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.

Sol de Janeiro adds to its sweet-smelling success

If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know I have a serious crush on Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Hands down, it’s the best moisturizer I’ve ever used and the best smelling too. The company describes the scent as pistachio-based and that may be true, but it’s also tropical and sexy and simply to die for. Even better, it makes your skin soft, silky, supple and touchable.

Awhile back, the company added its Samba Foot Fetish Cream to the product lineup. I was disappointed that it didn’t feature my beloved Bum Bum Cream’s to-die-for scent, but it’s still a great product and the adorable surfboard-style buffer it’s packaged with is a winner.

Fast forward to Sol de Janeiro’s latest launch: Brazilian 4-Play Moisturizing Shower Cream Gel. I’m a “smells good” kind of gal, as my son James described me when he was younger. I’m not interested in generic, run-of-the-mill soap or shower gels. Give me something that leaves my skin clean and moisturized, but leaves both me and my bathroom smelling like a garden of earthly delights.

I’m happy to report that 4-Play is a winner all the way around: Rich lather? Check. Moisturized skin? Check. Great scent? Check, check, check. It smells just like Brazilian Bum Bum Cream. Call me a  velvety-skinned, deliciously scented happy camper.

Note to the team at Sol de Janeiro: I just placed an order for your Rainforest Relief lotion, but I need more, more, more! How about adding other products with your signature scent to the lineup? Bath oil beads? Moisturizing bath bombs? A facial moisturizer? Hair care products? Seriously, it’s the best. 

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 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.

My favorite beauty brands: NUDESTIX 

                                          NUDESTIX eye, cheek and lip pencils and storage tins 

I thought I’d start an intermittent series of blogs featuring some of my favorite brands. Today, let’s talk about NUDESTIX — a high-concept company that makes makeup super easy.
The premise behind NUDESTIX is that women can create clean, light looks that don’t appear overly made up. The tool of choice is chubby pencils. In fact, all of the company’s products come in space-saving, simple-to-use and easily transportable chubby-pencil form. We’re talking eye pencils, cheek pencils, contour pencils, correcting pencils, concealing pencils … the list goes on and on.

                                       NUDESTIX Cheek & Lip Pencil in ‘Sin’ 

The NUDESTIX pencils I reach for are the eye and lip products. In fact, one of my go-to eye looks is created with three of the company’s easily blendable bronze-tone eye pencils. My favorite nude lipstick is Whisper. And when I say “favorite nude,” I don’t mean favorite of the NUDESTIX nudes, I mean favorite nude of any shade, any brand.

I mentioned that NUDESTIX are transportable. Each NUDESTIX or NUDESTIX set comes in a cute little storage tin, complete with pencil sharpener. They’re great for travel, but I store my NUDESTIX out of their tins because they’ll fill up a drawer rather quickly.

Anyway, sample a NUDESTIX. I’m glad I did!

Modern Renaissance: The new ABH palette is different and gorgeous

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette, liquid lipsticks in Soft Lilac (l) and Dusty Rose (r)

When it comes to makeup products, I’m wildest about eyeshadow palettes and lipstick. After all, there’s something incredibly sexy  about a fresh tube of lipstick. And eyeshadow? The tiny, colorful pans just beg for imagination and creativity. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills takes eye artistry to a new level with its just-released Modern Renaissance Palette. If you’re looking for colors that go beyond the usual neutrals, Modern Renaissance is for you. Mixed in with the shades needed for brow highlighting and crease transitions are rich, unexpected shades in wearable reds, oranges and purples that set this palette apart from the rest. Their names even hit an artistic note, with monikers such as Raw Sienna, Golden Ochre, Tempera and Red Ochre. 

The palette features a nice mix of metallic, satin and matte shades. Fallout is minimal and the texture is creamy and smooth, with easy blendability. Standout colors include Realgar, Love Letter and Buon Fresco, all which are included in the look I created below. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Rennaissance Palette and Liquid Lipstick in Soft Lilac, available at 

Other products used: YSL Touché Eclat Foundation, Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Pansy Pop, Giorgio Armani Maestro in Liquid Summer (contour), Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow (bronzer), Crushed Pearl from the Anastasia Beverly Hills “Gleam” Glow Kit (highlighter), Red Cherry lashes.  Top is from Rack.  

An easy way to fake winged eyeliner

For some women — including me — winged eyeliner is one of the most difficult makeup tricks to master. It requires a steady hand and precision, and even then it’s easy to botch things up.  

After a lot of trial, error and smears, it’s easy to just give up.  After all, wings have to be done right or they’re just wrong. By right, I mean they need to be clean, crisp, even and sharp enough at the point to stab your man. (Not, of course, that you’d want to. Most days, anyway.) 

While you’re working to perfect your wing, there’s a simple way to give your eyes the lift they need to look younger. Because, yes, wings are sort of like a cosmetic eye lift. Droopy, sagging corners drag your eyes down and make you look older. 

Here’s the trick: 

  1.  Take a piece of wrapping tape and put it on the back of your hand. Stick and remove it a couple of times to get rid of some of the tackiness.
  2. Angle the tape from the corner of your bottom lid to the outer edge of your eyebrow. Don’t angle it out much further, because a general rule is that your shadow should never flare out too far beyond the tail of your eyebrow. I extend mine slightly because I have close-set eyes and doing so makes them appear further apart. 
  3. Apply your eyeshadow as usual, extending the color over the edge of the tape. You can be messy; there is no need for precision. 
  4. Gently remove the tape.  

Voila, a sharp edge to your eye makeup that gives your eyes a lift. You can make the “wing” appear more dramatic and winglike by using dark shadow at the corner of your eye. 

A frog worth kissing

imageSometimes the packaging and concept suck me in, and such was the case with Lipstick Queen’s Frog Prince lipstick and blush. After all, what girl hasn’t kissed a frog or two? And who doesn’t want to believe that our lives are touched by the transformative power of magic?

The Frog Prince lipstick and blush are shades of green that would do any hopping reptile proud, but once applied to the lips and cheeks, they turn to a pretty shade of pinky mauve. A bit kitschy? Well, yes. But fun nonetheless, and actually lovely in action. Warning: These shades are fairly light, so they’re probably best suited to fair-to-medium skin tones.

The bottom line? These two handsome princes have something magical going!

Make it a double: Two-toned lips are a big deal

 Some guys are leg men, others are into breasts and some have a thing for perfect, pouty lips. Give the latter group a thrill with one of the latest lipstick crazes: ombré lips. 

What, exactly, are ombré lips? They’re two-toned lips, created by using two different but complementary shades of lipstick. Most commonly, the darker shade is used to line the lips and darken the corners, with a lighter shade applied to the center. Another option is creating “Popsicle” lips by applying the darker shade in the center. It looks like you’ve been sucking on a Popsicle that’s transferred color to the inner portion of your pout. 

Whichever way you go, remember to blend. There should be no harsh lines involved in this look, just a seamless merging of the two shades. Try it! An extra benefit is that it will make your lips look larger. And who doesn’t want larger, more luscious, more kissable lips? 

Pictured: NYX Ombré Lip Duos, from top, in Pink Bubbles & Caviar, Peaches & Cream, Poppy & Lily, and Bonnie & Clyde. 

Amazing in April: Monthly favorites in makeup, music and more

 All I can say is, “Thank goodness the first four months of 2016 ended on a high note!” I’ve just returned from a wonderful cruise that reset my attitude and snapped me out of a two-month funk (more on that later, because it had a definite impact on my music favorites for the month). But first, let’s talk about my beauty loves for April:

  • Josie Maran Vibrancy Foundation — The gorgeous pop-of-color packaging caught my eye. But as a foundation connoisseur, I have to say my first Josie Maran foundation is a winner. The Argan Oil-infused formula provides great medium to full coverage and leaves my skin feeling soft and moisturized. It also provides just the right amount of radiance without veering into greasy.
  • Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara — If you’re looking for inky-black lashes with major volume, give this a whirl. I prefer “dryer” mascaras, so I liked the formula better after using it for a few weeks.
  • Benefit Cosmetics Cheekathon Blush and Bronzer Palette — This value-packed bundle includes four full-sized pans of Benefit’s best-loved blushes, as well as the beloved Hoola bronzer. Although the packaging is somewhat bulky, it’s still a great take-along for extended vacations.
  • Giorgio Armani Maestro Liquid Summer — This is a cult favorite and I can see why. It truly is like summer in a bottle. I use it two ways: mixed with my regular foundation for an all-over bronze look or as a bronzy liquid contour. It is pricey, so if that’s a concern, Perricone MD’s No Bronzer Bronzer is a good alternative.
  • Tatcha Silken Pore Perfecting Primer with SPF 35 — A great combo product that did right by me on the beaches of the Caribbean. I remained burn-free and clear-skinned.
  • Givenchy Memoire De Forme Pop Up Jelly Blush in Rose Extravagent — A cream-verging-on-liquid blush in a cute little pot that provides a long-lasting, moisturized glow. Don’t let the color scare you — it’s intense! But on the cheeks, it provides a natural, rosy flush of color.
  • Surratt Beauty Prismatique Eyes in Style Eyes — These convenient pots include a matte cream shadow in one compartment and a shimmering topper in another. Style Eyes is described as an ambiguous heather. I’d say it’s a dusky purple-mauve that provides an air of elegance. It pairs well with Nars’ new Dominique Audacious Lipstick, which is a deep pink-lilac. img_0781
  • Lipstick favorites, pictured clockwise from top left: Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Oh Miley!, a bright strawberry red; Bobbi Brown Art Stick in Dusty Pink, a muted nude rose; Tarte Lip Sculptor and Lip Gloss in Renegade, a rich, gleaming berry rose.

Movie favorites: “Joy,” starring Jennifer Lawrence as a struggling single mom working to bring her innovative invention to market (, Netflix); “The Witch,” a creepily enthralling film about witchery in the Puritan era (theaters); “Nothing Left Unsaid,” an engrossing documentary about the lives of Anderson Cooper and his fascinating mother, Gloria Vanderbilt (HBO On Demand).

Television favorites: “The Amazing Race,” always a favorite (CBS); “Mercy Street,” about the lives of nurses and doctors in Civil War hospitals (, “Game of Thrones,” which is back with a vengeance and a fast-moving plot (HBO).

Music: As I mentioned, it’s been a rocky year thus far. I lost two friends to cancer and a dear mentor two weeks ago to a freak head injury. My playlist, for those reasons, might have been a bit darker than usual. Album-wise, I’ve been listening to tried-and-true classics: “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” by Derek and the Dominoes, Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and Carole King’s “Tapestry.” As for singles, I’ve been into Prince’s “Purple Rain” and “Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” Sam Smith’s “I Know I’m Not the Only One,” and “Take Me to Church” by Hozier.

Remember, strength is beauty. Hold your head up, smile and look to the future. – Ronda