Bits and Bobs

I did quite a bit of shopping last week, between Sephora, the drugstore, and even the health foods store, so it's time for a catch-up post!

I had a sample size of the AmorePacific Enzyme Peel on my bathroom shelf for ages, but I didn't want to use it. This is one of those powder products that you have to mix with water to form a paste, and I was convinced it was going to be too messy. When I finally tried it, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is. I just pour a little water in the palm of one hand, sprinkle some of the powder into it, then rub both hands together and onto my face as the paste forms. It's effective and gentle - my skin really glows once I'm done scrubbing, but I've never seen any redness or irritation. I got the full size ($60 for 2.5 oz.) and now it's the first step in my routine every morning.

Buxom is always coming out with cool new lip stuff. This weekend I picked up their PowerPlump Lip Balm in Flushed (a cool berry color). Flushed is a pretty color, a little more opaque than I would have expected from a lip balm. It was moisturizing and comfortable to wear, but I didn't feel any plumping action. I wore it out on a date with the boyfriend last night - it needed to be re-applied after dinner, of course, but otherwise it left me with a comfortable rosy lip all night.

(I was also considering one of the Buxom Holographic Full-On Plumping Top Coats but I couldn't decide on a color! They're all gorgeous, but definitely not practical for everyday wear.)

Hourglass Vanish Seamless Finish Foundation Stick: I had a hard time believing that a stick foundation could look natural - I'm old enough to remember the days when Max Factor stick foundation was still sold in drugstores, and it was as thick and unnatural-looking as you would expect stage makeup to be. However, I've been seeing so many raves about what a natural finish this has, I had to give it a try. As you can see, it comes out thick, but when it's blended across the back of my hand it does look very natural. I think the secret is buffing with a brush. Hourglass does sell a brush to accompany the foundation, but imho it's overpriced and the bristles are much too soft. I've been getting the best results with my Shiseido foundation brush. The shade I got (Cream, very fair with a cool undertone) is just a little too light, though. I might go back for a stick in the next shade up to mix. I did wear this foundation all day today, and the wear was great - I got a good eight hours out of it without any breakdown, and I probably would have gotten more but I decided to take it off so I could so some Sunday masking.

Sephora Collection Rouge Lip Tint in Violet: I went looking to test some of the new cream lip stains, but my local store only had the mattes out, so I'm glad I stumbled on this instead. For a shade named 'Violet' it's actually closer to a bright pink. This is a seriously good stain - it's lasted as long as eight hours (even through meals) on me. The only issue I have is that it sets very quickly, so you have to work fast to get it blended across your lips. My favorite look so far has been a sort of 'popsicle lips' stain - I focus the color around my inner lip area, blot a few times, then dab on some clear lip balm to give it a glossy look as it sets.

Peace Out Acne Dots: These are the real deal! I'm at that unenviable middle age where I have laugh lines around my eyes, but I still get pimples on my chin, and boy did I have a doozy going on Friday. But I stuck on one of these dots and within a few hours (just two, not even the recommended six) it was noticeably smaller in size and there was barely any redness. By the end of the next day it had grown again a little, but that just tells me that these dots are really more of an emergency, last-minute, "I've got a hot date and I need to hide this zit fast!" kind of solution. For long-term care, my favorite solution is still bacteria-killing tea tree oil.

My local health food store was having a sale on Andalou Naturals, so I picked up two of their tinted moisturizers, the Vitamin C BB Beauty Balm and 1000 Roses CC Cream. I've been a fan of Andalou's skincare for a long time - I use the foam cleanser from their 1000 Roses collection, and their Age-Defying Reservatrol Q10 cream, but this is the first time I've tried cosmetics from them. The CC cream had light, buildable coverage and was comfortable to wear, although it faded within a few hours. The Vitamin C beauty balm, though, was pretty much invisible on my skin. It had less coverage than Glossier's foundation, and I didn't think that was possible. It's really only good for someone who already has perfect skin and wants to give it that little extra glow.

Neutrogena MoistureSmooth Color Stick in Bright Berry: I swear by these lip crayons in the summer time. The colors are subtle, just enough to give you a healthy flush, so they look fresh and effortless on a warm day. And I can't lie - I love the fragrance. It's not overwhelming, but you do get just a hint of fresh watermelon or grapefruit or raspberries.

Wet'n'Wild MegaCushion Color Corrector in Green: I've had a lot of generalized redness around my chin and a few places on my cheeks lately. I've been using Urban Decay's Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid, but that stuff is almost too green - I have to be really careful about how much I use, or when I blend it out, I'll look like a ghoul. So I'm hoping this will give me some color correction that will be less visible, masking the red without leaving me with a green cast. On the other hand, I haven't had a lot of luck with lasting power when it comes to Wet'n'Wild products, so fingers crossed that this plays well with my foundation and concealer and doesn't get patchy over the course of a day.

Here's the one product from the past month or so that I've been really disappointed with: the Marc Jacobs Beauty Finish-Line Perfecting Coconut Setting Powder. I was so excited when the new coconut line dropped last month. I have a few favorite Marc Jacobs products - the Air Blush duos, a couple of the eyeshadow palettes, and when I do wear eyeliner (which is admittedly rare) I reach for his gel crayon liners. The products in the coconut line all looked like they were geared towards a warmer skintone, but at least I could wear the powder, right? So that's what I ordered.

But it's sadly mediocre. It's not finely milled at all, and although this is just a pet peeve of mine, it's in a jar with one of those mesh nets over the dispenser. I wish I'd thought to take a picture of the net before I cut it out, but I removed it with a craft knife so that I could more easily get to the product inside. As you can see, it's a little clumpy - I'm sure that's why the net is there, to make it seem smoother, but I'd rather have direct access to my powder. I want to be able to control exactly how much I have on my brush, and sometimes that's more than whoever designed this dispenser intended for me to have. Oh well. Anyway, I've also worn the powder a few times, and it's fairly drying on, so this is probably going to be shoved into a drawer, not to be seen again until a few months from now when I go on a cleaning binge and either throw it out or give it a more appreciative home.

Root Covers for Bright Pink and Red hair

How oddly specific, right? But I've had bright hair for most of my adult life, and let me tell you, now that I'm starting to go a little grey underneath, root covers are the one thing I wish I could find more of.

Yes, I really have had either bright red or bright pink hair for that long. Some time in the mid-90's, I bleached my hair. Somewhere, there exists a photo of me as a platinum blonde in the moments before I topped it with Manic Panic (in Rubine). The bleaching was a mistake - the color was so flat, I looked like Ronald McDonald. But after that, I started learning how to mix color myself so that I could get something a little more permanent. The hair colors I wanted just didn't exist. Clairol had a line called the Torrids that came close, but what I really wanted was true red. Lipstick red. Stop sign red. Cinnamon red hots red. A red that was clearly not a color nature intended for hair. Instead, I got copper or burgundy most of the time.

Eventually I started getting my color done professionally, and between Pravana and Schwarzkopf and the professionals I've known along the way, getting the perfect color is no longer an issue.

I hope I'll start to recognize when I'm old enough that the bright hair no longer works. But for now I just have a little bit of grey coming through at the crown - everywhere else is still that familiar muddy brown that I've been trying to escape since my youth.

When that grey peeps through, it really ages me. Until recently, though, my only choice for covering it up (until I could get to my colorist) was standard drugstore root concealer. L'Oreal makes a spray, and there are a few other hair color brands that make them in pencil or cream stick form, but they're all made for auburn or copper shades. I used the Rita Hazan touch-up spray for a few years, because dark roots were at least better than grey ones.

You know that Jerome Russell B'Wild colored hairspray that comes around every Halloween? I tried that too, but it's really sticky and uncomfortable to wear. Same with the hair chalks I see marketed to festival girls - they're too sticky, and the colors I've found are too pastel, never bright enough.

These days, I'm pretty happy with my root cover situation. Brightly colored hair is becoming more common, so there are a lot of options popping up.

One of the most convenient is L'Oreal's new Colorista Hairspray in Hot Pink. It does also come in a wide range of colors, from pastels to vivids. It's easy to use, and I've found it at Target, so it's also easy to restock. It is a hairspray, though, so using it means you might have to deal with a little unwanted stiffness in your hair.

Next up is the Bumble and Bumble Bb.Color Stick. It doesn't come in as many shades - just a few variations on blue and pink (I use Flamingo), but it is more precise and less messy than a hairspray. It's like a crayon that you can use to color in your grays (I think it's intended to draw on colorful highlights, but creative reuse is everything). It doesn't smudge or smear, but it's pretty easy to wash out at the end of the day. I keep one of these sticks in my purse for touchups.

My absolute favorite product for covering roots, though, is an inexpensive product I found at Sally Beauty a few months ago: Ion Color Brilliance Root Cover (I use Magenta, but it also comes in vivid blue and purple shades). This is a powder that you brush on - the product is in a plastic jar and dispenses through the attached bristles. But it doesn't just apply color - it's also a dry shampoo with a subtle, pleasant scent (and if you have brightly colored hair, you know that shampooing more than a few times a week is out anyway, so a good dry shampoo really comes in handy). Although it's easy to apply, it can take a little effort to scrub it off

The down side? This product has been discontinued according to the manufacturer. It looks like they intend to replace it, but their links to the replacement product are dead for now. Luckily, it can still be found on eBay (I confess to doing a little stockpiling - why do brands always seem to discontinue the products I love the most?).

Other ways I keep the rest of my hair (not just the roots) bright: I mix temporary color in with my (sulfate-free) shampoo and conditioner. I've got a couple of glass bottles, one for each product (I like them because they're non-porous, but if you're concerned about having glass bottles in the shower, there's no reason not to use plastic). For each one, I mix in a few squirts of Special Effects (I use Atomic Pink).

There are also some great color-depositing shampoo and conditioner products that I've used in the past, if you don't feel like mixing your own:

  • Davines Alchemic Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Overtone haircare products in pink and red
  • What's On My Face Today