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.

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A little random: Beauty finds and a flop

What do the items in the photo above have in common? They’re impulse buys — products I just happened upon when out shopping and decided to give a try. For the most part, these purchases were serendipitous and I’d actually buy them again. Mixed among them, though, are one bust and a fence-sitter. Let’s sort the wheat from the chaff, going clockwise from the candle:

  • I always find the neatest little items when I pop into Nadeau’s, which is a very cool store featuring (mostly) hand-crafted wooden furniture at great prices. I have several large pieces from Nadeau in my home and each has a cool, quirky vibe. In addition to furniture, Nadeau has interesting little decorative items, like the candleholder pictured. I love the contrast of its white lattice exterior with its vibrant orange interior. Inside is a deliciously scented candle I purchased at Marshalls. It smells like pomegranate and sweet pea and is very relaxing. I picked up several scents at $2.99 each, including honey, which is my favorite.
  • The tall, hot-pink cylinder is an Oggi stainless steel water bottle I discovered at Marshalls. I love the fact that its contents stay cold for 24 hours without refrigeration. That’s really helpful when you’re committed to drinking a lot of water and you don’t like it lukewarm.
  • I’d never tried the Hempz brand until I picked up the Sweet Pineapple and Honey Melon cream body wash. I love having clean, moisturized skin and also want to smell lovely. When he was about 8, my son told me I always smelled like a “delicious dessert.” High praise from a third-grader!
  • Here’s the surprising bust: Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water Cleansing Tonic. It smells coconutty and Pacifica’s products are usually nice, but here’s the problem: It doesn’t perform. I double wash nightly, first using a micellar water to remove surface makeup and dirt, including my eye makeup, and next with a moisturizing cleansing balm.  I usually use Bioderma’s micellar water, which takes off my mascara and liner with no problem. Not so with Pacifica’s version.
  • Sjal Energy Tonic is a refreshing spray that provides moisture as needed and can also be used to set or refresh makeup. I use it as part of my skin care routine, after acid toning and before applying my serum. This lovely, rose-scented spray is infused with minerals: gold, silver and rose quartz.
  • Skyn Iceland Glacial Face Wash is a staple of my morning shower routine. It has done wonders by eliminating the tiny, under-the-skin whiteheads that plagued my chin when I was stressed. It’s choc-a-block full of good stuff. According to the Sjal website, it “removes impurities from your skin with oat and amino acid-based surfactants. White willow bark purifies pores and soothes irritation to prevent breakouts while revitalizing Icelandic kelp detoxifies and cools inflammation. Cylindrica seed oil repairs the lipid barrier to prevent dryness and neutralizes free radicals.”
  • Here’s the product I’m on the fence about: Korres Golden Crocus Ageless Saffron Elixer Serum.  It purports to use”the antioxidant power of one-day fresh Greek saffron to universally correct all visible signs of aging.” Well, OK. But at nearly $100, I was expecting more transformational results. May Coop’s Raw Sauce is similar in performance, but it uses maple tree sap to impart a healthy glow. It’s just $48.
  • As I’ve mentioned, I love bath and skin products that make my skin beautiful to touch and smell. I love Lush bath bombs, but they’re pricey and there’s no Lush store nearby. I’ve used a few bath fizzies by Fizz and Bubble from Ulta. They come in a variety of scents for $6 each. I plan to try the rainbow sherbet tomorrow.

Shh! Just kiss me

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Let’s talk about lips. Why? Because over on Instagram, where I post daily makeup and lipstick looks, I get a lot of questions about my lips. I’d say questions about my skin-care routine come first, followed by questions about my pucker.

I never thought much about my lips, at least until about 8th grade. I was at a slumber party when Cindy Astin suddenly blurted, “Don’t you think Ronda has perfect lips?” Therein followed a lengthy discussion of what constitutes good lips, with the general consensus that mine, indeed, were high on the shapely scale. (Notable abstainers were Lucia Cimarusti and Laura LoCicero, the mean girls of Evelyn Carr Elementary, who believed if anything was perfect, it surely belonged to them.)

My first real boyfriend — the first boy I ever kissed — thought I was comely in general, but had a special affection for my lips. Nearly 40 years later, he said my lips remained the prettiest he’d kissed. This may or may not be true: It comes from a man who’s locked lips with well over his share of women. I suspect it’s  a line he uses with all the ladies.

But what do the people who really know lips, and by that I mean professionals who plump lips for a living, have to say? Well, they uniformly tell me never to inject anything into my upper lip, because I apparently have desirable natural projection and a nice Cupid’s bow. My bottom lip is naturally plump, but flawed. The left side is slightly fuller and larger than the right, which drives me nuts when I wear dark or bright lipstick. To avoid the aggravation of using lip liner to underdraw the left side or overdraw the right, I have a small amount of filler injected on the right side once or twice per year. And because I like to look pleasant in repose, I have a tiny amount (very, very tiny) injected right at the corners of my lips to keep them from turning down.

Speaking of lip liner, I rarely use it. Frankly, I have a hard time getting the lines exactly straight. Also, I don’t like the effect of lip liner that doesn’t precisely match my lipstick itself, so when I do line my lips, I use matching liner and lipstick. I know some women like to overdraw their lips to make them look larger. I don’t. I think my lip size is just fine; when I overdraw them they look unnatural and bizarrely large — at least to me.

So, for those who ask me how I do my lips: It’s pretty basic. I apply cream and satin lipsticks straight from the tube. To get the edges straight when I go awry, I put a bit of concealer on a tiny brush or Q-Tip and carefully run it around the lip rim. I use a lot of liquid lipsticks because the wand gives me greater placement control. I also am a huge fan of lipstick crayons. Again, I run concealer around the edges to hide any bobbles.

Finally, when it comes to lipstick, I’m a big fan of brights — corals, pinks and reds. I will wear a deep plum or wine on occasion, but I don’t think they’re the most flattering on me. At my age, I stay away from trendy colors, such as the blues, greens, browns, grays and black-reds the younger set is wearing. In general, though, I encourage women to (1) try lots of different lipstick shades and don’t get stuck in a rut and (2) to take good care of their lips by exfoliating and moisturizing them every day. A few more tips to remember:

  • If you have very thin lips, dark shades can make them appear thinner.
  • Shiny lips appear larger. Although matte shades are in, thinner-lipped women (and men) should choose formulas with a bit of sheen or finish with lip gloss.
  • Check your lips throughout the day to make sure your lipstick is intact. Lipstick that’s worn off in the center, leaving a dark outer ring, is distracting. And not in a good way.
  • Remember that shades with orange casts can make teeth look yellow. Pinks and reds with blue undertones make them appear whiter.
  • Wearing a great shade? Smile. A lot. Put your lips to work for you!

“One Lovely Blog” award

Hello, everyone! I’m so honored that the talented Laura of the blog Looking Joli Good nominated me for the “One Lovely Blog” award. Please be sure to check out Laura’s blog — she’s always posting new and intriguing content. She’s much more disciplined about it than I am.

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Here are the “One Lovely Blog” rules:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to them.
  • Share 7-15 facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 9-15 bloggers you admire and contact them to let them know.


Facts about me: 

  • I love backyard birds and am constantly refilling my feeders.
  • I have three lovely indoor cats and also feed a couple of feline neighborhood wanderers. After dark, a posse of raccoons visits my back deck to nibble on cat food, as does a very sweet and shy possum.
  • I recently started taking weekly tap and ballet/stretch classes. So much fun!
  • I’ve lost 46 pounds since February and want to lose 35 more.
  • When I was a reporter, I interviewed four presidents: Reagan, Ford and both Bushes. I also interviewed three first ladies: Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan and Betty Ford.
  • My husband and I worked at competing newspapers. We met at the scene of a stabbing.
  • I first got interested in makeup and skin care when I was undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Chemo makes you look tired and dries out your skin. I didn’t want to look ill.
  • I have been to 18 Rolling Stones concerts, but my first concert was the Osmond Brothers. My dad took my friend Debby Carter and me to see them at the Los Angeles Forum. He says it was one of his most generous acts of fatherhood.
  • Two places I want to go before I die: the Greek Islands and Portofino, Italy.
  • My hair has been brown, red and platinum and lots of colors in between. Golden blonde works best.
  • I’m a proud University of South Carolina Gamecock and I’m pretty sure the Chicken Curse is real, at least as far as the football team goes.
  • I was the reporter who broke the “Ozzy Osbourne Urinates on the Alamo” story. He was a hilarious interview. Sharon was intimidating.
  • I believe having a few close, loyal friends is better than having a lot of semi friends. I love my girlfriends Kelly, Nikki and Diane from high school; my sister, Allison; and my college roommate and lifetime co-conspirator, Jill.

These are some of the bloggers I enjoy, in no particular order. Check them out and give them some love:

Thanks again to Laura for nominating me. Remember: If you have a passion, blog about it!

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Let’s talk about what’s sexy (and what’s not)

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What’s sexy? A scented, warm bath is sexy.

Like many makeup-loving women, I post photos of my daily beauty looks on my Instagram account. (It’s Makeup_Plus_50, if you would like to follow me.) Instagram is a fascinating site, really, and I’ve come to like it much more than I like Facebook. Since Instagram is all about photos, I guess you could say the “picture is worth a thousand words” adage rings true, at least for me.

Anyway, I recently posted a photo in which I was wearing a top I’ve owned for awhile but never worn. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since February and it’s more flattering now that it was then. It’s a nice, kind of sexy black top — lower cut than I wear on a daily basis but nothing crazy (see photo). The picture had been up for five or 10 minutes when it arrived: what’s known in social media parlance as a “dick pic.” For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s when a guy sends a private message containing a photo of his, as they say in romance novels, engorged manhood.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d guess not many women are aroused by the unsolicited arrival of an up-close view of a stranger’s private parts. So, if you’re a man and you’re reading this, take it as an advisory. Do not send women you don’t know pictures of your penis. Now, if you want to send a penis pic to a woman you’re married to or seriously dating, that’s another matter entirely. If you’re both aroused by it, share away — just be aware that your sexy shots might be seen by others in the event of a breakup.

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The little black top …

Anyway, today’s special delivery got me thinking about sex and sensuality. I’m going to be candid here and say that I feel sexier now than I’ve felt in a long time. Feeling sexy is something that comes and goes in a woman’s life. There were times when I felt decidedly unsexy: when I had young children to raise and for a long time after I had cancer, for example. But today? Maybe it’s self-confidence … maybe it’s that I’m comfortable about who I am and what I want .. maybe it’s the weight I’ve lost … maybe it’s that I’ve come to terms with my age .. but I feel good and desirable and, yes, pretty darn sexy.

So, if a picture of a stranger’s private parts isn’t sexy, what is? For me, and for many women, it’s little things, such as:

  • A candlelit bath in steamy, scented water.
  • A hot stone massage.
  • The sensual slide of a balm cleanser as I wash my face.
  • An unexpected flower delivery.
  • A hot shower with my favorite scent.
  • Catching and holding my man’s eye across a crowded room — and knowing, without a word, that’s he’s thinking sexy thoughts.
  • A hand on my thigh under the table at a crowded restaurant.
  • A man who remembers my birthday without being reminded.
  • Leisurely putting on my makeup as I prepare for an evening out.
  • Jungle Gardenia perfume.
  • Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male cologne.
  • A kiss on the shoulder — or the neck.
  • Catching my guy looking at my lips.
  • Red lipstick and black winged liner.

That’s about all I can share here. Remember, a little mystery is terribly sexy. Remember, too, that sexiness isn’t the exclusive purview of women in their 20s or 30s. It’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives — our jobs, our errands, our children, our household tasks — that we lose sight of our sensuality as well as our sexuality.

Here’s a final tip: Your inner thoughts are manifested in the way you present yourself to the world. In other words, thinking sexy thoughts makes you sexier. – Ronda

Better off red: Why you can (and should) wear bright lipstick

redlipstickIf you follow beauty trends, you know that there are a lot of unique lipstick shades out there. Blues, greens, sepias, grays — they’re all available for the adventurous to try, and the advent of stay-put liquid lipstick makes them more wearable than ever.

Wearable or not, the truth is that those off-the-beaten-track colors are for the brave, the young and the Instagram beauty gurus. The average woman, and particularly the working woman, won’t be sporting Anastasia Beverly Hills’ “Paint,” a new cobalt shade, this fall.

‘I can’t wear red’

But enough about the out-there colors. One of the things I hear most often from friends and coworkers is, “I can’t wear red lipstick.” I can understand their aversion, because not so long ago I thought the same thing.

Red lipstick has been around for thousands of years — Mesopotamian women in 3,000 BC wore a concoction of crushed gemstones and Cleopatra created a shade of red made of crushed ants and carmine mixed with beeswax. With that type of history, why are so many women today afraid of red?

As a child of the (ahem) 70s, my theory is that red was our mothers’ lipstick color. In the 40s, 50s and even 60s, reds and orange-reds were the rage. Think Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Ava Gardner. Their crimson lips conveyed glamor, sophistication and sex appeal. Fast forward to the 70s, and the makeup game had changed dramatically. False lashes, dramatic eyeliner and bold lip colors were out, replaced by simple mascara, more natural eyeshadow, and nude or beige lipstick — or none at all.

Return to glam

In recent years, the pendulum has swung back. Today’s young women, perhaps in defiance of their own mothers’ barelymarilyn-marilyn-monroe-979536_1025_768 there cosmetics style, are using products that echo the age of Hollywood glamor. They’re embracing vibrant lips in shades of red, fuschia and orange and pairing them with false eyelashes and winged liner that would make Sophia Loren feel right at home.

As for me? I’ve joined the peacock parade. As recently as a few years ago, I avoided bright lipsticks as a matter of habit, instead selecting the nudes, peaches, pinks and corals I’d always favored. Then I discovered YouTube. After watching dozens of gorgeous young women create makeup looks featuring complexion-brightening, in-your-face lipstick shades, I purchased a vibrant rose, then an intense coral, then a Barbie pink. But those were just gateway drugs to the real deal: an intense blue-red. I bought it. I wore it. I loved it.

Tips and tricks

If you’re on the fence (or hiding behind the bushes) when it comes to vibrant lip colors, here are a few reasons to give them a try:

  • Have you seen the commercials featuring the guy who won’t sample almond milk because he doesn’t know what it tastes like? A lot of women are like that about red lipstick.They’ve never worn it, but they’re certain it won’t work for them. Ask yourself whether you’d accept that sort of reasoning from a child who doesn’t want to try a new food or learn a new skill. Buy it. Try it. Wear it around the house until you’re ready to make your public debut.
  • Are you worried red won’t complement your skin tone? Good news: There are reds for everyone, from blue-reds to orange-reds to brown-reds. If you’re not sure which undertone is right for you, visit Sephora or Ulta or MAC or any makeup counter and ask the experts to help you choose a shade. If that makes you uncomfortable, buy a few inexpensive tubes at your local drug store and sample them to see which looks best. Take selfies. Sometimes photos can help you decide.
  • Are you too old to wear red? Absolutely not — as long as your lips haven’t lost considerable volume with age. It’s true that dark colors can sometimes make lips look smaller, but you can work around that with the judicious use of lip liner. Use it to line the very outer edge of your lip (or even slightly — but only slightly — outside of your natural lip line). It will give you volume. Or the illusion of volume, which in the makeup game is same thing.
  • Are you reticent about going from your usual nudes, pale corals and pinks to red in one swipe? Gradually go deeper, starting with more intense versions of your current lipsticks and working  your way up to red.
  • Do you worry about lipstick bleeding or feathering into fine lines? Pick up a lip primer and a reverse lip liner. The primer will help your lipstick stay in place and reverse lip liner — which is nude or clear and is applied just like tinted liner — will create an invisible ring around your lips to ensure color doesn’t travel.
  • Speaking of traveling, do you shy away from reds because they fade, leaving your lips patchy and blotchy? The solution is liquid lipstick. Liquid lipstick comes in the same type of tube that houses lip gloss, but it colors your lips with long-wearing, fade-resistent, full-coverage color. Seriously, it stays in place for hours!

My final tip for those tempted by red is this: If you’re going to wear it, you have to own it. Red is not for the shy; it’s a power color that attracts attention. Once you break through the barriers that have you reaching for your usual nudes, you’ll find that intense reds (and other bright, can’t-miss-them shades) brighten your skin and make you look more alive.

The bottom line: You CAN wear red.