Tag Archives: lip liner

A Fancy Face With Drugstore Finds

21 May

Anyone who reads fashion magazines, glamour spreads, even blogs may wonder sometimes if any REALLY good makeup can be found at your local drug store. It can be very disheartening to see a killer shade of lipstick on a model in a magazine only to find out that one tube costs over $25. I remember when I was a teen, if I spent more than $5 on ANY makeup product, it was “high end”. Wow… times have changed. I decided to put aside the samples and products that I had gotten from some of the higher end beauty stores or at the cosmetic counter of my local exclusive department store to see if I could get a SLAMMIN’ look for a more reasonable price.

I went through my vanity to find things that I mainly use that could be close to or even equal in quality for less expensive products in my local drug store or retail store for the main products that I use. Now, let me state for the record — I have a TON of makeup. In fact, if I wasn’t involved in what I do as a writer, I’m sure an intervention would have been discussed. I can’t help it if I get products to test and try, get coupons for free items, and I get random products in the mail from brands that follow me on my social medias. But when I did some math in my head, I realized a lot of people don’t have access to many of the things I have. So, my quest began: could I get a great natural and/or glamour appearance with products from my local drugstore without breaking the bank? A full face—from foundation to lip gloss–for a high-quality, almost red-carpet look? Hmmm… Let’s see how I did…

Foundation: There are a ton out there, any glamourista knows that. The problem with foundations is that everyone wants something different from them. Some people need a formula for dry skin, one for oily skin, some like mineral liquids, and others like a powder foundation. Finding one really depends on what your skin type is like. We will just take my skin as a basis for this test. I have super sensitive skin (thank you, red hair) and can go from dry to oily in a matter of 24 hours. After being at The Makeup Show this past weekend, I kept hearing about professional makeup artists using NYX Cosmetics’s “Total Control Drop Foundation”. Okay, wait—these world famous MUAs who have access to ANY brand at ANY cost are picking a drugstore foundation to have in their cosmetic kits? I had to know why. I stopped by the brand booth at the show and talked to two fabulous brand representatives from NYX. They agreed—makeup artists from all over are carrying their Total Control Drop Foundation with them. Why? Well, I bought one to find out. I will say, it IS pretty awesome. It has a dropper so you can get just the amount you need without oversaturating your skin. It is light, buildable, and didn’t irritate my sensitive skin at all. Available in 24 shades, it wasn’t hard to find one that matched my very pale skin easily. I like the fact you can “add” things to it so your skin can get an even better look: a color adjuster, a mattifier or even a primer. I was super excited to find this product at The Makeup Show! A great deal for $14.

Setting Powder: Setting powders, for some of us “old schoolers” remind us about when they were skin-toned (not mine), turned into a shiny cookie from the talc, and gave us a nice orange glow. I was over that one fast. I just gave up on the powder thing for MANY years. Then… ta-da! I received a free sample of this new, high end HD powder. It wasn’t a pressed powder–it was loose. Not very easy to carry with me. Not to mention, it was white! Who wears white powder? After reading the details and practicing its application, I came to love it fast! It was translucent when applied to the skin and set my makeup perfectly. I bought a jar and, honestly, to this date, I still have it—it lasts forever! Then, about six months ago, I received an item in a monthly subscription box. It was NYX’s High Definition Finishing Powder. Yeah, there’s that NYX brand again! I put it on my vanity and let it set. One day, when laziness was at its max, I realized I needed an all over evenness to my skin and grabbed NYX’s powder since it was close by and tossed it in my purse to apply at work. Wow…was I amazed! A big brush swiped over the powder compact with a light dusting all over my makeup gave me a soft, flawless look. I was very surprised! I was even more surprised at the price. It ended up being 1/3 of the cost of my high end brand. And it did the same thing. Having this powder in a compact made it easier to carry with me as well. It has now become a staple in my purse. A fabulous price at $10.00

Blush: With my skin being very pale, I do not need a lot of blush to get a rosy hue to my cheeks. In fact, there are times when a pinch with my fingers right on my cheekbones gives me enough color for an hour or so. (That’s a nice trick to remember when your face needs a slight glow.) While I was flipping through a doctor’s office magazine, I saw this ad featuring a beautiful model with gorgeous cheeks. I was shocked when I saw what she had used… e.l.f. Blush in Fuchsia Fusion. I didn’t think this redhead could pull of a color like that but I wanted to try. Wow, I was surprised! I certainly did not need a lot of color, but the shade was gorgeous. Just a tiny sweep on my cheeks upwards was the perfect color I needed. Although it looks a little bold in the package, it gives me a healthy glow. And a little goes a long way. A great find for only $3

Eye Shadow: This is another personal preference. I know people who despise crayon colors, some who love loose mineral colors, and others who only wear natural colored pallets. In my career, I am busy and free time is limited. Because of that, I want—and need—an eye shadow that will last all day. Now me, specifically? I want a shadow that is glittery, shimmery and a long-time wear power. After seeing ads (and with a coupon in hand), I set out to get myself a L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Eye Shadow color. This easy to apply creamy shadow can be put on with your finger or even a tight brush (like a concealer brush) for more precise application. If you want to combine two or three shades, use a brush to get the colors you like then blend, blend, blend to get the look you want. Keeping it simple, I chose to get the color “Silver Sky”. I used my finger to dot, dot, dot then blend. I loved it! Yes, it wore all day. Yes, it was super water resistant. No, it did not crease. I was just what this busy girl needed! Over the years, I have managed to collect about 12 different shades that I like to wear alone or with other shades. When I wear L’Oreal Infallible 24HR Eye Shadow, I don’t stress when I can’t check it. I know it is fine. $8

Now there are your powder shadow girls. That’s okay too. I have about 12… or 70… different shades of loose mineral shadows. There are some very high quality pure mineral shadows on Etsy (like Notyce Beauty & Deviant Cosmetics) but in the stores, I’m pretty picky. A while back, while wandering around a discount store, I found a trio of colors that I loved. They had natural, soft, and subtle looks but I wanted something bold. I grabbed Wet ‘n Wild’s Color Icon Eyeshadow Trio in “Spoiled Brat”. Since I don’t use many pressed eye colors, I was hesitant to invest a lot of money for just a few purse shadows. I could not, however, pass this trio up. Of course, other color combos were present and each trio had great shades of pressed shadows for just about anyone. Since loose minerals are hard to carry around with me, this pressed trio of shadows was perfect to give me a few fun colors at a fab price. $3

Mascara: Probably out of all makeup that is on the market, mascaras are the hardest for me to settle on. Every new one that comes out says it is better than the last. And I fall for it every time. There are also ones that I have loved that have just disappeared. UGH! I am often given mascaras to try from different brands to test and only a few times have I flat out not liked them. But there are also very few that I have loved enough to buy again. When it comes to drugstore mascaras, there are so many that I literally get overwhelmed when I go looking. I am not able to try any of those before buying and am afraid of getting something that will irritate my eyes or just doesn’t look good. I actually made a list of what I wanted with a mascara and what I didn’t then went on to various company websites to see if they had something close to my desires. After I chose my brush style, formula, color and longevity, I was able to narrow it down to three mascaras. The first one was difficult to find. It was out of stock in many stores. The second one seemed to do just about everything. I’ve been wearing it for a week and have had no eye irritation, smudging or difficulty in getting it all off at bedtime. It was not that expensive and I had a coupon too. Would I buy it again? Not sure… we’ll see. But am I wearing mainly now? Yes, yes I am. Every day. I like the results I am getting L’Oreal ParisVoluminous® Extra-Volume Collagen Mascara. A decent deal for $8

Eyeliner – Pencil: I am a child of the 80’s. Back then, your pencil eyeliner was awesome if you got it really sharp then heated it with a lighter. Looking back?…ugh, what was I thinking. Eyeliners have come really far since then. There are pencil liners that will stay strong on your waterline without having to melt them on. The problem is that most of them are super high end and are not cheap. One summer on vacation, I realized I left my pencil liner home. I got a little paranoid so I headed out to the nearest drug store to try and find something that could hold me over. Thanks to a recommendation from a customer, I decided to try NYX’s Slim Eye Pencil in Black Glitter. It was a little sparkly but not a ton, just enough. It sharpened easy, glided on without tugging and didn’t smudge at all. I liked it so much I went back and got a few other colors. I really like using the glitter liner on the waterline and then I nbetween the lashes with a thin line of the NYX Silver liner (or other bold color) underneath. A very chic look at a very reasonable price! $3.50

Eyeliner – Liquid: I have only been using liquid liner for a little over two years. It didn’t matter how many YouTube tutorials I read, the “winged liner” look wasn’t flying my way. Thanks to the help of a couple of my friends, I think I have finally achieved the look. It’s not always perfect and takes some time, but I can get there. The liquid liners that I first started practicing with were more than forgiving. I could make a small mistake and be able to fix it without much effort. The only bad thing was that usually meant that the liner didn’t stay as “crisp” as I wanted it to. If I wanted the winged liner look that day, I would have to use the liquid I had then go over it with a pencil or wet shadow. That didn’t always work so well. I was finally given some recommendations for a good pen liner but it was pretty steep in price. Especially since I wasn’t a pro at it. I tried it and was beyond thrilled with it, but that price made me wonder if there was any drugstore liquid liner with the same stay power. Fortunately I found one that was actually BETTER than the expensive pen I was using. Wet n Wild H2O Proof Liquid Eyeliner has a stay power like I have never seen before. It isn’t a pen (which is my only disappointment) but the applicator has a pen-shaped felt tip. It goes on smooth and gentle and stays ALL DAY! There is no crying or smudging or even wiping this off. Once it is on, it’s on! Now that has its disadvantages if you are a newbie to the liquid liner game. If you make a mistake, you need to fix it FAST or you will need to take it all off and start again. And to take it off completely takes the right products and a substantial amount of time. I find it is best if you give the applicator a blot on a tissue (hold it on an angle–don’t press the tip!) and go from there. That way you will have less product that can get unruly. You may even want to find a super thin, long handled brush to apply it with. (Instead of a makeup store, look for a good super-thin paintbrush at a craft store! Just make sure you clean it after each use so it won’t lose its shape. This gem is remarkably inexpensive for $4.

Lip liner: The main purpose of a lip liner is to keep your lip color from feathering into the fine lines around your lips. A good way to keep those lines from happening is to use your favorite eye cream around your lips morning and night. Eye cream is supposed to prevent you from getting lines around your eyes, right? So why not do the same thing for your lips. Find a lip liner pencil that isn’t too soft but that doesn’t tug when you apply it. I found that Rimmel London’s Lasting Finish 1000 Kisses Lip Liner was a great find for the cost. Available in 11 shades, this gem is perfect for giving you the perfect pout in a color that matches your lipstick or gloss. The long-wearing formula doesn’t transfer and can stay put for up to 8 hours. Not to mention, if you use a long wearing lip color, you want it to make sure it “stays in the lines” and a liner helps with just that. If you want, you can even use it as a long wearing lip color by itself by filling your lips completely with your favorite shade. And at its low price, you can pick all the colors that you love. $4

Lip Color: When it comes to an all over lip color, everyone has their personal preference to the kind they like. Some like pencils, others like regular lipsticks, many like liquid lip colors, some prefer stains. Whichever one you like best, you are sure to find something reasonably priced in your local drugstore. It might just be a case of trying different ones that give you the formula and colors you like. One little gem that I found is made by NYX called Epic Ink Lip Dye. Don’t let the name fool you. It’s not really a “dye” or even a stain. It is more like a liquid lipstick that goes on smooth and lasts a long time without any transfer. The colors are bold and give you a “notice me!” look. There are 12 shades to choose from in the current collection and run about $7.

If you want something that is fairly long wearing but is more of a gloss with a good color, don't pass by L’Oreal Paris’s 8 HR Le Gloss. I've been wearing this gloss for well over five years now and it is still the one I grab when I want long lasting, creamy color that hydrates. Available in 20 shades that include mattes, frosts and shimmers, this stay-put gloss doesn't feather or fade. It is a bit sticky which is not appealing for some but for someone who has dry, chapped lips (like me) they may appreciate that kick of moisture. You can find that in your local drugstore for $10.

One other little goodie that I recently discovered is a neat Lip tint by e.l.f.. Don’t let the color in the package deter you. It actually changes colors with the chemistry of your lips. It is moisturizing because it is infused with shea butter to give your lips some great hydration. It comes in three hues and can be put on at any time … even without a mirror! I had originally gotten Perfect Pink when it first came out but I thought, for a redhead, it was a little too bright for me. Then they released Perfect Berry and I was thrilled! It gives me that nice, rich, shiny light burgundy hue that looks great on my lips and matches my hair. They also released it in Perfect Peach which I am sure would also look good especially to match an outfit with warmer or neutral colors. e.l.f. offers these “Perfect” lip tints for $6.

It can be difficult to select a makeup item from a drugstore simply from a magazine ad or even from a recommendation from a friend. Not everyone wants the same things so without being able to try it out for a while, it’s hard to know if it is the right product for you. I tell my readers to do their research: read online reviews about the product itself at their website, search online for public reviews, and try sites like Influenster that cover all kinds of products—makeup and more. Use these to make your decision but definitely ask the drugstore if you purchase it and find it is not the product for you that you can return it without a hassle. This should be able to narrow your choices down quite a bit and take the worry out of possibly losing money on a product that is not for you.

So Sassy wants to know… what is YOUR must-have drugstore makeup product? How long have you been using it? And of course, why do you keep buying it? I’d love to share your thoughts on your favorite products in a future article. Leave your comments below so I can do some research on the ones you love too!

Fave Beauty Companies-2016

19 Feb

sephoraaislesAround this time, I start thinking about the products that I fell in love with last year. As I sat at my vanity today, I realized I fell in love with A LOT of things in 2016! Skin care, makeup, fashions… you name it. I think I have my visit to The Makeup Show in NYC last May to thank for that. I learned about so many big companies as well as “indies” that had products that were above so many others. Not to mention, I was able to ask questions about their ingredients so it could help me decide on possible items that my sensitive skin wouldn’t protest. So instead of me singling out each product that I am crushing on big time (and trust me—there are many), I thought I would talk about some of the companies that have given me items that are now a part of my regular beauty and glamour routine:

twinmedixTwinMedix: None of my makeup products would look or feel good on my face if my skin wasn’t in great condition. I had been using a “variety” of skin care products from different companies to try and get my skin to a place where I was happy. I admit, I am fighting the clock when it comes to anti-aging skin care for my face. I thought I was winning, but then I began to realize that all the different products I was using were usually created to work their best with other products from the same brand. Sometimes those sister products were hard to find, very expensive or even irritated my skin. I was kind of at a loss as to what to do. That was until I attended The Makeup Show in NYC. I was honored to meet and be able to have a little one-on-one time with the fabulous makeup artist, James Vincent. I asked him what smaller, unknown companies at the show should be on my “must see” list. His first answer?—TwinMedix. I stopped by their booth and met their fabulous President, Michelle, who was a sweetheart. I told her about the problems I was having with my skin and what I wanted to achieve in the long run. She introduced me to the ENTIRE line from TwinMedix. If I was going to try this brand, I was going to do it right and use ONLY that product….and I am so glad I did! My skin has NEVER looked and felt as good as it does now. I have been using each product faithfully since last May and I love the results. Their state-of-the-art technology enables them to create the purest and most professional formulas that integrate pharmaceutical-grade vitamins to treat and protect your skin. It is so high tech that there are very few products that are needed—a great cleanser (O2), a phenomenal exfoliator (X), and vitamin enriched serums (C10,E5 A15) that are used each day and night. For a redhead with sensitive skin, I have to say my face has never looked and felt so good. The vitamins they use are known to help fight against aging, and they are abundant in the TwinMedix line. As hesitant I was to try a skin care line without research, Michelle told me how to use each product and why! She even told me to let her know what I thought after I used them for a while… and I did. I am glad I found the TwinMedix line of skin care products. I still don’t like getting old but now I have the goods to help me help kick over the hourglass in the aging process!

katvondKat Von D: Being in the tattoo industry made me aware of the KVD line of cosmetics as soon as her line was released. Anyone who follows her knows that she doesn’t blend in with the crowd and she is proud of it. After many years of “blending”, I finally found my voice (and pen!) and began being the sassy redhead I am now. When I am out in public, I like doing my makeup in different ways. No matter what the attire is for the day, my makeup always has a pop to it. Sometimes it’s a bold lip, sometimes a rocker eye look. When the winged eyeliner look took off, I was lost. VERY lost! I couldn’t get it to look good like some girls that came to the tattoo shop. I watched videos, I played dress up, I tried. Then I learned that it might be easier to get the look I want if I used a better liner. What did everyone suggest? You got it… Kat Von D’s. It all started with her famous Tattoo Liner. I fell in love immediately! The long wear formula and easy peasy pen design let me get the winged liner look the way I liked. It even gave me the precision of the thin pen design to create some fun, “out there” looks. My next love was her Everlasting Liquid Lipstick. It is no secret that I like to talk. If I am out and decide to have a cup of coffee with a friend, I don’t want my ordinary lip color to end up on my teeth or all over the coffee cup. I want it to stay put for a long time. KVD’s Liquid Lipstick does just that! If it is on, it isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. The colors she has are awesome—bold, flawless and long lasting. She even has colors that are REALLY bold, like purple, hot pink, blue and black. What I like to do is create my own color of the day. I pick the shades of Everlasting Liquid Lipstick that I want to blend, use a clean lip brush, and apply my own shade that will last. I don’t think I have ever created the same color twice! The possibilities are endless. My lip look can be as neutral or as strong as I want. In fact, when I went to order my latest KVD lip color, I had the opportunity to get a sample of her Lock It Concealer Cream. When it came, I thought I would just try it out since I don’t really have dark circles under my eyes. Well, that may be true but I couldn’t believe how “bright” my makeup looked on my face when I used it. The color was spot on (which is difficult for a redhead to find) and it carefully hid the flaws that I didn’t know I had! I was in awe and I ordered the full-sized product that week. I will be looking forward to sampling different things in the KVD line when I get the chance to get to a Sephora and adding to my favorite cosmetics. (Oh, by the way? Do not overlook her makeup brush collection. She may not have many of them but the ones she does have in her line are FABULOUS!)

makeupforeverMake Up For Ever: This is a big name when it comes to cosmetics. That’s probably because they are masters of just about everything in the industry! If you are looking for a product that you loved from another company and it recently got discontinued, I suggest you look at MUFE. They even have things I never knew about or thought I needed… but now are part of my makeup routine. One of those items is their Aqua XL Eye Pencil. I love my liquid liner on my top lid, but when it comes to the waterline on my bottom lid, it is hard to get any liner to stay there for a long time. The Aqua XL is perfect for just that. Not to mention, it is a pencil you have to sharpen yourself so you can get a nice tip for precise application. It is a product I use EVERY day. I am also a big fan of MUFE’s Aqua Seal, especially since almost all of my eye shadows are mineral loose powders. If I need to keep my eye look in place through the craziest of situations (all-night dancing, tear-jerker movies, photo shoots…in the rain), I will use a just a little on my eye shadow brush and pat it on using my shadows. It does dry quickly, so have an idea of the look you want before you start because it is meant to stay and IT DOES. This is also great to use if you want to create eye liners in wild shades. Using an angled liner brush, dip the tip in the Aqua Seal, pick up a bit of pigments from shadow pot and apply along the top lashes or in/below the bottom lash line. The bottle lasts a long time, just keep it sealed tight. When it comes to finding a foundation, I will take and suggestion or recommendations (let’s not forget about samples!) really help me decide on one I might like to try. I find my skin to be very sensitive to department store & drug store liquid make-ups. When I had the chance to pick the brain of a professional makeup artist, I asked what his go-to foundation was. He didn’t hesitate: Make Up For Ever’s Water Blend Face and Body Foundation. It is SUPER light but buildable. It doesn’t “hide” my skin but in fact makes my skin look natural and flawless. Again, the bottle is REALLY big and lasts a long time. Some might be put off by the price, but if a bottle lasts an entire year, that breaks down to pennies a day. Then, to complete my look, I like to give my face a nice dusting with an HD powder. It sets my makeup and leaves my skin flawless. The finishing powders I had used in the past left my face looking “cakey” so I was hesitant to try them again. Then I received a sample of MUFE’s HD Microfinish Powder and I’ve been using it ever since. It was hard to process that a powder could be white but it truly is colorless and anyone can use it. A nice, light finish for all day wear and perfect for movies, videos and photos. I always keep an eye on Make Up For Ever to see if they have any new items that I might love as much as these.

lamineralsLA Minerals: “Who?” you ask. Exactly. LA Minerals is a small indie company that I stumbled on while looking for products that wouldn’t irritate my sensitive skin many, many years ago. I was able to try many different formulas and shades (which they have many of!) to see what mineral powder foundation would work for me. They have samples available for almost all of their products so it was nice to try ones I liked and see after a couple of uses whether it would work for me. Well, they did. They ALL did! I ended up getting hooked on a light coverage formula (Valley Girl) for summer when I just need an all over dusting in the heat; a heavier coverage mineral makeup foundation (Hollywood) during the colder months when my skin is a bit is a little paler and uneven toned; a pure, no talc blush in a color that goes with everything I wear without giving me itchy skin; an oil-controlling finishing powder that keeps the shiny-ies away when my skin gets a little oily in the summer and during workouts; “diva dust” that works as a fantastic high-sparkle cheek, lip and eye highlighter; and pure mineral eye shadows that can go on wet or dry, contain no talc, and requires very little product for a great look. What is nice about LA Minerals is that they have a “frequent flyer” code every month for returning customers. You will never see this company in magazines, on TV, or in cosmetic stores. It is all done by one fantastic woman with a great product that thrives on referrals. I have been singing her praises for MANY years and will continue to do so! (Footnote: LA Minerals just released a pure mineral LIQUID foundation which its AWESOME, especially on my dry, winter skin.)

Paul Mitchell: If your skin and makeup are looking great, you might as well make sure you have beautiful hair too! After a horrid hair decision over 3+ years ago, I had to find someone that would fix my mistake and get my hair healthy again. My BFF at the time said he knew just the person and set up a time for her to come discuss my options. She was a miracle worker! She still keeps my hair, even today. I still have a bit of damage to my ends, but they are almost completely grown out. Whenever I would go see her for my appointments, I would ask her what items would work best on my hair to do this or that. The first item she suggested was a Paul Mitchell spray called “Hot off the Press”. It was a multi-function styling product that could be used with hair appliances to hold the style or after I was completely done with my hair for a good hold that wasn’t sticky or damaging. It was exactly what I needed and there is always 1-2 cans in my loft at all times. Since I had been “enhancing” my hair color over the past several years, it was important to find the right products that would extend the life of my color without causing more damage. PM came out last year with a fabulous line of products just for that! The Ultimate Color Repair line not only helps repair current damage but also seals in color preventing fading and keeps hair shiny & soft. This has been my go-to line ever since it came out to keep my auburn tresses bright and healthy! In addition to those favorites, I also have other Paul Mitchell styling products that I love that helps give me a fab look for the day/night. You will find Super Skinny Serum, Stay Strong, Thicken Up, Extra Body Finishing Spray in my collection at all times. Even with that chaotic hair experience, my stylist along with Paul Mitchell’s great products has helped my hair to get healthy again… and has what I need to keep it that way!

We all know that when we see an advertisement in a magazine or on TV for a beauty product, our ears perk up and we try to justify how this great product could fit into our beauty routine. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. As I have gotten more mature, I have learned that new doesn’t always mean better. Although for us makeup junkies, it is hard to turn away from something new that looks great. Nowadays, I find myself asking “Is it worth the time and money to try this or should I stick with the product I already have that I KNOW does exactly what I want it to do?” Sometimes I do venture off and try something new, but I am also finding that loyalty has its privileges…and results!

Let me know what you think about this: Do you have a brand that you are completely loyal to? Do you have any “must have” products from different brands that do what you love and won’t try anything else? Or are you an “I have to try it!” person who is always looking for something newer/less expensive/better? Let me know your thoughts on brands or products you LOVE!
makeupaisles

Sometimes You Gotta Mix ‘Em Up….

24 Mar

imageIn the glamour world, very few things stand alone. Oh sure, you can have that über gorgeous red carpet dress that turns the heads of every status photographer on the runway, but the fact remains that the hair, makeup, jewels and shoes all play a part in that outfit being a front page headline.

That simple fact can also play a part in everyday looks for anyone. Whether you are a 9-5 office worker, a stay-at-home mom, an ever-scouting fad writer or an out there/have-your-own-style tattoo shop manager, layering fashions, accessories, skin care ingredients and makeup items can move a simple daytime look into the WOW! category with a couple of easy steps.

Here are a few to get you started. Following the bouncing ball:

image**Skin Care**-Washing, treating and moisturizing are, nowadays, the bare necessities. If you AT LEAST do that? You’ll hold your ground. But why not combine a few skin-loving ingredients to treat your face to an experience that will multitask with just a few natural, easy to find things. Because my face tends to be a bit dry in the winter, I tend to make my own cleanser/masks to get moisture and anti-aging properties from natural ingredients for the best results. It’s actually simple…

1. Combine 2 tbsp of a mashed overripe banana, 1 tsp raw honey (local is best), 1 tsp heavy cream, 1/2 tsp instant coffee & 1/4 tsp white sugar. (This may sound like a lot, but think ahead: you can freeze extra overripe bananas in the freezer, buy the instant coffee once to use in other things as well, and substitute powdered milk for heavy cream for longer shelf life.)

2. Mix all your ingredients EXCEPT the sugar till the consistency is a bit thick and the coffee has dissolved. Then add the sugar last.

3. Begin to rub it onto your face in small, circular motions. Go over it a few times, adding a bit more each time.

4. After about 5-10 minutes, wash off with warm water & a gentle cleanser (like Aveeno’s Foaming Face Wash)

5. Pat dry.

Whala! Instant face treatment with a combo of fresh ingredients. Your skin is clean, moist, soft and treated. Easy mixing, right? Now, let’s think about what you just did: *Bananas naturally cleanses while hydrating & adding anti-aging vitamins into your skin; *Raw honey is a natural healer and will help heal fines lines due to small skin cracks and stretching; *Heavy cream is loaded with moisturizers and antibodies to fight infection and environmental skin damage; *Instant coffee has just enough caffeine to constrict blood vessels, even your skin tone and awaken tired skin; *White sugar is a gentle exfoliant that will remove dead skin cells and allow the other ingredients to work on the next active layer.

Kind of all makes sense, huh? It’s not a lot of work and if you refrigerate the leftovers you can use what is left daily for up to a week. There are so many ingredients you can add or substitute if you want other skin problems targeted. Tip: Don’t like the way the bananas turn brown in the fridge? Use Stage 1 baby food bananas. They last longer, don’t turn brown and the little bit of lemon juice that is in them helps even out your skin tone too. Baby peaches are good to soften skin. Oatmeal powder can reduce pore size. Yogurt has natural bacteria to help fight acne and breakouts. (Click here for other ingredients and recipes that can help your skin type.)

image**Mascara**-Any YouTube video will tell you that you should wear between 8-10 coats of mascara for drop dead looking eyes. Ummmm… no offense? I don’t have time for that. And it never looks like the pictures anyways. So what’s my layering trick for great, long lashes? It’s kind of simple and doesn’t need a lot stuff. But you will need 3 different mascaras:

1. Get a good mascara that has a great comb wand. This will enable you to coat each lash for length and keep them separated. Plus you can get the little innie lashes with a pointed brush. My go to brand? Benefit Cosmetics “They’re Real!” Mascara. (Sephora, $24)

2. Next, when mascara is completely dry, curl them with a eyelash curler. None specifically, just make sure you are comfortable using it and it doesn’t pinch your eyelid or pull out any lashes.

3. Another coat of mascara. This time use one that lengthens and keeps the separated but begins to add volume. Again, a good wand is important. A comb is good again but can be one whose “bristles” are tighter together. I really like Buxom Lash Mascara. It keeps them fanned with a bit of thickness. (Sephora, $19)

4. Last step? One coat of a thick foofy brushed waterproof mascara. Lock in that look and keep your butterfly eyes looking smudge-proof all day. There are always new ones on the market and I try them before mine dry out and get old, but I’ve always had great success with Lancôme’s Waterproof Hypnose Drama Mascara.

Don’t get scared away by my suggestions of department store brands. I have had great success as well with drugstore brands such as Rimmel’s Scandal’Eyes Show Off Mascara, Lash Sensational Mascara from Maybelline, and L’Oreal Power Voluminous 24hr Mascara. Each is easy on the wallet but still layer-able to get the look you want.

image**Lips**-Maintaining a good, even lip tone with color, gloss, or both will take a little getting used to. The fact is, I don’t have time all day to constantly reapply an entire color routine on my lips. And between chatting all day and drinking coffee, it stays everywhere but on my lips. It has taken some time to get a good routine down, to maintain a lip look that will only need a touch up now and then. But you’ve got to trust me to play with this till you get the look/color you want. Ready?:

1. Exfoliate your lips with 2-3 drops of olive oil and a pinch of white sugar. Dab it on your lips then roll them back and forth so the oil penetrates and the sugar takes off any dry skin. Wipe off excess sugar with a tissue and blot excess oil.

2. Outline your lips with a neutral lip pencil. A great find is Rimmel 1000 Kisses Lasting Finish Pencil Lip Liner in Nude or Avon’s Glimmersticks Lip Liners in Simply Spice or Pink Cashmere.

3. Next time you are shopping, hunt and find a packet of unsweetened Pink Lemonade Kool-Aid and/or Cherry Kool-Aid (if you find other flavors, grab them. They are pennies and can be combined for great shades.) Using a Q-tip, dot a little bit of the powders on your lips, combining to achieve the color you want. If you have to add a drop of water to the other end of the Q-tip to help blend, that’s fine. Just add evenly so you don’t have one lip one color, one lip another. When done, let sit & dry for about 5 min. (If you prefer to just use one flavor, that’s fine too.)

4. Using a lip brush, apply a small amount of a good balm or gloss to keep lips soft. I prefer a balm, as glosses can get oily and transfer more easily giving your color less stay power. My fave right now? Chapstick’s Cake Batter formula. Yum! If you like a bit of frost to your shade, Nivea has a “Kiss of Shimmer Radiant Lip Care” which tops off for a nice, long-lasting sexy frosty shade while keeping lips soft & smooth.

5. Carry a gloss with you that matches today’s Kool-Aid shade in case of early fading or blotchiness or for an extra hint of colored shine.

If a stain isn’t your thing, try to find a ONE STEP lipstick with mega-stay power to keep your lips bright & soft. It won’t last as long but will buy you time in between lip breaks. A good find for me? New York Color Expert Last Lipstick. I find it lasts longer than any tube lipstick I own and the price is a steal.

So there you have it. Layering to get the look you love and the stopping the clock of aging. (Okay, not really but we can sure try to slow it down!) Good luck with these suggestions and please–PLEASE!–share if you have any of your own!

Next time? I think we will tackle eye liners, sweaters and….let me think on it.