A+ in August: 9 beauty favorites and a big ol’ flop

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It’s time to say goodbye to the summer but not to the heat in the southern United States. It’s hard to think about fall when the thermometer is hovering near 95 and the humidity makes the air feel like a thick, steamy wool blanket. Still, this is my favorite time of year because it means football season has finally arrived. I can’t wait to be in the stands Thursday night when my University of South Carolina Gamecocks kick off against the University of North Carolina (known around these parts as the “other” Carolina).

I tried quite a few beauty products this month and for the most part my luck was good. Let’s get down to business and talk about what I liked best and what luxury product just didn’t cut it for me. First, the good:

  • Josie Maran Nirvana Hydrating Treatment Mist — Did I mention that it’s hot outside? This Josie Maran spritz features both Argan oil and coconut water, two products that nourish and brighten the skin. I use it multiple ways: after toning and before applying my serum to help my skin better absorb the product, at the end of my makeup routine to keep my skin from looking too powdery, and throughout the day to renew my complexion. It’s cooling and refreshing and the pump is perfect for spraying a fine mist.
  • Sephora Show Curl Eyelash Curler for Deep-Set Eyes — My eyes are steeply curved and I’d never found a curler that was able to capture the lashes around the bend (at the outer corner of my eye). What’s more, the shape of most curlers didn’t track my eyelids, resulting in lots of pinching. This curler is just perfect: It captures all of my lashes and gives them the perfect curl with no pain.
  • Dr Brandt Pores No More Pore Refiller Primer — This is a rediscovery for me. I’d moved on to other primers, thinking that newer was better. But after revisiting the Dr. Brandt version, I remembered why I thought it was so great. I alternate this with the Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer. The Dr. Brandt contains silicone, so it hides pores and makes foundation glide on smoothly. The Too Faced product is more nourishing; I use it when my skin feels dry and dull.
  • Lorac Pro Metal Palette — Tiny but mighty! I love discreet lid glimmer and this palette does the trick. From bright gold to copper to rose gold, green and navy, it gives a bit of sheen to every eye look.
  • Dior Addict Fluid Shadow — This mirror-shine liquid can be used as a shadow or as an eyeliner. It’s super long-lasting and luxurious. For maximum shine, simply paint it on your lids and let it dry. For a less glossy look, blend it into your lids with a firm brush.
  • Glam Glow Thirsty Cleanse Daily Treatment Cleanser — This product goes onto the face like mud, then turns into a lightly foaming cleanser when water is added. It’s great for dry skin; it leaves it clean but not stripped. Ingredients include yellow clay and coconut water. (Again with the coconut water!) It has a pleasant smell that I can’t quite identify. Honey buns? Cinnamon toast? Something yummy from the bakery, for sure.
  • Sephora Luster Matte Long-Wear Lip Color — Liquid lipsticks are all the rage and I have quite the collection. I like them because they’re long-wearing, color-drenched and don’t require a lip liner. Some of them, though, can be quite drying. This product from Sephora is long-lasting and color-saturated, but there’s moisture there too. It’s great for those days when you want matte but not too matte.
  • Tom Ford Cream Cheek Color in Pink Sand — This blush is rich, long-wearing and the perfect shade of pink with peachy undertones. It provides a healthy, hydrated glow that looks like it comes from within. It’s from Ford’s limited-edition summer collection, so if you’re interested you should buy before it’s gone.
  • Quay Australia Fleur sunglasses — Quite a few of the top beauty bloggers have been sporting Quay (pronounced “key”) sunglasses, so I assume Quay’s PR department is working overtime. Nevertheless, I saw this model on the adorable YouTuber Kathleen Lights and had to have them. They’re affordable, well-crafted and unique. I really like them!

And now for the big flop: I want my skin to look brightened and slightly dewy on occasion. I sometimes have problems reaching that ideal without crossing over into greasy. I heard great things about Le Blanc De Chanel Multi-Use Illuminating Base (that’s a mouthful). However, this is simply one of those products that doesn’t work for me. Instead of illuminating, it leaves me looking dry and more wrinkly than I actually am. Darn it.

Bonus favorite: Summer is a slow time for television, so I often use it to catch up on shows I missed. Right now I’m completely hooked on “Hell on Wheels.” It’s about westward expansion in the U.S. shortly after the Civil War and centers around the lives of the men and women building the cross-country railroad. From Indian Wars to illness to debauchery and skullduggery (plus a hot, conflicted hero in Anson Mount), it’s got it all. I’m binge-watching on Netflix.

Foundation quest: The neverending search for the perfect makeup base

History is full of great quests — the quest for the New World, the quest for the Fountain of Youth, the quest for the Holy Grail. My quest is much humbler, much smaller. It’s the quest for the perfect foundation, and it’s neverending.unnamed (4)

When I was young, it was easy to settle for almost any foundation. I didn’t appreciate my youthful, normal, poreless skin nearly as much as I should have. It was the perfect canvas for any foundation, from drugstore to high end and everything in between.

Starting in college and continuing through my 20s, my go-to foundation was Estee Lauder’s Fresh Air Makeup Base in Ivory Mist. It’s still sold today but, sadly, no longer works for me. As I aged, my skin changed. It became less even, both in terms of color and texture, and fine lines, wrinkles and enlarged pores slowly claimed territory.

Let’s be honest here, in terms of skin complaints, mine are relatively minor. People — even strangers — often ask how I keep my skin in such good shape. The answer? I’m serious, deadly serious, about skin care. I exfoliate, moisturize, mask and do all of the things the experts tell us to do, and it’s served me well. Still, finding the right foundation is a bit like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears: They’re either too dry or too dewy; too short-lived or too cakey; too sheer or too mask-like.

With that in mind, I have to say the past couple of months have been a bonanza for women searching for the perfect makeup base. Several companies have launched much-heralded new products and revamped existing ones. Like any foundation-seeker, I’ve tried several.  While I’m not ready to vow undying devotion to one, there are two inside-the-park home runs, as well as a double and a strike out. Let’s start with the top performers and work our way down (and out):

  • Marc Jacobs Re(marc)able Full Cover Foundation Concentrate — This is one of the new breed of highly pigmented, serum-style foundations, and I can attest that a drop or two provides full-face coverage.The finish is matte. Very matte. In fact, users should be sure their skin is hydrated before applying or they’ll end up looking dry and a bit ashy. At least, that’s the way this product worked for me. I found that mixing a drop of my Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer into the foundation before applying gave me a more flattering, less flat finish. Although the Re(marc)able foundation promises to last up to 24 hours, it didn’t last that long on me (more like eight hours before it started to break up in the area around my nostrils). All in all, though, this is a full-coverage, long-lasting foundation that I like very much and will continue to wear.
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation — This is billed as an improved version of the company’s original HD foundation, and I can attest that it is indeed better. (Count me as one of the people for whom the original just didn’t work.) I very much like this updated formula. It provides medium, buildable coverage coverage that, while not dewy, isn’t as matte as the Marc Jacobs foundation. Both products feel light on the skin and neither settles into my fine lines and wrinkles. I’m alternating the Make Up For Ever with the Marc Jacobs product and like the MUFE slightly more, primarily due to the finish and because it’s slightly longer-wearing.
  • Too Faced Born This Way Foundation — This makeup base is billed as oil-free and completely undetectable on the skin. It also claims to be full coverage and long-lasting. I have to say that upon initial application, I thought I was in love. The finish was impeccable, perhaps due to the presence of one of my favorite skin-care products, hyaluronic acid. Unfortunately, Born This Way didn’t wear well for me as the hours passed. It broke up on my nose, around my nostrils and on my forehead, and ended up looking cakey by the end of the day. I’ll continue to wear it on short, light-activity days because it looks so nice for brief periods. All in all, Born This Way starts out strong but falters in the home stretch.
  • MAC Pro Longwear Nourishing Waterproof Foundation — Let’s face it, MAC isn’t known for its foundations but I had high hopes for this one. I mean, nourishing and waterproof? That sounded perfect for my somewhat dehydrated skin and the broiling-hot, humidity-filled South Carolina summers. It was lovely at first, but broke up in large patches on my nose, chin and cheeks after just a few hours. I wore it several times with different primers and setting powders, but it wasn’t for me.

For now, I’m sticking with the Marc Jacobs and Make Up For Ever products, with a smattering of Born This Way thrown into the mix. As the weather cools down, I’ll give some other near misses — including a couple by Nars and two from Giorgio Armani — second chances. Meanwhile, the quest for foundation perfection continues …

Let’s talk trash. Beauty trash, that is.

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I’m an admitted beauty junkie. Makeup, skin care, bath products … I love them all. I try to use my purchases until the last drops are gone — unless, of course, they’re complete duds. Then I just count my losses (and lost money) and move on to something that works. After all, when it comes to beauty products, it’s foolish to continue to use one that doesn’t live up to its promises.

That said, the products I’ve recently used up were all good enough to finish. Some I’ll buy again. Others, while not complete fizzles, won’t make any future shopping lists. Without further adieu, let’s talk trash. Beauty-product trash, that is.

  • Benefit They’re Real! Mascara — Without a doubt, this is my ride-or-die mascara. It both lengthens and thickens my less-than-impressive lashes, making them appear more voluminous than they actually are. It has the added benefit of staying in place until I remove it. I can’t say that about most mascaras, because my lashes have a tendency to make mascara mysteriously vanish (an oddity matched only by the disappearance of socks in the dryer). I’ll repurchase. In fact, I already have.
  • Estee Lauder Little Black Primer — This product arrived on shelves with lots of fanfare. It promised to tint, amplify and — wonder of wonders — lock curl in place. Some users gave it great reviews but it did absolutely nothing for me. I won’t repurchase.
  • Sunday Riley Good Genes Serum — Do you hear that? It’s the sound of angels singing. This high-end serum promises brighter, renewed skin and a smoother, more vibrant complexion. And, yes, it delivers. I’m a terrible sleeper, but Good Genes makes my complexion look well rested and alive. I will repurchase, but I’ll wait until Sephora’s next VIB Rouge sale because it’s pricey at $105 per ounce.
  • Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip Cleanser — Another winner from Sunday Riley. This clay-based cleanser steeped with Vitamin C promises to make skin look clear and flawless — in other words, ceramic smooth. I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say that it made my skin look more “even” and reduced the appearance of pores. A definite repurchase.
  • Bath and Body Works Georgia Peach & Sweet Tea Body Scrub — I usually like BBW products, but this one wasn’t impressive. Despite the presence of shea butter, my skin didn’t feel particularly moisturized. The scents — peach and sweet tea — are two of my favorites, but they just didn’t work here. I purchased two and gave one away. ‘Nuff said.
  • Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Cleanser — Chalk this one up to experience. I purchased several Michael Todd products because they were all the rage among beauty gurus. I later realized that in some cases the raves were essentially paid advertisements. This product, along with the Cranberry Antiox toner, was the best of the bunch. That said, I prefer Biore’s Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser to the Michael Todd version and the Biore is much cheaper. No repurchase.
  • Rapid Lash and Revitalash — These products worked for me — not individually, but in combination. I didn’t notice any lash growth until I began using Rapid Lash in the morning and Revitalash before bed. Will I repurchase? A definite maybe, because they did work. I just switched to Latisse, so the decision is on hold until I see how it performs.
  • Christian Dior Instant Cleansing Water — This is Dior’s version of the popular micellaire water. I use it with a cotton pad to remove makeup before going in for a deeper cleanse. I enjoyed the Dior version, but keep returning to my go-to brand, which is Bioderma. That’s good news, because the Dior version is $38 for 6.7 ounces while the Bioderma is around $26 for 16.91 ounces. I’ll stick with Bioderma.
  • Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Rejuvenating Eye Cream — I purchased this on a whim when it was discounted at Sephora and found myself really liking it. In addition to a bunch of trademarked ingredients such as Energinseng and Lightscramble Luminospheres (Say what?), it contains cucumber juice. Bottom line: It reduced puffiness and undereye circles. I’m trying a couple of other products right now in search of “The One,” but I’d consider repurchasing.
  • First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads — These easy-to-use pads contain lactic and glycolic acid, which are super for brightening the skin. My favorite product of this type is the Dr. Dennis Gross version, but Dr. Gross’ pads are quite pricey. To make them last longer, I alternate them with a less expensive version, such as the First Aid Pads. While the First Aid version is fine, I also like the Nip & Fab Glycolic Fix Exfoliating Pads because they contain hyaluronic acid. For now, I’m sticking with the Dr. Dennis Gross/Nip & Fab combo.

Walk with me down makeup memory lane

Horizontal stripI was oohing and aahing over my latest eyeshadow palette (the Zoeva Cocoa Blend, for the record) and started thinking about my first eye kit. It was a little Maybelline set that came with three shadows, mascara, a brow pencil and cake eyeliner. I didn’t ask for it. I’d just turned 14 and my mother surprised me, saying it was for special occasions and church on Sundays. I came home from school and it was lying on my bed in all of its glamorous glory. Somehow it was more special because it was so unexpected.

I’m a child of the 70s and makeup was different then. There were no Ultas or Sephoras, so there weren’t as many options to choose from. Most of us — mid-70s high schoolers just starting to sample cosmetics — were drugstore shoppers. Maybelline, Cover Girl, Coty, Bonne Bell … their ads and the models who appeared in them are etched on our brains.

While most of the products of my youth live only in memory, a few have stood the test of time. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara, for example, was the holy grail of mascaras back then. I remember devoting myself to applying coat after coat, because long lashes were the thing. No one I knew wore false lashes in the 70s. Image4-6_ppThe look was supposed to be fresh and natural — think Cheryl Tiegs, Christie Brinkley and Cybill Shepherd. While blue and green eyeshadows were de rigeur in the early 70s, by the mid-70s the eye look was more subdued. Subtle browns with heavy mascara and lightly smudged eyeliner were the thing. Speaking of eyeliner, the heavy lifter from my college days is still sold today: Maybelline Expert Wear Twin Brow & Eye Pencils. They were particularly good on the lower lash line. (The girl in the photo is me, demonstrating the mid-70s natural look! Notice the bare lips. If I wore anything on my lips at all, it was a sheer wash of color.)

Next, let’s talk about the hair. In my high school years, it was all about scent. There was Body on Tap (beer enhanced!); Gee, Your Hair Smells Terrific; and my personal favorite, the heavily fragranced Sunshine Harvest Shampoo from Clairol. It came in almost overpowering scents including raspberry, peach, lime, strawberry, honeydew and tangerine. I remember thinking the bathroom and hallway smelled delicious for hours after I showered!

When I entered college, my love for fruity shampoos dissipated. I loved the Flex brand — and the commercials featuring Jerry Hall in a magnificent white satin cowboy suit with blowdryers in the holsters — and Farrah Fawcett shampoo from Wella Balsam. I was almost embarrassed to buy it, but my college roommate and bestie swore it did wonders for my hair!

Loves Baby SoftWhen it comes to fragrances, my high school days were marked by Avon’s Sweet Honesty, Love’s Fresh Lemon and Love’s Baby Soft. Actually, I loved the Baby Soft ad more than I loved the product. I wanted to wear the dress modeled in the ad to my junior prom and my mom did her best to replicate it. I remember being unhappy because she modified the neckline to make it more modest. (Yep, that’s me again in the photo at left.) When I reached college age, I went for scents that in my mind were more adult: Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps, Halston — I think every female college student in the 70s had a bottle of Halston — and Cinnabar by Estee Lauder. I have a bottle of Cinnabar in my collection today and still love it, but my college roommate (her again) says it smells like an old lady.

I hope you enjoyed my little trip down cosmetics memory lane and that it reminded you of your own early experiments with makeup. What about you? Are there any products you recall with particular fondness?

Chill out: Beauty and skin care for maximum cool

Looking hot is one thing; being hot is another. This time of year, when the temperatures soar and humidity adds to the misery, I can get a bit cranky.

Unfortunately, my husband and I operate on different sides of the thermostat spectrum. He’s always cold. I’m decidedly not. This makes for some, shall we say, heated debate over the air FullSizeRender (3)conditioner setting. I maintain that if he’s so cold, he can always put on another layer. But hot is hot and there’s no way to cool off other than cranking up the AC.

Fortunately, some companies are getting the “being hot is misery” message. There are more products with cooling properties on the market than ever, and they’re absolutely my cup of iced tea. Interested? Then you might want to check these out:

  • Cool Off Citrus Ice Towelettes — These individually packaged wet wipes promise to cool the body down by as much as 12 degrees Farenheit and maintain the chill for more than 60 minutes. Funny story: A close friend of mine was traveling to China and fretting about the heat, so I shared a few of these towelettes with her. It turned out the heat wasn’t the only issue — the public toilets were of the “squat” variety and didn’t feature toilet tissue. At a critical moment, she rummaged through her purse and whipped out a towelette. She reported experiencing a lingering cooling effect down south. Amazon, $19.00 for a pack of 12.
  • Yes to Cucumbers Cooling Hydrating Mist — This 96 percent natural product offers instant cooling thanks to aloe and cucumbers, as well a feeling of instant skin hydration. Ulta, $10.99.
  • Hand Chemistry Hyaluronic Body Mist — Similar to the Yes to Cucumbers product, this all-over body mist provides a nice cooling sensation. The effect lasts longer than the Yes to Cucumbers version and also is more moisturizing, perhaps because hyaluronic acid is a key part of the formula. Amazon, $19.99
  • Keep Your Cool Skin-Calming Gel Mask — This product promises to keep skin cool and calm, thanks to the presence of cucumbers and coconut. While it feels lovely on the skin, I wouldn’t say it’s exceptionally cooling — unless, of course, you store it in the refrigerator. In that case, it’s delightful. , $5.99
  • Rituals Samurai Ice Shower Cooling Shower Gel and Cool Hair Shampoo — These feel somewhat cooling in the shower and the feeling intensifies afterward. Nothing drastic; just a light cooling effect. These products have a nice, unisex scent attributed to Japanese bamboo and mint. Amazon, $15.99 for the gel and $19 for the shampoo.
  • Marc Jacobs Twinkle Pops Eye Sticks and Chanel Stylo Fresh Effect Eyeshadows — Not only are these among my favorite cream shadows, but they have an extra bonus: They generate a distinct cooling effect as they slide onto the lids. The Marc Jacobs version attributes the chill to an infusion of “pure Alpine snow water from the Swiss Alps to hydrate lids and leave them with a soothing sensation.” The Chanel Stylo promises a “lightweight, water-infused formula that glides on effortlessly and cools lids at the touch for instant comfort.”  Sephora, Marc Jacobs, $28. Nordstrom, Chanel, $34.
  • Chillow Original Cooling Relief Pad — The Chillow gets mixed reviews but I love mine. This product is a memory-foam-filled pad in an outer case that provides a cooling sensation when filled with water. I give mine extra oomph by keeping it in the refrigerator during the day and sliding it into my pillowcase (on top of my pillow) when I climb into bed. I sleep cooler, deeper and longer and am never without my Chillow during the summer months. In fact, I keep a spare for extra-hot nights. If I wake up in the early morning hours to find Chillow No. 1 has gotten a tad warm, I pad to the fridge for the backup. (By the way, the Chillow retains its water — you just have to add another cup or so every few months due to evaporation.) Amazon, currently marked down to $12.69 from $29.95

Chill out, dear readers! Until next time …

A dream is a wish your heart makes: My fantasy beauty and skin care shopping list

Everyone has beauty wishes. Sometimes we have money in our pockets to make them come true. Other times we’re short on funds and simply daydreaming. This is a wishing and hoping day, so I’m adding products to my fantasy shopping list. Here are the items 7a4f88dbc523c6e35b53c2a6bf11af68currently on my “when my ship comes in” roster:

  • The Charlotte Tilbury Norman Parkinson Collection — This is my be-all and end-all. Why? First, because Charlotte’s products are simply amazing. I own the Film Star Bronze and Glow Palette,the Eyes to Mesmerize pot in Cleopatra, several Color Chameleon eye sticks and, best of all, my go-to nude lipstick: Bitch Perfect. You simply can’t go wrong with Charlotte, and the Norman Parkinson Collection is what my heart yearns for. Gorgeous products, gorgeous packaging and the gorgeous Jerry Hall. I’m a child of the 70s and don’t just want this collection; I need it. Desperately. I just hope my ship comes in very soon, because the products are limited edition.
  • Zelens Skin Care Products — I’ve heard nothing but great things about Zelens and I’m a fiend for skin care products. No matter how outstanding your makeup products or how talented you are at applying them, they’re never going to look as good as they should without the foundation of great skin. Top wish-list picks: Triple Action Eye Cream, Youth Serum Concentrate, Z-22 Absolute Face Oil.
  • Makeup Geek Eye Shadows and Blushes — I haven’t tried this line yet, but I’ve seen many beauty bloggers and YouTubers create gorgeous looks with Makeup Geek products. Beggars can’t be choosers in real life, but in my fantasy life I’d order the Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette, the Foiled Eyeshadow Set and the Blush Starter Pack.
  • Tom Ford Beauty — Tom Ford is, well, Tom Ford. His taste is impeccable. His designs (especially his bags) for Gucci were and are to die for. His makeup line is no less desirable. I own several pieces from the summer collection and, trust me, the quality is superior. What would I add to my trove? The Cognac Sable and Ice Queen Eyeshadow Quads and lipsticks in Cherry Lush and Pink Dusk.
  • Wayne Goss Makeup Brushes — I love me some Wayne Goss. His beauty advice is classic, ageless and honest. And, as I’ve said before, he’s charming and easy on the eyes. His makeup brush collection is luxe, handcrafted and cruelty-free. I’d choose the face and eye sets.

So there you have it: The products I’d add to my makeup and skin care collections today if money were no object. What about you? What items would you purchase to make your beauty dreams come true?

Cheap and easy: Top drugstore beauty products

FullSizeRender (1)“I went to Target for shampoo and ended up leaving with a blender, new pajamas, a couch, four kids and a car.” – Author Unknown 

If you’ve ever been shopping at Target, you know how easy it is to get carried away and spend much, much more than you intended. The same is true — for me at least — when I head to the makeup counters at Sephora, Nordstrom and Macy’s. What’s really horrifying is how easy it is  to drop a bundle at high-end stores and walk out with the tiniest of bags to show for it.

My friend Leslie recently asked whether I purchase makeup at the drugstore and the answer is, “Heck, yes!” While I tend to stick to higher-end foundations, moisturizers and serums, my makeup stash is augmented by dozens of drugstore finds and favorites. Here are some top budget-friendly bargains:

  • Best blush — Milani Baked Blush, hands down. It’s smooth, color-saturated and long-wearing. My favorite shades are Bella Rosa, a deep rosy pink; and Luminoso, a gorgeous, glowing peach. You’ll findFullSizeRender them at Rite Aid and Walgreen’s for about $8.
  • Best eyeliner — No doubt about it, it’s L’Oreal Silkissime. It’s creamy but long-lasting and you have time to adjust or smudge it because it doesn’t set right away. It comes in 10 shades and the cobalt blue is particularly pretty. Silkissime is available in drugstores everywhere for about $9 (just don’t ask me how to pronouce it).
  • Best foundation — My favorite is Bourjois Healthy Mix, which provides a long-lasting, hydrated and luminous-but-not-greasy finish. It’s hard to find in the United States, so I order mine from Amazon for $15.99, which includes free shipping from the United Kingdom. If you don’t want to go to that extreme, another favorite is L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation, which offers long-lasting, complete coverage. You’ll find it at drugstores for under $13.
  • Best lipstick (long-wearing) — This is the most difficult category for two reasons: I love lipstick, so it was difficult to narrow down my choices, and lipstick is where many drugstore brands excel. If forced to choose, I’d go with the NYX soft matte lip creams (under $6), which are super long-lasting and come in an amazing array of opaque shades; and Maybelline Super Stay 14-Hour Lipstick (under $9) because it’s non-drying, creamier than most long-wearing lipsticks and never looks cakey. Drugstores everywhere.
  • img-history-1950Best lipstick (creamy) — I prefer long-wearing formulas because I don’t like to reapply often throughout the day, but no list of drugstore lippies would be complete without Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick, and specifically the Cherries in the Snow and Fire and Ice shades. Cherries in the Snow is a gorgeous blue-red that was introduced in 1953. Fire and Ice is a warmer orange-red that was introduced a year earlier, in 1952. There’s a reason these shades are part of makeup history and have been best sellers for more than 60 years. Check your local drugstores.
  • Best skin care — Soap & Glory is one of my favorite skin care brands. It offers a long list of products ranging from shower gels and body moisturizers to facial products. My top picks are the Make Yourself Youthful Eye Cream ($20), which I use under makeup during the day; and the truly wondrous Scrub Your Nose In It, a T-zone scrub that leaves the face bright and tingly cool while unclogging pores ($12). Another favorite is Indeed Labs’ Hydraluron Moisture Jelly ($23), which contains hyaluronic acid. It provides moisture without leaving skin feeling sticky or greasy. Soap & Glory products are sold at drugstore.com; Indeed products are sold at Ulta.

Downsize your makeup bag with minis and multitaskers

unnamedI used to carry a purse the size of a carry-on bag, but lately have enjoyed the freedom of toting a small cross-body version. Not only is it easier on my back, but it’s also less of a weapon in crowded stores and restaurants. And with football season just around the corner, wearing a small bag that won’t slip off my shoulder is the right choice for a hot and crowded stadium.

Of course, carrying a purse the size of a lunch box created logistical problems for someone accustomed to bags that could literally hold a baby and all its toys. Downsizing the purse meant downsizing everything else — including my makeup bag and its contents.

What made the cut? Well, after eliminating the petrified breath mints, chewing gum that had turned to leather and sundry other items that had been lolling around in my old makeup bag since the Dark Ages, these items made the transition to a new bag, smaller bag:

  • A full-sized Colour Pop Lippie Stick in Sweet Thing, a universal pink.
  • A sample-sized Smashbox Be Legendary Longwear Lip Lacquer in Coral.
  • Rohto Cool Eyedrops, which give your eyes a minty freshness. It sounds odd but the cooling sensation is quite pleasant once you get used to it.
  • Benefit Bo-ing concealer, which is my on-the-go favorite for blemishes and the annoying broken blood vessel to the right of my nose.
  • Becca Beach Tint in Watermelon, which can be used on cheeks or lips for a light wash of waterproof color.
  • A mini-sized Stila Convertible Color blush in Lillium, a neutral shade that goes with everything.
  • A mini-sized Benefit Roller Ball mascara.
  • Napoleon Perdis Camera Finish Powder Foundation in Porcelain Girl. This doesn’t provide complete coverage, so I’d personally never use it as foundation. It’s perfect for touch-ups and tamping down unwanted shine, though.
  • Depending upon where I’m going, I might drop another item or two in my bag, such as a mini bottle of Shiseido’s Ultra Sun Protection Cream or Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment with SPF 15.

Altogether, this pared-down list of products covers my needs and saves me from embarrassment when I run into an old friend (or enemy). As you’re putting together your emergency face-repair kit, consider the size of the products you’re contemplating. Mini sizes and samples can carry a heavy load while keeping your load light.

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The fab five: Beauty gurus for grownups

hqdefaultYouTube and Instagram have transformed the beauty game. A large and varied lineup of amateurs and experts have amassed huge followings eager to learn about the latest in skin care and makeup. Instagram is where you’ll see snapshots of beauty gurus in all their poreless, perfected glory. YouTube is where you get the before and after images, learn about the latest products and see how they’re applied.

I confess that I spend hours watching videos and scrolling through photos because there are some incredibly talented men and women out there. These individuals can blend eyeshadow until it’s as smooth as body butter and draw winged eyeliner sharper than Angelina Jolie’s perfect cheekbones.

The truth, however, is that the vast majority of those gurus are on the younger end of the age spectrum. Some of the best are barely out of their teens. While I learn a great deal from them, many of their makeup looks and color choices are clearly aimed at a young, edgy market that excludes baby boomers and older millennials. That’s why I’d like to introduce you to five talented experts — all of whom just happen to be British — whose common-sense advice encompasses all generations. They’re the beauty equivalent of the Fab Five (or Fab Six if you want to get technical and count the Pixiwoo sisters separately).

Lisa Eldridge: Lisa is one of the most well-regarded makeup artists in the industry and her client roster includes the rich, famous and infamous. She’s created looks for everyone from Kate Winslet to Kate Moss, from Cate Blanchett to Katy Perry. Lisa has also worked for companies such as Shiseido, Chanel, Lancome and Boots No. 7, as well as designers like Chloe, Alberta Ferretti, Prada, Donna Karan and Moschino.

Lisa’s social media channels are resources for practical advice and clean, classic, wearable makeup looks. She’s an expert on the history of makeup and has created numerous historically accurate makeup videos showcasing various eras. You’ll find her YouTube channel here and her blog at lisaeldridge.com. I’ve already preordered her upcoming book, “Face Paint: The Story of Makeup,” from Amazon.

Wayne Goss: Some of the best makeup artists are men and Wayne is at the top of the class. If you want honest information delivered in a cut-to-the-chase, honest manner, he’s your guy. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s easy on the eyes.) Wayne keeps things simple, whether he’s demonstrating how to create a smokey eye or create Kim Kardashian contours. He’s both charming and disarming: If he thinks a product is rubbish he makes no bones about it. Wayne has deservedly amassed nearly 2.2 million YouTube followers and launched his own line of high-end makeup brushes. You’ll find his YouTube channel here.

Caroline Hirons: Caroline is the Swami of Skin Care and her advice and recommendations have changed my skin for the better. I can’t even begin to fathom how many products she’s sampled in more than 18 years in the beauty industry. Caroline has represented a who’s who of top brands, including Sunday Riley, Hampton Sun, Kate Somerville, Zelens, Sjal and Pixi. She keeps things real and comes across as someone who’d be a blast to be around. Check out her YouTube channel and her blog. Your skin will thank you.

Sali Hughes: Sali has been the resident beauty writer for The Guardian U.K. since 2011. She’s also written about beauty, style and relationships in publications such as Elle, Red, Glamour and Cosmopolitan, winning two Jasmine Awards for beauty writing along the way. Sali’s YouTube channel features reviews, tutorials and interviews with leading beauty experts and celebrities. I particularly enjoy her “In the Bathroom” series, in which she tactfully invades — yes — the bathrooms of her interview subjects to chat and cheerfully check out what’s in their beauty cabinets. I recently read Sali’s book, “Pretty Honest: The Straight-Talking Beauty Companion” and thoroughly enjoyed it. You’ll find her YouTube channel here and her blog at salihughesbeauty.com.

maxresdefaultSam and Nic Chapman: The Chapman sisters describe themselves as “makeup artists, vloggers, bloggers, beauty boot camp instructors, moms and more.” All I know is that I love their YouTube videos, which feature in-depth tutorials — some classic, some slightly edgy, some celebrity-inspired — along with product hauls. Sam and Nic have a combined 30 years in the beauty industry, having begun their careers as makeup artists while in their teens. They’re also the brains behind the Real Techniques line of makeup brushes, including the new, luxe Bold Metals collection. Collectively known as Pixiwoo, you’ll find their YouTube channel here. Their joint blog is at realtechniques.com.

Photos: Sali Hughes and Caroline Hirons share a laugh; Sam and Nic Chapman’s YouTube filming setup.

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Super six: July beauty and skin care favorites

unnamedI try a lot of beauty and skincare products. Some are swings and misses, while others are home runs. The home runs are the products I like enough to repurchase — and, trust me, that’s a relatively limited number. If I had to put it into perspective, things would shake out this way:

  •  40 percent of the products I sample I would never purchase again. It’s not that most of them are patently awful; it’s that the bulk of them are nothing special and, thus, don’t warrant another penny from my pocketbook.
  •  40 percent of products fall into the solid performer category. They work well, but not well enough to convince me there’s nothing better out there. I’ll repurchase if the mood strikes me, or if I try something else that doesn’t work as well.
  • 20 percent of products are what I’d consider home runs. They either perform so well or are so unique that nothing (at least for the time being) can compare.That said, let’s talk about this month’s star products:
  • Lotion P50W 1970 from Biologique Rechercher: Wow, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? Let’s get to it: This product is a game changer. Although it’s billed as a lotion, it’s actually an exfoliating acid toner. There are several versions, but the P50W 1970 is for drier and more mature skin. It’s applied with a cotton pad after cleansing and before serum and moisturizer. According to Biologique Rechercher, Lotion P50 “gently exfoliates the skin, regulates excessive sebum secretion, moisturizes and helps maintain the epidermis’ acid pH.” Here’s what I say: It makes my skin look darn good! This product is relatively hard to find. I ordered mine from Shop Rescue Spa.
  • Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Hot Orange: This shade all but screams summer. It’s both matte and creamy (a rare combination) and the chubby stick delivery system means there’s no need for a separate lip liner. Despite its name, I wouldn’t say it’s an all-out orange; it’s more like a face-brightening coral-red. Pop it in your bag and go. But buy it sooner than later — it’s part of the summer Hot Collection, which I don’t believe is permanent. I got mine at Sephora, but you should be able to find it wherever Bobbie Brown is sold.
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Craft: This deep berry liquid lipstick is one of the most in-demand shades from the crazy-popular line of stay-put liquid lipsticks from Anastasia Beverly Hills. It’s very long-wearing, which is perfect for someone like me who doesn’t like to pause to reapply lipstick throughout the day. It’s a bit drying, but ABH is altogether one the most comfortable liquid lipstick formulas out there. Craft is currently sold out on the ABH website, and the only other place to purchase it is at Macy’s.
  • Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso: Beauty fanatics on YouTube and Instagram have been raving about this shade of blush for months now, so I finally picked it up at my local Walgreens. The makeup lovers weren’t wrong. It’s a highly pigmented, luminous peach that’s just perfect for summer and beyond. Luminoso has a hint of shimmer, but it doesn’t spotlight pores.
  • Marc Jacobs Re(marc)able Full Cover Foundation Concentrate: I’m always looking for my holy grail foundation — trust me, I have a drawerful of them that promised nirvana but didn’t deliver. I’ve found the right one (or at least the right one for now) with this full-coverage, not-quite-matte but not-quite-luminous foundation. It’s one of the new concentrated foundations that require just a few drops for complete, my-skin-but-better coverage. Foundation is not one size fits all (skin can be oily, dry, dehydrated or combination), so keep your receipt if you try it and don’t like it. Better yet, ask for a sample at Sephora.
  • Indeed Labs’ Hydraluron Moisture Serum: Will I repurchase? I already have! This post-toning, pre-moisturing serum is a little miracle worker. One of the primary ingredients is hyaluronic acid, or sodium hyaluronate, which holds 1,000 times its weight in water. It makes my skin feel soft, moisturized and supple, but not the dreaded sticky. I love this stuff! You can purchase it at Ulta.

That wraps up my July favorites. We’re into August, which I recently heard described as the Sunday of the summer. There should be lots of new things to sample, because the big brands are introducing fall makeup and skin care products at a furious pace.