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Showing posts from 2012

Girl Talk and a Makeover

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Review: Tilth Anti-Aging Firming Cream

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Tilth Beauty is a new line of skincare products focusing on anti-aging. While there are countless companies in this lucrative market, the company is dedicated to being environmentally friendly, using solely wind-power to generate all packaging. The brand name is derived from the term used for soil that properly retains moisture and oxygen; this parallel between a healthy earth and health skin runs throughout the company's philosophy. The line contains no sulfates, parabens, petroleum-based ingredients, synthetic fragrances or GMOs.

So with all that said, does the anti-aging firming cream? The consumer tends to think an emphasis on non-beauty areas like environmental responsibility and natural mean a product's effectiveness is compromised. The cream is a thick and emollient texture with no scent. It penetrates into skin quickly without any greasy residue. Skin looks firmer instantly from the hydration, but the company assures the ingredients have long-term benefits. Since I'…

Why I Beauty Blog & Vlog

1. I'm a woman who loves makeup and all things beauty. Let me rephrase: I could rattle off stats (for makeup brands, magazines, favorite looks, models from the 80s and on) and create a beauty version of Fantasy Football (Why aren't we?).

2. I've learned to embrace this passion in a way the doesn't cripple my self-image: It used to. I once saw makeup as an escape from how I looked and what I didn't like. Today, as Tony Robbins as it sounds, it has the opposite effect of fueling a positive self-image. I envy the girls coming of age in this decade, because the messages were much different 15 years ago.

3. I can write, and I can review: Bachelor's in Journalism and 10 years as a journalist make me dissect a beauty product and geek-out. When makeup brands started putting the 24-hour stamp on their products, I actually did test their products for a full 24 hours. Then I saw other reviewers laughing at the concept and realized I was alone.

4. I hate beauty marketing:…

Home on Cape Cod

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October Beauty Favorites and New Products

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My Biggest Successes and Mistakes: Read This and Save Yourself Time

Biggest Successes:

1. I was 24 and had been a government reporter for three years. All my life, I'd dreamed of going to New York City. To jump from small-town reporting to financial writing in the city was one of the scariest moves of my life. At the time, I had a love interest who was looking for a woman who wanted to settle down, get married, and have kids. I chose my heart. I chose New York City and making my own way. Occasionally, I see him: He's married with kids. It's the life I could've had, but I would've always regretted pursuing my dream.

2. The workforce can be a tough place: Very few people in corporate America are transparent. In two instances, I've paid professionally for upholding something morally important to me. I won't climb at others' expenses or by neglecting my own sense of what's right. Has it cost me some rungs on the professional ladder? Possibly. But I sleep soundly at night.

3. My closest friends are people I trust infini…

The Legacy of Helen Gurley Brown and Influence of Cosmopolitan

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When I was a kid, I once saw my father paging through Cosmopolitan magazine in a check-out line and asked him to stop looking at porn. He replied that it was actually a woman's magazine. It took me several minutes to process the information that women were looking sexy for other women.

This was the early 1990s, when models were celebrities (unlike today in which celebrities are models). This was the era of huge hair, cleavage, layers of makeup: Think Kim Alexis, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell, and Stephanie Seymour. This was when models could refuse to "get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day" and still have jobs worth getting out of bed for.

Around the same time, I saw an episode of "Oprah" with Helen Gurley Brown, longtime editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan who was a figurehead for the magazine. During the episode, she coached women on the importance of looking sexy even when running errands, since Mr. Right might be fleshing them out whi…

Review: Revlon Colorstay Whipped Foundation

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I love Revlon Colorstay liquid foundation, so when a whipped formula came out with largely positive reviews, I was intrigued. The original formula's universal fault is that it sets quickly and can look so matte it appears flat.

The new consistency was quizzical and seemed a little gimmicky: I guessed it was Revlon's answer to the criticism by creating a version that seemed rich and creamy. It took a while, but when I had a coupon I caved and tried this formula.

Each time, I ask myself if it's the same product by the same brand: Everything I love about Revlon Colorstay liquid foundation is lacking in this whipped formula. Even in cooler Fall weather, the formula wears down in a matter of four or five hours. I wouldn't attempt it in any kind of heat. It appears more smooth and dewy than the original liquid version upon application, but it wears down very quickly and turns streaky. Colorstay is the gold standard for being budge-proof makeup, so this product has been a di…

In Defense of Cats

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Whenever I hear a self-described "dog person" talk, there's an inevitable "I hate cats" thrown in. This is because cats and dogs love in very different ways. Dogs are stage 5 clingers: Think Taylor Swift, a typical Bachelor contestant. My parents' dog greets me like the President every time I come visit, but that enthusiastic love grates in a matter of hours when I can't go to the bathroom without her.

If I'm eating, the Oscar moment starts: She looks at me like she's never eaten before, and she will never eat again. Is this charming? If you did this to anyone, even once, you'd be banished.

I'm a self-described "cat person." Before the scoffing starts, let me explain why. I understand them. They want space; they don't need you constantly; their love is transparent (feed me and I love you). They also don't eat to the point of gluttony. I've always thought this was a marker of intelligence. Dogs will eat their weight…

My Mother's Beauty Style

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I don't know where my love for beauty products came from. I know for sure wasn't taught: My mother was my antithesis in this area (and in most others). Her only form of "putting on her face" was applying Revlon lipstick while backing out of the driveway. Twenty years later, it has the exact same smell - an olfactory trip down memory lane.

The other glaring discrepancy: She bought no more than $30/year in cosmetics. No no-buy intact. No self-restraint. No penny pinching (well, maybe a little of that).. She just wasn't interested. In the mid-80s, she hosted a Mary Kay party for a friend. Her purchases sat in our bathroom closet until somewhere around 2000. She didn't use them, but she didn't throw them away.

She never wore sunscreen until her 50s and her skin looks like that of a much younger woman's. She never had skin cancer. She never taught me any beauty mantra as I reached puberty: Perhaps because we didn't bond in that way, but mostly because…

What I Think of Beauty

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When I see a woman in her early 20s there's a running thought: You're beautiful; your skin bounces back; your weight resists a Big Mac; your hair grows fast and luscious. I'm not envious, but I'm 10 years out of that period in my life. And I wish I could give her a little lived-in advice: Things change, so don't count on your looks.

As many advances as there are in the beauty industry, the reality is none of them will truly stop time. When I was 24, I got into the best shape of my life. Just as I was savoring all the male attention suddenly thrown at me, something humbling happened. One night I yawned and dislocated my jaw. This led to a four year orthodontic journey in which I lived with a visibly crooked jaw. I had to slowly come to terms that my face had gone a few degrees against the definition of beauty as symmetry.

Our physicality is vulnerable to time, accidents, and countless things beyond on our control. As much as I love beauty products, makeup, and the…

Dear Doctor

1. If I'm coming to you, I'm seeking help, not an argument. Please don't act like this is a "he said, she said."

2. When it takes four times longer to wait for you vs. an actual appointment, there's something wrong. I'm not causing you to be behind schedule; you're just behind schedule.

3. When you look glazed over and like you're on autopilot, I actually notice. When this happens in less than 10 minutes, I know you're burned out and waiting for retirement.

4. If you feel burned out, it's time for you to exit the practice and go to Maui or something. You do more damage than good by staying in the practice and not caring than exiting early and doing what it's obvious you really want to do: Vacation, jet ski, travel Europe, whatever.

5. You're not an expert on me: Please don't tell me you know what's right for me beyond what I know. Sometimes, you don't. Sometimes, you're actually wrong. Please take a little time to l…

Current Beauty Favorites from the Drugstore

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L'Oreal EverCreme Cleansing Conditioner: One part sulfate-free shampoo to three parts moisturizing conditioners, this product will leave your hair feeling like silk. It feels like a big luxury, but at $6/bottle, there's no guilt.

Maybelline Color Tattoo shadows (Limited Edition): This line of mostly neutrals is what I'd hoped the permanent line would be: The shadows apply evenly and set to a budge-proof finish. They work wonderfully as a base for shadows but are wearable on their own.

Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Finishing Powder: Formulated with broad-spectrum SPF 25, this pressed powder is ideal the sun-conscious who want to add protection over makeup. It also sets makeup without an ounce of cakiness. One of the smartest products Maybelline has released, I hope it reappears on shelves soon.

CeraVe daytime moisturizer: It's a triple-threat with hyaluronic acid (which pulls moisture from the air), ceramides, and broad-spectrum sunscreen. Built to protect the moisture…

Current Skincare and Haircare Routines

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The Smokey Eye: Day and Evening Looks

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M. wears barely any makeup in her everyday look. Surprisingly, she was interested in a smokey eye look for her upcoming wedding. I did a couple test looks on her, one of which fit the image she showed me as an example (it was a dark eye on Eva Longoria); the other was a daytime-appropriate smokey eye.

Here's my unfaltering opinion on wedding makeup: The bride should always look like herself but her best self. I was surprised by M.'s choice for her day, but I did a couple test looks so she could decide if she liked it.

I didn't get the makeup job, but it was fun doing the looks. M.'s reaction? She was overwhelmed by the amount of makeup in both looks - "It's so much makeup!" - but kept saying, "At least I like the lipstick color."












Sephora Haul

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The Best of Top Makeup Brands

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A quick rundown of the biggest strengths (and a few weaknesses) of some of the most popular makeup brands:

Urban Decay: Inventive and edgy, this brand ironically hit the stratosphere with a neutral palette, showing what the consumer constantly craves is a natural shade collection with a mix of textures and finishes. My opinion was Naked II was too similar to the original palette to warrant a new release, but the brand rode the popularity like a joke told one too many times. To continue to stay on people's radar, it needs to release more palettes that "make sense," meaning they have the strategy behind the Nakeds. Many of their older and newer palettes seem illogically mixed and a rundown of familiar colors.

Wet 'N Wild: This brand's saddest move has been removing the quality of the 6-pan palettes with the quantity of the 8-pan palettes (shattered shadow, anyone?). Lust and Greed still burn in my memory with the very adjectives behind their names. This brand cau…

Dr. Jart BB Cream Review

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These thumbnails drive me nuts...

The Trends in Makeup and Beauty That Sadden Me

As I watch and follow more media outlets - from magazines to videos - I feel a little empty inside. The reality is, right now most of us cannot afford $40 lipsticks and $60 conditioners (you know who you are, Kerastase), and $120 creams (keep dreaming, LaMer).

I love makeup and beauty as much as anyone, but the trends continue to move farther into pushing expensive products than enjoying the art, the simplicity, and the joy of makeup. It saddens me that so much of us want to look like Kim Kardashian rather than ourselves. Remember: She has so much disposable income that she can afford a top makeup artist who spends hours on her a day (by her own admission).

Other countries have put limits on how much false advertising - in the form of airbrushing - advertisements can do to represent a product's performance. America has not. Seeing an un-retouched photo of Cate Blanchett's skin was evidence that SK-II isn't creating porcelain perfection. Yet she is frequently referred to as…

What I Wish Someone Told Me About the Workforce

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For anyone who's graduated college within the last four years, first, let me offer my sympathy: This is truly one of the hardest job markets in recent decades. When I graduated in the late 90s, we felt hopeful about prospects. For the most part, we could find jobs in our chosen field with time and effort.

A mortgage crisis has pushed our economy so far down, immigrants seeking prospects here are actually returning to their countries of origin. This isn't the American Dream. All dismal news aside, there are tips and strategies to give yourself an advantage and increase your odds of being hired.

Always Say "Thank You": This seems so basic, but I've seen many people who never showed appreciation for the opportunity. When I was offered a position that I declined to take for another job, the first thing that went through my mind was to send a thank you note to the hiring manager whose job offer I didn't accept. Remember that we still live in a small world where p…

Respect: The Legacy of the Beastie Boys

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I was a pre-teen the first time I heard the Beastie Boys' "Fight for Your Right." Their 80s rebelyell roused an entire generation to engage in an adolescent version of the 7 Deadly Sins. It wasn't one of my favorite songs - mainly because I was that odd teenager without the party gene - but they shook my psyche. It was one of those rare songs that you remember with astounding detail, like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Welcome to the Jungle." Once you heard it, you knew we were heading into a new era.

When hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons announced Adam Yauch's death from cancer this Friday, I was suspended in unexpected grief. A quick search online showed millions of others were in that same state.

The Beastie Boys never would've succeeded on paper: They were skinny, Jewish kids without boy-band good looks. They screamed their lyrics in almost every song, making them hard to peg in any one musical genre. An executive searching for bankable …

Bronze Summer Makeup Tips & Look

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The Ugliest Trend on Youtube

A young teenage girl stares into the camera and poses a vulnerable question: "Am I ugly? Please be honest. Am I?"

Unfortunately, it's not a rhetorical question. Teenage girls ask few of them. She truly wants to know. And to know - in her book - means asking potentially hundreds of thousands of strangers for feedback.

I'm too old to know what started this trend on Youtube, or why it's picked up so much. When I was a teenager, we dodged criticism and ridicule; we didn't invite it. And we certainly didn't make videos seeking it out.

The feedback, by and large, is as discouraging as you'd expect an anonymous group of posters would give. They range from "Your forehead is more like an eight-head" to inappropriate sexual innuendo. Essentially, you're "good enough to _______." Most of these girls look well under 16.

Parents, monitor your teens' internet use like it's border patrol, no matter how unpopular it makes you to them. …

Beauty in Your 30s

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I remember the dread of my last year as a 20-something: Everything swirled in my head, from concerns about the next step in my career to my own sense of identity and what I wanted to contribute. Admittedly, another major concern was the changes I'd see as I got older. Straight up, it was vanity.

There's a saying: If you're lucky, you will get older. If you're luckier, you'll get older, wiser, and look good the whole time.

I won't lie: In your 30s, things change: Your metabolism begins to slow (from decreased muscle mass); fine lines and wrinkles become more visible (due to decreased collagen production and slower cell turnover); your body bounces back slower from dramatic physical changes, like pregnancy. Most people's hair begins to gray in their early 30s. There are theories that our increasingly hectic lifestyles have sped up the process from decades ago.

Here's the good news: Hitting your 30s means being more aware of the effects your habits have o…

Exotic Winged Eyeliner

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Everyday Makeup and Product Reviews

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Easy Spring Makeup Look

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Makeup: It Can Make or Break Your Career

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A new co-worker of mine is from another country, one where makeup is a scarcity and most women don't wear it. He's at that stage where everything about this country is a visual feast of novelty - including me and my face.

Since he also doesn't have a filter, he's started commenting on my daily makeup choices: "What are those things you put on your eyes?" (fake lashes) "How come they're there one day and not the other?" (because they're fake). You get the point.

Getting regular commentary on my makeup choices is a little grating, but it's also made me think more about how much our makeup speaks to the world: It says something about who we are, who we think we are, and who we want to be.

There is a saying in Corporate America: Don't dress for the job you have; dress for the job you want. Though it's one of those sayings that has an Anthony Robbins punchline somewhere, it's true: The way we present ourselves tells the world how …

My Holy Grail Beauty Products

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Nice Thumbnail!

New York Fashion Week Makeup with James Vincent

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Makeup artist James Vincent recapped New York Fashion Week just as the tumultuous event was winding down. Good-natured and grounded (with a wild sense of humor), Vincent is that perfect mix of industry veteran knowledge and fresh-eyed enthusiasm. He spoke during a pro-seminar at Make Up For Ever's NYC studio with both qualities in full-swing.

The first myth Vincent blew is that fashion week makeup is all about complex, artistic looks: In NYC, the looks have gone as bare as "a little concealer." The Fall forecast is a red lip - both matte and stained - paired with matching cheeks. And little else. The models were made up to appear as if they'd "fallen in snow," with the flush spreading down the cheek. At Marc Jacobs, the red lip "went high school" by pressing the color into the lip for a sheer finish. At Michael Kors, the lip was matte and polished.

There is no one red lip. There are hundreds.

New York is all about classic, understated looks. Go to…

Contouring and Highlighting Demo

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Make Up For Ever's Pro-Seminars: MUAs Jen Evans and Orlando Santiago

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Jen Evans, an educator at the Make Up For Ever Academy, has worked with the brand's founder, Dany Sanz. Once Evans began working at the seminar, the influence is apparent: Her style is artistic and outside of any limitations. She is inspired by painters and artists outside of the makeup world: Without copying their work, she tries to work off the style and bring her own influence to it.

Evans is an advocate of sometimes going into a look without a plan (something she admitted she did for that day's seminar): It forces your creativity and often results in a look that's more impressive than one that was thought-out.

Her tips:

She applies powder blush to a tissue, then brushes it onto the face. This creates a more diffused, natural look on the cheeks. She wipes off the blush brush to blend so that no additional product is deposited.

She improvises with what's available: Evans used Post-Its and applied them in strategic spots across the model's face, which controlled w…

Weekend in NYC and Make Up For Ever's Pro-Seminars

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What's In My Travel Makeup Bag

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I realize the video loops in one section. I'll have this fixed in a couple days. By the time of the upload, it was almost midnight, so I didn't have the energy to fix it right away.

Why I Don't #FF

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FF - originally a hashtag for Friday Follow on Twitter - has morphed and is on many social networking sites. I never got into FF on Twitter, but there are a few people I follow - Daniel Sandler, James Vincent - who do Follow Fridays with a purpose: They will promote people that they think will benefit people with their interests. I take their advice the way I do when a reputable reviewer gives a product a nod: More often than not, the recommendation turns out to be rewarding, interesting, etc.

Why I don't like Follow Friday: Many use it now to promote their friends, creating a sense of an online clique. I never liked cliques in high school, and I still don't. The most interesting, talented people I found independently and by using my own mind. I trust most people can do the same. If I promote someone, it's often someone I don't know personally, but who is talented and hasn't been discovered by many yet. People's time is at a premium: I don't waste it promo…

Get Ready With Me: Everyday Work Makeup

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Second Video: My Everyday Work Look/Makeup

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Facebook: Social Networking Site/Publicly Traded Company worth $4 Billion

Facebook is in the earlier stages of becoming a publicly traded company on the NYSE. What this means is the investor pool is about to swell and go from private investors to anyone who wants a piece of that pie, including you or me. This also means the founder and president, Mark Zuckerberg, who is in his late 20s, is about to become a much richer man than he already was.

Reportedly, Facebook's private investor count had reached its legal limit of 500, which forces a company to open its books and become public. Would I invest in Facebook? People continue to point to the abandoned Myspace as an example of a social networking site's short lifespan. People are fickle, and popular sites can quickly go out of favor. Other questions: What will the price/share be? How big is the overall investor pie? Investors get their return in dividends, which are payouts based on their share of investments and the companies' profits. This isn't a simple or straightforward formula: Oil comp…

Trends in Makeup That Aren't Positive

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Lately, I've hit a wall with some of the beauty bloggers and vloggers I once really enjoyed. This blog is not to criticize or knock anybody: It's simply to say that in all we love about makeup, there is a downside for some of us. This is, of course, simply my opinion, and I respect others' fully.

Makeup hauling and favorites of the month: I'm feeling more and more disconnected to beauty reviewers, some very young, who promote Chanel makeup and other very high-end brands almost exclusively. Granted, they may be in a position where buying a $45 foundation every other month or creams that are close to $100 is their normal. For many of their viewers, who are in the late teens-early 20s range, this is not. In college, I was eating ramen and scrambling to stockpile coupons so I could stick to my $40/month food budget. My father refused to let me get a credit card, because he knew of the college students who got themselves in trouble. Makeup, while I wore it, was a rare splu…

New Makeup Contest: A Tribute to Kevyn Aucoin

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Next month marks what would have been Kevyn Aucoin's 50th birthday. This year is also 10 years since his passing. I thought it would be fitting to do a contest where people do tribute looks that reflect his style and the spirit he brought to makeup.

Please post your makeup image on www.facebook.com/makeupbyelm between now and Feb. 14 (his birthday). The winner will receive $100 worth of makeup from the Kevyn Aucoin cosmetic line. Winner will be chosen based on a look that is most reflective of his style, technique, and creativity.

He was an amazing talent and gave makeup soul.

Review: Maybelline Color Tattoos

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This is probably the most hyped product out of the drugstores right now: I heard the comparisons to MAC Paint Pots and that they outperformed them. I've bought three shades: Tough As Taupe, Bold Gold, and Painted Purple.

My thought on this product after using it for a week: It's probably the best cream shadow out of the drugstores so far, but it isn't nearly as long-wearing as the name suggests. The shades are also hit or miss: Tough As Taupe goes on very pigmented, but Painted Purple isn't nearly as vibrant swatched as it appears in the pot.

The shades also take some blending: They tend to apply streaky and uneven and take more than one application to get good color payoff. I also wish more of the shades were matte; the glittery effect makes them hard to use as a base.

This is a decent product, but it's overpriced at around $8 per pot. If your eyelids are oily, this product will likely crease after a few hours. If you're older and have some wrinkling on your …

After-Work Makeover

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I work with Sheena. We had long discussed doing her makeup, but the trickiest thing is trying to schedule this sometime around a work day. She is 48 and has no wrinkles. Although she is going through a rocky time, she tries to see the positive and tackle obstacles with a good attitude.

Because of time constraints, I had about 20 minutes to do this look on her (and she reminded me the entire time that "I have to go."). I used gold, bronze, and brown shadows to enhance her eyes. Though the camera didn't pick it up well, I mixed a bright pink cream blush and an orange lipstick to use as her blush. I finished her look with a caramel lip shade.

Sheena's tips (the good and the bad):

Although she has no wrinkles, she never wears sunscreen. She says she's allergic to the chemicals. I suggested she try sunblock or an organic version.

She swears by cocoa butter, even on her face. She applies it twice daily.

She loves Wen Cleansing Conditioner (I do, too).

She eats a lot …

First Youtube Video: Contest Entry

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Please let me know if you'd like to see more videos and what types: tutorials, reviews? It was a long decision whether to post on Youtube, considering it isn't always the most supportive forum. I finally decided I wouldn't let anyone else's negativity keep me from doing what I want. I hope you enjoy and thanks for your support.

Face of the Weekend: Purple Reigns

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With a conservative day job, I stick to neutrals daily. On the weekends, I can experiment with colors and be more daring. This weekend, I wore a deep purple shadow and false lashes. When you're dark-skinned, dark-haired, like I am, you can get away with deep, bright colors without it looking overdone. (Oh, and yes I smile normally.)

Products used: Make Up For Ever shadow, Kiss false lashes, Nars Sheer Glow foundation, MAC Ambering Rose blush, NYX gloss in Natural



Current Blush Favorite: Not the Slightest Bit Peachy-Pink

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In the game of blush collectors, I'm pretty low down on the spectrum: Anyone who follows beauty blogs knows there are hardcore players in the game: In all seriousness, some have triple digit collections and are continuing to expand their collections. Mine tops out at a paltry 5-10 at a time. Why? Because I don't feel a desire to have more than that at a time, can't use more than that at a time, and I'm missing the girl-gene that wants 15 shades of peachy-pink. My vision can only detect the nuances of pink to a varying degree, then all is lost.

This blush post might be called the Anti-Peachy-Pink blog: I've become so saturated with that term in the last year that in a breaking moment, I was standing at the MAC counter and looking for the farthest departure from a pink tone that I could find. What I selected was MAC's Amberling Rose. It's a deep rose shade with gold flecks. The combination enhances medium to deep skin tones so beautifully and naturally that …