Archive for the 'practical beauty' Category

Best of 2012: Hair

It’s been an exciting 12 months in Beautopia. There were countless product launches, and not a few over-the-top trends. Some of the launches, however, gave us products that are suitable for all seasons, times, and occasions. Herein, my nominations for 2012′s best new products (hair division): Widgets

Best Prestige Makeup Launches of 2012

It’s been an exciting 12 months in Beautopia. There were countless product launches, and not a few over-the-top trends. Some of the launches, however, gave us products that are suitable for all seasons, times, and occasions. Herein, my nominations for 2012′s best new products (prestige category):

Make Up For Ever Pro Finish Multi-Use Powder Foundation comes in a lovely range of shades, boasts adjustable levels of coverage, is portable as all get out, and disappears into the skin.

Hourglass Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick manages to combine a moisturizing formula with serious long-wear capability. Icon (the red shown above) is routinely sold old at my local Sephora.

Clinique Age Defense BB Cream SPF 30 comes in multiple shades that fit even my vampirically pale skin. The SPF and skincare ingredients leave my face protected and even-toned.

Anastasia Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat allowed me to take my favorite defining mascaras and make them resistant to the heat of a Southern summer. Truly a genius idea.

NARS Nail Polish in Storm Bird is a perfect deep gray. It’s not as harsh as black, it’s appropriate for the office, yet it’s still statement-making. It became my go-to polish all fall.

Snooze Button Beauty: The Messy Updo

I travel 90 minutes (one way) to work, and so waking up late is seriously perilous. If I don’t have time to wrestle my hair into submission, I take 3 minutes (no more) to create a messy updo…and I always get compliments on it. Here’s the super-easy, step-by-step version:

Snag all the needed supplies here. I’ve included both prestige and dupe products to fit all budgets:

Holiday Splurges and Giftable Dupes

Looking for something nice for the beauty junkie in your life? You can wrap up a suitably festive gift regardless of price range. Check out the following guide for can’t-miss gifting:

Winter Hair Styling Help

I have new weapons in my unending quest for frizz-free hair. Check ‘em:

Ted Gibson Hair Sheets are portable frizz fighting powerhouses. Each “hair sheet” comes in its own sealed packet so you can just toss ‘em in your makeup kit or purse. When you need it, take the sheet out of the packet and gently run along your hair:

The serum-infused sheets help you detangle, de-gunk, and de-frizz your hair; they also impart a slight, pleasant fragrance.

Alterna Winter Rx Anti-Static Spray Hair Finisher : I’m not a fan of hairspray, but this stuff is fantastic. It gives light, not-sticky hold and tames errant strands I didn’t catch in the blowout.

Alterna Bamboo Smooth Kendi Oil Dry Oil Mist is my new grail of hair styling. I have really fine hair that can’t take a ton of product and frizzes to boot. This stuff comes to the rescue. No matter how much of this product I spray, my hair never feels weighted down or oily. Instead, this light mist produces smooth strands with killer shine. I use it on damp hair and then on the blow-dried mane for both its defrizzing and shine properties. I can’t rave enough about this stuff.

I admit I was skeptical when I heard claims that Living Proof Prime Style Extendercould extend the life of a blowout by two to three days. My skepticism was unfounded. This cream-gel is basically weightless on strands and works in concert with (not in opposition to) my other styling products. It really does keep my hair from going crazy on day two (and, if I’m hella-late for work, day three.)

Have you tried any of these hair products? If so, how did they work for you? Let me know in the comments section.

Happy Holiday Travels with this Multi-Tasking Wonder

Looking to slim down your makeup bag for holiday travel? Join the club. The problem is that many palettes on the market come with unwearable combinations of shades or aren’t multitaskers. For a cheaper alternative to pricey build-your-own palettes (though Laura Mercier  and Bobbi Brown make great ones), try my newest find: The Clarins Pro Palette Eyebrow Kit. Do not be fooled by the name; this kit is the ultimate multi-tasker and goes way beyond brows. With a little ingenuity, this kit can do a complete makeup look:

The kit contains three powder shades, a pan of wax, a highlighting powder, and three tools. Here’s how I used it:


  1. I ditched the tweezers and replaced them with another spooley (clean mascara wand; I just snipped off the handle with scissors so it would fit into the palette.)
  2. I also added a travel sachet of eyedrops over the powders (the palette still closed).


  1. I took the included applicator and, using the brow brush side, dipped it into the lightest powder.
  2. I then used short strokes, beginning at the middle of the brow and going outward. I finished with the inner part of the brow to get a more natural look.
  3. I took the included spooley and rolled it lightly over the wax. I then passed the spooley over my brows to set them with the wax.


  1. I used my fingers to press the highlighting powder over my eyelid from lashline to browbone, and then on the inner corners of my eyes.
  2. I used the sponge-tip side of the applicator and loaded it up with the middle pan of shadow. I pressed the sponge-tip on my lashline to pack in the powder, then smudged for a softer look.
  3. I saturated the brush side of the applicator with eyedrops until it was wet. I then swirled the damp applicator into the left-hand pan of shadow. I used this wet shadow to line my top waterline.
  4. Once I finished my DIY liner, I moved on to making mascara. I took the extra spooley I included in place of the tweezers and rolled it in the wax. I then combed the wax onto my lashes.
  5. Next, I added a few eyedrops to the the left-hand pan  of shadow (the darkest shade). I rolled the spooley into the damp shadow and combed it through my lashes. The wax on my lashes grabbed the pigment, and voilà! Instant mascara substitute. (If you want more volume, simply repeat the process, alternating wax and shadow pigment.)


  1. I ran my finger over the wax and patted it onto my lips. I then took another clean finger and pressed it into the highlighting powder. I then pressed my finger over my lips so the powder adhered to the wax.


  1. I used my fingers to lightly apply highlighting powder to my cheekbones and the center of my forehead.

I went through the process of making liner, mascara, lipstick, and blush because I wanted the challenge of creating a full face look with one palette. On a more regular basis, I intend to add a travel-sized mascara, a pack of blotting papers, a sample tube of BB cream, and a combination lip/cheek tint to  this palette and have a complete work makeup bag. Even without the added extras, this palette still allows you to create several different eye looks (smokey, work-appropriate, cat-eye) and groom brows. This is the first non-custom palette I’ve ever seen that does exactly what I want it to do, in a tiny package (slightly bigger than a credit card and quite thin), and at a reasonable price ($35.) All in all, I’m sold.

Celebrate International Buy-Nothing Day

Tomorrow, while millions of people are standing in the freezing cold ready to risk aggravated assault to snag cheap gifts, I’ll be sleeping in, enjoying a cup of tea, and reading a library book. If you’re looking for some beauty-related BND activities, check out the links below. For more info on the philosophy behind Buy Nothing Day, check out the Wikipedia entry. Whether you agree with the politics or just want to spend time with your family, not the mall, BND is a great respite for the body and soul.

 Buy-Nothing Day/ DIY Beauty Posts

  1.  DIY Beauty for Buy Nothing Day
  2. DIY Beauty: The seven-minute manicure
  3. DIY mascaras
  4. Makeup Makeover (Organizing strategies)
  5. DIY Skincare
  6. DIY Haircare

Wearable, Office-Appropriate Black Lipgloss (no, really) (How to Wear…series)

Most of you are thinking one of two things after reading the title:

1. I already use black lipstick–why do I need a gloss?


2. I would never in a trillion years try black lipgloss.


I encourage both camps to really take a second look at this product. Black gloss can be a surprisingly versatile makeup bag staple. The key is in the formulation. You want to look for a gloss that has a violet or red undertone, that starts out translucent, but can be built up in opacity. My current favorite is Urban Decay Lip Junkie Lipgloss in Perversion. It meets all these criteria, and is the gloss I’m using in all the photos for this post. If you’re looking for something less glittery, try Make Up For Ever Lab Shine Lip Gloss Metal Collection in M0, a shiny onyx. If you want a more opaque gloss, you should check out Illamasqua Intense Lipgloss in Repulse. (And, finally, if you’re an old-school goth and want completely opaque black lips, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar in Tarred is for you. Trust me on this one.)

Once you’ve snagged a tube, what do you do with it? Several things, actually.  For the office, slick on one coat and blot lightly with a tissue. You’ll be left with tinted lips that still look natural. You’ll look polished but not obviously made-up. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof:

See? Less Marilyn Manson (<3) and more office-appropriate (though I would kind of love it if Marilyn Manson showed up at my workplace. However, I digress.)

You can also use this gloss to create this season’s au courant oxblood lip. Rather than buy a new tube of oxblood lipstick, you can experiment with the look by topping a true Hollywood red with the black gloss. In the picture below, I’ve used Lancome Rouge In Love Lipcolor in 181 Rue Saint Honore as a base and topped with the Urban Decay gloss:

(L: the original color; R: topped with Urban Decay Lip Junkie in Perversion)

This gloss is also a great tool for color-correcting too-pale lipsticks. If you have a lipstick or gloss that’s less blush and more Barbie, mixing in a tiny bit of the black gloss can deepen the color and keep you from tossing the pink tube.

If you want an instant glam uptick, concentrate the gloss on the center of the bottom lip; you’ll get depth and shine that will make people marvel at the ombre effect.

If you want a truly statement-making look, pile on several coats of the gloss. If you’re going this route, remember two things: (1) a lip brush and cotton swabs are essential application tools, and (2) don’t eat or drink–it’s a gloss, and it will slide around on you:

See? I told you it’s surprisingly versatile.

On another note: I’m starting a new series where I show you how to take various products that look scary or complicated and showing you how to use it at work, out at night, and on the weekends. If you have any suggestions, or just want to know how you could modify a look from the runway, add a comment to this post…you might see your question answered soon!

Rerun: Covering Tattoos for Family Get-Togethers

In case you need to cover tattoos, hickeys, or other non-parentally-approved body markings, check out my tutorial:

Family Feud Forbearance: Covering Tattoos