You Need This Cleanser. Yes, You.

I think I finally have a pretty good idea of how to take care of my skin after all these years of drying the shit out of it then wondering why I don’t have that radiant glow thing going on that we’re all chasing.

It’s as simple as this, are you ready? Exfoliate and soften. That’s it.

By exfoliate I mean manual (like with a scrub or Clarisonic) and chemical (Retin A, or anything to speed up cell renewal), and then soften. I’m saying soften instead of moisturize or hydrate because when I think in terms of hydration the greasy 15 year old in my head says ‘use the oil-free stuff,’ but the 37 year old me is like ‘let’s not go through the trouble of all that Botox and then fry your skin to hell by not nourishing it properly.’ So by thinking about softening over hydrating I can grab whatever makes my skin feel soft with each skincare step I do. For example: This totally amaze balls Ole Henriksen Pure Truth cleanser that I ran out and got as soon as I read about its launch. I’ve always been a fan of a good pre-cleanse (and if you can’t afford to get this, use straight up olive oil on your face and lids every night before your cleanser. It’s life changing) just because of how much cleaner your skin will be if you use something oil-based (oil attracts oil!) to remove makeup and dirt. It’s such a unique consistency- a gel at first that melts right into the skin leaving only a soft slip behind so you can gently massage away makeup. It’s concentrated with oils (olive, almond, rose hip, cherry seed) and vitamins so only a small amount is needed.  Sidebar: if you don’t wear makeup this might be the only cleanser you’d need, but if you do it’s best as a pre-cleanse before your usual cleanser.

In the last few years I’ve started to realize how important it is not to rub the hell out of your eyes. Seeing my clients with droopy lids scares me because other than surgery, there isn’t anything you can do to get that skin firmed up and lifted. This one is worth a look next time you’re in Sephora, it really is something I’d recommend for everyone.

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Best Clarifying Shampoo I’ve Used In A Long Time: Ouidad Superfruit Renewal

Ouidad is a line of haircare meant especially for wavy, curly, and kinky hair so it’s not totally surprising that their Superfruit Renewal Clarifying Cream Shampoo cuts through my coarse waves with no problem. I’m a big believer in using a clarifying shampoo weekly to remove buildup and getting a good quality one is key to not stripping out my high and lowlights and just keeping my color on the up and up. The last one I used was THIS one from Paul Mitchell that felt like it could’ve removed paint from concrete. My hair was ‘squeaky’ clean but at the same time it felt dry and tangly, like when you leave bleach on for too long. This is a gentle, sulfate-free formula that really cleans my hair completely without that ‘squeaky’ or dried out feeling. No sulfates mean no lather so I’m able to really massage my scalp and cleanse all of those shine-enhancing products that I use away so I can give my hair a fresh start. They use fruit acids from açai, blueberry, cranberry, papaya, and pomegranate instead of harsh chemicals to cleanse so my hair smells really fresh and looks bouncy and healthy. It’s definitely the best clarifier I’ve used in a long time, and I will buy another when I’m out.

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Before and After: When the Bride is Your Future Sister In Law!

Thank God my brother Chad had the good sense to marry Lori, an adorable Canadian-born girl who he met on a cruise a few years ago. Before they headed out for their wedding (also a cruise- duh), she stopped over to see me for a makeup lesson and to create a special look for their wedding (that we would sadly miss.) I sat her in front of a mirror and had her mimic what I applied to one side of her face on the other. You can’t tell which side was mine and which was hers can you? She nailed it! She also remembered everything so she looked gorgeous for the wedding too. Here are the highlights for what I used.

Foundation: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation
Powder: Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Face Powder
Concealer: Laura Mericer High Coverage 

Lashes: Ardell #120

Lips: Tarte Park Avenue Princess over a nude liner

Much of the other makeup was her own so she could duplicate the look without buying anything new.

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Tarte is one of my go-to lines that I’ll actually buy whenever I’m out of something because I’ve never been let down by anything I’ve tried. Their new LipSurgence gloss in Park Ave Princess is THE color for summer- a shimmering nude that you have to have! It’s that perfect not-pink, not-brown, not-orange perfectly balanced kinda nude with some light shimmer that flatters all. I’ve been using these LipSurgence glosses every day for a light glaze of color with the right amount of shine. Other than Park Ave Princess, I’ve been wearing Tipsy a lot (second from right), a coral that doesn’t look orange on. A coral gloss is the perfect antidote to the pink routine I’ve gotten into when it comes to my lip wear. Such a cool shade.

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tarte LipSurgence glosses

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That’s Park Ave Princess on the far right- an instant classic!

The other new thing I used was Laura Mercier’s new concealer- high coverage which definitely lives up to its name. The tiniest amount goes a very long way to disguise dark circles and brighten the eye area. Don’t expect a creamy texture like with their Secret Concealer, this is on the drier side so make sure your skin is well moisturized before laying it down. I’ve used it on clients with really dark circles and it covers so well every single time. I would recommend it for someone in their 20′s and 30′s so it won’t settle into fine lines- a common issue with thicker concealers in general.

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Acne Skin? Try This: Murad Acne Starter Kit

Murad’s new Acne Starter Kit $30 is a total homerun for breakouts and redness. It’s a grown-up solution for troubled skin, so it clears it up quickly without drying or peeling. It’s so gentle and makes skin feel great. Since I haven’t been getting facials like I used to, my skin is up and down so I’ve been using the Acne Clearing Solution which helps with shine and reduces inflammation. I love the way it makes my skin feel and when I use the Mattifier SPF 15 over it, my skin is totally primed so foundation smooths right over it. A mattifing SPF is key for the summer months so you don’t turn into an oil slick in the sun.

I used Proactiv years ago and hated it. It dried my skin out and left it flakey and red without clearing anything up. It was too harsh and not effective. This kit is the opposite. Try it first if your skin has been giving you a hard time.

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More Stuff I Buy: Caudalìe, Marc Jacobs, Dr Jart, Living Proof, Anastasia, & A Fan Brush

A few weeks ago Sephora had their VIB event where insiders (just like a frequent flier) got 15% off of anything in the store. It’s not a huge amount but if you’re out of something anyway, it’s a good time to pick it up.

I bought two more things from Living Proof hair care, the mousse which works great for volume without being sticky and their PHD shampoo which I also love. The only thing I’ve bought so far from the line that I wouldn’t buy again is this volumizer which doesn’t actually volumize because you aren’t supposed to use it on your roots so I don’t get the point. Everything else is magic and makes my hair look better. Really, give it a try if you aren’t loving what you currently use. I can’t praise it enough.

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My bronzer is now applied by this fan brush. Bronzer and blush brushes can apply color in a too-concentrated, streaky way but the fan dusts on powders like blush or highlighter really lightly so it’s hard to overdo it. Brushes make all the difference.

Fan brush

I bought another Caudalîe Beauty Elixir which I’m never without for my kit or my own bathroom. I also got another brow powder from the best around, Anastasia. My last one lasted me close to 3 years.

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Not pictured: Living Proof PHD Shampoo and the Fan Brush

Now for the best and worst of it:

I really wanted to love Dr Jart’s SPF 45 BB Cream mostly because I love a good BB Cream and this formula is wildly popular and really well reviewed on Sephora.com. But here’s the thing- see the color on my hand below? It’s like a weird clay color that looks really ashy and dull on the skin. It’s also really light so most women wouldn’t be able to wear it. I looked like I had a weird mask on and it never blended into my skin. It also broke me out which never happens these days. I hated it.

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The best for last. Believe what you’ve read- Marc Jacobs’ color line is pretty amazing. This pencil combines the longevity and of a gel with the ease of a pencil and comes in a rainbow of shades. The black one I have is so rich and glides on with barely a swipe. I can even use it to tight line without it transferring or running down. When I returned my Dr. Jart BB Cream I picked up his shadow palette (the starlet) and couldn’t be happier.

tarte Maracuja Bronzing Serum

This serum is flat out amazing. Revolutionary. A must-have gradual self tanner to achieve the most convincing  tanned look for your face. Below is me before and after just one application. I used a few drops before bed in place of my usual skincare and I woke up with subtle but noticeable color. Maracuja Bronzing Serum is a light oil that absorbs right away and leaves no scent behind,  it’s also streak-free (and has been every time I’ve used it since) and didn’t leave any color behind on my white pillowcase. It’s a self-tanning serum disguised as skincare that’s so gentle you can use it nightly. It didn’t break out my sensitive skin and the color becomes more rich with each application but not overly bronzed or unnatural. It really is amazing stuff.

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I will of course review other self-tanning products for the face in the future, but this is the one I will continue to buy and tell all my friends to do the same.

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