product: rodial dragon’s blood hyaluronic mask $42
uses: dragons, you ask? the ingredient called ‘dragon’s blood’ is the red sap derived from the ‘sangre de drago’ tree. it has ant-oxdiant properties to reduce redness, & also works to form a calming, protective shield on the face that smooths imperfections & firms skin. the other prominent ingredient in this mask, hyaluronic acid, plumps & hydrates skin to diminish wrinkles. you can wear it as a mask, or leave it on overnight.
verdict: i love the texture of this mask & i feel its quite soothing to apply it. i didn’t notice any real difference with my skin, however, but i trusted that the blood & acid were doing their job. 2 out of 5 stars
beauty tip: the majority of us have smart phones now, right? well, when you’re shopping for beauty products, you should google the ingredients advertised on the product you’re interested in. once you learn what they do for your skin, look at where they stand on the ingredient list—the closer to the top, the more of that ingredient the product contains. doing the research not only taught me which ingredients i should be using for the glowing skin i seek, but i also learned which brands to trust.
product: hada labo tokyo anti-aging hydrator $18
uses: a moisturizer with super hyaluronic acid–an ingredient that apparently firms skin & improves its texture. the women in asia go crazy for this japanese lightweight formula, & they believe it makes their skin glow.
verdict: i didn’t care for the texture & feel of the moisturizer–it feels more like a serum to me–& i wish it had sunscreen. i like that it is scentless, however, & after using the product for a month i was pleased with how my skin looked. i will probably not purchase this again myself, but i would recommend it because it is so popular across asia. 3 out of 5 stars
beauty tip: when putting on face cream, especially anti-aging ones, make sure you always apply to your neck, décolletage, & the back of your hands as well. Just like your face, all of these areas are sensitive to aging & are exposed to the sun–thus, they should also reap the benefits of the product.
product: diorshow blackout waterproof mascara $25
uses: this mascara promises to give what any woman would want: thick, long, & shiny black lashes.
verdict: the black is black. its like a shiny black lacquer coating that forms over your lashes. only one coat is necessary, and when it dries…the result is pretty fantastic. diorshow blackout is the original diorshow (my favorite mascara) on steroids. there are some cons, however: the application can be a bit clumpy sometimes–thankfully the skinny brush has well-spaced bristles to help you work out the kinks. it takes longer to apply than other mascaras because of this. also it may claim to be waterproof, but i noticed some smudging underneath my eyes throughout the day–however this only happened if i put face oil on my face. if i used a day cream instead, there wasn’t a smear to be found. because of the clumping & smudging this mascara unfortunately cannot be perfect. 4 out of 5 stars
beauty tip: always use an eyelash primer before mascara. here is why:some brands protect & nourish your lashes, while other brands elongate your lash for the mascara. primers also help mascara apply easier, & help your mascara stay in place throughout the day. i’m currently in the search for the perfect one, but my fave for now is diorshow maximizer.
best mascara: diorshow waterproof black 090 $25 best eyelash primer: diorshow maximizer lash plumping serum $28 best eyeshadow primer: too-faced shadow insurance $20 best eyelash curler: shu umera eyelash curler $21 best eyeliner: bobbie brown long wear gel eyeliner $23 best brows: also winner of “product i can’t leave the house without” anastasia tinted brow gel (espresso) $18 best highlighter: benefit watt’s up! mini $8 best eyeshadow brushes: eco tools brush set $9
they’re all mac–because i won’t settle for anything less: best gold: amber lights best for a little drama in your everyday: folie best brown: mulch best on the town: antiqued
best natural: sephora cocoa 21
also winner of “product i can’t leave the house without”
best powder blush: nars blush in orgasm $24 best cheek stain: tarte cheek stain in flush $30 best foundation: chanel perfection lumiere long-wear flawless fluid sunscreen make-up broad spectrum spf 15 $55 best loose powder: josie maran argan matchmaker powder foundation spf 20 $34
best cleanser: josie maran argan cleansing oil $32 best exfoliator: st. ives fresh skin apricot scrub $4 best anti-ager: skin ceuticals retinol 1.0 $60 best moisturizer & eye make-up remover: also winner of “the best multi-tasker” award: vitamin e oil $8
best healing: burt’s bees lip balm $4 best everyday lip gloss: also winner of “product i can’t leave the house without” award dior addict lip glow $31 best lip stain: (i don’t do lipsticks b/c they look too unnatural on my thin smackers) tarte lip surgence matte lip tint in fiery $24 best tinted lip moisturizer: fresh sugar rose tinted lip treatment spf 15 $23
best moisturizer: organic coconut oil $8 best sunscreen: the naked bee 70% organic vitamin c enriched moisturizing sunscreen spf 30 $12 best firming moisturizer: vichy laboratories destock stomach firming & refining treatment $38 best self-tanner: jergens natural glow (i like the one with sunscreen) $9
best conditioner: organix renewing moroccan argan oil conditioner $8 best dry shampoo: nexxus youth renewal dry shampoo $15 best shampoo: aveda smooth infusion shampoo $7-$63 best styling product: tresemme tres two hairspray $5
best color enhancer: aveda hair care enrich color pure plant shampoos & conditioners $18-$32 best hair mask:amika nourishing hair mask-sea buckthorn berry with argan oil $28 best for on the go: kms free shape quick blow dry $15 best hairdryer: t3 featherweight luxe 2i $250 (i don’t have one, but since its dry is more healthful than air drying…i’ll have to save up)
beauty product of the year:
lilash purified eyelash serum $80-$140
beauty tip of the year: use oils! you’re skin will love you. i personally favor: vitamin e, k, c, argan & coconut. they’re cheap too & can be a facial moisturizer, body lotion, eye make-up remover, & can even replace mascara for a more natural look. bring a bottle of one of these oils when traveling so your bag of toiletries is lighter!
product: clarins beauty flash balm has always been the favorite among celebrities, beauty magazines, the french, & basically every woman who cares about her skin. the product claims to eliminate signs of fatigue in a flash, reduce the sign of wrinkles, & give your skin a glow $30.
uses: massage into skin in the morning & immediately follow with face make-up, or use generously on face as a mask to wear to bed.
verdict: why all the hype? i honestly do not know. i did not notice any difference with my skin. good texture & fragrance tho…2 out of 5
beauty tip: you are what you eat. seriously!! your skin is a reflection of the nutrients you supply it with. the healthier your diet, the more your skin will glow…vitamins E, C, & K, omega 3-s, coconut oil & argan oil are the stars that makes your skin shine…
product: josie maran argan cleansing oil $32
uses: a facial cleanser that removes make-up & dirt while deep-cleaning pores. the argan oil repairs & nourishes skin.
verdict: this facial cleanser is different than any other i’ve used. it should be rubbed into dry skin first, then water should be added for a second facial massage to build a slight lather before washing off completely. lets just say i love this cleanser. it may be the best i’ve ever used. my skin glows afterwards & i have not seen one pimple appear since use. i also love that i can use this cleanser as an eye make-up remover while simultaneously washing my face. the all-natural & organic ingredients are a plus. 5 out of 5
beauty tip: after applying any cleanser to my face, i always let it sit for a few minutes so that the product can fully absorb into skin.
product: estee lauder advanced multi-protection anti-oxidant lotion broad spectrum spf 15 $48
uses: apply on face am, pm, or both to prevent premature aging & reduce the appearance of wrinkles–the “anti-oxidant” complex is supposed to protect & nourish skin by fighting free radicals. can be used under make-up.
verdict: i like the smell & the texture–& the fact that it has spf in it…only i wish the spf was higher. i don’t see any dramatic differences with my skin, but the anti-oxidant ingredients in this & the fact that it has sun protection too, makes this product very desirable. 3 out of 5
beauty tip: you know what i’ve noticed? whenever someone has spectacular skin & i comment on it, or if i am reading about an exquisite beauty in a magazine & they ask her about her skin regimen, do you know what these stunning women say? ‘i always wear sunscreen.’
product: lilash eyelash growth serum $139.97 (6 month supply), $79.99 (3 month supply)–but you can find it cheaper on sites such as cleopatra’s choice
uses: apply a thin layer to top lashes every night until desired eyelash length is reached. then use as needed.
verdict: this product works. like i’ve mentioned before, i am cursed with short & sparse eyelashes. i cannot afford latisse (about $120 per month), so i’ve always looked for alternatives. i hadn’t found one that’s worked (don’t try talika lipocils, or smartlash), until now. after 2 weeks my eyelashes were noticeably longer & thicker to the point where the product does not need to be used every night. i now use it maybe 3 or 4 nights a week. drawbacks: if you accidentally use too much product your eyelids near the lash line get red & sore. also, lashes do tend to fall out more frequently than normal (to be honest you won’t even notice them missing), but just be more careful when removing make-up. 4 1/2 out of 5
beauty tip: i use this on my eyebrows too! & my eyebrows are noticeably thicker! since you use such a small amount of product, a full-size tube lasts a long time… so why do you need to buy another separate tube for eyebrows?
product: roc retinol correxion deep wrinkle night cream $23
uses: massage into face, neck, and décolletage to visibly reduce the appearance of wrinkles
verdict: this product is supposed to be one of the best non-prescription retinol products available. while i’m not able to reap all the benefits of this product (i am only 28, after all), the wrinkles i do have–i’m looking at you, forehead creases–i noticed slight improvement. beware though: retinol can be very irritating on skin–luckily they have a version for sensitive skin available! 3 out of 5
beauty tip: be proactive! women should begin incorporating anti-aging ingredients such as retinol in their beauty regimen in their mid-20’s. skin experts believe this can delay signs of aging. i began using retinol, the “best” wrinkle-fighter, 2 nights a week when i was 25. over the years i increased my usage & now i use some form of anti-ager 3-4 nights a week. like i mentioned earlier, some of these chemicals can be harsh so i like to give my skin a breather by interchanging pure vitamin e, argan, or coconut oil with the man-made wrinkle-fighters.
product: benefit they’re real! mascara, $23
uses: to lengthen, volumize, curl, and darken eyelashes
verdict: okay. let me just say this: i am a COMPLETE mascara snob. complete… WHY? because i was cursed with skimpy, stubby, & sad eyelashes. i have tried basically all of the mascaras on the market–yes, i did say all. diorshow is my absolute fave, but this one is pretty good…i’m actually very impressed. i like the novel wand shape & how the non-waterproof formula stays put. plus, you don’t need an eyelash curler! 4 out of 5
beauty tip: wait a few minutes before you apply your second coat of mascara to lashes. after i apply my first coat, i busy myself with another part of my routine then come back several minutes later for the second coat. this way the first coat has time to dry so when the second coat is applied your eyelashes are darkened & defined easier–and therefore you use less product!