If I had to pick five MAC makeup brushes that I considered "must-haves", these would be they. That said, I'll follow this post with posts like Top 5 Eye Brushes, Top 5 Face Brushes and Top 10 Makeup Brush Types (types of brushes you should have, from any brand), because when it comes to brushes I can't pick just 5!
Without further ado...
Top 5 MAC Brushes
The #239 Eye Shader Brush Soft and dense to shade or blend eye shadow or emollient-based
products. This brush has a tapered, rounded edge with smooth, firm,
fine fibres. It can be used to build intense colour on the eyelid.
This is my #1 pick for several reasons. I actually own 3 of them, so I practice what I preach! If you want to buy one eye brush, this is it. If you can only buy one brush at all, this is it.
As stated above in the MAC description, it can be used to work with powder and/or emollient products.
Use this brush to pick up color and then, holding it flat against the eye, pat or press it onto the eye. Repeat until color is at desired intensity.
Multipurpose by: a) using just the edge to push color into lashlines, or b) sweep back and forth to blend or apply a more diffuse layer of color, or c) hold flat again and pat along the area where two colors meet to blend or d) pat color into the area around the tear duct, or e) apply lip products, or f) apply concealer to undereye or around nose.
The #224 Tapered Blending Brush For controlled eye shadow application. This brush has soft fibers which taper to form a medium size dome shape.
I love this brush! I have two. Or do I have 3? No, I think it's just two. Maybe I need another!
As with most round brushes, this one is best used in a circular motion. It can also be used to sweep color onto the eye (it will give a lighter application than pressing color on with the #239).
Multipurpose this way: a) blend colors by gently moving the brush in circles where two colors meet, or b) sweep a wash of color onto lid, crease, or up to brow, or c) move back and forth in a windshield wiper style movement to push color in the crease of the eye (it fits perfectly!), or d) sweep a clean #224 under the eye to whisk away color fall-out, or e) apply powder highlighter to the tops of cheekbones and bridge of nose, or f) contour the sides and tip of the nose with a foundation or shadow slightly darker than skintone.
The #188 Small Duo Fibre Face Brush A flat-topped, full circular brush used for lightweight application and
blending of any formula colour – fluid, cream, powder or pigment. Ideal
for creating soft layers or adding textures. Made from a soft blend of
goat and synthetic fibres.
Yes, you've probably been told you "need" this brush's big sister, the #187, but I beg to differ. I have both, and I use the #188 far more frequently! I use this size because it fits most faces better than the big #188 - especially faces with smaller features like mine.
Again - round brush, round movements, people! It is fabulous for just about any face product. I bronze, buff, highlight, contour, gloss, gleam, prep, prime, and color with this brush. It does almost everything. Try spritzing the brush with a product like Fix+ before using it to apply liquid foundation. I like to use the brush to apply my moisturizer then primer (letting each set before the next step) and then putting on my foundation without cleaning the brush in between - the moisturizer and primer still in the brush help the foundation glide on!
Multipurposes include but are not limited to: a) applying moisturizer and primer, b) applying foundation of any type, c) applying blush, d) applying highlighter, e) applying contour products, f) applying bronzer, g) applying any kind of color product to skin like when you want to put purple pigments on it for no reason whatsoever, and h) applying body products, too.
The #168 Large Angled Shader Brush For expert application of cheek contour.
Before becoming a makeup artist, I always looked at this brush and thought "What in the hell am I supposed to do with that!?" It's a slightly intimidating brush because the shape isn't what we're used to seeing. But it's actually a no-brainer brush, and since I contour (lightly) every time I do my makeup, it's indispensable!
I use this product to pick up a bit of powder about two shades darker than my skin. Mattes are best for this, since we're trying to contour a shadow into the skin. Sweep the color into the hollows of the cheeks (from the top of the ear towards the corner of the mouth, generally speaking, but stopping when below the pupil if you're looking straight into the mirror). I hold the brush so that the shorter bristles are on top (the longer bristles pointing down to the ground).
Why contour? It can give you kick-ass cheekbones, make you look like you dropped 10 pounds, and draw attention to your eyes. All of those are definitely good things!
Multipurpose by a) also pulling contour up to the temples b) down under the jawline, c) show off that sexy physique in your strapless dress by contouring your clavicle (or boobs!) or d) sweeping a shimmering highlight onto the top of the cheekbones.
The #217 Blending Brush For shading or blending of colour or creamy products. This brush has
fine, densely packed fibers that are arranged in an oval shape.
I have 3 of these, but I don't use them for the same thing most people use them for - blending shadows. I just don't like the #217 for that. First of all, and this is a stupid reason, the bristles are synthetic and sometimes make these weird squeaky-type sensations when I use it, and those give me the heebies. Also, synthetic fibers don't absorb any product, so when pushing product around to "blend", a lot more gets shoveled around and a lot more fall-out occurs. But if you like this brush for blending, rock on! To each his own.
I do adore this brush for creamy products, and have one dedicated just for cream shadows (which I use as shadow primers). I also like this for putting on concealers - the brush slips nicely into the undereye area and around the contours of the nose.
Multipurposing galore: a) sure, blend your shadows, or b) put crease colors down, or c) contour the nose, or d) dust on pigments to highlight, or e) apply concealer, or f) put on cream eye shadow, or g) put some powder shadow or pigment onto the center of the lips before your gloss for extra oomph.
5 MAC Brushes You Can Just Skip
The #275 Medium Angled Shading Brush It's like an angled #224 or a really small #168... kind of. Only, here's the thing: it's not as good. It's made of different fibers than the other two brushes; these bristles are floppier, so harder to work with in my opinion.
I think this brush is fine for blending shadows, which is its "purpose" but I'd rather use the #224. I just prefer the way the #224 fits into the crease and how it can be swirled in circles. This brush, the #275, is really only decent in a back-and-forth motion, and since you can do that with the #224, too, I think this brush is redundant. Oh, this one is good for contouring the nose - but you can just use the #224 for that, too, so again: redundant.
The #191 Square Foundation Brush A large, flat, square-shaped synthetic-fibre brush with a fine firm
edge for distribution and blending of liquid, emulsion or cream
products on the face or body.
It's synthetic, so is pushes product around rather than absorbing it. That's not bad, it's just something to be aware of. It's a good brush, but not a must-have. I have one and use it only rarely, preferring instead the #190 (a more paddle-shaped foundation brush with natural bristles) or the #187 or #188. I do like the #191 for applying colored makeup like Chromacakes or Paint Sticks or the like, but for regular foundation? Yeah... notsomuch.
(and 4. and 5.) The #208 Angled Brow Brush, #263 Small Angled Brush, #266 Small Angled Brush Why
skip these? All three are about $20, and I can think of several other
angled brushes I like better. Go elsewhere and whether you spend the
same amount or buy a cheaper brush, you're likely going to get a better
Uses for this type of brush include filling in the brows, lining the eyes, lining the lips.
So... agree or disagree? What are YOUR 5 must-have MAC brushes?! Which do you think are brushes you should skip?
Above is a picture of a MAC counter. That's a lot of makeup, isn't it? And it's not even as fully overwhelming in pictures as it is in person - and that's coming from someone who used to work at one of these counters! As a former MAC artist (and one who makes certain to stay on top of new releases), I think I have some insight into the brand and I'm going to start sharing some bits here and there.
So here are 10 things I think everyone should have or at least try, and 5 things you needn't bother getting. This list only comprised of permanent items - nothing Limited Edition.
When you ask any MAC fan what their "must-haves" and "skip its" are,
the list will vary, but having worked with hundreds of women these are
the ones I think should be basics for those of you just starting to build a
makeup stash. And for those of you with ginormous collections: if
you're missing any of these you may want to check them out!
10 MAC Must-Haves
Tempting eyeshadow - MAC describes this eyeshadow as "sinfully rich cocoa". The Lustre formula shadows have intense frost and pearl and give a metallic finish, but don't let the reflective qualities scare you! This color starts off my list because it is my number one favorite MAC product; this is the one I would be devastated to find discontinued if it ever were! It's a completely neutral brown that might be lumped into the "bronze" category, though not everyone can wear bronzes. Not only does this shade go perfectly on any skintone, it also works with ANY other eyeshadow color. ANY color. I have worn this with grey, black, white, purple, blue - even acid green and stark yellow. It's what I call "the great shadow stabilizer" and perfectly balances any "out there" color you may want to try --- but aren't sure how to wear! It's also fairly buildable: you can put on a light sweep for a delicate glow or build up layers to get a fairly deep shimmery brown radiance. PERFECTION.
You need a Paint Pot in a shade approximating your skintone. No, you're more than likely not going to get a perfect match - but here's the thing: you're going to cover it anyway. That's why you just need one that's in the general range of your skintone. Do I wish they'd make a few more matte, skin-like shades? Yes. But is that necessary? NO.
The Paint Pot is a creamy dries-to-powderish goodness eyeshadow that many people use as an eye primer. It can help you neutralize your lid color (hides veins or discolorations), and since it's long-wearing and creaseproof it's PERFECT as a base to other eye colors. Lay this down first, then press powder shadows on top - color is closer-to-true and holds on like there's no tomorrow.
Fair-to-medium-skinned girls with cool undertones need Painterly, an odd putty-colored pinky-brown-nude oddity.
Fair-to-medium-skinned girls with warm undertones need Soft Ochre, described by MAC as "yellow beige".
Darker complexions should grab Groundwork ("midtone neutral taupe") or Quite Natural ("dirty chocolate brown"). You'll have to see which you prefer, and again: neither will match your skin exactly, but choose whichever one gets closest to your depth of color rather than matching your skin exactly.
Prep + Prime Lip is a staple in my makeup kit and my personal stash. I wear it every time I use lipstick, and I put it on every client I work with (especially brides!). It's a solid, twist-up product that is meant to condition your lips and help the lipstick you put on top of it look good and look beautiful. It minimizes feathering and contains Vitamin E and antioxidants. But most of all, it works! There's a trick to getting nice long wear: put it on and let it set (do something else for awhile) before slicking on the lipstick. AMAZING WEAR WILL ENSUE!
Blot Powder (Pressed or Loose) is an absolute must for anyone who gets even the slightest bit oily. NOTE: The Loose version of this powder used to be sold at counters, but now is available only at Pro locations or by calling the Pro toll-free number: 1-800-866-6464- you need not be a Po to buy either way.) Use it to control shine or to set your foundation or to absorb the oil on your lids/cheeks/chin/t-zone before putting on other makeup.
Here's the story about Blot Powder: it was created for backstage -fashion shows and photoshoots- and meant to absorb oil without adding any color or texture. That's it. That is its whole purpose: absorbing oil. It's jet-milled (tiny, tiny particles) silica and mica with only 3% pigment, so it's not going to change the color of your skin or the makeup you layer it over.
Let me reiterate the main point here: it will not build up, look cakey, or change colors.
As for the "which color should I get" dilemma, really don't stress over it in this case. There's only 3% color pigment, folks, so just pick something in the general area of your skintone and go with it. No one will notice if you don't pick the exactly correct color, I SWEAR! If it helps, I am the fairest of the fair-skinned and I can wear the Deep Dark Blot without it being noticeable. Really.
Seriously. Try it. Then send me an email to tell me how right I am - I never tire of hearing it!
Every girl needs a good cheek color, and Springsheen fits the bill. I'm a bit of a blush junkie, but if I have to pick just one this is it! It's a semi-sheer sexy pinky-peach with a shimmery - but not chunky-glittery- sheen. Since it has a bit of pink (cool) and a bit of peach (warm) it works on cool or warm skins and with whatever look you pick for eyes and cheeks. I like this better than that other pinky-peach,NARSOrgasm, which just isn't as versatile as Springsheen, despite its cult following. By the way, darker complected lassies can surely wear Springsheen - it works great!
Lipstick is key, but it's nearly impossible to find one that all women will agree upon, even those some are foolish enough to deem "universally flattering." A shade may look acceptable on all women, but one thing I learned early on in my artistry career is this: women are VERY opinionated about their lipsticks! The must-have I'm going to suggest for lipsticks is this: you must have a peek at the Viva Glam line. The quick run-down for those who don't know: Viva Glam lipsticks are sold for charity (to support HIV/AIDS Awareness and Prevention - read more here). MAC isn't comprised of a bunch of dummies, so since they want to sell as many Viva Glam lipsticks as they can, most of the Viva Glam lipsticks (and glosses) are fairly neutral, so you're bound to find one that works for you and that you love! Here they are:
VGIV - midtone rose with gold pearl; frost VGV - neutral pink with pearl; lustre VGVI - terracotta plum with plum; lustre VGVI SE - soft blue-pink; lustre
VGI is a great red, wearable on most skintones, so if you're looking for a red, start there! VGVI is beloved by many (though I'm partial to the SE version, which is a sheerish pink). VGIII is a nice neutral for mid-to-dark skins, and a pretty deepish color on those with fairer skins.
Everyone needs a good black eye pencil, and my pick for a basic black is Smolder. This Eye Kohl wears pretty well (though may not hold-up in the waterline) and can be dotted on between the lashes for a natural look, slicked on the lashline, and smudge if desired. Also good for faking a beauty mark!
My next must-have is another Eye Kohl: Teddy. MAC describes it as "intense bronze" and it's an incredibly wearable liner. It's just the right amount of brown with a tiny smidge of shimmer - just enough to look lively but not enough to call too much attention. Perfect for any skintone and a major part of my kit!
If MAC is famous for two things, it's their colorful eyeshadow and their Lipglass - a semi-sticky (so it stays put!), vanilla-flavored lipgloss formula. It may be more tacky (sticky, not tasteless!) than you like, but you've got to at least try it. I adore it! Try neutral shades first. My suggestions:
C-Thru - peachy-beige with shimmer; cream
Nymphette - sunny golden pink; frost Oh Baby - golden bronze with sparkling shimmer
J'adore! C-Thru is a lovely "nude lip" shade that really suits fair-to-medium complected folks with warm undertones, but even cool-toned girls can wear it sheerly. It's probably a bit too chalky for very dark-skinned lasses, but worth a try! Nymphette works on most people because it's a bit peachy, a bit pinky. LOVELY! Since it's both pink and peach, it goes with cool and warm colors on the cheeks and eyes, too. Oh Baby is is beloved by many a dark-skinned girl, but those of us with fairer skins shouldn't overlook it! It's one of my favorite fall shades, and I'm as pale as they come. The multi-colored shimmer (not chunks!) helps it work on all skintones. I love it. All three of these shades layer well over a ton of other colors - make sure to try things that don't even seem like they'd "go" - play around!
OK, OK, so it's not makeup, but I consider the Pro Makeup Remover a must--- BIG TIME. This unique formula removes makeup gently and leaves behind NO RESIDUE. Big deal, right? Actually, it is. This was created for backstage environments, enabling artists to quickly and easily remove makeup from a model leaving a surface that is ready for immediate reapplication! Normal cleansers leave bits of product or oils behind, and that residue erodes any makeup put on top of it. How does this apply to your life? Well, most of us aren't perfect, and keeping a bottle of this lifesaver lets you take off that poorly applied red lipstick or that wobbly eye liner so you can try again right away. It's a huge time-saver. Also ab a bit on a Q-tip or makeup wedge and neaten up your winged liner for sharp perfection!
(Only have enough $$ to have one remover around? Pick this one and make a little bottle of olive oil to keep by your vanity - that will dissolve any tricky long-wear products or mascaras. Then sweep Pro Remover over the area to remove the oil. VOILA!)
5 MAC items you can SKIP!
Any MACmascara. Every company has things they do exceedingly well and things they just can't make well. MAC's Achilles Heel is their mascaras. Yes, some are passable (Plushlash, Mascara X) and every one has its fans, but the cold hard fact is that the MAC mascaras are simply not good.
Most MACfoundations. OK - I know, you're a fan of __________, but the honest-to-goodness truth is this: MAC foundations break out a lot of people and clog the pores on almost all of us. Sorry. If it works for you, great! The shame of it is, MAC's color range for foudations can't be beat anywhere, so if you're hard-to-match you've gotta try them anyway. Just make sure you have GREAT skincare.
Which brings us to this: you can pretty much skip MACskincare. Yes, some of it is good, but most of it is not very good. You can get much better skincare from other lines. I say this not to insult MAC, because I love MAC. But this is a makeup line, not a skincare line. 'Nuff said.
A skincare product deserving its very own bullet point is STROBE CREAM. I can hear the screaming already from some of you. Here's the thing about Strobe Cream: it's meant to be a special effect. It was never desigined to be your everyday moisturizer. It was never created to be used mixed in your foundation every single day. It's meant to create a highlight or shimmer effect, and can be used as a moisturizer or mixed in your foundation (or a zillion other ways), but don't do it every day! The product has ingredients that are probably too emollient for your combo or oily or sensitive skin, and even parched skin gets blocked-up pores from the shimmer ingredients in it. It's a fab product used sparingly, every now and again, for effect. IF YOU USE STROBE CREAM DAILY AND YOU HAVE BAD SKIN, ACNE OR CLOGGED PORES STOP USING IT EVERY DAY!!!
Prep + Prime Eye is terrible. It's supposed to be a primer for under your eyeshadow. It's supposed to neutralize eyelids. It barely does either. On many of us it creases. The colors are not really skintone. Use a cream eye shadow as a base (see Must-Have #2 above). This stuff is worthless to most of us.
Are there any MAC secrets I can expose for you? Drop me a comment below or send me an email! Or Tweet me. ;)
Today, I'm wondering what makes something "backup-worthy"? So many cosmetics are limited edition, and so when many of us fall in love with something that will only be around for awhile, we buy backups. In fact, some of us get jumpy even about non-LE items. Get burned once with your favorite lipstick and you're twitchy forever! I'm just wondering what YOU consider "backup-worthy"?
Remember Seinfeld's "Sponge-worthy"?!
ELAINE: Well, Kramer was right. My friend Kim told me the sponge is off
JERRY: So what are you gonna do?
ELAINE: I'll tell you what I'm gonna do - I'm gonna do a hard-target
search. Of every drug store, general store, health store and grocery store
in a 25-block radius.
PHARMACIST: Actually, we have a case left.
ELAINE (excited): A case! A case of sponges? I mean, uh...a case. Huh. Uh...how many come in a case?
ELAINE: Sixty?! Uh...well, I'll take three.
ELAINE: Make it ten.
ELAINE: Twenty sponges should be plenty.
PHARMACIST: Did you say twenty?
ELAINE: Yeah, twenty-five sponges is just fine.
PHARMACIST: Right. So, you're set with twenty-five.
ELAINE: Yeah. Just give me the whole case and I'll be on my way.
ELAINE: ...I just couldn't decide if he was really
ELAINE: Yeah, Jerry, I have to conserve these sponges.
JERRY: But you like this guy, isn't that what the sponges are for?
ELAINE: Yes, yes - before they went off the market. I mean, now I've
got to re-evaluate my whole screening process. I can't afford to waste
any of 'em.
Have you ever conducted a hard-target search? If so, for what? Let me know in the comments, 'cause I'm dead-curious!
I know I have conducted a hard-target search, and am about to embark on another. My first all-out search for something amazing was intense. It even consisted of me calling Chanel corporate and asking them to find all of the left-over versions of this product they could. They found exactly zero. I ended up buying a ton (I forget how many, actually -I think it was 7 or 8) on eBay! What was the product? Chanel's Ultra-wear Lipstick in a shade called in Amethyst, and naturally it was limited edition and of course I discovered it after it was sold-out everywhere. I first came across it at the Chanel counter at my Nordstrom, and the tester was out on accident (they'd already sold all of them). I loved the color so much the sweet associate dug through a drawer and found an unopened tester and gave it to me! After wearing it for two days, I decided I needed to find every single Amethyst I could!
Why was that so backup worthy I'd go to these lengths? At the time, I was fairly new to wearing "dark" lipsticks. Note: this is not a dark shade, but if you're used to wearing nudes, like I was back then, this seemed as dramatic as a full-on red or the trendiest black! Anyway, it's a gorgeous purple-tinged pink.I guess you could consider it a pale berry or a deep mauve. Whatever way you look at it, the color is perfect! And the wear on the Chanel Ultra-wears is phenomenal. Or WAS. I just looked at the Chanel website and it seems they don't make it anymore. I am completely saddened...
... a moment of silence for the dearly departed ChanelUltra-Wear Lipcolor, especially in Amethyst...
I mentioned I am about to embark upon another hard-target search. For what? MAC's Naked Honey Salve. OMG, am I addicted to it's super-yummy honeysuckle scent and it's ooey-gooey hydrating goodness. If you have any, I'll give you my address and you can send it to me!
MAC, MAC, MAC... if you know one thing better than all else, it's lippies! I am an unabashed fan of Dazzleglass, and the idea of these new Dazzleglass Cremeshas me trippin' over my own feet to get to the MAC counter!
LAUNCHING ON THURSDAY (tomorrow!), Sept. 24, 2009
Flashing flecks of lustrous glimmer give lips a new kind of high-beam
shine, while the balm-effect of the pillow-top comfort creme keeps the
supple going and going. For dazzle with absolute comfort, it's better
M∙A∙C cult favourite Dazzleglass with a creamier, smoother, but no less
shiny or dazzling effect. For those who are drawn to the luxe of cream
lips, but still want the dazzling allure of its inspiration, this is it.
That description makes me expect that "pillowy" feel I got from the never-to-be-seen-again 3-D Glass of yore, a formula I loved. If that's the case then we have sparkle + opacity + shine + cushiony-feel, and I'm buying every one and tossing my other lipglosses. Yes, I'm almost not kidding. ;)
Ultra-luxurious, no sticky smack or drag, Aloe and Vitamin E enriched, keeps lips lightweight but strong-willed, for long-lustre, ultimate luminosity. Wear it alone for medium-sheer, dewy coverage…. For dazzle with absolute comfort, it’s better than brilliant. And the accompanying applicator brush is a dream.
Here are the colors:
Sublime Shine | Light coral brown with gold pearl
Soft Dazzle | Mid-tone peach pink with gold pearl
Perfectly Unordinary | Bright yellow pink with gold pearl
My Favourite Pink | Light blue pink with pearl
Do It Up | Bright blue pink with pearl
Luscious Spark | Light orange with gold pearl
Totally Fab | |Bright yellow red with pearl
Creme Allure | Bright yellow plum with pearl Amorous | Deep brown red with pearl
Suggested Retail Price $18.00 U.S./$21.50 CDN
Um, yeah. I want 'em all. Especially My Favorite Pink, Do It Up,Totally Fab, Creme Allure, and maybe even Sublime Shine! How 'bout you? Gonna go haul some Dazzleglass Cremes? If you do (or don't) tell us about it in the Comments! And if you have swatches, please share!
I recently got sent two nail products. I knew one was coming and had high hopes, while the other was a complete surprise. BOTH items immediately became treasured members of my Top 5 For Nails list, and I wanted to do a quick post to show you both
I did a mani with Indigo Paris and then layered Matte About You over it on the ring fingers. I then went back with Indigo Paris and painted a French-style stripe on the tip. On the thumbs, I reversed that - shiny nail bed, matte French tip.
Here are the swatches - plain ole Indigo Paris on the left and on the right is the mattified version. Look how radiant this polish is, even with the matte top coat!This is just the perfect blue shimmer (and it wears well, too)! The formula is perfect - no gloppiness, not terribly runny. Nothing to complain about!
And here are some more examples of Matte About You at work:
I used the colors above (pardon the terrible pics) because I thought many of the colors were familiar. Below, skittles nails before Matte About You, then after 1 coat was applied:
A closer look at ♥ matte Coconut Kiss ♥ and Aruba Blue:
A closer look at China GlazeRuby Heels and Lubu Heels,
and a peek of OPI Shootout at the OK Coral (2009 version):
Matte About You dries in a hot second, leaving behind what can only be described as "yumminess". I wasn't sure how I felt about the matte trend, as only a few of the pre-made colors I've seen were really eye catching. But now I have to say I'm quite interested in the experiments I can do with my current collection of polishes, and I LOVE doing a mixed matte-shiny mani. I may give a second look to Fall's matte collections, now that my eyes have been opened, but all I really need is Essie's Matte About You!
Note: Some of the matte polishes on the market come with a lot of rules. They say "don't use a base coat" and "don't apply lotion" or the formula will degrade. Not with Matte About You! I used my normal base coat and the appropriate number of color coats for the particular shade. In fact, I even topped that with Seche Vite to dry it all quickly (in case I had to change a diaper!). Matte About You glided on top and dried quickly and flawlessly. Using lotion or cuticle oil de-mattifies the topcoat temporarily, but once the oils sink in or rub off (whatever) the finish is back to satiny goodness.
I am completely enamored of Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs and all related companies and products. I'm besotted and will tell anyone and everyone! And I thought I had found my One True Love before: Morocco. And I still love it! Then I thought I found my One True Love again: O. And that is a damn good scent. In fact, I love both of those oils so much I get stressed when they're running low. But now I need to add to the list. I have a new One True Love: TKO.
I don't even really know how to begin, because this is such a lovely blend I doubt I can do it justice (I faced the same problem launching my reviews of Morocco and O.
Basically, I haven't used this as a massage oil, as designed, instead putting it on generously before bed. It is, after all, called "TKO". The implication is that it's good for those headed to Dreamland. In fact, here is the Lab's description of the scent (note that there are no notes annotated):
Many things -- such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly -- are done worst when we try hardest to do them.
And it is true that this helps me sleep. And it helps me stay nice and calm. And I want a vat of it, and another of the perfume oil.
What does it smell like? A gigantic lavender marshmallow, actually. That's the best I can do. It's sweet and it's sugary and it's got a hint of lavender (really, only a hint - I don't love lavender, so I promise it's not much). It's not so foody that it makes me hungry, and not so sweet it makes me sick. It's perfect, actually, and it does exactly what I want it to do, while smelling good at the same time. (sometimes aromatherapy blends or "functional" scents tend to work, but aren't able to pull off a satisfying fragrance while doing it - not so at BPAL)
So, I guess what it boils down to is that I have Three True Loves and a bunch of slightly lesser loves queuing up just behind. Let's just say, I'm eagerly awaiting my next box of preciouses from BPAL, BPTP, or TAL (TAL is my next spree!).
[Editor's Note: I am not affiliated with Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs in any way. They have sent me items to test in the past, but I have also spent a good amount of money there, too. I just talk about them so much because I really do love them that much- not because someone's paying me to. The icons on my blog that lead you to BPAL are also my idea and are not a paid advertisement. I don't even know if anyone at the lab knows they're there, in fact.]"
Falling into BPAL is like opening Pandora's Box - you never really know what you're going to get! If you're not familiar with Pandora, here's a brief: she was, according to the Greeks, the first woman. Blessed with curiosity, like most women are, she opened a jar* she was told not to open, unleashing evil** in the form of slander, vanity, greed, envy and pining.
*Yes, I said "jar". The phrase "Pandora's Box" is a hot mess, 'cause linguists tell us that it wasn't a box at all, instead a jar or jug. Blame Erasmus for the linguistic faux pas - it's his fault.
**Evil, eh? See how apropos "Pandora's Box" is for a discourse on BPAL? A quick walk through BPAL shows you the true meanings of vanity (want to smell good, attract a mate, look and feel gorgeous?), greed (ok, well maybe I'll just 6 more imps to this order!), envy (how did she get an aged bottle of Spooky 06!?), and pining (oh, I can't wait for my next order of the precious arrives! i can't sleep, I'm so excited!). I think the only thing BPAL didn't get from Pandora's box is slander, which is currently being monopolized by the presidential candidates.
Now look what you've done, you've distracted me, and I was attempting to explain something.
What I was saying was this: falling into BPAL is like opening Pandora's Jar. You never know what you're going to get. Just when you think you've gotten acclimated to the site - the general catalog and it's kazillion amazing oils, the poetry and prose, the art, the wit, the history lessons; just when you've picked your first imps and ordered your first bottle - BAM!: you discover The Forum! You dive in, hungrily reading review after review, delighting in the imagery (and the clever screen names). After some time, you come out of your self-imposed hibernation, feeling satisfied you've poked and prodded every little corner of the boards and learned everything you can about your fellow BPAL addicts, discontinued scents, and aging Snake Oil - BAM!: someone mentions The Trading Post.
Back it up a second... what's that? "The Trading Post"!?
Yup. There's more. The Black Phoenix Trading Post. It's where you go to spend even more money experience even more BPALy goodness, of the non-perfume oil variety. There you will find:
O The scent of sexual
obsession, slavery to sensual pleasure, and the undercurrent of
innocence defiled utterly. Amber and honey with a touch of vanilla.
Could I have told you that the scent of sexual obsession was amber, honey and a dash of vanilla? Nope.
Could I have told you that those three scents would mix together in the most amazing way, leading one to name it something so spectacular as "O"? (For that's really a big name to live up to, now isn't it?) Nope.
Could I have told you that this would be my new obsession, my signature scent, the perfume I have been waiting for my whole life? Nope. But I'm telling you now.
This scent opens with a rich, poignant blast of amber - and a pure and lovely amber it is. The honey supports it in the nicest way, like an elegant dance partner or considerate lover. The vanilla winds through, tickling the two main scents but not taking over by any means, in fact it's hard to pin down.
If you don't like foody scents, don't worry- on me at least, the vanilla doesn't make this foody. It makes it rich. The honey doesn't make it treacle-y, it makes it deep.
O is something that woodland fairies drink. O is what Eden smelled like. O is the scent in the nape of a baby's neck. O is the way you feel after a long weekend in bed with your favorite bedtime playmate. O is a must-have scent...
You can buy O from BPAL - only $15 USD for a vial.
The other day, I opened my mail and found, unsolicited, a lovely treat! This package contained information from Clinique on their upcoming product launches and came with a sample of their new mascara. I was completely and utterly disinterested in the product sample because I find most mascaras a disappointment, but I decided to use the mascara 3 days later when I remembered it was there.
Read on for more information about my experience with the new Lash Power Mascara!
Let's have the application results speak for themselves, first, then I'll tell you about the product. Below, on the left we have the before: my naked lashes. On the right we have my lashes post-product.
I think it's clear that Lash Power Mascara is lengthening. It's also a tad volumizing without being at all clumpy. And I hate clumpy!
If the results have you interested, then let me tell you a bit more. Lash Power Mascara will be showing up at your local Clinique counter in February. It's a lengthening mascara, but it's more than that. The wand is skinny so it gets all of the tiny little lashes on the corners (sorry for those of you who like a fat or curved wand!).
Another thing that makes this product different from other mascaras is this: Lash Power is a top seller in Asia, which is the market for which it was originally developed. The major complaint there, as one can imagine, is the humidity! It's not hard to think about what that would do to a mascara! Clinique made this mascara to answer the no-smudge requests of the Asian market. The thermal-sensitive mascara is meant to last 24 hours, and it's resistant to water, sweat, humidity, and oils. Remove Lash Power Mascara by wetting a washcloth in warm water (approximately 100° F) and placing it on the lashes, then rinsing away. Really. That's all it takes.
Lash Power is made with polymers and gels that are water-based - as opposed to other mascaras which are wax-based. But the water-based ingredients aren't susceptible to cool water- just very warm water. So it's not phased by most things!
Does it work? In a word: YES.
I put this mascara on in the morning (about 6AM), and it looked great to me (that's when I took the pictures above). I worked a 9-hour day, then came home and took care of the family and cleaned up the house. At about 11PM, I went to take off my makeup. I used my MAC Wipes and removed my "face" as I do every day. I looked in the mirror and damned if that mascara wasn't on still, completely intact. The rest of my makeup was completely gone. I used my MAC Cleanse-Off Oil (which breaks down EVERYTHING) and my Clarisonic brush to make sure my skin was completely clean- when I was done the daggone mascara was still there! AND IT WAS STILL PERFECT. I took a washrag, dampened it with warm water, and held it to my eyes for a few seconds. VOILA! The mascara started to flake off. I used the washrag again, then rinsed my face, and my lashes were naked again.
I haven't yet tested this with a crying jag, but I suspect if it stood up to MAC Wipes and MAC Cleanse-Off Oil a few tears aren't going to phase it. I'm buying this product exclusively from now on. I'm getting some for my mom, too: she has very deep-set eyes and everything smudges on her but I know this won't.
Look for Clinque's Lash Power Mascara in Feburary at your Clinique counter or at Clinique online. The product is part of theNude Blush collection and will retail for $14 USD.
Below are pictures of the wand- sorry they are slightly blurry.
I adore Clarins skincare, and consider it (and genetics, I'll admit) the reason people think I'm younger than I am. After I started using Clarins, I was hearing "you have perfect skin". I give credit where credit is due and point folks towards the closest Clarins counter.
Made with natural botanical ingredients, this is such a wonderful smelling product line that it would almost be worth purchasing just for the way it feels and smells!
But enough gushing... on to Clarins' holiday offerings.
Let me just start with the one I'm picking up first. It seems like as good a place to begin as any! While I do makeovers on customers all day, I'm constantly washing my hands and using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, so my hands feel dry and tight all of the time. I don't like it, and I don't think it's that nice up against the faces of my customers. Since I don't like to completely demolish other counters' testers, I spread the wealth and through the course of my time in the department have sampled hand creams and supposed "miracle treatments" from just about every line out there. The Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream is hands-down the best (pardon the bad pun!). So, when I heard that Clarins was offering two 3.5 (full size) Hand and Nail Treatments for only $40 in their Happy Hands and Nails package, I realized Christmas had come early. (Normal retail price for one of these is $29)
Next up is the Head to Toe Heaven Gift Set, which includes a .34 fl oz Water Comfort One-Step Cleanser, a .53 fl oz Moisture Quenching Hydra-Care Cream, a .53 fl oz Beauty Flash Balm, a 3.5 oz Hand and Nail Treatment Cream, and a 6.8 fl oz Moisture-Rich Body Lotion. With all of this bow to stern pampering for only $62, it's a great way to launch your own voyage into Clarins skincare, or to convince someone else to try it.
For anyone whose skin needs some revitalizing (especially for those who want to fade some irritating freckles, hyperpigmentatino or other discolorations), the Brightening Solutions Gift Set is a must-have. I use these products, and my melasma has faded considerably. I've also got that whole healthy radiance thing going on. In the kit: a 1.7 fl oz Bright Plus HP Protective Day Lotion SPF 20, a .53 fl oz Bright Plus HP Repairing Brightening Night Cream (the bomb!), and a .34 Bright Plus HP Firming Brightening Essence, all for $55 USD.
Here's what else you can expect from Clarins this holiday season:
Extra-firming Solutions Gift Set - Any skin type can benefit from this set. You'll get Extra-Firming Day Cream for All Skin Types ( 1.7 fl oz ), Extra-Firming Night Cream for All Skin Types ( 0.53 fl oz ), and Extra-Firming Concentrate ( 0.34 fl oz ). $85
Super Restorative Solutions - Bring new life to your skin with this set. This is what's inside: Super Restorative Serum ( 1.0 fl oz ), Super Restorative Day Cream ( 0.53 fl oz ), and Super Restorative Night Cream ( 0.53 fl oz ). $125 USD
Happy Hands and Lips Gift Set - Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm ( 0.46 oz ) and Hand and Nail Treatment Cream ( 1.06 fl oz ). What else is there to add? $25 USD
Color Quench Trio - Hydration, color, and shine in one product. And you get three of 'em! Colour Quench Lip Balms in 02 Caramel, 03 Rose Pink, and 04 Coral Pink. $29 USD
Extra-Firming Exceptional Eyes Set - Peel back the years (and those last few hours of no sleep) with this set! Advanced Extra-Firming Eye Contour Serum (0.7 fl oz), Wonder Volume Mascara (0.23 fl oz, 01 Wonder Black), Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion (1.7 fl oz), and Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (0.03 oz). $65.
Super-Restorative Exceptional Eyes Set - Need a bit more help in the eye area? Try this set. Advanced Extra-Firming Eye Contour Serum ( 0.7 fl oz ), Wonder Volume Mascara ( 0.23 fl oz, 01 Wonder Black ), Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover Lotion ( 1.7 fl oz ), Instant Smooth Perfecting Touch (0.03 oz). $75 USD.
Hey, I don't know if ya'll know about this product or not, but it's the best, most ingenious, most useful, most inspired product in the beauty industry at this time. Thought I'd tell you about it, 'causeit's just that good!
Is this what you look like after a rough night? Or maybe every morning!?
Girl (or fella), you've got to get your tush over to the Bobbi Brown counter....
That up there is the Holy Grail of cosmetics, in my humble opinion!
That's Bobbi Brown's Corrector and it rocks. I mean it. It is awesome.
Let me explain... A regular concealer, be it pink-based or yellow-based is almost always going to leave you wanting when it comes to serious under-eye circles. The Corrector is a great, thick but smooth and blendable pink or peach cream that is applied to the under-eye area prior to concealer. It is great at neutralizing dark circles, and when paired with concealer eliminates the darkness very effectively.
I personally don't have horrid black circles, but I am very, very fair-skinned. Most concealers that I try are too yellow or, the few times I've gotten a pinkish color, are too drying or too crease-y. This product lights up the under-eye area very well and keeps the area looking nicely hydrated and luminous - and never crease-y!
So I started using the product on my customers. (Keep in mind, I don't even work for Bobbi Brown- I work for a competitor line!) And I have found that once the proper color is chosen, just about all dark circles can be minimized if not eradicated with this product and a good concealer.
What you need to do is get the proper color Corrector and then use either Bobbi's concealer or your own (if the color is right). You want to make sure the Corrector is two shades lighter than your foundation, according to Bobbi herself (and this is in agreement with what I've found out while experimenting on customers).
Smooth it on under the eye and up into the area on the inside of the nose. Bobbi points out that you should be sure to put this on after an eye cream, taking care to pull the Corrector up under the lashline. A second "coat" maybe needed depending on the severity of the darkness to be covered: use light layers, waiting in between them to allow the layers to set.
Top the Corrector with a concealer that matches your skin (Bobbi actually prefers yellow-based concealers, other makeup artists disagree). A light layer of translucent (sheer) powder sets the product and prevents transfer.
For days when you don't want all of the hullaballoo (we call them "grocery store days") or if your circles are not too dark, try Bobbi's Tinted Eye Brightener which is almost like a combination of the Corrector and the Concealer wrapped into one. It's not quite as much coverage as the Corrector, and thus not my A-#1 favorite product, but it's still a great idea.
Bobbi Brown Corrector is $22.00 USD and the Brightener is $32 USD and they are available at www.bobbibrowncosmetics.com, Belk, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's and the like.
Be sure to check out the tutorial on "how to apply concealer" on the Brightener page of Bobbi's website!