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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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

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:

Bronze eyes and bright lips = Full holiday glam 

Bronze eyes and red lips are a classic holiday party look.

It’s the holiday season, and that means it’s time to go full glam. Today, we’re going all out with a look that’s definitely not for everyday wear: Its party time, ladies! This look has special occasion written all over it, and it’s just the thing for a festive Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve celebration. Pour yourself a glass of champagne and let’s get started … But first, my usual provisos:

  1. You don’t have to rush out to buy the exact items I used! Dig through your makeup drawers for similar products that will work just as well without causing penury.
  2. Prep your face. You want a smooth, serene canvas for perfect makeup application. That means clean, exfoliated, moisturized and primed skin.

OK, let’s get glam!

Foundation: Fiona Styles Matte Finish Foundation Concentrate. (This is a foundation I began using last week and have been pleased with. It evens out skin flaws and imperfections and is sold at Ulta. Other foundations I like include Josie Maran Vibrancy, Urban Decay All Nighter and Make Up For Ever Ultra HD.)

Undereye Concealer: Judith August Orange Masking Creme, Maybelline Age Rewind. (The Judith August Orange Masking Cream is peachy/orange and I use it to hide blue circles where my skin is thinner at the inner corners of my 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 and isn’t drying.)
Eyes:

  1. I mixed Pat McGrath Labs’ Bronze Pigment with Mehron Mixing Liquid and applied two coats on the mobile lid up to the crease. The pigment and mixing liquid are sold at Sephora as part of a set. Other options include silver and gold, and they’re gorgeous!
  2. I applied a medium brown matte shadow to my crease as a transition shade. I used the medium brown from Tarte’s Poppy Picnic Palette, but any medium brown will do.
  3. Next, 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.
  4. I used Dior black kohl liner in my upper and lower waterlines. Again, any long-wearing liner will suffice.
  5. No eyeliner today, but I did apply false lashes — Red Cherry Wispies. DO NOT wait until the night of a big event to apply false lashes for the first time. It takes a bit of practice. If you’ve never applied them, opt instead for extra coats of your favorite mascara. 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: Milani Baked Powder Blush in Bella Rosa.

Lipstick: I’m wearing on of my favorite  reds, MAC Red, but go with a red that suits your particular skin tone. If you have thin lips, you might want to choose a pretty rose or nude shade, as very dark or bright shades can make lips look thinner.

Bronzer: Laura Geller Moroccan Bronze, but skip this step if your cheeks have started to hollow naturally. I am older, but still have full cheeks.
Highlight: ColourPop Super Shock Cheek in Monster
That’s it! You’re ready join in the holiday fun, knowing you look your glowing best. Here’s a toast to 2017!

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.

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

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.