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Beauty Wednesday: Serums, Sunscreen, and Retinoids

aging skincare tips serums sunscreens retinoidsLadies, what is your skin routine? At what age did you get serious about skincare? What are your favorite products, both over-the-counter and prescription, whether for anti-aging, anti-wrinkles, exfoliating, or something else? I’ve seen a lot of readers talking recently about serums, sunscreens, retinoids and more, so let’s discuss. I’m curious to hear what everyone else is doing, what products you like, and if you have any tips/tricks for applying — but here’s my own story:

After years of using only organic options while pregnant/nursing (based on something my first OB/GYN said to me), I was eager to get “the good stuff” when I finally had my body back to myself. As I often do, I turned to the commenting threads for advice and found an older thread where a reader had said that for a woman in her 30s, the main things you need are Vitamin C, sunscreen, and a retinoid. I liked the simplicity of this statement, as well as the chorus of agreement from other readers. I already had an organic, nursing-approved Vitamin C serum and have been using sunscreen daily since my teenage lifeguard years, so I thought, OK, to the dermatologist I go for a retinoid. (Just a quick science/vocab lesson, at least as I understand things: Retinol and retinoids are both Vitamin A. Retinols are available in over the counter (OTC) products; retinoids are available in prescriptions only. Retin-A is the brand name for one of the retinoids you can get.)

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Beauty Wednesday: 5 Multipurpose Makeup Items to Keep at Your Desk

Multipurpose Makeup | Corporette For those necessary makeup fixes and touch-ups at work, you can avoid keeping a whole Sephora store in your desk drawer by having one or two of these multipurpose makeup items on hand. We’ve rounded up five beauty products with two, three, or more uses — do you have any to add to the list?

  1. NARS ‘The Multiple’ Stick: You can use the cream-to-powder Multiple Stick for eyes, cheeks, and lips — for color, contouring, highlights, and more. It’s highly reviewed at Sephora — 4.4 out of 5 stars with more than 2,000 (!) reviews — and customers say it’s easy to apply and looks natural. It’s available in 10-12 shades (which I would list here if they were a bit more self-explanatory — Puerto Vallarta, anyone?) for $39 at Nordstrom and Sephora.
  2. Ilia Multi Stick: This handy makeup stick works well on your lips, cheeks, and eyes — it gives a sheer, natural look, and it’s easy to blend. Ilia Multi Sticks contain 100% natural dye as well as Vitamin E and shea butter. They’re available at Net-a-Porter in four colors for $34 with free 3-day shipping (and directly from Ilia Beauty in six colors; shipping is $5.95).
  3. Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Color Balm: While this fragrance-free product is meant for lips, it’s also a good bet for eyes and cheeks — and it never needs sharpening. (Here’s a how-to video if you’re looking for tips.) The Chubby Stick rates a 4.4 out of 5 from 2,000+ (!) reviews and was recently named to Allure’s “Best of Beauty” list. It’s available at Sephora in 16 sheer shades, from warm beige to berry pink to plum brown, for $17.
  4. Stila Convertible Color: Use this versatile product for sheer color on both lips and cheeks — it’s garnered a 4.4 out of 5 at Sephora from about 1,000 reviews, and reviewers say the product has a creamy texture that lends a natural look. It’s available at Sephora (six shades) and Nordstrom (nine shades) for $25.
  5. Vaseline: Yes, don’t forget the humble petroleum jelly! Use it as a lip balm (either right from a jar or by using Lip Therapy Advanced Healing) or as a primer under lipstick, tame your brows, highlight your cheekbones, moisturize dry cuticles, define your lashes if you’re going sans mascara, and more. Pick it up at your local grocery store, or at Amazon for $3 for 2.5 oz.

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Naked Nails, Nail Care… and Polish

naked-nails-professionalCan naked nails be a polished look?  Are unpolished, unmanicured nails unprofessional?  Reader A has an important question:

I have a reader question that I’d like advice on. I’m about to start my first job out of law school and would love to have a very low-maintenance nail routine (no color polish) that I can do at home. Mostly, I have terrible cuticles and I’d like to have a more polished appearance, but my job is not flexible about leaving during working hours and I’d rather spend my weekends with my kid. Manicures seem like a waste if I’m avoiding color polish. Can you or readers advise? Should I be trying to fit in weekly/monthly manicures as a requirement of working?

This one speaks to me as I also hate spending time on manicures — so I’m curious to hear what readers say here. As I’ve discussed before, there was about a month of my life (maaaaybe 6 weeks) right after I got engaged that I went for manicures weekly. Then: it got old. I don’t particularly enjoy them, I get bored if I can’t be reading during it (like one can with pedicures), and with the recent NYT exposé on nail salons I’ve just skipped the entire routine this summer. I have, in the past, advised readers to get a simple manicure (with clear or light pink or beige polish) for job interviews and possibly the first week of the job, on the assumption that you’re shaking a lot of people’s hands and you want to look as polished as possible.

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Beauty Wednesday: Makeup Combinations

Makeup CombinationsHere’s what may be an odd question for you: Which are your favorite makeup products to combine? On the flip side — which are your favorite makeup products that are great by themselves?

For my own $.02: in the past I’ve layered applications of two different kinds of mascara (because I liked one for coverage and another for separation or staying power of a tube mascara like Blinc), I’ve layered multiple kinds of lip products (my new favorite is using MAC’s lip primer, using a MAC lip liner on my entire lips, and then sealing with a top coat of YSL’s Glossy Stain in the one of the Rebel Nude shades), and of course different kinds of cheek products (some days I use bronzer, blush, and highlighter). When I’m using pencil liner I also tend to layer a dark eye shadow on top of it with a smudge brush, both to make my eyes a bit smokier and to help the liner stay put.

In terms of products that are great on their own, I just got a new stick of Clinique’s Chubby Sticks (in Graped-Up), and love it by itself — no lipliner, gloss, primer, or anything else needed (pictured above; available for $17 at Nordstrom). It’s actually hard to think of another product that is great by itself, with no help needed from another product… hmmmn…

Readers, what are your thoughts? Which are your favorite products to combine — and which are your favorite to wear by themselves?
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Beauty Wednesday: 12 Easy Updos for the Office

easy office updosMaybe it’s just me, but summertime frequently means bun time. My hair is almost always up, either because it’s more comfortable when it’s hot out, because my hair is frizzy, or just because it’s the easiest way to get my hair to look neat and tidy. So: for today’s Beauty Wednesday I thought I’d round up a few easy updos for work — you don’t have to master all of them, but hopefully one or two of them will appeal to you and will suit your hair.

Office-Appropriate Buns (and Variations)

Jean at ExtraPetite had a great tutorial a while ago about how to get a “voluminous puffy bun” if you feel like your head shape isn’t quite right for updos. (We’ve talked before about the sock bun, as well as the trick to making an updo more comfortable.)

voluminous puffy bun

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Beauty Wednesday: Summer Makeup

summer-makeupLadies, how do you change up your summer makeup? We haven’t talked about this for a few years, (not counting my epic review of tinted lip balm last year), so let’s discuss.  Any new products that are must-haves for you for summer?  Any old products that have “still got it”?  Which are your preferred products for summer? How do you factor sunscreen into the mix (if at all)?

For my $.02, I’ve retired bronzer (see you next November/December, old friend!) and have primarily been using Nars the Multiple for cheeks and eyes at the moment.  (I briefly tried Benetint again, which I’ve used for years, but it just isn’t doing it for me right now.) I think I’m going to try to get into daily use for my Bare Minerals foundation — it has a physical sunblock and evens my skin, so yay.  But I’m excited to hear from you guys — what is your favorite makeup for summer? 

Pictured:  bareMinerals 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Original Foundation Kit (awww, 20 years!), available at Sephora for $38. 

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