Friday, June 28, 2013

Ace of Base - Eye Essentials

A good eyeshadow primer is an essential tool for creating a vibrant, long lasting, professional looking eye.  Unfortunately, I wasn't privy to the power of the primer when I wore my first ever eyeshadow look.  I had seen a starlet with a beautiful smoky eye paired with a nude lip on the cover of an Essence magazine, feverishly looked up the makeup credits on the inside and bought every item listed for that look.  For my birthday I did up my face, put the dark purples on my eyes, spread the flesh nude across my lips and headed out the door, loving how I looked.  Well, I left feeling like a fierce fox only to return home hours later looking more like a raggedy raccoon because all the shadows had left my eyelids and migrated to the circumference of my eyes.  Some research later revealed the key ingredient I was missing: primer.  Lesson learned.

Primers, as I also found out, are a very personal thing.  What may work well for one person, another may not find as effective in keeping oily lids dry and shadows intact.  The following are three that I have on deck with one recent addition that I have yet to use, but am anxious to try out.

Too Faced Primer Insurance was the very first primer I'd ever bought.  I had heard so many good things about it that I decided to give it a try.

The primer is a cream colored base that applies and dries down clear on the eye.  I find it to be effective in keeping my shadows on, however, I have noticed that I sometimes have to work harder to blend them out as Too Faced tends to grab the shadows and have them stay put exactly where I initially applied them - like a stubborn blotch of color on the lid.  Also, the formula is susceptible to separating, dispensing an oily mess instead of a solid concoction from time to time.  So while it is a good primer, it's not my favorite.

Next up is a base that needs no real introduction.  Urban Decay's Primer Potion is the preferred primer for most and has a legion of faithful devotees.  I have a mini one.  Actually, I have many minis since they come free with most of their palettes so I've never had to invest in the full-sized version.

Shaped like a vertical genie's lamp and equipped with a doe foot applicator, this cream colored primer dries down virtually colorless as well.  I have no real qualms with UDPP; it works well on my lids, but I don't think it lasts as long on me as Too Faced.  But it is a good one.

Now NARS' Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base?  O.M.G.I.L.O.V.E this!  Ok, where should I start?  This is my absolutely favorite eye primer, hands down.  It is beyond fabulous, y'all.

This stellar primer is an off-white marvel that dries down clear.  Not only does it keep my eyeshadows in place, but this is the first base where I actually noticed an increase in the color vibrancy of my shadows.  Not only that, it lasts all day on my oily lids with no hint of fading at all.  Applying, blending, maintaining - it's a high-performing gem that's left me helplessly devoted and thoroughly impressed.

Last, but certainly not least, is LORAC's Behind the Scenes Eye Primer.  My sister has this one and loves it so, naturally, I have to give it a go.

This creamy, beige primer dries down to a color-free base just like all the others.  I have yet to use this, but I have been so enamored with a slew of other LORAC products that I feel pretty confident that this will be more of a "hit" than "miss" with me.  Very excited to try it in my next look and I will be sure to follow up with you guys on this one!

So, as stated earlier, finding a good, reliable eyeshadow base is a personal journey every makeup maven must take.  But with all the options, ranging from liquids and creams to paints and even concealer for some, you're bound to find a product (or two) that works exceptionally well for you and fit your individual needs.  And if you've already procured your holy grail(s) then that's fantastic!  But if you have yet to do so, I hope this helps you on your quest.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($20), Urban Decay Primer Potion ($20), NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base ($24) and LORAC Behind the Scenes Eye Primer ($21) can all be found at Sephora and

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Eve Lom Cleanser

So here I go again, trying out something else new.  This sample facial cleanser has just been sitting around in my stash so I finally decided to break it open and see what it's all about.  Well, that was three days ago that I first started using it and I must say that it is very different from any other facial wash/cleanser I've ever been exposed to.  And that's part of its charm.  Let me bend your ear for a moment so I can tell you a little bit about the Eve Lom Cleanser.

I had never heard of Eve Lom nor her cleanser, but was intrigued by Vogue magazine's bold declaration of it being the "best cleanser in the world".   It's touted as performing the duties of three products as it not only cleans, but exfoliates and moisturizes all in one application.  And it comes with its own special setup and specific instructions to help fulfill such claims.

The sample came with a packet of the cleanser as well as a small muslin cloth to be used for the process.  I normally wash my face with only my hands, but was fully willing to implement the Eve Lom approach to skin care. 

The muslin cloth is about the size of my hand and is very light on the skin.  Its purpose is not only to help clean, but also to exfoliate and encourage blood circulation.

The cleanser is not your run-of-the-mill, lather & rinse type of fare as it comes with unique instructions that support optimal efficacy of the product.  In fact, it's not a bubbly, foaming cleanser at all, but rather a topical treatment that relies on a combination of hot and cold water applications to manipulate the pores as it cleans, tones and moisturizes.

Now I was really excited to put this product to work!  I mean, with such detailed instructions for a facial cleanser I naturally inferred that its ingredients must be pretty upper crust... that is, until I read the back and saw that the very first or primary ingredient listed is mineral oil!  WHY?!  Why would such a cheapo ingredient be included in a higher priced product such as this?  I sucked my teeth, but was determined to push on anyway.  Determined to continue with the trial sample, but keeping in mind this may not work out for me and my face.

The actual cleanser itself kinda reminded me of tapioca pudding upon first glance as it appeared to be somewhat thick and bumpy looking like it had small beads in it.  However, I believe it was just some of the oils that had naturally congealed as the heat from my finger (and later my face) changed it to a thinner consistency, causing the "beaded" oils to all but disappear.  Also, I found it to have a strange smell, which I attributed to the various oils it comprises.  It wasn't exactly off-putting, but it wasn't exceptionally pleasant either.  I don't know how to describe it other than it smells like a mixture of raw, natural oils.  It does eventually dissipate, but I thought it was worth noting for those who are extra sensitive to smells.

"Melted" cleanser
Well, like I stated earlier, I have been using the cleanser for about three days now and guess what?  I have had NO breakouts as of yet and my skin actually feels and looks great.  My face feels clean after using and moisturized once dried.  I've only been using it at night and refer back to my Boscia during the day, but I am very pleased with the results so far.  Won't be changing out my rock star lineup of products for this since it's a little on the pricier side and I'm not in the market for a new cleanser, but I am enjoying the sample, nonetheless. 

Best cleanser in the world?  Not too sure about that.  But it is (so far) a very, VERY good one indeed.

Eve Lom Cleanser can be found at and comes in various sizes, including 1.6fl oz., which retails for $50.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Ace of Base - Face Value

Do you wear a primer under your foundation?  Only after seeing my made-up, oil slicked face in a group photo some years ago did I learn the benefits of wearing a primer under foundation.  A good primer will help keep the natural oils in your skin at bay while creating a smooth base on which to apply your makeup.  I have two stellar ones that I keep in rotation at the moment and one that I recently procured that I can't wait to try out.

L'Oreal's Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base is a drugstore favorite to many and with good reason.  Besides it being a somewhat reasonable price and easily accessible, it follows through with what it promises: smooths lines, controls oil and minimizes the look of pores.

This fragrance-free primer has a stiff, mousse-like texture and although it has a pink tint to it, it applies clear.  When used alone, it provides a matte finish to the face.  Under foundation, both powder and liquid, it provides me with a suitable barrier against oil and shine for most of the day.  Pairing it with my MAC Studio Finish concealer allows for flawless coverage.  However, I have noticed that under my MAC ProLongwear concealer it starts to pill or cause the concealer to break up, if you will, upon application.  And that's where my next primer comes in...

You should know me by now - always ready to try something.  I heard about this for so long and then finally bit the bullet after receiving a sample and liking it... a lot.  Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer is a well known staple in the makeup world.  It is infused with vitamins and antioxidants to help soothe the skin while filling in lines and evening out the complexion.

Photo Finish comes in a variety of tints and finishes, but I have the original.  This clear, gel-like primer has no discernible smell and very little is needed to achieve maximum results.

While the aforementioned primers are silicone based, this little number from Laura Mercier is not.  I received this baby version of her foundation primer with a makeup kit and haven't used it yet.  But I am so ready to.

This vitamin rich, water-based primer has a slight peach tint to it.  It feels and applies like a light lotion before disappearing as a matte barrier onto the skin.  It has a faint, unobtrusive fragrance to it that fades quickly after application.  I'm really curious how it will perform under my LM Tinted Moisturizer...  In fact, I think I'll be putting it to the test this week.  Yeah, I think I'll do that. 

If you can confidently wear foundation without a primer underneath then that's fantastic.  However, if you're like the rest of us that need the aid of one to keep our faces intact throughout the day, but haven't found a good one yet, I hope this helps in your search for viable options.

L'Oreal Studio Secrets Magic Perfecting Base can be found at various drugstores, Target and, and retails for $13; Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer can be found at Sephora and retails for $15 (0.4 oz)/ $36 (1 oz); Laura Mercier Foundation Primer can also be found at Sephora and retails for $32 (1.75 oz).

Friday, June 21, 2013

Peachy Keen

I did a post not too long ago on summer corals and although this lovely number wasn't included, it would be remiss of me not to even give it mention since it qualifies on all fronts as a perfect lippie to don during this season of the sun.  It's flirty and light, both in application and color, and is a peach of a color.  Hence the name of this wonderful little item from Revlon - Peach Me lipstick.


Peach Me is a gorgeous orange-pink shade that doesn't seem to lean heavier towards one tone than the other.  Rather, it is a perfect balance of the two (orange and pink), making it an ideal wear for a wide range of complexions.  It is from Revlon's Super Lustrous line of lipsticks and has a pearl finish.


Besides it having no discernible taste or smell, it applies smoothly, feels moisturizing on the lips and wore well on me for hours without fading.  And opaque coverage is easily achieved in just one swipe.

So if you're into the corals and the peaches for the good ol' summertime, you should probably look this one up.  And if you do... let me know what you think and how it worked out for you.

Revlon Peach Me can be found at various drugstores, Target and Walmart, and retails for $8.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Flash of Fuchsia

Who's afraid of a little neon?  You know I'm not.  And if you're just as brave and adventurous as I am then have I got a wallop of a shadow for you!  Some may already be familiar with this one, but for those who aren't, please allow me to babble a bit about Make Up For Ever's #75.

MUFE describes #75 as a "bright fuchsia pink" and it definitely is that.  It is a brazen hue of neon from the brand's vast array of colored eyeshadows, many of which double as blushes.  And like all of their single shadows, #75 can be removed from its magnetic compact for placement later into a larger palette. 

The color absolutely pops in the pan and is highly pigmented.  Although it has a matte finish, it is not chalky at all and blends nicely in application.  One caveat: because of its strong pigmentation, a good base is recommended to prevent the color from staining the eyelids... or cheeks, for that matter, if using a heavy hand.  But in reality, you would only need to lightly dust the cheeks to achieve an adequate presentation of the shade.

When I think of summertime, I think of bolder, brighter colors.  And even though you may not be ready for a neon pink all over the eye, you could line your bottom lash line with the color.  Or just a dab on the apple of your cheeks may be enough of a toe dip into neon territory for you, but my point is to allow yourself to push the color envelope a little and at least try a bolder color.  Be brash for a moment.  Take a chance on cheeky, if not for just a second.  And while you're at it, take MUFE's #75 for a spin.  It's a high performing shadow that's pretty darn cool to play around with.

Make Up For Ever #75 can be found at Sephora and retails for $20.

Monday, June 17, 2013

On the Road Again, Part 2 - The Graduate

When I arrived in the city, it was pouring rain.  In fact, it rained off and on during the whole trip there.  My niece ran outside, her paisley rain boots loudly slapping the puddles underneath her feet, and greeted me with a kiss.  She grabbed the dog, I grabbed my gear and went inside.  The graduation was supposed to happen later that evening, so I made excellent time.  I had barely peeled out of my wet jacket when my sis informed me that the graduation was postponed until the next day because of the weather.  What?!  You mean I have to spend an extra day in "paradise"?  NOOOOOOO!  My dad, who had just arrived via plane, was none too pleased either.  He had planned on flying out the next day and couldn't change the flight without incurring a huge fee.  So after much grumbling, rolling of the eyes and other vivid displays of disappointment, we decided to make the best of the night.  We went out for a celebratory dinner at a restaurant of my niece's choosing.

We ended up at an Italian bistro called Bravo.  I had never been and neither had my niece, which is exactly why it appealed to her: it was some place new to experience.  And she's all about new experiences.

After much deliberation, the petite grad-to-be ordered grilled pork chops and mashed potatoes.

I settled on the grilled salmon topped with capers, roasted potatoes and steamed asparagus.  It wasn't bad.  In fact, it was pretty good.  However, I don't think it can lay a hand on a similar dish served at one of my fave Italian spots, Carrabbas.  O.M.G. - Y.U.M.!  But the Bravo's version was decent enough.

And then our waitress, the shameless temptress she was, came out with a varied display of sugary wares to woo and seduce us with.  But her lavish lure would not avail that night for we had a huge, sugary confection of our own waiting to be devoured back at the house.  So be gone, you mistress of mischief!  And take your deliciously evil vices with you!

I was praying that there would not be another rain delay... that despite the weather reports, there would not be one drop of dew from the sky to mar my niece's big day.  My dad had left earlier and I was as amped and determined as ever after traveling so long and so far to finally see this thing happen.  And guess what?  My prayers were answered.  The day was beautiful!  Not a gray cloud in sight as the gaggle of young grads patiently endured the last vestiges of high school life... and then ceremoniously embraced the new life that is to come with a toss of their tasseled caps high into the air.  My niece was now officially a high school graduate.  She IS a high school graduate.  And I could not be prouder.

I laughed and joked with some family members, gave my sister the proverbial pat on the back for a job well done and then bombarded my niece with praise and adulation.  I thanked her for being such a caring, loving person; for being a sweetheart of a niece; for being an accomplished student and a downright great kid.  I told her to reach for the sky and tried to impart some additional pearls of wisdom that may serve her well during the upcoming months as she heads into the "college years".  Such a big accomplishment for a little cupcake.  But she did it.  She did it.

And as I headed back and steadied myself for the long ride "home", I just kept thinking how this life thing is a trip and a half.  Literally.  There's just so much to see, so much to do, so much to be had... and only a finite amount of time to do it in.  And to be able to experience it all for the first time again through a young one's eyes is like, "WOW!".  How amazing. 

So proud.  So happy.  So excited for my little butterfly, the graduate.

Friday, June 14, 2013

On the Road Again, Part 1 - The Prep

Well, it's that time of year when all the little familial caterpillars we've invested time and love and effort in make their final transition to beautiful, smart butterflies... ready to fly headstrong into a wild, wild world.  It's graduation time.  And I have a cupcake of a niece who is graduating from high school.  So, I must make the sojourn - once again - to my good ol' hometown.  And since my dog is an anxious traveller, my mode of transport will be the four-wheel kind.

I will be staying with my sister and even though that affords me to travel pretty light, I will be bringing the majority of my own toiletries and such.  Must haves for me are my travel-sized Boscia facial cleanser and St. Ives Apricot Scrub.  I think my Laura Mercier TM will be tagging along, too.  I styled my hair the night before so in keeping with my heat-once-a-week hair rule, I'm bringing old school, hard plastic rollers.  Can't forget my MAC Pro Longwear Concealer and a couple of makeup brushes...

In addition to a few full-sized, I'm packing my travel-size brushes - complete with case - by Sonia Kashuk.

Ugh!  I'm really not sure about the makeup I wanna rock, but I'm leaning towards the look I used in my most recent Weekend Report post.  This go around, I'll be using all Inglot shadows.  I may change out the lipstick, though.  I'm thinking of something a tad bit bolder in color.  And NARS' Exhibit A is a strong contender for the cheeks.  Still trying to decide.

I'm definitely going dark on my hands and toes with a cherry cola color from OPI called Midnight In Moscow.

I had every intention of wearing a dress for the occasion, but opted for a pantsuit instead since it will likely travel better.

Jeweled denim wedges will complete the ensemble.

Even got the pup in on the action.  Although he will not be attending the actual ceremony, he'll be donning his crisp and clean cargo shirt in honor of the festivities.

And since the drive ahead of me will be long, I've gotta stay hydrated and keep awake.  Some of my favorite cookies and a bottle of water should do the trick.

So, here I go again.  Packing up my car and putting rubber to road to return back to where it all started for me.  But I'm motivated and with very good reason.  I've got a date with a beautiful little butterfly who has gone beyond what was required of her and, in turn, earned her colorful wings of flight.  I'm so immensely proud of her and can't wait to see her beam with pride as she makes that walk to the podium.

*Next up: On the Road Again, Part 2.