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- rachellisamua on What’s the deal with airbrush, anyway?
- Liz Washer on Crystal & Matthew’s Smith College Winter Wedding
- Tammy Thompson on Crystal & Matthew’s Smith College Winter Wedding
- lisa johnson on Beauty Resolutions: Keeping Things Clean in 2013!
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Tag Archives: product reviews
Read part 1 here
Talk about good fortune: I was the lucky recipient of a complimentary tooth whitening session by local dentist (and former client of mine), Dr. Jyotika Dhawan from 1st Advantage Dental on King Street in Northampton. Dr. Dhawan uses the innovative Venus products (which she described as being much gentler than Zoom and similar whitening systems), and she wanted me to experience a whitening session for myself. I was game, so we set the appointment (somewhat miraculous, considering our respective crazy schedules!)
Let me start by saying that I am two things:
1. A total wuss about pain, especially dental pain (and I have wickedly sensitive teeth – I couldn’t even tolerate more than a few days of Crest White Strips!)
2. Insecure about many things, sure… but not so much about my teeth, as my natural tooth color has never really bothered me. (Dr. Dhawan confirmed that my teeth were already on the lighter end of the spectrum.)
Accordingly, I am a very odd candidate for cosmetic tooth bleaching. But when she suggested that I try it out in case a client ever asked me about it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
I spent two surprisingly short appointments with Dr. Dhawan – first, to get my teeth fitted for trays (which hold the soothing gel that you use after a session to reduce any remaining sensitivity), and then for the actual whitening session itself. On both days, I was so impressed with her “chairside” manner – she explained everything she was doing and has a definite talent for relaxing her clients (and I am rarely relaxed at the dentist – I still pine for the days of nitrous oxide!) Even with an oral speculum in place, I was quite comfortable as she applied a protective barrier to my gums, kept my mouth very dry (no small task!), and proceeded to dab on the whitening compound. No UV lights are used for the Venus system; you just sit comfortably for about 15 minutes while it works its magic on your enamel.
I didn’t feel a thing until the last minute or so. And honestly, what I felt couldn’t even be described as pain – more like a twinge, a minor nerve annoyance (Dr. Dhawan called them “zingers”). But since it’s an unusual feeling, I was too anxious to continue – I had an early commercial shoot the next morning and was afraid I’d be too distracted by my sensitized teeth to concentrate on my work. (Such a wuss!) So we stopped after one round, and Dr. Dhawan applied the soothing gel to my tooth trays and I bit down on them, which was very satisfying and immediately alleviated the minor discomfort. I kept the trays in place for about half an hour afterwards, and once I removed them, I ate a bowl a soup with no trouble at all. And then I promptly forgot about the trays and gel, because I no longer needed them – within a few hours after my session, I was fully recovered!
Dr. Dhawan provided me with everything I needed in a gift bag: comfort gel, whitening toothpaste (including an innovative new brand designed to reduce sensitivity), and two bottles of clear mouthwash (much better for freshly bleached teeth than green!) She followed up with me afterwards to make sure everything was comfortable and to see whether I had any questions about maintenance. I was so impressed with her professionalism and follow-through.
Because I only did a single 15-minute round of bleaching before the minor twinges made me too nervous to continue, the results are very subtle (normally clients would do between 3 and 4 applications) – but I still saw a result, especially on my front teeth, which I attempted to capture below. Thanks to the maintenance products she provided, the effect has lasted, even as I sit here cluelessly drinking coffee and probably staining them anew.
In hindsight, I wish I’d toughed it out for at least one more round – I had no idea the twinges would go away within an hour of my appointment, and I could have tolerated many more “zingers” than I did. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what’s possible:
So if you’re self-conscious about your tooth color and haven’t had luck with at-home/over-the-counter systems, I would absolutely recommend seeing a professional like Dr. Dhawan for a whitening session – it was nowhere near as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and anything that makes people more willing to smile is OK by me!
I’m so grateful to Leanne from Skin Catering for providing me with a sample of her new product, Flour Power facial scrub. (She gave me an option of which product I wanted to try, and I decided my dry, flaky winter skin needed a serious recharge!)
Leanne sticks to all-natural ingredients in all of her handmade skincare products – here’s the full list:
Aqua (water), Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (aloe juice), Cocos Lucifer (coconut oil), Oryza Sativa (rice flour), Butyrospermum Parkii (shea butter), Xanthan gum, Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda), Glycerin (vegetable), Silver Citrate and Citric Acid, Citrus Sinensis (Sweet Orange) oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil, Lavandula Angustifolia (lavender) oil, and Mealeuca Alternifolia (tea tree) oil
I cannot get enough of the smell! This is the most yummy, fresh, summer-cocktail-by-the-pool smelling scrub I’ve ever stuck my nose in. Let’s just say, I was sorely tempted to taste it. I definitely pick up on the coconut and citrus (orange & lime) notes, and a touch of the tea tree too. The lavender doesn’t dominate (which for me is good, since I’ve never been a fan of most florals).
The texture feels wonderful – the cream base is smooth and there are plenty of scrubby bits too, but the rice flour lends itself to a gentler exfoliation than many others I’ve tried (walnut shells can be scratchy!) The natural oils in the product do leave a bit of residue on the skin even after rinsing, but they are wonderfully hydrating and I had no problems when I left them to soak in. (If you prefer your face to feel dry to the touch after scrubbing, a gentle soap or cleanser will easily remove any remaining oils.)
I have been using it consistently for two weeks now and I notice a definite reduction in the amount of dry skin flakes, especially on my forehead and nose where I’m most prone to chapping. It won’t unclog all of your pores (few scrubs can – that’s what facials are for!) but it does a nice job of smoothing the surface – which leads to nicer looking makeup!
Really my only issue was that the paper label quickly became saturated and illegible, but to me, performance beats packaging any day of the week.
Overall, I’m delighted – I was in need of a good scrub and I think I’ve found my skin’s new BFF!
So you’ve made the most of what you already have… ready to up your batting average even further? Here’s what you need to know to apply false lashes like a pro:
1. You have a variety of styles to choose from! Check out your local drugstore or beauty supply shop to see what’s available (I like the selection at Sally Beauty, and am partial to Ardell line). To keep the look natural, look for slim, clear, flexible bands (nothing too thick or too dark, unless you plan to wear heavy eyeliner), wispy styles (the less “uniform” the lash, the more believable it looks), and realistic lengths (especially if you wear glasses). Or go all out and get your glam on!
2. If you’ve never applied a strip lash before, start with a half or “demi” length that fits easily on the outer half or third of your eye. These are much easier to apply. You can also trim a full lash to a demi length – some people even find it easier to cut lashes in half or thirds and applying piece by piece, rather than all at once. Your choice!
3. Start by gently removing the lash from its container and placing it against your eye to see how the band fits – very often, they’re too long to wear comfortably. Trim the band from outside in so it fits your eye shape properly – removing the longest lashes will keep the nicely tapered shorter fibers to blend with your natural lashes. You can always keep the piece you trimmed away and stack it on top of the lash band at the outer corner of your eye for extra flair!
4. Bend and flex the lash band to help it shape itself to your eye (I sometimes wrap them around a brush handle to achieve that nice curve) – this will help prevent the ends from lifting up.
5. Apply thin strip of glue (I swear by Duo waterproof adhesive in Clear, and black is available as well), with a little extra on the corners. You want a solid stripe of glue but not so thick that it starts seeping down and gumming up the lashes.
6. Let the glue set for 30-45 seconds before application (I usually give them a little wave in the meantime) – you want the glue to be sticky enough that you won’t be struggling to hold them in place while they dry.
7. Place the strip on top of your lashes in the center, & then adhere the corners (using tweezers if you find it helpful). Press the band as close to the natural lash line as possible; you don’t want a visible gap. I tend to sit them right on top of the natural lashes and then tuck them into place. Looking down into a mirror can help with placement.
8. Once the glue has set, “pinch” the false lash together with your natural lashes. You can also gently add a bit of mascara to marry the two sets together.
9. Touch up the strip with eyeliner as needed (sometimes the dried glue looks a bit shiny, so you can matte it down again with eyeliner if desired).
10. Peel off gently from the outside in when removing your makeup. I don’t recommend sleeping in your makeup, and that includes false lashes!
11. Never share false lashes (or mascara) with others. You may be able to get a few wears out of your own falsies if you keep them neat, but don’t mix and match with friends. Think of false eyelashes like underwear!
12. Practice, practice, practice! Don’t get too frustrated too soon, this isn’t easy the first few times you do it, but it’s rather addictive once you do!
As a professional makeup artist, I get a lot of questions about how to enhance eyelashes. Before I get into the details of applying false ones, though, I’d like to give you the tips and tricks you need to enhance what you already have:
1. Use eyeliner right at the root of the lashes to make them appear thicker – I like a gel eyeliner on a flat-tipped brush, but pencil also works well. If you prefer a softer look and like to wear a brown or auburn mascara to coordinate with your hair color, use a similar shade of eyeliner to make the base of the lashes look nice and thick.
2. Make friends with that scary torture device known as a lash curler! You can find them in many different shapes and sizes; the Shu Uemura curler is my favorite. Squeeze gently but firmly at the base of the lash (taking care not to catch your skin) and then pinch your way towards the tip to achieve a nice, soft upward curl.
3. You have many choices when it comes to mascara – thickening, lengthening, waterproof or regular, etc. – and many different styles of applicator wands; I’m partial to CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion, but it’s really about what works best for you. Just remember that mascara ads are misleading (the models’ lashes are usually fake and enhanced digitally!), so don’t expect the formula alone to get the results.
4. When you apply mascara, first wipe any excess globs off the wand so you don’t make a mess. Apply by wiggling the wand gently at the base of your lashes to coat them thoroughly, and continue to wiggle the wand up the length of the lashes, which will help add thickness and length. You can add as many coats as you’d like, but stop before you get stiff, clumpy lashes (unless you’re aiming for the Twiggy look!)
5. Use a lash comb (I like metal-toothed combs; Tweezerman makes a nice one) to separate any clumps and keep the lashes wispy. You can also use a clean, disposable mascara wand to comb them.
See, I have dry skin. And it turns out, I have skin that is very sensitive to harsh cleansers. For the better part of, oh, 2005, I was scrubbing my makeup off every night with a combination of Baby Wipes and Clean & Clear foaming cleanser. I had to work especially hard around my eyes, because eyeliner is stubborn, particularly the kind that actually stays on all day. I was stripping my skin with harsh cleansers AND scrubbing and tugging at my skin while I did it. Not good.
The result? Rough, patchy, dry, alligator-like skin ON MY EYELIDS! Words cannot convey the yuck.
A friend finally took pity on me and introduced me to DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil, which has been my Holy Grail ever since (and, when you’re a product junkie like me, long-term brand loyalty is a rarity). It’s gentle – I don’t have to tug and scrub – and it takes EVERYTHING off. And, unlike regular olive oil, it rinses away easily. You don’t need much, either (one or two pumps is usually enough for my whole face), so it lasts a long time. I use DHC’s Mild Soap after the oil to leave a clean surface (and no residue) behind – the soap is fabulous for dry skin like mine – and then follow with a rich moisturizer, especially in the winter. Another plus? I use both products to deep-clean my makeup brushes, especially brushes that have been used with an oil-based product (like lipstick) – it gets EVERYTHING out!
The key to removing REALLY long-wearing products is patience. There are water-resistant liners, mascaras, foundations, and lipsticks out there that are NOT kidding around. Instead of just splashing your face and rubbing frantically, try saturating a cotton pad in the oil and holding it against the stubborn makeup for up to a minute. That will help break down the product and make removal easier, and minimizing rubbing and pulling of the skin. (I think the toughest thing I ever removed with DHC was one of MAC’s Pro Longwear lip colors… that stuff basically had to be saturated, and then slowly chipped off of my lips. It was like removing a UV gel manicure!)
If you don’t have a product like this in your arsenal and need to remove waterproof mascara or eyeliner PRONTO, you can use plain ol’ extra virgin olive oil. Use the same strategy: dip a few cotton swabs or pads in the oil and hold them against the stubborn makeup to start breaking it down, before you gently scrub and rinse. Then you can look forward to waking up the next morning WITHOUT those charming black globs in your eyeball! Other natural oils can also work well, too (avoid mineral oil). But I like the DHC because it has the added benefit of rinsing away very easily so you’re not left with residue.
I love it this product so much that I get samples of it whenever I can to give to my brides. My only request to DHC would be to sell (cheaper) bagged refills so I wasn’t always purchasing a new dispenser! Other than that, I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this cleanser. There are others like it, but I haven’t felt compelled to stray ever since this one cured me of my alligator eyelids seven years ago.
So even if you have oily skin, don’t fear the oil-based cleanser. Oil is much better for your face than a harsh, chemical-laden soap, and it does a much better job at removing longwearing makeup, too!
Who doesn’t love flirty eyelashes? For those of us who weren’t blessed with long, thick lashes at birth or who have lost lash density over time, false lashes are a welcome addition to our makeup arsenals. But as a makeup artist, I am exceedingly picky about what lashes I will use on clients, especially if the goal is a natural look that doesn’t scream “Check out this crazy thing I glued to my eye!” Getting a natural result is half technique, and half product choice. And after exceedingly frustrating results from different lash brands (some that were so long or so oddly shaped that they couldn’t possibly pass as a natural lash without trimming/reshaping), I am sticking with my tried & true Ardells!
I prefer the Duralash Naturals (pictured on the left) because they are knot-free… which means you won’t have a bunch of tell-tale dots once you’ve glued them on. (Those dots really ruin individual lashes for me; even with dark eyeliner on, you can usually see them!) I almost always select the short length because it’s usually the best match with the existing lashes – if the individuals applied are too long, they stick out oddly and the effect is very noticeable in photos. (Trust me, I learned this the hard way!) Occasionally I’ll mix in some medium length lashes for effect, but I get the most mileage out of the short flares. One thing I love about them is they aren’t too “uniform” – the length and shape of each flare is very slightly different. This closely mimics the beautiful, random wispiness of natural eyelashes.
While I do use Ardell’s strip lashes as well (depending on the effect I’m looking to achieve), I find myself reaching for the individual flares more often than not because I can add just enough emphasis exactly where it is needed without weighing down the eyelid. This is especially helpful for folks with smaller eyes or more mature eyelid skin – a heavy lash would only make the eyes look even smaller.
I start with the natural lashes already curled and a coat of mascara applied. To add lashes, just a tiny dot of glue is needed (the clear-drying Duo is my favorite). Don’t add too much glue because then the extended dry time will allow the lash cluster to slip out of place. What I do is squeeze a drop of glue onto my makeup palette (and wait a few seconds for the glue to start getting tacky, making application easier), grasp one of the flares with tweezers, dip the very end into the glue, and press the base of the flare right into the lashline – not above, but as close to the other lashes as possible. (You can also swipe the tiniest bit of glue against a nearby natural lash to give the flare something additional to stick to, to help hold it in position.) I usually focus the flares on the outer part of the eye and stop somewhere in the middle, and once the glue is dried, blend them together with the natural lashes by gently pinching them together and then adding some mascara.
If you’re applying lash clusters to yourself, try holding a mirror under your chin and looking down into it as you place each lash. Go slowly and make sure the lash doesn’t twist into a funny position as you place it. It takes practice, but the results are worth it!
The effect can be anything from unnoticeable to very dramatic, depending how many lash flares you apply and whether you layer them or not. Here is a before & after close-up of a bride’s eye – I used smoked-out eyeliner and a mix of short and medium length flares to emphasize her eye shape and give her lashes for days (without the false lash “look”):
What do you think – are you ready to try individual lashes yourself?
Now you see it…
Now you don’t!
(What you do see are the slight ridges caused by surface scarring… tattoos are very often three-dimensional. But the black outlines and bright colors of the tattoo are color-corrected and concealed, making them difficult to find unless you know where to look.)
I love Temptu Dura for tattoo (and other body pigmentation) coverage. In this case, the tattoo was on a bridesmaid’s chest and was cut in half by the neckline of her dress. Even if you love your tattoo (and I hope you do!), it can look awkward to have only half of it exposed, so she opted to cover it fully. I chose Dura because it can withstand fabric friction (within reason, of course!) and stays on until you remove it with alcohol.
(Figures it was a tattoo of a fish… if I’m not covering them up I’m drawing them on!)
More on today’s gorgeous wedding soon!
Just got a nice email from a bride I worked with back in September:
Hope all is well.
Here are some pictures of me (and Ben) from the wedding. I also found a “before” picture of myself. As much as I hate it feel free to use the before and all the other pictures. If you need some proof your jobs go the long haul let me know too. Ben totally shoved the cake in my face and even with wiping your makeup didn’t budge!
P.S. Feel free to give my email out to other brides if you need a reference too. I can totally vouch you were AWESOME. Oh and my bridesmaids LOVED you too!
So, here’s the before picture Jackie said she hated so much (I can’t imagine why; I think she looks completely adorable! But she wanted to look more “va-va-voom” than “adorable” so OK, I get it):
Jackie wanted a natural but slightly retro look: lined, neutral eyes and berry-toned lips. However, she confessed to me that she cannot STAND to wear lipstick, so I recommended that she select one of the Cover Girl Outlast lip stains that launched this year. They are really impressive – strongly pigmented, long-lasting, and not as drying as most stains. An oily salad dressing will wear away at the color, but otherwise, they stick around beautifully. And, as you read above, her lip color survived a cake-smoosh by her groom!
Here’s the finished look (I’m absolutely in love with her dress!):
I also did the makeup for all the bridesmaids pictured above, and Jackie’s mom (not pictured) – I’m hoping to get more pictures from this wedding because everyone looked so lovely AND they were so nice and fun. I’m glad they enjoyed my company as much I enjoyed working with them!
All photos by Alan Schadel of Cherished Moments Photography.