Cosmetics: The perfect palette

I recently wrote about a good friend of mine who deeply influenced how I wear makeup, and really has a gift when it comes to cosmetics. Basically, she walks through life looking air-brushed. So when she endorses a specific product, I listen. A few weeks ago she went a step further, and gave me Sephora’s gorgeous “Moonshadow Baked Palette: In the Nude” for my birthday. Because of my fair coloring, I tend to avoid saturated tones and bright colors when doing my makeup, whereas she is able to pull off just about anything and prefers highly pigmented shadows that have been pressed multiple times. The palette she gave me was a happy medium between the two, while it consists primarily of natural tones that I feel comfortable wearing, the colors are very saturated and… sparkly!

Sephora Moonshadow Baked Palette: In the Nude

Sephora Moonshadow Baked Palette: In the Nude

I’ve been experimenting with application, but I know I’m only the scratching the surface of what I can do (honestly my work is a little sloppy). It would be easy with these shadows to have much more dramatic makeup, but it would probably not be daytime or work-appropriate.

Here’s one day when I played with application:

Here is another day:

In both photos I am wearing Benefit ‘They’re Real!’ Mascara and Revlon ColorStay Liquid Eye Pen. I have been told that I could have softened the harsh lines on my crease my softly swiping the made-up lids with a fluffy and clean makeup brush.

Do you have a favorite eyeshadow palette? For beauty tips and tricks, check out my Cosmetics Board on Pinterest!

Feeling your Best: Inside and Out

I think one of the greatest burdens of American women is that we often foster shame within ourselves. Over the past sixty years our society has evolved immensely, and now we are constantly sent conflicting messages about who we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to feel. We should look like models but cook like Paula Deen, have ambitious professional aspirations but always put others before ourselves, act like ladies but never be high-maintenance. Sometimes I feel like the more choices we are given, the more ways there are for people to disapprove of the decisions we make.

I very much want to read Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Sandberg seems to believe that for the most part, what’s holding women back is no longer external forces or a lack of opportunity, but an unwillingness to seize those opportunities and relinquish our cultural shame.

Lean In:

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

I have a daily battle with that shame and insecurity, and I tend to be very self-critical. I’m working hard to become a more courageous and confident person, and luckily I have incredible friends who build me up. Having command of the message I send out to the world always gives me a big confidence boost and a healthy creative outlet, and that’s one of the many reasons I love makeup and fashion.

Sometimes wearing makeup is really a placebo; when I’m having a bad day and feel like I just look awful, it shields me from the world. Other times, it allows me to explore and play. Taking pride in my appearance gives me a sense of control and self-assurance. Rather than focusing on that ugly hook in my nose or the fact that my eyes are too close together, using cosmetics is all about knowing your strengths and emphasizing your best features (don’t you listen to Carmindy on What Not to Wear?)

In that spirit, let me tell you two things that I happen to like about myself, one within and one without. 1) Although I crave approval, I never compromise my character and violate my morals in order to satisfy peer pressure. 2) I have very long eyelashes.

My eyes and eyelashes are my best feature, and I’m often asked what mascara I use. I’ve tried almost every brand. I absolutely love Covergirl Lashblast. It’s sold everywhere, and it’s only about $7. I don’t need the extra length, so I use Volume (in the orange case), while most of my friends love the Clump crusher (in the green case).

Lashblast Volume Mascara, my all-time favorite!

Lashblast Volume Mascara, my all-time favorite!

Covergirl Clump Crusher by Lashblast Mascara

Covergirl Clump Crusher by Lashblast Mascara

When I stopped by Sephora the other day I was also given a free sample of another mascara, and it’s wonderful! Of course it’s a price jump ($23), but my lashes really do look false when I use it. It’s called “They’re real!”  how can you not enjoy that sassy name?

Benefit Cosmetics: They're Real! Mascara at Sephora

Benefit Cosmetics: They’re Real! Mascara at Sephora

If you look closely all three mascaras have a wand that combs lashes rather than brushing them, this helps prevent clumps and uni-lashes.

I’ve told you mine, now tell me yours! Let me know your favorite mascara, and please, instead of focusing on all the things you wish you could change about yourself, feel pride rather than shame! What are two qualities that you like about yourself?

Cosmetics: Making-it-up as I go

Makeup! I love it, I use it every day, but I would not consider it my area of expertise.

Before college I rarely wore anything other than mascara and gloss, but I was lucky enough to be thrown into the same orbit as a girl who became one of my closest friends. She is what I would comfortably classify as a cosmetics expert. Every Friday when classes were over the girls in my dorm would begin to get ready to go out. They would turn up the speakers, turn on their flat irons, and line up at her door to beg her to do their makeup. Some people have a talent and a passion for cosmetics which elevates what they do to a plane beyond simply striving to look their best, and allows them to create a new work of art every day.

I do not have that passion and talent, but I benefited from being in the vicinity of someone who does. My friend taught me few tricks (she gently instructed me to contour before I knew what contouring was), and whatever holes were left in my basic cosmetics education have generally been filled by the steady tutelage of pinterest.

Through every other experiment I have conducted, two things have remained the same: my basic daily foundation (BareMinerals, which I really can’t ever imagine forsaking), and my blush. My attitude toward blush was basically that if it wasn’t broken, why fix it? Then,  a few weeks ago I was inspired by an article I read about coral, and I examined my makeup ritual more critically. I’ve been using the same Covergirl blush since high school, and though I once attempted to make the switch to a BareMinerals product, the result was essentially the same… and Covergirl was less expensive (in my experience Covergirl is an incredible value for the price).

Still a great buy for around $5 at any drugstore!

Still a great buy for around $5 at any drugstore!

Covergirl’s Iced Plum, a shade I have happily used for years

Well no more! I stopped by Sephora the other day and snagged a fabulous blush from NARS, a brand many of my friends swear by. To be honest, at $29 I consider it a splurge for a blush, but it’s high-quality product that I know I’ll use every day. “Torrid” is much brighter than my previous blushes, and perfect for summer! Sephora calls it “coral with shimmer.” They appear to be out, but it’s still available at Lord & Taylor.

NARS Torrid: My favorite new product!

NARS Torrid: My favorite new product!

I LOVE IT! I would highly recommend this color, but even if you are not on the market for a new blush, break out of your comfort zone and experiment with something new. Even if that something is small, you have to start somewhere!

Personally, I’m ready for suggestions. What’s your favorite blush or cosmetic product?