A Million Dollar Makeup Discovery — for $4!

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Very rarely do you come across a makeup product which has the potential to transform your look and routine — but I’ve had the good fortune to make such a discovery this week!

YouTube gurus and beauty bloggers alike have long been raving about the virtues of NYX’s Jumbo Eye Pencil in “Milk” — a pure white — as an eyeshadow base. I held off purchasing this incredibly cheap product until a few weeks ago.

Boy, did I discover a jewel!

It seems like your standard eyeshadow pencil, similar to the new Covergirl version:

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But look at how this primer, with eyeshadow applied on top, transforms the pigmentation of the shadow!

Left to right (Urban Decay’s “Ransom” alone –> shadow applied over the “Milk” eye pencil –> “Milk” eye pencil alone):

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The vibrancy of the shadow multiplied — exponentially — with the NYX “Milk” eye pencil underneath!

Here’s another example with Mac’s “Expensive Pink” shadow.

Left to Right (Mac’s “Expensive Pink” alone, “Expensive Pink” applied over “Milk”, and “Milk” eye pencil alone):

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The white pencil provides a base to which the shadow clings, making it a stellar primer.

This will be a standard inclusion in my makeup routine from this point onward. I cannot believe how it transforms the pigmentation of shadows, even those eyeshadows with mediocre pigmentation prior! The best part is that this gem is only $4 at ULTA, nyxcosmetics.com, and more recently, CVS!

This is a Holy Grail product, such as one only encounters once a year or so.

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at ULTA, CVS, & nyxcosmetics.com for $4

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5 Urban Decay “Naked 2” Looks!

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Since the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes are so iconic, I decided to create a small gallery of looks, suitable for ANY occasion, using all the eyeshadow colors composing the “Naked 2” palettes!

LOOK #1

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“Foxy” — Base
“YDK” — Lid
“Busted” — Outer V
“Blackout” — Deep Crease
“Bootycall” — Browbone

LOOK #2

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“Foxy” — Base
“Tease” — Crease
“Suspect” — Lid
“Blackout” — Liner & Deep Crease
“Bootycall” — Brow Bone

LOOK #3

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“Foxy” — Base
“Pistol” — Lid
“Chopper” — Crease
“Bootycall” — Brow Bone & Inner Corner

LOOK #4

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“Foxy” — Base
“Snakebite” — Lid
“Half Baked” — Crease
“Blackout” — Outer V & Outer Lid
“Bootycall” — Brow Bone

LOOK #5

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“Chopper” — Lid
“Tease” — Crease
“Blackout” — Deep Crease
“Verve” — Inner Corner & Brow Bone

See you next time! 😉

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Review: Bare Minerals “BareSkin” Pure Brightening Foundation!

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As a longtime fan of Bare Minerals, I was certainly intrigued after hearing they had formulated the brand’s first liquid foundation!

Let’s take a look, shall we?

It comes in a cylindrical plastic container, with a hygienic dropper to dispense:

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(Note: I was granted a sample at my local Sephora, thus the “tester” label!)

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This foundation comes in 20 shades, from the fairest of the fair to ebony. (My shade, entitled “Bare Porcelain 01”, is the lightest.) Finding the right shade should not be a problem — for anyone!

This foundation, which must be shaken vigorously prior to application, goes on like a second skin. It provides a deliciously “clean” and gentle sensation, with a natural finish which does not look or feel as if you are even wearing foundation, all the while completely evening out skin tone. It initially leans more dewy than matte or even semi-matte, which adds to the authentic look. The coverage, which feels sheer, is actually medium, concealing most blemishes but insufficient for “problem” skin.

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Upon first applying the foundation, I suspected that its dewy finish would turn oily as the day progressed. Yet I was wrong! The finish truly looked like my own skin (The name “BareSkin” is appropriate!) but remained slightly dewy and quite natural.

I just cannot say enough good things about this foundation. It is truly magical, suitable for most skin tones! Since it does not offer full coverage, however, it cannot conceal severe acne. It contains SPF 20, thus providing a healthy dose of sunscreen.

This product reminds me of L’Oreal “Magic Nude Liquid Powder” foundation, which I reviewed here — only better since the latter led to major oil in the T-zone later in the day.

“BareSkin” foundation is fantastic makeup — I’m definitely a fan! 🙂

Final Verdict: 4.5/5 Stars

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Available at Sephora, ULTA, and bareescentuals.com for $29

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Mac Eyeshadow Collection: Swatches & Review

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In the world of makeup, Mac eyeshadow has achieved cult status. In fact, from YouTube gurus to fashion runway makeup artists, Mac rules the cosmetic industry.

Not immune to this praise, I’ve collected 10 of the most iconic Mac eyeshadows and would like to review each one for you.

1) “Nylon” — Described on the company website as “pale gold with icy shimmer.” This frost eyeshadow is legendary as a highlight color, providing a strong white-gold sheen on the brow bone and inner corner. Truly beautiful shade, but it must be applied with a gentle hand since the swatch below doesn’t do justice to its high pigment.

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2) “Satin Taupe” — Described as “taupe with silver shimmer.” It’s definitely a cool-toned taupe, with subtle grey and plum undertones. A nice neutral eyelid color for every day, although I was a bit disappointed in the pigment. The swatch you see below is the result of multiple applications.

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3) “Mythology” — Described as “copper.” The brief description is apt — “Mythology” is the color of a penny, with warm rust undertones. The pigment is decent. Beautiful as a lid or crease color, and especially flattering for blue eyes!

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4) “Quarry” — Described as “soft muted plum-brown.” The label is right — this shade is muted to the point of near-invisibility! The pigmentation is very poor, as you can see below. On initial observation, it seems perfect as a natural cool-toned crease shade. Unfortunately, it shows up no better on the eyes. You should definitely skip this shadow!

5) “Expensive Pink” — Described on the website as “pink with duochrome.” It is a classically gorgeous rose-gold shade, flattering on all eye colors due to its warm (gold) and cool (pink) undertones. This is a unique color, which sometimes appears pink and, other times, gold, depending on the angle and lighting. An incredible lid or crease color. Also, it’s stunning for a one-shadow eye look.

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6) “Idol Eyes” — Described as “silvered violet with gold.” Sounds dazzling, right? Wrong. The pigmentation is quite poor — almost as bad as “Quarry.” In addition, it translates as a simple silver. The supposed violet and gold undertones are nowhere to be seen. This shade was another disappointment!

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7) “Soft Brown” — Described as “soft golden peachy brown.” It’s a matte shade which is beautiful in the crease and/or as a transition shade (blended out to soften the edges of a darker shadow). Beautiful pigmentation and a terrific neutral color which I now use often!

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8) “Sable” — Described as “gold-plum with bronze pearl.” This is a strong neutral shade, an everyday sort of color which can be worn on the lids for every occasion. Decent pigmentation — better than “Satin Taupe” in this regard.

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9) “Twinks” — Described as “deep plum with pearl.” Unique, sophisticated shade for everyday. Great as a lid or outer V color. Looks similar to “Sable” in the swatch, but, in reality, deeper and more plum-toned. A more accurate label may be “plum brown.” Wonderful autumn color!

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10) “Cranberry” — Described as “red-plum with pink shimmer.” My favorite of the bunch! This is fantastic as a lid color or outer V deepening shade. Everything about this shade reminds me of autumn and Thanksgiving — even the name! Extremely flattering on green and hazel eyes.

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All in all, I found Mac eyeshadow to be hit-or-miss. I discovered some beautiful shades, including “Expensive Pink,” “Cranberry,” “Twinks,” and “Soft Brown.” Nevertheless, I was very disappointed with others, including “Quarry,” “Idol Eyes,” and even the famous “Satin Taupe.” The texture and pigmentation of these, even some of my favorites, were difficult to work with and inferior to the buttery texture of other high- end brands, such as Lorac and Urban Decay.

In addition, at $15 apiece, these shadows are not a good value. For example, the Urban Decay “Naked” palettes contain 12 shadows for $50 — that’s charging approximately $4 for each eyeshadow, which is a superb deal!

In short, I will probably not purchase Mac eyeshadow again unless I swatch it in the store — and am subsequently blown away.

It’s overhyped — in my opinion.

Final Verdict: 3.5/5 Stars

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Available at Mac counters and maccosmetics.com for $15 per eyeshadow

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Review: Milani “Lip Intense” Liquid Lipsticks!

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As a working woman (who rarely has a chance to refresh her makeup in the restroom throughout the day), the durability of a liquid lipstick has always appealed to me. Nevertheless, that same durability can parch the lips as well!

Always on the hunt for a comfortable liquid lipstick, I decided to try Milani’s new version — “Lip Intense” liquid lipstick!

This product comes in 4 vibrant shades (visible in the photo above): “Pink Rave”, “Red Extreme”, “Fiery Coral”, and “Violet Addict”.

I chose the fuchsia shade, “Pink Rave”. For scale:

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It has a doe foot applicator:

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It applies very smoothly, with brilliant pigmentation:

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Upon first applying the product, I felt it was a delightful hybrid between lipstick and lip gloss! Smooth like a gloss but pigmented like a lipstick. It was far from dry on the lips throughout the day — moisturizing, actually! The longevity was a little less than that of more drying liquid lipstick formulas since I did have to re-apply after lunch. Nevertheless, the balance between moisture and longevity is a delicate one, and I like the balance achieved in this product.

Just marvel at this gorgeous fuchsia color!

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Full face shot:

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One other note about this product!

Milani also sells an “anti-feathering lipliner,” designed specifically to accompany this product, separately. The idea is to outline the lipstick edges with this invisible liner to prevent feathering, as the name suggests. Here it is:

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I tried the lipstick with and without the lipliner — and did not notice any feathering of the product with or without the lipliner. Therefore, I do not think that purchasing the lipliner with the lipstick is necessary.

I am eager to try the other 3 shades! 😊

Final Verdict: 4/5 Stars

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Available at CVS and www.milanicosmetics.com for $7

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Review: Lorac “Pocket Pro Palette”

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One of my favorite makeup lines is Lorac Cosmetics, founded by Carol Shaw. She regularly dolls up prominent celebrities for their red carpet looks — and even her first name (spelled backwards) provided the name of her company. Her company, like Urban Decay, is known for its stellar eyeshadow palettes. I even reviewed the Lorac “Pro to Go” Palette (a small version of its legendary “Pro” palette) here.

When I spotted an even more travel-friendly and downsized version of this palette (the “Pocket Pro Palette”) at my local ULTA, I knew it had to be mine! 😍

Notice the compact size of this palette:

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It contains 3 basic neutral colors:

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1) “Nude” — An icy champagne color, incredible as a brow bone or inner corner highlight!

2) “Pewter” — Shimmering cool-toned taupe. Great as a lid color or smoked out for a one-shadow look!

3) “Espresso” — Matte chocolate brown. A gorgeous shade for the outer V, crease, and even as an eyebrow color.

The texture of these shadows is buttery beyond belief! And feast your eyes upon their strong pigment:

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I have created a sample eye look featuring this amazing palette!

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For this look, I applied “Pewter” to the lid and into the crease. Then, I applied “Espresso” to the outer V and crease. I then highlighted the inner corner and brow bone with “Nude”. Lastly, I darkened my eyebrows with “Espresso”.

Final look:

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I can’t rave enough about this palette — and about Lorac eyeshadows in general. With their silky smooth texture and high pigment, they are even superior to Mac eyeshadows in my opinion! The small size of this palette also makes it ideal to pack in your bags for a long trip.

A total winner! 👍👍👍

Final Verdict: 5/5 Stars

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Available at ULTA and Loraccosmetics.com for $15

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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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