Sunday, December 30, 2012

Party Time!

It's that time of year where we are expected to go out, and look good too. Why not ask us to move a mountain? I don't know about you, but by the time I'm done getting ready, I have no spoons left for going out!

So here are some quick ways to look party ready, and still have energy left for the party itself!

Messy Up Do
I can't remember which designer decided this was a "thing", but bless them. The beauty of this, is it works better if you haven't washed your hair in a day or two. What you need:
Dry shampoo
Bobby bins
Teasing brush or comb
Hair spray (preferably aerosol)
Optional: hair ornament of some kind
Start with your hair a mess. Spray in some dry shampoo for extra texture. Starting halfway back on your head, spritz sections of the top and sides with a little hair spray (just a spritz). Back comb a bit for a little poof. Pull your hair up in a series of small buns in the back. (You can do one large bun, but I find with small buns I can pin the hair further from my scalp and have it stay put. This keeps me from getting bobby pin related head pain.) Add your hair ornament wherever you like.

The caveat here is if you do this style you have to look otherwise pulled together. You know, dressy clothes, bit of makeup, etc.

Dressed Up Pony
Another great style sweeping the runways that is über easy to do. This can be messy (but you have to be dressed) or super sleek, which let's you be a little more relaxed. For a messy pony, follow the instructions above, only instead of buns, tie your hair back in a pony tail (no scrunchies please!) and add your hair ornament to the base of the pony. For sleek, here is what you need:
Gel or styling creme
Pony tail holder
Optional: Hair ornament
This will work best if your hair is damp, but definitely doesn't require washing. Put a small amount of gel in your hands, rub together to warm, and put in the top of your hair. Comb into however you want, all back, deep side part, center part, eyc. Add a little gel here and there as needed to make it smooth, but not crunchy. Pull hair back into a pony tail. Either smooth it down with a little more gel or flat iron *or* for a little edge, mix a smooth top with a teased bottom! Fix your hair ornament at the base of the pony tail. And we're done.
A note here, don't think a pony tail has to be centered. Side pony tails look great and a little more stylized.

Red Lip
If you follow me on Facebook, you saw this as a quick tip. A red lips led everything look pulled together and elevates any outfit. The two things you want here are nice looking skin and black mascara. For your skin, even a tinted moisturizer and little pressed powder will do. You just want it to look finished. For mascara, the blacker the better! My all time favorite is Lancôme Hypnose Drama, but a great drugstore option is Loreal Voluminous.
My advice is to stick with stains. This way you don't have to spend all night in the bathroom touching up your lipstick. There are a lot of great high end stains (Josie Maran and Yves Saint Laurent are outstanding), but why break the bank? Revlon Just Bitten and NYC Cosmetics are fantastic, and available in the drugstore for under $5-$12.
There is a red for everyone. If your undertones are pink, go for blue based reds. If your undertones are golden, go for orange or brown based reds. Yes, red lipstick is a little scary at first, but it's a fabulous feeling when you wear it!  (I'm wearing Josie Maran lip stain in Foxtrot)

Nothing says party like sparkles, but unless you're under 25 big hunks of glitter are not your friend. The good news is glitter has grown up. You can now find loads of eye shadows and lipsticks with subtle, super tiny flecks of glitter that are suited for adults. Again, no need to break the bank here. Revlon, E.L.F., and Wet'n'Wild all make great eye shadows at great prices. If you want to play it safe, get a color you wear normally just in an iridescent version. Or go bold and get out of your comfort zone and see my next suggestion....

Just one bold sweep of color can make blah look BLAM! I love a bright shadow or a bright lip. Notice I said "or". Don't do both. Have blue eyes? Pick up a teal shadow and watch them pop. Hazel eyes? Try green. Brown? Go gold. For lips, any bright color will do. Fuchsia, pink, tangerine. If that's too much, try just an eye liner. It's a small suggestion of color, and a great way to break into the trend. This is another one of those things that makes everything else you do look "on purpose."  (I'm wearing E.L.F. Endless Eyes 32 color palette in Brights, six right and one down.  I have no idea the name of the color, but it's a great shade of teal.)

Doing any one of these, especially the make up, will make you look like you spent a lot more spoons getting ready than you actually did.

Now, strictly speaking, my blog isn't about fashion, but I'd be remiss if I didn't give you a couple of tips here.

Black Dress
When in danger or in doubt, go Little Black Dress. I own at least half a dozen. When I have to go somewhere and look good, but I feel lousy, I put on a black dress. The LBD always looks good, is always in style, and can be dressed up or down. I like a plain shift dress or a wrap dress.

One Big Accessory
This is another thing, like the red lip, that elevates any outfit and looks really "on purpose." Be it a big bracelet, big necklace, big ring, big earrings, any one huge hunk of jewelry will make any outfit awesome. You can pick things like this up anywhere these days, Target, Walmart, any store at any mall that sells clothes (Forever 21 is a great place for awesome but dirt cheap accessories.)
Or shop your closet. Do you have more than one necklace? Do you have more than one bracelet? A broach maybe? Then you have more then enough to make your own statement piece. Take two or three necklaces, hook a broach (or two, or four) into the necklace. Or just pile on every bracelet you own at once.

Those are my two big pieces of fashion advice: black and big shiny things. But it works. Pair a plain black dress with a bold cuff bracelet, spend five minutes on a sleek pony tail, slap on a bright lip. Or a black dress, bold necklace, messy updo, red lip. Look at that, you just got party perfect with minimal spoons.

Looking fabulous doesn't have to be exhausting. You can look great and still have enough energy to enjoy the party. As for staying up all the way until midnight, well..... My other party secret? Take a nap first!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Skip the Shower

(The meme is courtesy of Chronic Illness Cat. If you're not already following this page on Facebook, I highly recommend!)

How true is that? I don't know about you, but showering takes a lot more spoons than I normally have. So I skip the shower. A lot. I really do wish I could shower more, but it usually comes down to showering or eating dinner. I don't have spoons for both.

And I know I'm not alone. Bathing isn't really a priority for the chronically ill. So first, let's take a moment to rationalize, shall we? As I mentioned in my post on dry skin, daily bathing is a big no-no in the winter. It will strip your skin of natural oils and dry it out. Plus, skipping the shower is ecologically sound. A fifteen minute shower uses roughly 105 gallons of water, so by missing a day or two, you're being "green". Because we're doing it to conserve water, right?

Excuses aside, not bathing is just a reality of being chronically ill. Standing up is tiring, bending over hurts, and showering is just too much effort most days. But the products here are good for non-spoonies too. Woke up late? Just hit the gym? Use some of the things here to save some time.

Secret Outlast 48 hour deodorant

I've been using Secret deodorant as long as I can remember, but when I saw this at my last trip to the drugstore I was intrigued. You hear about a lot of products that last 24 hours, and that's nice but I don't shower that much. Forty-eight? Now you're speaking my language. This really does what it says. I put it on after a shower and I really don have to refresh for two days. I find with deodorant it's less about days than the number of times I've put it on. It seems like after the fourth or fifth application, it just gives up. This deodorant really goes the extra mile. It has been well over 48 hours, and I'm still powder fresh!

Gigi Slow Grow

This is a really cool product I had totally forgotten about until I was reorganizing my bathroom cabinet the other week. It slows down hair growth, so you don't have to shave as often. You won't find this in a drugstore, but you'll be able to get it in just about any beauty supply store. I put it on once after my shower, and it makes one week growth look like two or three day growth. Anything that keeps me from shaving as often is good in my book!

Charmin Freshmates Wipes

I looooove these for many reasons. The obvious is you can use them for a quick tidy up in lieu of a shower, just like a baby wipe. The other reason is a little grosser, but let's be real here. Being sick is gross sometimes. I like using these after I go to the bathroom because it helps me feel cleaner in general. And we're not talking about a quick pee here. Just another thing I use to keep the "oooh I'm soooo ggrooosss" feeling away for another day or two so I can skip my shower.

Psssst Dry Shampoo

This is another magic thing. There are a lot of dry shampoos on the market and I recommend this one for two reasons. The first, it was originally designed for the elderly and ill so it's not overly perfumed. The second, it is actually the best. I've tried everything from drugstore to high end, and this one out performs them all as a dry shampoo for removing oil at the scalp, and as a hair styling product (you can use it for texturizing). Spray this at your roots, rub in with your fingers, and it absorbs the oil in your hair, giving you another day of decent hair. Dry shampoo is also a great way to preserve a blow out for a few days. But mostly I use it to avoid bathing.

Ready Bath Wipes

These are the big guns. You have to order them online, because they are technically a medical supply, but you should. These are like baby wipes on steroids. They are made to wash the disabled, the bedridden, etc, and they are great. They are a shower in a wipe. I use these when I know I need to be around people and want to make sure I'm not stinky. They have a light fragrance, but also come in fragrance free. The package even has instructions on the "hot spots" you should hit with the wipe. These will really and truly clean you.

Regardless of all these products, I'm still not going to shower much. These just help me feel a little less disgusting about it. And remember, we're not being gross. We're conserving water. We are doing our part for the environment!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Winter Skin Fixes

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

Yeah, tell that to my skin, jerk. Granted, I prefer winter. Heat, sunlight, and dehydration are all major migraine triggers for me, so I'm on lock down all summer. I literally get reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder since I'm not really allowed outside. Also, if it's 20 degrees, I can layer. If it's 90 degrees, I can be buck naked and still uncomfortable.

But my skin hates winter. My skin is über dry at the best of times, and when the temperature drops it gets downright reptilian. Even if your skin doesn't get as dry as mine, I'm sure it dries out a bit in winter. So read on.....

Choosing Soap

Bar soap is bad. If you have dry skin, chuck your bar soap immediately. See those cracks in your bar of soap? Yeah, that's going to happen to your skin. Liquid soap is always preferable for dry skin.

You want Sodium Laureth Sulfate. You must read your labels. As a sick person, I'm sure you already do this on your food, but you have to do it on your health and beauty aids as well. Most body washes contain Sodium Laurel Sulfate. It's cheaper and foamier and harsher than Laureth Sulfate. Those two little letters make a big difference. Laureth is a weaker detergent, and therefore less drying. If you're not scent triggered, I highly recommend Philosophy Body Wash. I have a dozen. But soap is soap. As long as its Laureth Sulfate, use whatever.

Be Gross, Don't Wash

Honestly, I really don't shower all that often. It takes a lot of spoons I don't have. I work at home, seldom leave the house, and my cats don't seem to mind.
But showering every day is actually pretty bad for dry skin in the winter. Even the most gentle soaps dry skin out, because while your removing dirt you're also removing the skins natural oils. So, limit your showers. If you still want or need to shower every day, lather up strategically. Seriously, how dirty do your elbows get?

Layer up

Once out of the shower, pile it on. Not clothes, but moisturizer. I put on two layers on my body, and at least three on my face. For my body, I use my practical good non scented moisturizer, then I add another layer of something that smells pretty (usually like baked goods!). If your only going to use a fragrance free, still use two layers. Especially if you aren't showering every day. It will keep your skin from drying out between moisturizing. Always, always, always put moisturizer on wet skin. It will lock in the water that's already on there. Don't really dry off after your shower, do a quick pat with a towel then start piling it on.

Here are some of my favorite dry skin products. I've spent 20 years testing moisturizers, so you can be sure these are the best of the best!

Trader Joe's Moisturizing Cream
If you live anywhere near a Trader Joe's, this is worth the drive. It's $3.49 a bottle, and easily the second best moisturizer ever.  (The best being the wildly expensive Biotone which I'll get to in a second). It's totally fragrance free, has no mineral oil, and is just a fantastic no frills body lotion.  Sadly, it cannot be purchased online, so the link above is to the Makeup Alley review page.  You'll see I'm not the only person crazy for this lotion!

Biotone Massage Cream
This is not made for a moisturizer, but works amazingly as one. It has to be ordered online, and it's pricey! But a little goes a long way, so it's worth the money. Make sure you read the descriptions, as some products will have fragrance.  If I didn't have my Trader Joe's, I'd still be using their Pure Touch Organics, which was my favorite. (When you go to the website, be sure to check out their massage oils, which also make great moisturizers, and their face muds are fantastic as well.)

Oil Cleansers
This I only recommend for those with extremely dry skin like mine, and frankly I'm experimenting with this concept right now. Two weeks in, and I'm very pleased so far.
I've use oil cleansers for years as makeup removers. But when I saw my skin starting to flake and crack as early as November, I thought maybe it was time to try them as a daily cleanser. It sounds counter intuitive to clean your face with oil, but it works. All oil cleansers contain a hefty dose of mineral oil, which is too large to penetrate your skin, so your face isn't going to become oily from using an oil cleanser. You apply the oil to dry skin, where it bonds with dirt. Then you add water, which removes the oil/dirt, but keeps all the good oils on your face. The first one to be sold commercially, my favorite Shu Uemura, was made to remove Elizabeth Taylor's makeup on the set of Cleopatra. That's should give you an idea of what this is capable of cleaning!
Sadly, the Shu Uemura is extremely expensive. Less expensive options are available from Josie Maran, DHC, and now even Sephora. I just got the Sephora oil cleanser and I am pretty impressed. It's a bit thinner than the Shu, so I mix in a tiny squirt of the Shu to improve the texture.

Hope In A Jar
Love. This. Stuff. My sister says giving someone Hope in a Jar is tantamount to giving them a vial of crack or a bag of heroin. You've given them a lifelong addiction! I've only met one person who actually didn't like Hope. There are two really cool things about Hope In A Jar. One, it comes in formulas for dry, normal and oily skin. Two, you can get a trial size of the original Hope for about $15, so you don't have to commit to a $38 jar of moisturizer right off the bat.
It moisturizes, it brightens, it improves skin's texture. And, totally fragrance free. Be warned, since there is no perfume it does not smell good. But the smell fades in about 15 seconds, and you get used to it.

Josie Maran Argan Balm
I just discovered this and I am picking out china with this product. I got a tiny tin in the Josie Maran Moroccan Bazaar sampler, which of you've never tried Argan oil I recommend picking up. It's a moisturizing balm. It must be meant for your body, as the full size comes in a very large tin, but I bought it for my face. It's creates a thin film to lock in gobs of moisturizer I just put on, and leaves my skin unbelievably soft. I reapply a couple times a day, whenever I'm feeling dry. You can even use this under liquid makeup, provided you use a very thin layer.

Smiths Rosebud Salve
I saved the best for last. This is a cult classic. I have been buying this since I had to take the train to Bigelow Apothecary in downtown Manhattan. It was worth the trip. Lucky you, it's now available for $6-7 in Sephora and in three flavors (original, minted and strawberry). It's meant for your lips, but I use this everywhere in the winter. My lips, my nose when it gets chapped, my cuticles, my elbows. I used it on my cracking, flaking forehead all last winter too. I have them stashed all over the place and keep one on me at all times. This will heal the most disastrously chapped skin in 24-48 hours. If you get nothing else I recommend here, get this one!

Get one, or get all, these will at least keep your skin nice during the cold months ahead.  Stay warm!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Let's Drop Acid

Acid peels that is.

I don't take great care of my skin. I don't wash my face every day. I sometimes don't eat anything but toast for a week. And I don't know about you, but being a walking chemistry experiment really messes with my skin sometimes.

So I have had to find products that I can use one day a week to make it look like I did what I was supposed to for the other six.

Enter peels. There are two types of exfoliation. Physical, like a scrub, and chemical, like a peel. My skin (like the rest of my stupid body) is ultra sensitive and does not like physical exfoliants. Also, when I have allodynia (fancy medical term for "my skin hurts") the last thing I want is to be rubbing little grains into my face. Ow.

I'm going to apologize now for the fact this post has a lot of chemistry terms in it. I've spent many years learning all of this, because when you have sensitive skin you have to know what that eighteen syllable word on the ingredients list means, and whether or not your allergic to it. I'll try to keep this from getting too boring.

Peels use an acid to clear away the dead skin off your face, which clears pores, stimulates collagen growth, and reveals the brighter skin underneath. There are three kinds of acids used in most peels available: Glycolic, lactic, and fruit acids. (Fruit acids are an alpha-hydroxy acid like glycolic acid, but a "papaya mask" is going to be less potent than a "papaya gylcolic peel". It's less chemistry than labeling.)  It is also important to keep the concentration of the peel in mind.  A 30% lactic acid peel is obviously stronger than a 10% glycolic acid peel.

Important: When it comes to exfoliation, less is more.  It's like starting a new medication:  start low and go slow.  See what your skin can tolerate.  Don't jump into doing a glycolic peel three times a week, and then send me hate mail about how bad your skin looks.  Do it once.  Wait a week.  See what happens.  And save your receipts.  Most stores are good about returns if something really destroys your skin, even if you have used a little bit.

Glycolic Acid:
This is your strongest one. It gives you the best, fastest results. It also has the most potential to cause irritation and dryness. Because it is the most potent, it is also the most expensive.

My Recommendation: Ole Henrikson Lemon Strip Flash Peel $48

This is one of my favorite brands for skincare.  Granted, I have not yet tried this product myself yet.  My skin is way too sensitive for glycolic acid, but I have many of their other products and they are all very high quality and well worth the money.  

Honorable Mention:  Brazilian Peel $118

This gets a mention because the set, which is for a full thirty days, is supposed to be the equivalent of a single session 30% glycolic acid peel performed by a dermatologist.  It has gotten all kinds of awards and accolades since it came out a few years ago, and is considered to be the gold standard of at home peels.  Would I spend that kind of money? No way.

Lactic Acid
This acid is less potent than glycolic, but is still excellent for peels.  It is a milk acid as opposed to a fruit acid, like glycolic. You can find it on it's own, but it is also often used in combination with glycolic or salicylic acids.  Since it is less potent, it is less likely to irritate and better for sensitive and dry skin types.

My Recommendation:  Philosophy Microdelivery Purifying Peel $40

This product is MAGIC.  This is what actually inspired me to write this post.  I bought this on impulse out of desperation because my skin looked so dull and felt like paper.  There are many fantastic things about this product, but hands down the best is the application time is only 1-3 minutes.  I put it on after the shower, put on moisturizer, then rinse it off.  I was able to fit it right into my existing routine, so it's not an extra thing I need to try to remember to do.  I've been using it about two months and have seen a huge improvement in my skin's texture, clarity and radiance.

Honorable Mention:  Philosophy The Microdelivery $40 or $68

This gets a nod because it's the original and because it is a great product.  It combines a dermabrasion based Vitamin C scrub with a lactic acid peel.  It's more intense than just the peel, but might be good for those who like a scrub too, or need a little more exfoliation.  Plus it comes in 1oz and 2oz sizes, so you can choose which is right for you.

Fruit Acids 
Again, this isn't a chemical difference, just labeling.  These peels and masks are going to be your least potent, but also the least irritating.  These are a great starting place for sensitive skin or people who are new to chemical exfoliation and aren't sure how their skin will react.  Also, since these are the least potent, I can finally give you products at a decent price point, and even make at home options.

My recommendation:  100% Pure Pineapple Enzyme Facial Peel $17

I haven't tried this either, but I am very impressed by the ingredients list.   You know what's in this?  Clay.  Pineapples.  Papaya.  Many times in skincare, less is more.  I haven't tried this yet, but I'm definitely going to be ordering some for myself!

Honorable Mention

Ole Henrikson Blue/Blackberry Enzyme Mask $32

This one I already have and I love this mask.  It leaves your skin so soft and plump, but it's not as strong as a peel.  It only takes about a tablespoon to cover you're whole face, so the jar will last you a while. 

At Home Options
If you aren't ready to invest, there are at home options as well.  Apple cider vinegar is an alpha hydroxy acid.  Lactic acid is derived from milk, so plain yogurt is a lactic acid mask.  All fruits are an instant glycolic acid facial.  Add a tablespoon of honey into the mix for its hydrating and healing properties.  I'm personally far too lazy for that myself.  If I'm going to spend ten minutes in the kitchen, it's probably going to be to make myself some actual food for once.

So now you have the low down on peels and chemical exfoliation. Here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Before: Wash your face. I hope that's obvious. Use a gentle cleanser. Stay away from anti-aging and anti-acne cleansers right before a peel. These will likely have salicylic acid or other types of chemical exfoliants in them. Too much of a good thing is very bad.
  • During: If it burns, wash it off. A little stinging is normal. I mean, you are putting acid on your face. But a little stinging for 10-15 seconds should be it. If the stinging lasts longer or is truly a burning sensation, wash it off now! That means the peel is too strong for your skin.
  • After: Moisturize! Do not do a peel then leave your face bare. That is just asking for trouble. I'd recommend a good thick one. Even if you normally use an oil-free moisturizer, I'd get something a little more gooey for this. Neutrogena and Olay make great night creams. Or you can get a trial size Philosophy Hope in a Jar for around $15. You just want a good protective layer on your skin after a peel.
  • And, even more important, sunscreen! You should be wearing it every day anyway. (Don't make me show you Tan Mom again!). Peels will make you more sensitive to sun damage and sun burn so it is very important to be diligent about daily sunscreen use if you use peels regularly.

I'm going to make it easy for you again.  If you have to buy one, I'm going to say Philosophy Microdelivery Purifying Peel.
  • First, like all Philosophy skincare, it is fragrance free.  It has a slight citrus scent because it has citric acid, but it has zero perfume.  I would be surprised if the scent of the ingredients, which fades very quickly, would be enough to trigger a migraine.
  • Second, it is highly unlikely it will irritate your skin.  How am I so confident?  It doesn't irritate my skin, and everything irritates my skin.  If I'm not allergic to stuff, almost no one is.  
  • Third, you have the 1-3 minute application time.  Put it on in the shower, after the shower, while you are brushing your teeth.  The short amount of time needed makes it so easy to fit in somewhere.  (Also, it would be very hard for 3 minutes of exposure to a non-perfume smell to trigger a migraine I think)  
  • Fourth, it's worth the money.  I bought mine in mid-July and I have gone through about 3/4 of it so far.  So in a year, you might buy three of these.  If you figure one or two times a week into $120 for the whole year, you're looking at less then $2 per use.  Trust me, this stuff is worth your $2 per use.
But it doesn't matter if you spend $118 on the Brazilian Peel, or put some yogurt on your face twice a week.  Anything you do to exfoliate is going to improve your skin and help to make up for any neglect.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

You Look Rested

When was the last time you heard that? I heard it the other week actually. Was it because I got a good nights sleep and was well rested? Don't be ridiculous! Concealer baby. Concealer.

I've had dark circles under my eyes forever. They are genetic. Then add allergies. Then add the fact I haven't gotten a proper night's sleep since at least 2010 (that's only as far back as I can prove). I had a sleep study done and I have alpha-EEG anomaly or alpha-wave intrusions. Basically, my brain keeps waking itself up (13 times an hour) so I never reach delta sleep, where your body restores itself, for very long, if at all.

So I have serious dark circles, as I'm sure many of you do as well. I don't know any chronically ill person who sleeps properly. Either they sleep enough, but it's useless, or they have horrible insomnia from being in pain or as a side effect from medications (Prednisone packs anyone?). Lucky for you I have spent literally twenty years trying to cover my dark circles, and have finally found the answer.

I'm going to start by recommending a product I've never tried, but have heard great things about. (This isn't the answer, just something I hear is magic). I haven't tried it because, and you are going to hear me say this a lot, they just don't make it in a shade light enough for my skin tone. Yves Saint Laurent Touché Eclait concealer is supposed to be great for covering dark circles because it has tiny iridescent particles in it to reflect the light off your dark circles. It's a liquid and comes in a little click pen for easy application. Now, this might work great for the general population, but I for one am skeptical of the ability of any liquid concealer to cover the dark circles of the chronically ill.

So here is your answer: Benefit Cosmetics Boi-oing Concealer and Bobbi Brown Corrector. This is one of the few times where I'm going to say there is no drugstore option. Physician's Formula makes color correcting concealers that are the same idea as Bobbi Brown Corrector, but you sacrifice a lot of quality for $14 in savings. It's not worth it. As for the Boi-oing, there is nothing in the drugstore. Period. I have tried them all. Revlon, L'oreal, Maybelline, Cover Girl, Max Factor, etc. The only cheaper option I feel comfortable giving you is MAC Studio Finish concealer, which is a whole $2 less. Sorry!

It's a bit of an initial investment, but those two little pots are going to last you a long time. Both of these products have extremely high pigment density (meaning a whole lot of color in a little bit of product), so a little goes a long way. If you don't want to, or can't, buy both at once, I'd get the Corrector first.  Use that with whatever concealer you have now.  

Bobbi Brown Corrector comes in twelve shades, some more pink, some more yellow. Choose the one that works for you. Benefit Boi-oing, sadly, only comes in five shades. Not sure what genius thought that was a good idea. So you have three options. If you fall in between, you can buy two pots and mix them together. Or you can try their Erase Paste. This one only comes in three shades (Seriously, what is going on over there?) but those three seem to fall halfway between some of the Boi-oing shades. I've never tried the Erase Paste because the "Light" shade isn't light enough.

Or you can go to the MAC counter. I don't like Studio Finish quite as much as Boi-oing, but MAC makes every skin tone under the sun. Also, the Benefit ones tend to be on the dry side and can settle into fine lines, so the MAC might be a better option if you have a lot of wrinkles in your under eye area. It's a little oilier, but in a good way.

Here are my dark circles with nothing on them (except clear foundation primer). I told you they were serious.

And this is the end product. Look at me, looking all well rested!

This video will give you step by step application instructions:

My next post will be all about how to fake seven days worth of skin care regimen in one step.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saving Your Makeup

According to experts, you should throw away your foundation, lipsticks and eye shadows every six to twelve months, and mascara every two to three months.

Are you freakin kidding me?

I have the biggest problem with the mascara one. I'm very lucky to work from home, so I wear makeup once or twice a month. So according to experts, I should get about two to six uses out of my $30 Lancôme mascara, then chuck it? Puh-lease.

I have an enormous makeup collection. (refer to exhibit A), much of it well over five years old and all of it in perfect condition. I'm going to tell you how to make ALL of your make up last a long time.

1) Get it out of the bathroom. Are you really wearing makeup often enough to justify it being in the bathroom anyway? That's prime real estate! You are? Good for you! Get it out anyway. The temperature and humidity changes are going to destroy everything. I store mine in the closet next to the bathroom, but it really doesn't matter where you put it, linen closet, sock drawer, with your Christmas decorations. Just get it out of the bathroom.

2) Put it all in one place. Okay, this isn't so much about making it last as it's about me hating it when makeup is scattered randomly all over the place. You can pick up a cheap cosmetic bag pretty much anywhere, or check out Caboodles.  They have a lot of options to choose from. Or you can go high end and get a nice train case. And for those out there with serious addictions, I recommend a good tool box from your local hardware store (refer to exhibit B).

3) Clean your brushes. This one is important, especially if you only wear your makeup once in a while. If you let a dirty brush sit there for a week, it's going to grow bacteria. Then you dip it into your eyeshadow or whatever, and boom! You've contaminated the whole thing. Do not, however, buy commercial brush cleaners. These are usually loaded with alcohol and will trash your brushes, not to mention usually totally overpriced. I use a great product made for artists called Master's Brush Cleaner, but you can use any gentle cleanser (shampoo or face wash both work fine). Brushes can wait a couple days before you wash them, but sponges you should wash immediately. Honestly, if you're using the little cosmetic sponges that are $3 a dozen, you should just toss it every week if you apply makeup daily or after every use if your an occasional user.

4) Don't use your makeup when you have an eye infection. Or a cold sore. Or anything else weird going on.  Do I really need to tell you that? If you do use anything, clean it with an alcohol wipe after. My advice is to not use anything you are too attached to, as alcohol will sometimes damage your product. Mascara of course, you just buy a new one for the week of your eye infection. If you're like me and enjoy a pricey mascara, a good drugstore option is L'oreal Voluminous mascara in Carbon Black. If you want to pick up a cheap shadow palette you can chuck at the end of the week, go with Wet'n'Wild. (I'm not kidding. They make great eyeshadow. I have several in my permanent collection.)

5) Don't pump that mascara brush! You're mascara is going to dry out eventually. It is a sad fact of life. I usually get about a year out of mine, sometimes longer. Why? I never pump. That injects air into the mascara, which dries it out faster. To load the wand, unscrew the cap, then without removing the brush, swirl it around a few times. Works better than pumping anyway. You will get a gob on the end of the wand, so be mindful to wipe it off on the tip of the tube before applying.

Now, I know most of you aren't following the expert's advice anyway. I know I'm lucky if I feel well enough to get the science projects and biological warfare out of my refrigerator, much less start checking my makeup bin for expiration dates. I use the same rule of thumb with my makeup as I do in the fridge: if it looks or smells funky, probably better to let it go.

Friday, August 3, 2012

I've Got 99 Problems, But Skin Cancer Ain't One

If you're like me, you're sick.  Probably with a few things.  So why add another illness to the pile that, unlike most of this mess, is actually preventable?  Wear sunscreen every day.

If you take nothing else from me ever again, take that. I'll say it again. Wear sunscreen every day. If not for preventing skin cancer, do it for vanity. Eighty five percent of aging is caused by UV damage. And all the beauty advice in the world isn't going to help you if you look like Tan Mom.

But where to begin?  You go to the drugstore and there are dozens of brands and formulas. SPF, broad spectrum, what does it all mean?  That's where I come in.

SPF:  Sun Protection Factor.  The only thing you need to know about this is you need at least 15, preferably 30, and anything above 50 is really only necessary for the Irish and other extra pasty people (like myself).

Broad Spectrum:  This means it blocks UVA and UVB rays.  This is important because both cause skin cancer and skin aging.  Almost all sun screen is broad spectrum now, but check your labels to be sure.

Ingredients:  Some sunscreens stand up to light better than others, so make sure to look for ones with avobenzone, Helioplex or Mexoryl SX.  If you have allergies or sensitivities to chemical sunscreens, you can always go with physical sunscreens like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide. 

For more information on the technicalities of sunscreen, check out this article from the Mayo Clinic.

I've done all the hard work for you though and I am going to make this really easy. Buy Neutrogena.  It is that simple.  For your face, I like either the Healthy Defense Moisturizer or Ultra Sheer Liquid Sun Block . Both go on flawlessly under makeup.  For your body, any one they make will do.  Right now I'm using Wet Skin Sun Screen, because it goes on clear so it doesn't smudge my clothes.  Be warned, this is NOT for migraineurs who have problems with scent triggers, because the smell is obnoxious.

If you want a physical sunscreen, you can check out Neutrogena's Baby Sun Screen line.  Try this line if you have sensitive skin, or if regular sunscreens tend to burn you around the eyes.

Sadly, the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Liquid makes me break out, so I have to use a pricier option for my face.  La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Ultra Light Sun Screen Fluid is about three times as expensive as the Neutrogena, but it is also, I think, a better face sunscreen.  It is up to you whether it is worth the extra cost.  Personally, I think the La Roche-Posay is better, but maybe not $18 better.  If your skin doesn't have a problem with the Neutrogena, I'd probably stick with that one.

And the last thing is, make sure you are putting on enough.  A teaspoon for your face and a shot glass for your body (the latter is presuming a swimsuit).  Make sure you reapply if you are out for more than a few hours.

And if you are out in the sun for more than a few hours without getting horribly sick, what's your secret?