Wednesday, June 29, 2011

High End versus Drugstore Cosmetics-Is One Better Then the Other?

YES!...and NO!  How's that for an answer?  These days the line between drugstore cosmetics and high end cosmetics is blurring.  You can find a $16 single eyeshadow at Target (Jemma Kid) and with the many promotions out there, you can pick up a high end shadow for free! Price should probably not be your primary consideration anymore.  Quality and color should be the driving force. 

When it comes to color and quality, some drugstore cosmetics really stand out as being truly special and sometimes, are as good if not better then their department store counterparts. 
  • Revlon stands out ahead of the competition when it comes to lipsticks and lip glosses, though Rimmel makes some nice glosses (just not much selection). 
  • Revlon's Colorstay foundation is quickly becoming a cult favorite. 
  • Wet 'N Wild makes some outstanding eyeshadow palettes
  • Essie nail polish is now available in big box stores and their more recent releases have had some fabulous colors. 
  • Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure is one of my new favorite nail polishes.
  • Covergirl makes some outstanding mascaras. 
  •  Milani makes one of my all time favorite eyeliners
  • NYX Cosmetics is a pretty solid line overall and definitely one worth seeking out.

Why then would anybody buy high end cosmetics?  Well, the answer is complicated.  Sometimes higher end products are better packaged.  High end cosmetics generally have a much broader color selection and often will branch out into more of the edgier trends.  High end cosmetics usually set the color trends with drug store lines usually several months behind.  Often a high end product such as Christian Dior eye shadows are just plain better then anything you will find in a drugstore.  There is also the snob appeal.  Some people simply believe that a higher price equals a better product.

The long and the short of it is, that you should be looking at both drug store lines and the high end lines.  Price does not always equate to quality (either good or bad).  Let your budget guide you.  If you are lusting after a particular color does it really matter if you bought it at Walgreens or Neiman Marcus?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

How to Find the Best Foundation For YOU! Part IV

Finally!  You are ready to start shopping for your foundation.  I suggest a trip to your local Sephora, if you have one close by. I like Sephora better then Ulta and department store cosmetic counters when shopping for foundation. The sales associates at Sephora don't work for any one brand and they are in general, very knowledgeable about all the lines they carry. Show them your list and tell them your color, they will guide you the rest of the way.

Sephora is also very generous with the samples.  Nordstrom is one of the few department stores I have found that encourages you to sample.  I recommend narrowing your choices down to 3 or 4 different foundations. Don't be afraid, ask for samples. What may look good in the store, may not look so good 3 hours later.

If your budget doesn't allow for Sephora then I suggest hitting a local CVS, Target or Walgreens. CVS is great because they have a generous return policy. Shopping for foundation in drugstores is more difficult because they don't usually have testers like they do in Sephora or department stores. Samples are almost nonexistent in drugstores.  Finding a drug store with a good return policy is important because what looks good in the bottle may not look good on you when you get home.

A good tool to use for shopping for foundation in drugstores (and in general) is the Foundation Matrix on Temptalia.  To use the Foundation Matrix, you basically input your MAC color and then find the brand of foundation you are looking at.  The matrix will guide you to finding the best color for you.  I have used the matrix with quite a bit of success.  It's not perfect, but it really is very helpful.

Take your time choosing your foundation.  Use the samples several times, in different situations.  Don't rush to make a purchase.  Make sure you're happy with what you have chosen.  Most importantly...have fun!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Bloggers Obsessions

Oh yeah!  MAC has done it.  Today in honor of all the beauty bloggers out there, MAC launched a line of cosmetics specifically designed by beauty bloggers.  MAC didn't use these bloggers as inspiration...they actually had the bloggers come to MAC headquarters and design the products.  In some cases, these bloggers spent months working with MAC to get the colors just right.
I'm excited to try the line and hope it doesn't sell out too quickly.  For now the products are available online only with shipping to the U.S. and Canada only. You can browse/purchase here.

For more information check out Temptalia.  Christine was one to the bloggers chosen to design an eyeshadow; Jealousy Wakes-a beautiful emerald green. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

How to Find the Best Foundation for YOU! Part III

 I swear I'm not trying to make this difficult.  I'm not trying to drive you nuts, and I most certainly don't want you to give up and just say, "screw it!". I DO want you to take your time when choosing a foundation.  I don't want you to end up with multiple useless bottles of foundation cluttering your counters, drawers and medicine cabinets.

I wish it was as simple as; if you have skin type x and color y, and you want xy coverage then you need to buy foundation 2(xy). Hee hee!  I knew algebra would come in handy someday! It doesn't work that way.  Even if you are the same color as me and are looking for the exact same coverage, the foundation I'm using will likely not work for you in the same way.

 Skin chemistry is different from person to person.  Some people have trouble with their foundation oxidizing, I have almost never had that happen.  What you do during the day and where you live plays a part in the success of your foundation.  There is no one size fits all in foundation.

There are some general rules of thumb though...
  • The younger you are, the lighter your coverage should be.  If you have severe skin problems (acne), foundation will not and should not cover it.  If you have acne you need to focus on skincare not finding a foundation to hide it.
  • Oil free foundations are great for oily skin.
  • Matte coverage is good if you have problems with shine.
  • For dry skin stay away from foundations that require you to buff it in.  Buffing will only emphasize the flakes in your skin. 
  • Mature skin and dry skin needs moisture and illumination.  Look for foundations that use words such as glow and dewy.  Mature skin should in general stay away from matte formulas.
  • Foundations with SPF will often cause flashback (white face) when photographed.  If this is a concern for you, look for low or no SPF in your foundation.
  • Liquid foundations are the most forgiving formulas and usually look the most natural.
I am not a fan of powdered foundations in general.  Mineral powder foundation is an exception to this.  I do not think mineral foundation is the one size fits all solution that the cosmetic industry tries to sell it as.  It works well on young skin, normal to oily skin and relatively even skin tones.

So now you are armed with your list of of what you want from your foundation, you know what color you are and have a general list of guidelines it's time to go shopping.  Finally!

Friday, June 10, 2011

How to Find the Best Foundation for YOU! Part II

NC Versus NW (what does it mean?)

Now that you have your list of what you're looking for in a foundation, it's time to head off to your local MAC counter or PRO store.  Forget your budget for now, we're not going with the purpose of buying anything...yet.

I'm sending you to the MAC counter to find out what "color" you are.  Over the years MAC has become the standard in defining skin tone.  If you know what MAC color you are, getting the right color from any line will be a breeze.

One of my least favorite places in the world is the MAC counter on a Saturday afternoon. I suggest you go on any other day of the week, early in the morning is best. Avoid the crowds. ASK for help. Tell them you need to know what color you are. They'll know what you're talking about. Have them match you using their Studio Fix Fluid formula.

MAC breaks their foundations down into basically two different color groups  NC and NW.  This is where things get a bit confusing, but I'll try and make it as simple as I can   The C in NC stands for cool; ie cool skin tones.  The W in NW stands for warm; ie warm skin tones.  The N in both of them refers to the term neutral, but for todays lesson don't worry about that.
  • Cool skin tones are skin tones that have a blue/pink undertone.  Look at the back of your wrist, if your veins look blue, you have a cool skin tone.
  • Warm skin tones are skin tones that have a yellow/beige undertone.  The veins on the back of your wrist will look greenish if you have a warm skin tone.

BUT MAC doesn't make it that easy.  The NC (cool) foundations have a yellow undertone and the NW (warm) foundations have a pink undertone.  I know it's confusing and it all has to do with the color wheel (important when you go to buy concealer) , but all you need to remember is ...
  • NC foundations have a WARM yellow undertone
  • NW foundations have a COOL pink undertone
You will notice that after the NC or NW there is a number.  The lower the number the lighter the color.  The higher the number the darker the foundation.  That part is pretty simple. I am a NC20 in the winter and a NC25 in the summer.  What that means is, I'm warm toned and my foundation is lighter in the winter then it is in the summer. 

Here's the thing, I don't expect you to fumble around at the MAC counter trying to figure out what color you are. I do want you to understand the way the colors are organized.

 Don't worry if you like the foundation they're using, the purpose here is to determine what color you are.  The color that is right for you will have the same undertones as your skin and will disappear into your skin.  Do NOT test on the back of your wrist.  You need to test the color along your jaw line.  You need to leave the color in place for at least 30 minutes and you need to go outside with a mirror to verify the color is right.
  • test the foundation along your jawline
  • leave the color in place for at least 30 minutes
  • verify the color outside in natural light.
Once you have your color you are done.  That's it. You now know your color and you can use that information to help you find your perfect foundation.  Now I'm not saying you can't keep shopping and no one at MAC would complain if you pick up a Lipglass or two. In fact I recommend taking a look at their Surf Baby collection-very fun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How to Find the Best Foundation for YOU! Part I

Finding the foundation that works for you is a difficult task, one that we often fail at.  Many men and women struggle to find that elusive elixir that will give us smooth flawless skin.  Pick the wrong foundation though and you'll be far from flawless.
To help you find the foundation that works for you, I've created a series of posts to guide you.  Over the next several posts I'll help you find the right formula, correct color and even review the best ways to apply your foundation.

First and foremost when choosing a foundation, you need to decide what you want your foundation to do.  Not one foundation will do all things well, nor should it.  It is not fair to blame a foundation for not providing full matte coverage when it was never formulated to do so.  Be honest and reasonable in your expectations.  A good foundation can even skin tone, smooth out imperfections, blur fine lines but it won't give you the flawless skin of a Vogue cover model (that comes with Photoshop and an airbrush).

I suggest writing a list of the things you want in a foundation.  Do you want SPF?  Do you want full coverage or do you prefer to let those adorable freckles shine through?  Do you want a matte finish or a dewy glow?  Do you want a foundation that's weightless on your skin? 

Consider how much money you want to spend.  It doesn't have to be a lot, but foundation is one of those cosmetic items, that I do believe you get what you pay for.  That doesn't mean you have to invest in a high end brand, there are plenty of quality foundations available in drugstores.

Take some time when compiling your list.  Foundation is the one item of makeup that will simply make or break your look.  Your list may change throughout the year as the seasons change and that's okay.  Just as the weather changes with the seasons so does your skin.  For summer you may want a light formula, high in the SPF.  In the winter you may need more coverage and less if no SPF.  Your list will definitely change as the years go on.  If you are wearing the same foundation you were 10 years ago, it's time to reevaluate things.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

May 2011 Favorites

I can't believe how fast May has gone.  What a busy month it has been!  Spring keeps threatening to give way to Summer and then all of a sudden Winter is back again knocking on our door.  It's been hard to tell from one day to the next what season we are in.  Where the weather hasn't been reliable, I have found some products that have been.

Hair Care
Moroccanoil Restorative Hair Mask- Let me start off by saying I hate the packaging.  Its a tub with a big old lid you have to unscrew.  It's bulky and just not convenient.  If it weren't for the packaging this would be the PERFECT product.  It moisturizers my hair, tames all those crazy out of control baby hairs and keeps my hair shiny.  The smell is light and comforting.  I put it on in the tub and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Absolute luxury.

Alterna Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Spray- Okay, I'll admit the name is pretty out there, but the product itself is great.  If you need a real stiff hold, this wouldn't be the hair spray for you.  If you want a gentle hold and something to keep all those fly aways under control this is it.  I love the fact you can touch your hair and not feel the hairspray.  Your hair moves naturally, but keeps it's shape.  This is really good stuff.

Skin Care

Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads-one word:  AMAZING.  These wonder pads are loaded with glycolic, salicylic, lactic, linolenic and amino acids.  This is a chemical exfoliater, but don't let the word chemical scare you, it is actually gentler then mechanical exfoliation.  Over time this product promises to reduce pore size, reduce appearance of fine lines and fade age spots.  I can testify that I have noticed an  improvement in all three, BUT that's after using for 2 months.  I didn't notice any definite changes until the last few weeks, however what I am noticing is dramatic.  To make the product last longer I cut the pads in half and store upside down.  That way every time I go to use it, the pad is fully saturated with the solution.

Dermalogica Gentle Cream Exfoliant -I use this 2 or 3 times a week on the nights I don't "un-wrinkle".  You use a small amount and rub it into your face.  The texture is similar to a mud mask, but more emollient.  Make sure you only use a very thin layer (why waste?).  This is another chemical exfoliater and uses Alpha Hydroxy Acids to slough away old skin cells and debris.  My skin feels so smooth after using and my moisturizer is rapidly absorbed.


Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Foundation-  Last month I had almost stopped wearing foundation and this month I am wearing it every chance I get.  Chanel's latest foundation formula is groundbreaking.  The formula is water based and goes on easily.  It doesn't require any special tools to apply, in fact works best when blended with your fingers.  I do dab it with a sponge in my more line prone areas to insure I don't have any creasing.  I would consider it a light to medium coverage with an almost powdery finish.  My freckles are still visible, but my skin tone is evened out.  I don't have to blot at all during the day and I have not experienced any fade out, even after 18 hours of wear.  Unfortunately there's not a lot of shade selection, but hopefully that will improve over time. 

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    5 Great Nailpolishes for Summer

    Summer is almost here and to get you in the mood, I thought I'd share with you my favorite summer nail polishes.  Summer is the time to go bold on your nails. Whether it be your fingers or your toes, these colors shout summer.

    Zoya, Kimmy is an orange based red that's loaded with tons of sparkle.  Kimmy has a nice red base and tons of gold reflects. It's not a glitter polish, the finish is smooth and glossy.  Kimmy isn't subtle at all, she's a party waiting to happen.
    Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure, Coral Fever is a perfect coral polish.  I love the Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure formula and Coral Fever didn't let me down.  It's a bright coral cream, but not obnoxiously so.  Coral Fever bridges the gap between the subtle peach tones of spring and the bright oranges of summer.

    Essie, Trophy Wife screams summer.  It's an electric teal with a pearl finish.  Beautiful on your fingers it is an absolute knock out on your toes.  This is a color that works well with both cool and warm skin tones.
    Essie, Watermelon is a bright pink cream finish polish.  Think of a really ripe juicy watermelon on steroids.  Essie describes it as a juicy red.  While I agree with it's juiciness, I see far more pink in it then red.  Just looking at the color makes my mouth water.

     Chanel, Mimosa is a bright sunny yellow.  Originally I was going to pass on this color, but every time I saw it, I had to pick it up.  As a rule I NEVER pay that much for nail polish, but for the sake of you, my readers, I made the sacrifice (aren't I great!). This is a yellow that looks best on warm skin tones.
    You may have noticed that I'm haven't included any of OPI's new colors in my list and that's because I just can't get too excited about their summer release inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean.  The colors are nice but they certainly don't say summer to me. Not to say I didn't pick any of them up (3!).  I really love the silver Shatter!

    Do you have a favorite polish, one that just screams summer?  Time to pull it out and get ready for the bright sunny days ahead.