin, it’s more of a midnight blue-black shade whereas Blue Satin is a dark blue that contains shimmer. As far as how it holds up, I have read numerous reviews and the consensus is it that it holds up well. As much as I love Chanel and its covet-worthy colors, the polish is not the greatest quality and tends to chip after 2-3 days. Dior however, lasted a good 5 days, until my nail bed started to grow out.

I was very impressed with the quality of this nail polish, having never used Dior polish before and at $19/bottle, it’s the same price as Chanel. The beauty of the Dior polish is that its only available in Europe, but for a limited amount of time, you can scoop it up at sephora.com. As for which one to choose, OPI’s color(s) are hands down the best deal of the bunch and the Russian Navy fits the bill perfectly. It’s a good, solid, shimmery dark blue that has staying power and goes on with a brush your manicurist will love.

LA Fashion Week – Part 1

LA Fashion week is a big to-do here in the City of Angels. So I was very excited to get backstage access to a couple of the fashion shows that were being sponsored by MAC Cosmetics. What fun! For someone like me who religiously reads every magazine cover to cover, buys every new product that comes out on the market and just loves beauty and fashion in general, this was a real treat. The first show was by a local designer, Kelly Nishimoto, and while I was there I was able to snag some talk time with head make-up artist, Gregory Arlt. Here are some tidbits:

How did you start in the makeup industry?
I have been in the industry for 20 years now professionally and 15 of those have been with MAC Cosmetics.

Did you have any formal makeup training?
None at all! I grew up with 2 sisters who taught me about makeup and color and a dad who was an artist where I learned about shading and mixing color combinations. I was always being requested to do my sisters’ and friends makeup.

What made you want to work for MAC?
I have always loved MAC. I was a freelancer before I came on board and used MAC Cosmetics religiously on my own. I love(d) their makeup. I now love the stability of working for a global company and it’s been an amazing ride ever since.

When you are booked for a job, do you meet with the photographer and/or designers to find out what kind of look they want? Or do you have full creative freedom?
One of my favorite things to do are fashion shows. I always meet with the designer and head stylist before to discuss what type of look we want to achieve. It’s a very collaborative process – sketch pad and all to come up with ideas that are chock full of trial and error. We always love to try and tell a story with our looks.

What was the inspiration behind the look you are showing today?
It’s a very equestrian look – think horseback riding, early , romantic 20’s with a flushed cheek, as if you have just come in from the cold. It is summed up with flawless, glowing skin.

What makeup product can’t you live without?
In general it’s Mascara. If you have it on with nothing else, it looks like you have something on your face that just stands out.

What MAC product can’t you live without?
Absolutely, the Fix +. It’s a face lift in a bottle. It makes your skin taught and plump and I love to spray it on at the 8th hour of a long day for a quick skin refresher. I also use it after I am done to set the makeup as well. There is a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber that is calming to the skin with a fresh, clean scent.

What appeals to you most about working for a company like MAC?
First and foremost it’s their philanthropy – their AIDS fund. They are always giving back. Also, MAC gives you tremendous support and lets you have the freedom to do what you want with the creative process. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Any sneak peak of up-coming fall makeup trends?
For fall, think “Chocolate and Cherries.” For the eyes we are seeing browns in an array of frosted and shimmer shades. For the lips, think berry-based reds – cherry and pomegranate reds – nothing too bright, just very deep in color.

P.S. I hear they were testing out a brand, spanking new mascara, but no details were given as of yet. Stay tuned!

Lips Like Velvet

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil Who knew matte would make a comeback and that I would embrace it so much? My new love is the NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil. I initially bought it for the great nude color that is Belle De Jour, but kept it for its ease of use. Not only does it look very sheik coming out of the purse, but it goes on very sheik as well. The combination of a pencil that glides on as easy as a lipstick in jumbo-sized crayon tube is great. It goes on extremely smooth and creamy and provides a great matte finish that does not dry out the lips. Its staying power is even better. It lasted a good 3-4 hrs before a re-application was necessary. The Belle de Jour color is a NARS classic light-beige color that was re-invented for this lip pencil and I think is even better than the Lipstick. It is also available in about 14 other colors that are equally as brilliant.

Naturally Finished

MAC’s N Collection/Colour is one of my faves of late. I am in love with the lipsticks the most. I am always looking for a great nude to wear with a smoky eye and N1 and N2 totally fit the bill. Another part of the fantastic N Collection/Face that came out was the Mineralize Skin Finish Natural powders.

 MAC Cosmetics Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Not to be confused with the original Mineralize Skin Finishes which come in those wonderful swirly color combinations and provide a high-frost metallic finish. No these babies are meant to match the skin-tone and provide a “dimensional yet natural matte finish.” I went back and forth for a while trying to decide whether to buy this or not. I was not sure what its purpose was. I definitely didn’t need another step to my makeup routine in the morning. But I was sold when I found out it makes your skin glowy w/out being tacky and glittery. Not that MAC makes anything tacky, but you get my drift.

I start out with one of the mineral-based makeup’s (Bare Essentials/Youngblood) and apply this on top with a big, fat brush. It gives you a very pretty, glowy look to the skin that is perfect for daytime. The big dome-shaped container is perfect in size and comfort and makes using the product a breeze. Definitely a must-have addition for any makeup collection.

Minerals Everywhere

I have been a fan of mineral-based makeup for a while now. I mostly use it for the foundation and setting powder(s). As of late, I have been pretty happy with Bare Essentials Bare Minerals Cover and their Mineral Veil. I feel like the makeup is clean, goes on extremely easily and provides great coverage without a heavy feeling. Also, the built in sunscreen is great. Recently, the market seems to have become saturated with mineral-based products. Even the drugstore brands are getting on the bandwagon. So while browsing the net, I came across a new brand of mineral makeup called Youngblood Cosmetics and decided to give them a try.

Youngblood Cosmetics Natural Loose Mineral Foundation The first product I used was the Natural Mineral Foundation. This can be used as a foundation, concealer and/or powder. It goes on the same way as the Bare Minerals and I really didn’t see much of a difference. One reason I decided to stray from Bare Essentials is that I read that they used ingredients that were not exactly “all natural” and that they contained irritants. This has not been proven and as I am writing this, I see on the website that they claim “bareMinerals is free of preservatives, talc, oil, fragrance, dyes, and other chemicals that can irritate skin. The 100 percent pure bareMinerals represent the ideal mix of makeup and skincare, offering problem-solving cosmetics that perfect the complexion.”

I don’t remember seeing this disclaimer before, so maybe I am not the only one questioning. Anyways, Youngblood claims to be all natural as well. They have a full ingredient list posted on their website and it looks very “clean.” The foundation’s coverage was great and stayed on all day long. It has natural oil absorbing ingredients due to the mineral factor. The one complaint I have about the foundation is the packaging. The powder comes in a little jar, but with a flat top with holes that the powder is supposed to come out of, but there is no place to “catch” the excess so-to-speak, so shaking out more powder just means getting it all over the counter and using more than intended. This only seems to be the case for the foundation, because the Rice Setting Powder (below) has a convenient, easy dispenser.

Youngblood Cosmetics Mineral Rice Setting Powder Next is the Mineral Rice Setting Powder. This is again comparable to Bare Essentials “Mineral Veil” which the main purpose is to set your makeup and sop up any excess oil that might come on thorough the day. Again, great product that does what it says it will do.

Youngblood Cosmetics has a whole mineral-based makeup product line out as well beyond foundation and powder. This seems like a good reliable line and one that is definitely worth a shot if you ever want to try something new. The prices are a bit more expensive than Bare Essentials, but they also don’t have the mass reach that Bare Essentials does and the quality seems to be a bit better.

Pucker Up

“Plump up the Volume” is the quote on the tube of Napoleon Perdis Love Bite Lip Plump in Passion. Napoleon is one of the new lip products that have come out on the market that promise to plump up your lips to give them the “pout” that we are all coveting.

Napoleon Perdis Love Bite Lip Plump Now I don’t know about you, but the only way I have seen and actually tried to get significantly fuller lips is by injecting them with Restylane–and let me tell you it is painful. But there is no other way, I have found, to duplicate that look with so-called Lip Plumpers, glosses, injectors, etc. I have tried numerous products out on the market, and haven’t been too impressed.

Napoleon Perdis’ newest contains Capsicum Pepper and Cinnamon to stimulate and swell lips, while menthol soothes and jojoba to smooth. This plumper comes in a tube shaped applicator with a slanted tip, that makes it very convenient to apply sans mirror. It went on as a tingling high-shine gloss that was not extremely uncomfortable and lasted quite a while. What surprised me though, was the pretty cotton-candy pink color that looked great on its own or layered over lipstick.