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 

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:

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.

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.

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.

Weight loss: Dirty little secrets

Current status: 15 or 20 pounds to go

Losing weight — and by losing weight, I mean changing your lifestyle — isn’t easy. But when you finally get into the groove, start eating right and make exercise a habit, the rewards are worth the effort. Trust me, I know.

After years of losing a little and gaining more back, I got tired of being embarrassed about my body, of being the fat friend, of being the non-MILF, of being the one with “the pretty face but …”

I decided early this year that I was going to do it: I was going to lose weight, once and for all. I told a friend in February that I was going to drop 50 pounds by November. The response? “There’s no way you can do that.” Well, I did that friend one (or 10) better. I’ve lost 60 pounds and intend to reach my goal of losing another 15 or 20 by the end of November.

My journey isn’t over. In fact, it will never be over. But here are five kind of good, kind of bad, kind of odd things I’ve learned:

  1. A new wardrobe is not as fun as you think it will be because it’s so expensive, even if you shop for bargains. Just ask my thrifty husband. (Confession: He is kind of right. I overspend.)
  2. Even rings need to be resized. A very nice one fell off my finger the other day. Fortunately, it slid into my purse and I later found it. On the good side, I have a lot of necklaces on short chains that no longer look like chokers.
  3. Shapewear no longer shapes. I like shapewear because it smooths me out under my clothing. And even though there’s less of me to suck in, I still like to suck it in a little more. I have already purchased all-new panties, but I need new camisoles, bras, waist shapers … Sigh. Those things are expensive and no one even sees them under my clothing.
  4. My balance is improved and I feel much more comfortable in my body, except for one spot: my tailbone. I still have plenty of junk in the trunk — it’s just the way I’m built — but for some reason, my tailbone hurts like heck in airplane and movie-theater seats.
  5. Some people will cheer you on, but some surprising others will not. Gore Vidal once said, “Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little.” When it comes to weight loss and improvements to your physical appearance, people get weird. It manifests itself in small and sometimes passive-aggressive ways: They won’t “like” your new, thinner Facebook photo. They’ll say, “Have you lost weight? I hadn’t noticed.” They’ll invite you to their homes for dinner and serve absolutely nothing you can eat, even though they know you’re being cautious. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to put the most calorie-laden foods possible on the table.

The bottom line is that despite the cost, the irritation and the effort, losing weight and becoming more healthy is something you do for yourself and yourself alone. I’d rather have five “thinner me” outfits than 50 of my old size. Ring sizing can wait. Damn my tailbone, I’ll sit on a pillow. And as for friends who aren’t completely supportive of the smaller me? They’ll get used to it. Or not.