Makeup and Beauty Blog

Beauty product reviews, makeup tips and news from your friendly neighborhood beauty addict.

Archive for February, 2007

Drug Store Skin Care – Three Cheap, Affordable Sunscreens

Posted by Karen on February 28, 2007

Three Drugstore Suncreens That Rock

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests applying the amount equivalent to one shot glass (1 oz.) to exposed skin every day. That’s a lot of sunscreen, and you can end up spending a hefty chunk of change if you’re using high-end brands.

If you’re living on a budget then buying a 3 oz tube of $40 Skinceuticals sunscreen may not be a cost effective way to get your sun protection. So what’s a girl to do? Hit the drug store, of course!

I’ve tried many drug store sunscreens and found three that work well: Oil of Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin, Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock and Alba Botanica Sea Moss Moisturizer. Here’s the skinny on each of these fab sun blockers.

Oil of Olay Complete for Sensitive Skin SPF 15
Price: $8.99 for 6 fl oz.
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A-

A dermatologist recommended this sunscreen to me and I’ve been using it for over ten years.

Pros: Subtle light scent, sinks into your skin easily (but you’ll still want to let it sit for about 10 minutes before putting on your makeup), provides great every day skin protection.

Cons: When I tan and get darker, I notice that this lotion casts a slight white sheen on my skin. During the coldest and windiest winter days it doesn’t provide enough moisture. I can’t wear it when I work out, because when sweat runs down my face this lotion goes into my eyes and makes them hurt. Ouch!

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock SPF 30
Price: $9.00 for 3 fl oz.
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A

I don’t like having a sticky neck, so I use this sunblock on my neck, shoulders and arms.

Pros: Light scent, leaves your skin feeling dry, absorbs easily. This has excellent sun protection. I went through two bottles of this a week before before my wedding day last July (I didn’t want to be too tan for the pictures) and I didn’t get too dark, even after days of surfing and swimming. I also always wear it when I run, bike or hike outside because doesn’t hurt when it runs into my yes.

Cons: Not very moisturizing, and can leave a slight greasy (yet not sticky) film on your skin after you apply it.

Alba Botanica Sea Moss Moisturizer SPF 15
Price: $14.99 for 2 fl oz
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B

This sunscreen has a strong smell – you’ll either love it or hate it. I like it, and I think the bottle is cute, too.

Pros: Smells good, non-greasy, very moisturizing.

Cons: Ample sun protection, but not as effective as Oil of Olay and Neutrogena sunscreens.

When you’re searching for your drug store sunscreens, look for ingredients which provide broad-spectrum protection like benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates, titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, and avobenzone (Parsol 1789.)

And always remember to apply your sunscreens 15-30 minutes BEFORE going outdoors.

I go through sunscreen quickly because I slather a lot of it on – while I’m rubbing what seems like a ridiculous amount on I just think of all the wrinkles I’m preventing. I’ve been using sunscreen since my teens and I’m starting to now really appreciate what it can do for your skin. I’m 31 and I still get carded. =)


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MAC Face Brush Review – 182 Buffer Brush

Posted by Karen on February 27, 2007


Product: MAC 182 Buffer Brush
Use: For application of loose powder, pressed powder and pigment
Price: $45.00
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B+

I know, I know – $45 for one stinkin’ brush? For $45 dollars at the MAC counter you can get 3 eye shadows, or 3 Lipglasses or even 15 pencil sharpeners! If you wear powder every day, then consider investing in this brush. Save your pennies, wait until you get a gift card, or even ask a friend who is a MAC artist buy one for you and then pay her/him back, because this brush will become a staple in your collection.

I was lucky enough to get the 182 Buffer Brush as a Christmas gift from my beautiful and talented sister-in-law, who is a MAC makeup artist. The brush has a short, fat handle and a full dome made out of goat hair bristles.

And who knew that goat hair could feel so soft? The 182 bristles feel silky and dense, and when you apply product the brush feels like velvet on your skin. You can use this brush to apply loose powder, pressed powder and pigments, and I’ve found it to be pretty much a fool-proof brush. Even if I mistakenly overload it with powder, as long as I dilute the powder (by either tapping the brush or blowing off the excess) the 182 gives smooth, even application.

I use the 182 Buffer Brush with MAC Select Sheer Loose Powder in NC 30, MAC Couture Sheer Mystery Pressed Powder in Dark and MAC Blot Pressed Powder in Medium Dark.

If I use Select Sheer Loose Powder, I open up the powder jar, tap some powder onto the lid, gently dip the 182 brush into the powder on the lid, and either tap brush handle on the side of the powder jar or blow on the brush to dilute excess powder.

If I use it with Couture Sheer Mystery Pressed Powder or Blot Pressed Powder, I gently swirl the 182 in the compact, and then tap the handle or blow off the excess powder.

I like powder to look light and sheer, so I use a light touch as I apply the powdered 182 brush to my face in a circular, buffing motion.

If it weren’t for the steep price I’d give this brush an A. Plus, if you keep your brushes in a brush roll, you may have to store the 182 in a separate cosmetic case when you travel because of the short handle.

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Mac Eye Makeup Review – Club Eye Shadow

Posted by Karen on February 26, 2007


Product: MAC Club Eye Shadow
Use: Eye shadow and liner
Price: $14.00 for a pan
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: A+

OH boy…I could write odes, sonnets, and volumes upon volumes on the wonders of Club, one of my favorite MAC eye shadows. But I’ll spare ya and get down to business.

Club eye shadow came into my MAC collection as one of the shadows in the Holiday 2006 Smoked Eyes Palette. At first glance it’s kind of dirty looking and scary. It reminded me of oily puddles in the middle of the road on a rainy day – black, gray, green and blue at the same time. I didn’t think I’d be able to wear it at all.

Once I got it on my eyes – wow. Club shows up on my lids as brown with flashes of green and blue. It’s a pretty, multi-dimensional, versatile color.

I wear it toned down during the day by using it in the crease with MAC’s 224 Blending Brush, or on the lid with MAC’s 252 Large Shader Brush. For nights out, I get a sultrier look by wetting the 252 brush and packing the color down on the lid, or using it as a liner with a wet 266 Small Angle Brush.

I pair it often with: MAC’s Ricepaper, Vex, Malt and Soba eye shadows.

Club is a must for any MAC addict who loves the smoky eye look!

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MAC Skincare Review – Green Gel Cleanser

Posted by Karen on February 26, 2007

MAC Green Gel Cleanser

Product: MAC Green Gel Cleanser
Use: Facial cleanser
Price: $19.00 for 5 oz
Makeup and Beauty Blog Rating: B – Update as of 3/1/07 – I’m changing this rating to a C because I accidentally got some cleanser in my eyes and it hurt like hell! Not ideal for sensitive eyes.

This morning I tried one of the samples I received from the Barbie Loves MAC seminar last week – MAC’s Green Gel Cleanser.

The website describes it as a foaming, soap-free, hydrating cleanser with extracts of cucumber and algae.

This cleanser smells good – light and fresh, like cut grass in the summer. The texture is nice too, thin without being too sticky.

I did feel like I had to use a lot of it to get a foamy consistency. And after I dried my face, my skin felt a little tight, but that could be also due to the fact that it’s been very cold and windy so my skin is drier than usual. I think my oily skin would like this cleanser during the warmer summer months though.

Green Gel Cleanser reminds me of Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel, so if you are a fan of that cleanser, you might like this too.

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A Makeup Tip from the Barbie Loves MAC Seminar – Choosing the right MAC Concealer

Posted by Karen on February 22, 2007

mac concealer pics

mac concealer chart
One tip I learned from attending a recent Barbie Loves MAC seminar:

When choosing a concealer, pick one with pink tones, even if your skin is yellow or neutral toned. The MAC instructor at the seminar informed my class that 99% of the population should wear a NW color for their undereye concealer. She said that even if you normally wear NC foundation, you should choose a NW concealer because layering yellow-toned concealers over dark circles can create a grayish color.

MAC’s system of labeling is different than most makeup lines. They base their system on the color wheel, so what you may normally think of as cool tones (pinks) and warm tones (yellows) are labeled differently in their foundation, concealer and powder lines.

MAC foundations, concealers and powders with the label “NC” stand for “neutral cool” and are for girls — or boys — with yellow undertones in their skin. Products labeled “NW” are “neutral warm” for those with pink tones.

I have some serious dark circles so I never leave the house without concealer on. I like to rotate between several brands including MAC’s Select Cover-Up concealer. It’s a liquid concealer that comes in a nice tube. Because I have oily skin, I don’t like cream or stick concealers – they feel heavy and tend to just slide off. I mix Select Cover-Up with MAC’s Fast Response Eye Cream before applying it underneath and in the inner corners of my eyes with the 217 Blending Brush. This Friday (my day off, woo hoo!) I’m going to stop by the counter and pick up a NW concealer color. I’ll report afterwards if it makes my dreaded undereye circles less grey.

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A Cheaper Alternative to ProActiv Solution

Posted by Karen on February 21, 2007

Poor Woman’s ProActiv Final
Before I was a freelance writer, I worked as a legal secretary for five years. While not the most stimulating job in the world, it paid well. For beauty product junkies, more disposable money often equals expensive beauty habits. I went to spas to get facials, used only high-end brands like Dermalogica and was a total drugstore snob.

But in my late 20s I started breaking out like crazy, and nothing, not even Retin A or Differin, seemed stop the zits. I bought ProActiv out of desperation and lucky for me, it actually worked.

When I quit my job last year to write full time, I had to find ways to save money. Spending $50 on ProActiv was no longer an option, so I looked for similar, cheaper products with the active ingredients in ProActiv’s cleanser, toner and repairing lotion.

After experimenting with different products for a few months, I found what worked best for me: washing with a gentle cleanser, using a toner with glycolic acid, waiting for 10-15 minutes and then following up with a benzoyl peroxide pad. I like to call this process “Poor Woman’s ProActiv.” Using drugstore products can deliver similar ProActiv results and save you up to 30 dollars!

The products I use are:

1. Clean and Clear Foaming Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin. I never liked the harshness of ProActiv’s benzoyl peroxide cleanser, so I use this gentle wash. It removes makeup and cleans without leaving my skin feeling tight.

2. Neutrogena’s Pore Refining Toner. The first ingredient is alcohol, so it may not be suitable for really sensitive faces. My skin is pretty oily so I can tolerate it. After I apply the toner with a cotton ball I wait for 10-15 minutes to let my skin dry.

3. Stridex Power Pads. These 2.5% benzoyl peroxide pads are big, so I cut them in half and use one half in the morning and the other at night. This saves you even more money!

I can’t guarantee that what worked for me will work for you, so you may have to try different combinations to find your skin’s own version of Poor Woman’s Proactiv. Purchase your products from stores with a good return policy and keep your receipts in case they don’t work for you. And lastly, be patient. It may take a while before you find the right combination.

Posted in Drugstore Beauty Finds, Product Reviews, Skin Care | 1 Comment »

MAC Seminar

Posted by Karen on February 20, 2007

On Saturday I went to a MAC seminar held at the Corte Madera Nordstrom. It was really fun and I learned a lot.

I found out about it earlier in the week from one of the MAC makeup artists. You reserve your spot by paying $50 beforehand, and at the end of the class you can use that $50 toward MAC makeup purchases. I already knew that I was going to spend about $50 on a few goodies from the new Barbie Loves MAC collection (see yesterday’s post for pictures of my loot!) so I figured I might as well take the class and learn something new.

There were 45 women at the seminar, all different colors and ages. We all met at the MAC counter at 3:00 and then were whisked off into the inner belly of Nordstrom. Each person got a goody bag filled with samples of Studio Moisture Fix SPF 15 and Green Gel Cleanser, Barbie Loves MAC postcards, a mini technique book and a blank face chart to take notes. The instructor, a bubbly blonde who cracked a lot of funny jokes, looked exactly like Scarlett Johansson. At the beginning of class she picked three ladies from the audience to be her models. She asked us what three topics we wanted to cover. She used the first model to demonstrate the new Mineralize Skinfinish Foundation and Powders, the second to create an “open” eye with the Barbie Loves MAC collection, and the third to create a simple smoky eye.

I like how the instructor used an interactive class format to teach the class. She let us ask a lot of questions while she did the demonstrations – I must’ve asked “What brush are you using?’ about four times and she always answered patiently. There seemed to be a lot of makeup newbies in the class as well, and one girl in particular kept asking questions that didn’t make sense, and the instructor was very good about clarifying the question so that she could give her a good answer.

But after the instructor completed the first demo using the Mineralize Skinfinish Foundation, it started to get a little hard to focus on what she was teaching. During the second tutorial on how to create an open eye, she would point out what product she was using and then two MAC makeup artists started to walk around the room with the products. If you wanted the product you’d raise your hand, and then they’d give you one to put in your goody bag for purchase at the end of the class.

I have a one-track mind so this was very distracting, because the makeup artists would sometimes walk in front of the teacher or block my view so I couldn’t always focus on what the instructor was saying. I’m also a terrible impulse buyer. I can see why a situation like this could end up being a hot financial mess of makeup overspending if I was in the mood for it. I actually did buy lipstick and Lipglass on impulse, but in an amazing and rare feat of self-restraint, I managed to pass on the Fit+, Strobe Cream, Mineralize Skinfinish Foundation and Whistle eye shadow.

I do like that the class was essentially free because I had planned on buying at least $50 worth of Barbie Loves MAC products. But while I did learn a few new tricks and some creative ways to use the newest MAC products, the seminars can end up burning a hole in your pocketbook if you are an impulse buyer. If I go again, I’m going to in with a list of specific products to purchase, no credit cards, and a set amount of cash so I won’t be tempted to overspend.

If you are interested in MAC seminars you should ask the makeup artists at your local counter. Try it, but keep in mind you might be tempted to overspend because the instructors will show you lots of cool ways to use the products!

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Barbie Loves MAC

Posted by Karen on February 20, 2007

Here are a few pictures of the Barbie Loves MAC loot I picked up this weekend.
Barbie Loves MAC

Barbie Loves Mac2

From left to right:
Fab Blush (Frost)
Pearl Sunshine Beauty Powder
Pearl Blossom Beauty Powder
Fashion Pack Lipglass
Style It Up Lipstick (Frost)

Within the last two years I’ve developed a serious blush addiction, so I wanted to get the pink blush, Don’t Be Shy, but they ran out. I recently got Dollymix and I’ve been using that as my go-to pink blush for the past two months so I wasn’t too disappointed.

Fab looks a bit dark in person, but I’ve found that it’s kind of sheer on my skin so it takes a while for the color to build and I have to add a few layers. The MAC website describes Fab as a “mid-tone plum with gold pearl,” but on me it looks like a reddish brown with gold flecks. I use a 129 Blush Brush with it and gently bounce the brush on the apples of my cheeks to get a soft brown cheek.

Both Beauty Powders are to die for – I’m seriously thinking about purchasing backups. I’ve been looking for a highlighter without disco-ball glitter and the Beauty Powders deliver a subtle, tasteful shimmer. You can use Pearl Sunshine as an all-over highlighter and as a brow highlighter. Pearl Blossom is also a great highlighter and can also be used to brighten up your inner eye. Use a small, fluffy eye brush like MAC’s 217 blending brush and tap the powder gently over your concealer to instantly get a bright-eyed look.

I purchased Style It Up Lipglass and Fashion Pack Lipstick because I’m currently on the hunt for my holy grail neutral lip. I was first a little scared by the “Frost” in Style it Up but when applied found that the frost is very subtle, not scary like the Wet & Wild frost lipsticks from the 80s. I line my lips first with Subculture lipliner, and use the 316 Lip Brush to first add Style it Up. I then blot and then dab Fashion Pack on with the same brush. Love it!

I tried to order the Barbie Loves MAC T-shirt online but it’s on backorder for the next two weeks, boo hoo! The makeup artists at the MAC counter were wearing them this weekend and the shirts are really cute in person. If I do end up getting it I’ll take a pic and post it.

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