Sunday, November 30, 2014

Weekly Makeup Tray 101

I'm on a constant makeup purge. That's because I'm constantly hauling. I only have so much room for storage! Thus, my weekly makeup tray was born.

Almost every Sunday night, I put together a tray of makeup to use during the week. I have a section of staples that rarely leave the tray, you could say they are Holy Grails or no brainers. You choose. Newly bought items usually hop into the tray as soon as they are out of their packaging. I might not use them that week but they will be tested as soon as possible. I often play with new makeup at night before I cleanse, it's a good way to safely experiment.

Not everything in the tray will get used during the week and at least once a week I go to my stash rather than use something in the tray. That which does not get used goes back to my stash. That which was used has one of four fates. If I liked it, it goes back in my stash. If I didn't like it, it will be tossed or given away to someone I know or sold.

If I buy a new foundation it will usually be the only foundation I use for the entire week. I will try it with different application methods and different primers so that by the end of the week, I know how best to use it and how not to use it or to return it.  I have very loose guidelines, no rules, for my makeup tray.

The tray I use is a gadget or junk drawer insert you can find in the kitchen aisles of KMart, Target or WalMart. You can find them on amazon, too, of course. They come in a number of sizes and styles.
Inside the tray I also place a few small jars to hold things upright like lip pencils and mascaras.

I have two general goals: to use my stash and to purge my stash.  Even with my weekly makeup basket or tray, it is fairly impossible for me to get through everything. C'est la vie. Below is my usual recipe. Do I use every type of item every day? NO

Rotation items
  • Lipstick - 7 or 8
  • Lip gloss - 3 or 4
  • Blush - 3 or 4
  • Foundation - 3 or 4 unless I'm testing a new one in which case it flies solo
  • Face primer - very weather or season dependent, usually 2 or 3
  • Bronzer - 2 or 3
  • Mascara - 3 or 4
  • Highlighter - 2 or 3
  • Under eye concealer - 2 or 3 
  • Finishing powder - 2 or 3
  • Eye shadow - who knows!
  • Brushes - about 100
  • Brow powder - 2
  • Lower water line brightening pencil - 1
  • Lash curler - 1
  • Lip balm- 1
  • Lip liners - 5
  • Eye pencils for tightlining - 4
  • Eye pencil for lower lash line - 2
  • Eye primer - 2
  • Brightener - 3
  • Red nose concealer - 1
  • Setting spray - 2
  • Pore minimizer - 2
  • Contour - 2
This beauty blog is still a work in progress. I hope to publish my Weekly Makeup Tray on Sundays. On the following Saturday, I hope to publish a Weekly Beauty Edit which will recap my week. I'm going to include purchases, returns, empties and anything that did not make the cut from Sunday's  makeup basket. I'll provide color commentary and mini-reviews as much as possible.

Thanks so much for reading my blog. If you are new, I hope you subscribe via email. No spam, no sharing your info. As a matter fact, to my knowledge, I have no idea who actually subscribes. More than that, I hope you comment or ask questions. 


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Series: My Favorite Things, Part 1

I'm starting a series, maybe 9 or 10 parts, about some of my favorite beauty items. I have a list of 30ish items that are tops in my book. Some are specific items and some are categories of items. This series is not in any particular order. I wouldn't say these are Holy Grail because I own and love a lot of things. But because I own a lot of everything, when I call something my favorite, it's pretty darn good in my book. Would I be sad if any were discontinued? Maybe but I don't think so. Let's be serious, it's makeup.

Jack Black Lip Balm - I apply lip balm at bedtime and as the first step of my makeup routine. I don't apply lip balm during the day since I wear lipstick. Balm that is thick, heavy, slippery or oily is not for me. The once iconic Smith's Rosebud Salve gave me goose bumps, ugh. The now popular Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask makes me feel like I have a gorilla sitting on my lips.  If I can "feel" a lip balm on my lips, I'm not happy. Jack Black absorbs into the lips rather than sitting on top of the them, it is a matte finish (Jack Black is a men's brand). I love the matte finish, it sticks to the lips rather than slipping down my chin. One tube lasts me 5 or 6 months which makes the price point of $7.50 not entirely outrageous. Two runners up are Vaughn 76 Lip Balm and Donell Lip Saver. Vaughn, another men's brand, feels like serious luxury. It's about twice the price of Jack Black so there's that.  on the lips and Donell Lip Saver. We learned about Donell when my son was on Accutane and his skin was peeling off in sheets from dryness. His dermatologist recommended it. I had to chase it down online. A few years ago, I love Fusion Beauty Lipfusion XL. It claimed to be a lip plumper (not) but I used it because it absorbed into the lips and truly hydrated them. Hydrated lips are plumper lips but not visibly, in my opinion. I stopped using it because of Jack Black. Lipfusion is also ridiculously expensive. I have not tried by Terry Balm de Rose or Dior Creme de Rose. I don't like rose anything. Nuxe Reve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm was another too thick version but tolerable, however, I didn't like the taste. As far as flavors, I think the Walgreens knock off versions of EOS are delicious, especially the Sugar Cookie. Swoon. As far as Fresh Sugar, I have a couple. I find this is one of those that sits on the lips rather than absorbing. Feels great while it's on but when it wears off or if I wipe it off, my lips are simply normal, not hydrated. Plus, this is as slippery as I will get without it making my No list. I know these have a cult following, The tubes I have came as extras or point perks from Sephora, maybe the Sephora birthday  gift last year.

Lash curler - My lashes are not only stick straight, they have always pointed downward. Fast forward a few decades and now my hooded lids actually rest on my lashes pushing them even more downward. Lovely. This is a category favorite, rather than specific brand. All lash curlers have a slightly different design. Hold four lash curlers side by side, you will see the minute differences. In an area as small as your lashes, these minute differences are actually big differences. Some are more rounded, some are shorter, etc. so you need to know which works with your eye shape. Pinching is caused by the curler no matching your eyeball shape, not about the quality of the curler. The rubber insert is another factor. Some inserts are wider and more gently curved giving the lashes a softer curl, less likely to look crimped. Some are narrower with a firmer insert giving a more dramatic lift. Then, do you like that "springy" action or not? Springy curlers are less damaging and easier to handle if you like to do that bouncing action up the lashes. Personally, I love e.l.f.'s, with the finger grips - they have two styles, for $1.49? I also like Tarte's. My hand's down favorite is one I picked up while waiting in line at TJ Maxx, a no label brand. They fit my small eyes, therefore, never pinch! I want to try the Kevin Aucoin. I have quite a few including Shiseido and ShuUemura but they pinch me and, for me, the rubber insert is not curved enough. I like big cushy inserts with a nice big round curve.

Laura Geller French Vanilla Highlighter - if I were to honor something with Holy Grail status, this might win the title in my highlighter tray. Second runner up would be Lorac Spotlight. Most of my makeup is worn during the day, in the office. I'm either at my desk with bright, natural light from floor to ceiling windows or in a meeting room with some version of energy efficient lighting. If I'm lucky, it is softer up lighting. French Vanilla does not have individual shimmer or sparkle. If you are in the sunlight, you won't see any flashes, if that makes sense. It looks like a pearl. Hold a pearl and it is evenly luminous all over, unlike a diamond that sparkles and flashes. French Vanilla is never too much. I can use my e.l.f. small stipple brush or Real Techniques setting brush or a higher end luxury brush and it always looks right, always easy to blend, always easy on the eyes. It is especially perfect if you enjoy highlighting your cupid's bow, down the center of your nose or above your brows.

Hope you enjoyed! Let us know if you have a favorite lip balm, lash curler or highlighter. Make sure you tell us why it's tops in your book!


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Monday, November 24, 2014

Foundation! How do I love thee?

I love foundation. Like a moth to the flame, when a new foundation launches I'm there at the counter, online with Sephora or hunting the aisles of Walgreens. I don't discriminate - luxury, mid range or drug store, if it's new I want to try it. I do sometimes use restraint and wait a few weeks. When I'm feeling prudent, I try to get a sample from Sephora or Nordstrom when possible before diving in head first.

I have a few on my current hit list. I need to catch my breath after the Sephora VIB sale but as soon as I do, here I come! Revlon has reformulated Photostay. Loved the original, it's in my rotation and looking forward to the new one.  Lancome's Nude Miracle is their version of the new serum consistency foundation craze. NARS has launched a powder foundation, All Day Luminous and Laura Mercier has launched a pressed version of her magnificent loose mineral powder foundation.

You might be wondering what my favorite foundations are. Hard to say. It's complicated to foundation fanatics like me. What's the weather? How long will I be wearing it? Do I want to look made up or natural. Never mind, I never want to look natural. What will the lighting be? Am I going for a glowy look or a matte look? To me, choosing my foundation for the day is like choosing my perfume or lipstick or eye shadow or shoes for the day. I wear something different each day, don't you?

If I had to pick one foundation for every situation, it would be Guerlain Lingerie de Peau. Depending on the weather, I select the right primer and may need to blot or powder during the summer. My color is 03 for my NC30 skin color (medium with warm undertones).  In the summer, I mix it with a bit of liquid bronzer.  I can apply this foundation with a brush, the Beauty Blender or my fingers and it is always perfect on me.

Other favorites are Tarte Amazonian Clay applied with a dense synthetic brush, Cle de Peau Cream foundation with a Beauty Blender (this one gives my Lingerie de Peau a run for the money for all around favorite), MAC Studio Fix Powder foundation with a flat top brush, L'oreal True Match with a Beauty Blender, Maybelline Dream Wonder Fluid (another all around favorite)  with my fingers, Diorskin Star with a Beauty Blender, Revlon Fit Me with a brush or fingers, Chanel Vitalumier Aqua with fingers, L'oreal Visible Lift with a Beauty Blender, and Hourglass Illusion with a Beauty Blender.  YSL Fusion Ink might be on this list soon. It's winning me over big time. I'm in the process of whittling down my collection to the top 20. Not mentioning how large the current collection is.

Some recent disappointments were Estee Lauder Perfectionist, Chanel Perfection Lumiere Velvet, Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme and Givenchy Teint Couture. I couldn't put my finger on it but the EL just did not give me a healthy look, Chanel Velvet was flat on me, could not find a color match with Givenchy, and I fondly refer to Becca as casket makeup. At the drugstore, L'oreal Visible Blur had almost sheer coverage on me and Cover Girl Get Gorgeous was not kind to my pores plus not a color match.

I have one criteria above all and that is a perfect color match. If I can't find a perfect color match, game over.

Have I mentioned that aside from finding the best application method, I also have certain primers I wear with certain foundations? I won't leave you hanging. My number one favorite primer which works with almost all my liquid foundations and oily skin is Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

My beauty stats

I think if you are wonderful enough to take time out of your day to read my blog, you should know a little about me.

I'm in my mid 50s. Married to a man who still makes me weak in the knees. We have two sons, both in their 20s. I live in the suburbs of Chicago and work full time. I love my husband, I love my sons, I love my career, I love my life. I live without regret. I'm pretty sure I have way more grit than the average bear.

It seems the older I get, the oilier my skin gets. How is that possible? At one time I had very dry skin. When I'm testing makeup, I can assess with all skin types in mind.  My skin is not sensitive, I am not nor ever have been, acne prone.

I have a medium skin tone. When they say a color will suit 80% of women, that's me! Medium skin tone with warm or yellow undertones. MAC seems to be the gold standard in describing skin color, I'm NC 35 in Studio Fix Powder Foundation but NC 30 in Studio Fix Fluid Foundation.

My biggest skin concern at this point is sagging. I've used prescription Retin A for at least 15 years and wear an SPF product daily, 365 days a year. I avoid the sun like the plague. That said, wrinkles are not my concern, yet. Other than under my eyes. My neck is starting to go. My hands look great. I have had Botox and will continue to get Botox as long as I find Groupons. I'm also a big believer in fillers for my nose to mouth lines. As long as I'm being honest, my age spots are starting to aggravate me, too.  All of these things take second fiddle to my very oily, downright greasy, nose with broken capillaries. A red, oily nose. Very attractive.

Finally, I own a lot of makeup, skin care, nail polish, perfume, and body wash. How much is a lot? You'll find out soon enough!

Friday, November 21, 2014


A few years ago, I fell in love with YouTube. To this day, it is my daily addiction. It all started because of Sally Hansen's Airbrush Leg Makeup Spray. I could not imagine how a person could evenly spray color onto their legs but I needed to do it for an event; it was too late to self-tan. Maybe I googled how to use Sally Hansen leg spray, not sure, but it led me to YouTube. I was hooked. I searched for my other beauty challenge, applying false lashes. And so on an so forth. By the way, I'm a pro with Sally Hansen but still can't apply lashes. Thank heavens for Latisse and Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill.

More than anything, on YouTube I found a community of fellow beauty lovers who shopped and swatched and hoarded makeup without abandon or guilt. For the first time, there were other women who owned well over 100 lipsticks. It was normal. The only slight concern was that most of the BeautyTubers were decades younger than me. After I learned my way around YouTube, with some clever searching, I found BeautyTubers who were closer to my age. In the last year or two, the 40+ YouTube beauty community has grown exponentially. I'm giddy with joy. Earlier this year, I tried my hand at it. I made a dozen or so videos, enjoyed filming, enjoyed sharing, had 100s of ideas for content, but stopped. I used my iPhone 4, table lamps and kitchen lighting, and used standard YouTube edit software. Easy peasy. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about making videos again. Bought a new camera, bought new lighting, still have 100s of ideas but still not making videos. And so this blog was born. Could be wrong but I think blogging might be easier. No preparation needed!

Why am I blogging? Because I need beauty friends and the only place I will find them is in a cyber beauty community. I have great, great friends, family, neighbors, and peers in the real world. But no one is as much a crazy bird as I am about makeup and skin care. When I say "Pirate" I want someone who knows I'm talking about the best red lipstick Chanel has ever made and not a Peter Pan movie. When I say Josie Moran, I want someone who immediately thinks about argan oil. 

Beauty is frivolous and self-centered. It's very me-me-me, all about me. I like that! In the real world, though, it is exactly that - frivolous and self-centered. Not the best qualities according to the world of the serious. I'm done with serious. I have always loved makeup starting with that first Aziza trio I bought at Walgreens on the corner of Michigan and Chicago Avenues on the Mag Mile. I just happen to love it even more now. No doubt, aging has something to do with chasing my youth, grasping for every last inch of it as it slips farther away. I'm all about fun at this point in my life. Ok, every point in my life. There were points in my life that debating was fun, decorating was fun, cooking was fun, planning parties was fun, gardening was fun, volunteering was fun, work was (still is, actually!) fun, traveling was fun. Right now, makeup is one of the things in my fun bucket.

I hope this blogs finds its way to others who love makeup and skincare as much as I do. I hope to make new friends who won't blink at my 800+ nail polish bottle collection.  I hope to bring you beauty ideas, hauls, reviews, swatches, fails, shopping lists, sale alerts, product launches, recommendations and generally deep thoughts on makeup. If you chuckled rather than gasped at the "deep thoughts" phrase you have found yourself in the right place!

Welcome to the world of Lulu! 

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