Wednesday, November 4, 2009



Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I Need Your Help!

In the spirit of recently passed Halloween, I want to recreate a music starlet’s makeup look from a music video. Here’s where you come in: I want to know which artist’s look you want to see!

Are you interested in Lady Gaga’s dark and dramatic makeup from LoveGame? Katy Perry’s glittery showgirl look from Waking up in Vegas? What about a classic like Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, or Janet?

Let me know! Just tell me the artist, video, and which look (if there are several). I’ll choose a look or looks to demonstrate soon!

Please leave your comment below! Thanks!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gradient Manicure

I recently became aware of the gradient manicure, in which color is dark at the tip and fades towards the cuticle. It's sort of an interesting take on the (too?) perfect French mani. I gave it a try using New York Color's new quick dry formula (In a New York Color Minute) in Fifth Avenue, a shimmery copper color. Check it out!

I first painted the tip with Fifth Avenue, and then used Orly Polish Thinner and a trusty cheap-o paint brush to smudge the polish before it dried. Then I painted the tip with Fifth Avenue again to make it darker. This took a few tries on several of the's kind of tough to smudge it perfectly. I topped it with Maybelline Salon Expert in Rock Out, sheer shimmery/glittery topcoat.

I think it came out pretty cool. I would not use this color for a gradient manicure again though - it came out browner than I expected, and I was worried that people would think I had dirt under my fingernails!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Line Your Peepers!

I absolutely love the look of liquid eyeliner. Unfortunately, it takes a steadier hand than I posses in the wee hours of the morning as I get ready for work. I tend to like a more defined line than a pencil can usually give, plus, I find wooden pencil-type eyeliners to be too hard and the retractable type to not be sharp enough.

I used to be a devote to gel eyeliner, which, to me is the best of all worlds: you get a bold line and it is more forgiving than liquid liner. The price did offend my sensibilities though – you can spend up to $22.00 on Smashbox’s version.

I started using a wet eyeliner brush in dark eye shadow, which looks nice. Unfortunately, the staying power isn’t so hot, especially on my oily lids. So I tried my hand at making my own gel eyeliner, and the result is long lasting, easy to make, and extremely customizable.

How to do it:

For an everyday black eyeliner, I like to use Maybelline Shadow Stylist in Sultry Black, which is a loose powder that isn't terribly pigmented. More pigmented shadows create darker eyeliner. Here, I'm using a tiny acrylic jar, but you can use anything waterproof, like the back of your hand or a water bottle cap. These little jars are easy to find in craft stores and have a lid for future use.

Next, I mix in a small glob of a gel adhesive used for glitter. My favorite is Sally Girl Sparkle Effects Gel Adhesive, which is under a dollar at Sally Beauty Supply. Find it near the Sally Girl glitter and eyeshadow. Use a little gel to begin with and mix thoroughly. This takes trial and error. I like to mix with a designated paint brush with stiff bristles.

What I love about this is that it is customizable. I decided to add some Sally Girl Sparkle Effects silver cosmetics glitter, but obviously you don't need to do this. It adds a nice bling though and the glitter won't fall into your eyes.
Mix thoroughly. Try this out on your hand or arm until it gets to the right opacity and is glittery enough for you.

Sorry about the weird lighting, it was tough to photograph the glitter. The bottom two lines are pre-glitter and the top two are with glitter. The line all the way on the bottom was the tester that I did as I was mixing. I tried to rub it off with my finger after it dried, and it wouldn't budge. This really has staying power!

And here it is on my eye, smudged into a bit of a smokey look. Excuse the lack of other makeup, this was late at night!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Winter Beauty Season, Problems Solved

I’ve experienced crazy weather before. I’ve lived my entire life in the Northeast – I’m used rapidly changing seasons. What I am not used to is experiencing at least three of the four seasons in the month of October alone. The past two weeks have been especially weird. Last Thursday was the first snow-storm of the season (almost four inches accumulated at my house). Less than a week later, the thermometer was pushing 75 degrees (the mailman wore shorts and a t-shirt). And of course, when it’s not extremely warm or extremely cold, it’s raining.

Not surprisingly, a walk through campus (I work at a college) exposed me to at least half of the student population wheezing, coughing, and sneezing. Wonderful. I hear they started giving out free hospital masks and hand sanitizer at the health center. Cold and flu season is upon us, and with it comes what I like to call “winter beauty season.”

Winter beauty season, for me, means plethora unfortunate changes. My skin gets both dry and super-oily, causing breakouts; my hair frizzes; and my hands start to look like one of those moisturizer commercials with either an alligator or a desert, your choice.

Of course, I don’t take any of that sitting down. Throughout this winter beauty season, I will be bringing you my tips for combating the beauty hardships that many people face when the weather gets colder.

How to combat dryness: moisturizer! Ok, it’s obvious for those who tend to have dry skin. But it’s also important for greasy girls (like me) to use an oil-free moisturizer. Cold winter air combined with indoor heating dries out everyone, and when that happens, your skin tends to overproduce oil – double trouble.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t moisturize as well as I should during the summer, but during the winter, I make sure I use my trusty Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer on a daily basis. I usually opt for the version with SPF 15. I’m also a fan of Olay moisturizers. It's so important to amp up your moisturizer routine during the colder months. Dryness not only makes your skin look dull, it also makes your makeup look worse and emphasizes fine lines and wrinkles.

The addition of a night cream might be necessary for those with really dry skin. During the winter, I use a rich moisturizer at night with Vitamin C, an antioxidant. I like Sally Beauty brand Beyond Belief Vita C, which is one of the most affordable lines containing V-C. If you tend to break out or have very oily skin, you don't have to use a night cream. A day cream will deliver many of the same benefits without the heaviness.

Dry skin on the body sometimes needs more than moisture. Stubborn dry skin requires a good scrubbing! An easy to make scrub is one part fine grit sea salt, one part olive oil, and a splash of lemon. The salt makes a gentle scrub, the olive oil moisturizes, and the citric acid in the lemon delivers some chemical exfoliation. This is a great scrub for winter knees and elbows, and it smells pretty nice, too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Ode to Dollar Tree

I am really excited about a buy I made last week. I went to the Dollar Tree, one of my favorite money saving stores on the planet, and found the beauty aisle chock full of Maybelline nail polish two-packs. I bought three:

Cool, huh? A nice selection of discontinued (but still fabulous)red, pink, and neutral Maybelline nail polish. As soon as I got home, I put on Maybelline Forever Strong + Iron in Wonder Melon. This looks like opaque hot pink crème in the bottle, but applies like a reddish-pink jelly. I usually don’t like the nail line to be visible, but the shine on this is outrageous, so I will forgive that.

Indoor with flash

It actually applied really smoothly with little to no unevenness - I could have left it at one coat for a sheer red-pink. This is one coat of Seche Ridge Filler, three coats of Wonder Melon, and one coat of Seche Vite Dry Fast Topcoat. Love it! I had no obvious tipwear when I took it off two days later.

Natural light

I want to talk about the Dollar Tree for a minute. Ok, a lot of what they sell is junk. BUT...sometimes you can find a gem, especially in the beauty department! It's totally YMMV (your mileage may vary), but I find that if I check "my" Dollar Tree around twice a month, I will almost always walk away with a fabulous deal on name brand items, perhaps that have been discontinued, reformulated, or had a packaging change.

Interesting things that have been found at local Dollar Tree Stores:

1. My mom bought four glass coffee cups which were exactly the same ones she had bought previously at Bed, Bath, and Beyond the year before. Same brand and everything. Back then they were around $4.00 a piece. 75% off, score!

2. My boyfriend bought a fabulous leather Griffin brand iPhone case, exactly the type he was looking for. I really don't know prices of things like that (my cell phone is from 2004!) but I think it would easily have retailed for $10.00.

3. Cousins found Hanes undershirts for little boys, still in the sealed plastic package.

4. I bought a 3 pack of Gilligan and O'Malley socks made out of bamboo. I was a little confused by the bamboo, but I know Gilligan and O'Malley as a decent brand sold at Target, so I bought them. Very comfy, it turns out, and totally worth 33 cents a pair!

5. One of my favorite Dollar Tree finds: Fresh Step Litter Box Wipes! These are around $4.00 at Target, and I use them every time I clean out my little stinker's box. Needless to say, I stocked up. Speaking of pets, I've seen plenty of pet clothes that are normally sold at Wal Mart. Check around the change of seasons!

6. I've bought so much makeup at the Dollar Tree. Two-for-a-dollar Maybelline nail polishes are just the tip of the iceberg! In the past I've found Physicians Formula concealer, eyeshadow, and bronzer. There is usually a small selection of lipstick and lipgloss made by Almay and Revlon. I've also seen Cover Girl and Maybelline items. I hit the jackpot one day - I found Nivea and Vaseline body lotions that had an older bottle design. I also bought one of my favorite L'Oreal nail polishes at the Dollar Tree: Martini Olive (pictured below).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Keeping up with the Greasies

From one matte to another, today’s topic is mattifying oily skin. I am convinced that I have the world’s oiliest skin. There are three items that I absolutely cannot live without:

Primer: I’ve used a few different primers, and the two that I can truly recommend for their mattifying properties are Smashbox Photo Finish and Rimmel Fix and Perfect. The Rimmel primer has a scary looking tint to it which doesn’t completely vanish into my skin, but cannot be seen under my mineral foundation (strange).

The Rimmel primer does help my makeup stay perfect, similar to the Smashbox primer which is about 5 times the price - at, Rimmel Fix and Perfect is 1 oz for $7.59 vs. Smashbox Photo Finish, 1 oz for $36.00. I usually use my Rimmel daily and Smashbox primer for special occasions. I do like how the Smashbox primer feels on my skin better than the Rimmel – it feels kind of cool and smooth while the Rimmel feels more like a liquid foundation. On the plus side, neither primer made me break out, a major accomplishment for any cosmetics company.

Here’s a cheap-o tip: if you are only going to be using the Smashbox primer once in a while, go for the travel size, which, at .5 oz for $16.00 at, is actually cheaper per ounce than the full sized tube. It doesn’t come with the handy pump dispenser, but it’s infinitely more portable and a good way to test the product out before committing to the full sized product. Here’s a link to the product.

I don’t recommend Ulta’s Foundation Primer, which I can’t even find on their website anymore (hopefully they stopped making it). It left me feeling greasy from the get-go.

Powder: Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder has become a holy grail item for me. Even with primer, I used to be greasy by mid-afternoon in my mineral foundation, but not anymore! There are several problems with this powder though, and the most important one is the lack of color choices. Rimmel’s website says it comes in three shades, ranging from what looks like light to slightly lighter. Not good.

Another huge problem is the packaging. The point of pressed powder is portability. Unfortunately, Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder comes in a package that doesn’t snap closed, the lid just sort of sits on top.

No doubt about it, this powder if flawed, but I get a fabulous matte finish that lasts most of the day when I use it. It also has not made me break out. If you decide to try this powder, check your Sunday papers for Rimmel coupons. And a lot of drugstores have buy one get one free or buy one get one half off sales that you can combine with your coupon for a pretty sweet deal.

Blotting sheets: These have always been a staple to me, but they range in price from 5 to 10 dollars for tiny sheets of thin paper. That’s screwed up. A cheap alternative is to use toilet paper...just rip a sheet off and blot. Just because you can’t see greasy stains accumulating on the paper doesn’t mean it isn’t working! I know that a lot of people know this tip, but honestly, when I was in college I saw several girls using those blotting sheets. (sigh)

Clean and Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets: $5.19. philosophy the supernatural oil control blotting tissues: $10.00. Something you already have in your bathroom and can get for free at work or a public restroom: Priceless.