Dear Carissa- Seeking Natural Skincare that Actually Works

Dear Carissa,

I prefer natural skincare but I’m tired of throwing money away on things that don’t work. What’s a skin care line that will make my skin look good without any harsh chemicals?

Thank you!

Heather Allentown, PA

Hi Heather,

There are so many natural and organic lines out there, but one homerun that I see work for women (I’m also a big fan) time and again is Nude Skincare. They started out with a smaller range and have gradually introduced some heavy hitters in terms of advanced skincare like their Advanced Cellular Renewal Moisturizer $92 which is sort of the La Mer of the natural skin scene. Its texture is silky with a medium weight that absorbs into the skin quickly – great for both under makeup and nighttime wear. Their pro-biotic and Advanced Cellular Renewal technologies along with select natural actives are what make it so effective. It’s not that it really works without including chemicals, it’s that it just really works.

Dear Carissa- Lipstick Loving Lisa & Estee Lauder

Dear Carissa,

I love your blog and read it daily but I do notice that you don’t really talk about lipsticks very much. I’ve always been a lipstick wearer and am looking for a great formula that is moisturizing and long wearing. The long wearing formulas dry out my lips especially since I always have lipstick on. What would you recommend??

Thank you,


Hey Lisa,

Ah lipstick, such a lost art. With the rise in popularity of glosses, we’ve all gotten so used to the sheer shine they create so we shy away from the color commitment that lipstick brings. But a lipstick lover is a die-hard breed, it’s the woman who sneaks off after meals to re-apply knowing she just doesn’t look complete without it. As you’ve noticed, I’m a total gloss gal, but as a makeup artist I know which lipsticks will grant you long-wearing luster without skimping on moisture.

When I think of lipsticks and how iconic and luxurious they are, another beauty icon comes to mind, Estee Lauder. My first department store lipsticks were from Lauder and I can remember thinking that they were so special and how lucky I was to get to carry around those heavy gold tubes filled with colors that I would proudly apply in public.

I’m still a Lauder lipstick fan today. My favorite formula is Pure Color which balances a creamy, lip-quenching satin color with a long-wearing formula. They’ve also honed in on the best loved plums, neutrals, pinks, and reds narrowing down the color selection to what looks best on, and not how many they can create in order to decorate a giant lipstick display in the store.

Don’t think though that the evolution of super long-wearing lipsticks has stalled out on drying formulas. Lauder’s Double Wear is the real deal boasting 12 long hours of wear removed only with makeup remover. It’s a go to for me as a Makeup Artist because it makes my job a lot easier since I can go a long time sands touch-ups. It isn’t as moisturizing as Pure Color, but it’s the most moisturizing of the formulas that last 12+ hours.

And for the days where you’re looking for just a hint of color, line your lips using Double Wear Stay-in-Place Lip Pencils and fill them in a bit applying gloss over top so you’ll get a look that’s longer lasting with a bit more color than gloss alone.

Long-wearing, moisture rich, and iconically gorgeous lip colors. I hope you enjoy Lauder like I always have.


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Dear Carissa- What’s the Deal With M.A.C Studio Fix??

From a reader last week asking the a question I get a lot.

Hi Carissa,

I love your blog! I have a question about foundations. I’ve been
using MAC Studio Fix Powder for many years and now I want to try something
new (esp. since many make-up artists don’t seem to recommend it for
whatever reason). What is your take on MAC studio fix?

I’m looking for something that is quick to apply and will provide a
matte finish for my oily skin.


Hi Betty,

Ok, here’s a painful and embarrassing admission. I once lived for Studio Fix. No, like seriously lived for it. I had one at home and one in my purse at all times and touched up constantly. Every time I would buy a new one, I would be color matched to something different and just went with it even when I looked a little orange. I can now, with 100% certainty, look back on photos and tell you when I was wearing Studio Fix and when I wasn’t.

I can’t speak for other artists (although I know it isn’t something they use) but I’m not a fan because It’s heavy, chalky, matte, and unflattering on 99% of the women who wear it. I liked it though for the same reasons you do- it’s easy to apply with tons of coverage that matted out my oily skin.

Then, one day the clouds parted and I saw the light. I no longer wished to look like Elvira mistress of M.A.C, I would *gasp* let my actual skin show through. You too, Betty, can make that change.

But it’s not easy.

See, you’re unconsciously addicted to seeing the actual makeup and not your skin, so when you’re using something that just boosts the look of your skin and lightly conceals redness, you probably won’t like it. Just know that from now. Look at old photos, are there any where your face appears mime-white from the talc-tastic formula? Let those be your inspiration.

Do what I did, move on to Stila’s Illuminating Powder Foundation. It’s much lighter in weight, gives your skin a beautiful luminosity, and some natural looking coverage.

Just know that you don’t want to replace Studio Fix, you want to rehab from it. It won’t be the same, but it will be better.



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Dear Carissa- Foundation Advice; BECCA Cosmetics

Dear Carissa,

I am trying to find a foundation that is natural looking and easy to apply. My current foundation, I love the way it goes on and the look of it but it just doesn’t last. I want a primer too that makes it last a little longer and also helps my shine.

Do I have unrealistic expectations that foundation should last all day?

Thanks so much!


Ok Courtney, here’s the scoop,

As a Makeup Artist, I get a unique insight into the lasting power of makeup since it’s my job to ensure what I create lasts an incredibly long amount of time. Some people’s skin doesn’t hold on to color as well as others, so using a highly pigmented foundation would be a good place to start. Look for a strong color line, like BECCA which does foundations really well, and then invest in the longevity of that foundation with a primer and powder.

BECCA’s 4 primers allow you to choose one based on your skin type, you’d like their Mattifying Primer to cancel out shine and give the foundation something to grab on to for extended wear. If you’re ever having problems with foundation not lasting, using a primer is always a good place to start.

BECCA’s Stick Foundation gives the best coverage of any stick foundation I’ve used. I first use it as a concealer to cover redness, then I dab it on one section of my face at a time and buff it in with a foundation brush.  You don’t need to use a lot for complete coverage, the finish is totally natural looking, and I love that it’s SPF 30.

You may have heard about their Fine Loose Finishing Powder which constantly receives rave reviews because it’s micro-milled to be ultra fine. It’s so unique that it sets the foundation making it semi water resistant while allowing the skin’s natural finish to peek through.

Bottom line-  find a line that has a fantastic foundation, use the primer and powder within that line as a system that works together to give you the lasting power you want.

Dear Carissa- Finding a Foundation

Assorted foundations etc taken from my personal kit.

Hi Carissa,

Love your blog. It’s simple and very informed. I wanted to ask you a question about choosing a shade for foundation. I’ve heard friends who say that when they buy foundation they would choose a color that is a tiny bit darker than their skin tone. They choose the darker foundation because it would not “wash them out” when they are taking pictures. Is it better to choose darker foundation as an “insurance” against looking too pale in photos?

Thanks and keep up the good work on you blog,


Hi Phoebe,

Some women prefer their foundation a little darker, or a little lighter. I was helping my mother-in-law find something last week that would add a pinky tone to her ‘too yellow’ foundation.

Aside from preference, your foundation will look the most natural if it matches your skin tone as closely as possible, which is easy now thanks to ‘skin tone correct’ foundation shades, which are yellow based and tend to flatter most skin tones. Lines like Bobbi Brown, Stila , Smashbox, and Laura Mericer are just a few that subscribe to this theory, so finding a foundation from those lines is usually pretty easy.

As far as the ‘washing out’ that you see in photos, that’s the result of talc in the foundation that flashes back at the camera. Mineral makeup is talc free, but watch out for it in other powder foundations as well as some liquids.

My best advice would be to find a foundation that matches, then add bronzer if you’d like more color. If your skin is oily, foundations probably turn darker on you, so keep that in mind.

Thanks for reading and sending in your questions.


Carissa [at] CarissaBeauty [dot] com

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Dear Carissa- Finding the Right Primer

Dear Carissa,

I had the pleasure of reading through your site and I love your recommendations.

I know on your site, you recommend monistat, but I have heard that this can aggravate people with acne prone skin.

I am 35 now I have noticed my pores around my nose and cheek area are enlarging, and all foundations seem to just emphasize them.

I have tried a few primers, but they are either too oily or too dry (making mineral makeup catch on dry skin), or make me break out.

What would work for me?

Best Regards,


Well Andrea, here are a few of my favorite primers along with what skin types might benefit most from their use.

Monistat Soothing Care Chafing Relief Powder-Gel;

Who can use it?

- Most skin types except for acne prone

- Women who don’t use a primer most days, but would like something for times when they want foundation to stay put

- Gals on a beauty budget

Smashbox Photo Finish Primer SPF 15;

Who can use it?

- All skin types

- Women who want a finished look but don’t wear foundation daily, use it alone to soften the look and texture of skin.

- Those looking for an extra SPF boost with anti aging benefits as well.

Jane Iredale Absence Oil Control Primer;

Who can use it?

- Sensitive, oily, and acne prone skin

- Mineral makeup users

- Women who find their makeup tends to change color during the day

Peter Thomas Roth Max Anti-Shine Mattifying Gel;

Who can use it?

- Incredibly oily skin that needs powder after an hour of makeup application

- Those who don’t enjoy applying more powder during the day for shine, just rub a bit between your fingers and press it into your t-zone to bring down shine without looking cakey.

- Skin prone to breaking out

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