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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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.¬†

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.

An unexpected foundation flop 


I tried the new, affordably priced ($25 for .32 ounces) Anastasia Beverly Hills Stick Foundation today. My skin looks pretty swell in the photo above, so you probably think I loved it, right? Wrong. Very wrong.

I usually have good luck with ABH products, but the foundation is dry, patchy and nowhere near the medium-to-full coverage formula promised. ¬†I applied two layers and my flaws were still apparent. A top-off layer of Hourglass Vanish Seamless Foundation Stick saved the day. The Houglass is a nice foundation indeed, but it’s unfortunately priced at $46 for .25 ounces.

The bottom line is that my skin looks great in today’s pic — but photos can be deceiving.¬†Three layers of foundation is really too much in everyday life. By the way, I just checked the reviews on Sephora and I’m not alone in my assessment of the ABH foundation. Try it at your own risk. Or at least keep your receipt! — Ronda

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

A beauty mask for baby-soft skin

When I walk into Sephora or Ulta, I’m immediately drawn to the makeup aisles. Let’s face it, color products are exciting and alluring. The products on the skin-care side, not so much. Put it this way: If beauty products were lingerie, the makeup aisles would be stocked with sexy bustiers, corsets and push-up bras. The skin-care aisles would be devoted to basics like support bras, cotton panties and shapewear.

Despite the siren call of makeup, my basket usually ends up holding more shapewear than than bustiers. That’s because shapewear provides a great foundation — both in the fashion world and the cosmetics world, where good skin is the foundation that maximizes makeup’s performance.

I always say that if your finances force you to choose between high-end makeup and skin-care products, choose the skin-care products. There are plenty of cosmetic companies that provide great-quality makeup for low prices: Maybelline, Revlon, L’Oreal, NYX and Makeup Revolution, just to name a few. And, yes, there are some good skin-care products in the drugstore aisles, but I’ve had better luck with entries from Dr. Brandt, Chantecaille, Nude Skincare and Sunday Riley, to name a few.

My latest find is perhaps the best beauty mask I’ve ever tried. Yes, it’s on the relatively expensive side at $70 per tube, but it’s worth every penny. It’s Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask and it is spectacular.

You might hear the words “clay” and “skin mask” and assume this product would be drying. Rest assured, it’s anything but. It leaves my skin feeling nourished, moisturized and baby-smooth. And although no product will eliminate pores, it tightens and minimizes them.

And then there’s the scent. There’s only one way to describe it, and that’s “heavenly.” To me, it smells like I’ve buried my nose in a bouquet of gardenias, but the product description says it contains frangipani. Either way, it smells heady and extravagant.

If you’re looking for a mask that leaves your skin glowing, smooth and clear, give Charlotte Tilbury’s Goddess Skin Clay Mask a try. I could get addicted to this one!

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.¬†

Update: Morning and evening skin-care routines

I’ve been getting a large number of questions about my skin-care routine, so I thought I’d provide a visual look at my a.m. and p.m. regimens. It looks like a lot of steps, but I can complete them in five minutes or under when I’m pressed for time. When possible, though, I dawdle a bit because doing so makes me feel like I’m indulging myself.

The important thing to know is the products that work for me might not work for you. For reference, I have normal skin — neither particularly oily nor dry — that is aging. If you decide to purchase any of the products I’m using, be sure to check your store’s return policy. For example, Sephora and Ulta have generous, no-questions-asked policies.

I want to mention that I’ve been using Nerium’s Age-Defying Night Cream for about a month and am pleased with the results. For one thing, it reduced the number of tiny milia I have beneath my eyes and also shrank the small amount of sebaceous hyperplasia bumps deep beneath my skin. (Note: I don’t sell Nerium products. My friend Helen is a Nerium representative and sent me a bottle to try. I can put you in touch with her if you’re interested, but be assured there’s no financial benefit to me if you decide to try them.)

It’s also worth noting that I use a couple of cleansing tools — the Foreo Luna Mini¬†in the morning and the Bare Minerals Skinsorials Double Cleansing Brush at night. Also, the products are pictured in the order in which I use them.

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.

Heavy metal: Trying out the new lip trend

Ofra Long-Lasting Metallic Liquid Lipstick Trio

Matte liquid lipstick has been the rage for quite some time now, and that can only mean one thing: It’s time for cosmetic companies to shake things up. Enter the latest lipstick trend — metallic liquid lipstick.

One thing to know about metallic lipstick is that it shows every line, bump and imperfection. Unless your lips are relatively smooth, metallic shades might not be for you. Of course, one option is to use a satin or matte shade, then apply a bit of metallic lipstick in the center of your lips. This will provide a pretty highlight and also give the illusion of larger lips.

Some beauty reviewers have said that a few companies’ versions of metallic lipsticks are over-the-top shiny, but I don’t have that complaint about the shades I tried from Ofra. In fact, the brightest shade I’m wearing in these photos — Monaco — isn’t very metallic at all.

If you haven’t tried Ofra’s lipsticks, why not give them a shot? They’re fairly inexpensive, long-lasting and comfortable.