Displaying 1 - 10 of 17 entries.

All About Acne – Part IV: Cosmetics for Acne-prone Skin

  • Posted on July 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Brand CollageAfter my last post I’m sure there was a lot of exasperation, like “what the heck IS safe to use?”  I wanted to give you a list of just some of the foundations I’ve found that do not have the ingredients that may cause irritation and breakouts.  Obviously something may not have any of the Big Nasty ingredients and still irritate your skin, or you might not like the particular formula, but I didn’t want to leave you with only the bad.


High End Foundation


BareMineralsbareMinerals Original Foundation SPF 15

My favorite mineral foundation by far is the Bare Minerals Original Foundation with SPF 15.  This is the foundation that I used through my twenties, and still have in my rotation today.  It has only 5 ingredients.  That’s right – no huge paragraph of hard-to-read chemicals, just 5 simple ingredients – 2 of which are for sunscreen!  The fewer ingredients you have, the less of a chance for irritation.  It also offers 20 shade variations, and those shades are very forgiving.  That means that you don’t have to get a near-exact match in the way you’d expect with a liquid foundation.  They’re very blendable.

Now, I know the price for this foundation can be a deterrent for some.  There may be other mineral foundations out there that are cheaper.  I would caution you to make sure that the brand has no fillers or additional ingredients for shimmer or shine.  Check those ingredients!


Additional Products – I thought it would be helpful to mention that not only does bareMinerals make foundation, they also carry a line of concealers, blushes, bronzers, highlights and basically every type of cosmetic you may want.  Their loose mineral powders have the least amount of ingredients and are the ones that I would recommend.  You can’t go wrong checking out this line.


 Tarte Tinted Moisturizer

Tarte Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer

This is my other go-to face product.  It’s not a true foundation; the coverage is too light for that.  But it doesn’t claim to be.  I use this for light coverage when I just want to even out my skin tone and I want something more moisturizing.  This is definitely not a matte tinted moisturizer.  It does have a more satin finish to it.  Sometimes I will layer this with a dusting of the bareMinerals over top.  It goes on easily, doesn’t slide all over my face in a grease fest 20 minutes after applying it, and is great in the summer when I don’t want to have anything heavy on my skin.


Additional Products – Tarte, like bareMinerals, has a whole line of cosmetics you can check out.  Their blushes are beautiful and really do last all day like their name claims.  They have a silicone-free primer called the Clean Slate Flawless 12-Hour Brightening Primer which is a great alternative for oily skin.  Just stay away from the Aqualillies palette!


Drugstore Foundation

Let me tell you, within the category of drugstore brand cosmetics, the selection of “safe” foundations for acneic skin is very limited.  VERY.  LIMITED.  It was surprising to me how many foundations have names that would suggest that they are perfect for acne-prone skin, only to read the ingredients and see several horribly irritating and breakout-causing heavy hitters listed.  That’s why you have to ignore the names, the claims, and go straight for the ingredients.  If you are shopping online and the ingredients are not listed anywhere – skip it.  Move on.  Even if it’s called “Amazing Acne Clearing Best Thing For You Foundation.”  Resist the urge!


Neutrogena Skin Clearing

Neutrogena SkinClearing Oil Free Makeup

This foundation has salicylic acid in it, which is an ingredient that actually helps treat acne.  A word of caution about this one though – it also has Vitamins A, C, and E, which for some people can be irritating (especially the Vitamin A).  I have not tried this foundation personally, so I can’t talk to the formula or the wearability.  I’m basing this solely on the ingredients.


Neutrogena Healthy Skin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Compact Makeup

Neutrogena gave me two options for the drugstore.  I promise, I looked at other brands and either was not able to get a list of their ingredients or they had some of the Big Nasties in them.  This foundation option has a whopping 55 SPF, which is awesome!  It’s rare that you will see an SPF that high in a foundation.  The down side is that there appear to only be eight color options, catering to the light and medium skin tones.  I haven’t used this foundation to be able to give you an idea of the coverage.  Like the Skin Clearing foundation, I am listing it here based on it’s ingredients.  I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this foundation, or any of the ones I have listed.



Bottom Line

Read the ingredients on any product that is going to be against your skin.  Don’t rely on the name of the product as a guide for what you should be purchasing.  Especially when you are looking at drugstore brands… it is a mine field out there.

It’s important to note that you may have a foundation that you love that might have a questionable ingredient in it.  The best way to test how your skin reacts to a product is to only add one new product at a time into your routine.  Or conversely only take one product away at a time from your existing routine and see if it changes things.  However, if you looked at your skincare and makeup and saw that the majority of the items had Big Nasties in them – STOP USING THEM NOW.  But if you are in love with a particular product, and don’t want to believe it may be hurting your skin, remove it and see if it helps at all.  If you’re following the skincare routine I outlined in my previous post here, your skin should be reacting positively to the changes.  If the foundation was breaking you out, you will see a change.

All About Acne – Part III: Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid

  • Posted on June 26, 2013 at 3:46 am

If you haven’t already, check out the previous two posts I’ve written in my series about acne:  All About Acne – Part I:  What Is It and What Causes It? and All About Acne – Part II:  Treatment and Skincare Routine.

Ingredients Collage

Now let’s talk ingredients.  Most people are more aware of ingredients when it comes to our cooking,  but when we walk through the makeup aisles of our favorite stores we tend to be focused on all of the names and claims and rarely take a moment to look at the actual contents of the products.  Fancy packaging and buzz words can sucker anyone into picking up something that might not be the best thing for their skin.

When you have acne or acne-prone skin, ingredients become even more important.  You have to become a detective of sorts and quickly scan ingredient labels, looking for the Big Nasties as I like to call them – the top pore clogging, acne causing, face irritating ingredients.

Keep in mind that a lot of ingredients have similar names but completely different levels of irritation.  Example:  Octyl Salicylate is like a zero out of five on the comedogenic (meaning clogs pores and causes acne)/irritation scale, whereas Octyl Stearate is a five out of five.  It can be confusing and frustrating, but trust me – if you look for the Big Nasties on your cosmetics labels and make some changes if you find you’ve got some shady products in your cabinets, your skin will love you for it and you will clear up the acne even faster.


The Big Nasties – Top Pore Clogging, Acne Causing Ingredients to Avoid

**Remember:  You are looking for these SPECIFIC ingredients to avoid in a product.  Some ingredients have similar names, or are in the same family of the nasties listed but are safe.


Lanolins  (Ranked 4 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

This is used in many soaps, cosmetics and ointments because it is so easily absorbed by the skin.  What is it?  Wool grease.  Literally the fatty wax secreted by sheep’s skin that coats their wool.  Ewww.  Sounds kind of gross when it’s spelled out like that, right?

Specific Versions to Avoid 

  • Acetylated Lanolin
  • Acetylated Lanolin Alcohol
  • PEG 16 Lanolin


Isopropyl Myristate (Ranked 5 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

This bad boy and it’s evil band of brothers are synthetic oils that are readily absorbed by the skin.  Even though they are oils, they lessen the greasy feel of cosmetics and give them a sheer, slick feel.  Sounds great right?  Except that it is such an aggressive penetrator that it is the main ingredient in most rust removers.  Yes.  Rust removers.  Not so appealing now.

Specific Versions to Avoid

  • Isopropyl Myristate
  • Isostearyl Neopentanoate
  • Isopropyl Isosterate
  • Isopropyl Palmitate
  • Isopropyl Linolate
  • Isostearyl Isostearate
  • Myristyl Lactate
  • Myristic Acid
  • Stearyl Heptanoate


Algae (Ranked 5 out of 5 on Comedogenic Scale)

Now, algae in it’s many forms is not a bad ingredient.  It’s just bad for people who have acne or acne-prone skin.  It helps combat dehydration, is packed with minerals and acts as an antioxidant.  Unfortunately, it can be irritating to the skin, cause blackheads and whiteheads, and aggravate existing acne.

Specific Versions to Avoid

  • Algae Extract
  • Red Algae
  • Blue Algae
  • Kelp
  •  Algin
  • Sodium Alginate
  • Alginic Acid
  • Anything starting in “Laminaria”

Other Heavy Hitters to Avoid (Oils, Alcohols, Pigments)

This is a final quick list of other irritating, potentially acne causing ingredients to look for and avoid.  Unfortunately these are heavily present in a lot of drugstore foundations and moisturizers.

  • Butylene Glycol – This ingredient is on the “watch list.” It’s a common ingredient that has been known to irritate sensitive skin, even though it is a 2/3 on the Comedogenic Scale.
  • Laureth-4
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Potasium Chloride
  • Cetyl Alcohol
  • Isodecyl Oleate
  • Ceteareth 20
  • Isocetyl Alcohol
  • Isocetyl Stearate
  • Hexadecyl Alcohol
  • Octyl Stearate
  • Cocoa Butter
  • Peach Kernel Oil
  • Coconut Butter
  • Linseed Oil
  • D&C Red #30
  • D&C Red #36


LabelsProducts That May Break You Out

I wanted to include here a short list of some popular products on the market that contain one or more of the ingredients I listed above.  If it’s something you use and love, I’m sorry!  It may be working against you.  I’m not saying it is the cause of your acne, but it’s something to check out.  If what you use is not listed here, it doesn’t meant that it doesn’t contain any ingredients above.  One thing that I learned is that there are a LOT of drugstore cosmetics that have multiple Big Nasties in their ingredients.  It would be a huge list.  The best thing you can do is look at what you’re currently using to be sure.


Revlon ColorStay Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol and Sodium Chloride.

L’Oreal True Match Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol, Isostearyl Neopentanoate, and Sodium Chloride.

MAC Studio Fix Fluid – Contains Butylene Glycol and Algae Extract.

MAC Mineralize Satin Finish Foundation – Contains Butylene Glycol and Potassium Chloride.

Neutrogena Visibly Even Foaming Cleanser – Contains Myristic Acid.

Noxema Triple Clean Antibiotic – Contains Myristic Acid.

Clearasil Daily Face Wash – Contains Myristic Acid.

Laura Mercier Secret Concealer – Contains Isopropyl Palmitate.

Smashbox High Definition Liquid Concealer – Contains Butylene Glycol and Sodium Chloride.


Bottom Line

I know that I gave you a lot of ingredients and that it can be a little overwhelming.  Take some time to look at your foundation, concealer, moisturizer – everything you put directly onto your skin – and make sure that something you are using to cover up your acne isn’t actually causing it or making it worse.  The best thing to do is try removing the particular item from your routine and see if your skin responds positively to the change.


Quick Review: Loreal Voluminous Million Lashes – Limited Edition Denim Shade Blue

  • Posted on June 24, 2013 at 2:55 am

“Treat your makeup like jewelry for the face.  Play with color, shapes, structure – it can transform you.”  ~Francois Nars

Million Lashes Collage1


I was walking through the makeup aisles yesterday and saw a display for the limited edition L’Oreal Voluminous Million Lashes Mascara in Denim Shades, which is a blue mascara.  I got excited and had to get it home to try.

The Claims

  • No clumps
  • Blue shade
  • Amplifies each lash to build breathtaking volume

True Beauty Junkie Assessment

When I bought this mascara I was picturing a dark denim wash of blue on voluminous lashes.  I thought that this was going to be amazing, with the blue color making the whites of my eyes look even whiter, while the formula pumped up the volume of my lashes.  What I got was… well, take a look:


Lashes No MascaraThese are my eyes with no mascara on at all.  I have foundation and concealer on, but no eyeliner or anything that would mask the look or performance of the mascara.

Lashes With MascaraThese are my eyes after applying the Voluminous Million Lashes Denim Shade mascara.  What’s that you say?  Where’s the blue?  I have no idea.  Where is the “breathtaking volume?”  MIA.  Where are the million lashes?  Umm… I see twentyish, not a million.  I tried to build this up with multiple coats, I tried to get the blue to pop.  I tried!  It wasn’t happening.  I was so disappointed in this mascara.  Aside from the fact that the blue shade didn’t show up AT ALL,  the formula itself was terrible.  When the product is called “Voluminous Million Lashes,” one would tend to believe that the mascara would give you… well… volume and the appearance of lots of lashes.  This didn’t work on any front.

Maybe if you have really light lashes, and you apply multiple coats, this might show up better for you.  Might.  If you have any sort of color to your lashes this will be a big disappointment.


Bottom Line

Don’t waste $7 on this mascara.  So disappointing.  This has made my top 3 list of the worst performing mascaras that I’ve tried – and I have tried a lot.




All About Acne – Part II: Treatment and Skincare Routine

  • Posted on June 22, 2013 at 2:22 am

Acne Part 2 CollageIn Part I of my series on acne I talked about what it is and what causes it.  Now let’s get into different ways that you can treat it.  Unfortunately there isn’t a magic wand that can make your acne disappear overnight (in most cases), but there are several options that can clear up skin rather quickly if done right.


Acne Treatments – Your Routine

What I’ve mapped out below is a basic skin routine for someone with acne.  If your skin is cystic and extremely overrun with acne, you should consider seeing a dermatologist first so that you can get the infection treated and under control.  There is a certain point where handling it by yourself is no longer an option.


It would seem that this is an easy step and kind of a no-brainer, but often times individuals with acne are either not cleansing their skin properly or are using the wrong products to do so.  Here is what you need to know about cleansing when it comes to dealing with acne-prone skin:

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser1 Burt's Bees Acne Solutions Purifying Cleanser1

  •  Use a gentle cleanser in the morning and at night – “Gentle” is the key here.  Sometimes people gravitate towards harsher cleansers, use scrubs, and end up over-stripping their skin.  We all have a thin layer of oil that protects our skin from outside irritants.  We need it.  It’s just part of life.  When you have acne, oil becomes this horrible thing that you are trying to get rid of.  However, if you over-strip your skin and remove that protective barrier, your skin panics and kicks oil production into high gear to compensate.  Using a gentle cleanser (at night especially) will help remove the makeup, dirt, grime, and general nastiness of the day from your skin without irritating it.
  •  No Scrubs – Whenever you get tempted to do some extra exfoliation on your skin, just remember the TLC song and stay away from scrubs until everything calms down on your face.  The little grains in scrubs that make them initially feel great can actually cause mini-tears in your skin, irritating the acne even further.



Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Burt’s Bees Acne Purifying Gel Cleanser



I just said to stay away from scrubs, but that doesn’t mean that your skin won’t benefit from exfoliation.  When you exfoliate, you are removing the dead skin cells from your skin’s surface.  This becomes especially important when you have acne-prone skin because your skin isn’t shedding the dead cells properly.  As with cleansing, the big key here is to use a gentle exfoliant.

Flash Foam Cleanser
One that I love is from Bioelements.  It is their Flash Foam Cleanser.

  • Dissolves dead cells, dirt, and makeup
  • Provides mild exfoliation
  • Leaves skin feeling refreshed

Use this once a week at night, one pump is all you need.  It feels great on the skin, so you’ll likely feel tempted to use it more than that, but resist the urge.  Stick to once a week and your skin will love it.


Bioelements Flash Foam Cleanser


Topical Treatment

There is only one topical treatment that I use or recommend, because I have seen it do amazing things.  That is the Bioelements Breakout Control treatment.

Breakout Control1

You know when your skin gets that sort of itchy feeling, and you just know that you’re going to break out?  If I put Breakout Control on the spot when I first get that feeling, I won’t break out.  If I don’t catch a pimple before it develops, I use this and it with either make it disappear or bring it to a head so that I can extract it.


  • Dries and clears acne pimples
  • Helps prevent new blemishes from forming
  • Can be worn under makeup or alone
  • Use it day and night


My sister asks me for this all of the time, because the last time she visited I was able to clear up her skin using this product and my High Frequency machine (which I will talk about in a future post).  A tiny little bit of it goes a long way.  You could cover your face with it using about a pea size of product, but only use it where you have acne present (or where you get that feeling one is going to appear).  When I have the occasional breakout and need a spot treatment I only need an itsy bitsy amount to get the job done, it lasts forever.

Bioelements Breakout Control



Sun Diffusing Protector1 Your skin needs moisture and sun protection, always.

If you’d like to combine the two into one light product that I swear by, check out Bioelements Sun Diffusing Protector.  If you read my blog about sunscreen you know this is my go-to product.  I absolutely love it.

For some people, exposure to the sun can actually worsen acne.  Also, if it is determined that you need to go on an antibiotic or a prescription medication to treat your acne (typically if it is cystic and running rampant on your skin), they can make you more susceptible to the sun’s rays.

You don’t want your skin burning and becoming even more irritated because of the sun, so protect it with something light that won’t clog your pores.


Bioelements Sun Diffusing Protector



Bottom Line

Following the right skin care routine is so important to getting your skin back on track and getting rid of acne.  In my next blog I will talk about ingredients to avoid in your makeup.  There are several things to look for that can actually aggravate existing acne or even cause breakouts.  Like me on Facebook and you will be the first to know when I post a new article.

Let me know if you try any of the products I listed above, and how you liked them.

All About Acne – Part I: What Is It, and What Causes It

  • Posted on June 22, 2013 at 1:56 am

“I wouldn’t trade the acne scar on my right cheek, because that recurring zit spent more time with me in college than any boy ever did.”  ~Tina Fey

Acne Part 1 Collage Final

One of the most challenging – and rewarding – skin conditions that I have dealt with as an esthetician is acne.  It is truly rewarding for me to work with someone who has acne and watch their skin transform as it clears up.  It can be life changing, especially for people whose acne seems to be out of control.

I have wanted to write about acne since I started this blog, but it is a huge topic.  I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start, so I decided to break this down into pieces and parts.  I hope this information helps!

We seem to have a ton of names for it – zit, pimple, whitehead, blemish, blackhead, pustule, cyst, sore… But what IS acne?  When I ask people to tell me what acne is, they invariably give me another name for it and look at me like I am nuts.  “You know, it’s a zit,” and point to one they are trying to cover up.  Understanding how to deal with acne requires first knowing what it is, and what causes it.  Like GI Joe taught us – Knowing is half the battle.  Go Joe!  (For those of you who are not 80s and older children… I’m sorry.  I’m 33 and a total closet 80s fanatic.)

Anyway, back to acne.


What The Heck Is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that occurs when your hair follicles are clogged with dead skin cells and oil.  You’ll see it pop up mostly on the face, although it can spread its way to your neck, shoulders, chest and back as well.


What Are The Types of Acne?

Doctors use fancy names for the different types of acne that you can get, but I want to try to keep it simple.

  1. Whiteheads – A non-inflamed (not red, agitated, or irritated) pore clogged with oil, dead skin cells and sometimes bacteria that has a white cap to it.
  2. Blackheads – If a whitehead has a slight opening at the top, the oil and dead skin cells will darken as the air oxidizes it.  It’s the same thing that happens sometimes with foundations – they look one color in the bottle, but as soon as they get out in the air and on your skin they darken up slightly.
  3. Pimple – The angry step-sister to the whitehead.  They are the inflamed, red, tender bumps that have white pus built up on the tip.
  4. Pustule – I didn’t have any other specific name for this type of pimple, because they tend to get lumped in with the rest.  These are the slightly raised, very tender red suckers that hurt when you touch them but have not yet come to a head.  No pus has developed on these yet.
  5. Cysts – These are larger, painful, pus-filled lumps under the surface of the skin.  These bad boys are the ones that cause a lot of acne scarring.


What Causes Acne?

There are three major causes of acne:

  1. An Overproduction of Oil – We all have a thin layer of oil on our skin for protection.  Sometimes our skin can go into hyper oil production mode and all of a sudden our face turns into an oil slick.
  2. Irregular Shedding of Dead Skin Cells – Our skin has a renewal cycle; fresh new cells are created and move to the surface of our skin, where they eventually die and shed off.  When that process doesn’t happen as it should, we can get a build up of dead skin cells clogging our pores and irritating our skin.
  3. Build-up of Bacteria – If our skin doesn’t get cleansed properly and regularly, bacteria can collect on the surface, get into our pores, grow and spread, causing all kinds of irritation and issues.


What Can Trigger or Worsen Acne?

Causes of Acne Collage

  1. Hormones – Lord, don’t we know it!  Anything from periods to puberty, pregnancy to menopause.  If something changes our hormone levels it can often trigger our skin to break out.
  2. Medication – For women, often going on (or off) the birth control pill can cause our skin to freak out on us.  But it’s not just a woman thing – steroids, lithium, and many other medications can also break us out.
  3. Diet – The yummiest foods may be the worst when it comes to acne triggers.  Greasy foods, dairy products, foods rich in carbs (breads, bagels, chips), sweets… “you are what you eat” takes on a new meaning in relation to pimples.
  4. Bad Products on Skin – I have had clients who would put Vaseline on their skin to “moisturize.”  I’ve seen people use baby oil as their makeup remover… all over their face.  There are a lot of ingredients that can exist in makeup, cleansers, moisturizers, sunscreen, etc that can cause nasty breakouts.  It’s a vicious cycle with makeup too, because when you get a breakout you want to cover it up, which means sometimes you are using even MORE of the product that is actually causing the breakout.


Bottom Line:

By knowing what acne is, what causes it, and what can trigger an outbreak, we can sometimes stop it before it even starts.  In future blogs in this series I am going to cover how to treat acne, whether you should pop that annoying zit or not, ingredients in cosmetics to look for and avoid, and what your skin care routine should be.  I hope you’ll hang with me, and let me know what you think about everything I’ve said!


Review: Benefit POREfessional Primer – Disappearing Act

  • Posted on June 18, 2013 at 7:58 pm

“Before I go to bed at night I ice my face because it closes your pores and makes a difference in the morning.”  ~ Jasmine Tookes

Benefit POREfessional Collage

I just wrote a post about primers, but I absolutely had to do a follow-up once I tried out Benefit’s POREfessional primer.  Oh…my…goodness.  If someone showed me pictures of the results I saw using this product I would claim that they must have been Photoshopped.  But having seen the results first hand, I can tell you that this product is AMAZING!


Benefit POREfessional – The Claims

  • Minimize the appearance of pores
  • Minimize the appearance of fine lines
  • Mattify shine


True Beauty Junkie Assessment

For those of you with large pores, get ready to do your hallelujah dance.  You are going to want to pick this product up and give it a try as soon as possible!  Does it do as it claims?  YES, across the board.

First, I have to give lots of love to my fiance, who bravely allowed me to use him as a model for this product because his pores are much more prominent than mine.  He puts up with so much when it comes to my makeup obsession, and this was going above and beyond.

I wanted to give you guys some true before and after pictures to see the transformation for yourselves.  All of these pictures have not been retouched in any way – they are the real deal.

Before and After Face Collage

In this first picture you can see that not only did the primer basically make the pores on his nose disappear, it also canceled out some of the redness in his skin and smoothed out the pores on his cheeks as well.

Left Cheek CollageIn the second set of pictures I took a close-up of his cheek so that you could see how it takes away a lot of the defined coloring and edges of his pores and evened out his skin tone.





Bottom Line

I am truly impressed with this primer.  It went above and beyond my expectations.  If you have issues with enlarged pores, acne scarring, discoloration – you should really give this a try.  I have worked it into my routine by using my regular Makeup Forever color-correcting primer all over my face, and then use the Benefit POREfessional on and around my nose.

A word of caution for anyone with a darker skin tone though.  This product is not clear, it does have a little bit of pigment to it, so it may cause an ashy tone to your skin.  But if you are using it under foundation, that shouldn’t be a problem.


Review: Tarte Aqualillies Waterproof Eye and Cheek Palette – I Don’t Think So

  • Posted on June 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

Tarte Aqualillies Collage

I typically love Tarte cosmetics, so I was immediately drawn to the Aqualillies Waterproof Eye and Cheek Palette.  Summer = Focus on Waterproof Makeup  for me, as you can tell by my recent posts.  I have seen YouTube videos raving about this palette, and read comments on the Tarte site about how wonderful it is.  I was incredibly shocked at the polar opposite reaction I had to it after swatching it and testing it for transfer and it’s waterproof staying power.


Aqualillies Palette1



Tarte Aqualillies Waterproof Eye and Cheek Palette – The Claims

  • Waterproof
  • Fade-free, flawless finish
  • Lasts up to 12 hours




True Beauty Junkie Assessment

In a word – NO.  It’s just that simple.  I didn’t find any of the claims to be true.  In fact, they didn’t even come close!

I’ll start with the swatches from the palette.  Normally if I do swatches I try to just do one pass at the color so that you can see the minimum color payoff you would receive using the product.  I had no lotion or primer or any other product on my arm, just bare skin.  With this palette I had to go over, and over, and OVER just to get the colors to show up on my arm – and I am still sporting my winter white skin, no tan in sight yet.

Aqualillies Palette Swatches1

There is nothing exceptional about the colors in this palette, especially when swatched.  The pigmentation is horrible, there are three very frosty shades that are so close to the highlight color it’s really a waste to include them, and the one color that I was hoping would be a beautiful pop of turquoise in the otherwise neutral palette (Poolside) barely showed up on my arm.

I would normally show you swatches after a rub test and then after running them under water, but in this case the swatches didn’t even make it past the rub test.  If I were to show you my arm after lightly rubbing over the swatches (after letting them sit for a few minutes) you would just see my bare arm with a little sparkle left over.  Literally nothing stayed in place.  On a separate occasion I didn’t rub them but went straight to the water test  and they still completely disappeared.


Bottom Line

I generally love Tarte, so it pains me to give them a negative review.  This palette is not waterproof, not fade-free and certainly not going to last 12 hours on your skin.  Skip it.  Use the $38.00 somewhere else – anywhere else would be better spent than on this palette.

** I can’t reiterate enough that this review applies only to the Aqualillies palette.  Tarte has so many other awesome palettes and products that are worth checking out.  They just really missed the boat with this one. 

Let’s Talk Makeup Primers

  • Posted on June 11, 2013 at 9:54 pm

“I love the confidence that makeup gives me.”  ~Tyra Banks

Primer Main Collage

You know that feeling when you have a “good makeup day”; everything went on right the first time in the morning, you didn’t end up with half of your eyeshadow falling down onto your cheeks, you were able to blend out the colors perfectly, and you strut your way out the door feeling great… only to look in the mirror a few hours later and discover that somehow your eyeshadow migrated from your lid to underneath your eye, your blush has disappeared, you look splotchy, and you wonder in horror how long you have been talking to people looking this way?  Primer is your ticket away from looking like a hot mess halfway through the day.

What’s The Big Deal With Primers?

Many people feel that they can skip a primer altogether; that it’s not needed.  Or they tried a primer and didn’t like the way it felt so they nixed them all.  I’m here to tell you that a primer can be your best friend!  I use eye and face primers every time I put on my makeup.  Why?  Because they are awesome!  Haha.  Let me explain …..

Benefits of Eye Primer

  • Stops creasing
  • Stops color fading
  • Stops shadow migration (when your eyeshadow decides it wants to try to be blush instead)
  • Intensifies the color of your shadow
  • Locks it all down until you are ready to remove it

If you have an oily eye area and you feel that you can’t wear makeup, even waterproof makeup, because it uses your face as a slip and slide – you need to try the right primer!  Waterproof makeup is just that – waterproof.  It is not oil proof.  In fact, how do we have to remove waterproof makeup?  With an oil-based makeup remover.  So waterproof makeup is not the answer if you have oily lids.  A primer is what you need to help combat the oil.

Benefits of Face Primer

  • Provides a protective layer over your skin
  • Allows foundation to be applied easily
  • Allows you to use less foundation for the coverage you want
  • Minimizes pores
  • Color corrects
  • Keeps your makeup from being sucked into your pores and disappearing mid-day

Bonus Use For Face Primer

If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please remember this little tip!  If you want your night creams to work exponentially better and see results quicker, after you apply them to your face before bed cover them with a layer of primer.  This will keep all of the nutrients and good-for-you ingredients from your creams and serums from being absorbed by your pillow, your hair, your comforter, evaporating…. You will be amazed at how this little addition to your nightly routine will change your skin!

** This is also a great way to use up primers that you have tried and don’t particularly like under your makeup, or samples that you’ve received that are taking up space.  Don’t throw them away, use them over your night creams and serums.

Guide to Color Correction in Primers

You may look at an avocado green face primer and say why in the world would I put that on my face?!  Color correcting primers are great underneath your foundation to help address issues you may have with your skin.  Don’t be afraid of them.  They go on sheer and really come alive to work their magic when you put your foundation on top of them.  I made a guide to help explain what each color corrector is perfect for.  For myself personally, I use a green primer most days because my cheeks, around my nose, and my chin always have a slight redness to them that I hate.

Color Correction Collage


Primers to Try

I have gone through so many primers, and the range of formulas is sometimes daunting.  It also means that with a little perseverance you will find one that is exactly what you need.  The few that I have listed here are ones that I have used and like.  Primers are very subjective, and one that I love may feel odd to you, but it’s a place to start.

Eye Primer Collage Face Primer Collage

Splurge or Save?

So should you go for the high end primers or something inexpensive?  My opinion in a nutshell – save on the eye primer and splurge on the face primer.  Most of the eye primers will give you similar results, it just depends on what formula you want (drying, tinted, moisturizing, slippery, etc).  However when it comes to my face, I am very particular about what I put on it.  If you find a cheaper primer that is good for your skin, works the way you want it to, and can save you money – great!  But it is one item that I will splurge on without feeling bad about the cost.

Urban Decay Mariposa Palette – Get It While You Can!

  • Posted on June 11, 2013 at 3:23 am

Mariposa Collage1

I was browsing the Ulta website’s clearance section and had my jaw drop when I came across the Urban Decay Mariposa Palette.  Originally $39.00, it is currently on sale for only $15.00!  I cleaned my glasses, double-checked, and it’s true – 10 gorgeous, pigmented shades of Urban Decay’s rich eye shadow for your enjoyment.

Purchase at Ulta (while supplies last): Urban Decay Mariposa Palette

Lets Talk Colors

Urban Decay Mariposa Palette1What I love about this palette is that there is a sprinkling of vibrant, spring/summer shades among the beautiful neutrals.  I will likely live in this palette over the coming weeks and months.  I can’t resist the shades!  It should be noted that they are all shimmers, and some have glitter mixed in as well.

Urban Decay Mariposa Swatches1Swatches From Top Row:

Rockstar – Deep plum/aubergine

Gunmetal – Dark metallic gray with silver glitter

Skimp – Pale butter cream

Infamous – Fuscia pink

Wreckage – Medium bronze with gold glitter



Swatches From Bottom Row:

Haight – Mermaid teal blue

Money – Light grayish green with gold shimmer

Mushroom – Warm medium gray

Spotlight – Pale brown with gold glitter

Limelight – Yellow/gold butter cream with gold glitter


The pictures really don’t do them justice.  You should take advantage of the sale and get this palette home to you to play with.  You can’t beat that price for anything from Urban Decay!

If you do pick this up, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think about the colors!



Beyond the Zone: Turn Up The Heat Protection Spray Review

  • Posted on June 8, 2013 at 1:54 pm

“I’m one of those people who thinks that changing one’s hair is the only part of the body that you can change at will.”  ~Hilary Clinton

Beyond the Zone Collage

My hair is naturally thick and curly – but not the cute, ringlet type of curls – no way!  My curls are kind of all over the place, different shapes and sizes, and if I let my hair dry naturally it is a frizzy mess.  My hair is also very long; a good 2-3 inches below the bottom of my bra strap in the back.

Whenever I wear my hair down, I either straighten it or curl it with a curling iron, after blowing it dry.  I know that heat on my hair can be damaging, but you will get me to stop using heat styling tools when you pry the flat iron out of my cold, dead hand.  (I realize that was dramatic, but you get the idea).

I continually try different heat protection sprays, oils, and lotions.  I want my hair to be as protected as possible from all that the heat I’m applying to it without feeling weighed down, sticky, greasy, or thick.  I have used so many products, but haven’t found my holy grail yet.

Turn Up The Heat

Beyond the Zone:  Turn Up The Heat Protection Spray Review

I was walking around Sally Beauty Supply, searching for something else to try on my locks, when I came across this heat protection spray.  I figured I would give it a go.


The Claims

  • Leaves hair soft and manageable
  • Seals the cuticle for silky smooth looking hair
  • Creates slip for effortless heat styling


True Beauty Assessment

I need you to truly appreciate what I’m working with here.  I took a picture of my hair after blow drying it.  So bad!  As you can see in my BEFORE picture, it is a hot mess of frizzy nastiness.

My Hair Before

- My Process -

I have to section out my hair whenever I am curling or flat ironing it.  I take small sections, starting with the hair below my earlobe.  I pin the rest up out of my way.  When I am flat ironing my hair, I take 1-2 inch sections of my hair at a time (yes, straightening my hair is a time commitment haha).

When I spray the heat protector on my hair, I spray one pump on the ends only.  Beyond the Zone has a wide mist, and is very slippery/oily feeling when it goes on.  Once the product is on my ends, I use my fingers to pick up the excess and carry it up to the rest of the section, towards the roots.  That way the concentration of product is on my ends, which are the most likely to get fried from the heat.

I then use a fine-toothed comb to pull through the section before I run the flat iron through.  I tend to go over the same section 2-3 times at 370 degrees.


How Did It Do?

My Hair After

I read reviews on this product when I got it home.  It seems that people with thicker hair love it, while people with thinner hair find it to be too greasy.  I found that because of the amount of heat I apply to my hair, the initial greasiness of the product disappeared.  My hair was smooth, it didn’t feel weighed down or chunky.  It certainly gave my hair slip, which I always appreciate when I’m trying to run it through my flat iron.  I have tried products that were so sticky, the flat iron would snag instead of pulling my hair effortlessly through the plates.  Turn Up the Heat allowed my hair to glide through with no issues.

After all that, you’d think I would be more excited about this.  However, I noticed that my ends felt/looked a little crispy after using this, almost like it didn’t give enough protection.  It’s not something that I have experienced with every protection spray before, so I wonder if it just isn’t enough for the amount of heat I need to apply to get my hair to cooperate with a straightener.

I think I need to use it a few more times, but my initial response was kind of a shrug of my shoulders, like “I guess this will do in a pinch.”  I wasn’t over the moon for it, but it certainly doesn’t fall on my list of products I would never use again on my hair.

I also have to note that the smell is kind of candy-ish, like the edible candy necklaces from back in the day, or sweet tarts or… I don’t know how else to describe it.  The good news is that the smell didn’t linger on my hair, because that isn’t a scent that I would choose to rock as a perfume.


Bottom Line

You could definitely do worse than this product when it comes to heat protection if your hair doesn’t require a TON of heat to straighten.  If you have thin hair and use low temperatures, this probably isn’t going to work for you.  Is it my new holy grail?  No.  I will continue trying other products out until I find one that makes me trash all of the others.