I’ve Had the Baby, Now I Can Get Back to Looking Normal Again

D-Day came and went and now we have an 8 pound 3 ounce bundle of adorableness that has us totally in love and barely able to concentrate on anything else. So as long as I have some time focused here at my computer (she’s napping) I might as well make good use and let you know what I’ve been cooking up for my skin to get rid of the melasma and its general crappy, dull state. I didn’t think much about melasma since I was faithful to great skincare, but maybe it’s because I was busy being smug about escaping stuff like stretch marks and heartburn that melasma was hardly a worry. Not so lucky. The day before I delivered last week, I was having brunch with my sister who asked only the way sisters can ‘when did that discoloration start?’ Thanks. Better though than my 98 year old grandma in the hospital room remarking about how I ‘still looked pregnant.’ My family keeps my ego in check. Anyhow, even with 2 coats of good coverage, the damage is pretty noticeable especially on my un-Botoxed forehead.

Until I can wrap up this breast feeding thing, I’ll remain un-Botoxed but will start to fight the best (and safest way) I know how. Starting with the big guns. Lasers.

My pregnant sleepless nights were spent perusing nursery ideas on various sites, finding decor on Etsy, and researching the best kind of laser to use for getting my skin back on track. Fraxel remains the gold standard for overall skin rejuvenation including wrinkles, age spots, acne scars, and melasma. It takes care of it all in just a few treatments without the horrendous downtime that you’d get from say a peel or other lasers. You will get red – sunburn red – but nothing too disgusting where you have to hide out in your house for a week (not that I’m exactly hitting the town these days). A word to the wise, lasers hurt. When I did some IPL a while back they said it would feel like rubber bands snapping against the skin which was total bullshit, it was more like someone flicking lighted matches at me. Again, totally worth it if it works. And a nice chemical-free way to get my skin heading in the right direction without Botox or chemicals I shouldn’t use because I’d be essentially feeding it to the baby.

I stashed a bottle of Estée Lauder’s Idealist they sent me to review a while back for this very thing after I saw that it was working to fade spotting. It quickly gets rid of all sorts of discolorations on the skin and feels and smells amazing. I’ll use it during the day under my SPF that’s so essential to prevent more damage from happening.

If your skin needs changing, use Vivant. I swear it made a huge difference in my skin years ago when I was faithful to the line (which is hard when trying new things is your job), but everything they have is medical grade and reasonably inexpensive. Their Exfol-A is what I’ll be using for a kick of Vitamin A without having to use Retin A which is set in a cheap cream base that breaks me out every time I try to use it. This serum combines A with Lactic, Uric, and Kojic Acids – all known to fade discolorations and give skin a pretty glow.

I’ve lost so much hair this pregnancy that it’s actually really sad. The combo of my crazy thyriod and the estrogen going out the window after the birth has resulted in literally half of my hair falling out. There were a few times when I would cry after a shower just watching the massive amounts of hair being washed down the drain or combed away. Luckily my stylist Carrie works for Aveda and raves about their new collection for thinning hair called Invati. It’s supposed to reduce hair loss and help to regrow hair using a natural formula and she promised that if I stuck to it that it would work. I hope so. My hair’s my thing, yo.

I’m sure I can use a lot more to try and get myself back to looking somewhat human again, but I’m supposed to be simplifying my routine and not making it more complicated. What am I missing? Tweet me your beauty suggestions for post-baby beauty @HookedOnBeauty

Best Skin Lighteners for Fading Discolorations

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 Rapid Age Spot and Pigment Lightening Serum $60:

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.


Estée Lauder Idealist $85:

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.

Because It’s Worth It… Where to Spend a Little More Money

If you haven’t watched the adorable Marcel The Shell video that’s such a huge hit on YouTube – you have to check it out below (and click HERE to see it if you get this post delivered via email). The the couple who produces it has already written a book and is in talks to develop a series staring their lovable one-eyed shell after just 2 videos. I watch it religiously. It just makes me smile.

http://youtu.be/Ta9K22D0o5Q

My favorite line is at the end when he says he smiles because it’s worth it. Which caused a mental domino about what’s really ‘worth it’ in terms of popping the lock off the wallet and spending a little more for an investment in your skin looking great. I’m not someone who thinks you have to spend a ton to look great – I recommend drugstore finds as often as department store ones – but there are a few exceptions that are so great that I’ll spend the extra cash because I know they’re worth it.

Chantecaille Future Skin Foundation:

I’m scraping the bottom of my jar of Chantecaille Future Skin that I got almost 2 years ago. I heard so much about their foundations that I purchased the jar at a counter not knowing it was $72 and then tried to play it off when she told me my total like it wasn’t twice as much as I’d ever spent on foundation. I quickly discovered that after I tried every type of foundation that passed my desk, I’d happily return to Future Skin. Its coverage is fantastic, staying power terrific, and the look of it is so natural – which might be because it’s made of 60% water and seaweed. The higher price tag could be attributed to its treatment benefits like reducing sebum and calming redness with chamomile and green tea – but who knows. All I know is that I’m mentally preparing for another $72 purchase very soon, but at least this time I know it’s worth it.

Liz Earle Cleanser:

Cleanse & Polish, the cleanser that I’ve referred to as ‘near perfect,’ is so worth an order from the UK based Liz Earle (or from Fred Segal Santa Monica- their only stateside location I know of.) It’s not a pricey buy at $25 for a 3.3oz pump (and around $7 to ship), it’s the ordering that makes it a little more of a challenge than grabbing a bottle at a store like we’re all so used to doing. I’m so addicted to this thick, creamy, lightly Eucalyptus scented gentle cleanser which removes all makeup so effortlessly, that when I try out a new cleanser to review it’s what I measure them all against. It’s a gold standard for a cleanser and one that’s so popular they have an automatic refill service and also a 3 pack available to make getting this perfect cleanser as easy as possible.

SkinCeuticals Serums:

SkinCeuticals is renowned for their high-potency, crazy effective serums designed to correct, fade, protect, and calm – whatever your skin happens to need. Their C E Ferulic is probably their best known do-it-all serum with vitamins C and E and Ferulic acid to protect the skin against environmental damage and skin aging. They use the purest, best forms of vitamins (like L-Ascorbic for their C) for maximum benefits and create combinations with other vitamins and acids for the very best skin absorption. Serums compliment any skincare routine and are so beneficial using only a few drops a day making them worth their $100- $150 cost.

Estée Lauder Eye Creams:

Eyes show age. It’s that simple. Getting that thin skin moisturized and protected is important, as is finding an eye cream that has some beneficial ingredients and proven science. So many eye creams are a complete waste – basically just plain moisturizers in a smaller jar without any true benefits. I trust and love Lauder’s eye creams – they have something for every skin type and concern, but their Re-Nutriv eye creams are their supreme offerings. With too much science in them to explain (or understand, really) I just know that when I use a Lauder eye cream, I can see the difference. I can waste money $35 at a time with something that isn’t working, or just fork out the $100 (ish) to see a difference and keep the Botox away a little bit longer.

Don’t worry, I’m also rounding up a ‘not worth it list’ (hello mascara!!) so you can save your pennies on things that are all pretty much the same.

Makeup Before and After; Balanced Pinks and Grays

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.’


Before


And after (click to enlarge)


Here’s a group shot of what I used.


A little closer so you can see the colors.

Eyes:

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.

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.

Cheeks:

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.

Lips:

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.

Backstage at New York Fashion Week Spring 2012 with Estée Lauder and The Row

My heart feels a little sad when my inbox becomes flooded during Fashion Week with backstage reports. I made the decision not to cover NYFW this time because I just couldn’t make it work (I’m aiming for the fall shows this February though), so with a twinge of jealousy and that feeling like a little kid who missed out on her friend’s super fun birthday party, I’ll bring you the beautiful photos of the hottest makeup trends from the shows I hated missing starting with The Row.

If there was any doubt that Lauder is hotter than ever, Tom Pecheux and his EL team acted as glam squad for the A-List loving line The Row, designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Here’s the full scoop on the look and a rundown on what was used including a their cool trick of using mascara as liner.

Eyes: NEW dual-ended mascara in black/brown tested backstage- launching March 2012

-used with an eyeliner brush for liner in between lashes  (this is a really good idea similar to tight lining but using mascara so you can connect the lash at the base to make it look more lush- Carissa)

-used with the mascara wand for lashes

*Blondes: Top and bottom lashes- brown; liner- brown

*Brunettes: Top lashes- black; bottom lashes and liner- brown

Eyebrows: Sumptuous Extreme Bold Volume Mascara in Black and Brown

Lips: Pure Color Long Lasting Lipstick in Beige

Cheeks: NEW limited edition Gelée Bronzer tested backstage- launching January 2012

Skin: Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator

DayWear Plus Multi Protection Anti-Oxidant Creme SPF 15

Foundation: NEW formula tested backstage- launching March 2012

Powder: Lucidity Loose Powder

Nails: Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Nude Attitude – Available in select International markets

Credits :

Makeup: Tom Pecheux for Estée Lauder

Nails: Deborah Lippman using Estée Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer

Photos: Courtesy of Estée Lauder

Click HERE to see photos from the show.

Makeup Before and After: Bronzy Bridesmaid

Another day, another makeup transformation. I took these over the weekend at a wedding I worked at the Brown Palace here in Denver. It’s the brides sister (and maid of honor), who requested a punched up version of her usual look with some bronzy highlights that would photograph well. Here’s the before and after along with a few things that made the look possible.

My Hero Products for the Look:

Estée Lauder: Bronze Goddess Soft Duo Bronzer

Finding a bronzer that looks good in the office is one thing, but finding one that photographs well and lasts all day is another. Lauder has gotten good at bronzing and their one-shade-works-for-most duo is a go-to for a lot of makeup artists because of its instant tanning affect that’s perfect in any light. Keep in mind that bronzer isn’t meant to be used all over the face, just the top of the forehead, chin, and under the cheek bones gives a dynamic look. A little bit of brozner is pretty and youthful, bronzer all over is Jersey Shore.

Tarte: emphasEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Liner in Black

emphasEYES is as good as any gel liner out there (better than Bobbi for precision because it isn’t as slippery) but with mineral-derived pigments and a natural formula.I used it on her upper lash line with the pointy side of the brush (shown below), then I did a smudgy application under her lower lash line with the diffusing side of the brush. I’ve seen girls literally cry over this liner without it moving. Liner is important to a look and this is one I trust.

L’Oreal: Double Extend Eye Illuminator in Black Quartz

I’m still using Double Extend in my kit – I’ve never had a problem with smudging or moving and these are brides and bridesmaids who are basically sweating and crying all day long. Double Extend Eye Illuminator offers the same great formula on one side in black, but replaces the primer side with a shimmering formula and a round tipped brush meant to highlight the lashes. I don’t know how much the glimmer actually brings a highlight to the lash, but I love the shape of the brush to work mascara into the outer part of the lashes where they’re the longest and need some extra bulk.

KohGenDo: Maifanshi Moisture Foundation in Shades 2 and 3 blended together

I’ve blogged about KohGenDo Foundation before, it’s a well-loved pick for Makeup Artists who forgo airbrushing for a more controlled (and safer) application. It enhances skin and gives a good amount of coverage without making it look like you’re wearing a mask. You can see in these pics that some of her freckles are still showing (I outright refuse to cover freckles beyond what the foundation does because I think they’re so cute), but the bulk of her discoloration is gone and her skin is still showing through and glowing. No need to powder over top either, the formula itself contains 10% powder so it’s self-setting.