How to Expand Your Makeup Comfort Zone

In a previous series of posts titled Summer School @ Sephora and False Lashes for the Lash Challenged I mentioned that I have been on a mission this past year to step up my makeup game and expand or increase my comfort zone as well as my confidence. I think it is important to periodically examine what we are doing when it comes to hair, makeup skincare, and fashion to keep our look fresh, up to date, and appropriate as we …ahem… mature.

Let’s take a minute to be sure we’re on the same page.  According to Webster’s comfort zone is defined as a place, situation, or level where someone feels confident and comfortable.  If we translate this definition to the world of makeup, it really means what is the “look” (or what are the looks) that you can create with makeup where you are at your most confident?   Where you can go into a given situation without worrying about how you look   and confident that your look is appropriate for the situation.  Whether it is a job interview, a first date, or meeting someone new where you want to make a good impression.  These are just a few examples, I’m sure you can come up with more.  We can stretch or expand our comfort zones by trying new things that we may not be comfortable to start with, and this my friends is how we grow and evolve over time.  Learning and growth are important to us in every aspect of our lives.

One other thought I’d like to make clear — I am not looking to be judgemental or to over-emphasize the importance of physical appearance.  We all need to decide for ourselves as individuals what we are most comfortable with, but with the recognition that we do make an impression through our appearance.  We just want that impression to be a positive one.

My original idea for this post was to write about my favorite red lipsticks and the reasons for its popularity.  For the sake of this discussion, I am not including lip glosses, but I did include liquid lipsticks and lip stains. In order to write the post, I needed to inventory my collection of red lipsticks. The findings were enlightening – like cleaning out your closet and wondering why did I buy this [insert garment description of your choice here]? Or how did I end up with ten pairs of black pumps?

Image from Dior website

What I really discovered was that although I like red, I didn’t really have many reds (and how many do I really need anyway?).  In fact, I only had four in my lipstick wardrobe – four out of 39 total or roughly 10%.   There are a number of lipsticks that I own two tubes of as a matter of convenience, but the largest number of colors were in the wine or burgundy family. nmc23qd_buAnd oh, by the way, I did not own a single matte red until this last month when I fell in love with Dior’s signature red known as 999 (second from the top in the Dior image) which was recently released in a matte formula known as Dior Rouge Extreme. If you’re interested, here is a nice review from By Georgia Grace. As I thought about it, I realized that two of the four reds pictured were purchased in the last few months. Writing about my favorite reds as originally conceived really didn’t make sense because although I like the color I didn’t have many, nor did I wear it on a regular basis.

Before I get to the point about my comfort zone, let me digress and explain why I was thinking about red lipsticks in the first place.  I came across several interesting articles which referenced an eye-opening data point.  An article from Huffington Post cites a 2013 study in France which found waitresses who wore red lipstick on the job received tips from male customers more frequently — 50% of the time for the red lipstick wearers versus 30% for all other colors.  In my mind this clearly means these women had increased income since in France “service compris”  which means “tip included” is the norm.  Said another way, the tip is already included in your bill, but these men chose to pay an additional tip.  This confirms what we’ve intuitively known — red lipstick does get you noticed by the opposite sex.

Red lipstick is classic — it is always in style and studies show that it tends to make the wearer feel more confident.  It is also a way to “fake it till you make it”.  Indeed, according to Gwyneth Paltrow “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”  Having a selection of reds to choose from is also key.  Per Poppy King, founder of Lipstick Queen, “Versatility is what makes red lipstick so endlessly alluring.”

So, what is the point of all this, and how does it relate to expanding our comfort zone with makeup? I would say that until embarking on my “up my game” adventure I was stuck in a makeup rut – only wearing colors and formulas that I was already comfortable with. As it turns out, red wasn’t really one of them.  It did take me a while to come to this realization, but this exercise provided additional proof. To my credit, I did begin to branch out and try new formulas and colors this past year which is a good thing.  I also went out and bought a few new reds.  My three biggest lipstick related changes which stretched my lipstick comfort zone were:

  • Experimenting with matte lipsticks – in addition to the Dior 999 I have bought several of Charlotte Tilbury’s Matte Revolution lipsticks.  I have also picked up a more diverse range of colors in the matte formula. I like her matte formula and my Tilbury faves are Birkin Brown, Hel’s Bells, and Salma’s Secret. These have become a regular part of my lipstick wardrobe.  By the way, before pushing the publish button on this post I bought one more matte lipstick.  I picked up the By Terry Rouge-Expert Click Stick in 14 which is a matte orange.  I wanted to try these but wasn’t able to find the testers until last week.  I like this formula as it feels very moisturizing and I ordered a second stick during the Beautylish sale.
  • Expanding my horizons with liquid lipsticks. Until this year my only “liquid lipsticks” were the Dior Addict type which according to The Violet Files Beauty Lessons: A Lesson on Lips are really a lip stain. I hadn’t thought about more opaque liquid lipsticks until recently, and I really hadn’t thought about matte liquid lippies until I tried the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipstick in Vintage.
  • Finally finding my perfect nude — I have always wanted to wear a nude lipstick but could never find one that really worked for me. That is until I found Kevyn Aucoin’s The Expert Lip Color in Dantrice which is the perfect nude for me. My practice of buying two paid off with this one since it was recently discontinued. At some point, I will need to find another, but for now, Dantrice is my favored nude.  Milani’s Teddy Bare is my second choice for a nude.


So you know the saying that the first step to solving a problem is to see and acknowledge it.  I think to do that, a thoughtful assessment of where you are is a good first step. The red lipstick post idea was the trigger for me to think about this, but of course, lipstick is just one makeup element. If you’ve been following on my blog, you’ll know about some of the other steps I’ve taken….if not, you can catch up at the links provided above.

I will say that thinking your current makeup habits through, assessing where you are and where you’d like to make changes, and getting trusted feedback will help prevent trips to the makeup counter where you buy a bunch of products but don’t really achieve the results you would like so take some time on this.  If you’re stuck, think about what is holding you back? How can you let whatever that is go?  This is the perfect time to give it some thought – the new year will be upon us shortly and with this work already done you can implement the changes you’ve decided on and get off to a fast start!

If you’re in a bit of a makeup rut (or any other rut that impacts your self-confidence or self-image) and thinking about where to make changes, I’d love to hear what you’d like to change, and how you plan to go about it. What support or resources do you need, and how will you get them?  If you’ve made changes this past year, what were they and how are they working out for you?



Celebrate Fall with Anastasia Beverly Hills Limited Edition Buys

fall-abh-ltd-ed-1I have recently made a couple of limited edition purchases from the Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH) fall collection. After the smashing success of the Modern Renaissance palette, I decided that I’d better jump on the new Master Palette by Mario. ICYMI, this 12-shadow palette was developed in collaboration with Mario Dedivanovic. Mario is a celebrity makeup artist (MUA) who counts Kim Kardashian-West (and her sisters), Gabrielle Union, and Priyanka Chopra among his clients.

If you’re still wondering what the big deal is, Mario has 2.8 million followers on Instagram, and he single-handedly made the highlighting and contouring trend a staple in our makeup routines. While Beyonce has him beat in terms of Instagram followers by a long shot, his fame in the world of makeup is well established. I follow three MUAs on Instagram for ideas and inspiration – Mario, Charlotte Tilbury, and Wayne Goss.

Now back to the Master Palette by Mario – if you don’t already have one and want it, you better start looking for it now. Initially, the palette was launched exclusively on the ABH website and then rolled out to a select handful of retailers. Due to the high demand for the palette, the initial launch was a bit chaotic and I believe the supply allocated to ABH was exhausted in less than 24 hours. I ordered mine on the first day and got an e-mail that they were sold out and my order was canceled, but a few days later I did receive one from them.

fall-abh-ltd-ed-2When the palette launched on Sephora’s website, I ordered one from them thinking that I would not receive the first one, so I ended up with two. Sephora and Ulta have since sold out online, so my plan is to use the second one as a Christmas gift. This should make a lucky lady very happy. By the way, I took a look at completed listings on e-Bay and a number of these have been sold for as much as $125 with shipping factored in. I will say that from a marketing point of view ABH did a great job building demand for the product in advance through social media.

29385661656_6777841315_oI believe the quality of this palette is on par with Modern Renaissance, but there are a few key differences (beyond the colors of course). First, you get fewer colors – 12 with the Master Palette versus 14 with Modern Renaissance. Second, you will pay a little more for this ($45 versus $42). Second, one of the reasons for the popularity of Modern Renaissance is a large number of matte shades…the Master Palette is the exact opposite with a lot of shimmer shades. The colors are beautiful and very appropriate for the fall season ahead. I am happy that I was able to snag one of these as I can see myself getting a lot of use out of it. I have provided a photo with swatches from ABH so that you can see all of the shades on a variety of skin-tones. I highly recommend taking a look at the ABH Instagram feed for inspiration as a lot of looks have been created with this palette.  In addition, one  of my fave YouTuber’s is Wayne Goss.  In his video, he describes the palette as “a neutral heaven.”

fall-abh-ltd-ed-3The second seasonal limited edition launch from ABH is their Fall Lip Gloss set. I purchased their Summer gloss set and immediately fell in love with it. For $28 US, you receive six different half-size glosses. Although they are half-sized, you get a generous amount of product – I used these frequently and have yet to finish any of them. I love the formula of these – they are opaque so you can wear them on their own which is what I usually do. The texture is nice as they aren’t goopy or overly sticky. By the way, I normally use a lip primer with these and skip the pencil.  I like the primers from Urban Decay and Bite Beauty.  As I was writing this, I noticed that ABH has a lip primer on the Sephora website that I wasn’t aware of.  It has a four-star rating so I’ll have to investigate further.  The gloss set’s range of colors are complimentary to a variety of skin tones, and I find that I can easily wear at least four of the colors solo, and use the  remainder to mix with lipsticks and create new colors.

mini-lip-gloss-set-anastasia-swatchesBecause of my great experience with the Summer gloss set, I didn’t give a moment’s thought to buying the Fall set – it was a great decision. So far I have used four of the six colors and have loved every single one. I’ve  gotten compliments on these, and they’re much easier to get your hands on.  They are available exclusively on the ABH site (see link above) and US shipping is free. I highly recommend adding these to your fall makeup wardrobe.

If you’ve already purchased one of these products, I’d love to hear about how you are using them and your favorite tutorials for using them.

Summer School @ Sephora Haul and Product Review

This post is a follow up to Summer School at Sephora. Given that I attended six different classes, I’ve spent a lot of time in the store over the past 3 months.  The following list illustrates why I need to stay away from Sephora for a while LOL. Think of this as a three month haul and mini review. 

Products Purchased

NARS Pure Matte Lipstick in Amsterdam while I was at the Winged Eyeliner class. Why, because I saw it on an employee and really liked it. In fact, I bought a second one to carry in my purse a few weeks later because I liked it so much. Although it is a matte, it feels moisturizing on the lips.  By the way, if I really like a lipstick, I’ll buy a second one to keep in my purse. This way I don’t have to remember after I put one on to put it in my handbag.

SEPHORA COLLECTION Cleansing & Exfoliating Wipes with coconut water as I was almost out of my Neutrogena wipes. I like these much better because they don’t leave behind an oily residue.  There is a slight tingle from the exfoliant, but not too much if you have sensitive skin like I do.

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Amande is my “go to” under eye concealer when I’m not highlighting. I would have purchased this anyway as I was almost out. I’ve been tempted to try the new one from Too Faced, but I really like this one. They gave me the Sephora branded product to try in the Correct and Conceal class, but I decided to stay with what I know. I am finding that I get zero creasing after slightly modifying my application based on what we learned in class.

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick in EZ is another purchase unrelated to a specific class, but I tried this one in a VIB sampler and really liked it. This lipstick is red with a cream finish. I’ve gotten a number of compliments on this one, it wears well, and it is inexpensive ($17) in comparison to the NARS product or high end lines like Charlotte Tilbury, Tom Ford, or YSL so it is a budget friendly vice.

Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Hair Therapy Kit again is unrelated to a class, but I’ve heard about these products and this kit was an easy way to try them out. I’ve only used these once so far so it is too early to say whether I would purchase the full size products.

Kat Von D Ink Liner in Trooper in preparation for the Winged Eyeliner class as I wanted to practice with a felt tip liner. My other liquid liner was the brush type. I do really like the tip on this and managed to actually create the winged look with it. It is not, however budge-proof. I was face down in one of those supports they use when you get a massage, and when I got up, I had liner everywhere. This is an extreme use case, but it did change my view of the product unfortunately for the worse.

boscia Sake Brightening Hydrogel Eye Masks were recommended to me in the Correct and Conceal class. After correcting and concealing in class, I felt that I could still see discoloration. The class consensus was that it wasn’t darkness, rather it was puffiness which these were recommended to address. You get three sets, and while I did like them, I decided to keep the other two pairs for travel. I have a supply of the Patchology Energizing Eye Patches which have a microcurrent delivery system. They do work, but aren’t as travel friendly as the boscia ones. I need to use these more often, so I guess I’ll go put them on right now.

Too Faced Shadow Insurance was another recommendation from the Correct and Conceal class. I have been looking for the perfect eye primer, and I’m honestly not sure if I’ve found it yet. It does work well, but for some reason I don’t love the texture. The others I’ve tried were from Benefit, NARS, and Urban Decay. If you have a recommendation for me I’d love to hear about it. Ideally I want color correction and staying power in one product. I am on my fourth product and each was recommended by a different Sephora associate so it doesn’t seem to be a product category where there is consensus.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Cream Kit in Deep was introduced to me in the Contour and Highlight class. I learned a lot of techniques and made a lot of product changes from this class. I now use this kit almost any time I color correct, contour or highlight. I am getting a lot of use from this kit and pray that ABH will begin to sell refills of the individual cream products as they do with the powder version.  This kit is really versatile, and I felt that it was $40 well spent.

Product Introductions

These are the interesting products that I was introduced to at Sephora, but did not purchase. Many are on my list of possibilities for when I run out of what I have or have a change of heart about what I’m using now. If you have experience with any of these, do share!

Bobbie Brown Skin Foundation Stick and Corrector were introduced to me in the Flawless Foundation with Color IQ class. If I were to seriously consider a stick foundation, I think I’d test out the new products from Anastasia Beverly Hills or Hourglass too as I’ve heard great things about those. I typically use a liquid product and right now I’m primarily using either the Armani Luminous Silk or the Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation. We also had a good discussion in class about setting sprays with SPF. I bought the COOLA product from Sephora several months ago but didn’t like it because it seems quite harsh and actually burned when I sprayed it on, especially if I had just exfoliated. When it was almost used up, the top of the bottle broke off which gave me a good excuse to buy the Supergoop version which was on sale at Dermstore. Although I’m not crazy about rosemary for my face, it is a finer mist and much gentler.

I was introduced to the bareMinerals COMPLEXION RESCUE™ Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream and their GEN NUDE™ Radiant Lipstick in Mantra in the No Makeup Makeup class. I’ve never used their prodcts before, and I really liked both.  I will seriously consider the CC cream once I run out of the CC cream I’m currently using. I also tried the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector™ Luminous Blush in Blushed Copper and had it on my list for future purchase. I later found it on sale and snapped it up.

P.S. – if you’d like to follow my blog via Bloglovin’ it is a new option for you so you don’t have to miss a thing. Just click here.