Introduction to the Z-Palette!

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Are you overwhelmed by your makeup clutter? Desperate to free the counter space occupied by eyeshadow singles and blushes?

It’s high time that I introduce you to the wonderful (and addictive!) world of Z-Palettes!

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I recently purchased 2 empty Z-palettes — and would like to show you how to use them!

Step 1 — Take your eyeshadow single or blush, and place it on top of one side of a hot flat iron!
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It’s really important to leave the item on the flat iron for a minimum of 60 seconds! This will ensure that the wax affixing the shadow/blush to its base will melt completely, ensuring that you can pry it free in the next step.

Step 2 — Take a nail file or knife and insert the point between the pot holding the shadow/blush and its container thus:

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Step 3 — Use the nail file or knife as leverage to free the pot from its container:

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It’s vital to leave the container resting on the flat iron for at least 60 seconds in Step 1. If you don’t, the pot will not easily be lifted from its container, and the product can crumble in the struggle. I’ve had this happen before and even ruined one of my favorite blushes this way!

Step 4 — Place the pot into the Z-palette:

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Isn’t this the best idea ever?!

Look at my completed Z-palettes (thus far):
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This is an empty Z-palette:
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“De-potting” takes a little practice to perfect. For this reason, I recommend starting with your cheaper makeup products.

All in all, it’s a huge space-saver and fantastic makeup organizer! They come in different sizes, ranging from $14-28.  

As an extra tip, if you own Mac eyeshadows or blushes, you can turn in 6 empty (de-potted) containers to your local Mac counter and receive a free lipstick as part of the “Back to Mac” recycling program!

I will be purchasing more Z-palettes!

You can purchase your very own Z-palettes at http://www.zpalette.com

See you next time! :-)

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Review: Nars “NARSissist Eye Palette”

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With its high prices, luxe packaging, and French origin, Nars Cosmetics has become the new Chanel — with an edge!

Although most famous for their blushes, Nars eyeshadows are also highly esteemed. At $25 apiece, however, it takes a great deal of “makeup lust” to fork over money for these eyeshadows!

So when I spotted the new “NARSissist” eyeshadow palette online ($75 for 15 Nars eyeshadows — a $300 value), I decided to take the plunge!

It will also allow me to review 15 Nars eyeshadows for you at once, which, although the palette itself is limited edition, are part of the permanent line.

The packaging is very sturdy and sleek, as expected of a Nars product:

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Behold — the 15 Nars eyeshadows — all neutral colors:

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As you see above, a mirror is also included.

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Let’s jump right to the swatches!

First row (left to right): “All about Eve”, “Madrague II”, “Fez”, “Bali”, “Coconut Grove”
Second row (left to right): “Madrague I”, “Nepal”, “Ashes to Ashes”, “Brousse II”, “Mekong”
Third row (left to right): “Bellissima I”, “Lhasa”, “Bad Behavior”, “Dogon II”, “Pandora II”

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Side by side with the palette:

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Let’s examine each row (and shade) individually!

*****FIRST ROW*****

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1) “All about Eve” — Champagne gold shimmer. I was disappointed in the pigmentation of this shade since it is quite light in the swatch above. Nevertheless, might be useful as a subtle brow or inner corner highlight color.

2) “Madrague II” — Matte caramel — useful as a crease color!

3) “Fez” — Described by the website as “velvety cocoa.” This color is a rich copper bronze, the exact color of a penny. Excellent pigmentation — definitely a standout shade in this palette! This color would greatly flatter blue eyes.

4) “Bali” — Matte slate brown. Good color to deepen the crease or even as a lid color.

5) “Coconut Grove” — Intensely pigmented matte black-brown. This shade could be used as a lid, crease, or eyeliner color.

*****SECOND ROW*****

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1) “Madrague I” — Described by the website as “matte cream.” This was my least favorite shade in the palette. As you can see in the photo above, the pigmentation is non-existent!

2) “Nepal” — Described as “soft sheer rose.” I would describe it as “rose gold”, but the “sheer” part is right on the money. I was disappointed in the poor pigmentation of this shade as well. It could be useful as an eyelid color, or even possibly as a very subtle brow bone highlight.

3) “Ashes to Ashes” — Taupe shimmer. This is one of Nars’ more fabled shades! It is a nice cool-toned neutral taupe, but again, the product has to be built up considerably in order to achieve a proper color payoff, which was a bit of a downer for me. I really was expecting something a little more exciting from this famous Nars eyeshadow!

4) ” Brousse II” — Black violet shimmer. Decent pigmentation — would be beautiful on the lid or crease for a smokey eye! Flattering for all eye colors.

5) “Mekong” — Deep brown-black, infused with golden shimmer. My favorite shade in the palette! Rich pigmentation — again, perfect for a smokey eye. Striking in the crease, lid, or even on the lash line.

*****THIRD ROW*****

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1) “Bellissima I” — Shimmering beige with subtle glitter. I actually love this color as a highlight (inner corner, brow bone). The glitter is indeed subtle — but striking.

2) “Lhasa” — Lavender-toned taupe. Another iconic Nars shade! A nice neutral lid color that must nevertheless be built up (layer after layer) for color payoff.

3) “Bad Behavior” — Charcoal shimmer. Fantastic pigmentation on this one! Lovely as a lid color in a smokey eye look.

4) “Dogon II” — Deep gray-black shimmer. Another dramatic color for a smokey eye!

5) “Pandora II” — Matte black. Rich black for an eyeliner shade.

I created a sample eye look using some of these shades:

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Colors used:
Base — “All about Eve”
Lid — “Lhasa”
Crease — “Mekong”
Brow bone (highlight) — “Bellissima I”

Overall, these Nars shades are hit-or-miss. Standouts of the palette include “Fez”, “Mekong”, and “Bellissima I”. Nevertheless, even with these standout colors, I’d expect better pigmentation and blendability, particularly given the high prices. Across the board, their texture is also waxy, not buttery. In all honesty, I think you can find more pigmented dupes for these shadows at a lower price point.

Underwhelmed. Don’t waste your money!

Final Verdict: 2.5/5 Stars

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The “NARSissist” Eye Palette (limited edition), as well as Nars individual eyeshadows contained therein (permanent line), are available at Sephora and narscosmetics.com for $75 and $25, respectively

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Top 5 Makeup Mistakes by Older Women

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Makeup is designed to enhance our features and preserve the illusion of youth as long as possible. Nevertheless, if applied incorrectly, it can further age an older woman.

I’ve listed below my Top 5 mistakes which older women often make with their makeup! :-)

1) Cake on the Powder

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Powder, when applied in excess, can cake and further emphasize fine lines. In fact, mature skin is rarely oily, which negates the need for powder altogether. A good, moisturizing BB or CC cream (worn alone) is a great solution for older ladies.

2) Skipping Undereye Concealer

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Undereye concealer is a critical step for older women. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to find an older woman who doesn’t struggle with a dark, baggy undereye area! One must be careful, however, to find a product which doesn’t crease and thus highlight wrinkles. My favorite undereye concealers (which don’t crease) are Nars’ “Radiant Creamy” concealer and, at a sweeter price tag, Maybelline’s “Age Rewind” undereye concealer.

3) Wearing Dark Lipstick

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I made this side-by-side collage comparison of Dame Helen Mirren (a beautiful and stunning older actress) to illustrate how dark lipstick can age a mature woman. She appears a few years older on the left, wearing the dark lipstick. One of the reasons for this is dark lipstick’s ability to make the lips looked pinched and small. A far more youthful look is accentuated by lighter lipstick, pink/coral/nude, topped with shiny gloss. The gloss can even make the lips look “plumped” and fuller — a very youthful look!

4) Spider Lashes

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Really, this photo speaks for itself. One or two coats of mascara — that’s all!

5) Skipping Sunscreen

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again! Besides avoiding cigarettes, applying sunscreen is the single greatest thing you can do to slow aging. The photo above, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, shows a truck driver’s face. Notice that the side of his face exposed to the sun all those many years is terribly wrinkled — in drastic comparison to the other side. You should incorporate sunscreen — SPF 30 or greater — into your makeup routine each morning, either in the form of moisturizer, primer, foundation, powder, or all of the above.

See you next time! :-)

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The 5-Minute Face!

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We’ve all had those days when, running short on time, we are tempted to forego makeup altogether. Yet this is no excuse to look lousy! You will feel better about yourself and perform better at work if you take a few moments to enhance your appearance. If we follow a few simple steps, we can achieve a polished makeup look with a minimum of fuss — all under 5 minutes!

Let’s go!

Before (bare face — as a reference point):

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Step 1: MASCARA

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Mascara is absolutely essential. Dark lashes serve to define the eyes — and therefore enable you to skip eyeliner if you are short on time. It adds a feminine flourish to your look which cannot be replaced!

Step 2: BB/CC Cream

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I recommend your favorite BB or CC cream for this step (they are interchangeable products, in my opinion) or even tinted moisturizer since these products provide color correction and moderate coverage — in addition to sunscreen (which is vital!).

Step 3: Brow Powder

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This step is essential since strong brows serve to frame the entire face. I recommend using an eyeshadow slightly darker than your natural eyebrow color. I usually use Bobbi Brown’s “Steel” eyeshadow for this purpose, although such a color would be too dark for blondes.

Step 4: Cream Blush

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Cream blush is particularly suitable for this step since one can easily blend it into the cheeks with the fingers for a natural flush — like you’ve just come in from a wintry day!

Step 5: Lip Gloss

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This is the finishing touch! Any lip gloss will do.

And you are done! 5 steps in 5 minutes! :-)

Before/After:

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Products used in this look:
1) Makeup Forever “Smoky Extravagant” Mascara
2) Smashbox “Camera Ready” CC Cream in “Fair” (SPF 30)
3) Bobbi Brown eyeshadow in “Steel” (brows)
4) Chanel Cream Blush in “Chamade”
5) Revlon ColorBurst Lip Gloss in “Rosepearl”

Hope you enjoyed this post! See you next time! :-)

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Review: Clinique’s New “Pop” Blushes!

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Clinique’s new “Pop” blushes, with their vibrant girly shades, are eye-catching new products at the department store counters — especially since it has been some time since Clinique has offered new selections in that category!

These blushes come in only 4 vivid shades, which are (left to right in the photo below) “Plum Pop,” “Berry Pop,” “Peach Pop,” and “Ginger Pop.”

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These blushes offer a “satin” finish, meaning they are neither matte nor sparkly but somewhere between the two. The pigmentation is very strong and true to that which is visible in the pan, as you can see in the swatches above.

Let’s examine each blush individually!

1) “Plum Pop”

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This shade is a bright, cool, blue-toned pink — similar to Bobbi Brown’s “Pale Pink” blush. It does possess a strong lavender undertone, however, which perhaps explains the shade name. Otherwise, this shade is far from plum! Gorgeous on fair-skinned ladies :-)

2) “Berry Pop”

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This shade is a beautiful deep cool-toned berry, which would be pigmented enough to show up on darker skin tones. It looks similar to Tarte’s Amazonian Clay blush in “Flush.”

3) “Peach Pop”

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The name says it all! This is a neutral-toned peach blush which would most flatter pale skin. It reminds me of Mac’s “Melba” blush.

4) “Ginger Pop”

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This blush is similar to “Peach Pop,” but more intense and with an accompanying ruddy glow which would flatter most skin tones.

All in all, these blushes are highly pigmented and (with their dramatic pinks, berries, and peaches) perfect for spring. They are super fun and girly, bestowing a healthy feminine flush. Plus, who doesn’t love the adorable packaging — complete with blush in the shape of daisies?!

I splurged and bought them all! These are worth collecting. Well done, Clinique!

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at Clinique counters and Sephora for $21

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Review: Covergirl’s “Bombshell Volume” Mascara

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The advertisement for Covergirl’s new “Bombshell Volume” mascara was certainly intriguing. Who doesn’t crave “bombshell lashes”?

This mascara, which is large and slightly unwieldy, is double-sided in a unique two-step system (one base coat, followed by an intensifying top coat):

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The wand at each end is shaped differently as well.

See end #1 (thicker wand, shorter bristles):

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See end #2 (slimmer wand, longer bristles):

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And for the ultimate test! (Top row: bare lashes –> Second row: one coat of each –> Third row: two coats of each)

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The results are good, producing fairly impressive long thick lashes.

There are a couple of caveats, however. Most of the volume and drama in the above photos was achieved by applying mascara from end #2 (the end with the slimmer wand and longer bristles). In fact, I have ceased applying the base coat (end #1) since it adds so little pigment to the lashes. Also, this mascara occasionally clumps, as it did in the photograph (third row, right eye). Even so, this mascara is still above-average for the drugstore/Wal-Mart, although not as excellent as L’Oreal’s “Voluminous Million Lashes Excess” mascara.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars

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Available at Wal-Mart, ULTA, Rite Aid, Target, CVS, & Walgreen’s for $9

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Review: Bobbi Brown’s “Shimmer Finish” Lipstick!

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The ideal lipstick is one which coats the lips in high pigment, all the while providing much-needed moisture. For this reason (and because I have a Christmas gift card to Belk!), I was drawn to the new Bobbi Brown “High Shimmer” lipsticks.

They are advertised as a lipstick/lipgloss hybrid, which certainly sounds intriguing. Per Bobbi Brown’s website, these lip colors are “packed with luxurious butters and oils to nourish and condition lips.”

So far so good! Let’s see for ourselves!

The packaging of this product (shown below in the shade “Berry Shimmer”) is identical to that of Bobbi’s other lipsticks, down to the bullet shape:

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Once swiped, however, certain unique features appear. The finish is ultra-glossy and the shade multidimensional. The berry color gives off a high sheen via the many pink, red, and golden sparkles running through the product:

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On the lips, this lipstick fulfills its moisturizing claim. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever worn a lipstick so gentle on my winter-chapped pout! The color is also gorgeous, with a gloss-like luster, and would be flattering on every skin tone:

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Full face view:

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In short, this is a fabulous lipstick, which comes in 12 shades. It lasts approximately 3 hours on my lips before fading and must be re-applied after each meal, both qualities expected of a gloss-like product. My biggest problem, however, is that I now want every single shade! I feel like this is a product which will be in my purse at all times from this point on. Thankfully, these lip colors are not limited edition, so you should be able to collect them all at your leisure! Below are the shades, as listed on the Bobbi Brown website:

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Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at Sephora and bobbibrowncosmetics.com for $25

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Review: Tarte “Be MATTEnificent” Palette!

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When I first glimpsed the new limited-edition Tarte “Be MATTEnificent” Palette on the shelves of Sephora, I knew it had to be mine! Let’s have a look, shall we?

Exterior of the palette:

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Interior of the palette:

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As you can see, the palette contains 8 matte eyeshadows (two of which are intended as “liner” shades) and one blush, which makes it a multifunctional product. The first thing one notices about all Tarte palettes is the large amount of product housed in each eyeshadow pot, which is always a plus!

I’m now going to swatch and describe each eyeshadow for you:

1) “Sand Out From The Crowd”

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This shade is a light vanilla cream hue — perfect as a base color all over the eye from brow to eyelid.

2) “Pink Outside the Box”

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Light baby pink — ideal as a lid color, base, or brow bone highlight.

3) “Peach for the Stars”

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A cool peach — suitable as a lid, crease, or base color.

4) “Rose to the Occasion”

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Dusty rose mauve. Beautiful as a lid or crease color!

5) “View from the Taupe”

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Cool-toned taupe. Can be utilized as a crease or lid color.

6) “Two Plums Up”

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Dark eggplant/plum shade — can be used as a lid, crease, outer corner, or even liner shade.

To top it off, the palette offers two matte “liner” shades — black and brown, in “Don’t Stand Black” and “Dream in Chocolate” respectively:

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The blush, “Elevated”, a new shade for Tarte, is a neutral dusty pink which, at least in the pan, appears to be universally flattering:

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It provides a natural flush to the cheeks, which can be built up as desired. Modeling the blush:

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This palette has so much to offer — eight eyeshadows, populated with both neutrals and pigmented “pop” shades, and a universally flattering blush! The palette, with its strong lavender and mauve undertones, certainly leans toward the cool end of the spectrum — and thus may best suited for cool-toned ladies. The shades, however, are quite pigmented on the lids and very blendable as well. Blend-ability is the key to any seamless eye look! I was also impressed by the brush which comes with the kit and used that brush to create two sample eye looks below.

Eye Look #1:

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To create this eyeshadow look, I applied “Sand Out From The Crowd” all over the eye from eyelid to eyebrow, on top of Urban Decay’s primer potion. Then, I applied “Pink Outside the Box” to the lid. Next, I applied “View from the Taupe” to the crease and “Two Plums Up” to the outer corner. I finished by lining the lash line with “Don’t Stand Black.”

Eye Look #2:

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To achieve this look, I applied “Pink Outside the Box” as my base color. Next, I applied “Two Plums Up” to the lid, blending it out with “Peach for the Stars” on the crease and “Rose to the Occasion” in the outer corner. I lined the lash line with “Dream in Chocolate.”

I highly recommend this palette! It’s sophisticated and sultry — yet neutral enough to wear to work. If Urban Decay ever decided to make a lavender/plum-themed “Naked” palette, it would look something like this! In addition, a Tarte “Amazonian Clay” blush usually costs $26 alone, so, at $36, this palette is a gorgeous steal. The eyeshadows and blush look just as vibrant at 6pm as they do at 6am when first applied.

This palette is limited edition, so grab it while supplies last!

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Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at ULTA, Sephora, and tartecosmetics.com for $36

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The Order of Makeup Application

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The order of applying makeup products is surprisingly critical to any makeup look. I hope to show you why by outlining the order which has been most successful for me.

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1) Moisturizer/Sunscreen: I can’t overemphasize this step! Sunscreen is essential for long-term beauty preservation and, most importantly, for the prevention of the various skin cancers. For very oily-skinned types, it is acceptable to skip this step — as long as sunscreen is incorporated in some other step (i.e. foundation, powder, etc.). A great facial moisturizer for oily individuals is the Cetaphil version, which contains SPF 30 and is readily available at Wal-Mart and most drugstores.

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2) Eye Primer: I never apply eyeshadow without eyeshadow primer because, without it, eyeshadow WILL crease as the day goes on. And that’s just ugly. My favorite is Urban Decay’s eye primer potion!

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3) Eyeshadow: If you’re wondering why I place eyeshadow application before foundation application, here’s why! It’s very common for eyeshadow to flake/fall onto the cheeks during application. If you’ve already applied your foundation, then all your hard work to contour, highlight, etc. is ruined. It’s far easier to apply eyeshadow first then later cover up the fallout with foundation and/or powder.

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4) Eyeliner: Always line the eyes prior to mascara since it is difficult not to smudge mascara if it’s done afterward.

5) Mascara: I prefer to add an eyelash primer to this step since it helps separate the lashes and gives something for the mascara to cling to on the lashes, making for more volume. But it’s not essential.

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6) Foundation: At this point, you can apply foundation, which, as I stated above, will help blot out the eyeshadow fallout inevitably incurred in Step #3.

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7) Concealer:. This is a great time to apply concealer, both underneath the eye and on any blemishes. Applying this product after foundation ensures that the concealer pigment remains bright as foundation is usually darker than concealer.

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8) Powder: I’d advise to only apply powder on areas which become oily during the day (i.e. t-zone) since powder can quickly cake if too much is applied. The exception to this rule occurs if you are applying your sunscreen in this step with an SPF-containing powder; in that case, be sure to dust powder all over the face.

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9) Brow Powder: This step needs to be taken after powder, since the latter will dust over the brows and lighten any product applied there. Strong, but trimmed, brows frame the face.

10) Contouring Powder / Bronzer: Apply to the hollows of the cheeks, the hairline around the forehead, the temples, and the sides of the nose for a chiseled (and slimmer) look.

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11) Blush: Smile, and apply to the apples of the cheeks thus created!

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12) Highlighter: Apply to the top of the cheekbones on either side, on the brow bone underneath the eyebrow, or perhaps along the bridge of the nose. I would not advise applying highlighter on the forehead as it can make you look even more oily/shiny there throughout the day.

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13) Lipliner:. This step is completely optional, and I skip it most of the time since matching lipliner to lipstick is usually a pain. The only exception is when you can apply a lipliner close to your natural lip color and apply a gloss on top — gorgeous!

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14) Lipstick: The most fun step, in my opinion! I had to include this photograph of Elizabeth Taylor applying her perfect red pout! :-)

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15) Gloss: This step is also optional, but gloss does provide an extra dash of polished femininity to any look!

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See you next time!

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