Thursday, April 24, 2014

{Beauty Bloom} Best Foundations & Powder



Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Coverage
Smashbox Photo Finish Luminizing Foundation Primer
Lancome Translucence Pressed Powder & Dual Finish Powder 

You see these 6 products here? They give me life! Not every day, but for the days I have to wear makeup and look flawless, these are my go-to friends I love. There's nothing like being able to create a pretty look that's soft, subtle, and natural. Surely, there have been times when we've all looked way too caked up.

Unless you're my sister who has baby butt skin in her mid-30s, you looked into foundations, powders, concealers and everything in between to cover up not-so-pretty blemishes, scars, redness, unevenness or anything the environment brings us. Even if you have great skin, applying some pressed or loose powder, at minimum, can enhance anyone.

I'm not for wearing foundation every day at all, rather leaving it for TV, photo shoots or really special events, but when I do, I've found a combination of liquid goodness that do that trick.

To start, you'll want something light that offers sunscreen. It's crucial. I fell in love with Laura Mercier's broad spectrum Flawless Tinnted Moisturizer. The tone I went for was so perfectly matched, it literally didn't look like I had anything on. Oh, but I did. It feels great on and doesn't weight your face down. A super thin application of Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer is excellent for a bit of added shimmer and bronzy color without looking like you've been tanning. But it's actually actually great alone if you just want a bit of luminosity and nothing else.

If I did wear foundation makeup every day, L'Oreal's Truematch is the bonb.com. It's everything you need to perfectly match your skin. The entire Truematch collection really does what it purports, so if you've ever had bad luck lining up makeup with your skin, this is your inexpensive option for department store quality. Seriously.

And, I love Shiseido's Sheer and Perfect Foundation for a super clean, smooth, high-end look. It's quality coverage with great matching ability, too. Next L'Oreal, this is my 2nd go to for more frequent use.

To top it all off, Lancôme's pressed powders are now my new thing. I swore (and still use Clinique's pressed powder), but I truthfully like the lightness and duality of two of their powders. The Translucence is definitely every day.... no foundation, just apply this silky powder with a brush. It mattifies your complexion and completes a lovely fresh, younger looking face. The Dual Finish powder is what you want for a bit more coverage than the translucence version. Still, without looking like a dolled up for a modeling booking, this one gives a super fly complete ultra-matte finish. I don't use the sponges they come with. I've always found powder brushes to create a smoother, not to obvious looks. And more even.

If I didn't have to do 5 different looks, I would have showed you what these look like. But, trust me girlie swirls on this one. I'm a master at finding good makeup that really works. If you're close to my complexion... (example would be Clinique's 'Stay Matte Honey'), these are respective colors from these brands that work well:

Foundations: 

L'Oreal Truematch: N5.5
Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer: Almond
Shiseido Sheer and Perfect: B60

Powders: 

Lancôme Translucence: 400 Bisque (for winter when I'm a bit more pale)
Lancôme Dual Finish: Matte Honey III (for now and summer when I stay naturally tanned)

So! These are my true finds and recs! What do you use that works lovely for you? Do share!

Will share the best under eye and eye luminizers next! Because, well, our eyes need some love with all the lack of sleep we endure .


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Friday, April 18, 2014

Radiant Orchid: The Color of the Year
















“This season, consumers are looking for a state of thoughtful, emotional and artistic equilibrium. While this need for stability is reflected in the composition of the palette, the inherent versatility of the individual colors allows for experimentation with new looks and color combinations.”
~ Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute
Not quite 'Radiant Orchid,' but a pink hue within the palette. My neighbor's weeping cherry blossom. Via my Instagram
L'Oreal's 'Violet Vixen' at home mani c/o Sunsweet.  See more my Instragram.
Love, love the global, eclectic sexy vibe to this room. 

These are the things about the fashion industry I love. It has a voice that dictates so much of how consumers behave. Not sure if I'm really for that kind of subliminal power, but here I am highlighting the lovely color of the year: Radiant Orchid. Though it's mid-April, it's never too late to enjoy elements made up in the beautiful hue. 
It also just so happens that orchids are one of my top 3 favorite flowers ever. There's something extremely evocative about them. If I had a huge, lavish bathroom, it'd be laced in orchids of all color, mostly white and yellow-hued ones, interwoven with this pretty purple color. 
Of all the beauty and fashion products out this year and coated in this purplish, pinkish, color, I found a select few I'm particularly loving. I've tried most, lusting some, and just think I need to own it, no matter how impractical --- like the purple KitchenAid mixer. While every single cook (like myself) is required to own of these babies, a this gorgeous purple one just doesn't go with anything in my kitchen. But isn't it sweet?! 
But those plush velvet vintage like lounge chairs in that color have me swooning. I love, love them. I envision an even bigger dressing room where I can cuddle in one of them, reading a good book after a taxing week of work. 
So on to the goodies I've tried.
Nexxus Youth Renewal Rejuvintating Elixir is everything you need for a short term treatment to damaged hair. While I'm still using 100% natural products during my journey to full restructure, this is perfect for when I travel. It's a bit thicker than an oil based elixir, but it penetrates the scalp pretty well. It's meant to strengthen and combat 8 visible signs of aging hair. I'm not quite at that stage yet, but it's good to be ready. The bottle's color fits the Pantone palette. Don't worry-- it's not the actual elixir. 
Lancome's Rouge in Love matte lipstick is my latest lip color obsession. I recently featured it in this post, but this 'Violet Valentine' color is right in the middle of orchid hue. It'll stay on about 6 hours. It's that perfect. Don't dab clear lip gloss on it. You want that strong matte effect to do its job!
Lieber Moment 214 is the latest scent by luxe scent house Krigler. With its lavender notes, this luxurious perfume is for the discerning woman that just knows what attracts anyone around her. She's confident and bold, yet graceful and gentle. Find it in NY and online. It's that exclusive.

Nails Inc., London has just launched a gel line! Yes! I hate getting a gel manicure done because I just don't like sitting there for so long. With these new bottles, you can do it a home and still have the same effect. And of course, they'd be out of the loop if they didn't come out with a color for the year. Their 'Summer Lilac' from the Lexington Gardens line is really pretty. And it's matte.

Laura Mercier's caviar stik in 'Orchid' is the softest thing I've applied on my eyes since Estée Lauder's creme shadows from two years ago. It's so easy to use and carry around. Light shimmer makes it perfect for evening, too, though the color is really soft.


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In collage: Dress by Colin Cowie Weddings; Hunter violet boots via Hunter website.
Other images: Interior design originally found on Pinterest; purple KitchenAid originally found on Zullily.



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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DCs Cherry Blossom. The Pink That Was my City

One of my parents' trees on the same day.
Sunset was about 90 minutes away. Great lighting for the Washington Monument.
Tree yard approaching the basin.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial in the background.
Danita and me shouldering our way for one pic! (Poor guy didn't know how to work my camera so this one the best of 10 he took! I'm thankful, tho)
About 75 mins from sunset... this was the perfect spot to catch the TJM in the back.
A really pink tree. Do you see the Washington Monument in the back?! 
Sun had started to set at the Memorial.
Across from the TJ Memorial as the sun started to set.
Thousands sit on the basin to enjoy the bold sunset light up the tree line.
The sun sets. Finally. Overlooking Arlington, VA.
DC just wrapped their annual Cherry Blossom Festival this past weekend, one of my favorite reasons for living here. I've been enjoying them since we moved here back in the 80s. My parents would take us down to the tidal basin every year to see the massive people come from all over the world to enjoy the gift of lovely trees, aptly given to the US by the Japanese.

They loved them so much, they planted three threes in their front yard. I've seen them grow over the last 20 years. They're a different variety from the ones downtown, but just at lovely. One's a bit whiter and one is super pink, lasting a bit longer during its peak. And theirs are much, much taller and don't grow low branches like the ones at the basin which create a cozy ambiance.

I spent Saturday afternoon, strolling along the basin with a good girlfriend. I'd not done that since since childhood and I immediately remembered why: Entirely too many people congregated down there. It was beautiful indeed, but the trick is to enjoy its real splendor before the sunrises, at about 5:30 am -- and even then, photographers are lined up waiting for the golden hour -- or right before sunset, which is when I went.

The latter part of the day shed a stunning golden glow you can only really appreciate in person, but I tried to capture the the essence of the warm ambiance.

The international crowd the Cherry Blossoms attract is impressive, but even as a local, I'm always mesmerized by the backdrop the treeline enjoys: the Washington Monument and Thomas Jefferson Memorial, two iconic museums. I found the perfect photo op spot to get the Potomac and the TJ memorial in the background. It was glorious.

This year was a particularly interesting pink kind of year. I tried to capture that in the light editing I did in the pictures. Naturally, the blossoms are pink, but the contrast with the sun preparing to set, and the water, against the creamy buildings, made the pink really jump out as it bounced off the glistening water.

It was just so pretty. Already can't wait for next years! Make it a point to visit DC to see the trees if you've never. Totally worth it.

Just don't wear pink.

Check out these three (1, 2 & 3) images I took on my iPhone and stared on IG. Totally different effect. 




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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

{Beauty Bloom} Lancôme's French Ballerine Collection





I'm all about this new Spring collection. Totally lusting over the colors. But let's talk about the inspiration, which I think is just as important. The soft flow of tulle, the bold color of red roses, the beautiful sound of the orchestra (I'm partial to cello notes).... all of these lovely things are characteristics used to "pay homage to timeless grace." No better than a ballerina to epitomize gentle grace and soft demure.

It's a pretty extensive collection with a range in colors and products. From two delightful eye palettes with pink satin notes for day and warmer violet for night, there's a color for any eye makeup aficionado. The palettes cover every element of creating a pretty look. The eyeliners are a must for dramatic eyes... though I am wondering why they missed including a mascara. I mean, isn't Lancôme known for their fabulous lash brushes?!

I'm having all kinds of nail parties this Spring -- at least I'm planning to -- so their lacquers are at the fore of beauty regiment. I'm loving the Pearl Grey the most. It's super subtle but with a dose of sparkle. And who doesn't love some sparkle.

Try the primer which'll give your face a delicate and almost flawless look before you apply your makeup. I got hooked on primers last year when I tried Shiseido's version. More on that later, though. That element of makeup application deserves its own post. It's a chatter box topic!

Of course, no collection would be fabulously complete with some lip sticks and glosses. Rouge in Love lip sticks come in four super soft but somewhat bold colors. Mix and match them up to create more vibrant looks if you want to go that route. The softest is definitely right up the performing ballerina's look alley. But for a date, you may want something a bit more dramatic. The matted Peony Pucker is the hue to go with, if you're wondering. It's gorgeous.

And, gloss lovers are going to swoon over the Gloss in Love tubes. These fancy little sticks have a fun lock feature to keep all the goodness locked up (because if you're like me, you've experienced spills in your bag!). The Rose Oscar and Under the Spotlight are the best for my skin tone.

This are the things that make spring my second favorite season! The colors, the looks, the trends! They're all so pretty and so lush.

This French Ballerine collection is currently available at all Lancome counters, nationwide. Prices range from $15-$50. 


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Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sexy Shoe Sunday: Zara's Navy & Black Cut-Out


Love, love these. The colors combo, something's that's taken me some time to wrap my style mind around. But the cutout and lace is something I'm attracted to and can't enough of. Remember these lovely L.A.M.B's I wore for NY's Fashion Week in Fall 2012? Those are 4 years old but I find them so timeless and just won't part. They're chocolate and go with just about everything. And of course, they're sexy.

L.A.M.B
These new stilettos from Zara are calling my name. I've tried them on twice but am on the fence for some reason. Only because I'm trying to break the habit of having more than two similarly styled shoes, unless of course they're Louboutin, in which case, even four shoes of the same style would be just fine.

What do you think of these? Yay or nay?




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Tuesday, April 01, 2014

It's All About the Curl; The Mighty, Fabulous Curl




Don't mind my somber look in that pic! I was having a moment. But, I am over the moon excited with the progress I've accomplished with reclaiming my curls! Oh, yes I am! *insert a lean back and upward thrust* That's how excited I am. I can't really show you unless I did a vine... I didn't think of that in time. But maybe next time.

So, as you know from having read this and this post on chronicling my journey to going all natural in a super serious effort to regrow, restrengthen, thicken, and revive my hair, most of which I started losing in mid-2012, you know it's been a rough one trying to figure out what caused it (hello, stress!) and finding the perfect regiment.

And I did. I've spent loads of money and sacrificed going blonde again, all for the love of my hair. The hair God gave me. It's been amazing but trying at times watching it do right most days or act shady, others.

This whole process isn't over and while I'm mostly still sticking to 100% natural products, there are moments, especially when I'm traveling, that I need to rely on super products dedicated to the mighty curl. And in my high and low search for safe and promising prods, I came across John Frieda's newly released Frizz Ease curl collection.

On a recent trip to Mexico, where the weather was perfect, I didn't have time to spend on my strict hair "diet." So I packed up some of the new prods with me. See the pic above? That's the look after 11 hours of traveling with 2 layovers, wearing a hat, and an hour car ride to my hotel. And still, my curls looked decent, without much effort.

There's history with JF. There was a time I took my beautiful silky curls for granted, assuming they required no real love. After all, they were just natural. During that time, I had every product out there that just made my hair look pretty any given moment: freshly washed, dirty, flat, needed shine, needing definition, etc... I found something for every need. And, John Frieda was my go-to for shine and frizz control. They were at hand's reach when I lived in Atlanta. And made it to every suitcase when traveling.

Until I moved back to DC and hair just started going.

Now that I can confidently say I'm at 75% full recovery, I casually, but cautiously go to Frieda for some pretty curls when I can't stick to my strict hair diet. The collection's quite extensive, but I only stick to the leave-in, elixir, which is simply divine for shine and frizz control (as in print copy-worthy), creme control, and serum, which is fantastic for application as soon as I wash and condition. That's best to apply when hair is wet. And, if you're not letting loose every day and want to pick your hair up, the calming creme is it.

If you're on a natural hair journey, eliminating most major and affordable commercial products but need a safe break when in a pinch, this is what you want to try. Curls will be in place and I can attest to no regress in progress achieved otherwise! Don't abandon your sure fire plan to re-nourishing your curls, but if you're not going through what I'm going through and simply want something good to keep your curls sexy, here you go!

Now if only I can bathe in the elixir oil! Love, love it.

* good on all hair types. 

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Sexy Hair Bun


Found via lowjakarenmanica on Instagram
My brother's fiancée's bun I did. 


One of the best hairsprays I've used


Hair buns are sexy. I used to wear them a lot until my hair started acting out and losing itself. Literally.

The whole idea of looking like a school librarian, as a friend recently noted, is interesting. I don't even equate modern day bun styles to what our elementary school teachers used to rock. Tho, my very clear memory of the best bun ever was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Jackson, who had the baddest bun there ever was. I wish I could show you. Almost three decades later and I still remember her daintiness and perfectly coiled blond do. 

It seems to stil be the do to go to for evening and romantic fetes. Now that my hair's starting to behave again, I'm defaulting to a super relaxed top-of-my-head bun; nothing fancy or perfectly spun. But even if I wanted to, I couldn't come up with these looks I recently came across, all bookmarked for reference for when my hair does get back to its fabulous state of fullness and thickness.... the curls are back-- 80%. Hurray!

I found this releaxed, but romantic lower bun on Instagram and loved it so much I shared with a girlfriend whose head of curls is enviable. The only issue is having to pull my hair super straight which I'm against for the time being.

And, I love buns so much, I did my brother's fiancées lovely golden hair into a higher bun for a wedding they were attending. Her hair is really long but super thing so using the right prods to keep it in place with plastering it, was key.

And then there's this clean look Zoe Saldana rocked during the Golden Globes a couple of months ago. She right there is so pretty. And any hairstyle on her looks great. But the bun, especially with the Prabal Gurung frock she wore, was the perfect look to go for. Sadly for me, I'm still in the regrowth stage of my hair.. (oh, enjoy the chronicling of it here and here) so  I'm not so ready to pull off such a slick look. It'd require me to straighten my hair with heat, which I can't just yet. BUT, when I do, oh when I do, I will be slicking my curls back to tight. Nothing like a clean pulled back look. 

L'Oreal, the motherload of all perfect everyday prods, has some amazing hair products to create that upgraded Librarian vibe. From the frizz vanisher cream to start, all the way to the fabulous (have used and loooooved, especially for TV) the Elnett satin hairspray, the Advanced Hairstyle line gives you control, sleekness, and tames those flyways so you don't have to worry about constantly combing back. I mean, after all, the point of this do is so that you don't have to touch it up! 

Spring is officially here and humid days are among us! Wear those curls back and up, girls! 


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Thursday, March 20, 2014

{Beauty Bloom} Blue Affairs: A Great Dramatic Night Eye Look

Professionally done by J. Mont Cosmetics for TV in Atlanta, circa 2009




Selfie re-do of the pic above to show the difference!

The top lid eyeliner is not as blue as it appears in this pic. I applied a dark charcoal which got dustings of the eyeshadow, but not as intense at it appears.

I've always been attracted to really pretty eye makeup. I learned how to apply my own and create great looks in my early 20s with little practice but quite often, mostly on Saturday for church. But it came pretty natural to me. Perhaps because I loved it, the movement of applying just worked for me. I used to get the greatest compliments.

That's until I moved to Atlanta and started doing TV where I needed the pros to do my makeup. I quickly realized how average my work was. Okay, maybe, in my most modest spirit, a bit above average, but definitely not a super fly, super gorgeous, stunning look the way MUAs do it. And definitely not TV or camera appropriate.

My friend Jenny, the one who turned me way into falsies (I was so against them) is a fabulous artist with a great "eye" for knowing exactly how to create a look that complements a woman. She doesn't create a look just because it's fabulous or trendy. She designs one to fit the person  -- a look a woman could rock with suburb confidence and it be her signature. This is mine. I love it more than any other look I've ever had done. At least for TV.

But I've never tried it until now. Unlucky me, I didn't take notes when Jenny did this a several times over the course of two years. So I've been left with just trying and trying. And trying. And I finally got it! Mostly. And I love it. Surely, this is not an every day look, even with the falsies, but it is a sexy, dolled up night look to catch the eye of another.

The trick to this one, unlike the other two I've done, is blending... it's so key to getting the right shade you want; in my case, a blue, which Jenny never used! Can you believe it?! But, you already know I had to go with some blue shade since I didn't know what she used.

There's also the contouring technique to create a shadow and depth, which ultimately results in a dramatic but classy eye.

I did this twice before settling on this and still not 100% satisfied but I'd definitely go out with it. It took longer than I wanted and thought. And I've learned in my life, sometimes, less is more. In this case, and in the case of getting dressed, the more energy and thought I put into it, the more trouble it creates for me.

So, on to the look.

HERE'S THE HOW

BASE
I started by priming my entire eye lid with Estée Lauder's Stay-On Shadow Paint in 'Halo' which is a perfect cream to highlight and build on. I then applied a flat nude color from Aerin's new Kaleidolight Palette to smoothen out the cream and create an even lighter look. Done.

LID & CREASE
This was trickier than I thought. I used Lancome's Color Design eye shadow pod in 'Metallic' to give it the shimmer Jenny seemed to have given me. For the crease, I heavily concentrated on it a 'Little Blue Dress' from Lancome's same eye shadow pods. I used a blending brush to blend in the shimmery silver and blue without losing the blue hue I wanted. I did that process twice.

BROW HIGHLIGHT
I went back to my brow to highlight it the shadow paint and it work like magic. I took a small under lid brush to add a dab of the silver metallic.

EYEBROWS
I have the lamest eyebrows. Ever. I think a lot of the thinning came with the hair loss and breakage. I'm working on it. So, I'm leaning on coloring them in ever so lightly, especially for TV or photo shoots. Shiseido's eyebrow styling compact is the absolute perfect tool to create a natural brow without looking clownish. And then a trick I've never shared but I suppose a lot of MUAs know is to use a super old mascara tube to brush your brows. It gives you a bit of thickness without clumping or super painting. I love it! I'll do that before ever penciling in some color!

LINER & MASCARA
This was the last thing I did. I usually opt for Artistry Beauty's eyeliner because, well, it's just all that, but I needed something super black and charcoal-like since I wasn't going to wear falsies. Clinique's 'Intense Black' quick liner was perfect; only my reapplication of some of the blue eyeshadow ended up giving my upper lid liner a bit of shimmer which I didn't want. Fail.

I used EM by Michelle Phan 'Black Olive' for my bottom lid. And of course for my mascara, I've been sweating Estée Lauder's Sumptuous Infinite Daring Length as of late. My go to is L'Oreal for everyday, but this EL stuff is working magic for really dolled up looks.

It's not Jenny's look, but then again, I'm not a pro makeup artist. I'm just a girl that loves makeup! I do need to work on that darn eyebrow, tho! Lawd. And, these are colors any woman of any complexion or ethnicity can use. Your blending technique may have to differ, but these colors are great for any complexion!

For the record, these pics are all selfies (except for the 1st one taken 5 years ago), which you already know I loathe and simply do not like taking. They are only edited for contrast and bit of sharpening. It felt so great not to PS these pics and I like to do every now & then! Whew! What a relief. But then again, good makeup is good makeup and can really help create flawless looks. Plus, I have been using some amazing skincare products which are doing their job!

Take a look at the first  and second looks I've already done! Try them and be fabulously you.

Next up is best foundations, under eye coverage, and pressed powders, most of which I'm wearing here.  And then the 4th eye look. Until then, B Chic!

*If you'd like to see a video tutorial on Youtube, let me know! If I get enough interest, I just may. Someone asked me a few posts back and I'd be up for it. 

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