Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Beauty Breakdown; "Nickelodeon World Wide Day of Play"

Teenagers... gotta love em'.

Okay, so maybe the last week I spent in Washington DC with the casts of mutiple Nickelodeon shows was a bit overkill, I have to admit, being in the presence of such vibrant talent was pretty amazing. The impromptu musical interludes, the boisterous laughter, the practical jokes... didn't care much for those, but you get the idea.

Fortunately most of that time was spent one-on-one with Liz Gillies who plays "Jade West" on the hit show "Victorious". Liz's character is pretty dark and gloomy but in person, she's kind, witty and prefers her makeup simple and easy with just a hint of drama. Being 18 years old, I preferred to keep her makeup to a minimum and highlight her glowing skin and flirty lashes.

Skin was first prepped with Australian Scent Balm of Gilead for lasting hydration, I then used Guerlain Light Diffusing Perfecting Primer to create a secure base that would hold makeup while she engaged in any outdoor activities. Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation then went over areas that needed a bit of attention and highlighted with MAC Cosmetics Creme Colour Base in Pearl and brushed with FACE Stockholm Creme Blush in Athens for a hint of warmth.

For eyes, I dusted FACE Stockholm Matte Eyeshadow in Chiffon all over then used MAC Cosmetics Eyeshadow in Kid on the outer corners for shape. With a small angular brush, I then lined lids with FACE Stockholm Matte Eyeshadow in Russian Caviar. Just to fill in sparse areas, a few Duralash Individual Lashes were placed here and there for a bit of drama.

Lips, we preferred to keep nude yet defined by first lining and filling in with FACE Stockholm Var Lip Pencil for a bit of coral undertone and finished with FACE Stockholm Matte Lipstick in Natural for a pout that would last through frequent water breaks.

The makeup was kept basic enough to play second fiddle to Liz's glowing personality and strong enough to last through any remaining practical jokes.

Product Review; "Birchbox"

The brainchild of Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, Birchbox is a direct mail service that brings samples of new and intriguing beauty items to your door every month.

For $10 a month, a small brown box will appear on your doorstep loaded full of new releases from beauty companies as well as familiar pieces that may exist in your cosmetics wardrobe. With contributing companies like Benefit, Jouer and NARS every package will contain a surprise smathering of products that can be purchased from the Birchbox website. Each purchase of a full size item will automatically incur points that can be later redeemed for discounts on future purchases.

Plus, each box delivered will be custom tailored to specifications on your very own profile to ensure that those you recieve are relevant to your needs. So if you're a color junkie, expect the latest shadow, mascara and foundation samples. But if you prefer skin care, expect hand creams, facial spritzes or exfoliators.

Applying online is an easy process and should you be interested you can also recieve updates and alerts on future company partnerships. And, always open to critique, contacting the company directly will impact the quality of treats you recieve every month.

Birchbox Membership; $10.00

Product Review; "Shiseido Shimmering Rouge"

Popular with cosmetic enthusiasts, Shiseido products are created with incredible care to comfort. Maintaining that ethos, Shimmering Rouge is a blend of luxurious ingredients that feel decadent on lips.

These tubes of sheer color are available in a range from vibrant pinks, shimmering neutrals and bold reds that look extravagant at first glance but swipe on skin with a subtlety that's wearable for day or night. The formula is composed of mostly Macademia Nut Oil to retain moisture, Candelilla Wax for a soft firmness that binds to lips and Distilled Water for a light-weight feel. Though dense enough to drench lips in rich moisture, there's no obvious texture that can run, budge or even transfer without distinct intention.

Only available in sheer tones, each color sparkles and shines in one swipe of the tube but can be parred down with blotting or layered on top of pencil for more dramatic effect. Another great option would be to apply in the center of lips over a matte lipstick to create dimension the same way you would a lip gloss.

But, in comparison to gloss, you'll get full shine without the worry of sticking to hair or clothing. Plus, it wears as easily as lip balm, keeping lips full, bright and soft enough to the touch.

Shiseido Shimmering Rouge; $25.00

Product Review; "Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme"

"Good lord, your hair is thick."

I nodded in agreement. What else was I gonna do, argue with the obvious? I had asked the hairstylist I was booked with to "blow it out" during our down-time but I didn't expect her to throw an apron over my shoulders and begin sharpening her scissors. A pleasant surprise to say the least.

"You know what you should use? It's from Bumble and Bumble in that light blue bottle..." as she began digging through her kit, she pulled out the squeeze tube full of Grooming Creme that would "...be perfect for just adding a bit of texture to your hair so it's more 'piece-y' and you wouldn't have to use so much gel to keep it under control. But only if you have a better haircut."

And with that, the snipping was imminent. I had been struggling with trying to grow out my hair but the density is so overbearing, it was looking less full and more blustering. Complete with cow-licks going every which way and errand strands standing right up while others lay frizzed in the wrong direction.

Of course, it didn't hurt to have a master wielding my strands into place, but the dense lotion she rubbed over my follicles soon smoothed out portions that were slightly unmanageable and created the look of hair "2 days after washing". Loaded with Avacado Oil, Almond Oil and Jojoba extract, this creamy base has a tendency to feel a bit rich at first but once worked into dampened hair disperses equally and dries with little to no slick feel. The slight hydration factor is nice for those dealing with split ends or frizz and even keeps hair gels, hair sprays and other styling products from drying out hair that can be unruly to begin with.

It's kind of a nice base to start styling from or, in my case, pre-empts any other products once you've got a decent haircut.

Bumble and Bumble Grooming Creme; $26.00

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Breaking News; "Dita Von Teese Fragrance"

Already an international style icon and the epitomy of seduction, Dita Von Teese will soon lend her smoldering sexuality to a fragrance.

"I wanted it to be a perfume that smelled exactly how I imagined it... I wanted it to be perfect, and threw out many previous compositions and refined them."

With exceptional attention to detail, the resulting formula boasts notes of sensuous aromas whose names tease at a scent destined to become synonomous with class, elegance and sexuality itself;

"... a head note of fresh peonies, fizzy bergamot, and slightly spicy Bourbon pepper. The heart of the perfume beguiles the senses with a full and at the same time pure bouquet of Bulgarian rose, Tahitian Tiaré petals, and fresh jasmine. And in the base note, the mystical and warm scents of patchouli, musk, and smoky Gaiac wood and sandalwood captivate all who smell it."

Completely burlesque, full of glamour, and every bit Dita Von Teese – the neck of every bottle is adorned with a silk cord with a nail polish-red pearl, which flows into a long black silk tassel."

Available late October 2011

Product Review; "L'Oreal Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner"

Smudging isn't really that much of a big deal. And I say that because it's almost better to have softened defined lines than obvious sharp edges. And I hate to argue with the L'Oreal marketing team, but their Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner does smudge... and that ain't all that bad.

The convenience of a wind-up eyeliner is that it diminishes the need for a pencil sharpener though I have found that some formulas will tend to dry-out much faster when not encased in balsa wood. This particular formula has a base of Mineral Oil and Beeswax that holds the shape in tube but glides on easily to lids and lashlines. Though perfect for smooth application, this concoction makes for tricky, yet achievable, staying power.

Once the pencil goes thinly over skin, it stays slightly moist but maintains a soft-to-the-touch feel. Ideally, you would take an eyeshadow brush to buff product upwards or into lash-lines creating a subtle smokey effect that keeps it from moving any further. Or you could even blend with eyeshadow to intensify the effect. Full of pigment, the soft formula holds onto skin well without budging once it's set with a bit of powder. Even transluscent powder is ideal if you only want a touch of color. Or, for a quick fix, use the tip of your finger to press it in and blend ever so slightly with no additional product. It ends up becoming a bit of a stain that then becomes transfer and water resistant.

Ironically, smudging actually keeps it from moving any further. Someone get marketing on the phone.

L'Oreal Pencil Perfect Self Advancing Eyeliner; $8.49

Product Review; "MAC Mineralized Blush"

Though generally released to Limited Edition Collections, MAC Cosmetics has lined up some permanent shades of their Mineralized Blush to go with the entire mineralized line of products.

While the foundations and powders in the collection offer very specific kinds of coverage that is maleable, Mineralized Blush seems to have mainly one star characteristic; create a flawless finish.

Regardless of the tone you choose, the baked method of preparation leaves each and every domed powder with an inherent glaze that softens color with a slight pearlized quality. Easily fading away into any foundation product, the inherent luminescence also does away with the need for a highlighter.

Available in shades from light beige to deep plum, use neutral tones to contour cheekbones without creating sharp depth or warm up sun kissed skin by dusting over highpoints and collarbones. Use the richer pinks and plums to round out perky cheeks or do a swift dusting over eyelids before shadow to create all over perky complections reflect subtle nuances of light.

Regardless of the shade you choose, fortunately you no longer have to wait between seasons to get soft, luminous looking skin.

MAC Mineralized Blush; $23.00

Product Review; "Australian Scent Intensive Wrinkle Therapy"

When I get to work with athletes, it's like being in the presence of mythological gods. Their talent is so remarkable, you almost forget they can have concerns just as human as the rest of us.

Recently on a shoot with global soccer stars, before I had a chance to look her in the eye, one of the talent voiced a concern over her dry skin. After finishing a cycle of acne medication, she was left with flakiness that threatened to disrupt her upcoming wedding plans not to mention the photo shoot we were now prepping for. Immediately I thought about my buddies at Australian Scent who designed their star product "Balm of Gilead" to soothe the founders eczema. Though, as luck would have it, I recently acquired, and added to my kit, their Intensive Wrinkle Therapy.

Armed with all the botanical essential oils that you would come to expect like Shea Butter and Almond Oil this amped up concoction has a heaping dose of omega rich fatty acids that absorbs immediately into troubled skin mellowing out irritation and making trouble spots more supple to touch.

Taking a liberal dollop of the potent formula (half the size of a dime) onto a foundation brush, I smoothed it over her skin in the most troublesome areas then blended out over high-points and around the jawline. Then I asked her to go to hair and come back when done. Quizzically, she complied. Minutes later when she returned, the mirror gave clear explanation of my reasoning.

The standard amount of product needed is about the tip of your finger, but by using a larger dose and letting it sit for a while, the blend absorbed mostly into skin and released flakes from clinging while improving overall tone. With the same brush, I then massaged the skin to induce circulation and absorb any residual into rough patches then lightly applied foundation and concealer like normal.

The small amount of prep created a softer canvas and with extended use, the decadent ingedients like Frankinscense, Green Tea, and Evening Primrose will soften lines, reverse detrimental conditions and protect from further enviornmental foes. Knowing her big day was coming up soon, I offered her the decadent gold jar, curing any further woes about her skin condition.

Consider it an offering to the gods.

Australian Scent Intensive Wrinkle Therapy; $58.00

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Friend or Foe?; "Perspectives"

A colleague asked me once; "What colors should I wear? No one likes it when I wear makeup."

So...? One of my favorite quotes from drag superstar Rupaul has always been;

"What other people think of me, is none of my business."

But when asked by clients what they should wear, my opinion on the matter tends to shift. If only slightly to suit the very different circumstances. For instance, when called on for red carpet functions where pictures are going to be taken to be devoured by the tabloid press and the tabloid purchasing public, my answer to "what should I wear?" is the reason I have a job.

Though, we're talking about a collaboration with a hairstylist, a fashion stylist, a publicist, a manager, and the talent. We look at dresses, we talk location, then logistics. All to create that one perfect moment that can be captured for posterity. But regardless of the tremendous amount of prep that goes into the final look, someone, somewhere will... not... like... it.

It doesn't matter how perfectly lined lips are, how immaculately blended eyes smoke, or how high profile the event may be, there's gonna be some journalist (or blogger) destined to hate it. HATE it. Most of the time, it's nothing more than a personal attack. But sometimes, I don't like to admit it, they can be a little bit on point.

There have been times when I'll be asked to mimic certain looks. Ones torn out of a beauty magazine or even freeze-framed on a television screen. Sometimes, I think, "yea, that could totally work". And sometimes I'm not so affirmative. Personally, I have an aesthetic that I like to stick to, but in the end, I'm here to make clients happy. So on occasion, I've applied bigger than average lashes, slightly too dark bronzers and overly frosted lipgloss.

Though these may not be my favored methods, does it really matter in the end? Sure, I may not be too enthused, but the client digs it. And if she's digging it, she's feeling it which makes her work it. And that kind of confidence is what really sells the overal look.

Even if someone decides to diss it, does it really matter? It could be the start of a new trend. Remember when teased hair held it's place as the epitomy of style and elegance? I bet most of ya'll who rocked that style look back and laugh.

But nothing has really changed aside from the general viewpoint on such styles. They still exist and are easily brushed aside. So, if you're heading the supermarket and you feel like rocking a shocking blue eyeliner winged out to your temples, I say do it. It shouldn't matter if anyone likes it, as long as you do.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Product Review; "Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder"

I was NOT looking for this product on my last trip to Sephora. And yet, I continued to pass them over... 3 or 4 times.

It wasn't until I asked one of the sales girls, "can I borrow your face" and dusted a bit of Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder over her highpoints with a fluffy brush that I realized that they would come in handy after all. The texture of these powders is very fine and has just the right amount of shimmer that bounces soft light without looking glittery. In fact, they blend so well, I've gone as far as dusting lids before doing eyeshadow to create a soft base that will smooth out sharp edges.

Composed mainly of Talc (it has a noticeable baby powder smell to it) I found that it's a bit drying over time so obviously it's best when topped over a liquid foundation or primer. Though "dry" is definitely not how it finishes. A good amount of Mica gives massive glow without looking oily and is optimal for flaring out for full bright cheekbones.

Though the tones are not terribly forgiving for everyone. Dore is a light gold shimmer shade that's best suited for medium to dark skin tones as a highlighter but can look kind of orange-ish on fair tones if applied too liberally. However, dusting it with a fan brush under bronzer did create softer hints of color. Rose is a soft pink shimmer that's great for very fair to medium-dark tones everywhere you want brilliance but has a tendency to appear ghostly white on anyone darker. But for really sharp highlights, it's perfect when applied with a denser shadow brush to lips and eyebrow highlights.

Looking at the row of newly highlighted Sephora sales girls before me, I realized I'd make pretty good use of both these colors even if I wasn't originally searching for them. Better to purchase them now rather then pass them by 3 or 4 more times.

Sephora Highlighting Compact Powder; $15.00

Product Review; "Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs"

First impression; Medium Glow is far too orange for me. I began thinking, "another failure of a self tanner". Not a fair assumption, I'll admit it.

Besides, Sally Hansen products have always been among some of my mainstays. So I sat around with it then ran some errands in the neighborhood. No one seemed to notice and soon I became embroiled with my tasks and forgot I had it on myself. It wasn't until I was swatching some lipsticks on the back of my hand that I realized the colors weren't looking like I expected them to. Obviously because there was a thin layer of Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs beneath them.

Ideally for legs, this colorful mist is appropriate on all body parts (save for face) but can apply kind of thick if you use it any less than 8 inches from skin. However, it covers impeccably and provides luminosity with very little transfer and is a favorite among dancers and other stage performers. After applying, you can either let it sit or use hands to rub it in until it dries down to a stain that holds even against wet weather conditions.

On set, I found that it photographed really well giving the camera a chance to capture long highlighted lines without glaring shine. And fortunately for me, there are 3 other colors to choose from for when I get models of varying skin tones. Light Glow would be ideal for adding hints of coverage to medium-fair to medium skin tones, while Tan Glow is great for medium-deep to deep skin tones. But I found that the golden undertones as well as red undertones of very-deep complexions works really well with Deep Glow even if it does add a bit of darkness to the overall look. Especially if, instead of coverage, I just want a bit of a highlight... ya know what, now that I think about it, I don't think Medium Glow would be too orange for them.

Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs; $13.99

Product Review; "Covergirl Outlast Lipstain"

"Well, that's exactly what I thought a marker would feel like on my lips".

I laughed a bit at my model who sat with her hair up in curlers as she fiddled around with her Blackberry trying to stroke her boyfriend's ego via text-message. Having had her makeup done dozens of times before, I imagine she had been introduced to multiple Covergirl products but low and behold, Outlast Lipstain had eluded her pout until now.

Though the delivery system is a bit unconventional, this product certainly does last. By the time the curlers came out, the boyfriend was soothed and the camera started clicking, the color was still vivid without needing even the slightest bit of touch-up. Applied the same way you would a lipstick or gloss, the texture of the felt tip is a bit bizarre though highly effective at delivering the right amount of color. Available in multiple shades, I found that some show brilliantly, others very bold, and one or two incredibly sheer however, being a stain, don't feather out around liplines.

The stain property dries down into lips while a dose of Hyaluronic Acid retains moisture and Glycerin locks it in. Though not a moisturizing product, I anticipated some drying effect but found none. Most effective over previously moisturized lips and maybe tapped with a bit of gloss, on it's own it won't dry lips out, nor did it make them moist. It simply adds color that holds all day long until removed with a makeup wipe.

Though, the only issue I may have with it is that I tend to transfer lipstick and gloss to a disposable brush to ensure no cross-contamination but it's a bit difficult with this delivery system. So rather than risk reaching for the same tube on another shoot, at the end of the (10 hour) day, I just gave my model the tube. Incredulously, she thanked me then immediately put her Blackberry to her ear;

"The makeup guy just gave me a lip marker!"

Covergirl Outlast Lipstain; $7.99

Product Review; "Neova DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer SPF 45"

Tinted moisturizer is the kind of product you reach for when you want sheer coverage. Meaning, reducing flaws ever so slightly. But, protection is how you keep those flaws from appearing in the first place.

Neova's main goal seems to be caring for skin's issues, and in some cases reversing existing damage. By protecting top layers with a mind-blowing SPF 45, DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer at first seems like it will be thick and blazingly white, but boasting antioxidant ingredients Green Tea, Rosemary Extract and Lutein you get a moist blend that glides onto skin and absorbs after moments. With a helping of Aloe Vera Extract to retain that moisture, the formula still utilizes a heavy dose of Titanium Dioxide and Octinoxate to block both UVA and UVB rays while a sheer wash of color minimizes any expected whitish overcast that you would usually get from a sunscreen.

Though not entirely devoid of color, I do find that there is a bit of hue that stays over complexion that can be either complimentary or hindering. It has a peach-like quality that is incredibly sheer but after a minute or two, dissolves into skin tones from fair to medium without any residual color aside from muting redness and evening slight discoloration. If applied with hands, be sure to go over ears and top of decollatege' if exposed.

Even if the color isn't quite right, what stands out most is the Photolysomes and Endosomes delivery systems that permeate deep into the skin's surface to undo cellular damage and prevent early cell death caused from UV exposure. Why cover flaws when you can irradicate them entirely?

Neova DNA Damage Control Silc Sheer SPF 45; $39.00

Product Review; "Sensai Bronzing Gel SPF 6"

Though my Hispanic skin easily takes color, being covered from head-to-toe for the upcoming Winter months will forbid even the most remote opportunity to receive a bit of natural light. And while I’m not inclined to head for the tanning beds to resuscitate that bronze tone, the next best thing would be a bit of a disguise while my pasty flesh acclimates to the now retreating sunny weather.

Bronzing the body (arms, neck and legs) is difficult as this skin doesn’t really respond to makeup too well, but Sensai has formulated a bronzer that wears lightly without transferring to any amount of layers I'll be wearing when the snow starts falling. Sensai Bronzing Gel contains ingredients like 70% Distilled Water and Macademia Nut Oil that permeates the top layers of skin for color that shows like your own complexion, and won’t rub off on clothing.

Take a small dollop of product into the palm of your hand, apply directly to moisturized skin and watch it dissipate away leaving no shine or shimmer behind – just hydrated, warmly tinted flesh ready for exposure. Any residue on palms would be great for patting over cheeks, forehead and neck to create continuous color and uniformity. The tone and texture are also so light they are easily blended into foundation or even tinted moisturizer if you feel like having the slightest bit of color perk.

Even if you’re not going to be stripping down to a tiny bikini come Springtime, you should still treat newly exposed skin to a bit of color. Besides, who wouldn’t prefer a summer-sun-kissed glow to the shock of winter-white?

Sensai Bronzing Gel; $40.00

Friday, August 26, 2011

As Seen on TV; "Bijules for Becks Greenbox Project"

Jules Kim is the creative mind behind EVERY piece of jewelry you have ever admired in a music video. Adorning the likes of Katy Perry, Kelly Rowland, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Drake, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, etc., etc. ad infinitum...

Recently she contacted me to collaborate on a project for the Beck's Green Box Project; an opportunity for artists to facilitate a public experience of their art through digital media. Located in Hollywood, a specific location will have a mobile app activated to view a video featuring Jules in makeup I designed to coincide with the overall experience. Check out the above interview for an understanding of her views behind beauty and adornment or check out a preview of the project and how it works on your iPhone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Breaking News; "Sam Fine joins Fashion Fair"

Celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine is reknowned the world over as the premier makeup artist when it comes to women of color. The Fashion Fair label of products was born of a lack of a shade range that appropriately addressed the needs of women of color. A match made in cosmetics heaven.

At the top of the call list for super models Iman and Tyra Banks to Academy Award nominee Mo'Nique, Sam has lent his talents to every event where women need to look their most fresh and glamourous. In addition to red carpet events, he has also traveled the globe giving instruction on makeup application and doing press events for product and collection launches for the likes of MAC, Kissable Couture, Revlon and Covergirl. Though you can still purchase his how-to videos, most of his time and creative energy will be focused as he takes on the role of Creative Makeup Director for Fashion Fair including consulting on shade formulation and making in-store appearances.

"In his new role as Creative Makeup Director, Fine, a 20 year makeup artist veteran, will apply his accumulated artistic acumen and fuse it with Fashion Fair’s brand DNA, to advise on the creation of new products, enrich its color palette and make in-store appearances. In 2012, Fashion Fair will unveil Sam Fine for Fashion Fair trend collections, starting spring 2012.

“ 'There’s no place I’d rather foster my creative energies,' said Fine. 'Fashion Fair was a barrier-breaking cosmetic line since its inception 38 years ago and remains a leader in prestige cosmetics for women of color.' "

Field Trip; "MAC Greenwich Village part deux: Drag Makeup Workshop"

When last I was introduced to the "smallest MAC store in the world" my eyes couldn't believe the clever use of negative space and a staff that was prompt to accomodate. Upon my return, I found that even in a lack of square footage, there were no lack of big ideas.

Tim Pearson is part of the MAC management at 353 Bleecker Street but has a history of drag excellence that he's opted to share with his staff. Having conquered the world of competitive drag competitions as his counterpart "Cookie Von Douche'e", Tim drew on multiple inspirations and tricks learned in the field to translate into a basic understanding of drag makeup application... using me as his model.

With a captive audience, he first discussed the evolution of drag providing images of past and present stars of the scene including nightlife staples Hedda Lettuce, Drag Race stars Nina Flowers and Bebe Zahara Benet and, of course, the original MAC girl and drag icon, RuPaul. After pointing out differing interpretations of drag, he shared revelations about repurposing found items to create drag looks and unorthodox inspirations for accessories as well as drag names. Once a course syllabus was distributed, outlining the step-by-step process, each participant watched an example of application then was asked to duplicate on one another.

The first step was covering eyebrows using, of all things, a glue stick, then creating a base all around the face using Studio Sculpt Foundation and color-correcting areas where facial hair would show through with Studio Finish Concealer and setting with Select Sheer Loose Powder.

After creating a clean base, Tim used Full Coverage White Foundation to mimic the kind of highlights that would show under stage lighting to recreate the face in a more feminine shape. After that, multiple tricks with bronzers and eyeshadows to contour cheeks, eyes and chins then the introduction of vivid colors to add warmth and vibrancy. Detailed application advice for each brush stroke was relayed to the artists with occasional check-ins to ensure consistency but always nurturing their own personal spin; where one artist would highlight lids, another would black them out completely.

Fostering an individual perspective, every artist was able to create looks that express their own interpretation within the parameters that were laid out for them. Moving about the small "classroom", he could guide each of them through tricky steps and flicks of the brush while recommending small alterations for more efficient results. After we all had a chance to check out the finished faces, no one could deny that this little shop held some pretty big talent.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Product Review; "Lubriderm Men's 3-in-1 Lotion"

My father has never been a tremedous proponent of skin care. The concept of facial cleanser, eye cream and moisturizer are foreign and the term "skincare regimen" would be considered a profanity.

Lubriderm has always produced emollient based products that boast curative benefits to all skin but opted to narrow their focus when it comes to men... specifically, men like my dad. Using a formula rich in moisture binding elements, Lubriderm Men's 3-in-1 Lotion is the one step item that could coax even the most stubborn guys into taking care of their skin.

I would characterize it as a "starter product" even though it has dense hydrating properties and soothing elements like Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract that nourish tired dry skin. But it also has some ingredients that wouldn't get past a more savvy skincare afficianado. For one, Mineral Oil is right up at the top of the list which isn't really such a big deal, though it is synthetic, the "slip" value is lessened by the presence of more valuable emollients like Vitamin E and Cetearyl Alchohol; both designed to extract moisture from the air. However, in a more miniscule amount we also find Petrolatum which is another synthetic that can also give a bit of slide, but when combined with essential minerals like Zinc, Copper, Potassium and Magnesium doesn't get greasy.

Because the ingredient list contradicts the feel of the product, you can use it over arms, legs, body and even face to give parched, neglected skin a basic introduction to much needed moisture. As an added bonus, the nourishing quality triples the use as a valuable, irritation free after-shave. But of course, the best part is that it's only 1 step. No need for multiple products that can be intimidating to the novice in your home, and can be used multiple times throughout the day as needed without building up. But I say that as airly as possible, wouldn't want anyone to think this was a "regimen".

Lubriderm Men's 3-in-1 Lotion; $8.49

Product Review; "Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor Made Bronzing Powder"

Enriched with PURE GOLD this lightly milled bronzer continues the tradition of Guerlain's international acclaim when it comes to the look of sun-kissed skin.

Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor Made Bronzing Powder is an incredibly light-weight pressed powder with rich floral notes that dissipate almost immediately leaving behind a haze of fragrance. Applied with a natural hair brush, I find that it also leaves behind only the faintest of texture.

Practically melting into skin or over foundation and powder, it is milled to appear on camera as nothing but a perfectly sculpted complexion. And where most bronzers include shimmer, the pure gold process in the formula only hints at reflection and is described by the company as matte though, it never looks or feels "dry". Instead you have 4 seperate shades to blend, layer, mix and match to suit your natural tone for shape and form that can hint at sun-exposure or can boast full-on bronze.

However, both color options, Blondes and Brunettes, are best suited for fair to medium skin tones but the shades available in each compact can be suited for either yellow or pink undertoned skin. If one combo looks a bit too ruddy, each offers a slightly lighter version that can perk up seams and brighten highpoints. A little bit of blending may be necessary, but I like the formula enough to go pretty heavy-handed with it. But it doesn't really matter how much you layer, it will never build in texture, only density of tone. And even that will only look light a deeper kiss of sunlight.

Guerlain Terracotta 4 Seasons Tailor Made Bronzing Powder; $74.00

Product Review; "Nicka K HD Eyeshadow"

Available at any local beauty supply, including the one on my block, New York based cosmetics firm Nicka K is one of those brands I am accustomed to seeing but rarely think of as a destination. "Why" seems to elude me. Particularly with pricepoints that rarely induce sticker shock.

Nicka K HD Eyeshadow is a very smooth feeling powder product that has a slight, well, not moist feel, but almost creamy texture. It applies easily with a brush of any fiber be it synthetic or natural hair and can also double as a subtle highlighter if used sparingly. Some tones are available in lighter reflective formulas but most are very shimmery with denser flakes than a finer milled department store brand. Though, not such a bad thing, these shadows are perfect for using as a base before you begin creating dimension in the crease or a smokier effect.

The base ingredients are Paraffinum Liquidum which creates that smooth feel and Kaolin that dries out any excess moisture to keep the pigments in place. Added to the mix, of course, are the usual color makers Titanium Dioxide and Iron Oxide.

Unfortunately, there are a few more items in the recipe that aren't so great for staying power but for the most part, I appreciate them for the color options, layering benefits and opportunity for a bit of experimentation. Especially when it comes to price, the investment is surely worth paying attention next time I head to the beauty supply store.

Nicka K HD Eyeshadow; $1.49

Product Review; "Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm"

Lip balm is lip balm is lip balm... except when it's more than lip balm.

Neutrogena has other moisturizing lip products on the market and has had them for quite some time with success, so what's so different about this formula? The base ingredients are among the usual suspects; Petrolatum (synthetic emollient that locks in moisture), Shea Butter (fatty fruit extract that nourishes skin), Candelilla Wax ( an organic thickening agent for smooth application) and Carnauba Wax ( palm tree extract that makes creams richer).

All fine and good. Still haven't seen anything I haven't seen before... until my eyes spied " ion2complex™ " a mix developed for Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm that "...works in tandem with the product's existing moisturizers to create a positive electric micro-current - instantly giving lips a fuller, more defined look."

In case you missed it; ELECTRIC micro-current. A lip balm that offers your pout shock-treatment. Utilizing base elements Titanim and Copper to chemically interact with eachother creates a sufficient, yet miniscule, electrical reaction that stimulates cellular function and creates swelling that forces circulation. With all that activity, dulled color is transformed and texture is improved.

Available in 6 colors, from pale shimmer to rich sheer burgundy, each will mimic the flush of a healthier smile until lips, over time, become naturally fuller and more radiant. It feels like any other balm, only a bit more creamy and the flavor is quite nice (similar to cherry Jolly Ranchers) and the tube is easy function. If I didn't know my lips were being electrocuted, I'd think it was like any other balm. Personally, I would have thought I'd feel some kind of sensation when I rubbed my lips together like you do with a lip plumper, but, nope, nothing. No tingling, no burning, no irritation at all... kind of shocking, actually.

Neutrogena Revitalizing Lip Balm; $8.99

Sunday, August 14, 2011

As Seen on TV; "NARS Larger than Life Longwear Eyeliner"

NARS Cosmetics celebrates it's launch of Larger Than Life Longwear Eyeliner with a collaborative video created and directed by Fabien Baron. Though not specifically designed to be applied by mechanical surgeons, this;

"...rich, creamy color glides on smoothly with a completely budgeproof finish. Incomparable 12-hour wear with no smearing and no caking."

The product line comes in 9 dense colors for $23.00 each. Robot arms not included.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Product Review; Clean and Clear Advantage Popped Pimple Relief Gel Pen"

Why would you pop a pimple?

No, seriously, why?


Well, even though you know you SHOULDN'T... I guess if the deed is done, you may as well try to lessen the damage. Fortunately it's Clean and Clear to the rescue!

Clean and Clear Advantage Popped Pimple Relief Gel Pen, a gel based fluid with a whopping 2% Salicylic Acid, a potent BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid), delves just deep enough into postules and removes any and all bacteria that causes inflammation, redness and irritation. The result is skin that is relieved, relaxed and more apt to replenish healthier cells for a smoother complexion.

The applicator tip is rubberized in a slant position that cups over marks to deliver just enough product to null inflamed skin and the wind-up wand clicks into position keeping you from over-use. Of course, if you did happen to use too much, the formula won't over-irritate skin since it dissipates rather quickly. I found that it's best after bathing when the surface is most supple and if you tap the affected areas just after moisturizing, you can keep sensitive skin from over-drying.

As an added benefit, the formula also boasts Citric Acid and Portulaca Oleracea Extract, two more effective anti-inflammatories used in the prevention of postules. Which means you can use this product on areas you think you may potentially develop pimples. Then you won't have to pop them... because you know you shouldn't.

Clean and Clear Advantage Popped Pimple Relief Gel Pen; $6.99

Product Review; "Benefit Cosmetics CORALista Blush"

When I'm considering a blush, I almost always consider the color the way I would consider the color of a concealer. Even though Benefit Cosmetics offers multiple shades of their boxed blushes and bronzers, CORALista Blush has the kind of agreeable finish that masks imperfections and highlights bone structure.

Though "coral" is right in the title, this blush reads as a rosy pink in the box and can seem a bit too bold for novice makeup enthusiasts. Using the accompanying brush, made of natural hair bristles, to "... sweep blush lightly across the apples of your cheeks, starting from your hairline and working in" blurs the vividness of the shade and defines the contours of your cheek. While the remnant of product over the apples will create a flush that romantically frames the face.

I've found that it looks pretty much the same over every skin tone from very-light to medium-dark since it has a large dose of Mica in the formula that creates a glowing sheen that almost fades away imperfections and bouncing light to the highpoints of cheeks.

Used just after powder and before any other blush shade will mask any ruddiness or uneven skin tones and make skin glow in even difficult lighting situations. Almost like a deflector that manipulates angles to mask anything you don't want to be seen. Just like a concealer.

Benefit Cosmetics CORALista Blush; $28.00

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Product Review; "Tarte Cosmetics Provocateur Amazonian Clay Shimmering Powder"

I had this eyeshadow that was the right color for highlighting pretty much all skin tones and thought to myself, "someone should really put this into a larger compact"... provided it was the right texture, tone and finish.

Tarte Cosmetics is one of those brands that offers color cosmetics from the perspective of a health concious consumer who wants beautiful products minus heavy synthetics. The problem with such a search is that most common pigments and ingredients that create coverage are... heavy synthetics. But with the advent of new technologies and widespread awareness of "healthier" formulas, I've been recently introduced to Provocateur Amazonian Clay Shimmering Powder.

Amazonian Clay (othewise known as Kaolin) is being touted as "Nature's Most Perfect Ingredient" for it's incredibly nutrient rich properties and ability to nourish all skin types be they dry, oily or combination. Thrown into the mix are Vitamins A, C and E making this one of the better products for someone looking to maintain sensitive skin's balance.

Fortunately, available in two shades; Champagne and Rose, both options have a very light but recognizably luminescent sheen that reflects just enough surrounding light to give the illusion of higher cheekbones, brighter eyes and full lips. Champagne has a beige-golden tone that replicates warmth and light without any stark or overpowering brightness. It blends almost completely away on top of foundation, powders and eyeshadows to make edges disappear seamlessly. Plus the formula is so light-weight that you can layer and layer and layer for added brilliance without shocking up-close gazes.

Perfect for ALL skin tones, a light dusting will reflect immediately but the deeper the complexion, the lighter of a hand you should use. Fortunately, the texture is so forgiving, the tone is so subtle and the finish so minute it can be manipulated in many ways to suit any skin shade. And I won't have to reach for that eyeshadow again.

Tarte Cosmetics Provocateur Amazonian Clay Shimmering Powder; $30.00

Product Review; "Neutrogena Healthy Skin Custom Glow Bronzer"

Best known for being "... a worldwide leader in premium, dermatologist-recommended skin, hair and cosmetic products..." Neutrogena creates color cosmetics that coincide with their overall reputation.

Made with a triple antioxidant complex, Healthy Skin Custom Glow Bronzer was designed to maintain skin's natural balance without detrimenting it's condition and appearance during wear and once product is removed. Not only is the formula lightweight in texture, but it has components that boast elements you'd expect to find in skincare. Ingredients like Cornstarch, Soybean Seed extract and Vitamin E create a formula that blends effortlessly and can even contribute to clearing up difficult complexions.

This may seem like a god-send, but let me clarify; it's not that the product will cure acne, per se. It's more the idea that it will do nothing to make your acne worse. This is the kind of property that would be considered "non-comedogenic", though, unlike most products, this one actually seems to do the job.

Though, it's not all rave reviews... unfortunately, I find the color choices to be a bit off if you are particularly pale. Skin tones in the very-fair to fair range with pink undertones may find this product a bit too ruddy on skin. The amount of Mica that creates the anticipated "glow" with bronzers is a gold-tone so it reflects beautifully off of yellow-toned complexions that are more medium to medium-deep in color. Everyone in the darker range will find it a great contour powder and even highlighter when in conjunction with other powder products like foundation.

Of course, you can always use more of a light-hand if you're particularly light-skinned. With the blend of beneficial ingredients, at least you know your skin will look great even after taking your makeup off.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Custom Glow Bronzer; $12.99

Product Review; "Aveeno Daily Detoxifying Scrub"

"Scrub" is not a term that I like to use. Unless it's in reference to my kitchen counter-tops. The word conjures up images of aggressive motion intended for immediate results and the delicate nature of skin is not so easy to comply. Though Aveeno opts to use that phrase to market a creamy, slightly hydrating, daily exfoliator, it has to be the only part of the packaging that makes me cringe.

Available in a easy to use squeeze tube, Aveeno Daily Detoxifying Scrub is oil and soap-free and instead uses a combination of Glycerin and Rice Bran Wax to create an emulsion that glides over rough complexions. The tiniest of beads composed mostly of Coconut Fruit and Luffa Extract replace the usual suspects to abrase surface skin cells and lightly buff them away. Being so light in texture and agreeable to skin, you'll find that exfoliating on a daily basis will eventually lead to a milder, softer look that also improves circulation.

On damp skin using a gentle (GENTLE) circular motion, an amount the size of a dime in the palm of your hand is more than enough to address the entire face. The reason I stress the word "gentle" (GENTLE!) is to basically counter the term "scrub". Though it's probably pretty unneccessary since you can't really over-use this product. The emollient factor is pretty dense and the feel is similar to an extra thick lotion that doesn't absorb. After a few moments of use, you might notice tiny flecks that begin to raise off rough spots. Those are excessive dead skin cells being released revealing newer, more hydrated skin underneath.

And you didn't even have to "scrub".

Aveeno Daily Detoxifying Scrub; $6.99

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