Skin care: New and longtime favorites

I’m often asked about my skin care routine, so I thought I’d take a quick break from college football viewing (my team is losing) to give an update on the products I’m currently loving. One is a new discovery, one is a longtime love, and one is a cult favorite to which I’ve finally succumbed.

  • First, let’s talk about my new discovery: Wide Awake Brightening Eye Cream by Saturday Skin. It has a smooth, gel-like texture that softens the lines around my eyes and brightens my undereyes. According to the brand, “It improves the look of skin’s moisture level, texture and firmness.” Ingredients include date-seed oil, avocado protein extract and that wonder-of-wonders, hyaluronic acid. Seriously, hyaluronic acid is a miracle ingredient!
  • I’ve written about the longtime love before: Clinique’s Turnaround Revitalizing Serum. I try other serums and always come back to this one. One reason: It’s not sticky. I don’t do sticky. The Turnaround Serum leaves my skin feeling soft, smooth, moisturized and touchable. It’s my ride or die.
  • Moisturizers have always posed a problem for me. My bathroom is littered with samples, half-used jars and rejects. The latest casualty is Secret Sauce from It Cosmetics. Judging by reviews, it should have been a winner. But I found it thick, a bit sticky (ugh) and ineffective on my skin. I’d always avoided the classic Creme De La Mer. Not only was it expensive, but it was actually easy to skip because it wasn’t sold at one of my shopping meccas, Sephora and Ulta. Then, Sephora not only added La Mer to its lineup, but it offered a small,.5-ounce jar of Creme De La Mer for $85. That’s not cheap, but it was better than shelling out $170 for one ounce of a product that might end up in my drawer of failures. So I tried it. And fell in love. Deeply in love. It leaves my skin feeling heavenly: soft, smooth, dewy and not at all sticky. On the negative side, it is pricey. However, when I consider how much I’ve paid for duds that ended up gathering dust, I might come out ahead!

P.S. It went down to the last second, but my team won. Go Gamecocks! ūüŹą‚̧ԳŹ

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A free lipstick — and something ‘Pretty Vulgar’¬†

It’s been awhile! Sorry for the long time between posts. My husband and I were doing the long distance thing, but he recently took early retirement and joined me in South Carolina. After seven years of essentially living alone, it took a bit of time to adjust to sharing everything — and to get used to his daily schedule, which is very different from mine. Let’s just say I’m a night owl and he’s an early bird. 

Anyway, I thought I’d pop in to give you a few beauty-related updates. First, can we talk about Too Faced Melted Matte Lipstick in It’s Happening? It’s gorgeous, long-wearing and brightening. Even better, if you hurry you can nab a free mini-tube with a Sephora order of $25 and the code “MELTEDLIP.” (Not a fan of bright shades? No worries. As of this morning, there were two more-neutral shades to choose from.) 

Next, let’s discuss a new brand of cosmetics that just joined the Sephora lineup: Pretty Vulgar Cosmetics. It’s a strange name for such pretty, feminine products and packaging. Everything has a bird  or floral theme, including the line’s three eye palettes. 

I’ve tried several Pretty Vulgar items and so far the standouts for me are the mascara, which reminds me of a less clumpy version of Too Faced’s “Better Than Sex,” and the matte lipstick. The packaging of the latter is so beautiful you’ll want to carry it in your purse and whip it out for a public touch up just to show it off.

So far, the only product that hasn’t performed well for me is the felt-tipped eyeliner. Although the packaging, again, is gorgeous — it looks like a golden calligraphy pen — I found the tip too soft for drawing a sharp, precise line. My favorite felt-tip liner remains Pat McGrath’s Dual-Ended Marker. Alas, it was limited edition and I fear it will not come back in stock. 

Until next time! — Ronda 

Rocking my Rocksbox jewels 

I wanted to share some super items from my monthly Rocksbox. I’m wearing Kendra Scott Alex earrings in the shade burgundy illusion and the Loren Hope Mini Sara Cuff in iridescent. (The rings are my own.)

Haven’t tried Rocksbox yet? I highly recommend it. For $19.99 per month, you can try an unlimited amount of quality jewelry — three pieces at a time. Find something you can’t part with? Buy it at a discounted price. You can try Rocksbox for one month free with my affiliate code, makeupplus50xoxo. Or, just try it. I didn’t think it would be my cup of tea, but I discovered that I very much enjoy it.

Check out Rocksbox here: https://www.rocksbox.com/. Be sure to make a wish list. Your stylist will consult it and send you the items you want to try.

We all shine on: Liquid metallic eyeshadows 

Sparkle and glow: Liquid metallic eyeshadows from the Estee Edit and Stila

“Don’t be afraid to let your light shine,” they say. Well, glowing will be a lot easier this spring with the liquid metallic eyeshadows that are popping up like daffodils.

My personal favorites are from the Estee Edit and Stila. Why? Because you have a bit of time to work with them before they set, but once they dry, they’re fixed in place with minimal fallout. Still, the companies offer very different formulas with different effects. Here’s what you should know:

  • If you’re looking for maximum gleam, Stila Cosmetics’ Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow is the choice for you. It’s the shinier, more reflective option and it gives your lids a truly bright, illuminated appearance. The results are gorgeous and, for me at least, the Stila product creates an evening out look as opposed to a daytime casual effect.
  • The Estee Edit’s Fluid Metal Eyeshadow is less in-your-face glittery than the Stila product and, in my opinion, it’s more wearable during the daytime hours. It’s also easier to sheer out — by using a firm eyeshadow brush, you can take the color from intense to muted and even create a gradient or ombr√© effect. And while Stila sticks closely to tried-and-true metallic shades ranging from silver to a combination of sheer silver, black and gold, the Estee Edit offers more offbeat options such as cobalt, green and blackberry with metallic shifts.

Left: The Estee Edit Fluid Metal EyeShadow in “Don’t Be Afraid” Right: Stila Cosmetics’ Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow in “Diamond Dust”

If you’re wondering who can wear these shadows, the answer is women of all ages. As an older woman, I’ve found they work best for me when I use them only on the mobile lid, and sometimes only on a portion of the mobile lid, such as the inner or outer half — especially when I’m using the super-glowing Stila product.

With metallic lipsticks and metallic eyeshadows making their comebacks, spring is your time to shine!

Potions and lotions: A solution for winter dullness 

Life-giving elixirs for winter skin

The combination of cooler weather and heating systems running around the clock can play havoc on your skin, even if you’re religious about moisturizing. No matter what type of foundation you wear, it will lose some of its magic when it’s applied over dry, lackluster skin.

Good news: There’s a solution that will give moisture, life and vibrancy to your skin, and at the same time help your makeup glide on more smoothly: concentrated oil-based drops that can be mixed into your foundation or applied directly to your face. When the temperatures start to cool, I use the “mix” method, but now that winter is truly here, I’m going the “directly to skin” route.

The two types of drops I personally favor are:

Remember that these oils are concentrated, so a little goes a long way. I apply two small drops to my cheeks and use my fingers to smooth it into my cheeks, nose, chin and forehead. I then apply my eye makeup to give my skin time to absorb the product before putting on my foundation.

The last step in my makeup-application process is lipstick. Just prior to applying my lipstick, I add a drop directly to my lips and use my fingertips to pat it in. It makes my lips smooth, plump, moist and ready for lipstick. – Ronda

New Year musings and makeup

Happy New Year!

I had a subdued New Year’s Eve, just hanging around the house with my cats, Otis and Bea. We jazzed things up around midnight with peach bellinis (for me) and new catnip toys (for them), but that was about the extent of the celebrations. I’d planned to stay in on New Years’s Day — it was dreary, rainy and cold — but caved to superstition and went out for the southern tradition of collard greens and blacked-eyed peas. We believe eating collard greens on Jan. 1 brings financial security and black-eyed peas bring good luck. My 2016 was pretty miserable and I didn’t want to risk more of the same in 2017, so I ate every bite of those collard greens, even though I find them bitter to the taste.

Speaking of lousy 2016s, it appears I’m not alone. Many of my friends and relatives shared equally crummy years and are hoping for clean slates and improved fortune this year. My life is about to change, for sure. After years of doing the long-distance thing, my husband took early retirement from his job as a newspaper editor in Texas and will join me in South Carolina in February. Loneliness hit its peak in 2016, and I’m looking forward to his company and cooking. My cats Otis and Bea? Not so much, but he’ll grow on them. I hope.

I was good about sticking to my healthy-eating plan over the holidays. I treated myself a bit but didn’t go hog wild. I gained two pounds but have worked them off since I returned from Texas on Wednesday. Now it’s time to lose a little more weight (as long as it doesn’t show in my face, making me look older) and tone up before our June vacation in St. Kitts.

Did you add to your beauty arsenal over the holidays? I picked up some of the sweet peach products, which I love. The hype around them can be tiresome, but I like the sheen they give my skin — it’s just enough to make my skin look alive and healthy without exaggerating fine lines. I do think Too Faced would be wise to move to another fruit that’s suited to women with deeper skin tones, as the peach is best for fair complexions. Plum, strawberry, watermelon … they could keep things going for awhile and be more inclusive, particularly in terms of the blush. Here’s a look at my sweet peach haul (I already had the eyeshadow palette, and I like it very much):

Too Faced Sweet Peach Creamy Lip Oils and Peach Glow Highlighting Palette

Here I am wearing the bronzer, blush and highlighter from the Peach Glow Highlighting Palette, along with the Creamy Lip Oil in Poppin’ Peach:


Lastly, I wanted to share a few new makeup products, as well as two of my favorite Christmas gifts. The first gift, pictured at the far left, is a box lined in velvet that was a present from my father. He’s a woodworker, so he makes something special each year. Sometimes the gifts are big (hope chests or standing jewelry chests) and other times they’re smaller. I just love this box with the purple wood insets. The other special present ¬†is the little sled, which is actually a gift tag made by my sister. It’s a tiny cross-stitched elf and I love it!

As for the makeup, clockwise from top right, Urban Decay’s Moondust Palette and Heavy Metal Liner in Glam Rock, Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Moonlight, Maybelline Master Contour and Dior Diorific Matte Fluid Lip & Cheek Velvet Colour in Luxury.

In closing, I want to wish you all the best in 2017 and leave you with this thought:

Bronze eyes and bright lips = Full holiday glam 

Bronze eyes and red lips are a classic holiday party look.

It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time to go full glam. Today, we’re going all out with a look that’s definitely not for everyday wear: Its party time, ladies! This look has special occasion written all over it, and it’s just the thing for a festive Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve celebration. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and let’s get started … But first, my usual provisos:

  1. You don’t have to rush out to buy the exact items I used! Dig through your makeup drawers for similar products that will work just as well without causing penury.
  2. Prep your face. You want a smooth, serene canvas for perfect makeup application. That means clean, exfoliated, moisturized and primed skin.

OK, let’s get glam!

Foundation: Fiona Styles Matte Finish Foundation Concentrate. (This is a foundation I began using last week and have been pleased with. It evens out skin flaws and imperfections and is sold at Ulta. Other foundations I like include Josie Maran Vibrancy, Urban Decay All Nighter and Make Up For Ever Ultra HD.)

Undereye Concealer: Judith August Orange Masking Creme, Maybelline Age Rewind. (The Judith August Orange Masking Cream is peachy/orange and I use it to hide blue circles where my skin is thinner at the inner corners of my eyes. I apply it first and then top it off with the more moisturizing Maybelline Age Rewind.)

Undereye Powder: Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. (Powder can be aging on older skin. I only use powder to set my concealer ‚ÄĒ and I use a light hand. The Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder adds extra lightness to the undereye area and isn’t drying.)
Eyes:

  1. I mixed Pat McGrath Labs’ Bronze Pigment with Mehron Mixing Liquid and applied two coats on the mobile lid up to the crease. The pigment and mixing liquid are sold at Sephora as part of a set. Other options include silver and gold, and they’re gorgeous!
  2. I applied a medium brown matte shadow to my crease as a transition shade. I used the medium brown from Tarte’s Poppy Picnic Palette, but any medium brown will do.
  3. Next, I used Benefit High Brow to highlight my brow bone. Any light-colored shadow will do, but just use a touch ‚ÄĒ a little goes a long way ‚ÄĒ and make sure not to use a metallic shadow.
  4. I used Dior black kohl liner in my upper and lower waterlines. Again, any long-wearing liner will suffice.
  5. No eyeliner today, but I did apply false lashes — Red Cherry Wispies. DO NOT wait until the night of a big event to apply false lashes for the first time. It takes a bit of practice. If you’ve never applied them, opt instead for extra coats of your favorite mascara. I swear by a combination of two Benefit mascaras. After curling my lashes, I first apply Roller Lash and then finish with They‚Äôre Real

Blush: Milani Baked Powder Blush in Bella Rosa.

Lipstick: I’m wearing on of my favorite ¬†reds, MAC Red, but go with a red that suits your particular skin tone. If you have thin lips, you might want to choose a pretty rose or nude shade, as very dark or bright shades can make lips look thinner.

Bronzer: Laura Geller Moroccan Bronze, but skip this step if your cheeks have started to hollow naturally. I am older, but still have full cheeks.
Highlight: ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Monster
That‚Äôs it! You‚Äôre ready join in the holiday fun, knowing you look your glowing best. Here’s a toast to 2017!

Shining eyes and red, red lips: The classic holiday face 

Christmas is just a few days away and New Year’s Eve is right around the corner. If you’re looking for a special look with glamour and sparkle, I have one for you. Nothing says winter celebration like shimmer, shine and dark red lips (perfect for under the mistletoe). I’ll give you the details on the products I used, but remember: You don’t have to rush out to buy the exact items! Dig through your makeup drawers for similar products that will work just as well without breaking the bank.

Before you begin to apply makeup, be sure to start with a clean, moisturized face. And don’t forget to apply a good eye cream. I’ve been using the new Bye Bye Under Eye Eye Cream from It Cosmetics under my makeup. I don’t have a serious problem with wrinkles, except for fine lines under and at the corners of my eyes that show up when I let those areas get dry. The It Cosmetics cream is very moisturizing and brightening. Also, make sure to exfoliate so your skin isn’t flaky. You want a perfectly smooth canvas for your foundation.

OK, once you’ve done your skin-prep work, start your makeup routine by applying a primer. It will help your foundation go on smoothly and stay on longer. I alternate between several, but right now I’m using a Korean primer sold at Sephora called J. One Jelly Pack. It feels sticky at first, but then dries down to feel sort of smoothing and moisturizing. ¬† Here, in order, are the other products I used to create my holiday look:

Foundation: Fiona Styles Matte Finish Foundation Concentrate. (This is a foundation I’ve just started using. So far, so good. It seems to even out skin flaws and imperfections — and that’s important at my age. It’s sold at Ulta.)
Concealer: Judith August Orange Masking Creme, Maybelline Age Rewind. (The Judith August Orange Masking Cream is — yes — peachy/orange and it’s great for concealing ¬†deeper blue circles where skin is thinner at the corners of the eyes. I apply it first and then top it off with the more moisturizing Maybelline Age Rewind.)

Undereye Powder: Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder. (Powder can be aging on older skin. I only use powder to set my concealer — and I use a light hand. The Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder adds extra lightness to the undereye area.)

Eyes:

  • I used the cream portion of Tom Ford’s Cream and Powder Eye Color in Naked Bronze from my mobile lid up to slightly above the crease. The darkest concentration of color should be on the mobile lid, getting gradually lighter until it fades out above the crease. Products similar to Tom Ford’s Naked Bronze are MAC’ s Paint Pot in Indianwood and Maybelline Color Tattoo in And On Bronze.
  • Next, I used my fingertip to press Urban Decay Space Cowboy glitter shadow onto only the mobile lid.
  • I used Benefit High Brow to highlight my brow bone. Any light-colored shadow will do, but just use a touch — a little goes a long way — and make sure not to use a metallic shadow.
  • I lined my upper and lower eyelids with a Urban Decay Heavy Metal Gitter Eyeliner in Midnight Cowboy. Again, don’t go ham. A light touch will suffice.
  • For my eyelashes, I swear by a combination of two Benefit mascaras. After curling my lashes, I first apply Roller Lash and then finish with They’re Real.

Blush: It Cosmetics CC+ Radiance Ombré Blush in Je ne Sais Quoi.

Lipstick: Huda Beauty Matte Liquid Lipstick in Famous. (Again, your favorite deep red or burgundy will do. If you have thin lips, you might want to choose a pretty pink shade, as very dark shades can make lips look thinner.)

Contour: Maybelline Master Contour. (If you are older and your cheeks have started to naturally hollow, skip this step.)

Bronzer: Too Faced Baked Luminous Bronzer in Sweet Tea.

Highlight: Makeup Revolution Vivid Baked Highlighter Powder in Peach Lights (sold at Ulta in the “drugstore” section).

That’s it! You’re mistletoe-ready! Here’s hoping your holidays are happy, warm and beautiful.

Gee, your skin smells delicious

When my son was little, he once told me I always smelled like a delicious dessert. I was delighted, given that his pronouncements weren’t always so flattering. (He also once said I was built like a T-Rex, with a big body and short arms.) But I digress …

I’m not an avid Bath & Body Works customer until November rolls around. That’s because while I’m not an aficionado of their summer scents, I’m an avid fan of the holiday sugar scrubs and of Vanilla Bean Noel in particular.

A couple of weeks ago, the scrubs were on a buy three, get two free special. ¬†After an initial panic ( the salesperson incorrectly told me there were no VBNs to be had), I purchased three and completed my five-scrub haul with a Winter Candy Apple and a Twisted Peppermint. Speaking of twisted, there’s a new twist on the Bath & Body Works scrubs: the addition of skin-softening shea oil. That’s a welcome change, but there’s another difference I’m less fond of, and that’s a change in my beloved Vanilla Bean Noel’s appearance. Last year, it was snowy white with a pretty glitter effect. This year, it’s brown. It still smells nice, though.

While I was at B&BW, I naturally had to pick up a few other items. One was C.O. Bigelow’s Lemon Cream Body Wash, a longtime favorite, and another was an owl-shaped fragrance-melt warmer to replace a warmer broken in a move awhile back. Of course, a fragrance warmer requires fragrances, so in the lead up to Christmas our home will smell like Marshmallow Fireside, Sparkling Icicles, Champagne Toast, Merry Cookie and, of course, Vanilla Bean Noel.

Running on empties: Will I reorder? 

If there’s one thing I love, it’s bath and body products that smell beautiful. Even better are products with scents that linger on my skin and perfume my bathroom long after bath time is over.¬†

Sometimes it seems that I run out of a passel of products all at once, and so it’s seemed in recent weeks. Here’s what I squeezed the final squeeze on, as well as my take on whether they’re worth squeezing again:¬†

  • Perlier Honey Miel Shower Cream — This product is one of my personal favorites, largely because I’m partial to honey scents. It smells lovely and is highly moisturizing with a luxurious lather. My favorite honey-scented bath product of all time was L’Occitane’s Honey & Lemon Body Scrub, which was cruelly discontinued. ¬†I hoarded my final two jars like they were gold. The Perlier is the closest dupe I’ve found. I’ve reordered, but this time I’m trying the honey and orange version in hopes it will be even closer to my beloved honey-lemon scrub.¬†
  • The Seven Deadly Skins Melon Body Scrub by Anatomicals — This is a very scrubby scrub — one that does a good job of sloughing off dead skin. I won’t repurchase, though, because it’s quite drying and while it smells good, the scent dissipates almost instantaneously.¬†
  • Vitabath Luscious Lemon Creme Body Wash — I almost always have a Vitabath body wash of one scent or another in my shower because they’re high-performing, inexpensive and — in most cases — lovely smelling. I’m working my way through the wide variety of scents. So far, my favorites are Lemon Creme and Pomegranate & Blood Orange. I’m not as enamoured with the Cucumber & White Tea and the Beach Blossom.¬†
  • ¬†Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel — If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know I love this product. I ordered a replacement as soon as I started to run low. This is my hands-down, ride-or-die shower gel, just as the company’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream (pronounced Boom Boom) is my holy grail moisturizer. The ¬†pistachio-caramel scent is heaven and it lasts and lasts. People always want to know what scent I’m wearing.¬†
  • Hempz Sweet Pineapple & Honey Melon Smoothing Creamy Herbal Body Wash — I bought this on a whim because pineapple and honey melon seemed like a lovely summertime scent. I was not disappointed. This body wash smells wonderful, lingers and is ultra-moisturizing. Will I repurchase? Yes, but I’ll wait for warmer weather. It’s about time to make a trip to Bath & Body Works for the cold-weather scent that’s my annual sensory delight: Sparkling Vanilla Bean Noel!¬†

Facial cleanser empties 

I also recently ran out of two of my favorite facial cleansers and have already replaced them. In the morning, I wash my face in the shower, alternating between Chantecaille Rice & Geranium Foaming Cleanser and¬†Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash. My skin loves rice cleansers and Chantecaille’s replaces L’Occitane’s (again) discontinued Riz Rice. The Chantecaille version is luxurious and highly moisturizing and you need to use only the tiniest amount. I’ve been working on the same tube since early August. The a.m. product I replaced is the Glacial Face Wash, which is for stressed skin. Switching back and forth between the two morning cleansers works for me, keeping my skin both clear and moisturized.¬†

At night, I pre-wash my face with a micellar water — I prefer Bioderma — and follow up with a gel-to-oil cleanser if I’ve worn makeup (which is almost always). My preferred gel cleanser is Pli√© by Jordan Samuel Skin, which I just replaced.¬†It cleans, lightly exfoliates and hydrates my skin, and I love its clean, gentle scent. It’s on sale right now, so I’m off to order a backup tube …¬†