Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beauty Buzz Word: Silica

Silica (silicon dioxide) is a naturally occurring mineral- you're digging your toes into it when you walk down the beach, as it's the primary component of sand. It's also the sole ingredient of Make Up For Ever's coveted HD Microfinish Powder, and many other cosmetic and skin care products besides. Silica is added to beauty products to aid in oil absorption, improve slip (gives a silky feel and helps product smooth on more easily), add opacity and more.

The type of silica used in cosmetics is called amorphous silica. There has been some confusion in the last few years over the safety of silica in cosmetics. Links between silica and the lung condition silicosis, cancer, and more recently, chronic kidney disease, are often referenced. What such articles, and those spreading this info, fail to realize is that the silica connected to such conditions is crystalline silica- completely different in chemical structure from the type used in cosmetics.

What's the difference? Well, simply put: in occupational environments where workers are regularly exposed to crystalline silica (such as mining, construction or sand blasting) the jagged structure of crystalline silica can embed itself in the lungs, creating scar tissue.

Since amorphous silica does not have the same jagged configuration, it does not cause this type of injurynor is it known to cause cancer or accumulate in the body. The ingredient considered safe by all of the major governing bodies of the world, including the US Food & Drug AdministrationHealth Canada, the European Commission, and Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Color of the Moment: Blackberry
(and Quick Tips On How to Pull it Off!)

Call it what you want: mulberry, eggplant, aubergine, wine or maroon. From juicy to vampy-deep,  purple is popping this fall, from tips to lips!

Left: OPI Every Month Is Oktoberfest Right: Zoya Katherine
Thanks to Jen of The PolishAholic for sharing her amazing photos!
Illamasqua Complement Pallette

MAC Yung Rapunxel
Now, I'm all for this trend- it actually makes me long for cooler weather! But don't be fooled. While these shades are neutral enough for anyone to wear, that doesn't mean they're always easy to pull off. Rich berry hues on the nails are a great way to ease in, and shadows like the ones above can be smudged along the lash line for an easy but eye-catching pop (if you're feeling bolder, apply them to the entire lid & smoke out the edges just above the crease).

If you're planning to rock a plum lip, however, you have to be a bit savvy to put your best pout forward. See, purple sits in a cozy place on the color wheel right across from yellow, and that means it will intensify any yellow put up against it. So if you worry that your pearlies could be a bit whiter, get a jump on this trend and grab an at-home tooth whitening kit. Even over-the-counter versions can lighten teeth several shades; my past favorite, Crest Whitestrips has a new version that guarantees laser-like results. Kits can be a bit pricey, but rebates and coupons take some of the sting out, and luckily, they're pretty easy to find (check your Sunday paper). And, after all, it's a relatively small price to pay for head-turning fierceness :)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

e.l.f Studio: Picks and Skips!

One of my favorite "budget" lines, e.l.f. is pretty much always running some type of sale. Most of the e.l.f. Studio line tops out at $3.00, so you can bring in a pretty good haul for less than the price of dinner for two (or one!) But, like most lines, the brand certainly has it's hits and misses. Here are my top choices for those that haven't jumped on the e.l.f. wagon yet.

1. Studio Lip Lock Pencil: I've already done a review, posted pics and even included one in my Blogiversary Giveaway (which may as well serve as my "best hits of 2010" list) so it should go without saying. Get one. Or two.

2. Brushes
  • Powder Brush: I reach past my MAC 109, 187 and 190 and grab this every single day to apply my cream foundation. It works great with liquids and powders too- the synthetic bristles are perfect for buffing or stippling, and the large size and flat top make quick work of the job. Fair warning: e.l.f. brushes are totally worth the money, but they're not exactly top shelf. I've had to super glue a ferrule or two back in place, but for the price, I didn't mind a bit.
  • Eyeshadow C Brush: Wide and dense with mid-length bristles, use the paddle shape flat on the lid to apply color, or make it vertical and use it to buff down and blend out crease colors.
  • Small Angled Brush: I didn't love this for the purpose for which I intended- applying gel liner. I found it too thick to get the clean, thin line I like with my eyeliner. However, where it failed on my eyes, it succeeded on my lips: the angled shape is definitely more precise than a traditional lip brush, though if you like to use your lip brush to smudge and blend your lip liner, the angled cut may make that difficult.
3. Eye Transformer: If you don't already have a set of basic white duo-chromes, this is a good starter for the price. The four shades (green, yellow, pink and blue-violet) apply as a translucent wash of color on bare skin, but over deeper colored liners and shadows the underlying tone takes top billing. Transform a plain black liner to a glowing emerald, or turn your drabbest blue shadow into a pearly periwinkle. I will say that there's something about the base or opacity in e.l.f.'s transformers that gives them a little less glow that other duochromes that I've tried, but if you've never tried and are wondering what the duochrome fuss is all about, this is a good way to see if the effect is your style.

4. High Definition Powder: A $6.00 dupe of the famous Make Up For Ever High Def powder...what more can I say? Oh, there's a nice pale yellow version too, which is great for toning down redness. I guess there's that.

5. Lotion Wipes: How has everybody not latched on to this idea? Lotion in a wipe? Genius! Easy to travel with, mess free, non-greasy, and they actually do a nice job of keeping my skin hydrated. I will say the two scents I tried (Sweet Mango and Milk and Honey) left something to be desired. Neither was bad, they just didn't particularly smell like...what they were supposed to smell like. Still, just for the ease of use and a nice skin-loving formula, I say grab a few packs!

6. Mascara Wands: I use these primarily to brush, blend and soften my brows after I fill them, but as regular readers know, these little buggers have tons of unexpected uses. I have seen bulk wholesale prices online a little lower, but $3 for a dozen wands is totally fair and probably a bit cheaper than what you're likely find at your local Sally's or Ulta.

The e.l.f. that I like, I like a lot, but some of my previous purchases fell into the "you get what you pay for (and this was three bucks)" category. Here are a couple meh's and skip-it's:

  • Eye Shadows: The only incarnation of e.l.f. shadows that I've tried have been the Duo Eyeshadows from their basic $1 line, so maybe I shouldn't even mention them, but I will. They didn't thrill me, though they weren't the worst either. Worth a buck? If there's a color you're dying to try, then sure. Maybe. The limited color options kept me from being too interested, and that carried over into the Studio line since the Studio shadow singles only come in a handful of shades. Having said that, the 100-color Endless Eyes Palette does have me wondering. It is a big ticket item for e.l.f., ringing in at $10, and alas, it is exempt from the sale. Still...
  • Daily Brush Cleaner: I'm honestly surprised that I bought this, given the fact that the concentration of Alcohol Denat. is so high (it's the second ingredient). Generally I would be worried that the alcohol would dry out my natural bristles, but for some reason I took the chance. I haven't used it enough to notice if there are any ill effects from the alcohol, but this spray can't hold a candle to my HG instant cleaner, Brush Off. If you're not interested in hunting down that wonder product, want something in a lower price point, and aren't concerned about the alcohol drying out & breaking your bristles (some people use straight-up rubbing alcohol) then this might be an option for you. It lifted enough color from the brush to keep shade changes from muddling, and dried quickly enough with a few passes on a tissue.

Skip It:
  • Complete Coverage Concealer: While the shades were nicer than I expected and the light palette actually had a color just about fair enough for me (big shocker, since even MAC can't seem to figure that one out!) the light cream-gel texture of this concealer just didn't pack enough pigment to do task #1: covering imperfections! Complete coverage my booty- this did virtually nothing for blemishes, though since I don't have much in the way of under-eye darkness, I can't really speak to its effects in that area. If you do decide to give these a try, know that all four shades in the Light palette run in a warm yellow undertone.
  • Small Precision and Smudge Brushes: I have both of these, and I wouldn't bet money that I can tell the difference between the two. The texture of the bristles on these brushes is closer to a lip than an eye brush- slicker and springier. This gives the brushes the tendency to grab color with out re-depositing it, so they were more "erase" and less "smudge" than I care for.
Well, I think that's about it for me! What about you- if I wanted to try some new goodies, what would your picks be?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Fashion's Night Out Deals

Poised to kick off the week-long New York Fashion week, tonight marks the fourth annual Fashion's Night Out. For those of you who have been caught unaware, Fashion's Night Out (FNO, donchaknow?) is a collaboration between American Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company, and the City of New York, and is meant to be a night to celebrate fashion, design As if we need a special day!

If you happen to be lucky enough to be in NYC (or one of many other fashion-forward cities out there) you may be taking part in the festivities in person. If not, you can still celebrate with one of these today-only deals!

Visit Beauty Bar and get $20 off any order over $100 with code BBFNO.

Tarte Cosmetics' Paint the Town Tarte Flash Sale features a handful of sets discounted up to 50% off, until midnight EST tonight.

Mally Beauty celebrates with 20% off 9 runway must-haves

Missha's also getting into the act: tonight only, buy M Signature BB Cream and get a full-sized BB Boomer (illuminating primer- think MAC Strobe Cream) for free!

There are bound to be deals cropping up all over tonight- feel free to share them in the comments! If you have special plans for FNO this year, I'd love to hear about those too!

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