Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

Looking for product recommendations? Expect several reviews of self-tanning options from sprays to creams to gradual to intense over the coming weeks!

Applying Your Tan | After you’ve properly prepared you body to take on a self-tan, you’re eager to get to the tanning part, right? I want to preface this piece with the fact that I am new to self-tanning, I spent the past two weeks learning about self-tanners, application, etc., and for the most part, it’s really not as daunting as it may seem.

  • Wash hands frequently and vigorously with soap. You don’t want dark orange palms, so you can avoid this by washing your hands multiple times during the application to minimize any orange palm effect.
  • Make a mistake? Try toner, acetone, or hydrogen peroxide to help minimize or erase it.
  • Slow and steady wins the race. It is much better to give yourself time to apply the self-tanner and let it dry appropriately rather than hope it will all come together in fifteen minutes.
  • Dry land only for at least eight to twelve hours if you’re able to. Your self-tan should develop within three hours, but it may continue to darken for as long as twelve hours. Avoid sweating, exercising, bathing, etc., as all of these can lead to undesirable effects (streaking, fading, etc.).

1. Get everything you need together. Self-tanning will probably take you at least twenty minutes to apply from head to toe, plus additional drying time. I recommend the following products/items to gather: self-tanner of choice for body, self-tanner of choice for face, moisturizer (lightweight), hair tie, soap, back sponge, fingernail scrub brush, sink, dark towel/dark robe.

2. Extra dry skin? It is probably best for you to moisturize either as you go (diluting your self-tanner in the process) or applying a light amount to extra dry areas like ankles, toes, knees, elbows, etc. I would only recommend this for those who have really, really dry skin. It is better to dilute self-tanner with a moisturizer than applying moisturizer before the self-tanner.

3. Apply from bottom to top. You want to start applying your self-tanner to your feet and legs, being sure to apply sparingly on any dry parts (e.g. ankles) if you have them. If you’re using a lotion, be sure to squeeze it onto your fingers/palms, and then work it into your skin in circular motions. If you merely squeeze it onto your skin, you may end up with visible streaks from where it was squeezed! If you’re using a spray or aerosol tanner, make sure that you follow directions (usually says how far to hold it and not to exceed a certain distance).

4. Dry spots, joints, etc. may require diluted tanner. Judge your skin – if you have dry knees and luscious elbows or you’re like a sahara on both, know about it! You do a half-and-half combo with moisturizer with self-tanner or go a little heavier on the self-tanner, just depends on how dry you’re skin is. Nevertheless, go sparingly over these areas, because they tend to darken more heavily than other parts of the skin.

5. If you’re doing your entire body, some people want tan lines. If this is the case, make sure you’re wearing something that you can put the tanner right up against (e.g. a black bathing suit), as the tanner will stain light clothing. I personally hate tan lines, so self-tanning is totally up my alley and I just stand in the bathroom naked while applying. Back issues? If you can’t reach your back, try investing in a handled sponge to help you get those hard-to-reach areas.

6. Work your way up to your upper chest. Apply your self-tanner for body all over your body (arms, legs, etc.), but you may want to switch to a gradual tanner or your self-tanner for face. The neck tends to tan better and darker than the rest of your body (like the face). Otherwise, dilute your self-tanner with moisturizer when applying to the neck.
7. Switch to a self-tanner for face. I always recommend using a product targeted for the face to avoid getting an ultra dark or orange face. You can, of course, dilute your body self-tanner with moisturizer if you feel confident doing so. Make sure you apply your self-tanner up to your hair line and behind your ears (often missed spots).

8. Let it all hang out! Optimally, you’ve given yourself three hours of time before you need to get dressed. Realistically, you may only have an hour or two–don’t worry, you can probably get away with it. After you’ve done applying the self-tanner, let it dry for at least 15 minutes. If you’re able, walking around the house naked for awhile is a good move. Otherwise, slip on your dark robe or loosely tie a dark towel around your body and busy yourself for the next 45 minutes to an hour.

9. Your tan develops in 3 hours usually. This does mean that waiting three hours before putting on clothes is the best course of action, but waiting simply a half hour or so is usually enough. I like to put on some ratty, loose-fitting clothes after about 30-45 minutes. Even when I put regular clothes on, I opt for dark colors and nothing too tight.

10. Enjoy your new tan! You’ll want to check out part three of this guide, though, which will offer you some tips on making your sunless tan last longer and how to let it fade without looking like a molting bird.

Feel free to share your tips, horror stories, and advice for self-tanning!

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

First, this guide is not about tanning beds, booths, nor laying out in the sun. This is a guide to self-tanners, which are proven to be much safer and less harmful than the aforementioned areas not covered in this guide. If you must tan, please take all the precautions you can, including use some sort of sunscreen and go out during hours where the sun is not as strong. Now that we are finished with our PSA, let’s get on to SELF-TANNING!

Get Yourself Ready to Tan | It is important that you appropriate prepare your body to undergo the self-tanning process to maximize the desired results and increase the wear-time of the self-tanner. Most self-tanners only dye the first layer of skin, which means that as cell turnover occurs, your tan will slough off after 3-5 days, depending on the product and the care you take in maintaining your self-tan.

1. Exfoliate in advance. It is important to regularly exfoliate both your face and your body (which I’m sure is often forgotten). A good body scrub is great to rid your skin of dead skin cells and allow newer cells to come to the surface. Several days before you’re ready to begin your self-tanning, it is a good idea to exfoliate every other day (or so).

2. Moisturize, moisturize, and moisturize again. Make sure that you are regularly moisturizing all known dry or rough spots on your body–common areas are places like feet, toes, ankles, knees, elbows, etc. Rougher skin means less surface evenness, and this means the self-tanner may get darker in these areas (which is not always a pretty sight). If you make sure that you are taking the time to keep these bits and pieces their softest, you’ll run into less tanning issues later on!

3. Shave. The more even the skin surface is, the better the self-tanner will apply, adhere, and eventually dye. You will minimize streaks and unevenness in your tan if you shave beforehand. I would recommend shaving shortly before you actually apply the self-tanner!

4. Exfoliate right before you apply. However, unlike exfoliating in the days leading up to application, make sure that you opt for a body scrub that is oil-free–just something simple that has jojoba beads or some sort of exfoliant that won’t leave your legs particularly oily or greasy, because it will interfere with the self-tanner.

5. Plan on at least 20 minutes to apply. You need at least twenty minutes to apply self-tanner from head to toe, and it may be more for those who are not as comfortable with self-tanning. It is a good idea to give yourself an hour or two before you have to leave the house, as I definitely recommend sitting around in ratty clothes while the tan develops (which it should be hour three). Some regular self-tanners prefer to do the whole ritual before bed and then wake up golden.

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

As spring fades away and summer starts to roll in, we want you to have fun and take care of yourself with the additional sun exposure. Over the next several weeks, we will be giving you the low down on sunscreens, self-tanners, and after-sun products from Shiseido to Olay. Today, I want to introduce you to what you should be looking for in a good sunscreen and show you how understand more about your skin, its type, and how dermatologists classify it.

Fitzpatrick Classification of Skin Types:

  • Type I Always burns and never tans (extremely sensitive)
  • Type II Always burns but sometimes tans (very sensitive)
  • Type III Sometimes tans but sometimes burns (sensitive)
  • Type IV Always tans but sometimes burns (minimally sensitive)
  • Type V Always tans and never burns (not sensitive)
  • Type VI Darkly pigmented brown or black skin (not sensitive to sunlight)

The sunlight is most concentrated between late morning to early afternoon (10am to 3pm), so exposure during these hours should be limited and protected. The rays you receive are made up of UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVC is considered harmless as it rarely reaches us (tends to be absorbed by the atmosphere).

An effective sunscreen will protect against both UVA and UVB. Additionally, ingredients such as avobenzone, ecamsule, and zinc oxide are good against UVA; titanium dioxide is good, but it does not cover the entire UVA spectrum. Para-aminobenzoic acid, Para-aminobenzoic acid esters, salicylates, anthranilates, and benzophenones are good for sunscreening (Source).

You can get a full list of FDA approved active ingredients in sunscreens here.

Monday, March 3rd, 2008

Last week, I asked how many of you paid attention to the ingredients list on your beauty products–what was the majority answer? No, not at all; it is not a concern for you. As a beauty junkie, I have (and probably will not any time soon) not become an ingredient wizkid, simply because all of those scientific names never stick in my brain. However, I do think that is it vital to understand the importance of ingredients, especially for those with skin problems. I like to keep certain no-no ingredients in mind when I find a product that works really well, in addition to when I find a product seems to compound existing skin issues.

This guide is by no means a be-all, end-all of cosmetic ingredients, nor is it a full resource on what each ingredient does. I strongly advise you to check my sources, as well as head over to Savvy Skin, run by reader Jeni, because she is a skin care fanatic.

Bad ingredients are pretty much classified as either comedogenic or irritating. Comedogenic means it causes acne (hence why products are touted as non-comedogenic). Based on researching ingredients and the following sites, these ingredients are often found to irritate skin and/or cause acne. When ingredients are tested for their comedogenic or irritating level, they are ranked on a scale of 0-5. 0 means that the ingredent is non-comedogenic and non-irritating, while an ingredient that receives is a 5 is the worst in terms of comedogenic/irritating levels.

It is important to note that people with less sensitive skin may use highly comedogenic or irritating ingredients without any adverse effects. These ingredient lists tend to be more helpful for those that struggle with skin imperfections or troubles, and elimination or reduction of certain known harsh ingredients may inevitably pave the road towards healthier skin. As with all ingredient lists, they are listed in order of amounts–e.g., the first listed ingredient is highest percentage-wise (like water-aqua in 25%) with the last listed ingredient having the least amount percentage-wise (like 0.05%). So if you find a product that you love, and you see it has a potentially irritating ingredient towards the end, it is less likely to be the actual cause of your skin problems. If you use many products that use a particular poor ingredient, even if small amounts on a per product basis, it may add up to a larger dosage overall, though. Keep an eye out!

See a compiled ingredients-to-watch-for list… Continue reading →

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

New to MAC? Did you miss an installment from our ten part Guide to MAC? We designed a ten part guide to help introduce you to MAC Cosmetics and give you a leg up on all that is MAC.

Here’s your guide… to the guide!

Part One: What is MAC? The who, the what, the where!

Part Two: What is MAC PRO? PRO Products?

Part Three: Eye Product Basics

Part Four: Lip Product Basics

Part Five: Face & Cheek Product Basics

Part Six: Brush Product Basics

Part Seven: Skincare, Nails, Fragrances, & Accessories

Part Eight: The “LE” Factor (Limited Edition Products)

Part Nine: Acronyms and Terminology

Part Ten: Your Questions & Suggestions with Our Answers!

Please, please, PLEASE! feel free to ask questions and/or leave comments. I want this guide to be truly helpful to anyone new or curious about the MAC brand, and your comments, questions, and suggestions are a huge part of making that happen.

Monday, February 25th, 2008

MAC Cosmetics: Guide For The Newly Addicted, Part 10

This is the final installment of the guide, and I asked readers to share their questions about what I didn’t cover and should, and here are the answers.  Please feel free to suggest more topics in the comments!

Finish Descriptions — Tekoa

Eyeshadow Finishes

  • Frost | Most frost finishes have high amounts of shimmer, and the majority I have encountered are fairly smooth when a brush goes to pick up color and the pay off is decent most of the time.  MAC has a lot of shadows with this finish, including the coveted Parrot, as well as cult favorites Bronze, Goldmine, and Ricepaper.
  • Lustre | More of a chunky, glittery finish; lots of shimmer and tends to flake off when the brush bristles touch it. This is not the most popular finish, because a lot of people experience too much chunkiness/flaking.  However, several colors are nice (Aquadisiac, Greensmoke, Swimming, etc.).
  • Matte | Flat, no shimmer color with decent color pay off in some cases — they tend to be chalky in some specific shadows.  Some favorites are Chrome Yellow, Passionate, and Soft Brown.
  • Matte2 | An updated version take on matte finishes with a creamier, less chalky texture. Goes on smooth with much better color pay off.  Some favorites are Clarity, Newly Minted, and Prussian.
  • Satin | Similar to a matte, but it has just a slight touch of sheen to it.  Color pay off is good for most satins.  I do find some shades look like they have shimmer (e.g. Fade, Parfait Amour, Juxt) rather than just sheen, but it is a very seamless shimmer, which is why it is considered a sheen.
  • Veluxe | Again, a finish similar to mattes, but much creamier and smoother.  They tend to make think of going on like butter – the pay off tends to be intense.  Very few shadows have this finish–just four permanent colors–Brown Down, Kid, Samoa Silk, and Velvet Moss.
  • Veluxe Pearl | Good amounts of shimmer, but very smooth when applied.  This finish tends to give good color intensity and pay off, making them one of the favorite finishes.  Generally no flaking or chunkiness whatsoever.  Some of my personal favorites are Antiqued, Freshwater, Gorgeous Gold, Shimmermoss, Stars ‘N Rockets, and Woodwinked.  This is my favorite finish as well.
  • Velvet | A low-level shimmer finish that tends to be good in color and smooth when picked up.  Some great shades are Bitter, Contrast, Juiced, and Texture.

Lipstick Finishes

  • Amplified Creme | Very creamy, opaque, and has a high gloss finish.  This is my personal favorite finish, and it includes popular colors such as BLankety, Dubbonet, Girl About Town, and Vegas Volt.
  • Frost | High in shimmer with a glossy sheen, color pay off may vary, but tends to be on the opaque side. Popular favorites are Bombshell, Lame, New York Apple, and Sandy B; it is also a popular finish for many of MAC’s lipsticks.
  • Glaze | Sheerer colors that go on with a nice glossy finish, lipstick feels smooth. This finish is claimed by few permanent lipstick colors, but some to mention are Gleam, Hue, and Pervette.
  • Lustre | Less shimmer than a frost, but still some, and this formula tends to run sheerer than frosts, but with more pay off than galzes.  Usually color is fairly buildable.  Some favorites include Capricious, Hug Me, Plink!, and Sweetie.  This is a fairly popular finish for lipsticks.
  • Matte | Intense color pay off, drier textures (in some cases), no shimmer, no sheen/glossiness.  Popular favorites are Honeylove, Lady Danger, Ruby Woo, and Russian Red.
  • Satin | Kind of like a matte and a glaze–very subtle glossy finish.  Color pay off seems to vary, but usually decent.  Colors to think about include Brave, Cherish, Myth, and Snob.

False Lashes — Tekoa

  • Specific lashes: 20 (half lashes meant to bulk up the outer half of lashes), 30 lash (kind of like individual lashes to fill in where you want), 38 (outer half of lashes)
  • Natural length lashes: 1, 7 (really), 31, 32, 33
  • Full lashes: 3, 4, 7, 36
  • Dramatic lashes: 2, 6, 34, 35, 37
  • Lower lashes: 39, 40
  • Personal favorites: 7s, 36s (also known as “Sultress” lashes)

Keep reading to learn about Store Etiquette and Pigments! Continue reading →