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 

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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 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!

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

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

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.

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 Plié 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 … 

Loving my aging skin with Rodan+Fields 

Let’s face it, I’m no ingenue. In fact, I recently attended my 40th high school reunion. It’s shocking, sometimes, to realize that I’m 57 years old. I certainly don’t feel that age on the inside. Do I look like I’m nearing 60 on the outside? Wait! Don’t answer that. All I can do is hope that genetics and a good skin-care routine will keep my face reasonably wrinkle-free for awhile longer. It’s worth noting, though, that I don’t want to look 25 0r even 35. I just … well, I suppose I wouldn’t be happy if someone actually guessed that I’m nearing 60. Closer to 50 is fine.

All of this is to say that I’ve been very pleased with my skin of late, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on it too. As many of you know, I’m somewhat of a skin-care fanatic and I try a lot of products. For the past month I’ve been sampling items from Rodan+Fields. Some of those products I purchased myself and others were sent to me by my friend Kim Leible, an executive consultant for Rodan+Fields.

Overall, I’m highly impressed — much more impressed than I expected to be, in fact. That’s probably because I hate to jump on bandwagons and, frankly, everyone I know seemed to be jumping on the  Rodan+Fields bandwagon. That made me drag my feet a bit. But I finally got on board and here’s what I’ve been using:

  • AMP MD System — This is my favorite of the products I’ve tried and the one I’m confident I’ll continue using. What is it? It’s a four-item set consisting of a micro-exfoliating roller, a vial for cleaning the roller, cleaning tablets, and 60 capsules containing a night-renewing serum.  The roller is covered with dozens of tiny, fine needles and I roll it over my face about three times per week. It might sound medieval, but it’s painless and the punctures are invisible. The objective is to trick the skin into renewing itself, which can increase collagen production and reduce wrinkles. I particularly love the Night Renewing Serum. It nourishes, smooths and plumps the skin and has been a real game-changer for me.
  • Redefine Lip Renewing Serum — Do you have chapped lips, dry lips or lip lines? This is a lovely product that works wonders by restoring moisture and plumping out lip wrinkles. My sister, who has drier lips than I do, swears by this item.
  • Redefine Acute Care — Acute Care patches can be applied to problem areas that need special attention. They’re infused with hyaluronic acid, which targets wrinkles and smooths and plumps them out for a younger-looking appearance. I use these before special occasions to make sure I look my best. (Tip: Always look for skin-care products containing hyaluronic acid. It really is a miracle-worker.)
  • Essentials Foaming Sunless Tan — This is a hugely popular product and one that’s often out of stock. However, I’m on the fence about it. Unlike many other self-tanners, it provides a natural, non-orange hue. However, don’t expect a lot of color payoff in one use. I had to apply it several times to get much in the way of noticeable color, and my skin is very pale. I’ve heard that other users didn’t experience this issue, so perhaps it didn’t work with my skin chemistry? I’ve never had this problem with any other brand of self-tanner, so I’m not sure what the issue was.

All in all, I must say I’m very impressed by Rodan+Fields. While the self-tanner wasn’t a home run, the skin-care products were winners and that’s what matters to me. The Night Renewing Serum and Acute Care patches are on my reorder list and I’m hearing great things about the new eyelash-growth serum.

If you’re interested in trying Rodan+Fields, you can reach Kim’s R+F page here.

Makeup perfection: Two new favorites

Keeping makeup fresh: Slay All Day and J. One Jelly Pack

Just a quick post to tell you about two new products I’m enjoying. The first is Slay All Day, Gerard Cosmetics’ entry into the makeup-setting-mist game. Now, I’ve used a number of mists in my day, from horrible (I’m looking at you, Coola) to very nice (Skindinavia’s Dew Me). In my view, Slay All Day is the best of the bunch.

I’m using the peach scent, and people who know me well are saying, “Of course you are!” But for non-peach-lovers it also comes in green tea, jasmine, lavender and lemongrass. What does the mist do? It sets makeup, controls oil and keeps makeup in place longer. I also like to give myself a quick spritz if my makeup looks too powdery or needs fresh life. $22 from Gerard Cosmetics

Next up is a cool Korean import: J. One Jelly Pack. The bottle promises, somewhat ungrammatically, “dramatic firming skin with improved elasticity and pore-smoothing.” The instructions on the bottle are written in what I assume is Korean, but fortunately the box provides clarity. Basically, Jelly Pack alleges it can be used instead of multiple other products, including moisturizer and primer, to give skin a smooth, radiant, tightened slate on which to apply makeup. It’s also supposed to endure makeup lasts longer by helping it adhere to your skin.

Makeup application after J. One Jelly Pack

When first applied to skin with a patting motion, Jelly Pack feels sticky. However, it quickly dries down to a smooth finish that does provide a tightening sensation. The best news is that my makeup applies beautifully on top of Jelly Pack and stays fresh all day. I’ve only been using it for a few days, though, so this is an early review. I’ll post an update if my initial impression changes. $42 from Sephora (currently out of stock)

Up next: My thoughts on Rodan & Fields

Top lipsticks for September 

I post my lipstick of the day over on my Instagram account (makeup_plus_50). It’s a good way to keep track of my favorites while also maintaining a tally of what other Instagrammers like and don’t like.

September was a month for reds, but the most-liked shade was not crimson and — News Flash! — at $12 it was one of the least expensive lipsticks in my drawer. One of my followers even guessed that it was a super-high-end Yves St. Laurent lippie. It just goes to show that makeup doesn’t have to be expensive to deliver good results.

Without further ado, here are the most-liked lipsticks of September. They’re pictured clockwise from left in the accompanying photo:

1. NYX Ombré Lip Duo in Peaches & Cream, $12 at Ulta.

2. NARS  Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, $26 at Sephora.

3. Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Dashing (Very Cherry), $30 at Sephora.