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.

My Foundation and Skin Spray Dream Team

When clients ask what brands I use in my kit I always answer the same way, “the best of the best.” It makes sense, I get to try out so many amazing things from companies big and small so I promote the best stuff to kit status where they’ll make my job as a Makeup Artist much easier. The mistake I often make is leaving them there and not using them for myself.

I usually take a few winter months off from my wedding makeup biz which is typically when we vacation for a few months by the beach. This year we stayed in Colorado to focus on our baby girl and (finally) finding a house after a two year search. (I think we’re there!) So because my kit has been parked in the closet and I just ran out, I got my fave foundation (along with my miracle setting spray) out of my kit and into my bathroom.

I can’t say enough about Koh Gen Do and their moisture foundation, not that I really have to since so many makeup artists and celebs use it. Its perfect ratio of powder, emollients, and water give it a better-than-skin look that’s never heavy or drying. It’s the perfect photography makeup but it’s so light that I overlooked the fact that it’s a great everyday makeup too. My melasma is slowly fading out but I still need some coverage so when I have time I quickly blend it in with my fingers before setting it with my favorite spray.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir is another kit staple for many MUA’s because it somehow makes the skin look better. If ever I’m having problems getting foundation to blend into a client’s dry skin, a few sprays pressed into the skin using a Beauty Blender does the trick. I top my foundation with a few sprays and skip the powder. The result using the two together is healthy, even looking skin.

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Just a quick snap I took today in the drive through at Starbucks. I say ‘snap’ only because I’m too old for selfies. See? Even skin. (Side note: I wasn’t mad and I’m not cross-eyed. At least I don’t think I am but it might be because my wonky eye can’t see that it’s wonky.)

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The Skincare Line I’ve Used For 15 Years

One of the most miraculous sights in my bathroom is that of an empty jar. I often get bored or jump from one thing to another when what I’m using isn’t working. But, off and on (more on than off especially with their toner) for 15 years I’ve bought Aqua Glycolic. It was even confirmed by my derm to be one of the best lines on the market- high praise for a simple line priced around $12.

Aqua Glycolic is a hidden gem among drugstore skincare. Best prices I’ve found are at Costco which typically has it all in stock behind the counter in their pharmacy (you don’t need a PX it’s just where it’s kept) but every pharmacy either carries it or will order it for you free of charge. A few tips: I don’t like their creamy cleanser because it feels thin and doesn’t remove makeup. Use the body lotion in place of the cream on your face if you want a higher concentration of glycolic (it’s the same formula), and dilute the toner half and half (or more if you’re sensitive) with witch hazel so you get the benefits of the toner without any drying or irritation.

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Post-Baby Skin Care: What I’ll Be Using to Get Rid of My Melasma (Round 2)

Well here we are, today is the day I’m giving birth to my daughter (Note: of course I’m not writing this in the delivery room, it’s actually the night before) and I’m once again planning my new skincare routine to banish the melasma that reared its ugly head from pretty much day 1 of this pregnancy. I actually think it never went away from the first pregnancy and just kept on building throughout this one. Either way, I’m ready to attack. I’ve done a ton of research and have come up with what I think is the best of the best as far as attacking pigment and restoring my skin without using hydroquinone or Botox.

Cleanser:

I was thinking about getting this Pigment Bar from PCA Skin, a medical line that I really like but I nixed the idea and will stick with my cleanser that I love. I’m just not sure how much help a cleanser is in fading dark spotting since it’s only on the skin for a few seconds and the ingredients are washed away. If you’re curious though, check it out- it’s a cool concept and people seem to really like it.

pca skin

Toner:

Hands down, one of the most effective things I’ve ever used on my skin has been Mandelic acid from Vivant, a line sold through skin pros and doctors that is really picking up steam in the industry for its skin-changing ways. Mandelic acid is an Alpha Hydroxy Acid extracted from bitter almonds, so it’s a safe alternative to hydroquinone (a skin lightener that really works well, but has safety concerns.) This 9% solution will help to lighten while also making my skin soft enough to allow the serums and creams to penetrate and work that much better.

vivant toner

Serum:

I was a little on the fence about this one so I ordered two and then canceled one. I wanted to get Skinceuticals Phyto + which I ordered from Amazon (before canceling) because of its botanical formula and kojic acid, a known skin lightener. In the end the shaky reviews mixed with the fact that I know Mandelic will definitely work were what swayed my decision to stick with a more potent formula. So I ordered Vivant’s Mandelic 3-in-1 Serum 15% which combines Mandelic with Lactic Acid, a combination that will lighten and brighten my skin without question.

vivant mandelic serum

Retinol:

Can I use a retinol while nursing? My derm thought so and she recommended Afirm, a Retin-A alternitive (sidebar: Terntinoin and Retin-A both break me out because they put the vitamin a into a cheap cream that’s all greasy terrible so I can’t use it anyway) that’s easily absorbed into the skin and gives the same results as a prescription retinoid at a fraction of the cost. A good retinol will diminish wrinkles, fade discoloration, and give better clarity and tone to the skin. Another interesting fact: Retinoids are the only FDA approved treatments for wrinkles. I bought the 3X, formula which amounts to a 0.6% retinol which is their strongest treatment. Again, I’m getting the higher percentage treatments for all of the formulations just because my skin is used to really active stuff.. Start with the 1% just a few times a week if you’re just venturing into the world of retinol, but really if you have wrinkles or discoloration to get rid of this is a really good place to start.

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Antioxidant:

I always use an antioxidant serum during the day to combat further damage (and you should too), so I’ll use Vivant’s Spin Trap serum with vitamins C&E. I’ve used this one in the past and for some reason it seems to keep longer than others, it doesn’t turn that dull color vitamin serums turn after just a few months which means its potency is also in tact.

vivant spin trap

Moisturizer:

I went out on a limb for this one. I’ve never used Nia 24 but I see it everywhere and am fascinated by it since it’s the only niacin-based product I know of. There’s a bunch of research they have on their site (independent from them) showing how niacin heals sun damaged skin and can even play a role in skin cancer prevention. Their signature treatment cream is this Intensive Recovery Complex, pricey at $118 but something I’ve literally looked at buying for years. Because it’s meant specifically for hyperpigment issues, I thought it would fit in perfectly with my whole skin-lightening regimen.

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SPF:

Good SPF is key when you’re using an active bunch of products like this. Even in the winter when you don’t think you’re getting sun exposure, you are. I’ve been using Coola SPF 30 Unscented Matte Tint as a daily primer and skin perfector. The look and feel is just like a slightly tinted primer that helps to even out skintone pre-foundation. I love Coola’s sunscreens, it’s an organic line that only does suncare so they do it really well. It’s basically a really good SPF disguised as a great makeup primer that will help even out my skin on days when I won’t be wearing foundation (which will be quite often in the coming weeks.)

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Oh- and I’ll be using my Dermaroller to get super maximum penetration and faster results. Read HERE and HERE to catch up on the magical wonders of Dermarolling (aka microneedling) if you missed my past posts on the subject, and keep an eye on Hautelook (get the app) because they often feature them for just $20 or $30.

Caudalíe Beauty Elixir

Caudalíe’s Beauty Elixir is one of those one-size-fits all things that becomes a cult classic by mostly word of mouth. It’s a refreshing spray that visibly perks up skin and gives makeup a second life.

I use it on a damp Beauty Blender sponge to blend and set foundation and concealer but I also spray it on skin right before makeup as a last step prep. Most women carry it in their bags and use it throughout the day in place of powder to keep makeup fresh without looking chalky or heavy. It has been praised for shrinking pores, calming redness and breakouts, and adding a fine layer of visible hydration. I just know that my client’s skin looks much better when I use it which is why I’m on my 4th bottle.

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MyChelle

I was able to try some products from MyChelle a while back after I got my face scanned. After learning that I basically have the face of a 90 year old, I took home a bunch of their products so I could return for an ‘after’ scan which unfortunately didn’t happen before I had some laser treatments so we wouldn’t have an accurate look at the changes their products alone made. Sigh. But what did happen (even pre-laser) is that I finally found a natural skincare line that actually works! I love MyChelle; from the packaging, to the product variety, to the way it makes my skin look and feel. Here’s a rundown of what I used, what I liked, and what unfortunately missed the mark.

Cleanser: Apple Brightening

I really liked this cleanser, light and slightly foamy but not overly so. The apple scent was a nice and I used it faithfully until it was totally gone which is really saying something. It also left my skin feeling soft and looking bright without stripping or drying. Biggest downside would be the size- 2.1oz for $13 which seems a little skimpy to me.

Apple Brightening Cleanser

Apple Brightening Cleanser

Mist: Apple Brightening

Ever since I can remember I’ve used a toner. From Sea Breeze to Clinique, I’ve used them all in the name of squeaky clean skin. Though I’m still addicted to that (not really important) step after cleansing, it’s good to give my skin a break and to stop stripping away the moisture it needs. In the morning after cleansing when I know there isn’t any makeup left behind on my already clean skin, I’ll spritz a few sprays of this mist instead of my usual toner on a cotton pad routine. It feels refreshing and adds an extra dose of brightening power in a way that’s as light as water.

Apple Brightening Mist

Apple Brightening Mist

Serums:

Apple Brightening

Hydroquinone is not for me. Too harsh and too many risks involved so it isn’t worth it to use even though uneven skintone drives me crazy. I’ve used this serum on and off for years and I’ve found that it does work. It’s so easy on the skin without the use of harsh chemicals to fade dark spots in a natural way. Compared to hydroquinone, it will take more time so be patient and stick with it, you will see a difference.

Apply Brightening Serum

Apply Brightening Serum

Perfect C Serum 17%:

If you’re using a Vitamin C (and everyone should be in my opinion) look for it in the form of L-Ascorbic, the most effective with the best absorption. Anything else might just be orange scented liquid that smells great but does nothing for the skin. This L-Ascorbic serum doesn’t aggravate or leave skin red so sensitive skin can enjoy using it too.

Perfect C Serum 17%

Perfect C Serum 17%

Moisturizers:

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

I love a zinc-based sunscreen, but this was my least favorite product of the bunch. It was hydrating and the texture was good, but it left a bit of a sticky after feel that I couldn’t get used to. Nothing too terrible, and the feeling did go away eventually but it just wasn’t for me.

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

Daily Defense Cream SPF 17

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

A friend with similar skin to mine raves about this cream, she said not to let the rich feel steer me from trying it. It’s by far the thickest cream I’ve ever used but also one of the best. It dissolves into the skin and leaves it really soft. Long term its benefits are great; wrinkle relaxing, tightening, and clarifying so that skin looks brighter and younger. At $54 it’s pricier than most of their line, but it’s a price I’d happily pay.

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

Supreme Polypeptide Cream with Matrixyl® Synthe’6

Because MyChelle isn’t 100% organic, they can balance some more advanced ingredients with natural ones which makes the line more effective in making changes in the skin. Fewer essential oils also mean fewer irritations for sensitive and acne-prone skin so trust in their speciality lines and give them a shot. You can Skype a skin specialist of theirs, or better yet see if they have a Visia scanner at a store near you so you can get a (free!) before and after of your skin and some product recommendations made just for your specific needs.