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.

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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 ombré 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!

Presto change-o: An easy way to expand your wardrobe

One outfit, two looks

Some of you know that I’m on a journey to improved health. A year ago, I weighed 65 pounds more than I weigh today and had both Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. Today, I have neither of those conditions and feel better and more energetic than I’ve felt in a long time.

In addition to more energy, I have a brand-new wardrobe. With the exception of a few one-size-fits-all wraps, nothing from my “before” closet works anymore. It’s fun to have more clothing options, but buying all-new outfits is pricy. I do a lot of shopping for basics at Nordstrom Rack, Steinmart, Marshall’s and other stores offering bargain prices. Then,  I and mix and match the things I’ve found with more unique items from stores like Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters and Free People.

I wanted to share these two looks because they demonstrate how easily one piece can transform an outfit. At left, I’m wearing my favorite Joe’s Jeans with a top from the Thalia Sodi Collection, which is sold at Macy’s. At right, I’m wearing the same sweater and jeans but they have a whole different attitude thanks to the Cullen cashmere capelet I picked up at Nordstrom Rack.

If you’re on a journey to health and are finding it expensive to literally downsize your wardrobe, focus on separates you can mix and match to create several outfits. And don’t forget that accessories can make a big difference too. Changing your necklace, earrings, belt or handbag is another way to stretch your wardrobe without shrinking your bank account. – Ronda

Can we talk about these tights?

I generally post my outfits of the day only on Instagram, where you’ll find me at makeup_plus_50, but I’m wildly enthusiastic about the tights I’m wearing today. Here’s a collage of the entire look, with purchasing details. Let me know if you’d like to see more “what I’m wearing” blogs. My wardrobe has evolved along with my body as result of my lifestyle change and weight loss. I try to buy inexpensive but not cheaply made items. I love a bargain!

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  • Knit Longsleeve Raglan Sweatshirt Dress: Max Studio, Nordstrom Rack
  • Tights: Zohara, Amazon.com, Zohara.com
  • Shoes: Sofft Wendie Boot, Nordstrom Rack
  • Pendant necklace: Kate Spade, Poshmark.com

 

Confessions of a sunglasses junkie

Looking for a quick way to jazz up an outfit? Reach for a great pair for of sunglasses!

I have to confess that I’m somewhat of a sunglasses addict. I have pairs stashed in drawers and nooks throughout my house and car. And we’re not talking ZZ Top “Cheap Sunglasses.” I get the good stuff, and I usually persuade my dear husband to add to my collection on special occasions. I prefer sunglasses to rings and other baubles and consider them “jewelry for the face.”

When did my sunglasses habit begin? At Myrtle Beach, circa 1992. We took a family trip to the shore and the combination of light-sensitive eyes, contact lenses and inexpensive, non-polarized shades led to months of pain. You’ve heard the term “snow blind?” Well, I was “sand blind.” Somehow the sun’s reflection off the sand burned my eyes. It hurt just to keep my eyes open in the weakest of light for months on end. I was under a doctor’s care and on steroids and all sorts of other medication until my vision normalized. Since then, it’s been all sunglasses, all the time. (Side benefit: My dermatologist says my dedication to tinted eyewear cuts down on wrinkles, as it reduces squinting. She advises women never to go into the sun — even if it’s just to check the mailbox — without sunglasses.)

Right now, I’m contemplating what pair of sunglasses will be on my list for Santa. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my most recent scores: a jazzy, Hollywood-glam pair of Kate Spades that I picked up while post-Thanksgiving outlet shopping with my mom and sister and an ultra-elegant Versace pair that is a souvenir from a girls’ trip — coincidentally to Myrtle Beach — with college friends. In fact, here’s a photo of three of us modeling our finds. That’s Jeannean on the left in Versaces, me in the center, and Jill in Michael Kors.

Show your lips some love

Sometimes I think there are three distinct camps when it comes to lipstick:

  1. Those who never wear it.
  2. Those who stick to nudes and neutrals.
  3. Those who love it and will try just about any shade.

It pretty much goes without saying that I’m in the last category. I’ll wear anything from nude to red, but I draw the line at vampy, very dark wines and browns, as well as trendy blues, greens, grays and purples.

I haven’t always been a lipstick wearer. In fact, I rarely wore it until I reached my mid-30s, and for a couple of reasons. First, my own lips were deeply pigmented. And second, the waxy feel of lipsticks in the 70s and 80s made me uncomfortable — almost as if my lips were suffocating.  New formulations make today’s versions much more wearable.

As women age, the right lipstick can make their complexions come to life. But women who’ve never worn lipstick often initially feel foolish — almost as if a spotlight is shining on their lips and everyone’s staring. (Take my word for it, they’re not.)

For that reason, it’s best to start neutral and work your way up. Choose a shade that’s an amplified version of your natural lip color and progress from there. That way, catching a glimpse of yourself in a mirror won’t be such a shock.

Remember, too, to create a smooth canvas for your lipstick. Use an exfoliating scrub several times per week. I like Tarte’s Marajuca Lip Exfoliant. I also use a lip mask each day. Because lipstick is the final step in my makeup routine, I apply a softening, moisturizing mask first and let it do its job while I’m applying other products. My favorite is the Best Damn Lip Mask. 

Remember: There’s a lipstick (or two, or 20, or two dozen) for everyone. You just have to get comfortable with a “your lips but better” shade and move forward from there.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. The power of working out

Losing weight differently through exercise

If you’ve been following my journey to a healthier lifestyle, you know that I’ve made many changes this year. Here’s the basic roadmap:

  • I started watching what I ate in early February. Frankly, I was tired of feeling lumpy, uncomfortable and unattractive. At first, I simply employed portion control combined with self control. The pounds started to fall away.
  • In May, I decided it was time to start working out, something I’d avoided for many years. To be honest, I hate feeling hot and sweaty. Still, I knew it was time to get moving. My husband and I celebrated our anniversary in June and he was shocked when my gift request was a treadmill. I started slowly: 1.5 miles at 2 miles per hour. Today, I do between 3 and 4 miles at 3.2 to 3.5 miles per hour at a slight incline. For some people, that’s weak. It works for me.
  • In July, it was time to formally start tracking my exercise and healthy-eating efforts. I purchased a Misfit Shine 2 to count my steps and began using the Lose It! app to track nutrition and calories. I also started taking two adult dance classes per week: ballet/stretch and tap. For me, dance is a fun way to get exercise.
  • Last week, I decided it was time to work on my arms and core. I began using the Smart Wonder Core, a compact gadget that has two foam-covered tension bars. Depending upon how it’s positioned, it is used to create resistance for arm exercises, leg exercises, sit ups and more. I also began using the Simply Fit Board, a skateboard-type item with a rounded bottom. Basically, you balance yourself on the board and it twists back and forth as you twist from the waist. (I usually hop on the board during television commercials. I also twisted to the performances during last night’s Video Music Awards.) My goal is strengthening my abdominal muscles and whittling my waist.

I’ve dieted and lost weight before, but I always did it without exercise. This time, I realized that I would never get the ass I want while sitting on it! Two things have happened:

1. I’ve started to actually enjoy my workouts. I feel better physically and mentally when I don’t skip them.  They’ve become a habit.

2. I’m losing weight differently. I’ve always been pear-shaped and unable to wear certain styles of clothing. For example, the column dress in the photo accompanying this blog would have been disastrous on my body just a few months ago, because my top and bottom halves were disproportionate. By getting up and moving my body, I’m losing inches more uniformly.

As of this morning, I’d lost 57 pounds. My original goal was 65 pounds. However, after assessing my body and mental determination, I’ve decided to go for 23 more, for a total of 80 pounds. At that point, I’ll decide whether it’s time to switch to a maintenance plan or lose a bit more.

If you’re thinking about making a lifestyle change, go for it. If I can lose weigh with diet and exercise, you can too. I believe the key is getting yourself into a certain hell-for-leather mindset. I’ve tried and failed to lose weight before, but when I look back I realize I didn’t have the steely, determined attitude needed for the long haul. The right attitude will get you where you want to go. – Ronda

Truth or dare: Answering your questions

L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose

As I get older, I’m both more and less forthcoming. I’ve learned that some things are better left unsaid, while some that were formerly too humiliating to talk about I now share freely. I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people who follow me on Instagram and I thought I’d answer them here. Some are about makeup, others are about my weight loss, and still more touch on personal topics. Here we go:

Q. If you could look like any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be?

A. At one time, I would have said Grace Kelly because she was true perfection. Now I’d choose someone else — someone sultrier and sexier. That’s because I’ve never considered my appearance sexy. Everything about me screams “girl next door” and always has. And although I love makeup, I have one of those faces that looks silly in a large wing or dramatically smoked-out eyes. For these reasons, I’d choose to see what it would be like to ooze sex appeal, like Ava Gardner or Elizabeth Taylor.

Q. If you were going out for the evening and could take only one makeup item, what would it be?

A. I used to say mascara, but I finally found a mascara that doesn’t disappear on me in Benefit’s They’re Real. I’d go with concealer because I detest dark under eyes and they always eventually peep out, no matter what I do.

Q. What was your most disappointing makeup purchase?

A. Recently it was two mascaras — the new Charlotte Tilbury and Marc Jacobs ones. They smeared and had no staying power on me, although I’m a big fan of both brands. My most expensive mistake was the Temptu Airbrush System.  You have to wear the foundation that comes in their pods and it wasn’t for me.

Q. Do you have a favorite foundation?

A. I always seem to go back to Koh Gen Do’s Aqua Foundation. It gives me a nice, natural, realistic glow. I’m currently trying out the new Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation and the Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick. So far, I prefer the better staying power of the Urban Decay. I’m always looking for the latest, greatest foundation. I can make my foundation look almost perfect, but it only lasts for a few hours. Two recent foundations that didn’t work for me? Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Foundation and Too Faced Born This Way.

Q. What’s your favorite lipstick?

A. I have several: L’Oreal Color Riche Lipstick in Wisteria Rose, Marc Jacobs’ Le Marc Lip Cream in Clara and Melted Strawberry by Too Faced. They’re all fairly bright and I prefer brights with my skin tone. (My favorite non-bright is Tom Ford’s Spanish Pink.)

Q. Have you had a nose job and, if so, who was your doctor?

A. This is a surprising one that I’ve received several times. No, no nose job. It’s my original nose.

Q. How much weight have you lost? How did you do it?

A. I’ve lost 54 pounds and think I’ll switch to maintenance after another 30. I did not have weight-loss surgery, but would have if my insurance company covered it. I eat healthfully and never go over 1,200 calories per day. I walk 3-4 miles daily on a treadmill and take adult dance classes twice weekly. I also use two products by Hum Nutrition: Flatter Me, which reduces bloating, and Skinny Bird, which purports to reduce stress eating, boost metabolism, curb appetite and control blood sugar. Since losing weight, I no longer have high blood pressure or diabetes.

Q. What does your husband say about your weight loss?

A. Honestly? He doesn’t mention it often, other than to say I look nice. He’s not particularly effusive and never has been. He has mentioned several times that he’d love me at any weight, which is incredibly sweet.

Q. How is your son?

A. My son, James, was involved in a serious head-on collision a month ago. He was in a coma for awhile and there was concern about brain trauma, but we were fortunate. He does have numerous contusions and cuts, as well as broken ribs on both sides. He is healing well, but is in lots of pain. He has been a difficult patient because he suffers from severe anxiety and depression. We will get through it all together.

Q. What makeup trend do you dislike?

A. Instabrows — the large, overdone brows that have been in for awhile. This is partially because I’m a little sensitive about my own brows. I don’t have any, because they didn’t grow back after I had chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. I have tattoos and it looks ridiculous if I try to draw in bigger brows on top of them. I’m also not huge on a lot of highlighter. I just don’t think it’s particularly flattering on older skin. I try to use it judiciously.

Q. Are there any new products you’d like to try?

A. The new Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation. And some of the new Charlotte Tilbury lipsticks. Her mascara and foundation didn’t work for me, but her lipsticks are spectacular, as are her eye products and blushes.

Q. You’ve added quotes and poems to your Instagram page. Do you have a favorite?

A. I’ve gotten incredibly good feedback — and a lot of new subscribers — since adding quotes and outfit of the day photos. I try to choose quotes and poems a lot of people identify with, and most of us have either been in love or been hurt in love. I also like inspirational quotes, as well as sharing the poems of talented Instagrammers. Here are a couple items that got great response, followed by my favorite. I hope they inspire you. 

Where’d she get that outfit? New website reveals all 

Like to Know It provides users with personalized shopping information

If you’re like me, you’re constantly checking out other women. Not in a sexual way (not that there’s anything wrong with it, as George and Jerry reassured themselves on “Seinfeld”). It’s other women’s outfits I’m ogling, along with their shoes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories.

Trust me, I’ve chased women down for buying information if they were wearing something my heart pinged for, but public grillings are not always appropriate or welcome. While some fashion plates are eager to share not only where they bought an item but what they paid for it, others act like they’ve been asked to divulge a state secret.

Enter a new way to play the “who, what, where and wear” game — a nifty website called Like to Know It (the address is simply LIKEtoKNOW.it). I wish I’d thought of this concept: Gather the best fashion and accessories photos on Instagram, then post them on a nicely designed internet page along with links that take viewers directly to purchase sites. As an added bonus, those who link the Like to Know It site to their Instagram accounts receive outfit details via email if they “like” an ensemble that shows up on their Instagram feeds. Their favorite outfits are also stored under a personalized tab on the Like to Know It site.

One of the best things about the service is discovering lots of little-known internet shops, many of them surprisingly affordable. I’ve placed small orders at two new-to-me online stores, ChicWish and SheIn, and I’ll give you an update on fit and quality when the items arrive.

In the meantime, check out the featured fashionistas on Like to Know It. At the very least, you’ll get a clear idea of what’s “in” this season. Hint: cold- and off-the-shoulder tops and dresses, ankle-wrap shoes, bohemian tassels and pom-poms, white lace and eyelet, stripes, and pastels.