July 27, 2014

SPF Makeup That Actually Does Something

The sad truth is that you can't rely on SPF makeup as your only sunscreen because you'd have to wear an unrealistically thick layer of any given product to get the full protection. But that's not to say it doesn't have some benefits.

After you put on your daily sunscreen, I like makeup that contains zinc oxide, or a mixture of zinc and titanium oxide, as an added extra bonus of sun protection. Every little bit helps. These ingredients lie on top of the skin and reflect UV rays away, and they don't break down in the sun, thus making them superior to chemical sunscreen ingredients such as avobenzone, oxybenzone, and the like. Flip your products around and check the active ingredient section of the label to see which ones your products have.

A few products I like that have mineral-based sunscreen in them are...

Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation, $55: Use this to even out discolorations. The finish is incredibly dewy and moisturizing, but so much so that if you get shiny you might need to blot or top with translucent powder.

Perricone MD No Blush Blush, $35: Smile, put three small dots on the fat part of your cheek, tap-blend in a circle, and you'll have an unbelievably natural-looking flush.

Physician's Formula Mineral Wear Talc-Free Mineral Airbrushing Pressed Powder SPF 30, $14: Oh my god that product name is 12 words long. But I won't hold that against it, because it's great.

Peter Thomas Roth CC Eye Correcting Concealer, $42: Super concentrated, so a little goes a long, long way with this dark-circle coverup.

March 23, 2014

Tea Bags for Puffy Eyes

Next time you make tea, wring out the tea bags and chill them in the refrigerator. Place a bag on each eye for a few minutes when you're looking and feeling puffy. The combination of the cold temperature, the slight compression, and the tannins from the tea constricts blood vessels and moves fluid out.

March 17, 2014

Lily Ashwell Spring 2014 Collection + Kirsty Hume (!!)

I'm already in love with the dreamy clothes from Lily Ashwell, but be still my heart! Her spring lookbook features none other than Kirsty Hume, who clearly looks more magnificent with every passing year. (That hair!)

I could go one, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I definitely have my eye on a few things.

The dreaminess continues.

March 4, 2014

Why I Will Never Do Another Push Up

I am recovering from shoulder surgery, and it sucks. Take care of your shoulders, people! Without getting too into the gross details, my biceps tendon, which connects in the shoulder joint, was stretched out and snagging and had to be fixed.

I know not what caused this. There was no fall or accident. But I do know one thing—I will never do another push up for as long as I live.

No, I can't absolutely attribute my injury to push ups. It may be totally unrelated. But when I think back to all the exercise classes I took over the years that demanded an ungodly amount of push ups, I cringe. I have basically no natural upper body strength, which is common for a woman. When you have to struggle and heave your way through an impossible move, your form slips. Your neck tenses and your shoulders hunch up, no matter how hard you are trying to keep proper form. I've seen it again and again in barre and circuit-training classes.

If you have naturally strong arms and can handle push ups, great. But I think most women are like me and find them pretty grueling, and not in a good way. Let me be a cautionary tale—it's just not worth it. There are plenty of other ways to strengthen your arms and back.

When I can finally exercise again I will go back to classes, but if a push up comes my way, I'll be the one holding plank in perfect form, thank you very much.

February 23, 2014

Prescriptives Custom Foundation is Alive and Well

My custom foundation formula, and a red lipstick just because it's pretty.
When I was a beauty-obsessed teenager (long before I knew being a beauty editor was even a thing), my favorite department store beauty counter to loiter at was Prescriptives. It seemed so magical, with their color-matching services and illuminating powder called, fittingly, Magic. It was when Virtual Skin foundation first launched, too, which was a really big deal at the time. I didn't realize it then, but Px was a huge innovator in complexion makeup and the first company to realize that women wanted their skin to look glowing and real, not covered up with a cakey mask.

Their skincare was nothing to sneeze at, either. I used Super Line Preventor throughout most of my twenties and I'd say it delivered on its promises since I don't have any lines (yet).

But then Prescriptives went away! Or at least their counters did, but you may not know that Px is alive and well online. You can even do custom foundation online—what a world we live in.

I uploaded a picture and through a video chat a beauty adviser asked me some questions about what texture and add-ons I like, scrutinized my photo, and whipped up a custom formula for me. I was skeptical, to say the least.

But shortly after my session I received my foundation (full size and a convenient travel size) in the mail and it's actually perfect for me. I asked for sheer, illuminating coverage, which I got, but more importantly, the color is just right. I am very hard to match—most foundations are too yellow for me. But if the formula isn't right, they take it back and work on it for you until it's perfect.

Cool, right? Try it here.

Side note: Another Px staple was recently revived. Calyx is now sold by Clinique!

February 20, 2014

My Spring Wish List

I'm done with this horrible winter, so I've taken to fantasizing about frothy clothes and dreamy, muted colors. Here are some of my current favorites.

Scarf: Inks Thread (That's not me in the picture. It's the designer, and this picture is from her lovely blog.)

Shirt: Hackwith Design House; Slippers: Ballet Beautiful

Shoes: No. 6; Shirt: Everlane

Dress: Love Shack Fancy; Earrings: Cat Bird

February 18, 2014

I Don't Like Cleansing Conditioners

Many years ago, I, too, was seduced by the infomercial and all of the shiny, frizz-free glory. I excitedly scurried home with my bottle of cleansing conditioner, dreaming of perfect hair. I followed the instructions to the letter. Afterward, my hair looked ok, but nothing to write home about.

But by the second wash, my hair was hanging in greasy chunks and there was a noticeable film. I get a lot of questions about cleansing conditioner, but let that story be a cautionary tale.

I understand the allure of not using detergents to preserve the health of your hair, but the thing is, you need some sort of surfactant or else your hair won't get clean. You have to break the surface tension and dissolve oil, or else it's not going anywhere.

Shampoo has come a long way. You can absolutely find shampoo that cleans without stripping your hair. My favorites are Pureology, Biolage, and Aveda.

If you have thick, coarse, very dry hair, I get why you might prefer cleansing conditioner, but consider this: You can use any conditioner. "Cleansing" conditioner is no different than a regular conditioner, unless it states on the bottle that it has a low level of surfactants. But then it's really a shampoo, ya know?

February 17, 2014

Cleansing Balm is the New Cold Cream

I am currently recovering from shoulder surgery, which means I can only use one arm. That's bad news for most of my regular beauty routine (seriously, you should see my ratty hair right now), except now that I've discovered cleansing balm at least my skin won't suffer.

Remember yucky cold cream that our grandmothers used? A pot of greasy goo they would use to take off their makeup. Seems so intriguingly old-fashioned, and most grandmothers have/had great skin, possibly because they weren't stripping the life out of their complexions with foamy washes, so maybe they were onto something.

Cleansing balms are like modern cold creams, and, I'm learning, a skincare staple in the U.K., where they basically take the opposite approach to their skin as we aggressive treatment-loving Americans do. The cleansing balms I've seen are made from natural oils, making them way better for your skin than traditional cold cream, which is made with gross mineral oil. You massage cleansing balm on dry skin, and then use a soft cloth (usually comes with the balm) soaked in warm water to wipe it all away, taking dirt, stubborn sunscreen, and makeup with it. It all comes off and your skin feels soft and plump afterward. And it can all be done one-handed!

I've been using Aurelia Probiotic Skincare Miracle Cleanser and I really like it. The eucalyptus and rosemary smell very spa-like, and I must admit that I feel very fancy when I use it. Even when I'm two-handed again, I'll likely keep cleansing balm in my regular rotation.

Cleansing balm is excellent for dry skin, but even oily types can benefit since stripping oily skin just makes it worse in the long run. Cleansing balm for everyone!

December 27, 2013

Drinking Water Doesn't Hydrate Your Skin

This is one of those skincare myths that just won't die because it seems so intuitive: Drink water and your skin (your body's largest organ) will be more hydrated. And every supermodel under the sun claims that drinking tons of water is her skincare *secret* which A) isn't a secret since everyone in the world says the same thing and B) is a total lie since supermodels have access to the best skincare treatments and professionals in the world. But they perpetuate the myth that way.

Dr. Oz even did a demonstration on his show a few years ago where he tested the hydration levels in the skin of a set of twins. One twin barely drank any water throughout a full week and the other guzzled like mad. At the end of the week they both had the exact same water content in their skin.

So why is this? When you drink water your skin is the last to benefit. It has to travel all around inside of you and help out all sorts of other bodily functions before reaching your skin. Does that mean you shouldn't drink water? Absolutely not—if you are thirsty, by all means drink water. You just don't have to force yourself to drink it when you don't want to—then you'll just end up going the bathroom a million times a day for no reason, which is annoying.

That's not to say internal hydration isn't important for great skin. It's actually very important. But the best way to get plump, dewy, hydrated skin is to eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content. Tons of them—as much as you can gobble down every day of your life. Tomatoes, watermelon, cucumbers, oranges, grapefruit, etc. Even celery, which gets bashed as a no-nutrient, pointless food can help out here. The complex molecular structure within these beauty foods allows your body to hold on to the hydration better than it can with plain water.

In conclusion: Only drink water when you want to and eat tons of fruit and vegetables.

December 6, 2013

Latisse Works Y'all

I was recently given three rounds of Latisse to try out. Here's what happened.

First of all, you should know that I have a terrible noncompliance issue. I can't be trusted to take any pill or do anything consistently every single day. (Exceptions: daily sunscreen and showering/washing my face at night.) I did not apply Latisse every night like they tell you to. At best I did every other night, and sometimes it was every two nights.

But it worked anyway! After a few weeks I absolutely had longer, thicker eyelashes. For realz.

So, it works, but people worry about side effects. I got a reddish-brownish stripe on my upper eyelid where I had been applying the liquid. It wasn't super noticeable and if I wore eye makeup every day it would absolutely cover it up.

The other thing about Latisse is that it is a lifetime commitment. It only works as long as you use it. I for one don't see myself being committed to applying it for the rest of my life, but I'm not personally obsessed with eyelashes. I have a friend who told me once that she would give up food before Latisse, so there you go. Everyone has different beauty priorities.

Anyhoo, it's up to you to decide if Latisse is right for you, but I can say that it does in fact deliver long, beautiful lashes.

November 2, 2013

In Praise of Millennials

The only thing anyone ever talks about is millennials. Magazines, websites, TED talks—it's everyone's favorite topic to analyze and, well, complain about.

Because millennials are the worst! Didn't you know? They are lazy and entitled and all they want to do is buy shit but not work for it! And I suppose that is true... sort of.

You see, by some accounts, I am a millennial because I was born in 1980. (My husband, born on New Year's Eve 1979 missed it by a day, the lucky son of a gun.) And as the wise, experienced sage millennial, I feel protective over these young whippersnappers and want to stick up for them, while at the same time I want to shake them really hard while screaming IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU WHY DON'T YOU SHUT UP AND STOP COMPLAINING THAT YOUR LIFE IS SO HARD!

Obviously, I have a love/hate relationship with them. I first heard the word "millennial" in 2007 when I was working at Jane magazine. I was 27 and had to sit through a Conde Nast presentation all about how the generation coming into the workforce was part of the "self esteem movement" and how they would have to be treated with kid gloves because they've been told all their lives how special they are. Although it was the first time I heard the term millennial, I knew exactly what they were talking about. Because I had lived it.

When I was seven or eight, I was heavy into gymnastics. At a competition where I got third place, I was bummed because I thought I should have gotten second or even first. I remember my mom saying in a matter-of-fact way that the other girls did better routines than me and that's why they placed higher. In my head I was like, "Oh. Ok. That makes sense. If I want to get first place I need to work harder and get better." And that was that. No crying, no complaining to the judges that it was unfair. Self esteem still in tact, and on with my life.

But change was afoot all around me. When I was in 6th grade, all of a sudden the 4th graders showed up at school wearing t-shirts that said "Class of 2000" because some *clever* person had figured out their graduation year. People thought it was a big deal—big enough to single them out with special t-shirts that they earned by doing nothing at all. I hated those shirts and I hated the kids who wore them proudly like a badge of honor. At the ripe old age of 12, I was encountering millennials. And they were horrible. (By the by, I think this is the accurate calculation of millennials—kids who graduated high school in the year 2000, aka the millennium.)

When I was in 8th grade, my school did away with tryouts because parents were complaining when their kids didn't make it. I think this is a huge turning point in the evolution of millennials. Instead of learning that if you don't make a team you either a) work really hard to try again next year, or b) find something else better suited for your skills and talents, it was a complete free for all. Anyone can be anything!

Since then I have seen the ugly side of this entitled upbringing more and more, and maybe this is where me straddling the bridge between two generations comes into play. Because I really don't give a shit what you do with your life, or if you're a selfish brat, as long as it doesn't affect me (Gen X detachment). But now that I've been in the career world for about 10 years, it does affect me. I've witnessed and heard horror stories of interns (interns!) and assistants who thought they were too good to do so-called menial work and thought they deserved promotions and raises simply based on showing up to work. (Everyone gets a medal!) And, at a senior level, I've had to pick up the slack when they didn't do the tasks they thought were below them.

But for all of their downfalls, this post is called "In Praise of Millennials." Because I think everyone is secretly in awe of them, and a tiny bit jealous. I think about when I was first starting out in my career and all the times I went along with the demands that were being placed on me without sticking up for myself or keeping my own needs in mind before my job. How I kept my head down and did what was asked of me without question, while at times feeling completely taken advantage of. When I thought working hard was all you had to do and everything would be fine, without understanding that you also have to look out for number one: yourself.

And for all of the lazy brats out there, there are some really driven, hard-working millennials. When you get to witness that brazen entitlement paired with a strong work ethic, it is a sight to behold. It's fascinating, and inspiring, and gives me hope for the future. Because if these crazy kids can handle a full work load while not losing sight of themselves, their health, their dreams and their goals, if even just a handful of them live up to their own wild ambitions, we're all going to be just fine.

October 27, 2013

Save the Earth By Switching to Bar Soap

Ok, that title is a bit of an exaggeration, but it's true that using bar soap is way, way, way more earth-friendly than shower gel. Let me count the ways.
  1. Bar soap doesn't include water in the formula. That's major. Think about all the water wasted to go into shower gel. That's water that has to be processed (which requires loads of energy to do) all to go into a bottle of shower gel.
  2. Bar soaps require less packaging because they're smaller. And if they come in a cardboard box, you can recycle that. Guess what you can't recycle? The caps to shower gels.
  3. You don't need to use one of those awful plastic poufs. In my head the great Pacific garbage patch is all poufs.
But you can't just get any soap. To be truly earth friendly, you need to be aware of palm oil, and the destruction of forests and the extinction of orangutangs. I've written about this before here. Soaps with sustainable palm oil or other non-earth-killing ingredients are the way to go. You can shop for soap with a clear conscience at The Body Shop, and I also like Hand in Hand. There are tons of good soaps out there. I'm sure you'll easily find some.

October 13, 2013

This Weekend's Beauty Advice

I got a flurry of text messages from friends seeking beauty advice this weekend so I thought I'd share the results, in case you have similar issues.

Question 1: What hydrating eye cream should I use?
My answer: Instead of eye cream I pat a little bit of my hydrating face cream around my eyes after I've put it on my face. I'm currently using Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream. Don't do this if your face cream has acids or retinol in it. Or use Clinique All About Eyes Rich eye cream.

Question 2: Do I need a primer and a BB cream?
My answer: I think not. BB cream is basically tinted primer, so just go with that.

Question 3: Do I need a foundation brush for BB?
My answer: I use my fingers for everything except blush and mineral foundation. For mineral foundation I use a small brush, like this one, and press the powder into my skin just where I need it.

Question 4: My skin is dry but I don't want to drastically change my skincare routine. Help.
My answer: Swap out your regular cleanser for cleansing oil.

Question 4a: But I have acne!
My answer: Cleansing oil is awesome for acne because it gets rid of makeup and sunscreen better than any regular cleanser.

October 12, 2013

How to Get a Job in the Beauty Industry (I Wrote a Book!)

It's been a long time coming, but I'm finally thrilled to announce that my book is out now and available on iTunes!

Together with my sister, we penned the first-of-its-kind book for finding a job in the beauty industry. There's a ton out there for launching a fashion career, but what about beauty? Nada. And we're not talking about becoming a hair stylist or makeup artist. Those are great careers, but again, plenty of guidance out there for that.

This is for people who want to get into PR, advertising, copywriting, marketing, design, buying, sales, or writing. There is a big, beautiful world out there with tons of career opportunities, and this book is our way of helping you find them.

You can find Break Into Beauty here. Welcome to the beauty industry!

September 15, 2013

The Spoons That Made Me Cry

During the Great Depression, when people couldn't afford to eat, much less spend asinine amounts of money on wedding gifts, there was a touching tradition involving silverware. Someone would buy just one piece, and promise to buy one new piece per year for the bride until the set was complete.

These spoons, which are silver plate, not solid silver, span from 1930-1940. The fronts of the handles are engraved—the first spoon with her initial J, and the rest with her name, Jeanne (which, curiously, is spelled Jean on the 1931-1933 spoons). The backs are engraved with the years in which each one was bought.

My mom bought these for me at a flea market, and when she told me the history behind them, I must admit that my eyes welled up. I pictured Jeanne as a new bride, full of hope for the future even though she was smack at the beginning of a terrible time in our country, holding her one spoon. I thought about how she probably cherished her spoons and took great pride in setting them out when guests came over, and how happy she must have been when she completed the set 10 years later.

And Jeanne's beloved spoons ended up in a flea market. Somewhere along the way, someone didn't think her spoons mattered anymore and sold them, presumably when Jeanne died. But now I have them, and I can remember Jeanne and cherish her spoons for her, and hope she knows somehow and is happy.