Friday, November 25th, 2011

By Amanda, Traveling Contributor

While earning her degree at university, Amanda traveled around the world to a plethora of countries in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. She currently lives on New York City’s Upper East Side where is pursuing a graduate degree and working in education. Amanda has studied the histories of beauty around the world and is herself, an avid admirer and practitioner of the beauty techniques she studies.

To track her travels, thoughts, and techniques follow her at www.aklectique.com. As a world traveler (and with more travel plans on the horizon), she’ll be offering a unique perspective of the amazing local brands and products she’s discovered and still discovering.


Traveling Must-Haves by a World Traveler

I’d like to share with you what I take with me whenever I go traveling. From the High-Atlas Berber villages in Morocco, to the Pyramids in Cairo, to Red Sea just off the coast of Saudi Arabia, to Diocletian’s palace in Croatia, and through Nottingham’s rainy days, these products have proven their metaphorical “valor” for their resilient consistency and inherent capacity to work well across varying climate conditions.

I’ve found that my MAC Studio Careblend Pressed Power ($23.00) works for me in all whether conditions. Whether it be the 125 degree weather in Egypt or -30s in New Hampshire, this product provides the same consistent coverage and staying power across temperatures. I’d find that my bronzer and highlighter (listed below) are best suited for all temperatures below 85 degrees. If the temperature is higher, I risk looking shiny all day long. Finally Benefit’s One Hot Minute ($30.00) adds the perfect amount of matte color to my face to prevent me from looking washed-out in any climate.

Now, the eyes are almost a free-for-all. I tend to keep in neutral when I am traveling so as to not stand out as a foreigner too much.  (Below is a more detailed list of eye products that I’ve found to last underwater in Jamaica and Croatia, as well as after a long day of work.)  To the complete the visage, my must-have lip product is my Burt’s Bees Sun Protect Lip Balm ($3.99). This lip balm neutralizes the color of my lips and allows me to then apply pigmented lip product that is appropriate for the given situation. More often than not, I find myself using MAC Snob ($14.50) or Revlon’s Nude Attitude ($7.99).

Just remember: When traveling, less is more!

Check out Amanda’s list of must-have products for travel! Continue reading →

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

By Renee Rouleau, Skincare Expert and Esthetician

Renée Rouleau has been helping men, women and teens attain healthy, glowing, beautiful skin for more than twenty years.

Her philosophy is simple: With the proper tools, effective products and a disciplined approach, anyone can have great skin.

She provides regular skincare advice and tips on her blog, too!

10 Skin Care Ingredients to Keep You Looking Young

Esthetician Renée Rouleau shares her list of favorite anti-aging ingredients that both she and researchers find are the most efficacious to keep your skin more youthful-looking.

Yeast Extracts

We have special skin repair cells just below the skin’s surface called Langerhans cells. They are our first line of immune defense in the body. These cells are very active when we are young to protect us from environmental skin damage and reactions. As we age, these cells become less active and the signs of aging begin to show. Yeast extracts are like nothing else on the market in stimulating these sluggish skin repair cells. They work well for both tired and sensitive skins alike.  Beta-glucan yeast extracts  have been shown to make skin less sensitive over time, as well as provide excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHAs (including glycolic, lactic, and fruit acids) are helpful in reducing wrinkles, fine lines, irregular pigmentation, age spots, and decreasing the size of enlarged pores by exfoliating away dead surface cells that age the skin. Exfoliation triggers repair, producing newer, fresher, younger-looking skin. The favored AHA is Glycolic Acid because it has the smallest molecular structure, and can penetrate deeper. Lactic cannot penetrate as deeply, but is gentler and more hydrating. AHAs are more effective in higher concentrations, such as those found in serums, which also retain the desired pH levels. It is important to note using acid products too often can lead to irritation, which then triggers an aging and inflammation response.

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate

This is the most stable form of Vitamin C, and converts to Ascorbyl Acid once inside the skin and is time-released so it works for up to eight hours giving you potent anti-aging protection. In addition, it stays fresher and more active longer and it isn’t as acidic, so it doesn’t cause stinging, redness or irritation.  I feel it’s one of the very best topical age preventers, because Vitamin C has been the most extensively researched antioxidant in skincare. It’s found to be extremely effective in interfering with many aging free radicals found in the environment (such as sunlight, stress and pollutants). It is recommended to be worn daily under a moisturizer containing sunscreen. This antioxidant not only gives your skin its daily dose of anti-aging, it is also helpful with reducing discoloration and brown spots.

Hyaluronic Acid

Water is essential for feeding the cells of our skin and keeping them looking plump, radiant and youthful. Found naturally in your skin’s dermis, Hyaluronic Acid holds onto water and provides tone and contour to the skin. When used in skin care products, it helps retain the skin’s natural moisture balance. Amazingly it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water, resulting in enhanced elasticity, lubrication, plumpness and moisture in the skin. (Renée Rouleau Skin Drink uses a highly concentrated Hyaluronic Acid based, hydrating formula.) Layer it under your moisturizer or masque, or mix it with another serum to load up on this super humectant.

Peptides

Peptides are used for anti-aging to smooth wrinkles and reduce the visual effects of aging. Peptides are a portion of larger protein molecules used in the body to communicate with and direct skin cells to behave in certain beneficial ways, such as producing more collagen or thickening the support structure of the skin. Peptides are able to enter the cells of the skin and remain intact. Different types of peptides influence different types of cells. Common peptides used in skin care products are Acetyl Hexapeptide, Palmitoyl Pentapeptide, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide, Dipeptide-2 and Caprooyl Tetrapeptide.

Check out five more!  Continue reading →

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011


Holiday Gift Guide: Gift-Giving Tips & Tricks

If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of giving a really fantastic gift, it’s know how amazing it can be.  It’s so fulfilling and satisfying to know you picked just the right thing for that one special person.  Similarly, when you receive a gift that’s exactly what you wanted/needed, you get a sense of how much thought the giver put into the gift.  It seemed like several readers struggled trying to figure out what kind of gifts to give friends and family when it came to beauty, particularly because they weren’t sure what colors to choose.  I thought I would touch on some tips born from past experience on that particular issue as well as some more generalized tips and tricks when it comes to the art of great gift giving.

Little Touches Count

The little things can add tremendous value and appeal to your gift. Think about when someone takes an amazing gift but throws it into a paper bag at the last minute; or how about the time you totally forgot to grab a card and just shoved a gift in someone’s face?  Fancy wrapping or expensive greeting cards are by no means necessary to a great gift, but remembering to take as much time in the presentation of the gift as you did in the acquisition of it is important. You can also keep an eye out for gifts that already come in festive packaging or bags.

I do, personally, splurge on fancier gift wrap, because I have a thing for Christmas decor and like to see lots of shine and color under the tree.  Holidays come earlier and earlier each year, so you can find great bargains on wrapping paper at local discount stores as well as online.  You can also stock up right after the holidays for the next year if you have some storage space!  I also like festive ribbons for smaller gifts or awkward-to-wrap gifts.   I often make my own cards to attach to gifts with colored card stock and simply scrawl a short and sweet note to the recipient.

It’s Not About the Money

I cannot emphasize it enough, but it is the thought that really counts, especially when you’re not gifting to a five-year-old who’s been dreaming of the latest gaming system for the past 364 days.  But in all seriousness, the majority of people, and hopefully, your dearest friends and family, are not googling what you bought them to see how much you spent on them.  Your best friend who is the girliest girl you can imagine doesn’t want to receive a weed wacker for the holidays, and it’s just important to know your recipient and find a gift that would resonate with them.  Don’t get caught up in the idea that more is better or that bigger is better!  Keep gift ideas in mind all year round, even pricier ones (that are just outside your budget), because if you know your partner has their eye on such-and-such electronic, you can keep an eye out for price drops towards the second half of the year.

Sales, Sales, Sales

Stemming from looking out for deals on must-give gifts much earlier than the last two months of the year is taking advantage of sales, but I will caution you not to let them take advantage of you!  Just because there’s a sale doesn’t mean you have to find something for someone there.  November is the time for Friends & Family sales and events, several having already taken place, but there are more to come.  Similarly, the infamous Black Friday is nearing (along with Cyber Monday), which can be a good opportunity to take advantage of sales.

Use Social Media and Networking

So much of our lives are now online, from the photos and videos of our lives to our favorite interests.  Many people have their favorite social networking sites that they use, and you can learn more about their various interests from a profile.  I’m totally serious here!  Sometimes you bond with someone over certain common interests (say, beauty), but you might not know their favorite music or movies.  If you have friends or family members who are really active, you might be able to see what kind of things they’ve liked in the past couple of months to help give you an idea of where to start your search from!

Gift Guides from Everyone

Almost everyone has some sort of gift guide these days, and I don’t mean bloggers but major retailers and individual brands.  Most of them have a section on their website for gift sets/value sets as well as gift guides broken out by price or “personality.”   Perhaps you have a favorite brand you want a friend to experience or you know your friend’s favorite brand but you’ve never used anything by them; either way, you can peruse through recommendations from the brand as a great jumping off point.

5-Minute Primer on Beauty Products for Others

You have your beauty partner in crime, but you’re just not confident about buying them something because you don’t know if they’ll good in it or if it’s a shade they’d like.   There are fantastic items that are more neutral and general that work across skin tones and undertones, but there are certainly plenty of products that just tend to look better on a certain skin tone/undertone.

  • Stealthily get a grasp on their skin tone:  if your friend wears a bracelet or watch, you can try to get a look at the underside of their wrist/forearm by asking to see their bracelet/watch close-up.  Green veins indicate warmer undertones, while blue veins indicate cooler undertones; if you can’t really tell, they may be neutral.  You can also use the jewelry trick; does your friend wear a lot of gold or silver jewelry?  Is there one they look better in?  Gold looks better on warmer skin tones, while silver looks better on cooler skin tones–but be careful, a lot of people prefer a metal over the other, regardless of their undertone!
  • Think about the colors/styles/products you see them in most:  if you’ve never seen your friend wear red lipstick and only baby pinks and barely-there nudes, buying them a red isn’t necessarily the best way to go (unless you’re deliberately prodding them to finally wear one and you know the perfect one for them!).  Do they wear bold eyes? cheeks? lips? What feature do they emphasize?
  • Something old or something new?  Consider whether you’re trying to simply buy them something they would love to wear, which means it is likely to be similar to other shades they already own (so go see if you can snoop through their makeup bag!) or if you’re trying to get them to try something they wouldn’t normally wear (perhaps something they’ve been curious about).
  • Warm undertones look best in shades like earthy neutrals, coppers and bronzes, yellowy greens, metallic golds, corals, oranges, and yellow-based pinks.  I believe anyone can wear anything–it’s just a matter of pairing it with the right products; this is merely a quickie guideline to pick the most-likely-to-suit products.
  • Cool undertones look best in shades like sooty neutrals, beiges and taupes, charcoal browns and grays, blues, blue-based teals, blue-based reds, fuchsia pinks, berries, cotton candy pinks.  Again, this is a mere snapshot of common colors that often work well on those with cooler complexions but you should feel free to wear whatever you like!

 Share your gift-giving tips & tricks in the comments!

Friday, November 11th, 2011

By Dain, New England, Skincare Contributor

Dain is a freelance editor and writer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Art in English. She expected to pursue an academic career but found her interests straying elsewhere–like beauty! She has dry, sensitive skin and is always looking for ways to keep her skin hydrated.  When she isn’t writing about beauty, she loves to play video games, cook (and eat!), and read.

Check out her blog, Ars Aromatica!


A battalion of moisturizers, each trained to a specific purpose.

Importance of Gentle Cleansing & Layering Moisturizers

The skin is our body’s first line of defense against environmental aggressors. As a barrier, mine is deficient as a barrier. It’s both sebum-starved and paper thin, the conventional definition of “sensitive”. Consequently, I follow two principles in my approach to skincare.

GENTLE, GENTLE CLEANSING

All but the mildest cleansers are too aggressive for my skin. For a simple cleanse, I’ve faithfully purchased Weleda Calendula Baby Wash ($11 for 200 mL) many times over. Coco glucoside is a minimally invasive surfactant, approved for use on babies. Plus, it smells like tangerines. To remove makeup, I like micellar waters, such as cult classic Bioderma ($30 for 500 mL). It feels like water yet it dissolves stubborn eye makeup with ease. If I need a thorough, deep cleanse, I massage a cream cleanser generously onto dry skin, using the friction from my fingers to break down makeup and sunscreen. If you dislike residue, a good trick is to add water incrementally during the massage, slowly emulsifying the emollients. I’m currently enamoured of Trilogy Cream Cleanser ($37 for 200 mL), but I’m always open to suggestions.

LAYERED MOISTURIZERS

If there’s a skin trick I swear by, it’s to fragment moisturizing into several steps. Creams for dry skin, because they’re so rich in oils, can sit uselessly on the surface as a greasy layer. It took years of disappointment and thirsty skin to recognize that dehydration (water loss) and dryness (low sebum) should be addressed by separate products.

First, I saturate my skin with a softener. Pat, don’t rub, to maximize absorption. The humectants draw moisture deeper into the skin, penetrating past layers of dehydration and enhancing the performance of your moisturizer. I prefer formulations that feature hyaluronic acid, such as Shiseido Eudermine ($56 for 125 mL). With its gorgeous red bottle and fragrant with rainwashed peonies, Eudermine hits a high note in luxury skincare, but it’s also interesting from a historical point of view, as the seminal force behind Asian skincare. Then, while my skin is still damp, I apply a rich emulsion. Keep in mind, I’m the sort of girl who has half a dozen moisturizers on rotation; it’s unlikely I’ll ever settle on any single product. At the moment, my favorite is Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum ($150 for 50 mL). Finally, I seal in everything with my favorite face oil, Kahina Serum ($90 for 30 mL), an enriched argan blend that nourishes the skin for a well-conditioned glow and soothes with anti-inflammatory EFAs. By splitting one moisturizer into three layers, I find it maximizes absorption, thanks to the softener, and yet provides a long-lasting protective barrier, thanks to the oil, with the emulsion sandwiched in between.

For daytime, I switch to a mild, avobenzone-free sunscreen like Avène Hydrance Optimale SPF 20 ($24 for 40 mL). Since it forms a barrier, in my mind it’s roughly analogous to the face oil: the final layer, applied last. Antioxidants and sunscreen go hand in hand, so I’m in the market for an antioxidant serum to layer under sunscreen, after softening. While I insist on actives—too many serums are no more than overpriced blends of silicones and humectants—alas, my skin does not tolerate vitamin C. I’m open to suggestions, reader!

Thursday, November 10th, 2011


Ask Temptalia Revisited

Yesterday, I had the urge to do an old school “Ask Temptalia” session, so I asked readers on Facebook and Twitter to submit any questions they had via e-mail, and I would answer and post them the following day (which is now!). So without further ado, here are those questions and my answers…

Beauty

Is there a lip liner like MAC Quartz out there? I had no idea it was going, and can’t find anything like it.
I think it was discontinued awhile ago, and I never owned it, but going off of some swatches I was able to find on the internet, maybe Make Up For Ever #9C would be worth checking out.

I have a lot of pigment in my lips so lipsticks never look like they do in the tube. Any suggestions for something that will tone down the color in my lips without drying them out or changing the color of the lipstick?
Lip primers can help (and sometimes have more hydration benefits), but generally, a dab of concealer or foundation does the best job of muting your natural lip color. If you just use a little, it won’t be drying and shouldn’t change the lipstick color drastically. You could also try using a lip liner that’s similar to your lip color but a few shades lighter, so it helps to lighten your natural lip color but not in a drastic way like concealer/foundation would.

When you apply eyeshadow, do you apply darkest to lightest or vice versa? Does one method make blending easier than another?
I usually apply from left to right, but if I want to use a matte shade in the crease, I’ll often apply that first with a big, fluffy crease brush. Then, I’ll go back with a smaller brush to add more definition to the crease with the same color or something darker. I find it easier to blend light into dark by gently pulling the lighter color into the darker one, but you can really do it either way.

My forehead is ridiculously shiny but it’s shiny from dry tightness, or I moisturize and it seems moist but not greasy but still very shiny. What can I do? I’ve tried toners and Studio Fix Powder. Is there a mattifying gel that works?
Are you giving your moisturizer enough time to sink in? If your moisturizer hasn’t absorbed fully, it can still look shiny. I try to give my moisturizer 30 minutes to sink in before I apply any makeup. For mattifying primers, I like CoverFX Matte and NARS Pro-Prime. If you find yourself shiny and really dislike it, you might want to carry around a pressed powder like Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder, MAC Blot Powder, or Urban Decay De-Slick.

More Q&A!  Continue reading →

Tuesday, November 8th, 2011

By Nicki Zevola, Pennsylvania, Skincare Expert

Nicki Zevola is a beauty expert and the founder of FutureDerm.com, where she provides clear, well-researched information about beauty+skincare, fashion+style, nutrition+fitness, and personal development from a different perspective from most in the blogosphere. Named one of the top beauty bloggers since 2009, Nicki is also a medical student (M.D.) with an estimated graduation date of May 2013. Continue reading her full bio


5 Surprising Skincare Facts You Didn’t Know (Until Now!)

1. Mixing certain skin care ingredients inactivates them.

Even if you hated science classes, you have to keep in mind that skin care is the product of somewhat advanced chemistry, subject to pH imbalance, unexpected reactions, and the like. For instance, many cosmetic chemists do not recommend using products with alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, and retinol together. This is because retinol is most active at a pH of 5.5-6.0 (Journal of Investigative Dermatology), while glycolic acid has an optimized pH at 3.83 (Cosmetic Dermatology). Another problem is using a heavier skin care product under a lighter one. High concentrations of certain occlusive agents like petrolatum and mineral oil prevent the ingredients in the lighter serum from reaching your skin as effectively. Most dermatologists thereby recommend applying the lighter product first.

2. You should never apply self-tanner before going out into the sun, unless you use a sunscreen first.

Most self-tanners work by using dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the main ingredient. According to a 2007 study published in Germany, DHA causes the skin to release 180% more free radicals once exposed to the sun. Therefore sun protection is extremely important when you have used self-tanners containing DHA within the past 24 hours.

3. There is no such thing as 100% SPF protection from a sunscreen.

According to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Herschenfeld, M.D., the percentage of protection you get is 100 – (1/SPF number)*100. I know that looks complicated, but let’s take SPF 30 for example:

Percentage of protection = 100 – (1/SPF number)*100
Percentage of protection = 100 – (1/30)*100 = 100 – 3.3
Percentage of protection = 96.6

Using that same principle, SPF 50 provides only 98% protection, and SPF 100 provides 99.9%!  Keep in mind this is the amount of protection provided when you apply a whole shot-glass full of sunscreen for your entire body and reapply religiously every 2-3 hours. As such, it’s safe to say there is no such thing as 100% sun protection from a sunscreen.

Check out two more facts you didn’t know!  Continue reading →