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Top Ten: Beauty Tricks I Wish I’d Learned Earlier

1 Sep

Sure, I have a beauty blog, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped learning about makeup! I’m learning new things all the time! I always thought in college that the professors who felt that they knew everything about their subject were (a) full of it and (b) usually wrong in this belief. There is always more to learn about your favorite subject. Well…maybe if it’s Latin…

Anyway, today I have a top ten of beauty tips and tricks that I wish I’d discovered earlier in my beauty career. Some may be glaringly obvious to you (perhaps #3 in particular), but hey, life is a learning process! Read on and learn from my happy surprises and frustrating mistakes!

10. Salespeople are called SALESpeople for a reason. They’re in the store to get that cash out of your wallet and into the cash register. Some are quite honest, some will convince you to buy the wrong shade of foundation in order to make a sale. Trust your own opinion (or a trusted friend’s) first.

NARS Night Star

Bummer...NARS Night Star eyeshadow, picture from

9. On a similar note: in all department stores and higher-end beauty stores, the lighting is designed to highlight the product’s appearance, but not necessarily how it looks on you. I learned this the hard way in high school (before Sephora’s new and AWESOME return policy) when I bought NARSNight Star eyeshadow. I was seriously into sparkle then, and in-store, Night Star appears to be a flashy, glittery nude. At home, it was a mild, pearly match for my skintone. Lesson learned: try on what could be a fabulous product, and go outside into natural lighting to see if it is as wonderful as it appeared to be inside.

8. Olive oil is a great, inexpensive moisturizer that you probably already have in your kitchen. Be sure to use SPF if leaving the house!

7. Feeling like a yeti but can’t place why? Trim your eyebrows. Brush them up (with a toothbrush if you want), trim with a manicure scissor, and return them to their original position. Fill in your brows with matching powder or pencil as needed – there, you look well groomed with a crazy amount of ease.

6. Most people that know me are well aware that I’d rather stay up late and hit the snooze button (fifteen times) instead of go to bed early in order to seize the day. I only learned a few months ago that if I go to bed with wet hair and wake up with a rat’s nest on my head the next morning, I can blow it out straight with little difficulty and a paddle brush.


You again?! Visine rules. (picture from

5. Did your pot of cream eyeliner dry out? Add a few drops of Visine and stir with a toothpick – it’ll be as good as new. I did this with my Smashbox Jet Set Waterproof Eyeliner and it was like I had only bought it a few weeks ago. (And from now on, put the cap back on or place the pot upside down on your vanity between application to each eye to prevent the product from drying out!)

4. Letting your skin soak up a moisturizer before you apply foundation makes all the difference, but combining that with a foundation brush for the first time is pretty much a religious experience.

3. You really can’t – and shouldn’t – give yourself a Brazilian wax, no matter how high you think your pain tolerance is. It’s not that high. Sure it is when you’ve paid for it, but not when you’re the one applying the wax. Leave it to the professionals, even though you may not want to spend the money: some things are worth paying for.

3a: Things generally worth paying (prestige) for: good tools (eyelash curler, tweezer, brushes), skincare, intensive waxing and spa treatments. And, in my opinion: lipstick, eyeshadow, and blush.

3b: Things generally not worth paying for: foundation, mascara, nail polish, lipgloss, bronzer, trend items, minor waxing and spa treatments.

3c: Ambivalent: fragrance, eyeliner

2. (Continued from 3b) Once you master precision with your non-dominant hand, you can give yourself a much longer-lasting manicure (and pedicure!) than anyone could ever give you. And, oh yeah, it’s free. (Get someone else to give you the massage.)

1. If you wear crazy makeup – or even no makeup at all – with all of your confidence, I guarantee that you’ll be the most gorgeous one in the room.

Yes, I know that #3 was a bad idea. Sigh. Do you have any late bloomer beauty tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear them in the comments!


Top Ten: Reasons I’m Looking Forward to Fall

23 Aug

Apparently, there was an earthquake earlier in NYC and true to form, I am totally oblivious of anything to do with geology or nature.

At any rate, I’m currently in one of my favorite cafés on the Upper West Side drinking iced coffee. Let me tell you – I should have gone with a hot one. It’s FREEZING in here! It seems that no one is clued in to the fact that fall is on its way and the AC is staying cranked everywhere I go. But you know what?

I am beyond ready for fall. Summer is not my jam – I hate mosquitoes, I don’t like hot weather, and New York in summer is particularly disgusting. Besides those reasons, though, I have a top ten for you.

10. My birthday

This is actually a silly reason. I’m not so much into birthdays anymore since I’ve been out of school – especially grade school. I don’t really want that attention. (Remember bringing cupcakes for the whole class? And how you were the hero that day?) But last year, I had a really nice birthday – I spent most of it alone. Maybe this is strange, but I truly value my alone time, and I really enjoyed just walking around and window shopping. The next day I went to my college reunion and spent the weekend singing with old friends from choir. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday weekend. I still appreciate a good Funfetti cake, though.

9. Woodsmoke

I don’t really have access to this smell that often, but it seems to come out the most in fall. (People illegally burning leaves?) It’s one of my favorite scents and I wish I could find an accurate bottled version. Some Demeters come close, but doesn’t quite hit the mark – I’ll have to check out CB I Hate Perfume‘s version.

8. Halloween and Thanksgiving

I’m pretty sure that these two holidays are my favorites out of the whole year. Who doesn’t love Halloween? It gives everyone the opportunity to let their inner crazy out, wear over-the-top makeup and costumes, and get too much free candy. On Thanksgiving, if you’re lucky, you get to see all the family members you haven’t in months and binge eat/drink. (If you don’t like stuffing or mashed potatoes, I don’t know if we can be friends.)

7. Pumpkin Spice lattes

I’m a Starbucks Gold member, which I am both ashamed and proud to admit. My favorite drink, when I can get it, is a latte with Pumpkin Spice syrup. I love pumpkin anything and it happens to be a great combo with coffee. (And when you’re a Gold member, you get a free drink on your birthday!)

6. Fall footwear

There is definitely something to be said about the ease of sandals and how fun it is to flaunt a pretty pedi while wearing them. But my favorite shoes are fall shoes – little flats and oxfords, booties, and pumps in heavier materials. I’m really excited that velvet slippers are trendy this season because I have the perfect pair! Speaking of…

5. Fall fabrics 

I love you, velvet blazer

I love you, velvet blazer. J.Crew Velvet Schoolboy Blazer, picture from

I can’t wait to bust out the tweed and velvet! There’s something so luxurious about fabrics with a heavier weight, and they look so simply refined. (Plus, less ironing.) I got a plum velvet blazer from J.Crew last year and I’m so excited until it’s cool out enough to wear it! And cashmere, brocade, satin…bring it on!

4. Stockings

I jumped on this bandwagon pretty recently (senior year of college), but better late than never! From black opaque to my personal favorite, the elusive backseam stocking, tights can really give your outfit a pick-me-up.

3. Different shades of lipstick

Of course, there are some shades that I wear all year round – MAC Snob and Angel, in particular – but there are certain reds and purples that I wait until fall to add to my rotation. I have no doubt that MAC Dubonnet, a lipstick I bought after seeing it in Black Swan, will make its debut in a few weeks.

OPI Ski Teal We Drop Nail Polish

Soon enough...OPI Ski Teal We Drop

2. Darker and metallic nail polishes

I know it’s perfectly okay to wear these all year round, but it seems like they just mesh better with the fabrics of fall. Sumptuous fabrics call for fancy nails! My fantastic Orly foils, Chanel Paradoxal, and my beloved OPI Ski Teal We Drop are just begging to be used – and I can’t wait!

1. Outerwear

I freaking LOVE coats, jackets, blazers, and, most recently, capes. I am constantly judged and teased for wearing a cape, but I really don’t care. Not only do they look ridiculously fabulous, you can tuck your arms underneath when you’re particularly cold. You can also hide your purse beneath your cape! I actually have three – all different weights, lengths and colors – but my camel-colored one is on my favorite. I can’t wait to wear them with some high heels and stockings.

Okay, I can’t feel my fingers anymore because that’s how cold it is in this café. I should have brought a cape or at least some gloves. But that’s my top ten list of fall favorites – what’s yours? School supplies? Trees changing? Picking apples? Let me know in the comments!

Top Ten: Beauty Pet Peeves

17 Aug

Happy hump day, readers! You’re halfway there!

As you may be able to tell already, I’m a highly opinionated lady. This has gotten me into trouble in the past, but I think that it’s better to have strong feelings about things than go through life feeling blasé about everything. Clearly, I’m passionate about beauty products and grooming, but there are some things that I could go through life without seeing ever again.

Pamela Anderson, bad lipliner

#10. Pam - I get what you're trying to do, but... picture courtesy of

10. Dark lipliner, light lipstick

I think this trend that has died in most places but still fights to hang on where I live, like some sort of horrifying endangered animal. It seems to be, at long last, on its way out as it was ‘cool’ here 20 years ago. Our friend Pamela Anderson here isn’t even going to the extreme that I see regularly – dark brown lipliner with beige frosted lipstick. This is a failed trick to make your lips look bigger than they actually are. If that’s what you want, try this instead. Use a color lipstick that’s close in color to your lip, a liner that is SLIGHTLY darker, and carefully line just outside the lip – don’t go to the extreme that Pam did. If you need to use a heavy hand on the liner, keep it to the middle third of your bottom lip. Add some clear lipgloss to the middle of your lip and done! (You could highlight the cupid’s bow, or that little v in the middle of your upper lip, if you like.) Bigger looking lips. Or try a plumping gloss. I’ve had the best results with FusionBeauty Lip Fusion and InFATuation – go for a natural, glitter-free shade!

9. French manicures and pedicures

On fake nails in particular, this one is wearing thin. (Premiere nail bloggers, like Scrangie and AllLacqueredUp, despair about this frequently.) I’m not talking about funky Frenches, I’m referring to seriously unnatural-looking manicures that are supposed to look natural. Just use the French manicure pink or beige shade (like my favorite, OPI Bubble Bath) without a white line! Not only is it very pretty and flattering, it’s cheaper than the French – that white line costs extra if you’re paying to get your nails done.

8. Oompa Loompa tans

Tanning is bad for you. I understand why people tan, and I’ve been guilty of it (I’m just so frustratingly pale!), but luckily (maybe), spray tanning was invented for this reason. It wasn’t invented  to turn orange. Be judicious with self bronzing. If your teeth look scarily white against your skin and you’re ruining clothing with spray tan, you may have gone too far. If you want to naturally turn orange, eat a lot of carrots! This may take some time, but it honestly does work.

7. Bad highlights

Deena Cortese from the Jersey Shore, awful highlights

#7. Deena from the Jersey Shore and her questionable highlights, picture courtesy of

I see these more often than I care to admit. It’s especially disheartening when girls with dark brown hair ask for thin, blonde highlights. Kind of zebra stripey, and definitely fake-looking. Dark hair is so beautiful (and usually quite thick, which I envy)! Enhance it with a gloss treatment instead of highlights. If you actually want to be blonde, go blonde! Stop trying to have your cake and eat it too.

6. The Jersey Shore “blowout”

I covered this in my men’s product article. Just no.

5. Too much cologne or perfume

You may have noticed that older women in particular can have a problem with wearing too much perfume – did you know as you age, your olfactory glands weaken? But if your nose is in fine condition, please don’t choke me with cologne on the bus in the morning, especially if it comes from a spray can (AXE, anyone?). Two spritzes should do it.

4. Paisley eyebrows

Unfortunately, Google could not provide me with a picture for demonstration purposes, but you may know what I’m talking about already. It’s an extremely skinnily-tailed eyebrow with a highly-rounded arch (also skinny) that grows into a wide teardrop shape close to the nose. It’s hard to fix eyebrows that are unruly or have been overly tweezed. It definitely takes a lot of patience. It could also potentially benefit from items like Peter Thomas Roth Brows to Die For or Latisse (prescription product!), which Fergie uses on her brows.

3. Mismatched foundation

Though it is close to the top of the list, I understand how hard it is to find a foundation. I have a lot of trouble matching my skin tone to products, especially with the lighting that stores use (Sephora, I’m looking at you). A lot of department store makeup artists and the like aren’t necessarily good at helping either – I’ve bought a few products that salespeople have picked out for me, gotten home, and been sorely disappointed. I recommend going to the MAC counter for this one – they have a great range of foundations and concealers, and their artists are more than qualified to help. Or, if you’ve found one that you kind of like but think you could do better, check out Temptalia‘s Foundation Matrix. It’s highly extensive and can help you find your shade.

Chipped manicure

#2. This is an intentionally chipped manicure - um, aren't the chips supposed to come from the bottom? Photo courtesy of

2. Chipped manicures – or worse, pedicures

I understand that chipped manicures are sometimes a fashion statement. I don’t think they say anything particularly fashionable, but I suppose that’s up to the wearer. People even pay for pre-chipped manicures. Try a crackle topcoat if you want an unusual look. But chipped polish on toes? Feet kind of freak me out, and unkempt feet are even scarier. This is why I don’t post pedicure pictures. (I know people out there who have serious podiaphobia (fear of feet!), so why make it worse for them?) Since feet and toes are kind of strange as it is, why would I want to see them with a shoddy pedicure? I feel like naked toenails are almost as bad.

1. Clipping your nails in public

Everyone who knows me is aware of how much I love New York. BUT ATTENTION, NEW YORKERS. STOP CLIPPING YOUR FINGERNAILS ON THE SUBWAY. Are you even serious? You’re using a nail clipper and you’re just letting little parts of your body fly all over the place? You shouldn’t be allowed to have a Metrocard. Please do this in the privacy of your own home. Or at least clip your nails into a plastic bag. AT LEAST.

Okay, everyone! What do you think of my pet peeves? Are they reasonable or am I crazy…or do you feel like “both” is the right answer? Let me know in the comments – and I’d love to hear what your beauty pet peeves are!

Top Ten: Nail Polishes

4 Aug OPI Black Shatter over Orly Rage Nail Polish

I must admit, this is a VERY difficult topic for me. (Though lipsticks would be even harder, which is why I’m waiting that one out!) I have close to 300 bottles of polish at this point – a very small number in comparison to Scrangie or All Lacquered Up! – which makes it frustrating to pick my favorites. But if you are a nail polish newcomer and are looking for a jump-off point, I HIGHLY suggest the following ten shades. They’re some of the best nail polishes out there, especially as they’re versatile (you can use them during any season)!

1. Essie Merino Cool and 2. Essie Sew Psyched

These are featured together because they’re from the same collection – which was a slam dunk, by the way! I think they’re a great twist on neutral. I like to wear them most in fall and in spring. Merino Cool in particular goes with everything, but these two shades look great with any outfit, from khakis and linen to tweed and classic black.

Essie Merino Cool and Sew Psyched

Essie Merino Cool (L) and Sew Psyched (R) Nail Polishes

3. OPI Ski Teal We Drop

Super creamy application and slightly unexpected on the nail, you’ll become as obsessed with this one as I am. A great fall to winter shade, but very fabulous in summer as well. And can we just talk about the brush? OPI’s nail brush makes for extreme ease of application – it hugs the nail, especially those on smaller hands – meaning you won’t need to keep applying polish to the same nail (this causes bubbles and slows down your dry time).

OPI Ski Teal We Drop Nail Polish

OPI Ski Teal We Drop Nail Polish

4. Orly Foils: Luxe, Shine, and Rage

I know I said only ten, but you can pick your favorite amongst the three. If you love gold, go with Luxe, if you’re a silver gal, go with Shine, but my favorite might be the rose gold, Rage. I consider them all to be one entity. AMAZING reflective finish, like wearing foil on your nails, and looks exceptional with a crackle polish or a glitter layered on top. You’ll wear them all year round (not just during the holiday season, which is when they’ll really shine), because they are too fabulous to not wear. They apply so smoothly, too! You can find them in Sally Beauty stores and Ulta, but also at some drugstores.

Orly Foil Nail Polish, Luxe, Shine and Rage

Orly Luxe (L) Shine (C) and Rage (R) Nail Polishes

Check it out – Orly Rage under OPI Black Shatter! How FIERCE is that?!?!

OPI Black Shatter over Orly Rage Nail Polish

OPI Black Shatter over Orly Rage Nail Polish

5. Essie Jelly Apple

I would be remiss if I didn’t include a jelly formula in this top ten. Très chic all year round, especially with a crisp white button-down (ugh, can you tell I’m missing cooler weather?), and applies smoothly and FAST. I like to do three coats, but if you prefer it sheerer, then go for two! (Due to how sunny it was when I took the picture, it showed up a little orange, but this is a true red shade. If you’re looking for a warmer red, try Essie‘s Clambake. Same finish, same ease in application, just more orange in hue.)

Essie Jelly Apple Nail Polish

Essie Jelly Apple Nail Polish

6. OPI Bubble Bath

Again, another Kardashian-suggested product, and for good reason. (I can’t WAIT for the Nicole for OPI Kardashian Kollection to come out!) If you’re looking for a French manicure-ish pink (though I strongly advise against getting French manicures or pedicures unless they’re super funky shades), this is it. Again, if you like sheer polishes, go for two coats of this and you will be head-over-heels.

OPI Bubble Bath Nail Polish

OPI Bubble Bath Nail Polish

7. Essie Lovey Dovey

This is a very Barbie-esque shade, so if you’re not into ultra-girly colors, skip this one. It’s a little too feminine for me to use in a manicure (anyone who knows me will say that’s ridiculous, but it’s true), and I think it toes the line between trashy and adorable – which is why I absolutely LOVE it on my toes! Great pedicure shade.

Essie Lovey Dovey Nail Polish

Essie Lovey Dovey Nail Polish

8. Deborah Lippmann Happy Birthday

You already know how much I like this shade. There’s someone in my family who likes to put glitter confetti in birthday cards – this reminds me of that, but way less messy. Super flashy! I recommend putting it over a foil, white, or black, but it’s up to you! I also advise at least two thick coats of Seche Vite on top so the nail surface feels smooth to the touch. I usually buy mine at Nordstrom, but you can get Deborah Lippmann polishes on her website, at Neiman Marcus, Lord and Taylor, and bluemercury.

Deborah Lippmann Happy Birthday Nail Polish

Deborah Lippmann Happy Birthday Nail Polish

9. OPI Siberian Nights

Another über-chic shade, Siberian Nights is stunning against skin of all shades. While black will always be the new black, this super-dark purple is a way more fabulous polish option. While I am pretty rigid with my pedicures (almost only red and pink), this is a wonderful and unexpected choice for toes.

OPI Siberian Nights Nail Polish

OPI Siberian Nights Nail Polish

10. China Glaze For Audrey

China Glaze is amazing across the board, so I was torn picking a color. I don’t think China Glaze gets enough credit – they have awesome seasonal shades and a terrific permanent collection. My only complaint is that they’re harder for me to find. I get mine at Sally Beauty (luckily I have a new one of those stores!) and Ulta. Their distribution should be as widespread as Essie and OPI! Anyway, For Audrey is a great spring and summer shade, considering how turquoise seems to be trendy every year. Smooth application, though the brush is a little floppy for my taste. Looks great with white or silver anything layered on top, if that’s how you roll (Tiffany’s certainly knew what they were doing when they paired turquoise and white)! This is very close in color to a Tiffany & Co. box, but not an exact match as that color is trademarked by the jewelery company.

China Glaze For Audrey Nail Polish

China Glaze For Audrey Nail Polish

There you have it, everyone – my top ten nail polishes! Do you think that they’re worthy, or did I miss an opportunity to share an awesome polish on this list?

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