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Working with Sensitive Skin

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!


On me: a reaction to a magnesium abscorbyl phosphate serum, a derivative of vitamin C

As a rule, you don’t treat sensitivity so much as avoid it. Unfortunately, because irritants are completely specific to the individual—for example, essential oils don’t bother my skin, but I can’t go near a scrub.  People with sensitive skin must learn to read ingredients lists and identify irritants before they start. If you do trigger a reaction, it is time that heals your skin, rather than any products. Nevertheless, it is possible to alleviate some of the symptoms of sensitivity with skincare, though they are not quite as effective as your skin’s ability to heal itself.

If you’re experiencing damage…

It should resemble severe dehydration, perhaps accompanied by pain and redness: the skin’s surface should be rough and dry to the touch, dead many layers down. This is generally the side effect of detergent-based cleansers, over-exfoliation, retinoids, and dermatological peels, but it can also occur if you are exposed to a harsh climate. Unless you’re on a retinoid (follow your doctor’s instructions), it’s best to stop all treatments and switch to a basic regimen of mild cleanser and moisturizer generously applied while fresh skin grows back. When it’s nearly done healing, a gentle exfoliant will buff away the dead, damaged surface.

If you’re experiencing an allergic response…

Allergens are unique to every individual. An allergic reaction can be characterized by redness, heat, inflammation, hives, and itchiness. I prefer to wait it out, because it dies down on its own without any further ill effect, but you can apply oatmeal or cortisone to problem areas. Depending on the severity of the reaction, may want to consult your doctor before proceeding.

If you’re experiencing inflammation…

Sunburns fall under this category, as does acne, some forms of rosacea, and contact dermatitis. Certain ingredients, such as the vitamin C on me shown above, can sometimes trigger an immune response that resembles acne, because the pores are aggravated, inflamed, and filled with pus. If you are acne-prone, it is advisable to approach your skin as if it were sensitive and not provoke already reactive skin with harsh skincare that can turn a mild condition into a severe one. There are a number of anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as salicylic acid, bisabalol, aloe vera, oatmeal, calendula, zinc oxide, and the essential fatty acids in many plant oils—and yet, some of these can be irritants themselves, depending on the individual. Always do a patch test.

If you’re experiencing physical sensitivity…

Though anyone may encounter inflammation, damage, or allergies, thin skin is largely a physiological condition. Some people also encounter physical sensitivity when they’re on retinoids. This is a deficiency in the skin’s barrier function, so there is a higher incidence of the other kinds of sensitivity. You can reinforce the barrier with moisturizer, built up in several layers: a humectant solution in direct contact with the skin to aid penetration; a lipid barrier in direct contact with the environment to prevent moisture loss and any further damage; and an emulsion sandwiched in between. Look for ingredients like shea butter, plant oils, mineral oil, and anything that forms a barrier. It’s not the same as healthy, resilient skin, but it helps buffer thin skin from the elements.

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Guerlain Samsara (124) Rouge Automatique Lipstick

Guerlain Samsara (124) Rouge Automatique Lipstick
Guerlain Samsara (124) Rouge Automatique Lipstick

Guerlain Samsara (124) Rouge Automatique Lipstick

Guerlain Samsara (124) Rouge Automatique Lipstick ($35.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a berry-kissed medium-dark red with ruby red micro-shimmer. There’s the faintest hint of a cool undertone, but compared to more obviously blue-toned lipsticks, it almost appears orange-toned! The color coverage is mostly opaque with little product needed for the results seen in the swatch. It does have some resemblance to Guerlain Vega, but this almost looks orange in contrast, and it’s a bit darker and definitely not as bright. Guerlain L’Heure Bleue looks more like a berry-red in comparison. Giorgio Armani #406 is similar but has little to no shimmer. MAC Prolong is a touch brighter.

Guerlain’s Rouge Automatique is a fabulous formula–it’s long-wearing, comfortable, lightweight, and always seems to make lips look better: more luscious and luminous.  Some of the lighter shades only wear for four to five hours, but richer shades like Samsara easily wear for six hours, up to eight, from my experience with the formula.  The texture is lightweight, creamy enough to glide easily across lips, but it doesn’t slip around once applied.  For more packaging photos, please see this post.

Guerlain Rouge Automatique Lip Color Samsara
Samsara
Samsara
10
Product
10
Pigmentation
10
Texture
10
Longevity
5
Application
100%
Total

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5 Luxurious Eggplant Purple Eyeshadows

5 Luxurious Eggplant Purple Eyeshadows

Deep, decadent purples with red undertones make me think of eggplants.  They can be a tough beast to master, often because they come in matte finishes, but they’re so worth practicing and perfecting.  They can add so much depth to your look; I love using them as a crease color paired with soft browns, beiges, pinks, and lighter purples.

What’s your favorite eggplant-hued eyeshadow?

Sunday Link Love, Volume #081

Happy Sunday!

Ahh–I can’t believe February is just right around the corner! It feels like we just celebrated the new year. Stay tuned for SAG Award coverage later tonight! 🙂

How-to: Blushing & Highlighting

By Victoria, Theatre Makeup Artist

Victoria is a 19-year old college sophomore who attends school in Massachusetts for Engineering, but she’s an avid Theater Makeup Artist and has worked on a variety of shows, from dance shows (think intense, flamboyant glitter) to periodic musicals. She aims to combine her “nerdy” passions with her artistic ones: to overanalyze the mathematics of reshaping the face, learn the science of why a product works better or worse. She’s a romantic dreamer who enjoys re-imagining herself in a soap opera, pretending one day a prince is going to come riding in on a dragon and take her away. Until then, she’s planning to use her makeup brushes and colors to force her friends to be the stars of her imaginary fairy tale.


How-to: Blushing & Highlighting

As a follow-up to my post on contouring, I wanted to discuss how to finish up your look with blush and highlighter. Blush and highlighter really bring life to the face, giving you that sought-after glow. Highlighter has a secondary benefit of really bringing contrast to the shadows, which brings out more of that lovely bone structure.

When do you need blush, highlight, and contour? For me, the answer to blush is always, but what about contour and highlight? If you’re of a darker skintone, like NC/W 45+, skip the contour and stick only with highlight. Contour colours unfortunately rarely run too dark, and you risk the color looking muddy on the face. On the other hand, if you’re lighter skinned, like NC15 and up, be very careful with balance. A dramatic contour and highlight can really sculpt out your features but beware of the risk of looking skeletal.

What You Need

A good directional brush, with a smaller head, or a head the size of the apple of your cheek. The same brush for contouring works perfectly here, so options like the MAC 165, MAC 109, or e.l.f. Blush Brush work perfectly. As for a brush with the head the size of your apple of your cheek, options like the MAC 119 (for smaller apples) or 120 (for rounder apples) are great.

Your favorite highlighter. For more of a glowy effect, choose shimmery highlighters, like Dior’s Amber Diamond, Elf Studio Shimmer Palette, or MAC Cream Colour Base in Pearl/Hush. These will give you beautiful glowy finish and really bring your face to life. For a more of dramatic effect, to contrast with the contour, stick with a matte flesh-toned shade that is a step or two lighter than your natural skintone. For this, I turn to powder foundations, or back to my trusty MAC Shape powders, which contain a hint of shimmer (but not too much!). You can definitely layer a shimmer powder over a matte lighter powder, but for natural looks I would avoid this, as it tends to read a bit ashy.

What shades should you choose for highlighter? For a natural highlight, its important to match your undertone with the product. Warmer beauties will find products with a golden or yellow undertone to be really flattering, like Dior Amber Diamond, NARS Albatross, or MAC CCB in Hush. Cooler beauties will find pinker or even lavender toned highlights work great. Look for products like Dior Rose Diamond, NARS Miss Liberty, or MAC CCB in Pearl.

Your favorite blusher. If you’re going with a shimmery highlighter, avoid a blush with too much pearl or frost unless you want to compete with a Twilight vampire for attention!

If we refer back to my original diagram for contouring, it makes finding blusher and highlighter placement is easy!  I like to highlight after contouring; generally, highlighting anywhere where you didn’t contour will help deepen the shadows.

Make a line parallel to the contour line on the top of your cheekbone, and along that line is where the highlight should go. Placing the highlight closer towards your ears will widen your face. Highlighting closer to the apple of the cheek will cause the apples to appear rounder. Whatever you choose, the length of your highlight line should not exceed the length of your contour line; stop highlighting wherever your contour stops.  Then, highlight under the browbone to make the browbone pop, and extend out that highlight to join with your cheekbone highlight. This will help deepen and define the socket, as well as define your cheekbones.

Applying blush last will help to gently blend everything together, but don’t overdo it or else your lines will become muddy and unclear! Blush placement helps reinforce highlighter placement, so apply your blush along a parallel line in between the contour and highlight lines. Don’t smile and apply blush! On many face shapes, this will actually cause the blush placement to be too low. Instead, get some extra lift by applying blush higher along that line. However, if you have a wider face, or you want to soften the cheekbones, apply blush lower along the line, as it will give you an instantly slimmer face.

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