A reunion, a wedding, & a race: Chapter 2 (Prep)

Most days (as in 355 days a year or more) I wear no make-up. Not a dusting of powder. Not a hint of eye liner. Not a touch of lip tint. Typically, I do my Origins Wiel face routine (wash, eye cream, moisturizer) with a bit of ROC retinol for the eye bags and a dab of Aquaphor to the lips and I am good to go. But when attending special events calling for special outfits I do enjoy trying to do something special with the colors and contours of my face. This mega weekend I will turn to the following favorites. 

Eye palettes by Smashbox. Undoubtedly the best pigment around. Doesn’t cake. Doesn’t flake. It will dust a bit when applying (I use MAC brushes to apply) the the Smashbox fan brush is ideal to brush away any excess. For simplicity they will group colors into shades that work together but I am obsessed with the versatility of their special addition palettes. The small ones are great for air travel when one is trying to minimize the load (this trip was a local road trip so I grabbed my entire home make up back and brought it along!) 

Blush by Nars. The world only needs super orgasm’s shimmery almost iridescent pink  tone but Nars has other blush colors as well that are perhaps more suitable for less festive occasions. So while I mostly use my favorite shade, I have 5 others sold as single compacts or in convenient pallets (again great for travel and comes with a few decent but not as good as Smashbox shadows as well).

Dramatic eyes by Dior. Years ago I tried competitors but I came back to Dior every single time I tried to see what else was out there. To be honest though I like the effect of the classic DiorShow I really dislike the smell. But, I love the effect of DiorShow Iconic and it doesn’t have a weird smell. I use regular for the upper lashes and waterproof for the corner and lower lashes. Finally, when I am in the mood for an ultra glam look, I run a coat of DiorShow black over the lashes and color in the sparser areas of my brows with the Dior universal brow pencil.   

Refresh for May Day #31: My Favorite Makeup Applicator

Okay, so drumroll please…. last product in our refresh for May series!  And I am saving the best for last… it is the BeautyBlender.  This product has absolutely changed how I apply my makeup.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and the results are flawless – perfectly blended – no streaks or brush marks.  It literally will give you an airbrushed look in less time than other makeup applicators.

Yes.  It is a makeup sponge.

Why is it any different than any other makeup sponge?  Short version is the material and how it holds water, leading to really good results.

How do you use it?

Take the dry sponge and completely saturate it under running water.  The sponge will double in size during this process.  Then, squeeze the excess water out of the sponge.  I take it one step further and do one and only one quick squeeze of the sponge inside of a towel.  You want the sponge to be damp, not wet.

I either place the foundation/BB Cream, etc on the BeautyBlender or dot the makeup directly onto my face.  The moistened BeautyBlender is then used to bounce or stipple the makeup onto the face, which blends while applying.  I use the larger, round base for cheeks and forehead, then use the tapered end for around the eye and nose.  Because of its shape, this one product will work to blend and apply makeup anywhere on your face.

After you are finished, you clean the sponge, then leave out to air dry and it will shrink back to its original proportions 🙂

The link I am including is to the set that I purchased – which includes 2 sponges and the cleanser.  It’s a great deal (I have one at home and one at my office) and it includes a great cleanser which can be used for any other brush or makeup applicator you might own.

Hope you all enjoyed our Refresh for May series!

Link to product and image from Sephora.


Refresh for May Day #27: My Favorite Finishing Powders

Finishing powders are like the decorations on a wedding cake – the cake may taste great without them, but with them, the cake becomes sensational.  I don’t necessarily use finishing powders every day, but you can bet that if I know my photo is going to be taken, both of these products will be used!

Links and images from Sephora.

Make Up For Ever HD Pressed Powder


This sets your makeup beautifully – giving you a believable, not too matte finish.  Makeup lasts longer, prevents it settling into any fine lines you *might* have, and imperfections are blurred.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette


So this palette is another travel-must for me, and can be used in conjunction with the Make Up Forever powder as well.  This is different, however, because it gives more of a luminescent finish.  The three shades are perfect for highlighting, bronzing, and contouring.  The goal of this palette is to give you a “candlelight glow”… Since OR lights can not really be compared to the glow of candlelight I can’t necessarily tell you if that is the look achieved, but I can say that this gives a very flattering finish to your skin, with or without makeup underneath.

Refresh for May Day #26: Best Eyeshadow Palette

Eyeshadow palettes are a bit like a season of “The Bachelor” for me.  Even though I bought it for all the “right reasons” (multiple awesome colors allowing you to obtain a variety of looks and ideal for travel), after you become acquainted with it, I am invariably disappointed by its relative uselessness.  In other words, I end up not using all, or even most, of the colors, the formulation is not great resulting in the staying power of an engagement from “The Bachelor”, and I overall end up feeling like I have wasted my money.  Until, I met the Urban Decay Naked3 Palette.  It has become my Holy Grail of eye palettes.  It contains a mixture of finishes – matte, shimmer, and metallic and I have used every single color!  I can get a smoky eye night out on the town look as well as a subtle natural look all from the same palette!  There are 3 other versions of the Naked palette from Urban Decay  –  original Naked, Naked2, and the Naked Basics.  All of the palettes are slightly different and work with probably any variety of skin tones and eye colors possible.

Brief description of each:

Naked  – combination of warm and cool undertones, variety of finishes

Naked2 – taupe and beige with cool undertones, variety of finishes

Naked3 – all warm undertones, variety of finishes.

Naked Basics – 6 shades, all matte

I do like all of the palettes, but for my green eyes, the warm hues in the Naked3 mean that every single shade is flattering.  Although the $54 price tag can seem a bit daunting, for 12 eyeshadows that are all used regularly and a quality double ended eyeshadow brush, it definitely is worth the price.


Link to product and image from Sephora

Urban Decay Naked3 Palette





Refresh for May Day #25: My Favorite Care Product for Sensitive Skin

As many of you know by now, my skin can be pretty sensitive.  I flush terribly with exercise and heat – and that flushing can stick around for awhile.  A friend of mine, who also happens to be a pharmacist, sells Rodan and Fields, and she mentioned this product to me.  And no, I do not sell Rodan and Fields or get any reimbursement whatsoever for my humble opinion.  I know, it’s sad.  Anyways, back to the product.  This product is used after cleansing but before moisturizing, twice daily.  I have to admit, they named this lotion very appropriately – it is indeed soothing to my skin, feels cool, and has definitely improved my redness and flushing even with my imperfect use (i.e. not twice daily).  So, for anyone who has some baseline sensitivity or redness issues, I highly recommend.

Link and photo to Rodan and Fields company website.

Soothe Sensitive Skin Treatment


Refresh for May Day #23: Just face it (in a light up magnifying mirror)

If you intend to care for yourself fully, you must invest in led mirror countera good magnifying mirror that lights up. You cannot expect to create an expert swipe of the eyeliner, or tweeze to perfection, or realize the potential of your pore minimizing lotion without on. Trust me. The next time you find yourself looking face to face with yourself in a brightly lit, well mirrored dressing room or a hotel room with a good a proper magnifying mirror (there’s a reason why actors’ benches and beauty parlors are set up the way they are–overhead lights create weird angles and a lighted magnifying mirror gives led mirror wallyou a close-up and avoids the shadows) you will realize that you aren’t really looking at yourself in your standard bathroom mirror when you groom or put on make up. The mirror I use is from Frontgate. (no longer available).  It’s oval and has an LED light but (similar to round one shown except shape/bluetooth and oval one except wall mount). I use it every single day.

Refresh for May Day #22: My Favorite Eyeliners

Yep, I said eyeliners… as in plural, because I love eyeliner.  The right eyeliner, along with the right brow pencil and mascara, can make a huge difference without much time (granted that they are applied correctly, of course!).

Here are my top 3, each with a different formulation.  Links to products provided below and images from Sephora.

My pencil pick is the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil.  It glides on smoothly and has serious staying power.  Like, “stays in place despite being in the hospital for 30 hours” kind of staying power.  Another bonus is the huge array of colors available.  Seriously, think of a color, and you can probably find 3 variations of that color in this product line.


My favorite gel by far is Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner.  This is a long wearing product that actually is still easy to correct if you make a mistake.  Easy to apply (I use the Bobbi Brown Eye Liner Brush) whether you are trying to achieve a precise cat eye or a smudged smoky eye.  The black is a wonderful inky, pigmented black and is a staple for me.


For days (or nights) that I want to achieve that great inky, black, precise line, but don’t have time for the gel and brush, I use Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Eye Liner.  It is quick to apply, waterproof, and allows for very precise placement.  Great for travel!


Disclaimer:  I believe that my reviews are priceless… and so does everyone else.  I.e.  I don’t get paid for any of this 🙂

Refresh For May Day #21: My Favorite Eyeshadow Brush

Dual use items always rank highly with me.  When one is used to having no time and having to live out of a bag most days, any item that saves both time and space is much revered.

This dual sided eyeshadow brush is truly the only eye brush you need – which saves you space when packing and time not having to sort through a million brushes to find which one you need.  It can be used to apply, blend, and contour your eyeshadow.  The bristles are great quality, apply products evenly, and blend easily.

Link to product below and image from Sephora.

Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Brush


Disclaimer:  I do not receive any compensation in any way, shape, or form, for any review.

Refresh for May Day #20: The only grooming tools you will ever need

I tweeze. A lot. I wish I didn’t have to but the raging head of hair I have comes with unwanted counterparts between the eyebrows, and on the chin, and, well, in all the inconvenient places. Over the years, I have owned an increasing array of tweezers owing to the age and ethnicity related overgrowth of facial hair, along with those pesky in-growns that occur when I neglect exfoliation.

If you aren’t already beholden to the Tweezerman brand, let me save you splintertweezersome time. No other brand compares. Period. Full stop. Don’t bother trying the competitors. My top vanity drawer houses the slant edge (see I’m not the only one, Allure magazine agrees too), pointy, and splinter/ingrown style Tweezerman tweezers. I have a petite version of the slant and pointy in my travel bag (in their own pleather case) as well so as to ensure that I am never left without my trusty tweezers.


traveltweezersBarring the need for the tiniest of clutches, I will always have my handy mini set with me too, because, you know, you never know when an eyebrow emergency might hit. This kit exemplifies one of the other things that I love about the brand; Tweezerman knowspatternedtweezerswarovskitweezers how to add some bling to something as utilitarian as a set of tweezers. I don’t own any of the bejeweled or printed ones (come to think of it, why not?) but they are super cute and might even double as art work for those who lack a top vanity drawer. My goodness, while writing this post, I mizrahi tweezerseven found that Tweezerman has partnered with some well known designers to deliver tweezers for the true fashionista who must not be seen with any wayward facial hair.

Lest you believe this quality is all about tweezers (afterall, the name of the brand is Tweezerman), it is not. I have found that the quality of all the Tweezerman personal grooming products far exceed those of any other brands I have ever tried (e.g. Revlon, Sally Hansen, Trim, BodyToolz).  I have replaced all the various personal tools (e.g. nail clippers, cuticle nippers, comedon extractors, eyelash curlers, eyebrow scissors, nail files, cuticle pushers) in our home with the Tweezerman brand. They have heft when held unlike many competitors and their comboclippersetstainless steel never tarnishes. The sharpness(if needed on a particular tool) is always the highest quality. That said, though there is a lifetime service to resharpen anything that dulls, if you read the fine print it’s simply not worth the cost and effort of mailing back a tweezer or nipper to get is sharpened. Between the Gilt sales, Amazon, and Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, you will be better off just replacing what has gone dull. However, in my experience, the cuticlenipperonly tools that have ever dulled, despite repeated use of many, many tools, are the tweezers I have managed to drop business end first onto a hard surface. (Don’t judge the dropping. Yes, I am a surgeon. And, no I did not drop the tweezers while using them. But sometimes things fall off of cluttered counter tops and go boom on tiled floors).

Finally, (and yes, I love this brand enough that I have just written a >500 word blog post on grooming tools) the way Tweezerman puts together its travel kits is really well thought out. So, along with my mini set of tweezers, I never leave home without a handy kit that has a small nail fit, cuticle pusher, nail cutter, and cuticle nipper in a handy kit. And, I got my husband the other one shown and he loves it too for his business travels.


Refresh for May Day #19: My favorite on demand zit zapper

Like many of you, I wish in my adult life I would never have to deal with the problem of an unwanted blemish. However, I sometimes get an angry red pimple and, while there is really no opportune time to get one, I find that I tend to get one (or more) around the time of special events. Sigh.

  So, to get rid of one as quick as possible I turn to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion. I am not a skin chemist so I can’t say for sure, but I think the sulfur is the key to the zit zapping chemical warfare of this potion. It also contains Isopropyl Alcohol, Water, Calamine, Camphor, Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Talc, Glycerin, and Salicylic Acid (found in many acne spot treatments). I apply it at night with a Q-tip and by morning the pimple is usually quiescent (or at the very least much easier to hide under some concealer since the camphor and calamine cool the redness quite a bit–or at least I think those are the ingredients responsible for this effect.)