Crest 3D Whitestrips Review: Before and After

So as some of you might have read in my Teeth Whitening Woe’s post, I have had a hard time seeing a result when using teeth whitening products. So this time around, I actually bought the crest whitestrips since people claim that they really work (at least the reviews on amazon do). I really tried this time around to not drink alot of coffee or dark soda’s and if I did, to use a straw and rinse my mouth out shortly thereafter. I can’t say that I saw major results since I of course wanted my teeth to be as white as a paper but when I compare the pictures, there is definitely a difference. I made sure to use them every day for a half hour, although I may have skipped a day or two if my teeth were feeling sensitive. All in all, I think that the new “advanced seal” actually help them stay better on your teeth and not cause as much sensitivity. Funny enough, I was able to find almost identical pictures (totally by accident) of my teeth before and after. I was even wearing the same lipstick! 

My Everyday Skin Care Routine

Here’s the thing about my skincare routine. Since my skin has changed over the years mostly due to aging and hormonal fluctuations (more specifically: pregnancy, post-partum, etc), my skin care routine always needs tweaking. But here is more or less what I do right now and for the last bunch of years minus a little changes here and there. Now, I honestly believe that if I would’ve taken better care of my skin (ie: was not lazy) then I would probably have looked a hell of a lot better but since I’m a great preacher but not a great do-er I have to confess that I transgressed many “beauty sins” like not removing my makeup before bed, or not wearing sunscreen properly…or…ok I’m a little embarrassed but the list goes on! However when I do actually do things right- here’s how it goes:

1. Wash face with a facial cleanser morning and night. Pat down with a paper towel (since washcloths hold tons of bacteria). In my experience, a lot of facial cleansers (especially the cheap kind) actually can do more harm than good since they have tons of chemicals and can irritate the skin and lead to breakouts or flaky patches. That is why I suggest using a more natural face wash. I’m obsessed with using the Mint Souffle for normal use and Camphor Souffle for when my skin needs a little more intense help. Funny enough, I actually had bought these face washes from an aesthetician who sold them under her own label (they are manufactured for private labeling) but thankfully discovered them on this website for half the price she was selling them for! I love that the ingredient list doesn’t need a scroll down button and that it really cleanses without drying out the skin. Also, you only need the tiniest amount to foam your whole face, so it really lasts a long time.

2. Using a cotton pad, go over the face and neck with a toner to restore the pH balance to the skin. To be honest, I don’t know what the heck that means but I know its good for you! The only toner that I have found to really be able to pull out any dirt from deep within the pores is the Burt’s Bees Garden Tomato Toner I love the frosted glass packaging (gosh, I’m such a consumer!) and its got really great natural ingredients that have amazing skin benefits. This toner is especially great on oily skin but I believe they have a more mild version for normal to dry skin types. You can create your own homemade astringent by making ice cubes out of cucumber and aloe vera juice and rub the ice over the pores, which also will seal them after being opened by the steamy water.

3. Moisturize! This step is so important. Many people with oily skin think they can skip this step. But the truth is that by not wearing moisturizer, your oil glands actually over compensate for the lack of hydration, which in turn causes breakouts. The key is a good moisturizer. I am in love with the Alba Oil Free Green Tea and Aloe that I mentioned in my all time favorites post. I find that this moisturizer really gets soaked up by the skin without leaving oily residue. It is just so hydrating and wears beautifully under makeup.  It smells amazing too! I also am glad that there is no SPF, because studies show that the chemicals in sunscreens can be as dangerous as the sun itself, so since my makeup usually has some SPF in it, I don’t want to be putting on too much – especially at night. Obviously, if I know I’ll be out in the sun all day then I’ll use extra sun protection.

4. Anti-aging creams – hey it’s never too early, and its usually too late when you start seeing the signs! I know I’m only in my 20’s but actually dermatologists recommend using products with anti-aging qualities to prevent and help keep wrinkles and sun spots from forming. Of course, the best way to prevent signs of aging is to stay out of the sun as much as possible. I currently use RoC Night Cream at night (not every night since it can make the skin sensitive) and I only use it in the “affected” areas ie: my neck, frown/smile lines, and forehead. If you have Costco membership, you can probably buy a two pack there for a really good price.

Additionally, I highly discourage picking at the skin (something that I am notorious for doing seeing as I am a compulsive plucker/squeezer/picker) since it only irritates the skin and can cause more breakouts and infection. (I know I’m so sorry to be a hypocritical preacher but its so hard to stop!)

I’d also like to finish off by saying that although I usually like to save money on beauty products, I tend to spend more on my skincare since a beautiful canvas is more valuable than anything you paint with. Your skin is your body’s biggest organ and deserves to be treated like the valuable thing it is. If I really believed that I could get quality skin care products without all the fillers and chemicals and garbage for cheap then I would! I just find that good quality skin care isn’t really available for “cheap”. I see it as an investment!

Creams versus Powders

So here are my thoughts on creams and powders when it comes to makeup. Of course its hard to generalize since there are so many brands and products that I have yet to try but you’ll get the general idea.

I find that with the exception of cream foundation/concealer, I prefer powder products, specifically when it comes to eye-shadows and blushes. I have seen so many great tutorials where a cream eyeshadow or liner will be used as a base for the eyeshadow. For some reason, this does not ever work for me. I find the cream to just make the whole process messy, harder to blend and will crease even when used with a primer. This has happened with so many different products that I’ve given up hope. I find that powder shadows when used with a shadow primer or with a wet brush can do anything that a cream can without all the fuss. I really also don’t find that using a cream eye shadow really acts as a good “base” because you top it all of with a powder anyway so what is the point?

Now when it comes to cream blushes, I also find them to be a bit of a nuisance. I do agree that they look a little more skin-like but you are so limited with a cream blush since you can only use it underneath your powder products, which means you won’t be able to reapply once you’ve set your face (putting cream product over setting powder= cakey mess) and you’ll probably have to set it with a powder blush unless you don’t want it sliding all over the place. Besides for the issue that application of a cream blush can be a little bit of a pain to get the perfect application.

I do love creams when it comes to contouring with cream foundations and I certainly don’t think powder foundations are EVER preferable to that of a cream or liquid one but I am not going to recommend using cream blushes or eye shadows, especially to any makeup beginners.

So if you were wondering about which is better, hope my opinion helps!

Some of My Latest Favorites!

So I already have a post about a few of my all time favorites but as a makeup artist and beauty product connoisseur, I develop new favorites from time to time and I’m always on the lookout for great items, especially at a great price. Nothing has changed from my old favorites list, but here are a few of my new faves!

Revlon Colorstay Foundation: I absolutely love this foundation for a) giving great coverage (matte) b) the drugstore price! and c) the lack of spf which means that it doesn’t cause a glare in photos. I definitely recommend this foundation to every one since they have so many shades in warm and cool tones.

Ben Nye Banana Powder: I absolutely love this loose setting powder. First off, it gives a warm candlelit glow, especially brightening when used under the eyes. It is also so finely milled that it looks almost invisible on the skin giving just the soft focus effect without any obvious powdery look. And for the price! You really can’t go wrong!

Wet n Wild Coloricon Bronzer in “Ticket to Brazil”: So the truth is that I usually only like using matte bronzers, but this one was so cheap that I just had to try it! I think the key for using this bronzer successfully is a very light application – it is so pigmented that if you put your brush in for more than one swipe you’ll get enough powder on it to bronze your whole body. I love how it has a shimmer that just gives you a glow without any obvious sparkles.

Covergirl Outlast All Day Lipcolor: I never used to use those 2 in 1 lipsticks that basically are a paint and a moisturizer for uber-long lasting color since they used to be very drying and come in horrible colors that would leave a non-budging ring around your lips, even when most of it has already come off. But thankfully, I decided to try the Covergirl one in “Blushed Mauve” and I’m really impressed! Firstly- it really lasts! I have eaten and even slept with this on and my lips still had an even wash of color. It also doesn’t feel as dry to me, especially if you put a gloss on top. Best of all, they have a great color selection!

Tweezerman Classic Eyelash Curler: I have been using my Shu Uemura eyelash curler for the past few years but decided to buy this curler that had actually been the first one I ever owned. I had heard so many rave reviews about the Shu Uemura but the truth is that Tweezerman’s classic curler is so much better! It gives a better curl, is cheaper, and has a better shape that doesn’t pinch the eyes whatsoever. I don’t think I’m ever going back to Shu!

Lastly, the NYX Megashine Lip Glosses: Lots of beauty guru’s have already spoken about these since they are so great, especially for the price. They aren’t sticky, come in an amazing variety of colors (I especially LOVE the nude shades) and have a nice scent. These are my go to lip glosses on myself and on clients. I just wish they came out in squeeze tubes so I didn’t have to use disposable wands!

I just love when you can save money and still get amazing products! Enjoy!


Fixing Broken Shadows

It’s one of those really annoying things that happens: your favorite blush, eyeshadow, or pressed powder product breaks into a bunch of pieces. Sometimes you’ll try to salvage it but more often than not it just gets too messy and into the garbage it goes. Thankfully I came across a Kandee Johnson video where she shows how to “fix” them. I tried to follow the same method although I used 98% alchohol instead of the 70% she uses. Although she recommends using a higher percent alchohol I think that it dried a little too quickly – making it harder to really “glue” the pieces together. My shadow was also a baked dome shadow so obviously it didn’t get back into that dome shape but at least the pieces aren’t flying all over the place now.

Before & After:


Instructions on How To Get Your Makeup Done (and make everyone happy)

After doing makeup on a number of people I felt compelled to write this list of instructions. This way, if you are new at getting your makeup done you can just skim the list and now be aware of how to best help along the process of beautification.

Firstly, always come to get makeup done with a CLEAN and moisturized face. (Preferably starting from the night before). That means no makeup at all. Including mascara. Not only is it annoying to have to start off a session by removing old makeup, but it also takes up valuable time. The most important reason though, is that removing makeup can often irritate the skin and cause redness, etc. Without having some time to re-hydrate and let the skin rest, the makeup application might only add to the irritation.

Second, brush teeth before getting makeup done. Brushing afterwords will obviously remove what was applied to the lips and around the mouth. Also, since you will be breathing in such close proximity to your makeup artist, it’s nice to have pleasant breath. I always try to have a mint while I’m working on someone’s face.

Also, never forget to mention if you have any allergies such as to latex or talc or irritation you have noticed with a specific product (ie: some people break out from certain brands of foundation, etc).

Facial hair removal should not be done the same day as makeup (especially brides!!) since it can leave red marks and open pores. Obviously facials shouldn’t be done for up to a few weeks before a big makeup event since it brings all the toxins to the surface of the face.

And lastly, be pleasant and courteous! Yay, now everyone will be happy!


Tips for Sunless Tanning

For a long time, I was trying to find a good self-tanner that was instant tan, didn’t look unnatural and smelled decent. I couldn’t stand the Jergen’s stuff because the smell was unbearable and I didn’t like the yellowish color. Then I discovered Kandee Johnson’s video talking about St. Tropez bronzing mousse. (Watch it here: Despite its hefty price at around 40 dollars for 8 oz., this instant tanner is so far the best I have found. The color is very natural, it doesn’t have a bad smell, and the tan is instant.

A few tips for using self tanner:

I don’t recommend using a self tanner if you have dry flaky skin or acne. The tanner will “get stuck” on those areas and just pronounce them or look very unnatural. Always exfoliate and moisturize very well prior to application. For the face, I always add some Vaseline to my lips, brows and hairline. For the body, shave any hair, exfoliate and add extra moisture to dry spots like the elbows, knees and knuckles. Try not to sweat or get wet for 4 hours after application. To remove, just shower and scrub and it should come off! Also, you can buy a mitt to apply the tanner with (so it doesn’t stain your hands) or use a glove but I just make sure to work quickly and scrub my hands well and it usually comes off.

Enjoy your tan glow without going in the sun. Remember, a “real” tan is not only dangerous but also causes premature aging and wrinkles. So if you don’t care about your health at least be vain enough to worry about how you’ll look in 20 years! 

Oh Dupes! How I love thee!

What is a “dupe” you ask? Well, dupe is short for “duplicate” which in the makeup world is used to refer to a makeup product that acts the same or very similar to one that is usually more expensive. Why do I love discovering dupes? Because, just like finding a stunning outfit for half the price, there is some thrill in finding a cheaper version of something you love. Plus, unlike clothing, certain makeup products need to be restocked constantly so its fun to know that you are saving money each time!

Of course, part of discovering a good dupe is trial and error (and that’s why I’m here to share my experiences with you! so that you don’t have to go through that process yourself!) Obviously, there will be some pros and cons but just know that more expensive does not always equal better quality. One of my favorite dupes lately is a duplicate for the Beauty Blender Sponge. The BB Sponge is one of my favorite methods of applying foundation. It leaves a flawless “airbrush” finish and I’ve only ever heard rave reviews about it. I begrudgingly bought it for roughly 20 bucks (the cheapest I could find) and though I love it so much I don’t really feel like spending that kind of money on a sponge again. Enter the Soho Beauty Sponge: a wondrous discovery at Walgreens! For a whopping 7.99 I got an almost exact dupe for more than half off the price. In fact I like the Soho Blender even more than the BB! It’s more dense, which makes it a little harder to clean but I love how it blends! I’m seriously getting a thrill just thinking about it! (I’m a major geek I know). I’ll write another post on how to use these but for now, if you are a BB aficionado then run and check out the Soho sponge from Walgreens. Mind you, I’ve tried other BB dupes and have not been impressed, so just goes to show that not all imitations are created equal.







Other favorite dupes of mine include Elf High Definition Powder for the Makeup Forever HD Powder and Monistat chafing gel for the Smashbox Photofinish Primer (wierd, I know, but its the same thing!) Some failure dupes have been the Loreal color correcting primer for the Makeup Forever color correcting primer. It just doesn’t compare…I keep my eyes open for new ones all the time and will certainly share my exciting finds when deemed worthy enough! Enjoy!

Makeup Trial: Tips for the bride

I’m pretty sure that if there is any day to look good, its your wedding day. Most people cannot think of a better time to look their best so obviously flawless makeup is a must. A trial is a good idea since you can get a feel for the artist’s style. Of course, a trial is nowhere near the same as the day of since oftentimes you won’t have the full idea without the dress, hair and lashes but its a good thing to do in any case. Here are a few tips on how to choose the makeup and makeup artist for  your big day.

1. Do make sure to generally like your artist’s style. Take a look at some of her work. Talk to some people who have used her in the past. If she has a blog or a facebook page, be certain to check it out.

2.  Make sure she is reliable (nothing like your makeup artist ditching you the day of! My hair dresser did that to me on my wedding day! Thank G-d I did my own makeup!).

3. Ask questions. A good make up artist will make sure that you are not allergic or sensitive to any products (ie: lash glue with latex) but just in case, make sure to ask. Also, if you are already spending the money, you might as well ask her for some general makeup tips or for some product suggestions. MUA’s are often times more exposed to different products so they are great at giving suggestions.

4. After your makeup trial, try to take some photos with flash photography, maybe go for a short run and break a sweat. You’ll want to see how truly long lasting your makeup is and how it’ll show in photos. If your eyeliner or mascara will come off with water then there is a BIG problem! Your makeup should be glued but not look overly cakey. (sounds impossible but that’s what we magical people do!)

5. Though not totally necessary, its a good idea to do your hair on the day of your trial just to get a better picture of how you’ll really look. Hair and Makeup are married to one another.  There really needs to be both to get a clear picture.

6. Lastly, keep in mind that having a dual hair and makeup artist isn’t always the best idea. Often times people who are both are really good at one and pretty mediocre at the other. Hair and makeup are totally different sciences so don’t just assume that they go together. So unless you know for sure that your choice of person is really talented at both, get two separate people who each excel at what they do.

And of course – have fun! Wedding planning can get so stressful so enjoy all the pampering!


Malka’s Engagement Party!

Back when we were in High School, Malka kindly allowed me to do her makeup (I was but an amateur then…) and take pictures of her for a class project. She was such a great model, and of course her natural beauty didn’t need much of my makeup enhancements . Here is one of the pictures I was lucky to snatch:

A few years later, and she’s just as beautiful, and happily engaged! We kept the focus on her deep-set blue eyes and made her engagement glow get even glowy-er!