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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Beauty Council: Beauty Products I am Thankful For

Thanksgiving is upon us, here in the U.S. and The Beauty Council bloggers are presenting our lists of the beauty bounty for which we are thankful. What products made my list? Please read on:

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First on my list is my new foundation love, IT Cosmetics CC+ Veil Beauty Fluid Foundation SPF 50. I was extremely skeptical when I bought this foundation of it working for me but I decided to take a chance and this foundation has become my new even out my skin tone love. Bonus, chemical free SPF 50. 

IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Anti-Aging Concealer. I have this in two shades. It isn't perfect but it's a heck of a lot better than anything else I've tried. I get enough correction and concealment of my insane dark circles that I feel okay stepping out the door. 

The Beauty Blender. The best makeup application sponge. I have tried others, they are okay but in my opinion, the Beauty Blender is the best. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Taupe. This pencil is my holy grail create my brows item. I lost an eyebrow in an accident when I was a child and there was some question as to whether or not it would grow back. It did. All kinds of wrong! Over the years I have tried many ways to get two brows that look as if they belong on the same face. The only thing that works is to pluck both down to nearly nothing then recreate them from the ground up. It is a royal pain in my ass and yes, I live with obviously drawn on brows but the alternatives left me really looking like a freak. 

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light. Hello transformation in a compact! This powder is light as air, soft as an angel's kiss and when applied with a big, soft brush smooths, softens, diffuses and gently brightens all in one sweep. It is not drying, it doesn't settle into my pores or fine lines and wrinkles, it sets my foundation and makes my skin look better. It's spendy but I feel that it is worth every penny. 

Alterna Repair Rx Re-Texturizing Protein Cream. When I want to smooth frizz, amp up shine, fake a flat iron job after blowing my hair dry, I reach for this product. It also makes for glossy, smooth curls and helps with heat styling. It's expensive but a little goes a long way. I'm still using the same tube I bought over a year ago and have a lot left. 

Alterna Bamboo Beach Summer Ocean Waves Tousled Texture Spray. This little bottle of delicious, Summer candy scented magic is the only product I have ever used that can tame my crazy hair and let  me wear my natural wurls. If Alterna ever discontinues this, I will cry into my pillow, every night. 

Lancome Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover. Why? Why did I ever use my little sample of this product? It. Is. So. Splendid. Removes even the heaviest eye makeup, liner and mascara easily, doesn't sting or irritate my very sensitive eyes, doesn't leave an oily residue on my eyeballs or skin and it smells like roses. 

Philosophy Purity Made Simple . My holy grail facial cleanser. I run out of this, try others, am happy enough, for a while then go running back to Purity. Every time. This cleanser just meshes with my skin. It cleanses beautifully, doesn't sting my eyes and it doesn't strip my dry skin. I just love this stuff. 

Neutrogena Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. This is another product that pulls me back if I stray away to try something else. I usually just get the original, in the blue pack. I enjoy the Night Calming and the Hydrating just fine but the good old Original is my bestie. I don't use these to remove eye makeup. I have yet to meet a makeup wipe that can remove eye makeup to my satisfaction. But these are tops for the rest of my face. Confession: I will sometimes remove my eye makeup, grab a couple of wipes, cleanse with the wipes, slap on my serum and moisturizers and call it good. #lazyoldslag I can get away with this as these wipes cleanse so well and I am not breakout prone. 

Those are the ten beauty products for which I am most thankful, at this time. I say at this time because as any beauty lover knows all too well, things can change, often just by trying something new. 

You know what, I did forget one very important product! If you read here with any regularity, you know what it is. Good old Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat. The best. The top coat of top coats. 

So... Eleven! Eleven fantastic products that work so well, make me happy and feel good when I look in the mirror. 

Do you have holy grail getting gorgeous products for which you are thankful? Please do tell. And don't forget to visit my fellow Counselors! Their links are below. 

Thank you for reading and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving, if you are celebrating. If not, have a beautiful day! 
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For Soft, Touchable Tresses...

If there is one thing I have learned from being a blonde by choice for so many years is that caring for my tresses is crucial. Depending on how you take care if it, chemical blonde hair can either look great or trashed and it is a very fine line between the two. 

Lightening hair from dark to pale is a perilous, damaging process. I don't care what products you use, whether you do it at home or have it done in a salon, the procedure is the same: The natural pigment must be stripped from the hair with bleach and peroxide then a new tone deposited onto the hair. This is a harsh and hostile thing to do to your hair, making it prone to stretching, split ends and breakage. It also dulls the shine and can make it feel rough to the touch. 

As a chemical blonde, I struggle with the side effects of the things I have to do to my hair to have my chosen colour. What do I do to keep my blonde hair healthier looking, shinier and touchably soft? I have an arsenal of hair care products at my fingertips but one of the most effective techniques I practice is the simplest. I oil it!

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I like to oil my hair both before and after I wash it. My pre wash oil treatment is always an overnight process. One oil I love to use is Derm Organic Pure Argan Oil. I also enjoy coconut oil; my personal favorite is Spectrum Organic Unrefined Coconut Oil. I also really dig Jojoba Oil. Which is not really an oil but is a natural plant wax. Not only is jojoba great for your hair, it is fantastic for skin and cuticles, as well. 

To deep oil my hair, I brush it smooth then put a small pool of oil in the palm of my hand (if I am using coconut oil, I melt a marble sized ball between my palms), rub my hands gently together then work the oil through my hair, concentrating on my length and ends but not neglecting my crown, roots and scalp. If I need a little more oil, I get more, work it in until my hair is evenly coated but not saturated or dripping. Then I brush or comb my hair, gather it on top of my head in a coiled bun anchored with a couple of little jaw claws. (When my hair is longer, I braid it.) I lay a soft cloth over my pillowcase to keep it clean, then I sleep with the oil in my hair. 

In the morning, I wash, doing one good shampoo. As long as I didn't over oil, one shampooing is all that is necessary and doesn't strip my hair, negating the benefits of the oil treatment. I then condition as normal, add a little leave in, blot my hair and...

Oil it, again! 

For my post wash oiling I use either my usual natural oil or I'll grab an oil/silicone mix hair treatment like One 'N Only Argan Oil Treatment or Moroccan Oil  (the two are basically the same thing) or something similar and put a small amount in the palm of my hand, rub my hands together and work it through my damp length and ends. If I have any left on my hands, I'll smooth it over my crown and roots. If you have oily hair, you can skip that last part. Comb, dry and style. Or wet bun it and let the oil and moisture deeply infuse my strands. As long as I don't overdo it, my hair never looks or feels "greasy" but it feels soft and shinier and better conditioned when I use oils consistently. 

If you haven't tried oiling your hair, I encourage you to give it a go. You don't have to go out and buy a bunch of spendy, specialty oils to start.  Just look in your kitchen cabinet! Do you have a bottle of olive oil? Some walnut or other light nut oil? A jar of coconut oil? Even a good, light weight vegetable oil will work. Grab that bad boy, pour a little out into a non breakable container with a tight fitting lid and take it into the bathroom and experiment. Even if you overdo it or it turns out that you don't like oiling your hair, no harm. All you have to do it wash it! And, you never know... You may really love it. And then go buy a bunch of oils just for your hair. 

Do you oil your hair? Do you have any favorite oils that you like to use on a regular basis? If you haven't oiled your hair, before do you think that you'd like to try it? Please share. And if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask, I'll help if I can. 
::press sample:: :affiliate links::

Monday, November 24, 2014

Orly Mirrorball

Hello gentle reader.

The Orly Sparkle Collection for Holiday, 2014 is quite a stunner. So much so that I bought all six. Today, I am sharing one with you.

Orly Mirrorball is an incredibly beautiful slightly blue tinted silver linear holographic with tiny holographic glitter pieces mixed in. The sparkle and rainbow effect from that combination is simply magical. This polish shines, dances, sparkles and glows, all at once. It is amazing.

This manicure is two coats of Orly Mirrorball over base coat and Barielle ridge filler topped with Seche Vite. My photographs don't do this polish justice, but I tried.

Indoors, under my lights.

Outdoors in the sun.

And one more in the sun.

You really need to put this on your nails and let it enchant you in person to get the full effect. Trust me, that is a feat of which it is fully capable.

The formula on Orly Mirrorball is just as fabulous as the polish is gorgeous. Smooth, jelly, easy to apply, it sits down where it is placed, slinks up the nail and self levels like a dream. I didn't experience any difficulty with running, pooling, bubbling or dragging. I only had to do fussbudget refining cleanup. Top coat (I use Seche Vite) doesn't dull the holo. Don't hesitate to apply it for maximum sparkle and shine.

Dry time isn't super fast, even with Seche Vite, I needed to be a little patient with this baby but it was worth the extra dry time. Wear time is pretty good. I smashed my left middle nail into my chair arm and chipped my polish (I smacked the nail so hard, I'm lucky I didn't break it!) but the rest of my nails, on day three of this manicure are looking fine.

What do you think of Orly Mirrorball? Isn't it gorge? Did you get it, yet? Plan to? Please do tell.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette for Holiday, 2014

Hello gentle reader.

Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette. Hello gorgeous! You know how sometimes you see something that you don't need but you need? That is what happened when I was drifting around on the Sephora website, one day and I saw this cheek palette. It was a "Come to Mama" moment. And I didn't hesitate.

I have to admit, one of the first things to attract me was the packaging. Look at it. Look at it! The sleek, clean, sharp palette embellished with the frosted illusion Laced with Edge special edition design. As pretty as it is in photographs, it is even prettier in person. The palette feels cool, smooth as glass and weighty in the hand, almost as if it is made of ice. Lovely.

Pop open the top of the Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette and inside the lid is a full sized mirror for your primping pleasure. In the body of the palette, laid out almost Mondrian style are three blush shades, a highlight and a bronzer. There is Lady Liberty, a sheer, golden champagne highlight. I think that technically it is a blush but... It's a highlight! Below that is Sex Fantasy. Beside that is Final Cut and above that is Deep Throat. To the side is Laguna bronzer.

Laguna bronzer is 0.35 oz. A full size Laguna, sold separately is 0.28 oz. so, the bronzer in this palette is a little larger. Right? (It hurts to be this brilliant, let me tell ya.)
The blushes and highlight are 0.15 oz each. Just the tiniest bit smaller than the full size individual blushes that weigh in at 0.16 oz each.

The Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette sells for $65.00. Not cheap but, when you consider how much beautiful product you get, its a bargain! Think about it... I was going to buy the three blush colours in this palette, separately and I was seriously considering the Laguna bronzer, as well. That purchase would have cost me $128.00. If I had skipped the bronzer, I'd still be out $90. for the three blushes and I wouldn't have the bronzer or the highlighter.

More Beauty Blogger Math. Because sometimes we just need a little enabling.

A little swatch action. Miss Liberty is a barely visible, golden champagne shimmer. So beautiful as a highlight. Sex Fantasy is a cool, lilac/pink matte. Deep Throat is a beautiful coral with a gold shimmer. Final Cut is a juicy, warm matte orange. Laguna Bronzer is a very shimmery light golden tan brown.

In case you were wondering, Deep Throat and Orgasm (one of my all time favorite blushes) are not dupes. Deep Throat is coral and gold shimmer, Orgasm is more a pink leaning peach with a stronger gold presence, especially in the sun. Both gorgeous! Not dupes.

In this photograph, I am wearing Nars Final Cut blush and Miss Liberty highlight. I love how that very orange in the pan blush buffed down to a very flattering, natural looking flush on my fair skin. Miss Liberty adds light and emphasizes the high points of my face but doesn't make me overly shiny or sparkly. Mmm! I just love it. 

The quality of Nars blushes is first rate. They are pigmented, smooth and easy to work with. A small amount is needed to add a beautiful flush to the cheeks. There is a little bit of dust kicked up when the brush hits the powder cake but it isn't a huge amount and quite frankly, the blush performs so beautifully, I don't care. A quick blow and the dust is gone. No biggie. 

The Laguna bronzer is a bit gorgeously ridiculous. Smooth, creamy and pigmented, it is a beautiful, warm tan brown with a lot of gold shimmer. This bronzer is not appropriate for my colouring, this time of year as I am pretty pale but I think, come Summer, when I get a little natural colour and I use a little sunless tanner, it will be a lovely addition to my routine. I can see it on my eyes, as a highlight, on my chest, collarbones and so on. 

I love my Nars Virtual Domination Cheek Palette. It is packed with gorgeous cheek colours, is a terrific value and it is a makeup item I reach for frequently and really enjoy using. If you are a Nars collector or if you don't have many Nars cheek colours and would like to try more and don't want to break the bank, you could do a lot worse than this beautiful and highly functional palette. If you do want it, get it, while you can. This is a Limited Edition and once it's gone, it's gone. 

Do you own this cheek palette? What do you think of it? Do you like it as much as I do? Do you own these colours individually and wear and love them? Please do tell. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Hourglass Indestructible Matte Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick

Hello gentle reader.

This is more of a first impression type of thing than a full on review.

Hourglass Indestructible Matte Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick is an Hourglass product I am not so sure about. Do I love it? Do I not? I don't know...

I bought this teeny-tiny luxe looking travel sized tube (I love that even the minis have gorgeous packaging!) of the Hourglass Indestructible Matte Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick when I placed a recent Sephora order. I have read a lot of reviews and I needed to try it so I bought the mini. It was only ten dollars and I could choose between Icon, their signature red and Canvas, a soft, rose beige.

Inside the tube is a velvety, extremely flexible elongated applicator. It can apply a very precise line and also fill in the lips quickly and smoothly. Once I got the feel for it, I really liked it.

A quick swatch of the Hourglass Indestructible Matte Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick. It is a thick, creamy smooth, densely pigmented formula that starts out glossy and dries down matte. While it dries quickly enough that you aren't sitting around all day, waiting for it to set, there is plenty of time to work with it before it does. 

On my lips you can see the colour and finish better than the swatch. I applied this thicker, at first and it was just too heavy and sticky. I didn't like how it looked or felt so I blotted off the excess and used my finger to smooth and even it out and once it set, I liked it much better. 

The finish is matte and velvety soft, like a young rose petal. It remains flexible and fairly comfortable. There is a tiny bit of tack when I press my lips together but it doesn't stick, grab or pull apart. It is definitely different. The texture and wear are something to which I am not at all accustomed but it is certainly not unpleasant. I love that this lipstick, once in place doesn't move. It barely transfers, it doesn't run up into the little lines around my lips, I don't have to worry about it. 

Removal is... A bit of a bear. I used a makeup remover wipe to take off the bulk of the colour then I used some balm and a Q-Tip to finish cleaning off my lips to ready them for another lippie. 

I really like Canvas. I think that it works with my skin tone. The formula is densely pigmented enough to stand up against my naturally red lips, even when applied in a very thin layer. I love that it doesn't move or crawl all over my face. I need to wear it more to determine if I am going to want a full size tube. We'll see. So far, I like but I am happy that I am working with a mini, at this point. I'm still not sure if I want to commit to a full size. 

Have you tried the Hourglass Indestructible Matte Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick? What do you think of it? If you would like to grab one to try, they have a full sized tube available in nine beautiful shades for $28.00 and the mini travel sized tube available in two shades for $10.00. I am seriously tempted to pick up the mini in Icon, next time. That red... It's calling my name. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Bargain Beauty Find! Milani Anti Feathering Lip Liner

Hello gentle reader.

As you probably know, I am fifty. Yep. Fifty.

One lovely thing about getting older is all of the wonderful lines and wrinkles that come with the passage of time. Especially those adorable, tiny vertical lines that radiate out from your lips... Those are simply the best! They sure make wearing lip products, especially gloss and dark lipstick just so super fun. There is nothing like applying your lippie and looking in the mirror an hour or so later to see it climbing off of your lips, into those lines and forming a lippie-coloured halo around your mouth. Sooo attractive! Sooo youthful!

Happily, there is a product that can help. Clear barrier lip liner pencils are a boon to us 40 - 50+ somethings. They help to corral your lip colour and keep it from crawling all over your face. Today, I wish to share my current favorite barrier pencil, the Milani Anti Feathering Lip Liner. This five dollar wonder is available from the Milani website and wherever you buy Milani in your area.

The packaging is bare bones drugstore card and blister pack. The pencil is a basic, wood pencil painted in glossy black and trimmed and printed in gold. My only gripe with this pencil is that it has to be sharpened. I hate having to waste perfectly good product in the process of sharpening a pencil! And as this is a soft pencil, it requires frequent sharpening.

The Milani Anti Feathering Lip Liner is a soft, white, waxy pencil that applies clear, forming a nearly invisible barrier or "dam" around the lip line to help fill in those tiny lines and hold lip colour in place.

This pencil can also be applied all over the lips as a primer to help lip colour last a little longer. I don't use it in this capacity as my lips don't like it. But, they are a picky pain in my ass, so don't listen to them. Try it for yourself.

As you can see in this macro shot, my lips were pretty heavily lined with this pencil and it is barely visible. You can't see it at all at a casual distance. I am wearing an intensely pigmented lip paint in this photograph and it had been on for about an hour or so when I snapped this shot. There is only the teeniest bit of bleed, at my cupid's bow on one side but for the most part, it didn't jump the barrier and slither all over the place.

I have found that I get the best result if I stretch my lips into a wide, horizontal "smile" then draw the liner just outside my vermilion line, pressing a bit to get it into those lovely little lines of mine then gently pat-pat-pat to kind of set it into place. Then I go over it, again. I relax my mouth, apply my lip colour and if it is a very intense shade, like the lip paint above, I'll run over the line one more time, just to be safe. I will often carry this with me when out and about to refresh and keep my lip line clean and crisp. Getting older is a lot of work, gentle reader.

I like the Milani Anti Feathering Lip Liner. I have been through a couple of them and will continue to buy them as long as Milani makes them. They are, at only five dollars a piece, a terrific Bargain Beauty Find.

Have you tried the Milani Anti Feathering Lip Liner? What did you think of it? Do you have a tried and true method to prevent lip colour bleed? Please do tell.