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Tightlining: Why it’s life-changing

By Sarah, Makeup Artist

Sarah Cormier is a self-taught makeup artist in Cincinnati, OH. She mostly does wedding makeup but also has experience working on various photo shoots, fashion shows, and films. In addition, she is a freelance artist for her favorite line, MAC!

When she isn’t busy with makeup, she teaches Spinning classes at her local gym, and also attends Body Pump, Pole Fitness, and Cardio Kickboxing classes. Her other hobby is shopping, favorite stores are Nordstrom, the MAC store, Lucky Brand, and White House Black Market. Sarah is happily married to her wonderful husband of two years, Nate. Check out her blog, Sarah C. Makeup and sarahcormier.com.


Photo by Melloveschallah

Tightlining: Why it’s life-changing

Many of us have experienced those moments where we discover a new technique that changes everything in our beauty routine, or at least, puts things into perspective. One such moment for me was when I saw the difference the simple act of filling in/reshaping eyebrows made to just about any face. It forever changed my approach to makeup because of how much it brightens the face, lights up the eyes, and creates an overall more polished look.It was like finishing a favorite outfit with the right shoes/purse/belt, etc.

But there has been another technique that trumped my eyebrow epiphany. It is the one trick in my back pocket to that puts the finishing touch on any type of look, from the smokiest eye to the “no makeup” makeup look. It works for all clients, regardless of age, race, eye shape, gender or skin tone. With the right tools, anyone can do it in two minutes or less. Ladies and gentlemen, the miracle move that I am speaking about is none other than tightlining.

Tightlining, for those who are not familiar, is where you apply eyeliner directly to your lash line, preferably from the underside of the lash line. Once you get good at it, you can do it within seconds. Tightlining is great for enhancing a smoky eye, but also if you prefer a very natural look and want your eyes to look brighter, bigger, and more awake. It can also make your lashes look longer and fuller. I consider tightlining to be somewhat of a miracle move because its such a minuscule effort but makes such a tremendous difference in your look.

The technique itself is simple in nature but could take a little practice for those who don’t have the steadiest hands. With one hand, gently lift your top eyelid so you can see your upper water line. With the other hand, apply liner into the underside of your upper lash line. There is another method for tightlining that involves sitting at your vanity with a mirror lying flat in front of you and looking down at it with your eyeballs while keeping your head up. I personally find the latter more difficult, but it is ultimately up to the individual to find which one works for best them.

Regardless of your preferred method, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of placing the product into the lash line (as in where your eyelashes grow out of), versus the waterline, which is the thin wet area of skin directly below the lash line. Granted, you can certainly line your waterline and also achieve a lovely result. But doing so is not considered tightlining. Lining the waterline can cause the product to transfer to your lower waterline since the area is wet. Because the lash line is dry, tightlining yields longer lasting, cleaner, and more defined results,.

Tightlining can be achieved with various types of eyeliner products including gels, pencils, and liquids.  One of my favorite products for tightlining is Laura Mercier Tightline cake eyeliner ($22.00), which requires a simple flat topped brush such as the MAC 212 or Nars #2 (my two favorites) and a little bit of water. Having been a MAC addict my entire life, I only recently discovered the Laura Mercier cake liner, and let me tell you, it changed everything! I am going to be filling my kit with it the first chance I get!

What about you? What are your favorite makeup techniques? Have you tried tightlining? What did you think of it?

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5 Things You Must Know about DNA and Beauty Products

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


Photo by mira66

5 Things You Must Know about DNA and Beauty Products

It’s been almost a decade since the human genome has been sequenced, and all of a sudden, it seems everyone wants to get in on the hot biological terminology. From sequencing to splicing to cloning, you can’t walk into a Sephora without having someone ask you about your genes (and sorry, honey, we’re not talkin’ about your Sevens). Unfortunately, while some industry insiders are utilizing the technology to make skin care bravely go where no product has ever gone before, others are, unfortunately, being a bit deceptive in their approach. Here’s what we know about the technologies:

1. There is no such thing as a single “Youth Gene.”

A product that shall go nameless recently advertised that it is clinically proven to turn on the “Youth Gene.” Unfortunately, the Human Genome Project has affirmed there are 19,599 protein-coding genes (Ornl.gov), and it is likely that the expression of nearly all of them decreases with age. Furthermore, there are likely hundreds, if not thousands, of genes targeted towards manufacturing proteins that can help make you look younger. It is the decrease of function a number of genes, not just one, that contribute to aging. So beware of any product that claims to target a single gene. It may have other redeeming factors, but this should not be your primary reason to buy.

2. The secret to red wine is not just resveratrol.

Want to know why people are so excited about resveratrol? Although resveratrol is a noted antioxidant, its main benefit is that it may upregulate proteins called sirtuins, which in turn prolong the life of your skin’s collagen-producing fibroblasts. Sirtuins do this by turning off unnecessary gene expression, so when the fibroblasts aren’t expending more energy than they need to on unnecessary tasks, they will theoretically last longer. This means that your fibroblasts enable you to make collagen naturally for more years than if you did not treat your skin with sirtuins.

Unfortunately, numerous studies suggest resveratrol does not influence sirtuin production, including a 2005 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry2009 study in Chemical Biology and Drug Design, and 2010 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. It is also hard to know for sure if sirtuins in skin care products are able to diffuse through the your skin’s cellular and nuclear membranes to affect the genetic material within in the first place. Preliminary data from companies like Avon, who feature the ingredient in their Ultimate Age Repair Elixir Serum and Night Cream, seem to suggest that sirtuins applied topically may have an effect. However, there may also be confounding variables, as the other ingredients in the products have previously been proven beneficial for the skin. Clearly, more research needs to be done.

Three more facts you NEED to know! 

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Win It! Blast From the Past Pack o’ MAC #1 ($100+ value)

Win It! Blast From the Past Pack o’ MAC #1 ($100+ value)

For many, many collections, I would purchase extra pieces to giveaway on the blog, and now’s the time to do so!  We’ll be giving away lots of limited edition products in the next few weeks! To enter, use the widget below.


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Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel Review

By Chelsea Nusbaum, Fragrance Contributor

Chelsea grew up in Los Osos, California, which is a small coastal town. She completed her undergraduate degree in Literature/Writing at University of California, San Diego. She recently completed her master’s degree in Rhetoric and Professional and Technical Writing. Chelsea currently works as a proposal editor for a local defense company. She loves to freelance and edit, but between her full-time job and awesome pets, what little time she has left she devotes to fragrance!


Perfume and Memory: Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel Review

Herbaceous, rugged, and tethered to the earth that inspired it, Fleurs de Sel reminds me of my hometown. But my tiny coastal town perpetually shrouded in fog was not what perfumer Lyn Harris had in mind when she created this fragrance: hers was. She has a family home in Batz sur Mer, a small village in Brittany, France, where she says she spent her happiest times. She composed Fleurs de Sel using materials found at the nearby salt marshes. It was released in 2007.

Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel is a fragrance I never would have worn as early as a year ago, and now I count it among my favorites. Name aside, it isn’t floral—at least not in any obvious sense—and its opening is smoky. I hate smoke. Red thyme gives it an antiseptic edge that I’m also not fond of. Up until falling in love with Fleurs de Sel, I liked my perfumes floral, or at least sweet. Fleurs de Sel is pungent and aromatic. It didn’t fit my idea of how a perfume should smell. But I kept thinking about those salt marshes that inspired it, and the estuary I grew up near. Nostalgia led me to take a second sniff, and then a third. Once I got past the nose-crinkling opening, I was combing the internet for a discontinued bottle.

In addition to the smoke, Fleurs de Sel opens with a bundle of herbs and a kick of ambrette seed. I’ve learned to appreciate the opening, but I don’t really love Fleurs de Sel until about 20 minutes in, when the smoke evaporates and the wildflowers blossom behind a curtain of herbs. The herbs have such clarity that this fragrance still feels modern, in spite of its country roots. The antiseptic quality mellows considerably as the fragrance wears.

Extended exposure to Fleurs de Sel will make you think Harris’s family home is actually near a salt mine—it is very, very salty. The big salt accord is buoyed by the host of herbs from the top notes: red thyme, rosemary, and clary sage. The “fleurs” are there, but not so distinguishable that I could pick them out note-by-note, although the official notes list iris, narcissus, and rose. Rather, they form a sheer backdrop to the earthier aspects of the fragrance; herbs and salt are what take center stage.

Fleurs de Sel’s musky base comes courtesy of ambrette seed, with a woody assist from vetiver, which to my nose usually smells dry and earthy, but here is rendered as wet, freshly dug earth. There is a touch of leather.

It is not my signature scent—I’m incapable of olfactory monogamy—but it is the fragrance I consider the most “me.” When I wear it, I smell like where I came from.

Ambrette seed—the soul of Fleurs de Sel —is expensive, and I suspect it’s partially to blame for the unusually high price tag. Miller Harris perfumes typically retail for about $100. If you’re up for paying full price, £110.00 for 3.4 oz of eau de parfum (about $170, plus international shipping), you can order directly from Miller Harris. Or you can pick it up for about $20 less and save on shipping at online discounters Overstock and Fragrance X.

What perfumes conjure memories for you? Are you willing to give a challenging fragrance like Fleurs de Sel a try, or multiple tries?

Exfoliation: An Essential Step in Your Skincare Routine

By Laura, 40s, New York, Skincare Contributor

Laura “came of age” in the 80s, so she considers a survivor of some very disturbing fashion and makeup trends, like shoulder pads, acid-washed jeans worn unironically, streaky blush, and thick eyeliner that we softened with a lighter before putting it on–don’t even get her started on what women wore to the gym in those days! She now works in a more conservative field, and she’ll get an odd look or two if she wears crackle nail polish (and she expects we’ll look back on that trend with the same disbelief we now reserve for horizontally-striped leg warmers).


Photo by Darwin Bell

Exfoliation: An Essential Step in Your Skincare Routine

As I’ve posted here before, I have a particularly galling skin type – namely, skin that’s not only middle-aged that I have to worry about fine lines but is still prone to oiliness and breakouts as well. For both issues, I find that exfoliation, which is a fancy word for removing the outer layer of skin, is essential for my skincare routine. Along with Retin-A cream, exfoliation has led to the greatest visible improvement in my skin. (Retin-A, incidentally, is not an exfoliant, contrary to popular belief.)

Exfoliation benefits most skin types, but if you have oily skin like me, you want to exfoliate to avoid blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples. Those skin problems result from an overabundance of sebum, which is a waxy substance produced by your skin’s sebaceous glands. Under normal circumstances, sebum is actually a good thing, since it reduces natural water loss from the skin. However, when your sebaceous glands overproduce sebum, it tends to clog the pores, not only with the sebum, but with skin cells and bacteria. By exfoliating–helping the skin cells to shed off your face–you help keep the pore from getting clogged, and with a little luck, no breakouts.

Exfoliation can also benefit sun-damaged skin by removing the thickened layer of skin that results from over-exposure to sun and makes your skin look ashy or sallow. As for dry skin, it can also benefit from exfoliation; the process helps shed skin cells, permitting moister skin cells to surface and make the skin look more dewy. Not incidentally, if you have dry skin, exfoliation will also help your skin absorb moisturizers better, as the dead skin cells fall away and no longer act as a barrier for the moisturizer.

So which exfoliants to use? I prefer chemical exfoliants (alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acid) instead of physical exfoliants (scrubs or plain old washcloths), since the latter don’t penetrate below the surface. For my oily and aging skin, I usually use a BHA, which is salicylic acid (yep, close to what’s in good old aspirin). Unlike AHAs, BHA not only exfoliates the outer layer of skin, but is also fat-soluble rather than water soluble, so that it gets inside the pore to get rid of all the stuff clogging it.

Your BHA product should have a concentration of one to two percent, with a pH of 3 to 4 (roughly as acidic as vinegar).  To be certain you’re getting an effective product, salicylic acid should be high up on the ingredient list. And although I know you’re using sunscreen every single day (you are, right? RIGHT?), you have to be extra careful to use a good sunscreen when you’re using a BHA, because BHAs increase sun sensitivity. My own favorite BHA is Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Gel Exfoliant  ($18.95), which is formulated for oily skin.

I also like to use an AHA product once or twice a week; I notice a definite difference in the suppleness of my skin when I do. Again, you want to make sure your product has the right amount of AHAs to benefit your skin: five to eight percent AHA and a pH of 3 to 4, so that it has enough acidity to be effective (look for fruit acid high on the ingredients list). As with BHA, make very certain you’re using a proper sunscreen, as AHAs can also increase sun sensitivity. My current favorite AHA product is Olay’s Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir ($29.99).

A couple of caveats: I don’t use an AHA and BHA together, and I don’t generally exfoliate every night, since I do notice that if I don’t take a little break, my skin will sometimes get flaky–not exactly the look I’m striving for!

What are your favorite exfoliants?

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