Thursday, July 29, 2010

beauty fix: my top ten products

one of my new favorite blogs is tamerri zamaih's "astro fashionista", and i was inspired by a post she did a while back to list my favorite beauty products. i've done lists like this in the past, but i've changed lots of things i now have in heavy rotation since then, and i think i have finally gotten to a good spot not only in my makeup application, but also in my skincare regimen in general. this is the makeup list....i will probably do a skincare list later this week.

1. make up for ever HD foundation - 153/golden honey ($40, sephora)

i became intrigued by this foundation quite a while ago; in fact, i think i remember trying it out in early 2009, before i graduated and left charlottesville. at the time, i couldn't find a match, but i recently returned to sephora and tried again, this time finding a perfect match. prior to finding this, the ONLY makeup company that could match my undertones was MAC, and even with that i would have issues with the makeup feeling cakey, looking unnatural in pictures, or breaking me out really bad. this foundation does NONE of the provides great wear, feels light on my skin, and doesn't cause breakouts (for me, at least). it's a little more expensive than either MAC studio fix fluid or mineralize satinfinish, but it is worth it to me. the satinfinish always required two pumps, so i went through it rather quickly, and the SFF was heavy, almost like stage makeup. i can mix this with my eucerin moisturizer with spf 30 to make a tinted moisturizer, or i can just dab it on lightly, stipple it into my skin, and blend it effortlessly. i do want to try MUFE's mat velvet, as i have heard good things about its oil-controlling capabilities, but for now this is definitely my HG foundation.

2. make up for ever HD microfinish powder ($30, sephora)

this is the cherry on my proverbial sundae -- the HD foundation works well without this, but when applied on top of it, my skin GLOWS. of course i was thinking, like a lot of you, that putting a white powder on top of my foundation would make me look ashy. it most definitely doesn' i have heard it put frequently, it serves as a "soft focus" to minimize any flaws and even imperfections. i even use it on my bare face from time to time. i actually got this in a kit with some other HD products, as i didn't think i would need the larger one. i was right....since it requires so little for an entire face, this thing will last forever. side note: the other two products were the MUFE HD elixir and the MUFE HD primer. they are alright, but not "must haves" in my book.
3. MAC matte lipstick in honeylove ($14, MAC stores and counters)

i discovered this a few months ago, when i went into MAC to buy a new foundation. (she sold me mineralize satinfinish in NC42, which i returned for MUFE HD a few weeks later.) i asked for a nude lip recommendation, and the makeup artist gave me this to try. i immediately fell in love, and wear it quite often, considering the only other lippie i have and have actually kept up with is 2N. as a pinky nude color, i usually pair it with a bold eye.
4. MAC cremesheen glass in boy bait ($18, MAC stores and counters)

this is another item i picked up during my MAC haul. it goes great with the honeylove when i need more shine, but it also rocks on its own. it's described as a "light neutral beige with pearl", which i think is just code for NUDE. anyway, i use it as that...something to give my lips a gloss without all the glitter of other lipglosses i own.

5. MAC beauty powder blush in eversun (discontinued)

i have been using this blush for a while now, and even though it was re-released last summer as part of the style warrior collection, i had it before that...way back in 2008. in any event, i absolutely love this's a pinky brown that just makes my skintone really POP when i apply it. i love it so much that without it, i feel completely monotone and pale. i don't know what i will do when i run out of it.

6. MAC MSF natural/shimmer in medium dark ($26, MAC stores and counters)

although i have changed foundations over the years, this is one thing that stays the same. i love the way this makes my makeup less shiny, and i also love wearing it alone on days where i don't feel like being bothered by liquid makeup. much like the HD powder, it blurs my imperfections, so over a bare face i have a more even complexion.

7. dior diorshow iconic mascara ($27, sephora)

a few years ago, diorshow blackout became my favorite mascara. the tube is ultra luxe, and the applicator gave me the biggest, blackest lashes i had ever seen. i was super excited when they came out with iconic, but i didn't rush out to buy it since i was convinced i had my HG mascara. as time went on, i began to notice that it gave me a severe case of raccoon eyes, and as much as i loved the false eyelash look i had going on, i had to let it go. i tried a few more brands, like fresh firebird (which gave me big doe eyes), but tried the iconic on a recommendation from a sephora MUA when i said i wanted definition and length all in one. this mascara "lifts, curls and separates" according to the package, and it definitely delivers on that. i still get the blackest lashes, but it doesn't flake and removes easily with my olive oil-based makeup remover. some may swear by drugstore brands like great lash and lashblast, but this will forever be one of my top, if not THE top, mascaras.

8. MAC 187 ($42, MAC stores and counters)

great makeup is nothing without great application skills, and this brush makes applying my makeup so effortless. there are many dupes of this brush out there, and i feel as if that lets me know the original must be really great. i was first interested in this brush because i was told it's great at multitasking, and it is definitely one of my most-used brushes. i use it to stipple on my liquid foundation, use it again to blend, use it again for blush, then AGAIN for my MSF and get the idea. in fact, i love it so much i am considering getting another. tip: to save a few bucks, try scoring it from the CCO instead of the full-priced MAC counters.

9. essence of beauty makeup brushes (assorted prices, CVS)

while i have a pretty sizeable makeup brush collection, my MAC 187 is the only truly expensive one i own. i invested in a few EoB brushes a few years ago now, and they have held up really well over time. as a matter of fact, they actually shed less than the 187 and my loew-cornell brushes. they are easy to clean, i can beat the crap out of them since i don't have to worry about the cost of replacement (they are often BOGO 50% off), and they are durable. my favorites are the concealer brush, the dual-ended blush and powder brush, and the contouring eyeshadow brushes. the eyeshadow brushes are perfect for both packing on color and "cutting the crease" when i am using multiple shades. i am actually thinking about getting another powder brush, and if i don't get the ELF one (simply because it's only $1), it will be this one.

10. MAC Fix+ ($18, MAC stores and counters)

i have owned the same bottle of fix+ for about two years now, and i don't think i will have to get another until sometime in 2011. this is the ultimate in multipurpose tools, although at first glance it just looks like a fancy bottle of water. this stuff is great for wetting my brush before applying MSF on a bare face -- this helps it look more natural and blend into my skin better. i also use it to set my makeup, especially on really humid days. it can be used on a bare face before applying anything, as well. i have found that it is especially helpful on an eyeshadow brush, especially when i am applying not-so-pigmented shadows. fix+ has allowed me to purchase really inexpensive shadows and get better color payoff out of them: i simply pack the eyeshadow onto the brush, spray it, and apply to my lid. i really think this is one of the most underrated beauty tools out there.


i am now in the midst of compiling my list of top ten skincare products. most of them are relatively new to my regimen, but i am seeing the best skin i have had in a very long time, so needless to say they are keepers. the list will be up soon!

Monday, July 26, 2010

attitude adjustment

for some reason, i got a burst of re-motivation in my HHJ this past week. after i took down the sew-in i had wanted so badly, i took a few days and rocked strictly WNGs. my super-supportive boyfriend had missed my hair so much when it was a matter of fact, he was the one who (slowly and carefully, of course) took my tracks out! all i have been doing since then is cowashing with HE HH, detangling every few days, and maybe using a bit of aloe vera gel when i pull my hair back to keep my edges tame. even with this pretty simple regimen, i was wondering what else i could do to promote growth and be more low-manipulation.

here enters the castor oil: my same super supportive boyfriend just happened to mention an article he read about the benefits of castor oil on your hair and skin. he mentioned a bottle of cold pressed castor oil that he had purchased from whole foods a while back, and of course i was more than happy to rave about how i use it in my oil mixture to remove my makeup. when i returned to NC, we both started using castor oil on our faces before bed at night. i then decided that i would take the same EVOO/castor/coconut oil mix and use it on my ends to seal, which i have never really done consistently since beginning my natural journey. although my hair seems to grow well now, i presumed that maybe sealing in *that* much more moisture could help me retain even better.

in addition to sealing my ends, i came across kimmaytube's now famous leave-in conditioner video and decided to adapt it for my own use. i was intrigued by the idea of pH balance affecting moisture levels in the hair, and i figured if nothing else it would allow me to stretch my leave-ins by adding additional products to it. the only problem with cowashing and simply leaving in my HE HH is that by bedtime, my hair is not only dry from having airdried, but is also dry from all the moisture having left my strands. i figured that closing the cuticle, as kim says the acidic nature of her leave-in aids in doing, would help "trap" the moisture much like sealing or an ACV rinse. i went to whole foods to search for the whole leaf AV juice and kinky-curly knot today, but they were out of the KCKT. i then remembered i have some giovanni direct still on hand from 2008, and used that in its place. later, i was pleasantly surprised to discover that GD itself has a low pH. i have only been using it two days, but i really like how my hair feels at the end of the day. as a matter of fact, i was stunned this morning when i woke up (my hair conveniently twisted into two flat twists) and my hair was still soft and cool to the touch, what i have heard described as a marker of well-moisturized hair. i will use this for a while and track the changes in my hair -- but i already think i have a keeper here.

on top of sealing and this new leave-in, i have also incorporated (drumroll) WET BUNNING into my regimen. of course i know how to make a bun, and i love the stories i hear about consistent wet bunners who have crazy retention rates, but i can never stick with it long enough to see ANY kind of results, much less miraculous ones. i have challenged myself to a mini-bunning challenge, and my goal is to wear a bun everyday until september 1st. i may not necessarily cowash everyday either -- i'm thinking my hair will stay in this bun for at least 3 days, and to remoisturize i will simply remove the hair tie, spray water on my hair, add leave-in and re-bun.

hopefully, a month straight of incorporating these three changes will cause me to adjust the way i think about my hair in the summer. my goal is to have moisturized hair at all times, and thus promote an optimal environment for growth and retention. as a byproduct, i hope that keeping my ends saturated and hidden will keep the split ends at bay, and by the time i do my next length check in september, i will have ends nearly as healthy as (or just as healthy as) they were following my june trim. only 5 weeks to go!

weave update

after all that hoping and praying, i seriously underestimated the fact that 1) when i wear a protective style, i usually have to STRUGGLE to make myself keep it in even 6 weeks and 2) i haven't worn a weave since 2007. i feel like you already know what's coming next: i definitely took out those tracks! to be specific, i removed my sew-in after 4 weeks. the verdict is still out on the hair itself.....i mean, although i cowashed and detangled daily (more than i do to even my OWN hair), it was so matted and tangled at the end of those four weeks that even if i had wanted to go three months, i couldn't have. maybe if i do this again, i will bump up to AAMH.

although i didn't reach my goal of keeping it in for 3 months, it did help me get over that trimming setback from june, and for that i am happy. i am not sure how much growth i got, but the fact that i stayed consistent with my megatek and cowashing lets me know i probably got at least the 0.5" expected to grow within a month. my growth rate seems pretty much normal, and even if the megatek helped me get ANYTHING extra it will put me back on track to be BSL by new years. i'm not doing any official length checks until september, and now that my hair is loose i am trying to keep myself from doing any unofficial ones as well. luckily, i have a game plan that i will detail a little later.