Monday, July 12th, 2010

Best Eyeshadow Brushes

Everything You Wanted to Know About Eyeshadow Brushes

You don’t need twenty brushes to get flawless eyeshadow application, but a few good, multitasking brushes can really change the way your eyeshadow looks.    I’m going to walk you through some of the different types of eyeshadow brushes there are available, but more importantly, I’m going to recommend you the essential brushes you should keep your eye out for.

Why fingers and sponge-tip applicators are less than the best… Fingers can be unsanitary, to be honest, but you have natural oils in your skin (including those fingers!), and every time you touch your eyeshadow with your finger, some of that oil can be left behind.  This is often why tester eyeshadows at makeup counters are hardened or otherwise look disgusting.  I won’t knock ya if you just use your fingers to blend out, do some touch-ups, and the like, but when it comes to applying from pan to skin–brushes are more hygienic and will keep your eyeshadows in better shape in the long-run!  Both fingers and sponge-tip applicators tend to waste product, as well, because they absorb a lot of the product without depositing the majority of it.  Sponge-tip applicators can have their place (often for very sheer, powdery, or glittery shades), but brushes–at least, in my experience–go the distance.

Application brushes are often flatter, denser, and firmer overall. These brushes go from pan to lid, but they don’t necessarily work for blending colors together, but they’re designed to transfer the color from the pan onto the lid without losing the product in-between.  These include brushes like Laura Mercier All Over Colour Brush, MAC 239, NARS Eye Shader, and Sephora #12.

Brow brushes are typically thin with a defined and/or angled edge. Often, brow brushes are used to apply a brow product to the brow to give brows a fuller look aka filling in your brows.  You can also have brow brushes that are more to groom the brow into place (often a spoolie brush or what looks like a mascara wand).  These include brushes like Bare Escentuals Angled Brush, MAC 266, NARS Brow Shader, and Smashbox #12.

Blending brushes are often fluffier and slightly tapered or domed. These brushes are used mostly to blend colors already applied to the lid.  They help to make colors blend seamlessly with each other and help fade harsh lines of demarcation.  These include brushes like MAC 217, NARS Large Domed Eye, Sephora #10, and Stila #9.

Check out suggestions for crease, eyelining, and brow brushes… as well as some general brush buying advice! Continue reading →

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

How to Apply Blush

Applying blush at first can be tricky, but it’s all about being patient and using the right tools. You want to make sure you’re using the right blush brush — preferably, you want a brush that’s dense enough to pick up color but still fluffy enough to deposit it softly. You may also want a buffing brush on standby for any mistakes!

Powder Blush

  • Step 1. Finish prepping the skin and let all products sink in/dry. Whether you’re just wearing moisturizer, tinted moisturizer, or foundation, you want all these products to be applied before you to get to blush. (Though, you can always switch it up and wear an intense blusher before foundation–but after moisturizer–and then lightly apply foundation on top!)
  • Step 2. Taking a slightly fluffy, dense brush, gently tap it into your blush compact. I usually do three or four taps and then a sweep.
  • Step 3. SMILE LIKE YOU JUST WON A BAJILLION DOLLARS! The easiest way to find the apples of your cheeks is to smile really big–you’ll see them pop out at you as compared to when your face is relaxed.
  • Step 4. Gently tap the blush brush onto the apples of your cheek, starting from the roundest portion and tapping lightly upwards and towards your temple.
  • Step 5. Do a sweep–like a Nike “swoosh”–from the apple to the temple to diffuse and blend the color together.
  • Step 6. If it’s not intense enough, rinse and repeat. If it’s too bright, you can either lightly sweep upwards with your blush brush or use a buffing brush to buff some of the color out. You can also layer translucent or colored loose powder on top to help soften the color (and this will also help to set your makeup).

Cream blush how-to… Continue reading →

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Blush 101

Beauty Lessons: Blush Brushes

For a softer look, consider using a fluffier brush that’s not as dense as the traditional blush brush. I recommend using stippling brushes, like Sephora’s #44 Professional Stippling Brush ($35), MAC 187 Duo Fibre Face Brush ($42), or Make Up For Ever HD #55N Blush Brush ($39). Stippling brushes deposit color more evenly while allowing you to build up color slowly.

For a brighter look, consider dense, tapered brushes. The tapered edge allows you to deposit color with precision, which will help get you that brighter, more noticeable pop of color right on the apples of the cheeks. I recommend angled brushes like Sephora #42 Natural Slant Brush ($32), Benefit’s Slant Brush ($20), Laura Mercier Angled Cheek Contour Brush ($45), and MAC 168 Large Angled Contour Brush ($32).

For everyday usage, consider dense, domed brushes with some fluff to it. A fluffier brush will allow you to blend and deposit color more evenly and softly without going too heavy, but the density will still allow you to pack on color should you choose to. The dome shape works nicely to give cheeks color without being too concentrated on the apples, so it can blend outward and look natural. I recommend Bobbi Brown Blush Brush ($50), Eco Tools Blush Brush ($9), MAC 116 Blush Brush ($32), and NARS Blush Brush ($46).

For mistakes, use a dense, buffing/kabuki brush in soft, small circles to diffuse the color and blend out harsh edges. Some top buffing brushes include NARS Botan Brush ($75), MAC 182 Buffer Brush ($45), and Eco Tools Kabuki Brush ($9).

What’s your favorite blush brush?

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Sunscreen

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, licensed esthetician, skincare expert, etc. This is information I have gathered from reading many different sunscreen-related articles throughout the past few years. I’ve provided links for reference purposes. As always, please consult your doctor and/or dermatologist for the latest and most accurate, up-to-date information.

Why sunscreen?

Wearing sunscreen will help prevent your skin from burning from harsh UVB rays and reduce the effects of UVA rays on the deeper layers of your skin–it may help reduce the signs of aging later on down the road as well as lower your exposure risk to skin cancer.

What are UVA and UVB?

  • UVA rays are the kind that have the greatest effect on you… that you don’t necessarily see right away. This includes aging and wrinkles as well as increase the risks of skin cancer.  Think of UVA as the AGING (and cancer-causing) rays.
  • UVB rays are the kind that you’ll notice right off the bat,  because UVB rays are generally responsible for sunburns.  Think of UVB as the BURNING (sunburn-causing) rays.

This is a very short and sweet summary to get the main points out, but you can check out this article for a more in-depth explanation.

Is higher SPF better?

Not, not necessarily. First, remember that “SPF” is only a rating on effectiveness of UVB rays, not UVA.   SPF 15 blocks roughly 93% of all UVB, while SPF 30 blocks 97%, and SPF 50 blocks 98%. (See SkinCancer.org.) If you are out and about, many organizations recommend reapplying sunscreen every two hours (especially if you’re spending the day in the sun). It is also more important to look for a broad spectrum sunscreen than one merely with a high SPF rating.

The way SPF works is if it takes you 10 minutes to start burning normally, wearing SPF 15 would mean it would take 15 times as long to burn–150 minutes.

How much SPF do I need? Do I need to reapply my sunscreen throughout the day?

Most recommendations seem to indicate a a full shotglass’ amount for your entire body applied thirty minutes before sun exposure and reapplied every two hours. If you’re in the water or sweating, it is even more important to reapply regularly. Even water-resistant sunscreens (designed for 40 minutes of protection in the water) and waterproof sunscreens (designed for 80 minutes of protection in the water) need to be reapplied after a romp in the water. (See AAD.org.)

How do I reapply sunscreen over makeup?

According to WebMD, it is much better to choose a moisturizer or lotion/cream based SPF product rather than a foundation or powder with SPF in it–you may not get enough coverage if it’s within a foundation (particularly a powder) or cosmetic product.   Bauman (an expert in the aforementioned article), recommends reapplying sunscreen once during the day for day-to-day wear. To reapply sunscreen over an already-done face, consider a sunscreen spray (but made for the face, not the body), patting a layer of sunscreen or SPF-based tinted moisturizer onto the face (don’t rub), and/or pressed powder (with a sponge for better adhesion) with SPF.

In general, the ingredients in sunscreen degrade when in direct UV contact, so if you’re sitting in an office building all day, it may not be necessary to reapply.  Always remember to apply sunscreen liberally–don’t hold back–and be thorough about it.  If cost is a worry, look for a more affordable sunscreen rather than a $300/jar sunscreen!

What ingredients should I look for?

Any sunscreen or sunblock should list what ingredient(s) it uses to accomplish sun protection. The rule of thumb is to look for a sunscreen with “broad-spectrum” protection. This means that it uses ingredients that cover the majority of the UV spectrum (so both UVA and UVB protection).

  • UVB (290-320nm): Aminobenzoic Acid (PABA), Cinoxate, Dioxybenzone, Ensulizole, Homosalate, Octocrylene, Octinoxate, Octisalate (Octyl Salicylate), Oxybenzone, Padimate O, Sulisobenzone, Trolamine Salicylate, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
  • UVA (320-340nm): Dioxybenzone, Ecamsule (Mexoryl), Helioplex, Meradimate, Oxybenzone, Sulisobenzone, Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide
  • UVA (340-400nm): Avobenzone, Zinc Oxide

Physical blockers like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide may give some deeper skin tones a white cast (as they are, literally, physically blocking the rays). Some may be allergic or sensitive to chemical sunscreens and may need to opt for physical blockers instead. Physical blockers protect skin by deflecting or blocking harsh UV rays, while chemical blockers/sunscreens usually absorb them. (Most other sunscreen ingredients beyond titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are chemical sunscreens, for reference.) Physical blockers tend to be more stable, while chemical sunscreens may degrade and are often paired with other sunscreen ingredients to increase stability. (See more information at AMF.org.)

Monday, April 5th, 2010

Blush 101

Beauty Lessons: Blush Basics

What is blush? What is blush for?

Blush is any color makeup product that adds or changes the color of your natural cheek. It can brighten up your entire face by giving you a rosier, healthier glow and complexion. Blush can come in a variety forms, including cream, gel, liquid, or powder (loose or pressed). Similarly, blush can come in different finishes–they can be matte (meaning they’re flat or have no shimmer), shimmery (fine particles that reflect light), glittery (larger particles that reflect light), or satin (ultra-fine particles that impart more of a sheen). The intensity of a blush can vary from brand to brand and shade to shade; some blushes apply intensely even when used gently, while other blushes require more product in order to achieve richer color.

Best Brands for Blush

For POWDER BLUSHES, consider NARS ($26), MAC Cosmetics ($18.50), Smashbox ($24), and Benefit ($28). Both MAC and NARS blushes come in a wide range of shades, with several textures available, which makes them both solid brands from which to choose from. Smashbox makes exceptionally wearable shades with varying degrees of shimmer, and I’ve found it’s hard to go wrong with one of their shades. Benefit’s Boxed Powders are easy to use and travel with, plus the shade range is natural and wearable for even those who tend to be more heavy-handed.

For CREAM/GEL BLUSHES, consider Tarte Cheek Stains ($30) and Make Up For Ever HD Blush ($25). Tarte applies effortlessly and always looks natural with a subtle sheen; they’re excellent for those with drier skin and find powder blushes look cakey. Make Up For Ever is a creamy blush that is extremely blendable before it sets and gives a luminous, natural look–but it can also be layered for a deeper hue.

What color blush should I choose?

  • If you have cooler undertones, light blue-pinks, pastel pinks, roses, and plums naturally suit you best. To venture into warmer shades like apricots, corals, and peaches, choose shades with more pink tones than orange tones. You can also offset a warmer blush shade by pairing it with cooler eyeshadow or lipstick/gloss.
  • If you have warmer undertones, apricots, bronzes, corals, and peaches lend themselves well to your skin tone. For cooler shades, try more yellow-based pinks, red-based plums, and orange-based corals. If you wear a naturally cooler shade on your cheeks, you may find that wearing warmer eyeshadows or lipstick/gloss can work to create a more cohesive look.

What finish of blush should I choose?

  • For drier skin, try cream and gel blushes, which will blend easily into skin without adding any additional dryness or powder to your skin.
  • For oilier skin, consider a mixture of face primer, cream/gel blush, and powder blusher. Oilier skin will pair well with cream-to-powder or powder-based blushes, but a primer or cream/gel blush can be used to build a better foundation so blush lasts all day and fading is minimized.
  • For combination and normal skin, all types of blushes are suitable for you. It becomes more a matter of preference on what you like and enjoy using.