Tag "cosmetics"


My last face makeup post was more than two years ago, so it’s definitely time for a new one, right? I probably should have made an effort to wear a different shirt than I did in my haircut photos, haha. I swear I own more than one shirt. More than two shirts, even.

It’s not sweltering in New York yet (it’s kind of chilly today, in fact—this has been a weird June so far, weather wise), but we all know it’s coming. Cutting my hair off was move #1, and switching to a light, simple makeup routine is always move #2 for me in preparing for summertime humidity. I cannot deal with smudgy eyeliner, any kind of foundation, or touching up a sweaty face in the summer. I just cannot. I love makeup and feel much better wearing it than not wearing it, but I don’t want to be aware that I’m wearing it. You feel me?

So, here’s what’s on my face in the photos above. (Plus some gentle Photoshopping, because if you can’t look better on the internet than you do in real life, what’s the point in having a blog?)


✚ Dr. Jart+ / Premium Beauty Balm
After a few disappointing experiences with BB creams made by American brands, a couple of years ago I figured I’d give one of the original Korean lines a shot. The difference is night and day, frankly, and I’ve been using Premium Beauty Balm ever since. In winter I do need to later another light moisturizer underneath, but the rest of the year, it’s all I need. I wouldn’t rely on it for sun protection if I expected to be at the beach all day, but since the chance of that happening is about as likely as me quitting makeup altogether, it’s almost always a win in the SPF department, too. (Yes, I do use a physical, powdered sunblock on my face in addition if I’m spending extended periods of time in the sun.) The coverage Dr. Jart+ provides can be described as sheer, but somewhat buildable. There’s no confusing it with foundation, but it’s not the same as a tinted moisturizer, either. It’s just enough to soften uneven skin tone. Personally, I’d rather spot-conceal anything it doesn’t hide than glop on another layer.

✚ Urban Decay / Anti-Aging Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I used the original formulation of this lid primer for years, and last time I ran out, I switched to the anti-aging formula. It performs just as well, but it’s gentler on my eyelid skin. I don’t think it actually has an anti-aging properties, it’s just less drying. I’ll take it! I really can’t wear eye makeup unless I use a lid primer, especially in summer.

✚ NARS / Radiant Creamy Concealer
I don’t like the way this liquid concealer performs under my eyes (too drying), but for any redness or discoloration that remains after putting on my BB cream, it is fantastic. NARS has a great color range, and theirs is one of the few lines that has a perfect match (I use vanilla) for my fair, neutral-toned skin. I pat on teeny, tiny dots with my ring finger, and it stays put for at least 12 hours without touch-ups. Impressive. Less impressive is the leaky messiness of the tube, but I solved that problem by decanting a small amount at a time—enough for a week or so—into a small plastic pot.

✚ Tarte / CC Undereye Corrector
I have no idea why I bought this, but it’s working out really well for me. I’ve fallen in and out of love with SO MANY undereye concealers over the years, and the reject pile…it is large. This is a keeper. I’ve been using it for six months now (at the rate I’m using it, I expect it to last about a year), and I have no complaints. It’s not super-full coverage, but it’s enough—and I’m starting to accept that enough is good enough when it comes to my undereye area. I really hate obvious undereye concealer or having to reapply throughout the day, so if the trade-off is a little less coverage, that’s fine. I apply this with Sephora’s Pro Airbrush Concealer Brush using a very light hand and gentle stippling motion. It does need to be set with a tiny bit of powder, but once that’s done, it’s locked in place for a full day. Good stuff.

✚ Laura Mercier / Translucent Loose Setting Powder
This is another product I’ve been coming back to for years. One jar lasts a very long time (over a year) with daily use, and it does exactly what it’s supposed to do—sets my makeup without adding any color, and without leaving a dry, powdery finish. I prefer to apply loose powder by pressing (not wiping) it in with a velour puff, but I just use the cheapies from the drugstore that come in a 2-pack and toss them when they start to look a little icky. No need to spend $12 on an LM-branded puff!

✚ NARS / Blush, Orgasm
I will never stop hating the names of NARS blushes, but this one is a classic for a reason. It gives just the right amount of shimmer, the peach tone is universally flattering, and it has great staying power. I always come back to this blush, no matter how many others I try.

✚ Urban Decay / Naked2 Eyeshadow Palette
I have mixed feelings about makeup palettes. One one hand they’re a good way to try out a lot of shades without buying a bunch of separate products, but on the other hand, what are the chances you’re actually going to use all of those shades? The Naked2 palette stands a good chance of being used up, but only because the shades it contains are, well…pretty similar to each other. I’ve had this palette for a about two years now (UD shadows last forever), and I honestly can’t really tell the difference in how different colors look on my lids. The only two I never use are the ones with a matte finish, because who wants to use matte when you can have shimmer? Not me! Next time, though, I’ll just buy four individual shades (Bootycall, Half Baked, Snakebite, and Busted) and put them in this hideous palette box together. (Why must your packaging be so ugly, Urban Decay? Sigh.)

✚ Anastasia Beverly Hills / Brow Gel
I manage to pick up a brow pencil maybe 10 times a year, and while I will concede that my brows do look better with a touch of a fill-in, it always seems like too much effort. I always use this brow gel, though. It keeps my brows looking neat but not stiff all day long. I’ve been using this gel for about a decade—highly recommended.

✚ Ardency Inn / Punker Lash Wax Mascara
I’ve already written at length about this fabulous mascara, so I’ll direct you to that post for my review rather than rehashing it all again here!

✚ Dr. PAWPAW / Tinted Ultimate Red Balm
This was an impulse buy for me at the UO register when I was buying a rug on clearance a couple of weeks ago, and I LOVE IT. I don’t usually like a lot of color on my lips unless I’m feeling fancy and it’s hot pink, but I don’t like to have my lips totally bare, either. So many sheer lip colors seem to be weirdly drying, and the ones that hydrate never have enough color. This stuff is just right. It doesn’t have any real staying power, but that’s OK with me. I apply it throughout the day like I would any lip balm, and it keeps my lips feeling really soft and hydrated, with just the right amount of reddish tint. The tube is cute, and it doesn’t leak out or get messy in my bag. Winner!


Every few years, I get it in my head that I want to grow my hair out really long. Then, after a couple of years of letting it grow, I remember that I don’t really like how I look with long hair, and I cut it all off. This has been going on since I was about 9 years old. Seriously. I don’t know why I keep thinking I’m going to love my hair when it’s long, because I never do. It’s a pain to take care of, it gets tangled and frizzy, it feels hot on my neck in the summer, and in the winter it’s a static-ridden mess.

I just am not a long hair person.

I’d had a hair appointment scheduled for a couple of months and didn’t really know what I wanted to have done, but on Monday morning I hit my breaking point. This was just WAY too much hair (for me). Also, change is good. Who wants to have the same haircut for years on end? Hair grows!

Photos from (L–R): Lula via Rubi Jones; Dia Frampton; Hello it’s Valentine

These are the photos I took with me to my haircut appointment on Monday evening. I like my bangs shorter than this, but the overall style is what I wanted. A short bob, parted on the side, with lots of layers and texture. For the past year or so I’ve been getting my hair cut (and colored) by the amazing Danielle Peters at Fox & Jane in Brooklyn, and she really nailed it. Getting 8″ of length cut off is a big deal no matter how open-minded you are when it comes to haircuts, but Danielle understands my hair type and my personal style and my grooming habits—so I trust her with my hair completely.

Speaking of grooming habits…


Fox & Jane recently started using the R+Co. line exclusively in their salons, and as a packaging design enthusiast, I cannot stop ogling all of these tubes and bottles. I inclination is to always choose styling products based on how they’ll look in my bathroom (heh), but Danielle steered me toward four products from the line that will help give my hair the beachy, textured, messy look that I like. In order of application: Dallas thickening spray, Chiffon styling mousse, Jackpot styling creme, and Death Valley dry shampoo. That might seem like a lot of stuff to be putting in my hair, but I’m a product-lover. My hair is also pretty fine and fluffy, and it needs a boost in order to look like it has substance. I’ve tried going days on end without washing in order to get that effect naturally, but unwashed hair and I just don’t work together. New York City can be gross, so I want to wash New York City off of my head at least 4 or 5 times a week. My hair is in relatively good condition, so I’m not worried about it being too much. For me, dry shampoo is more about getting texture and thickness than it is putting off shampooing.

See that curling iron? That’s an optional item, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of it! I have a Hot Tools 1-inch barrel iron, purchased after taking note of what Danielle uses in the salon. On most days I just blow-dry my bangs and let the rest dry naturally, but if I want a little extra wave, I can throw in a few curls here and there. Danielle showed me the trick: Alternate directions (under/over) as you work your way around your head, only curl the top layer, and let the ends hang out of the clamp so they stay straight. That’s it!

p.s. While looking through my “haircuts” tag, I just noticed how similar this cut is to one I had in 2008. A little looser, though, which I think flatters my (fuller/aging) face a bit better. Also, allow me to quote myself from 7 years ago: “I don’t think I am a long-hair person, though I keep trying it out every few years.” HAH! HAH! I am such a broken record.


There’s a giant photo of my head on my blog. Bye-bye, comfort zone!

I didn’t start wearing brightly-colored lipstick until I was in my mid-30s. I was into deep reds in my teens and early 20s, and then I pretty much just moved on to sheer, pinky-natural glosses. The lipstick that brought me around was hot-orange MAC Lady Danger, which I wrote about in 2010. And for about four years, that was the only color I wore when I wasn’t opting for a gloss. (By the way, I’m still on my first tube—that’s how slowly I go through lipstick. Please don’t tell me it’s expired and that my lips are probably coated with invisible fungus. I don’t want to know!)

Late last summer, I started to branch out…but just a little. After seeing Jenna wearing a beautiful shade of hot pink lipstick, I went for it: I picked up a tube of NARS Funny Face, and suddenly I had TWO brightly-colored lipsticks that I feel good in! I’m kind of shocked that it works with my skin color, since cool-toned makeup is usually Bad City on me.

I really like the texture of NARS lipstick. It doesn’t wear quite as long as MAC’s matte formula, but it’s a little kinder and less drying to my lips. It’s also a bit more forgiving during the application process. When I run out of my MAC Lady Danger, I may try NARS Heat Wave for the sake of the formula since it’s a very similar shade.

I still only wear real lipstick once or twice a week, but it’s fun to have two to choose from. I don’t feel like I’m wearing a costume, I just feel…fancy. I guess that’s the lipstick look that’ll define my late 30s. (Hey, I still have a few more months before I have to say “my early 40s.”)

Oh, and in case you’re curious, here’s a list of the rest of what’s on and around my head today:
✚ Lipstick: NARS Funny Face
✚ Mascara: Ardency Inn (I wrote a review of this magical stuff a while back.)
✚ Dress: H&M (Looks like they don’t have this exact print anymore, unfortunately.)
✚ Black earrings: & Other Stories
✚ Gold earrings: Madewell
✚ Necklace: Madewell (Oh hey, it’s on sale! You can see much of it in my photo, but I love this necklace. I wear it almost every day.)

p.s. Semi-related, since this is the “vanity” category: This interview with Fran Lebowitz in Elle is so fantastic. I adore Fran.

(Giant photo of my head by John Vairo Jr.)


A couple of months ago, the nice people at Herbivore Botanicals contacted me asking if they could send me one of their soon-to-launched facial oils to try out. Uh…YES, that would be just fine. I fell in love with Herbivore’s products earlier this year when I bought their Coconut Bath Soak, which got me addicted to taking relaxation baths on a regular basis. Since then, I’ve ordered a number of other products from them, and all have been wonderful. Evan is a devotee of their Mens Face Elixer, and is currently on his third bottle (!).

My bottle of Orchid Facial Oil arrived on November 12 (about 5 ½ weeks ago), and I’ve been using nightly it ever since. My friends, this stuff is heaven.

My skin has not looked this good since…I don’t know, since I was a child? I’m not kidding. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve spent a long time trying to find a combination of products that works well for my sensitive, dry, adult acne-prone, and generally cranky skin, and while the prescription medications I use (Retin-A Micro and Aczone) have gone a long way toward keeping breakouts at bay and reducing clogged pores, I’ve still had issues with texture, discoloration, and dryness. I’ve had good results from Huile Prodigieuse and Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Complex, so I wasn’t actively looking for anything else, but I am so glad that this stuff made its way into my life. I had no idea my skin was capable of improving so drastically, and in a relatively short period of time.

And, of course, the packaging is gorgeous. The square bottle is heavy and solid, and feels noticeably more luxe than their other products. It looks great on display in the bathroom, and yeah, that matters to me.

Herbivore’s full line of facial oils includes three different blends: Orchid (youth preserving/normal skin), Phoenix (cell regenerating/mature or sensitive skin), and Lapis (oil balancing/combination skin). I didn’t choose with variety to try, but Orchid seems to be the exact right choice for me. The directions say to use it twice daily, but I’ve only been using it at night—as nicely as it absorbs into my skin, I haven’t yet done a test drive to see if it would play well with my face makeup during the day. I apply it immediately after washing my face, before the Retin-A and Aczone. It provides a really nice buffering layer, preventing dryness while still allowing the medications to do their jobs. My skin feels so unbelievably soft and looks clear and luminous. I’m happy.

Since I was sent my bottle at no cost, I wasn’t sure of the price until I started writing this post. Turns out it’s a bit spendy—$80 for 1.7oz. Judging by how much I’ve used in 5 ½ weeks, though (I took the photo above about an hour ago), I estimate this bottle will last me the better part of a year. Taking that into account, it’s not so bad…and I will definitely be purchasing a second bottle when the time comes.

Oh, and! There are also miniature-sized, roller ball versions of Herbivore’s facial oils available—both singly and as a set with the larger bottle. Perfect if you want to do a trial run, or if you’re traveling and don’t want to deal with packing a large glass bottle of oil in your carry-on. So smart.

Disclaimer: Herbivore Botanicals sent me this product at no cost, but they did not ask for anything in return. This review was written entirely out of my own enthusiasm and remarkably positive experience with said product. Thumbs up.


For much of my adolescence, I lived in a house without a shower. The house was built in 1820, and when indoor plumbing was added, a bathroom was built on the second floor. It had a toilet, a chrome-legged sink, and a cast iron pedestal tub. My mother, two of of my sisters and I took turns taking baths every morning. The tub didn’t have a spray handle, so we kept a big plastic cup next to the tub for rinsing shampoo out of our hair with clean water. I’m not going to romanticize things: It sucked. It made getting ready in the mornings a huge hassle, and it sucked. I loved staying over at friends’ houses so I could take a real SHOWER. (And also so I could eat microwave popcorn and watch cable TV.)

When I was 16 or so, we got one of those shower enclosure conversion things, and life immediately got better. Showers! Every! Day! So! Clean! And do you think I ever took a bath in that house again? HELL NO.

Anyway, that was in 1991. Fast forward 17 years to 2008, when we were renovating the downstairs bathroom. Taking that shower out of commission meant that we were limited to taking baths in the upstairs bathroom for however many months (six…) it took us to finish the renovation. Fortunately we do have a hand-held sprayer so no plastic rinsing cups were necessary, but let me tell you…taking daily baths as part of regular grooming and personal upkeep is one thing, but bathing after a long day of demolition and sweaty, dirty renovation work is quite another. One bath to get the grime off, another bath to get the dirty water off, and then a cleaning session to get the haze of grime off of the tub. There was no lazing about in mounds of bubbles while listening to Mets games on the radio with the window open. No, none of that. All business, no pleasure.

So, naturally, once the downstairs bathroom renovation was complete and the shower was back in order, I quit baths like a bad habit. Until last month, I think I’d taken a grand total of maybe five baths in the past five years. How pathetic is that? We put all of this hard work into renovating the bathroom and spent a bunch of money having the clawfoot tub refinished, and I’m not even taking baths in it?!?!

Well, that’s all changing now, and you know what the incentive was? No, not a desire for relaxation, but packaging. Beautiful, minimal packaging from Herbivore Botanicals, who I first discovered via their Etsy shop. Seattle-based Julia and Alex started Herbivore Botanicals three years ago, and everything in the line is totally vegan and completely natural. Now, I don’t want to stereotype too much here, but as someone who is increasingly doing a lot of shopping in health food stores’ cosmetics aisles, I can tell you that “vegan” and “natural” are not usually words that I associate with incredible packaging design. And that stuff matters—it matters to me as someone who cares about design, and it matters when it comes to the perception of animal-friendly and natural products as being part of the world of luxury skin care.


Let’s talk about that Coconut Milk Bath Soak. It’s amazing. It doesn’t make bubbles or anything like that, it really is a soak. It has the most gentle, calming coconut/vanilla scent imaginable—not like one of those gross, chemical-y “birthday cake”-scented bubble baths. It doesn’t make the tub (or you) weird colors. After getting out of the tub, my skin feels so super-soft…not coated or oily, just soft and fresh. There is a subtle fragrance that lingers, but it’s nothing that would interfere with another perfume (if you’re into stuff like that). The Coconut Milk Bath Soak has turned me into a bath devotee. I am committed to taking baths in the evenings on weekends now!

I bought a couple of other products at the same time as the bath soak—Vetiver Cardamom Luminous Body Oil for me, and Men’s Face Elixir for Evan. We love them both! I use the body oil almost every day now, right after I get out of the shower (or bath). It’s much more viscous than body oils I’ve used in the past, so I do need to apply it while my skin is still warm. It’s done an incredible job of keeping my legs from turning into crocodile skin this winter. The cardamom vetiver scent does linger for a while, but it’s exactly the kind of warm fragrance I love when it’s cold out. When the weather gets warmer, I’ll probably switch to the Neroli Blossom version. Evan really likes the Face Elixir! He uses it every night, and was able to give up the very unnatural nighttime moisturizer he’d been using previously.

I have to admit that after having struggled for so many years to find a facial skin care routine that really works for me I am hesitant to change anything about it. I don’t think I can walk away from my prescription medications without my skin freaking out (the emotional distress of adult acne is something I’ve discussed before, I won’t get into it again now…), but I am going to try to phase out the other products—and phase in more natural, animal-friendly ones. I’m going to start by ordering the Pink Clay Soap and see how it goes. My skin is far too dry and delicate for anything like the Bamboo Charcoal.

How about you? Are there any natural, vegan, non-irritating face washes you’d like to recommend I try? Preferably ones that work well with a Clarisonic (not all cleansers do)—and bonus points if the packaging is nice. Of course.


Something big has happened: I found a new mascara to love. Considering the last time I felt a mascara was worthy of blogging about (Max Factor Volume Couture, now discontinued) was a full five years ago, this is a real cause for excitement! Five years of reading reviews, buying tube after tube with the hope of finding just the right formula, only to be disappointed time and time again. I’ve been settling, something you should never do where eyelashes are concerned. And so, without further delay, I present to you…

Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (a.k.a. “mascara”)

I first saw Ardency Inn (founded by Gilles Kortzagadarian and Stephane Siboni and promoted by James Vincent) mentioned in the New York Times Style Magazine last spring. The packaging caught my eye, but the products weren’t widely available at the time and the name slipped from my mind. Then last month I was poking around the Sephora site trying to figure out how to update my email address, and there it was! Ardency Inn! Such an unusual name, no wonder I forgot it.

Bad news first, good news last. Right? OK…

✚ For now at least, the Ardency Inn line is only available in-store at select Sephora locations (and online, of course), so if you run out and need a fresh tube, you’ll need to plan accordingly.
✚ As much as I like their logo, that distressed stencil typeface (not to mention the word “Punker”) is causing me small degree of emotional pain. I try to only look at the other, less offensive side of the tube when I’m applying it. That helps considerably.
✚ $24 is a lot to spend on mascara. But hey, it’s still a buck less than Diorshow!

✚ The entire Ardency Inn line is cruelty-free, as are their suppliers.
✚ The tube is chubby and easy to hold.
✚ After so many years of using mascara with now-commonplace silicone brushes, it initially felt strange to go back to a classic curved bristle style. The shape of the wand is perfect, though, and I find that as long as I let the curves of the brush follow the curve of my lash line, it’s very easy to hit even the tiniest hair without also getting mascara globs on my skin.
✚ There is absolutely NO flaking or fallout whatsoever, even after 14+ hours of wear. I also am not seeing any transfer to my eyelids, which has always been an issue for me with mascara.
✚ IT HOLDS A CURL!!! My number-one complaint with mascaras is that they go on too “wet,” and as a result I wind up losing all of the curl and having droopy lashes. That’s not the case here! I’ve actually found that it seems to add curl even if I skip the lash curler (which really only happens if I’m out of silicone pads).
✚ The formula dries really nicely, leaving my lashes feeling soft, not hard or brittle.
✚ I get really good volume and clump-free separation without having to use a lash comb.
✚ No allergic reaction!
✚ I can apply multiple coats if I want to, but one coat actually seems to be enough.
✚ The removal process is pain/tug-free: I don’t need an oil-based remover, it comes off completely with my nightly face wash. Less lash loss and less undereye trauma, hooray!
✚ My eyelashes look like JAZZ HANDS crossed with a house centipede! In other words, perfection.

So there you have it! Ardency Inn Punker Unrivaled Volume & Curl Lash Wax (such a mouthful…), my mascara dream come true. I’m also trying out a few other Ardency Inn products right now (Ultra Lightweight Skin Perfecting Primer, Custom Coverage Concentrate and Smooth Ride Supercharged Eyeliner), but I need more time with them to decide if they’re life-changing. I’ll let you know!

HELLO THERE! I just got back from a trip to San Francisco (more about that in my next post!), and while I was there, I became weirdly self-conscious about how my makeup was stored. Even though I don’t do a lot of long-distance traveling, I am constantly making trips back and forth between our house in Newburgh and our apartment in Brooklyn. I guess it would make sense to buy two of everything and not have to take anything with me, but realistically that’s not going to happen — cosmetics are expensive, and I’m super-fickle about which products I like to use on a daily basis…not to mention the life-span of products once they’ve been opened. Two coffee makers? Yes. Two tubes of $32 mascara? Not so much. As a result, I wind up throwing everything in various drawers and boxes when I’m at the apartment, and living out of Ziploc freezer bags when I’m traveling or at the house. Not cute. And much as I like the idea of keeping all of my stuff in clear lucite boxes like Nubby Twiglet, I know I’m just not tidy enough to keep everything looking pristine all the time. (Also, not everything I like to use comes in pretty packaging. Alas.)

Nomess Copenhagen Balsabox

Nomess Copenhagen / Balsabox Personal
Earlier today I came across this cool neon pink and balsa wood storage box by the Danish company Nomess Copenhagen, and it immediately went on my wishlist. It’s actually made up of three boxes, two of which nest inside the largest one. The lid lifts off completely and becomes a standing mirror! Such a great design. It’s not good for traveling, but it’s simple enough to toss stuff in without having to worry about fitting everything into tiny, specialized compartments (I’ve never been able to make those fancy professional train cases work for me). I still need to measure to see if it can fit on the shelves in my bathroom, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be perfect.

Coriumi pouch

Coriumi / Geometric Pattern Pouch
I own another, smaller pouch from the Lithuanian brand Coriumi, and I keep it in my bag at all times to hold tissues, sunglasses, a comb, band-aids and all of the other stuff that would otherwise be floating around loose and getting lost/dirty. It’s really nicely made. I’d like to add this one to my collection to stash all of my makeup when I’m in transit. It’s big enough to hold everything I need without being stuffed to the gills — it’s basically the size of a big Ziploc. Aaaaaaand it doubles as a very pretty fold-over clutch! I usually transport my makeup brushes by rolling them up in a paper towel, which would be easy to nestle at the bottom of the pouch.

IKEA Pallra box

IKEA / Pallra Box + Pokal Tumbler
IKEA has been nailing it lately with their small storage boxes (let us not forget the best box) and this happy yellow round guy is no exception. I haven’t seen the Pallra box in person yet so I’m not sure if the levels are fully separate or if there’s a swivel-hinge on one side (update: no hinges!), but I like that it’s not just one big open space. It’s only $10 and the yellow covering is paper fabric, so it really lends itself to being decorated (I’m picturing potato-stamped white triangles). Round boxes aren’t great for storing brushes, but how cute would that yellow box look paired with this pale pink stoneware cup? Yup.

Speaking of makeup storage and that kind of stuff, someone asked me how I care for my brushes. Nothing to it, really! Once a week or so, I wash them in tepid water and Dr. Bronner’s mild/baby liquid castile soap. I press out most of the water with a dry washcloth, then leave them flat to dry completely overnight — near an open window if possible. I’ve had some of my brushes for more than a decade now, so it must be working out!

OK, now tell me how you store your makeup so I can feel inadequate and disorganized.

Summerland giveaway

I’m sure I’m not speaking just for myself here when I ask why spring has been sooooo sloooooow to start this year! A couple of days ago I was bundled up in a winter coat in near-freezing temperatures, and today the thermometer is hovering just below 80°F. New York City is gorgeous in the springtime, but it never lasts long enough — before you know it, we’ll all be complaining about how hot it is.

In celebration of these precious few weeks of beautiful weather, though, I thought it might be nice to do a giveaway from one of my favorite Portland-based boutiques — and one of D16’s earliest sponsors! — Summerland. One lucky person will win a $100 gift certificate to spend on anything in the shop!

Here’s how to enter:
Visit Summerland and pick out a few of your favorite things.
Leave a comment here letting me know what they are!

Here’s how to get two extra entries:
Like Summerland and Door Sixteen on Facebook.*
Follow Summerland and Door Sixteen on Instagram.*

* If you already liked/followed either of us, that’s fine. Just let me know in your comment so I can count your extra entries!

The deadline for entries is April 16th at 11:00 PM, EST. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. I’ll announce the winner here and on Twitter tomorrow. The winner will also be notified by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

UPDATE: The winner of the Summerland giveaway is Shawnna! Congratulations, Shawnna.

Small print: This giveaway is open to international entries, but Summerland is not responsible for customs fees and duties if they should occur.

Bonus discount!
Summerland is offering a 10% discount for ALL Door Sixteen readers between now and the end of the giveaway (April 16th at 11:00 PM, EST). Use the code DOORSIXTEEN at checkout!


My favorites! Clockwise-ish, from top left:
Mila dress, Eskell / Number One sunglasses in Vanilla Wood, Karen Walker / Dark Wave fragrance oil, OLO (I wear this every day!) / Girls Just Wanna Have Fun nail polish, Deborah Lippmamm / Blixen boots, Wolverine x Samantha Pleet / “Everyday Is Like Sunday” banner, Banter Banner / Pink Cross bow tie, Twenty-Seven Names / Rose + Vanilla tinted lip blush, Fig + Yarrow

It’s been a while since I wrote about my daily cosmetics routine, and now that I have my skin under control (or at least as much as it’s ever going to be), I feel like it’s much less of a struggle to figure out what products I like and what I don’t. I doubt I’ll ever be the kind of person who goes out bare-faced (I don’t even stay in bare-faced), but I also don’t like to look really made-up…at least not when it comes to my skin. I save the color/drama for my eyes and lips, and I’ll get into those products in another post. This is really just about what works to make my overall complexion look a little brighter and fresher.

daily face

Presented in order of application…

1. Too Faced / Tinted Beauty Balm (Vanilla Glow)
Judging by the reviews I’ve read, this is one of those products that people either love or hate, and I think it all comes down to expectation. Here’s what it’s not: A true beauty balm or a foundation. Here’s what it is: A very sheer tinted moisturizer containing broad-spectrum SPF and miniscule light-reflecting particles. If you want a full-coverage foundation, this is not the product for you. I used Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer for years, and while I still think it’s a great product, I found myself wanting something even lighter weight. This Too Faced cream is perfect. It evens out my complexion while still letting my skin show, and the color it provides is very forgiving. My skin tone is very difficult to match, but this goes on imperceptibly. I apply it with my fingers.

2. Make Up For Ever / Lift Concealer (Pink Beige 1)
I recently ran out of my holy grail undereye concealer, Bobbi Brown’s Creamy Concealer Kit (which I previously reviewed at length), and since I’ve been making an effort to use up leftover products I already own before buying anything new, I pulled out this tube of MUFE concealer to give it a go. I can’t remember why I’d rejected it initially, but now I love it. The key is to pat it on under your eyes very lightly with your ring finger — I find that works much better than using a brush, which tends to move the product around too much. I also use it to cover up any minor blemishes and dark areas around my nose.

3. Urban Decay / Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Original)
Yeah, everyone uses this stuff, including me. It’s great. I’ve always had a problem with eyeshadow sliding around and creasing in the past, and this primer does an excellent job of keeping lid oils at bay and helping my eye makeup stay put all day long. I can’t put it under my lower lash line so I still get some little smudges there from my mascara, but that’s really not a huge deal. I highly recommend this stuff if you have problems with your eye makeup wearing off or looking cruddy after a few hours!

4. the Balm Stainiac / Tinted Gel Blush (Prom Queen)
I bought this with the intention of using it as a lip stain, but the color didn’t work well for me. Rather than toss it I tried dabbing a bit on the apples of my cheeks. Perfect! It doesn’t give a deep stain or anything, just a little bit of a flush. I like to layer a light stain under my powder blush — that helps the pinkyness last all day.

5. Too Faced / Primed & Poreless Powder (Translucent)
This is the best face powder I’ve ever tried! I has NO color whatsoever and provides no coverage, but it does an amaaaaaaazing job of keeping other makeup in place and of stopping any oiliness without drying out my skin or accentuating tiny flakes. I use a small brush to apply it in under my eyes (no creasing or crepe-y skin!) and around my nose, and a big fluffy brush to dust it lightly all over my face. The package says you can also use it under your makeup as a primer, but I’ve never tried that. I find that a very light layer on top of everything is enough, and I don’t have to touch it up unless I’m going out at night. The finish is silky-smooth and very, very natural-looking.

6. NARS / Blush (Deep Throat)
Oh, NARS and your stupid color names…sigh. I used Orgasm for years, but switched to Deep Throat on a whim last time I needed a refill. It’s very similar, but with less sparkle and a tone that leans just slightly more pink than coral. NARS blushes are all very highly-pigmented and long-lasting, so you do need to use a light hand. I lightly swipe my blush brush in the pan, tap off the excess on my back of my hand, and ever so gently stipple it onto my cheeks. Very natural, very pretty.

Does that sound like a lot of stuff? I guess it does, but it doesn’t seem like it when I’m putting it all on! After all of this comes eye makeup and lips, so there’s still more to come. Stay tuned!

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long, long time now. Skin—and, more specifically, adult acne—is something I’ve touched on briefly here and on my old blog, but never really in depth. It’s such a sensitive, personal subject, and it’s hard to talk about. The skin on our faces is so intimate, but we show it to the world every day. I’m constantly trying to reconcile that fact.

I don’t like having my photo taken. I’m OK taking my own photo (which is why most pictures of me also contain a camera and are in reverse), but the second someone else aims a camera at me I feel extremely anxious. I imagine the photographer at home, hours later, zooming in on my skin and discovering all of the many things that are wrong with it. It feels naked; it feels bad. When I take a photo of myself, though, it’s more about the act of taking the picture than it is an examination of my face. It’s safe, and if it looks bad, I can delete it and no one else ever has to know.

It really all comes down to skin. Forget the shape of my nose or the color of my eyes or anything at all about my face, because the only thing I’m seeing when I look in the mirror is whether my skin is flaky or red or if I have a pimple or two or seven. The condition of my skin plays a huge role in defining my confidence, my overall mood and even my productivity on any given day. My rational mind tells me this is ridiculous, but my irrational mind has used personal days to stay home from work because of breakouts. So.

My skin was fine when I was teenager, OK in my early 20s…and then it just got progressively worse. I never used to wear foundation, but my the time I was in my early 30s it was a daily operation. Ridiculous amounts of time spent every morning dotting on teensy amounts of concealer over red marks with a tiny brush, all so no one would have to know my terrible secret. It’s hard to explain this stuff with anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to deal with adult acne, so if you fall into that camp, please try to cut those of us who have some slack. To be 37 years old and battling breakouts and wrinkles at the same time sucks. It makes you feel like you’re perpetually trapped in a delayed adolescence while simultaneously running out of the years when you’re supposed to look your best. It’s embarrassing. It makes you feel inept and unprofessional and dirty. And you will try anything to make it all better.

So here’s where I’m at right now, and I can say this with confidence: My skin has never looked better. Well, maybe it looked better when I was 15, but this is as good as it’s been in the 22 years since. Every now and then I have a minor breakout, but it’s generally just one small blemish that goes away pretty quickly and doesn’t make my life too horrible while it’s around.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Neutrogena Fresh Foaming Cleanser
This is the least-glamorous face wash I’ve used in my adult life, and I admit I was really skeptical when my dermatologist recommended it to me. I like to use things in pretty packages that are only sold at tiny drugstores or fancy department stores. Again, I know it’s ridiculous, but I’m biased against a cleanser that’s available everywhere for $5. But yeah, my dermatologist was right, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever washed my face with. I actually use it twice at night: Once to do a quick makeup removal, and then again right after to deep-cleanse with my Clarisonic. Speaking of my Clarisonic…

2. Clarisonic Mia
I LOVE MY CLARISONIC. So much. I’ve had it for a couple of years now (it was a Hanukkah present from Daniel, who understands my quest for pore perfection), and we’ve been on a journey together. At first I loved it, and then I hated it, and then I really wanted to like it again, and now I love it and can’t imagine being without it. The trick is finding the right cleanser to use it with. There’s a lot of debate over whether it’s better to use it with a foaming or non-foaming face wash, and I really think it comes down to your skin type. For me, a gentle, foaming, soap-free cleanser works best. I use it every single night.

A couple of notes: I use the replacement brushes made for delicate skin. I can’t see why the new Mia 2 is worth the extra money, so my recommendation is to just go with the original Mia. It’s the cheapest model Clarisonic sells, and it does everything you need it to. I don’t know anything about the cheaper facial brushes that Olay and Neutrogena make, so I can’t advise you there—but I can say that my dermatologist was adamant that I only use a genuine Clarisonic. I already owned one, so fine by me!

✚ EDIT: Reader Tallin commented that is having a 20% off sale right now that includes the whole Clarisonic line.

3. Ziana Gel
I realize this might be a controversial inclusion since it’s a prescription product that combines a topical antibiotic (clindamycin) with a retinoid (tretinoin), and I hesitated to mention it at all. I’m not big on using antibiotics, and I was initially hesitant to start applying them to my face. I’ve also had bad experiences with prescription retinoids in the past. I think I just got to a point of desperation, though—I weighed my emotional well-being against the potential risks, and I decided to fill the prescription.

Ziana has been amazing. Aside from inflamed blemishes, I’m really prone to clogged pores and closed comedones. After using Ziana (just a tiny, pea-sized amount over my entire face at night) for a week, the improvement in my skin’s texture and clarity was noticeable. After three months, my face was completely clear—and I mean completely. I’ve been using Ziana for a total of six months now, and my skin just looks so much brighter and smoother and healthier. Some of the reviews I read complained of redness and drying, but I didn’t experience any of that. Maybe they were using too much or not using a moisturizer? I don’t know, I can just tell you that it’s been wonderful for my skin.

4. Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado
I first wrote about this eye cream four years ago, and I’m still using it now. I usually only put it on at night since it’s a bit too emollient to wear under makeup, but it’s hydrating enough that the effects last even during the day. I’m careful when I wash my face in the morning to not get cleanser around my eyes, though, so maybe it’s just residual amounts that are doing the trick? Whatever it is, I love this stuff. No, it doesn’t cure me of my undereye circles, but it does keep the skin around my eyes soft and dewy-looking, and that’s good enough for me.

5. Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse
I wrote an entire blog post about how much I love this stuff a couple of months ago, so I won’t dwell on it again too long now. The love affair is still going strong! Much like my Clarisonic, this is something I can’t imagine ever not having as part of my skin care routine. I’m forever thankful to Ilenia for recommending it to me! No more dry patches, no more irritation…just soft, happy skin.

So that’s about the size of it. I do also use a sunscreen daily, of course (a spray from Paula’s Choice that was just discontinued, much to my chagrin), as well as Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant when I feel like I need exfoliation, and Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle Peel Pads if my skin seems dull at all. Nothing else—and yes, that means that my formerly-beloved Mario Badescu is no longer in my life. I have a much simpler routine now, and it’s all come down to finding the right products for me.

I still feel a bit hesitant to publish this post since I know very well that skin is an incredibly personal thing and that everyone will react differently to various products, but I also understand how reassuring it can be to know that someone else is dealing with the same issues. I may not be jumping in front of cameras anytime soon and I still have no plans to ever leave the house without makeup, but at least I can look at my face now and not just see the state of my skin—and when I do, I’m mostly OK with it. Happy, even.