If you’re not willing to spend the $50 for Urban Decay’s Naked palette, check out the Nude palette Physicians Formula just released with a similar look as Urban’s but for only $11. While I can’t vouch for the shadow’s textures and color payoff, I can say that I’ve had great luck with this line (especially the bronzers!) and $11 for 9 wearable shadows is a damn good deal.
Xtreme Lip Cream $6 from NYX is pretty fantastic; high pigment, rich, creamy, and a gorgeous gloss-like shine. I’m addicted to mine, and I don’t usually like to wear lip color. There’s just something about the way the cream makes my lips look that I really love and I get an easy boost of much needed color.
Although this shade is my fav, the whole collection is like a best-of for the sexiest and easiest to wear lip colors around. Do the ol’ wet toothbrush on your lips to exfoliate them before gliding it on, its dense formula works best on soft lips.
Have you heard about the BB Cream craze? BB Creams (short for blemish balm or beauty balm or beauty base) were first developed for women whose skin was left bruised, raw, and red from lasers and other surgical treatments. These creams were made by doctors to soothe, heal, and protect delicate skin with the added bonus of breakthrough invisible coverage to hide the irritations without having to use any traditional concealers or foundations. Essentially they’re unique, lightweight coverage creams with sunscreen and other skin benefits built right in. BB Creams are a true marriage of skincare and color – and are often found in the skincare section and not with makeup. They’re traditionally offered as a one-size-fits-all in terms of color using a universal shade that blends into your skin tone perfecting and seamlessly covering redness instead of masking a it the way a foundation does – it reminds me a little of Philosophy’s The Supernatural which gave similar instant results (see my review and photos HERE). You’ll also see some with a PA+, PA++. or PA+++ sunscreen rating (+++ being the best) which tells you how effective the SPF is in guarding against UVA rays – the nasty ones that breakdown collagen and age the skin.
If you like a full coverage foundation you might find that these aren’t enough so use them as a primer to get more skin benefits than what basic silicone formulas provide.They’re really different from anything else out there so go to Sephora where the selection is the best and ask for samples of a few before you commit. I also want to try Lauder’s new BB Cream they’ve incorporated into their Daywear collection which I’ll review separately once I give it a try. For now, here are the 3 I sampled at Sephora and the pros and cons of each.
Clinique Age Defense BB Cream $37:
Oily skin can benefit from its mattifying properties.
A good shade (01) that would work for very fair skin tones – the lightest I found.
It was the heaviest of the 3 and it settled into the skin making pores look more noticeable.
No PA rating.
I couldn’t figure out what the added skincare benefits were (what a BB is all about).
Their site refers to it as a ‘weekend makeup’ along the lines of a quick tinted moisturizer, but it’s called a BB. Not sure if it’s a true BB or just marketing.
Its radiance was a little unflattering (at least on my skin) where it bordered shiny instead of healthy.
I liked the thick, creamy texture and easy blendability. It’s probably best for those with good skin who favor a tinted moisturizer or quick powder for their daily routine.
Boscia BB Cream SPF 27 PA ++ $38:
Great skincare benefits (help for fine lines, dryness, and large pores), which is what a BB should offer.
SPF 27 and a PA++ rating
It has a natural formula without parabens, phthalates and other chemicals.
It did give my skin an immediate boost.
It has these tiny bits of shimmer that, although slight, might not be a fit for oily or mature skin.
Like most BB Creams, the one shade isn’t for very fair or very dark skin tones.
This was my favorite and the only true BB of the bunch, it made my skin look better and covered redness well. It’s something I would buy and recommend to those looking for quick and easy coverage.
Shade range; if you have darker skin you’ll have the best luck finding a color to suit you here.
It gave the most coverage of the 3 I tried, almost as much as some foundations.
You’ll get a pretty glow from its finish.
It does contain some vitamins and minerals, but overall it really is more of a quick makeup than a true BB Cream.
No PA rating and an SPF 20, the lowest of the 3.
These are along the lines of what you’ll begin to see more and more of – a foundation with a built in primer and less of a BB Cream but marketed as such. It’s not a bad thing since I really liked the look and coverage, but if you want more of the skin treatment this one will leave you wanting more. Best for those who want great coverage from a tinted moisturizer and don’t care as much for the added skincare bonuses.
A few others to consider:
Sephora now carries Dr Jart’s signature BBs which are favorites in Asia where competition is big. Check out their Premium BB SPF 45 PA+++ $39 for more mature skin and the Water Fuse BB PA++ $32 for normal to oily skin. They’re both great for the skin formulated without synthetics and are exactly what BBs are supposed to be – skincare/makeup hybrids.
Garnier launched the first drugstore BB for just $13 that comes in two shades – Light/Medium and Medium/Deep. I’m can’t find its skincare benefits (or SPF), but it’s getting some good reviews for its light, even coverage. Look for it in the skincare aisle, not next to the makeup.
What to look for in a BB Cream:
- Sunscreen, PA ratings are a bonus.
- Vitamins and minerals.
- Enough coverage so you aren’t using concealer or anything else over it (unless you want to use it as a primer).
- Adequate moisture for your skin.
- Added benefits whether it be for skin lightening, acne, moisture, or whatever- find one that’s helping to target what your skin needs most.
For a full listing of the popular Asian formulas, check out THIS article from 08′ before the US versions hit the stores.
I’m slowly starting to figure out that the all-natural stuff just doesn’t make my skin look as good as it does when I throw something more advanced its way. I’d love nothing more than to use straight nuts and berries on my face, but unfortunately it’s not helping to fade out some old scarring and redness I have going on. Believe me, I’ve tried.
In the cluttered skincare landscape filled with claims and promises, I can say that skin lighteners typically live up to their hype and are worth a try. There are so many ways to fade out
age sun spots (sounds nicer), scars, discolorations and add more clarity and tons of radiance, it’s just a matter of finding something that works for your skin (and budget). I’ve put together a list of skin lighteners I’ve tried and ones I hear work great- look into them to see which might be best for the changes you’d like to make in your skin.
Ole Henriksen Sheer Transformation $45:
I’ve read so much about this line and heard stories from people who are crazy devoted so I bought Sheer Transformation to see if I can kick out the last of my scarring and redness. It’s especially effective when used over Invigorating Night Gel but I use it over Obagi Exfoderm Forte that also has Glycolic and Lactic acids for cell turnover and brightening so it’s along the same lines. It’s a weightless gel/cream that absorbs quickly and gives your skin a dose of vitamins, fruit acids, and licorice for non-chemical fading and brightening. I love the way it feels so far, can’t wait to see the results.
Murad’s serum uses known skin lightener Hydroquinone (2.0%) for a quicker approach to fading out those age spots within weeks. Most people in their trials saw a difference in their spots in just two weeks in fact. If you’re looking for something to work quickly and effectively, this is a serum to check out. There’s still some back and forth about the safety of Hydroquinone (typically when it’s used in a much higher concentration), but it’s still regarded by many as the gold standard for skin lightening.
Idealist has been the most effective in fading out the freckles on my chest that I’ve had since forever. It uses a more gentle approach so the results aren’t instant but if you hang with it you’ll definitely see even, more radiant skin in about a month with better and better looking skin over time. $85 is an investment, but so are the laser treatments I was looking into. I’m glad I found something much less invasive for a lot less money.
Iman Time Control Skin Tone Evener $16:
This treatment is the least expensive of the bunch and hydroquinone free. It’s meant for all skin tones, but it’s especially effective for fading spots on darker skin tones which can be harder to lighten.
Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution $50:
Clearly Corrective is a new lightening serum free of silicones, fragrance, and parabens using vitamin c and white birch to get skin glowing. You should see some changes in just a few weeks with full results after 8, and continued use will help keep future spotting away.
Spots and uneven tone are easy problems to fix, so start with a skin evening treatment before thinking about Botox or more invasive things. You might find that your skin looks so great, you don’t need to do anything else.
Now that you know where to spend a little extra money, let’s talk about where not to. The divide in quality between drugstore and department store brands isn’t so wide anymore (hello, Olay Pro-X!), so save where you can in these few key categories where I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter.
Mascara: CoverGirl LashBlast
I’ve always been a fan of drugstore mascara – it’s what you’d find both in my professional kit and in my bathroom. While the Maybelline pink and green might be a fav of some, I stick with CoverGirl for all things mascara. LashBlast’s fat tubes are all the rage for a reason – they’re great formulas that wear so well you don’t need to get those impossible-to-scrub-off waterproof formulas that should be a measure of last resort purchase. The one in the orange tube is fine, but I like the purple one – Fusion as it’s called – for a really long, defined look that I can layer on over and over without clumping. For around $9 or so, it’s a third of what some department stores mascaras are and every bit as good. If CoverGirl doesn’t light your fire, check out what Maybelline, Revlon, and others have to offer, you’ll find a $10 formula you love guaranteed.
Long Wear Lipstick: L’Oreal Infallible
Brides are always surprised when I tell them to grab a drugstore brand lipstick for touching-up on their big day. L’Oreal Infallible is one of the best long-wearing lip formulas out there. It stays put a crazy long time without fading, feathering, or getting all globby. It isn’t bulletproof, but I’d say only one touch-up during the day is all you need after your first morning application. Not bad for $12.
Eye Liner: NYX
Love M.A.C’s Liquidlast? Grab NYX Studio Liquid Liner for $4 – a big savings over M.A.C’s $17.50 especially because they both stay as long and have vast color selections. A powder shadow is perfect for those who can never seem to draw on a decent liner shape because it’s so simple to use, Smashbox has one for $22, as does NYX for $6. Same packaging, same applicator, and the same great result. NYX has a liner selection that I adore, most priced less than $10 and all stack up big time against higher priced counterparts.
Brow Powder: Any Line Will Do
Right now I’m using a light taupe mineral shadow for my brows just because I have it laying around. Before that it was this $4 Ardell Brow Defining Powder, but it really doesn’t matter. Yes, a brow-specific color is the best bet since color correctness is key, but as long as you get the shade right you can use any powder you have on hand to get the job done.
I think makeup is most beautiful when it’s kept simple. Even if you want to make a bit of a statement – keeping the look balanced and not going overboard are important for a classic, beautiful look. Here I used dusty gray and neutral pink to create an evening look that whispers ‘romantic’ without screaming ‘nightclub.’
I used Estée Lauder’s Modern Mercury duo which I’ve actually used a ton since, not because they’re the only gray shadows I own – it’s because they’re so soft in texture that they look light on the lids giving just the right punch of color without chalky weight. This sort of almost creamy texture is key when working on more mature eyes or when using darker shadows so the color doesn’t appear to just sit on the skin.
I wasn’t surprised that I loved NYX HD Studio Photogenic Foundation, a $15 version of a $40 foundation. It mimics department store brands in the way it covers without seeing a trace of it on the skin and continues to do its thing for many hours without changing color or fading.
I can’t get enough of NYX Mosaic Powder in Spice, a color with patches of cool and warm tones blended together in a way that gives cheeks the most believable neutral flush. I didn’t want a total pop of color between her pink lip and statement eyes so this soft looking transition proved to be just enough color without looking too harsh.
I used Estée Lauder Pure Color Gloss Stick in Mauve Mirage, a limited shade no longer available. I love this formula so much that I’ve bought 3 since receiving a sample stick. Clients literally want to buy it out of my kit whenever I use it on them because of its relaxed color in a soft, shiny formula. It’s a subtle glossy sheen without the goop of a gloss in a convenient stick.
I also dabbed just a touch of Rain’s lip conditioner in Suite on her dry lips before the lipstick just to prime them a little so the color would glide on.