Seven Favorite Eye Products

I thought it might be helpful to share my current favorite products for healthy, beautiful eyes.  Healthy being the first priority since itchy watery eyes don’t feel good or look good.  Here are my current seven favorite eye-related products from the eyecare, skincare and makeup categories in order of application.

  1. Pazeo Solution (Eye Drops) – If you’re an allergy sufferer like me, read on.  Otherwise, you can skip to number two on the list.  This prescription product comes first as you have to use it at least 15 minutes before you insert your contact lenses.  Since I can’t see well enough to do the other stuff without vision help, I’ll start the list here.  These drops really help control my allergy symptoms, but at $45 per bottle under my insurance, they are very expensive.   I use a manufacturer’s rebate at the link above to bring the cost per bottle down to a more affordable $10.
  2. Dr. Dennis Gross ferulic + retinol triple correction eye serum has really done wonders for me.  The brand says that it reduces puffiness, brightens and also smooths fine lines and wrinkles.  My number one complaint when I first purchased this product was under eye darkness.  This serum did a great reducing the darkness to the point where I can skip concealer when I’m in a rush to get out the door.  I’m on my second bottle and highly recommend the product.  You do need to give it a bit of time to work (maybe six months) though.
  3. FOREO IRIS Illuminating Eye Massager is a device that massages the eye area to reduce visible signs of crow’s feet, dark circles, and under-eye bags according to the brand.  I had already been using the serum above, so while I can’t say that the massager does all of the things claimed, I find it really relaxing and helpful for puffiness.  I prefer this over the NuFace device because I don’t need to use a gel with it.  I keep it on my nightstand for easy access before bed, although it is recommended for use twice per day.
  4. Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer continues to be my favorite under eye concealer.  I’ve written about this one a few times, and it is favored by many.  Although I have a couple of others on hand, this is my go-to product and I use it most days of the week.
  5. Smashbox Photo Finish Lid Primer has been a great find for me.  I’ve been on the hunt for my perfect eyeshadow base, and I think maybe I’ve finally found it.  I was introduced to this one at a recent Sephora PRO makeup class which you can read about here.  It gets the job done for me, and the bonus that I’m lovin’ is that it comes in colors so I can get a nice even base color on my lids which complements my skin tone.
  6. The Natasha Denona Sunset Palette was the runaway makeup hit product this summer.  It’s a limited edition palette that sold out rapidly, and it became my go-to eyeshadow palette of the season.  I love the warm colors and the variety of looks you can create with this.  The price tag almost scared me away, but I’m oh so glad that I was able to get my hands on this.  Following up on my love for this palette,  I was able to get the new Natasha Denona Lila Palette.  Although I’ve only used it a few times so far, I was impressed with my ability to put together a nice neutral business meeting appropriate look.  Both of these products initially sold out at Beautylish and Sephora.  At the time of this writing, they are available, but that could change at any time.  If you haven’t tried these dreamy shadows you just don’t know what you’re missing.
  7. Esqido Mink Eyelashes have been a fave of mine ever since my 30-day lash challenge.  My skills with lash application continue to grow, and I’ve experimented with a variety of lash products.  If you want to finish your eye makeup with a luxe extra then these are the lashes you’ll want to try.  My most recent purchase was a relatively new style Esqido offers called Celestial.


These seven products are favorites that I’m using on a regular basis.  In addition, I use a variety of additional products like mascara that I’ve not covered here.  Let me know what you think, and what your go-to eye products are.  While products can help with eye beauty, Audrey Hepburn had a very wise quote that I’ll close with.

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others

Audrey Hepburn


Summer School @ Sephora: 2017 Update

Last year when I started this blog I wrote two posts regarding the free classes for Beauty Insiders at Sephora. Part I of the two remains relevant and provides a good overview of the Sephora curriculum and my summer of beauty learning.  For a list of the standard 13 classes offered, click here.  The two noteworthy additions to the standard class list this year are Age-Defying Skincare and Classes for Confidence: Brave Beauty in the Face of Cancer.  I give kudos to Sephora for adding a class for the special needs of cancer patients. I’ve seen first hand the devastating impact cancer treatment can have on a woman’s confidence, as my mother fought a long battle with the disease and I remember several specific conversations with her on the topic.  If you know a woman who is fighting this fight, please share the information on this class with her.  I went back to school this summer to repeat a class from last year, and to take two new classes that were offered at the new location in Century City. More on those in just a moment.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Sephora store lineup here in the Los Angeles area, the Westfield Century City shopping center has been undergoing a major renovation project for over a year and a half now.  While the work isn’t fully complete, the early results are quite nice.  One of the first stores to close as a result of the renovation was my favorite Sephora location in Century City.  As one of the first to close, they were also one of the first to reopen in their new mall location this past May.  As a VIB Rouge member, I was invited to the grand opening.  My wallet is thankful, however, that I was out of town that week.

FullSizeRender 5
This is the new Sephora TIP table at the Century City store

ICYMI, Sephora is actively experimenting with technology as a way to draw you into the store and to enhance your in-store experience.  They have an active innovation lab in their North America (San Franciso) headquarters that has been busy testing and playing with new retail technologies.  One result of their innovation efforts is the introduction of the “TIP” table.  TIP is short for Teach, Inspire and Play, and the first of these tables was installed in San Francisco in late 2015.  Century City is now the second U.S. location to have one of these, and I had the chance to experience all of the TIP elements during my recent classes.  If you’re interested in learning more about Sephora’s innovation lab, click here.

These classes are truly beneficial as they will give you plenty of tips and techniques, as well as assistance finding the right tools and products for your needs.  According to Australian makeup artist Rae Morris:

Makeup is my world, and I know that little things . . . the right technique, colour or brush . . . can make all the difference.

The first class I took at the newly reopened store was the new Age-Defying Skincare class.  I am genetically blessed with “good” skin, but I do have to work at keeping it in good condition.  Like every other woman, I do have skin care concerns.  Mine include patchy dry spots, enlarged pores, under-eye circles and puffiness, and the start of fine expression lines around my mouth.  This skin care class focuses on the basic steps which should be part of your daily routine:  makeup removal, cleansing, serum application and moisturizing (including an eye cream).  There is also discussion about the key ingredients to look for in your products such as exfoliants (i.e. AHA, BHA) and brighteners like vitamin C.  Cleansing tools like the Foreo Luna and Clarisonic brushes were also discussed.  In addition, we had the opportunity to apply a treatment mask just as we would at home a few times a week, although we weren’t able to leave it on for very long.

My favorite double cleanse products
My favorite double cleanse products

Key takeaways from the class for me were a good discussion of the double cleansing method with a “makeup melter” followed by a cleanser.  My current makeup melters of choice are either Bioderma’s Sensibio H2O or Tatcha’s Pure One-Step Camellia oil for the really stubborn stuff.     Also important were the proper techniques and sequences for applying serums, facial oils, moisturizers and eye cream.  I learned that I was using my facial oil at the wrong point in my routine.

Nightstand image with Sunday Riley Good Genes and Luna Sleeping Night Oil
Sunday Riley’s Power Couple — I use Good Genes and Luna a few nights each week

My skin care buys connected with the class were a re-purchase of Sunday Riley Good Genes and a new purchase of the Peter Thomas Roth Hydra-Gel eye patches.  I have been using the Good Genes treatment along with the Luna Sleeping Night Oil a couple of nights each week and that combo has been working well for me for about a year and a half.  I originally purchased these as a set (a great way to try this), but I ran out of the treatment product.  Although the bottle of oil is old, it seems to still be potent and effective.  A little bit goes a long way and I still have half the bottle left.  [Note after I started writing this post, Sephora had a sale for VIB Rouge clients so I bought another bottle of Luna as sales on Sunday Riley products don’t happen.]  After cleansing my skin, I apply a few drops of the oil followed by a pump or two of Good Genes and wake up to really nice looking skin without any flakey stuff going on.

I decided to try the Hydra-Gel eye patches as a quick and mess free way to work on under eye puffiness.  I have been sporadically using the Patchology Energizing Eye Patches, and while I like them, I found I wasn’t great about using them as there is a bit of mess involved.  Honestly, I think this is just an aspect of skin care I need to focus more on as I haven’t been using the Hydra-Gel patches as frequently as I should either, although they’re effective and easy to use.  I’ve had much better success using my eye serum on a regular basis but I’ll save that for a future post.

The second class that I attended was a special Sephora PRO team class.  If you’re not familiar with the PRO team, fear not, I’ll explain as I wasn’t either.  There is actually a separate Instagram account for the PRO team which you can find here.  According to our class handout:

The Sephora PRO team is an inspirational and approachable team of leading makeup artists who are committed to elevating the artistry expertise of our cast, clients, and the entire Sephora organization, and who represent Sephora’s voice in the beauty industry.

This is an elite group of beauty industry leaders as there are only ten in the United States.  In fact, two of them are now based here in Los Angeles.  The PRO team is offering these exclusive classes in only two other cities — New York and San Francisco.  As a result, you won’t typically find these classes on the regular schedule and they are fully booked affairs.  The two PROs who led the class were Myiesha and Jeffrey, and our topic was Trending Looks:  Monochromatic.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I’ve really had to work at expanding my makeup comfort zone so you can imagine that a class in trending looks was a bit scary for me.   The fear was totally unwarranted!

Photo of beautifully made-up curly haired model
Although the makeup look here is monochromatic, it doesn’t strike me as trendy

The class format was a bit different from the usual approach.  Our two PROs each had a class participant as their model and each did one side of the model’s face.  Each PRO had a different creative vision based on discussion with their model and their individual creativity.  It was great to see the two work side by side creating different looks based on the same monochromatic theme.  They would, for example, do the eyes, and then the class participants had the chance to play and do their own eyes using both the virtual try-on at the TIP table and actual makeup.  We would then move on to another part of the face, see the PRO demonstrate and then do that portion of our face.  One thing that was really helpful was that the PROs came by regularly to offer advice and encouragement as well as to answer our questions.  In addition, there were a number of store employees available to fetch products and assist with technique.  One of the employees who assisted really helped me improve upon my eye shadow blending technique.

The keys I think for the monochromatic look were color selection, incorporating neutrals, and using a variety of finishes.  Myiesha’s advice on color was to start with one that looks good on your cheeks and work from there.  For example using multiple eye shadows where some are matte and others have a shimmery finish.  Incorporating neutrals is also important to balance the overall look.  This class reinforced some of the ideas and looks that I’ve been experimenting with using the new limited edition Natasha Denona Sunset Palette.  I tried to capture some of these for you but my selfie photo taking needs work.  I’ll plan to share some examples at a future date.

Finally, I decided to retake the Winged Eyeliner class as this is an area where I still struggle.  I was the only person who signed up that day so I had a private one-on-one session.  The cast member who helped me had the patience of Job, but this is an area that I still struggle with.  I need to bring back the 30-day challenge approach that I used for false lashes to become competent here.

If you’re looking to up your game as the fall season approaches, I highly recommend working some of the classes at Sephora into your schedule.  Let me know which classes you plan to take and how they work for you!




Young African-American woman with beautiful glowing skin

It’s Time to Clean Up for Makeup 

This post is somewhat overdue but as they say, it’s better late than never.  Many of us have considered changes to our skincare routines as we started the new year in search of a more flawless complexion.  If you wear makeup, there is one change you can make independent of your skincare routine which has the potential to improve both your complexion and the way your makeup looks.  That change is to establish a regular routine for cleaning your makeup brushes, sponges, and related tools.  Here comes a scary bit of information for you:

Only 61% of women are cleaning their makeup brushes once a month, if at all according to a recent survey. Those who do clean their brushes do not clean them as often as beauty experts recommend.

This info came from a Buzzfeed article that you can access here.

gross-thingsI have been in the habit of cleaning my brushes monthly but must confess that I now know that I need to increase my frequency.  If you’re wondering what the bad things are that happen when you don’t clean often enough, they are summarized in the Infographic here.  It covers all of the items you’d expect related to breakouts, infections, and even worse the risk of pest infestations.  The other hazard I want to mention is that when your brushes are dirty, you’re not going to get the makeup results you desire.  If your eyeshadow application is muddy for example, you can bet that your brushes aren’t clean.  I’ll share some solutions below, but if you’d like the gory details beyond the summary in my infographic, you can click here for the full article by Summer Arlexis.

The $424 Chikuhodo P-8

Proper brush cleaning doesn’t only provide skincare and makeup application benefits — it will also protect your investment in your brushes.  Proper care of your brushes means that they will last and perform their function for many years.  The investment in a single brush can be significant.  For example, on the Beautylish website prices for a single powder brush range from a low of $28 to a high of $424 for a handmade Chikuhodo Premium Line P-8 brush.  This uber expensive brush is made of the rare long hairs from blue squirrels.

So with that as background, how often should you be cleaning your brushes?  I thought monthly was good, but makeup guru Bobbi Brown in an interview with Allure magazine provided different, more specific guidance which is as follows:


For concealer and foundation brushes, at least once a week to prevent a buildup of product. And because these brushes are used on your face, the cleaner, the better. Brushes that are used around the eyes should be cleaned at least twice a month, while all others can be washed once a month.

blog-image_dsc0001Now that we know all of the reasons why we should be cleaning our brushes regularly, and that regularly really varies based on where and how the brush is used, I’d like to share some of the tools and products that I use to clean and maintain my brushes.  These are the products that I use regularly and actually pay my hard earned money for.  You may find other products that you prefer, but hopefully, this will give you some ideas for building or updating your cleaning regimen.

goat-engl-lav_largeFirst off, you need some sort of cleanser or shampoo for your brushes and Beautyblender if you use one.  I have tried both liquid and solid cleansers and find that there is much less product waste with a solid.  For my brushes, I’ve been using a goat milk based shampoo which provides conditioning benefits but doesn’t leave a residue.  It also has a bit of tea tree oil as an anti-bacterial.  You simply wet your brush and swish it around in the soap to create a lather.  In the past, I’ve purchased this from Beautylish and Dermstore, although it appears that neither of them has it in stock at the moment.  Worst case it appears that you can buy it on the London Brush Company website.  One additional benefit is that it comes in several different fragrances.  I’ve tried the Lemon Zest and English Lavender and both make the brush cleaning chore more pleasant.  London Brush Company also makes a vegan version if you object to goat milk.

s1839018-main-lheroBy the way, when I regularly used a Beautyblender, I used their solid cleanser and had good results with it.  I had to use way more product with their liquid, and I did not like the dispenser.  It was difficult to keep it clean and to dispense the product.  Since purchasing my Kevyn Aucoin foundation brush I only use my Beautyblender for travel so the solid cleanser is also much more convenient.

productphotography-300dpi281of329 For the gym or when traveling, I use the Japonesque brush cleaning wipes (see image below).  These are great because they are individually packaged.  I also have the Color Switch Duo by Vera Mona (above and at right)  which is a really clever idea.  It is a dry sponge within a can that you wipe your eyeshadow brushes on when you switch colors so that the colors don’t become muddy.  When the sponge becomes dirty you insert a replacement.  The duo has a smaller sponge in the center that you dampen and use for wet shadow application.  I don’t recall where I originally purchased this, but now you can buy them from Sephora with their packaging or directly from Vera Mona.  This tool has really helped with my eyeshadow application.

One other cleansing product in my arsenal is Laura Mercier’s Brush Cleanser.  This is a spray that you spritz onto the brush and then wipe away the dirt and makeup with a paper towel.  This is a product that I put in the same category as Japonesque wipes — great for a quickie cleaning but not as thorough in my view as a full shampooing.

The Wayne Goss Anniversary Set

There are three tools that are an essential part of my brush cleaning regimen.  These are the items that assist in the cleaning process and help me prolong the life of my brushes.  This is really important to me as about a year and a half ago I replaced and expanded my collection of day to day brushes.  I started out with the Anniversary Set from Wayne Goss (thanks to Beautylish for their 3 payment plan).  I later added the Holiday or #00, the #11 Powder, and  Air brushes.  I also received the brow set in my 2015 Beautylish Lucky Box so I have quite the collection of Goss brushes now.

Some of the tools and products I use to keep my brushes and makeup clean

The first essential tool is my brush tree.  Benjabelle makes a variety of these which you can see on the Beautylish website.  They’re also available on Amazon.  This image shows exactly how I use it.  benjabelleOnce I’ve washed a brush I cover it with a brush guard (my second essential tool shown above) and hang the brush upside down to dry.  The brush guards help your brushes maintain or regain their shape after washing.  The brush tree allows you to hang the brushes with the bristles down so that you don’t end up with water in the ferrule which can ultimately compromise your brush by loosening the very part that holds all of those little hairs together and is where the brush head is connected to the handle.  I remember back in the day not being careful about this and the brush head falling off of a Bobbi Brown brush (or two).  I was so uninformed about brush care that I actually soaked my brushes in the sink — please do not do this.  61i7ynxt1vl-_sx522_The final tool in my cleaning arsenal is the Cityvivo Brushegg which you can get on Amazon for $2.99.  This is a handy tool for safely “scrubbing” your brushes.  It’s like a washboard for your brush and helps get the makeup and grime out.

Finally, you’ll notice in the image of tools and products two other items that I keep on hand.  Both are by a company called BeautySoClean and they’re also available at Beautylish.  Not only will bacteria turn up on your brushes and tools, it also ends up on the surface of your products (think about those in-store testers – it’s the same thing).  The sanitizer wipes are a quick, easy way to wipe off your makeup products like lipsticks.  I also use them to wipe down my tweezers and eyelash curler for example.  The sanitizer mist is used to clean dry products like eyeshadow without altering the product you’re using it on.  You just spray it on — it dries fast and then you’ll know that shadow or powder blush is clean and fresh.

So, now that you’ve read this post I’d love it if you would take a moment to participate in a quick one question poll about your brush cleaning habits.  Results are anonymous, and there isn’t any judging going on here.  You will see the updated results with your answers included when you finish.  I hope I’ve given you useful information to update your cleaning routine if needed.  I’d love to hear about your favorite cleaning products and what impact your brush cleaning routine has had on your skin’s overall health and appearance.

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.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

I know that you know the rest of the rhyme from Snow White – who is the fairest of them all? At a great deal of risk, I’m going to share my opinion of who the five fairest ladies on the red carpet at the Emmys were this week. Again, this is my opinion only – you may make totally different aesthetic choices, and that is okay. I have no desire to be critical of anyone, and I won’t do that. Instead, I picked the five that I found most pleasing, and while many, many more were absolutely fabulous, I forced myself to choose five. By the way, my choices are based solely on makeup. The beautiful gowns or hairstyles were not a factor in my choices — although three of my winners were wearing deep blue. I will not attempt to rank them, this is where I will chicken out and put them in alphabetical order. Also, to be clear, I did not take a single one of these photos. Credit for the beautiful imagery which I downloaded from the Hollywood Life website goes to REX/Shutterstock unless otherwise noted.

One other observation I’d like to make is that all five of these ladies had three very important things in common. These three things are what I consider to be foundational or table stakes. They are: 1) flawless skin, 2) brows are “on fleek” and 3) they are all “lash game strong”.  Notice that two of the three are directly related to framing the eyes which are a critical element in any makeup look. Here goes….

Priyanka Chopra from Quantico, who previously won the People’s Choice Award for Favorite Actress in a New TV Series. Priyanka absolutely nailed it with strong brows and a bold matte red lipstick, which complemented her gown and made for a super elegant look. Her makeup artist, Yumi Mori, used Chanel lip products – specifically the Precision Lip Definer in Rouge Profond, and Rouge Allure Velvet Luminous Matte Lip Color in Rouge Charnel. I would run out and buy this, but I just got the Rouge Dior matte lipstick in 999 as I recently realized I did not own a matte red. Chopra got rave reviews for her red carpet look, not only here in the states, but in the Indian press as well.

Next up is Angel Parker with a very fresh natural look. Parker recently played Shawn Chapman in FX’s award winning “American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson.” Celebrity makeup artist Kym Nicole created a stunning look with blue eye shadows and a pretty pinky-lavender lip. I have no idea what products she used, but the finished look was fantastic. I found a closeup on Kym’s Instagram feed, so if you’d like to see the look without the gown you can check that out.

There is lots of buzz about this star in her fabulous Zac Posen gown and rich blue eye makeup that reminds me of Cleopatra. Emily Ratajkowski also knocked it out of the park, and the soft nude lip is perfect with the very bold eye makeup. The Alter Ego lipstick is from Lorac in the shade Exhibitionist. Makeup artist Hung Vanngo (favored by Victoria’s Secret models) created the striking eye look with Lorac’s Front of the Line PRO eye pencils and PRO eyeshadow palette. You can see a bit of subtle contouring to further define Emily’s cheekbones. To get a better feel for Hung’s work, check out a recent article / tutorial from Into the Gloss. He also has some nice close-ups of this look (with over 5,000 likes) on his Instagram feed.

2016-emmys-abigail-spencer-makeupMy next look is from Abigail Spencer, and while she also wore a blue gown, her makeup artist went in a totally different direction from Hung Vanngo. Makeup artist Lauren Anderson went with a bolder lip and a more sutble eye using Avon products exclusively. The Avon True Color Perfectly Matte Lipstick here is really a gorgeous berry hue in Ravishing Rose. I was floored by the price tag, only $5.99 on sale. If the rest of the products are similarly priced this would be a very budget friendly way to re-create a red carpet look.


68thannualprimetimeemmyawardsarrivalsiesfdc-ucslLast but not least is a very soft, fresh look on teenager Holly Taylor from the cast of “The Americans.” This to me is a great example of what teen makeup should be all about – that youthful glow doesn’t last forever – work it while you can, LOL.

I hope you enjoyed my picks.  Let me know what your picks are and what wisdom we can take away from the celebrity makeup artists.



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.

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Summer School at Sephora

Sephora Beverly Hills store, photo

It’s hard to believe, but fall is upon us! We naturally think about transitioning our wardrobes and our skincare as the change of seasons takes hold. I mentioned in my prior post False Eyelashes for the Lash Challenged that I’ve been working to up my makeup game. Learning to apply false lashes and watching a lot of YouTube videos are just two of the ways I’ve worked to kick it up a notch. Another thing that I did over the summer months was to take advantage of the free classes offered by beauty store extraordinaire, Sephora. If you live in the US and belong to Sephora’s Beauty Insider loyalty program (which is free to join BTW) you can choose from a menu of 12 free hands-on classes which cover everything from Brow Shaping to Winged Eyeliner. Classes are 45 to 90 minutes in duration and take place in your friendly neighborhood store.  These classes are a great way to prepare to transition your skincare and makeup routines for the fall and winter months ahead.

Image from

Although I have been a Beauty Insider for a number of years, I had never really taken full advantage of the program’s benefits. I became a VIB Rouge member late last year and decided I should take advantage of more of the program benefits beyond the two day free Flash Shipping and a couple of makeup application sessions. I participated in six classes during the summer months and now have quite a bit of experience that I’ll share with you here. The beauty of these classes is that you get personalized help from the instructor and coaches – the techniques and products are customized to you with consideration given to your skin type, face shape, features and preferences. While YouTube is a fantastic resource, free personalized help that is specific to YOU just can’t be beat.

From June through August I attended classes at the Santa Monica, CA location (mucho thanks to Christine and her team) which covered the makeup basics plus a few more advanced topics:

  • Flawless Foundation with Color IQ
  • Correct and Conceal
  • Contour and Highlight
  • No Makeup Makeup
  • Nighttime Smoky Eye
  • Winged Eyeliner

We typically had 12-16 attendees each session — some drove up to 100 miles because they had a specific need that wasn’t addressed in their local area that week. Despite the fact that these are group sessions, you do get personal attention, as there are typically two to four coaches on hand to assist you in addition to the instructor. The class attendees (and teaching team) were a diverse group covering all ages, skin types and ethnicities so everyone can benefit.

Photo Ricardo DeAratanha, Los Angeles Times

You can take the classes in any order and there is a monthly schedule by location on the web site. Some classes are offered on Saturday or Sunday mornings while others are on weeknights after work. The weekend morning classes start at 8:00 or 9:00 AM (varies by location). I’ll admit that while I struggled to get up for 8 AM class on Saturday morning, I recommend sucking it up and doing this instead of going to a weeknight class. Summer evenings on the Promenade in Santa Monica are always busy, and the store had a lot of foot traffic. Although we were cordoned off in a specific area, there was always a good bit of noise from shoppers, some wanting to cut through our area, or try to get one of our coaches to help them which was distracting.

Every class included a focus on skin care and skin preparation. Here is the bottom line. Great skincare and prep will always enable great results, while poor skincare makes great results difficult to either attain or maintain throughout the day. I believe the first four classes I listed cover the fundamentals and can provide you with little tips and tricks to enhance your application techniques as well as identifying the right products for you. For example I thought (I now laugh at myself) that I was doing some contouring and highlighting before attending that class, but found I was using the wrong product to highlight my under eye (not light enough) and applying it too close to my lower lash line which caused more creasing than any woman would want. Another example was how I learned how to hold and use my flat eye shadow brush to apply shadow to my lids. By making this small change, I’m able to better apply shadow as close to my lash line as possible for quicker better coverage.

If you’re looking to update your skincare or makeup routines as we transition to fall, these classes are an easy way to do it. Fear not, although the classes are free, there is no hard sell or pressure to buy anything. I did, however make a number of purchases during the summer, and was introduced to some great products for future consideration. More on those in an upcoming post later this week…

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False Eyelashes for the Lash Challenged – Part II

This post is Part II for those of us who are challenged when it comes to false lash application. The 30 day lash challenge, if you give it consistent effort will most certainly improve your skill and comfort with putting on falsies. In Part I, I described the challenge concept, provided a list of supplies you would need, and shared a list of six YouTube videos which I thought would be useful. My sincere thanks to these ladies for creating great tutorials on this topic. I have also created a board on Pinterest with links to the videos mentioned and images of some of my lash favorites. In addition, Sephora has just introduced an update to their Virtual Artist capability which will allow you to virtually try on a pair of lashes to see how much they can do for your look – the link to a short video on this enhancement is also on the Pinterest board titled I’ve Gone Lash Crazy. I hope you find the Pinterest board useful – feel free to share with others. Here now are my seven tips to lash success.

Edited Lash Inspo IMG_0010
Eye look inspiration featuring the Black Magic mink lash from Esqido
  1. TIME MANAGEMENT – Allow yourself plenty of time in the beginning – trying to rush will only frustrate you. If you need to apply lashes in the evening because you just don’t have time in the morning it is OK, your time practicing will count regardless of whether you wear the lashes for 10 hours or for two. If you do them at night, you remove the time pressure and you can play with different eye makeup looks while you’re at it. Remember that it will take less time to re-apply a pair you’ve previously fit and worn than a brand new pair, and you’ll feel better about reusing a pair of inexpensive lashes for a few hours than a brand new more expensive pair. An additional thought is to do your brows and eye makeup first, your lashes next, then you can do the rest of your face in the remaining time.  Hey with great lashes you can amp up your look enough to skip something else while you’re learning!
  2. PREPARATION – Be prepared by having your supplies ready so that you can work efficiently. If you need scissors or tweezers and you need to stop what you’re doing to go find them you’ll feel unnecessary time pressure and waste your valuable time.
  3. PERFECT THE FIT – Remember that you need to fit every brand new pair which takes a little extra time, but it will ensure that your lashes look and feel good. Remember to allow a bit of room at the inside corner of the eye so that the lashes are not poking you, and to make sure the lashes aren’t so long that they extend beyond your natural lashes at the outer corner. More than once, I’ve had to go back and trim a wee bit more from the outer edge because when they are too long you’ll either be uncomfortable, or the extra length will visually drag the eye down. You don’t want either of those outcomes, but it is still better to cut off too little than too much since once you cut, you can’t undo it. The old adage measure twice and cut once is true, but it is better to cut twice than to cut too much. By the way, you do need to fit each eye individually since our eyes are not perfectly symmetrical – I know you know that…just a friendly reminder.
  4. APPLY ADHESIVE AND WAIT – I know it is tempting to apply the lashes too soon, but you need to let the glue get tacky. Refer back to tip one, no matter what don’t rush this step or else you’ll have a hot mess, and potentially mess up your carefully applied eye makeup. I learned this one through the school of hard knocks…don’t go there. Also, when you apply the glue, be sure to either hold the brush below or to the side of the lash. You don’t want glue dripping down onto the lash accidentally.
  5. PLACING YOUR LASHES – This is an area that typically creates frustration so take a deep breath and remember these things. One of the first videos I watched said to look down into your mirror…this is absolutely true. Trying to look straight on just doesn’t work. Here is the other thing though, with your eyes looking down, you need to lift your chin up. If you are using a mirror on a stand you’ll need to adjust it to almost be flat horizontally. I invested in one of those Simple Human lighted magnifying mirrors and it works so well for this. My other tip is to use your tweezers to place the lashes. Make sure they aren’t sticky from glue or else you won’t be able to get them off the tweezers and onto your lash line. This is why I suggest having alcohol wipes handy to clean up any boo boos on your tweezers. A damp Q-tip is good if you accidentally get glue on your natural lashes. Last tip – before you begin to place the lashes, be sure they are oriented correctly (this requires conscious effort for me) and think of them coming down for a gentle landing from above (like an airplane), not approaching from straight on.
  6. LINE ‘EM UP AND SMUSH – Now that the lash has landed, using your tweezers or fingers, you want to pull the lash towards or away from the inside corner to get it where you want it and then get the inner half as close to your natural lash line as possible. Then you want to align and secure the outer half. Once I have the lash where I want it, I like to take my Japonesque lash tweezers to press or smush the falsies together with my natural lashes to be sure they are well adhered and blended together.
  7. FINAL TOUCH UP – Your last step is to do any needed touchups once the glue has dried. If the lashes aren’t curled as much as you’d like, give them a quick squeeze with your lash curler. If you are wearing inexpensive synthetics you may want to add another coat of mascara to help blend the lashes. But NEVER use mascara on mink lashes. Last, you may need to touch up your eyeliner, or if you see gaps at the lash line between your lashes and falsies you can use a small brush and a bit of black eye shadow to fill in.

You are done, bat your eyelashes and give yourself a big pat on the back! Keep up your practice routine and you’ll be able to apply lashes with ease before you know it.

P.S. If you’re interested in trying a pair of mink lashes like the pair shown from Esqido, they do offer a referral program.   If you are interested in purchasing their lashes and use the referral code from this link, you will receive a $5 credit on your order and I will also receive a $5 credit on a future order.

False Eyelashes for the Lash Challenged – Part I

Over the last year, I’ve been working to up my makeup game and must admit I’ve become a bit of a makeup addict.  When doing a full face look, the eyes are a key feature that we want to enhance, and ideally we do that with well groomed brows, artfully applied eye shadows, and lovely long lashes.   While my brows are passable with regular shaping and using a few strategic brow products, my lashes are undisputedly another story.  They are naturally short, stick straight and stubby.  I’ve always felt robbed in the genetic lottery since my younger brother has always had beautifully long, naturally curled eyelashes.  It just isn’t fair, although he tells me that fair is a word used by sissies and crybabies.

One result of this sorry condition is that for the last couple of years I’ve spent a crazy amount of time and money on eyelash extensions.  For a number of reasons, late last year I said enough is enough – I removed the extensions, and began using Latisse while sampling a variety of mascara products.   While the Latisse did help, I think it really only helped restore my lashes to their normally short, straight condition.  Mascara and eyelash primer do help, but can only take me so far which led me to try falsies again.

I’ve made a variety of attempts to apply false lashes over the years which have only led to frustration and disappointment.  This time around I sought help from a number of YouTubers who provided helpful, informative videos.  My subsequent attempts were still rather amateurish, and if I wanted to wear falsies for a night out I needed to allow plenty of extra time and still gave up (or ran out of time) in frustration on occasion.  Recently I decided that I needed to resort to desperate measures.   Everyone (at least everyone who has mastered this) says that false lash application is a skill that can be learned with practice.   I needed to find out if it was really true, and just how much practice was enough?

I decided for the month of June that I would challenge myself to apply false lashes every day in order to master the skill.  Taking the time to apply lashes daily was a huge commitment, and after a week of this I decided that perhaps a day or two off every week would not negatively impact my mastery.  Despite taking an occasional day off, the time commitment was significant, and at times I found myself applying lashes in the evening before fixing dinner and removing them at bedtime a few hours later.

With all of that background, I will say that the challenge was a success, and I’d recommend this approach to others.  With consistent, sincere effort you can greatly increase your skill and confidence with false lashes. Here are my suggestions on how to approach this sort of challenge.

Step one – commit to the challenge and stock up on your lash challenge essentials.   In order to get started on your challenge there are a few things you will need.  OK, maybe more than a few, but you likely have many of these items in your bathroom (or other makeup room) already.

  • You need inexpensive lashes to play with.  I have used the Ardell 110 and Demi Wispies with success, although other lashes can be used.  I recommend these styles to start with because they will look relatively natural, and they have a very light, almost invisible band.   That band in my view is key to success as a thin, light band is easier to apply when you are starting out (they’ll be more comfortable too!).   A multipack with four pairs will run around $10 US if you have Amazon Prime.  If you’re not into Amazon, you’ll likely find these at your local drug store.
  • A small pair of scissors for trimming new lashes to fit.
  • Eyelash curler — you know the “old school” type that you try and clamp over your eyelashes without pinching yourself.
  • Oil-free eye makeup remover–oil free is important as the oily type will prevent you from reusing your lashes.
  • Bottle of rubbing alcohol–great for sanitizing lashes or removing gummy glue residue from your tools.
  • Q-tips.Edited IMG_1450
  • Alcohol disinfecting wipes (optional but helpful).
  • At least one pair of tweezers.  I have shown two types of tweezers in the photo, and I especially like the longer pair from Japonesque for smushing together my lashes and the falsies, ensuring that they are well adhered and blended together.
  • Makeup mirror of choice, I love the lighted magnifying mirror by Simple Human, but any mirror will do.
  • Black eyeliner (liquid or gel) to line your eyes and disguise the lash band.
  • Black mascara to coat your own lashes or to help blend synthetic lashes.  You never want to use mascara on false mink lashes.
  • Lash glue – I have a few thoughts on glue.   I use the white glue that dries clear which I think is better than using black.  Why???  When you’re starting out you’re bound to get some on your eyelid or other places where you don’t want it so the clear will help with cleanup and minimize do-overs with the rest of your eye makeup.  I also like that the Revlon glue comes with a brush so you don’t have to worry about making a mess while squeezing it out of the tube.  The alcohol wipes (mine are from Beauty So Clean), q-tips, and rubbing alcohol will really help with cleaning up any mishaps during application and for cleaning your lashes after wearing.

Finally, you may want to begin experimenting with some of the nicer, higher end lashes during your challenge.  I would use these for outings as the month progressed, and actually tried a pair of mink lashes towards the end of my first week.  Again, look for styles with lighter bands to make application easier.  The Koko Lashes are a premium brand, but well priced when compared with other similar lashes. I like the Misha (shown above) and the Ari styles.  Mink lashes are a step up both in cost and in durability (when properly cared for), and they look super natural.  They are cruelty free so no need to worry about harm to these animals.   I’ve bought several pairs of these from Esqido (see notation below regarding their referral program).

Step two – Que up some of my favorite You Tube videos on false eyelash application.  The links are at the bottom of this post.    Plan to check back in via the comments space below and let me know if you’re going to try the challenge and how it is going.  I’ll create a follow up post with my personal tips for how to make the application process easier.

Note:   All products mentioned were purchased by me with my own hard earned money.  I have not received any compensation from anyone, and the opinions here are my own.  Esqido does offer a referral program.   If you are interested in purchasing their lashes and use the referral code from this link, you will receive a $5 credit on your order and I will also receive a $5 credit on a future order.

Favorite YouTube Tutorials