Wet n Wild MegaGlo Contouring Palette – DBW Product Review

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There was a time, not so long ago, when I shied away from setting powders because I believed powder of any kind emphasized my fine lines and wrinkles. Over the last 6-12 months I’ve had the opportunity to test some powders and application techniques. And I’ve discovered that finely milled, well-formulated powders applied and set properly can actually help to diminish the look of fine lines and age-related texture on my skin. These 2-shade powder palettes from Wet n Wild have become one of my favorites.

Price: $4.99 / for 0.44 oz. (12.5 grams) palette

Where to Buy: Wet n Wild is so at Walmart stores nationwide along with select CVS, Walgreens and other major discount retailers and drugstore chains.

Color Range: 2 shades are offered, both named after desserts – the lighter combo is “Dulce de Leche” and the darker is “Caramel Toffee.” The lighter combo provides a matte ivory highlight powder and a cool-toned contour shade. The deeper combo features a vanilla-toned highlight shade that’s also matte and akin to a pressed version of Ben Nye’s Banana Powder (made famous by Kim Kardashian and her MUA). The darker combo also includes a deeper shade intended for contouring that is a more neutral in tone, containing a nice balance of cool and warm tones. Experts tell us cool tones (with more blue/gray undertones) are more appropriate for contouring because they most closely mimic actual shadows.
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Application, Texture and Finish: These powders, especially the lighter shade, can easily be applied with a puff, makeup sponge or brush of any size. These palettes do kick up a good bit of powder when you dip your brush into them, so plan for some fall-out. I find that the lighter shades very similar to a loose powder. It’s very finely milled and incredibly soft, but it’s a talc base so the texture differs from MAKE UP FOR EVER’s HD Finishing Powder (that one’s 100% silica). I find that any excess powder is easily removed with a brush or damp beautyblender® type sponge. And any overly powdered look is easily remedied with a good setting spray.

Coverage: Because the lighter shades are intended as highlight, they don’t provide a lot of coverage. They’re somewhat sheer. However, they do offer sufficient coverage and brightening to perform the intended effect.

I’m not that big into full-on contouring because I’ve never figured out how to pull off that look without looking muddy. I do enjoy using the darker shade for a little light bronzing around the perimeter of my face. And it works incredibly well as a transitional eye shadow shade because it blends like a dream!

Wear: Applied and set these powders don’t budge. My favorite way application is using the lighter shade to set under-eye concealer. It works extremely well for baking – decreasing any creasing you may experience with your favorite concealer and improving the longevity and wear time. I find that I may need the occasional powder up after 5-6 hours of wear, usually only in my oiliest areas or if I’m wearing particularly oily moisturizer underneath these powders that day. On a positive note, I have never experienced any oxidizing or color-changing with these powders even when applied over heavy-duty moisturizers or when set with my DIY Glowy Setting Spray (which includes a bit of oil from the added antioxidants). That’s good news for oily-skinned gals who’ve experienced the dreaded oxidation “orange face” that happens mid-day with some powders.

Packaging: This is where you’ll recognize this as an inexpensive product. These palettes are enclosed in cheap plastic with a basic opaque black base and a thin, clear plastic lid that scratches easily. The palettes have a basic snap-type closure that can break after a while or when dropped. The packaging is obviously not great, and if you plan to carry one of these in your makeup or travel bag, be mindful that the packaging means they’re more fragile. All things considered, I’d rather save money and get a great makeup bargain than spend an $15-20 extra for fancy packaging. But if you prefer beautiful packaging, Wet n Wild is probably not a brand that speaks to you anyway.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: Minimal. This is not a skin care product so don’t expect it to provide a bunch of antioxidants or skin-beneficial ingredients. These powders are composed primarily of talc, nylon, boron nitride and aluminum starch. Then again these palettes cost less than $5 and for the money you get a ton of product.

Full Ingredient List (per company website): Talc, Nylon-12, Boron Nitride, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Ethyl Macadamiate, Dimethicone, Magnesium Myristate, Synthetic Fluorphlogopite, Phenoxyethanol, Trimethylsiloxysilicate, Lauroyl Lysine, Caprylyl Glycol, Polybutene, Hexylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Tocopherol, o-Cymen-5-ol, Methicone (in shade 749A), [+/- (MAY CONTAIN/PEUT CONTENIR): Mica, Iron Oxides/CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499, Titanium Dioxide/CI 77891, Red 40 Lake/CI 16035, Yellow 5 Lake/CI 19140, Ultramarines/CI 77007].

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: These palettes are terrific beauty bargains for anyone looking to experiment with contour and highlighting. And they’re great on-the-go options for anyone who, like me, rushes out the door with their makeup half done (intending to finish in the car or upon arrival at their destination) or anyone needing a fantastic touch-up powder combo. I should add that this is currently my second favorite setting powder, second only to the far more expensive Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38 / 1 ounce) which is also talc-based and considered among the best setting powders in the industry. Yes, it’s that good! Give these palettes strong consideration. They’re worth the $5.

One final comment, Wet n Wild claims on the front side packaging for these products that they are cruelty free. However, the back side packaging clearly states they are made in China, which some would say negates the “cruelty-free” claims. If that’s an issue for you, be advised.

Additional Reviews:
Makeup Alley ratings https://www.makeupalley.com/product/showreview.asp/ItemId=177909/Coloricon-Contouring-Palette/Wet–n–Wild/Contour (4.3 / 5 lipsticks; 83% of Reviewers said they would repurchase).
Stacy Makeup’s Review (spoiler – she recommends these palettes as an all-around beauty bargain).
* It’s interesting to note that many of the more well-known makeup review sites don’t yet have reviews for these palettes. So they’re kind of under-the-radar beauty products that seem to garner positive ratings among those who have tried them.
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For more information, check out the full product info and Wet n Wild company page here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known.” I Corinthians 13:12 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

DIY Glowy Makeup Setting Spray

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Setting sprays have become extremely popular over the last few years. Beauty Bloggers across the internet and YouTube Beauty Vloggers have identified these sprays as essential to creating the perfect makeup look. There are so many sprays on the market promising to do everything from prep and prime the face for makeup to set and perfect a completed makeup look, control oil, provide just the right amount of luminosity and ensure your makeup lasts 12+ hours without fading, caking or creasing.

Those are some big promises! And for the record, no single makeup product can do all that. That being said, a good setting spray can do some great things in terms of finishing your makeup look and providing some nice benefits to your skin, depending on the ingredients included in your spray of choice.

You have be careful because there are a lot of setting sprays that have high alcohol contents (e.g., the very popular L’Oréal Infallible Pro-Spray and Set is extremely high in alcohol and fragrance so it’s basically like spraying hairspray on your face!). The alcohol in some (thankfully not all) of these sprays can not only dry out your face but has been shown to cause death to skin cells in a dose-dependent rate (read more about alcohol types used in skin care and the latest research here). In layman’s terms that means the more you use those sprays, the more you could be killing your skin cells (source). Scary stuff!

The best alcohol-free setting sprays tend to have a few common ingredients (generally a base of water, glycerin, some sort of slip-agent and a few antioxidants thrown in), but they can also be fairly expensive. MAC’s Prep and Prime Fix+ (AKA Fix+) is one of the most enduringly-popular setting sprays with some of the most vocal YouTube devotees (including my favorite YouTube beauty blogger Tati Westbrook AKA . Cost = $23 for 3.4 fluid oz. MAC’s website doesn’t provide the full product ingredient list but states Fix+ is “infused with a blend of green tea, chamomile and cucumber.” According to the Paula’s Choice / Beautypedia Fix+ review here, this spray is composed primarily of water, glycerin, butylene glycol (slip enhancer), along with some chamomile, cucumber and green tea extracts as well as some Vitamin E, panthenol and caffeine thrown in for good measure. But the key ingredients in terms of makeup setting, eliminating a powdery look and helping several layers meld together into a seamless finished look are actually the water and glycerin. The glycerin is especially important for imparting that lovely glow and helps the other ingredients in the spray blend together well so I encourage you not to skip it. Vegans take note – vegetable glycerin available from Amazon, Vitacost, or other Internet sites.

Consider the antioxidants in this spray as an added bonus, not your primary source. You’ll still want to use your regular serum and moisturizers. But this recipe includes some great antioxidants! Green tea is well-established as a potent anti-oxidant and skin soother. Chamomile is a great ingredient to include in your setting spray because it also provides antioxidant and skin-soothing even benefits (source) and some research has shown it may be helpful in fading sun spots (source, and the marks left behind from acne scarring (source).
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A Few Notes about Storage: Many of those un-pronounceable (not sure that’s a word) ingredients you see so often in cosmetics are actually preservatives which extend the shelf life of the product, since companies have no idea how long they’ll sit on the shelf before purchase and/or how long it will take you to consume the contents. This spray has no preservatives or funky chemicals. For that reason, once you get the full recipe mixed up, you may consider pouring half into a smaller spray/storage bottle and stashing it in your refrigerator until ready to use.
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Since I’m all about reduce and reuse, if I make this spray during the summer (when I’m likely to store it in the refrigerator full-time), I usually pour the full recipe into this dark-colored bottle which previously held One ‘n Only brand Argan Oil Treatment, which I’ve carefully washes a couple of times with hot soapy water. Then I just keep in the fridge so it’s nice a cool when I use it!
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Otherwise, I pour half into this 2 oz. bottle which previously held E.L.F. Cosmetic’s Mist and Set which excludes glycerin but includes several great skin-beneficial ingredients and antioxidants including forms of Vitamins C, E and A and some Green Tea. The dark bottles protects the fragile antioxidants in this recipe. If you don’t have any suitably-sized dark bottles available for reuse, keep in mind that Walmart and other discount retailers sell spray bottles for reasonable prices in various sizes and colors.
Ingredients:
• 1 pouch each green tea + chamomile tea brewed with 1/2 cup (or 4 oz.) total distilled or filtered water
• 1 Tbsp. glycerin
• 2 Tbsp. rose water
• 1 Evening Primrose Oil gel-tab (optional, oily skin types may skip this as it adds additional oil)

Hardware:
• Measuring Spoon
• Clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (preferably one made of opaque or dark-colored material to preserve antioxidant ingredients)
• Sewing needle (optional)
• Funnel (optional)

Instructions:
1. Brew chamomile and green tea in 1/2 cup filtered or distilled water if possible. Allow tea to steep at least 5 minutes. For best results, allow tea to steep covered overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Pour cooled tea into a clean 6-8 oz. spray bottle (I find using a small funnel help prevent making a mess or wasting half the tea when pouring). Then add 2 Tbsp. rose water and glycerin.
3. Finally (if desired), using a clean sharp sewing needle very carefully puncture evening primrose gel-tab and squeeze contents into spray or storage bottle. Then tightly secure lid onto the bottle and gently shake bottle before using or pouring into desired storage bottles.

Wisdom for the Day:
“In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp, two-edged sword. His face was like the sun when it shines in all its brightness.” ~Revelation 1:16 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

If you’re interested in discovering an easy and delicious recipe combining the health-benefits of green tea and the proven anti-aging benefits of collagen proteins, check out this link from Daily Beauty Wisdom: The Amazing Anti-Aging Power of Collagen Part 2 – Beautifying Beverage Recipes

Making Milani’s Conceal+Perfect Foundation Work for All Skin Types

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Recently, I wrote how my excitement to try Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer quickly turned to disappointment when it didn’t look very pretty on me. After all the buzz around this foundation, I really wanted to make it work for me so I kept playing around with it and discovered some tricks that ensure I achieve a beautiful result every time I reach for this.

I have come to the conclusion that this really is a great foundation that’s worth the hype. But this is not as easy foundation. It’s not one to reach for on lazy (AKA no-makeup look) days. It’s the one to grab when you’re short on time. This process I outline below involves several steps (5 to be exact; though you could conceivably combine Steps #1-2 if you have a favorite water-based daytime moisturizer that gives you broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or more. I’ve just never found one). This may require more time than you may have most mornings. So you may want to save this for special occasions or days when you have extra time because the result is beautiful and worth the effort.

Some basic concepts to help you achieve the best results:
• First and foremost you need to understand the chemical composition of this foundation. It’s oil-free and made up primarily of water and silicones (if you’re interested I’ve included the full ingredient list at the bottom of this post and highlighted all the silicones for reference). So you want to diminish the amount of oil on the surface of your skin and avoid using any products that contains oils to ensure prettiest application and longest wear-time of the foundation. Hint – this is NOT the time to use Wayne Goss’ famous add a drop of oil to your foundation trick. Instead, you want to follow a couple of other Wayne Goss tips, blotting your face of excess oil throughout the application process and carefully avoiding any products that counteract the ingredients in this foundation.
• With each step/trick, I try to give several options for the products I suggest. You almost certainly can get this done with products you have on hand once you get the idea of the types of products that work. Then check out your stash for similar options you could try.
• I’ve done a complete review of the foundation below for anyone who may be curious about this foundation. You can read that review posted separately here.
• Each of the following steps are based on prepping the skin to be in the best condition to receive this foundation, so the makeup applies its best and has every chance to last 10 hours (or longer). In order to make this foundation work, you need to use products that have similar ingredients to Conceal+Perfect….again, reference the ingredient list – avoid oils and stick to water or silicone-based products. When I first tried to use this foundation, my biggest problem (when I had bad results) was trying to apply it over several oil-based moisturizing products which were basically counterproductive.

Application Steps and My Tips:
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Step #1 – Prep your skin with a good silicone-based oil-free antioxidant serum followed by a water-based moisturizer. The type of serum and moisturizer you use are important. This is NOT the time to use your trusty Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing+ Lotion (it’s a sesame oil base) or to use Argan Oil (yes, it is good for you, but it won’t work here). My favorite antioxidant serums are from Paula’s Choice, and Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum is absolutely brilliant under tricky foundations like this one. It provides an extraordinary cocktail of anti-aging skin goodies in a super-light silicone base with zero oil. Top your serum of choice with a good oil-free moisturizer. CeraVe’s PM Moisturizing Lotion (or CVS’s awesome generic version, pictured above) and Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Gel-Cream Extra-Dry Skin or Hydro Boost Water Gel (for normal/combination skins) are great oil-free moisturizer that absorb quickly while providing excellent hydration and skin-beneficial ingredients like hyaluronic acid. Allow lotion to absorb into skin at least five minutes. Then move on to Step #2.
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Step #2 – Using a plain tissue (do NOT use the kind with added lotion or emollients), oil-blotting paper or even TP (no shame), lightly blot away any excess moisture from your face. If you’re applying this foundation at night, you can go ahead and skip ahead to Step #3 now.

If you are getting ready to go out during the daytime, you now want to apply a lightweight easily absorbed sunscreen with broad spectrum sun protection of at least SPF30. I like Coppertone Clearly Sheer Faces Broad Spectrum SPF50 (which is an all-chemical sunscreen best for non-sensitive skin types) or Neutrogena pure & free Liquid Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF50 with purescreen® (all-mineral sunscreen best for sensitive skins. Read more about this product and other inexpensive broad-spectrum sunscreens here). Both these products have a thin, almost watery consistency that absorbs quickly. The Coppertone option is a chemical sunscreen so it absorbs more easily leaving no white or gray cast behind, but it’s also more likely to cause an allergic reaction in the most sensitive individuals. Allow sunscreen a few (3-4) minutes to absorb. Then proceed to Step #3.
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Step #3 – Blot your face again (oily skin types, do NOT skip this step). Then apply a silicone-based primer to your T-zone and any other areas where your foundation tends to apply unevenly or break up during the day. Allow primer to set at least 3-5 minutes. Then blot again (yes, again!) with a clean tissue or blotting paper.

A few of my favorite primers for this application include: L’Oréal Revitalift Miracle Blur Instant Skin Smoother Finishing Cream SPF30; Garnier Skin Renew 5 Second Blur Instant Smoother; Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer (I have the Green Color-correcting one, but they’re all terrific); Napoleon Perdis Auto Pilot Radiance Boosting Primer (this is the best primer for dry or aging skin). Give your primed skin at least 3 minutes to allow primer and other products to fully absorb and skin to be completely dry before proceeding to actual foundation application (Step #4).
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Step #4 – Use a damp makeup sponge apply 1 pump Milani Conceal+Perfect foundation and 1 pump (3-4 drops) of your favorite oil-free BB Cream (my favorite is Dr. Jart’s Premium BB Cream SPF45+ though be careful with this because it contains a teeny amount of soybean oil) or an oil-free highlighter (dry skins or anyone looking for a more sheer more luminous finish). My favorite liquid highlighters for this step include: Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights (which is an excellent inexpensive liquid illuminator but has become increasingly difficult to find in stores though according to Revlon’s website indicates that this product has not been discontinued) and NYX Cosmetics Born to Glow Liquid Illuminator.  Stay away from Becca’s Shimmering Skin Enhancer in this case, though. Because even though it’s a terrific liquid highlighter and comes in some really flattering shades, it contains both avocado and mineral oils, so it will cause the foundation to break apart and look patchy.

Build this foundation in thin layers if you’re a makeup novice (like me) and not an expert makeup artist. It’s easier and ensures a prettier result. For the final layer, I like to mix equal parts Conceal+Perfect foundation and concealer (my current favs are Tarte’s Shape Tape and Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer ) on the back of my hand and dab that mixture in a triangle shape under my eyes and cheek area using my finger. Then I’ll blend this mixture out using my damp beautyblender® sponge. Finally, I’ll use a small amount of foundation to touch up any other blemishes or discolorations needing additional concealing before moving onto finishing touches (Step #5).
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Step #5 – Once you are satisfied with the level of coverage you’ve achieved, blend out any creasing and set this product with your favorite setting powder. There are lots of good ones available in all price ranges so don’t get carried away by the hype. I definitely recommend setting this foundation with powder, even for drier skins but especially for those with combo to oily skins not only to avoid creasing but for best longevity and most flawless result. If you have the time, you can also bake the undereye or areas where large pores are an issue. And I like to finish with a few spritzes of setting spray. My current favorite setting spray is E.L.F.’s Makeup Mist and Set but any oil-free setting spray will work.
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Additional Notes on Application: Milani states this foundation may be applied, “…with fingertips or a brush beginning at the center of the face, blending outward.” I prefer applying this with a damp beautyblender® type sponge. I had some success using my finger as well, but I just really dislike apply foundation with fingers. For some reason I dislike the feeling of it on my fingers and hands. Has nothing to do with the texture of this particular product. Actually, if you enjoy using your fingers to apply foundation, this may be a good match for you because the warm of your fingers may help you spread this around. Because it’s thicker than your typical liquid foundation (MUF’s Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation for example), I found that applying it with a brush left streaks and wasn’t very pretty. I wouldn’t try brush application unless you’re lucky enough to own an Artis (oval 7) foundation brush. Finally, though Milani suggests applying “a dime-sized amount of product,” all at once, I’d caution against it. I suggest applying thinner layers until achieving desired level of coverage. Trying to apply too much all at once tends to make the product bunch up and look heavy.

Summary: Remember that this foundation is oil-free and composed primarily of water and silicones, so you want to take the time to prep your skin using water and silicone-based products and control any surface oil you may have on your skin. Avoid using any products that contain oil. Dry or combo skin types will want to use a water-based moisturizer and allow sufficient time for it to absorb. Then tissue off excess moisture before applying a light broad-spectrum sunscreen and silicone-based primer. Those with oily skin will want to take extra care to prime skin with an oil-controlling primer and tissue off excess oil between each step. Because this foundation is thick, it is best applied in thin layers with a damp makeup sponge. You can thin it out even more by adding a drop or 2 of highlighter or BB cream. You can also mix it with your favorite (oil-free) concealer to highlight and brighten. Be sure to set this product with your preferred setting powder and finish with your favorite setting spray (if desired).

#NoFilter Milani's Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

#NoFilter Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer

Ingredient List: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate (oil-free emollient), Cetyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Mica (shine), Glycerin (oil-free emollient), BIS-PEG/PPG Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Bis-Vinyl Dimethicone, Ozokerite (wax), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Beeswax (wax), Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate (oil-free emollient), Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xanthan Gum, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Glycereth-18, Aluminum Dimyristate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Allantoin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyisobutene, C18-21 Alkane. +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

Read the full Daily Beauty Wisdom Review of Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer here.

Wisdom for the Day:
All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory. ~II Corinthians 3:18 (Good News Translation)
Read more here.

Super Cheap+Super Easy DIY Makeup Brush+Sponge Cleaning Spray

Take Care of Your Brushes and They'll Last a Long Time!

Take Care of Your Brushes and They’ll Last a Long Time!


As I’ve written previously, I believe good quality makeup brushes are a wise beauty investment. And like any investment, you need to protect your investments by caring for your brushes and cleaning them regularly.

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

I have found that Sephora’s Solid Clean: Solid Brush Cleaner ($14 for 1 oz.) is excellent for deep cleaning brushes and ULTA’s Makeup Brush and Sponge Cleaner (spray; $10 for 5.1 fluid oz.) is less expensive; works well for quick cleanups; but doesn’t provide the same thorough results and has an odd smell to me.

So I set out to create a simple, inexpensive brush cleaner recipe. This recipe works very well, effectively removing the most tenacious waterproof gels and stains. I store this in a small (6oz. size) spray bottle. Then I make a second batch using slightly less water (described below) to keep in a non-spray bottle to clean my sponges.

Brushes in Need of Cleaning

Brushes in Need of Cleaning


Clean Brushes in a Jiffy!

Clean Brushes in a Jiffy!


I love using Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo to clean my makeup brushes! I find that it’s the best thing for remover tough, waterproof gels and creams. The best place to purchase Kenra products is probably ULTA because ULTA always almost offers $3.50 off $10 coupon is available electronically or in their catalogs. (Click here to sign up to automatically receive ULTA emails or here to enroll in ULTA’s text alert program). ULTA also periodically offers 20% off coupons and other deals for Platinum ULTA Members and ULTAMATE Rewards Credit Card holders. Learn more at ULTA.com or the ULTA store nearest you.
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If you already have a clarifying shampoo that you love or just want/need an even cheaper option, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo may be substituted for the Kenra Shampoo and works (almost) as well. And you can save some more money by signing up here to receive Johnson and Johnson brand coupons.

Ingredients:
• 2 Tbsp. Dawn Original or 1 Tbsp. Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid
• 2 Tbsp. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo or Johnson’s® Original Baby Shampoo
• 5 oz. (10 Tbsp.) filtered or distilled water

Hardware:
• Measuring spoons
• Small spray bottle (6-8 oz. size)
• Small funnel
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Instructions:
1. Carefully pour all 3 ingredients into a small spray bottle.
2. Tightly place lid on bottle and shake well to thoroughly combine ingredients.
3. Shake well before each use.
Makes about 5 oz. of cleanser.

NOTE: If you need a liquid brush and sponge cleaner or just don’t want to use a spray, you can easily adjust this recipe as follows – decrease the amount of water from 5oz. to 4oz. (8 Tbsp.) and keep all other measurements the same. Then, pour mixture into desired storage bottle.
Cleanser recipe can also be doubled to product 8-10oz. Use twice the above amounts of shampoo+dish liquid (to 4 Tbsp. of each) and double water to 10oz. (20 Tbsp.) for spray bottle or 8oz. (16 Tbsp.) for non-spray bottle.

Check this related post – $1 Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool – if you want to learn more about this genius and inexpensive little silicone cleaning tool you can pick up for just over $1 at your local Wal-Mart.

Wisdom for the Day:
“That is what some of you used to be! But you were washed clean, you were made holy to God, and you were made right with God in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” ~I Corinthians 6:11 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

$1 Makeup Brush Cleaning Tool – Available at Walmart

Can a $1.25 Tool Clean My Messy Makeup Brushes?

Can a $1.25 Tool Clean My Messy Makeup Brushes? Yes!!!

I’ve tried to be honest about the fact that I’m not a makeup artist/expert. I’m a makeup fan/lover (there’s a big difference). My skill level may best be described as amateur, but I’m getting better, primarily because I’ve gradually acquired some nice makeup brushes. Quality makeup brushes are an investment. You really only need 5-10 high quality makeup brushes to take your makeup application technique to the next level.

Of course, you’ll need to properly care for those brushes in order to ensure they last a long time and give you the most bang for your beauty buck. And that means regularly cleaning them. That’s the step that tends to trip up busy moms (like me). We all know cleaning our brushes is important. Dirty brushes = patchy uneven colors; poor distribution of creams and liquids; breeding grounds for acne-causing bacteria; etc.

In recent years, an entire industry has grown around makeup brushes and cleaning led by innovators like the Chapman Sisters of Real Techniques fame along with Rea Ann Silva and the others at beautyblender®. So many companies today now offer cleaning supplies including brush cleaning solutions, wipes, mitts and even electronic brush cleaners like these (for a whopping $120+)!

Don’t worry. You don’t have to spend that much to quickly and effectively clean your brushes. One of my favorite YouTube Beauty vloggers – Emily Noel – raved about these silicone brush-cleaning eggs mitts she discovered at an “everything for $1” subscription shopping website in this video:

Emily is so adorable and enthusiastic. She almost always convinces me, but I’m trying to avoid signing up with any additional shopping sites. Too tempting. Still, those brush cleaners intrigued me, especially at just $1 + $3.95 shipping (roughly $3/each). So when I spotted these Lil’ Scrubbies facial brushes at Wal-Mart priced at just $2.43 (plus tax) for two, I grabbed them immediately hoping they’d work as well as Emily’s egg mitts. I tested my Scrubbies-as-makeup-brush-cleaners theory, and they worked great!
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To be clear, the Lil’ Scrubbies are designed to be used as facial exfoliators. But (as I’ve written before) I don’t need that because I’m really satisfied with my Foreo LUNA sonic cleanser. Both my Foreo LUNA and the Lil’ Scrubbies are made of quality silicone and have very similar scrubbing surfaces. So if you don’t currently have a daily facial cleansing tool you love, these little guys can meet that need as well (although Lil’ Scrubbies obviously will not provide the oscillating sonic technology of the Foreo LUNA).

Left: Foreo LUNA (Sensitive/Normal Skins) Right: Lil Scrubbies Silicone Facial Scrub Brush

Left: Foreo LUNA (Sensitive/Normal Skins)
Right: Lil Scrubbies Silicone Facial Scrub Brush

Lil’ Scrubbies’ have 2 different surface textures – tiny bristles and little round nubs which allow you to quickly clean different-sized and shaped brushes. The small nobs are especially effective at cleaning the sides of tapered brushes. The Scrubbies are made of a single piece of silicone with a suction cup feature built into the back. This suction cup piece makes it easier to securely hold the wet soapy Scrubbie securely between two fingers of your non-dominant hand while you scrub the brush with your dominant hand.
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You’re also able to keep the Scrubbie and the brush secure while cleaning and also have your thumb free in case you need to apply more pressure to spread out the tip of the brush to get it thoroughly clean (as Emily describes around 6:00 in the video).
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I found them exceptionally easy to use and effective in cleaning all types of brushes – from large fluffy powder brushes to flat-topped kabuki brushes to tapered shadow brushes and lash combs. Lil’ Scrubbies cleaned my brushes gently without ripping out the bristles or breaking the hairs. All this for a price of $1.215 each!
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Lil’ Scrubbies themselves are easy to clean with warm water and (if necessary a gentle soap). Then simply store on your mirror using the suction cup feature until ready for next use.

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

Clean Brushes All in a Row and Ready to Be Hung up to Dry

One last thing, toward the end of the video Emily talks about the brush drying “Sunflower tree” she uses for drying her brushes. Those trees retail for around $40 plus tax and shipping. Learn more here. But I use this recipe book rack I had sitting around (unused and in the way) in our kitchen. It works perfectly to hold for most (not all) of my brushes as they dry. It keeps them off the bathroom counter and holds them at a slightly downward angle, preventing water from collecting in the metal barrel of the brushes (which can damage the brushes and shorten their lifespans).

Multi-Tasking - A Repurposed Recipe Rack Holds Clean Makeup Brushes

Multi-Tasking – A Repurposed Recipe Rack Holds Clean Makeup Brushes

Wisdom for the Day:
Purify me from sin with hyssop, and I will be clean. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ~Psalm 51:7 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer – Product Review

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

Milani Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation + Concealer

When YouTube Beauty experts began touting a new drugstore foundation that provided water-resistant full coverage for less than $10, I was super excited. I went to multiple drug stores across our area. I ultimately located a single bottle in a CVS store over an hour from our home (thank you online product locator!). I waited to try the product until I found another bottle in a second shade. Another family member heard about my searching and found a couple of stray bottles in her town so I ended up with 3 bottles of this tough-to-come-by product. But alas, after all that effort and all the hype, I was pretty disappointed because it just didn’t look very good on me. The coverage was there but it seemed to emphasize every tiny bit of texture on my face. Worst of all, it settled in the crows feet around my eyes. That’s an unpardonable foundation sin in my eyes (no pun intended). So I set all 3 bottles aside, writing the whole experience off as yet another makeup disappointment in along the way in the endless search for my holy grail foundation.
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A few days later I noticed those bottles and got to thinking about all the effort that went into obtaining them so I decided to play with it a little to see if I could make it work for me. I really wanted to like it because inexpensive foundations with this level of coverage do not come along every day. When I was younger, not that much younger, but before I got married and before I had our daughter playing with makeup was fun. Now it’s more of a chore because I don’t have a lot of time to do it, but I happened to have a few minutes on this day to play. So I took my time and prepped my skin with a good moisturizer and sunscreen. I allowed it sink in and then blotted my face before applying a primer which I allowed to set for a god 5 minutes. Then I used a damped beauty blender® and applied 2 pumps of this foundation along with another couple of products (explained in a separate post) and set it with a powder. You know what? It’s a really beautiful foundation! I discovered that even those of us with dry or mature skin can wear this foundation and have a lovely result. I have come to the conclusion that most people can’t just slap this foundation on and expect it to be pretty. It’s tricky for both dry and oily skins alike. But with proper prep it’s lovely; has a beautiful full-coverage finish and long wear-time. It may not be realistic for you to go through the prep to wear this everyday. But at this price point, Milani’s Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer deserves strong consideration for a spot in your beauty top drawer lineup.

MILANI Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer. Photo from Milani.com

MILANI Conceal+Perfect 2-in-1 Foundation+Concealer. Photo from Milani.com

Price: $9.99 for a 1 oz. pump

Color Range: Milani created 14 shades this foundation in 14 shades most of which are neutral, with varying levels of yellow or red undertones. It’s worth noting that several reviewers have complained that the lightest shade, 01 (Creamy Vanilla), is too dark and/or too yellow for very pale complexions. I can successfully wear shade 03 (Light Beige) or 04 (Medium Beige) and noticed that several of the shades are workable for light-medium skin tones. I’ve also noticed that most drugstores only carry a few shades; that none of the Walmarts in our area carried this foundation; and that none of the stores carried any of the darker shades which was really disappointing.

This product has a lot in common with Urban Decay’s recently launched “All Nighter” Foundation (similar texture, coverage and longevity promises). But while Milani offers fewer shade options, those shades don’t tend to darken, change colors on the dry-down or noticeably oxidize which are common complaints among reviewers at Makeup Alley of All Nighter.

Coverage: This is FULL coverage friends! Full. Coverage. Lots of foundations promise full coverage, but this one delivers. 2 Pumps was fully sufficient to cover my whole face with a damp sponge. I had enough left over to cover some sun spots on my chest and touch up some red areas around my nose that always need extra coverage.

Re Milani’s claim that this doubles as a concealer – yes and no. As I mentioned above, additional layers or spot application quickly and easily covered and sun spots or minor discoloration but it is not sufficient to cover the puffiness and dark circles under my eyes. For that, I need to mix the foundation with high-powered concealer.

Texture + Finish: The texture of this one could be described as a liquid/cream hybrid. The finish is more satin than matte with a hint of luminosity that is flattering at first, especially on dryer skin. However, it can emphasize any uneven texture or flaws on the skin and may not flatter oilier skin types.

Wear: Milani claims this foundation is waterproof and wears all day, and “works around the clock to keep skin looking naturally perfect.” This will wear at least 6 hours with a silicone-based primer. And because the finish is more satin than matte, I’d recommend setting it with powder, even for drier skins and especially for those with combo to oily skins. Oily skins will get the longest wear by using a mattifying primer underneath. Dry skins should be careful not to use an oil-based moisturizer or sunscreen product before applying this foundation. Because this is an oil-free foundation it won’t react well to oil-based products and that oil will in fact cause the foundation to break apart, shortening the its longevity.

Application: Milani recommends the following application, “Apply a dime-sized amount of product with fingertips or a brush beginning at the center of the face, blending outward.” I prefer applying this with a damp beautyblender® type sponge. I had some success using my finger as well, but I just really dislike apply foundation with fingers. For some reason I dislike the feeling of it on my fingers and hands. Has nothing to do with the texture of this particular product. Actually, if you enjoy using your fingers to apply foundation, this may be a good match for you because the warm of your fingers may help you spread this around. Because it’s thicker than your typical liquid foundation (MUF’s Ultra HD Foundation for example), I found that applying it with a brush left streaks and just wasn’t very pretty. I wouldn’t try it unless you’re lucky enough to own an Artis (oval 7) foundation brush. To avoid creasing, I’d recommend setting this with powder, even for drier skins but especially for those with combo to oily skins.

Skin Beneficial Ingredients: This foundation is composed primarily of water and a mix of multiple silicones (all the silicones highlighted below) as well as various oil-free emollients including glycerins and wax. This also contains a very small amount of a fruit-based (in this case plum) extract – Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract – shown to provide some antioxidant properties. But it’s way down the ingredient list and not a powerful or well-researched antioxidant so I would count on it to do very much for your skin.

Full Ingredient List: Water, Cyclopentasiloxane, Isononyl Isononanoate (oil-free emollient), Cetyl Dimethicone, Butylene Glycol, Mica (shine), Glycerin (oil-free emollient), BIS-PEG/PPG Dimethicone, VP/Eicosene Copolymer, Bis-Vinyl Dimethicone, Ozokerite (wax), Polymethylsilsesquioxane, Disteardimonium Hectorite, Sodium Chloride, Phenoxyethanol, Beeswax (wax), Glycereth-18 Ethylhexanoate (oil-free emollient), Potassium Sorbate, Silica, Caprylyl Glycol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Xanthan Gum, Isododecane, Propylene Carbonate, Prunus Domestica Fruit Extract, Glycereth-18, Aluminum Dimyristate, Triethoxycaprylylsilane, Disodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Allantoin, C30-45 Alkyl Cetearyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Polyisobutene, C18-21 Alkane. +/- May Contain: Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499).

Summary and Daily Beauty Wisdom Rating: There’s much to love about this product. But if you read the reviews, you’ll notice lots of people have trouble with it too. It’s definitely tricky. Oily skinned gals find it breaks up and gets shiny; while those with drier skin find it emphasizes rough patches and fine lines. When I first tried this foundation, I was really disappointed and was convinced it just didn’t work for me. It takes a couple of tries and sufficient prep to get it to work for you. If you have the time and patience, it can be a beautiful, cost-efficient foundation for days when you want to “go all out.” I’m loving this one now. After some trial and error, this has become my current fav. It’s even replaced Revlon’s ColorStay Whipped Creme Makeup as my go-to foundation for a flawless, full coverage look. Be on the look-out for a follow-up post sharing the tricks I discovered to make this work for me!

Additional Reviews:
Influenster Reviews (4.2 / 5 star rating)
Makeup Alley Reviews (3.2 / 5 lipsticks rating)
Allure Magazine Reviews (ranked as Allure Best of Beauty for 2016 and Allure Best Beauty Steals for 2016)

Find full product detail and info at Milani’s product page here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like.” ~James 1:23-24 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.
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E.L.F. $1 Essentials Eyebrow Stencils – Product Review

I’ve struggled with my eyebrows for decades, DECADES! My God-given brows are very dark brown and full. In my early 20s I went blond and decided those dark brown brows were way too harsh. But instead of doing the wise thing (i.e. tinting them a lighter shade), I plucked them until they were nearly invisible. Hey, thin brows were the thing in the late 1990s / early 2000s. Still, when I look back at pics of myself from those years, I shudder. My whole face looks weird.

On the left, 11 years old with natural (untouched) hair and brows; At right, 20 years old with big blond hair and barely-there brows.

On the left, 11 years old with natural (untouched) hair and brows; At right, 20 years old with big blond hair and barely-there brows.

When I finally put down the tweezers, my brows did grow back, albeit less full and with a few holes. But I found myself completely unsure about how to style them. I spent hours browsing (pun intended) IG pics and video tutorials for #Instagrambrows, #browsonfleek, #browsheldhigh, and so on. I bought tons of brow products – gels, powders, pencils, combs, spoolies, brushes, etc. Finally I decided I needed some sort of guide. I found this video from Angie of Hot & Flashy.com.
In this video Angie demos and highly recommends an all-in-brow kit from Too Faced. The kit retails for $39 and contains 3 stencils, 2 “universal” brow powders, a wax, one pair of tweezers, a mini slanted brush and a mini spoolie brush.

So, I started thinking, I already have most of those products. What I need is stencils! After searching for several weeks I found these at one of the Wal-marts in our area, but I’d probably checked 3 or 4 before finding them. E.L.F.’s Essential Eyebrow Stencils are one of the best, most cost-efficient beauty purchases I’ve made in years. They’re incredibly easy to use; easy to clean; and (as I’ll explain) offer options for just about everyone. Since I began using these stencils a couple weeks ago, I received multiple compliments on my brows. The first compliments my brows have received since…well, since I went blond.

Brows again at last!

Brows again at last!

Price: $1

What You Get: 4 Flexible brow stencils in different sizes/shapes in order to accommodate different natural brow shapes or different styles you may want to try. The shapes included are fairly standard (though many kits only offer 3, not 4 stencils) and are as follows:
• Soft Arch – the most natural option
• Structured Arch – the highest arch with a sharp tail
• Curved Arch – a nicely curved arch and gently tapered tail
• Full Arch – the shape I chose, the most voluptuous shape with a fuller arch and tail

Special Features: A few aspects of this bargain-priced kit are special – The individual stencils are divided by a white piece of paper which has a cutout of the brow shape on the stencil behind it. That helps brow novices know for sure which stencil they’re looking at – i.e., “is this a structured or the full arch?” You can also hold the papers up to your own brows to try out the looks before committing to one of the stencils. When you select one of the stencils, you’ll find that the brow shapes are stamped onto the square silicone stencils but the brow shapes are not “punched” out. That means, if holding paper up to your brows didn’t help you select a stencil, you can pop out the individual shapes brow shapes and place each one over your own brows to determine which one/ones suit you best. You can also use those pop-out shapes to guide you in removing errant hairs outside your preferred shapes, especially helpful if you’re like me and tend to be tweezer-happy.

Lastly, these stencils are very flexible. They mold to the shape of your face and stretch slightly (but not overly so) to accommodate longer brows. That may seem like a small thing but some brow stencils are hard and inflexible which is strange because faces are not flat and because brows vary in length. The thin material of E.L.F.’s stencils warms to your skin’s temperature, allowing it to better adheres to your eye area, and making it much easier to hold the stencil in place with one hand. And that allows you an easier, quicker and more precise brow application every time!

Where to Buy: I found it at Wal-mart on the E.L.F. display. The selections vary store to store so you may have to check different Wal-marts if you can. Some drugstores, like CVS, also carry limited selections from the E.L.F. product lines. The only guaranteed way to purchase this or any E.L.F. product is from E.L.F.’s website. Shipping costs vary by location (E.L.F. offers free shipping to all USA sites for all orders of $25 and up).
See full product info here.

E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencils (photo from E.L.F website)

E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencils (photo from E.L.F website)

Summary: If you are brow-challenged or are a makeup beginner, this E.L.F. Essentials Eyebrow Stencil Kit is definitely worth the small investment!

Wisdom for the Day:
“My bride, my sister, you have charmed me. You have charmed me with a single glance from your eyes, with a single strand of your necklace.” ~Song of Solomon 4:9 (God’s Word Translation)
Read more here.

Giorgio Blue by Giorgio Beverly Hills – Fragrance Review

The Lovely Aquatic Giorgio Blue

The Lovely Aquatic Giorgio Blue

There’s an unspoken belief, particularly among perfume aficionados (like myself), that a perfume must be expensive in order to be good. I, for one, have always gone by the rule that you get what you pay for. There’s plenty of inexpensive (even cheap) perfumes that start out lovely but soon either disappear completely or dissolve into something so disastrous you can’t wait to take a shower.

Giorgio Blue by Giorgio Beverly Hills is one of those rare jewels that, despite being quite reasonably priced, is well-balanced, pretty, and somehow manages to last all day without overwhelming its wearer or offending those in the vicinity. For this reason, it’s a true beauty bargain. But Blue has other impressive qualities.

Giorgio Blue manages to pull off a feat few perfumes at any price point accomplish these days – it’s not particularly derivative or reminiscent of anything else on the market. It’s an aquatic white floral but doesn’t contain the most commonly used aquatic notes (think watery notes, watermelon, cucumber, etc.). Here the water essences are evoked by means of water hyacinth, juicy guava, musky essence and driftwood.

I’ve seen it compared to Aqua di Gio, but the latter is a very complex almost fussy perfume with a cacophony of notes mixed together (full review here). At such a low price, if you’re a fan of Aqua di Gio or aquatic florals, you may want to try this one for yourself.

Price and Where to Buy: Online is your best bet for purchasing Giorgio Blue. Some retailers like Kohls, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx carry it in stores but selection can be hit or miss, so I recommend the following online options:
Amazon.com – 3 oz. from $22.48
Fragrancenet.com – Usually a very reliable vendor but sold out at time of this writing.
FragranceX.com – 3 oz. from $16.82 plus shipping
Jet.com – $27.96 with free shipping
Walmart.com (sold through an affiliate vendor) – $27.98 for 3 oz. with free shipping

Notes: When first sprayed, you get hit with juicy orange and guava. But those quickly fade (as citruses so often do) and you’re notice something watery grounded by earthy moss and a very pronounced musk. As the fruits continue to dissipate, the white florals – jasmine, water lily, hyacinth and a fairly benign (to my nose at least) tuberose (which can if not tempered can ruthlessly overtake a fragrance); base notes are vanilla, musk, oak moss and driftwood. See below for additional detail on my own experience on the unfolding of the notes over wear-time.

Sillage: Moderate. 2 Sprays will get you a fragrance trajectory of around 2-4 feet depending on your body’s own chemistry, the weather, air pressure and environment, other scented lotions or products you apply, etc.

Longevity and Experience: This wears at least 6-8 hours (at least on my skin which eats fruity florals by breakfast). You’ll catch whiff’s of this all day, especially during moments of increased body heat (i.e. when your coworker does something that causes your temperature to raise). As it dries down, the musk and driftwood notes become more prominent. But you’ll still get occasional wafts of guava blended expertly with enough water lily, jasmine, and tuberose to feel bright and feminine but there also enough musk mixed in to warm things up and make the whole mélange feel a bit sexier, warmer and more summery somehow. It’s not a beachy fragrance per se, more like a romantic walk evening stroll by the lake.
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The Bottle: The bottle is shaded blue cut glass with gold cap. The bottle will may not rival Viktor and Rolf’s BonBon but (IMO) it’s as pretty as any those crazy-expensive Bond No. 9 New York bottles!

More Info:
Giorgio Beverly Hills burst onto the scene in the late 80s and faded almost as quickly. The company had all but disappeared from perfume lexicon as the early 2000s. That obscurity is a good thing for anyone preferring a unique personal fragrance instead of smelling exactly every other woman. Most recently the company was bought by Elizabeth Arden and Giorgio Blue was released in 2016, mercifully without any reformulation of changes to this magnificent and wonderfully hidden gem of fragrance.

  • Fragrantica’s Reviews of the original 2009 Giorgio Blue EDT and the 2016 release (not reformulated) following Elizabeth Arden’s purchase of the Giorgio Beverly Hills brand.
  • Makeup Alley’s Review may seen here.
  • FragranceX Review (NOTE this is a vendor site) may be seen here.
  • com Reviews (NOTE – this is a vendor site. Reviewers are Amazon purchasers) may be read here.

Wisdom for the Day:
“Oil and incense make the heart glad, and the sweetness of friends comes from their advice.” ~Proverbs 27:9 (Common English Bible)
Read more here.

French Provincial Furniture Rehab – Chest of Drawers Makeover

A few years ago when Hubs and I purchased our home, we found ourselves with 3,000+ sq. feet of area in need of decor and very few suitable pieces of furniture. Because we’d decided to spend most of our remaining cash (after all the initial mortgage monies were paid) on professional interior painting and in converting several rooms’ flooring from carpet to hardwood, we had very little left to spend on furniture. So, pretty quickly we decided our best bet was to purchase quality used furniture and refinish as necessary.

The first piece we rehabbed was this flat front, chest-on-chest piece circa 1950.
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We chose this chest because it’s well-made, solid wood and was in good condition. Plus, it actually came with this matching vanity and stool which we also refinished (I’ll described in separate posts).
IMG_3289We snagged these beauties for $350 total. My thinking was, because it’s flat front, the chest would be the easiest to tackle as my first refinishing project. What follows is a step-by-step description of what we did and what I learned during the process.

Step #1: Removing those hideous drawer pulls. Okay, so they’re not actually hideous. Maybe you like them, but they’re not my style and did not fit with my vision for the finished piece. Plus, removing the pulls made Step #2 a whole lot easier.

Step #2: Sanding. This took quite a while. We used 2 different electric sanders and ended up doing most of the work by hand. This is where I learned my first furniture refinishing tip. Stock up on woodworking masks because you never know what materials (and potentially even hazardous chemicals) may be flying around when you refinish a vintage piece. I nearly choked a few times, and I’m still not sure what types of fumes we inhaled as we sanded off countless layers of paint, varnish and sealants. Why take that chance? Now I wear a mask anytime we tackle this type of project. I’d add that I tried to save some cash by initially purchasing a cheap-o mask akin to those flimsy plastic Halloween masks kids wear. It left marks on my face. It was difficult to breathe through, and then the flimsy rubber band on the mask broke. Ugh the frustration! So, I recommend you purchase a sturdier, more comfortable (and yes, more expensive) mask like this one.

Step #2b: Ordering New Pulls and Appliqués. As I said, sanding took a while, so I took advantage of that delay by shopping. I spent hours browsing various internet sites, searching for exact right the pulls. The interesting thing about this chest is that the pulls on the top 3 drawers are smaller than those on the bottom two, despite having the same widths (both large and small pulls measure 2.5″ at the centers). So I really had to hunt to find pulls I liked that were available in both large and small sizes. Ultimately, we had great success with these purchased from the unfortunately-named MyKnobs.com. I was so pleased with the experience that we ultimately decided to order all new knobs for our bathroom cabinets from MyKnobs.com. I also wanted to jazz up the flat drawers by adding floral appliqués and found a great selection of floral appliqués at reasonable prices from Do It Yourself Chic retailer at ebay.com.

Step #3: Cleaning Up. Once you’ve finished sanding, it’s important to remove all the dust, as residual dust will keep the paint and primer from sticking. On the advice of various internet furniture painting gurus, we used baby wipes to clean the piece and remove excess sand, dust and debris prior to priming.  

Step #4: Applying Appliqués & Priming.  This step took longer than necessary. But, I learned the importance of applying appliqués BEFORE priming for best results. That’s my 2nd tip – furniture glue works best when applied directly to bare wood. If you going to add any decorative accents to the furniture you’re refinishing, do so before priming. This may seem self-evident to some, but I had to learn the hard way. I tried to apply appliqués to sanded and primed wood and it was a massive fail! The glue wouldn’t adhere and the appliqués kept sliding off. Ugh! Fortunately, it was a relatively easy fix. We just had to re-sand (to remove primer) the areas where we planned to place the appliqués. Vise grips also helped ensure the appliqués stayed in place while the glue dried. Bonus tip – We found that Gorilla Glue tends to be more effective than furniture glue for appliqué application. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover Primer, available from Home Depot and other retailers.

Step #5: Painting. I started painting by hand using a quart of warm white Valspar paint and a regular bristled brush. But after 3 coats, the coverage was streaky, and I disliked the brush strokes left behind. I experimented with using foam brushes and found that the coverage was smoother but drippy. Even though I sanded the piece by hand after each coat of paint, I still disliked the finish. After researching the best furniture painting guides online, I decided to switch to a different paint altogether – Rustoleum PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Satin Spray in Heirloom White. What a difference! This is now my all-time favorite paint. The coverage is beautiful. The spray nozzle works wonderfully and is so user-friendly in design. Unlike other sprays we’d tried (for smaller projects), this one never clogged or dripped. And the coverage is thin, smooth and even. No more drips or streaks! Tip 3 – If you’re new to refinishing or just don’t have time to bother with (seemingly) endless cycles of paint and sanding, get some PAINTER’S TOUCH® Ultra Cover 2x Spray. Other finishes are available but I love the satin.

Step #6: Gilding the Lilly. I love the look of golden patina over antique white painted furniture. I easily located a suitable (and inexpensive) stencil at the craft store and expected to make quick work of the stenciling using some gold craft paint. But alas, that attempt failed miserably. Next we tried several other gold paint options, everything from craft paint to specialty golden furniture paints. None seemed to stick to the paint or they were barely visible. Some even peeled right off. So we eventually sought advice from online resources and local paint stores, and ultimately purchased 1 quart of this pricey specialty gold paint, Benjamin Moore Studio Finishes Latex Metallic (at a cost of $50 for 1 QT) from the nearest Benjamin Moore retailer.
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Fortunately, this product works really well with the stencils. And it was easy to apply using a rolling foam paint brush like this one. After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

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After only one coat of this stuff, we had a gorgeous golden stencil on each of the drawers.

 

 

 

For the finishing touch, I used some more of the latex gold paint to highlight the appliqués, as seen here. IMG_3379

 

Step #7: Sealing. After my experience struggling with brush-on paint (and after realizing the comparative ease of spray paint), I decided to use a spray-on paint sealer. And I figured, why change to something else when we’ve had such success with Rustoleum’s Painter’s Touch products. We used this seal and protect spray and it worked beautifully. I think the finished piece required 2 cans, but it was well worth it given the time and hassle spared. And as you can see from the last picture below, this sealant has protected and preserved all our hard work despite heavy daily use.

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The finished product, immediately after completion

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

The finished project after nearly 5 years. Still in pretty great shape. All those steps paid off in producing a lovely and resilient piece we use daily.

Wisdom for the Day:
Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold.
~Psalm 119:127 (English Standard Version) Read more here.

Beauty Resource of the Day:
Wanna read more before tackling your next furniture rehab project? Check out this informative article from Frugal Girl featuring step-by-step guide and product recommendations (and lots of pictures!).

Some Recent (Rare) Product Empties & Why I Love Them

I’ve mentioned previously that I have ADHD, and I often attribute my tendency to lose interest in cosmetics to my general attention deficits. But the truth is, like most women in this culture, exposed to near constant beauty ads and media images, I’m just constantly on the look-out for the next best thing, for that magic bullet that will make my skin perfect and that will finally disguise all my perceived imperfections. I’m a marketer’s dream because I bite on all the product hook lines and chase after every sales pitch. As a result, I generally never get around to finishing the cosmetic products I purchase. Product empties are a rarity for me. So, when I found myself preparing to dispose of 5 empty bottles and 1 completely spent sponge, I felt a post was in order to describe these fantastic products and what makes them special to me.
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1. Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum: Retails for $36 for 1 oz. from Paula’s Choice.com or Dermstore (plus 10% savings if this item is listed among your Dermstore “favorites” list). I adore this serum. It’s possibly my favorite antioxidant serum of all time! Plus it doesn’t contain any retinoids so I used it throughout my pregnancy and while breastfeeding, so I’m (admittedly) somewhat sentimental about this product. But even without sentimentality, this is an elegantly formulated serum that’s well-suited to all skin types and covers all your antioxidant needs. Among other ingredients it contains peptides, ceramides, and Ubiquinone (nearly identical to the star ingredient in the über expensive Prevage MD product line which features idebenone, a synthetic form of ubiquinone), along with nourishing soybean and palm oils, turmeric, bearberry and mushroom extracts. But what really excites me is the combination of multiple forms of stabilized Vitamins C and E in combination with ferulic acid. That’s nearly identical to the ingredients of the ridiculously expensive Skinceuticals C E Ferulic Serum ($163/oz.) from Dermstore and when purchased at physicians’ offices. But the Paula’s Choice serum is more user-friendly because it’s in an air-tight tube (not dropper-style). And of course, the Paula’s Choice serum is less than 1/4 the price. That adds up to a pretty wise beauty buy in my book!

2. Kenra Professional Clarifying Shampoo Chelating Formula: I am so in love with this shampoo, and it’s so under-rated. I’m like on a crusade to get this product its due respect! It retails for $13 for 10.1 oz. from ULTA or $32 for 33.8 oz. from Amazon. You can also purchase it in some salons (including occasionally at the “salons” inside select Wal-Mart superstores) at varying prices and sizes. I love this shampoo because it is hands-down the best clarifying product I’ve ever found. It removes styling product build-up better than anything I’ve ever tried and does so quickly, requiring only wash and very little scrubbing. Okay, so it’s not a gentle sulfate-free co-washing type product (it’s called chelating for a reason). And I have color-treated, very fine, fragile hair, so I only use it about once a month. But it’s so effective that’s really all I need to use it. Afterwards, my hair is shinier and has more volume, because it’s not weighed down by all that excess build-up. Bonus, this shampoo is hands-down the best makeup brush and sponge cleaner I’ve ever found! The larger size/price comes in at just under a $1/ounce – an absolute steal when you consider that the “value sized” 10 oz. BEAUTYBLENDER liquid blender cleanser® retails for $30 ($3/oz.). This product is the ultimate multi-tasker and a beauty bargain to boot. I simply cannot recommend this shampoo highly enough.

3. Timeless Skincare The Original Hyaluronic Acid 100% Pure: Retails for $13.16 for 2 oz. from Amazon.com Hyaluronic Acid is a big buzz ingredient these days in skincare. But it’s been around for a while (it’s most commonly used as an injectable filler). It doesn’t have the same (longer lasting) effects when applied topically, but has a nice skin-plumping effect and is a great addition to your existing anti-aging skincare routine. Turns out it’s pretty difficult to get HA in a stabilized form for topical application, so it’s usually pretty expensive. For example, I’ve also ordered and enjoy using Paula’s Choice brand Hyaluronic Acid Booster (seen here) which retails for $45 for 0.67 oz. Now admittedly, the PC’s HA product has a few more bells and whistles (several ceramides, adenosine and panthenol). But since I’m already using some pretty outstanding serums and lotions, I don’t mind saving a little money when it comes to my HA booster. And this one is a steal at only $6.58/ounce! It mixes in with nearly other treatment, lotion and potion I use and is especially great patted on top of foundations or powders, making the cakiest of applications look smooth and lovely. It’s a wonderful perk-me-up that never disrupts the pre-existing application. I like to pat it onto my eye area when I’m looking more wrinkly or tired than usual, which seems to be more often these days (i.e. since becoming a mom) and probably accounts for the recently emptied bottle.

4. Obagi Nu-derm Exfoderm Blender: Price varies, available only from physicians’ offices. In general, retails for around $100 for 2 oz. Read more about this product at Obagi.com.  I was first introduced to Exfoderm Blender by the same Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner who, not coincidentally, also introduced me to one of my favorite products ever, Revision Intellishade, about which I’ve already written at length here, so I’ll spare you further rhapsodizing about it here. Suffice it to say, I trust this brilliant woman’s opinion. She never steered me wrong and the Exfoderm Blender is yet another example. Blender contains 4% Hydroquinone, probably the most-researched, most scientifically-supported skin-lightening ingredient. It’s important to understand how hydroquinone works because some people mistakenly think that it “bleaches” the skin which is untrue. Hydroquinone actually works by preventing melanin (skin pigment) production. It’s effective when used as part of a comprehensive skincare regimen that absolutely must include broad-spectrum sunscreen. For more on broad-spectrum SPF, check out this article. And if you’re interested in reading more about hydroquinone, are considering using yourself and just fancy a bit of fascinating cosmetic chemistry reading, check out this summary from Beautypedia. But back to why I love this product: I’m ashamed to admit I was very unwise about sun protection when I was younger. I even frequented tanning salons in my teens and 20s. Horrifying, I know! I had a couple sun spots on my cheeks in my early 30s, and this stuff knocked ’em out in less than 6 weeks. With consistent sunscreen application, those pesky sun/age spots on my cheeks have never returned (thank goodness). But unlike PC’s RESIST Super serum, I wasn’t able to use this product during my pregnancy or while breastfeeding. And despite my best efforts and lots of sunscreen, like many women, I developed some sun sports and hyper pigmentation (this time on my neck and chest) during my pregnancy. So I was super excited to resume using Exfoderm Blender as soon as my daughter was weened. Now that I’ve finished this bottle, I hope to purchase another one as soon as our budget allows for it. It ain’t cheap, but it’s really effective!

5. M2 Skincare High Potency Skin Refinish Retails $49.98 for 1.7 oz. at Dermstore. I was first introduced to this product a few years back when I received a deluxe sample along with an order I purchased from Dermstore. After testing that sample just once, I immediately ordered the full-sized product. Since then (about 4 years ago now), I’ve yet to experience any other exfoliant that even comes close to performing as well. Skin Refinish is great because it combines mandelic and malic acid exfoliants, which are gentler forms of glycolic acids at a pH that actually works. Along with the acids, M2 includes the ever-popular antioxidant ubiquinone (noticing a trend here?), some other antioxidants (like algae extract), hyaluronic acid and some aloe leaf extract for soothing. The packaging M2 selected is especially thoughtful. Hubs calls it “space-aged.” The bottle is frosted to avoid any light or sun damage to the ingredients (antioxidants readily breakdown and are rendered useless in the presence of light and air. N.B. that’s why expensive jars of cream claiming to provide tons of antioxidant ingredients are such a ripoff – because the prized ingredients will be rendered ineffective in a matter of days after opening). You have to twist the nozzle on the  Skin Refinish bottle before the pump appears allowing you to dispense the product. Then you twist the top again, and the pump dispenser disappears back into the bottle. Pretty cool! And most importantly, it preserves the integrity of the precious ingredients inside. I use this product once per week, every Saturday night, and I immediately notice a difference in my skin. Then the next morning I wake up with brighter, tighter, glowing, more youthful skin. I love it! The most impactful exfoliant ever! Far superior to any grainy scrub. I already have my next bottle ready and waiting, so tossing this one was not too painful.

6. Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge: Retails for $6.99/each at ULTA or $10.99 for 2 sponges (also at ULTA). Incidentally, ULTA usually offers a buy one, get one 50% deal on these little guys. So, doing the math, that would be 4 sponges for $16.49 (plus tax obviously), or a little over $4.12/sponge. Not bad when compared to that famous pink sponge that costs $20 per! I know, I know. The two are not perfectly comparable. And this may be sacrilegious to some, but for day-to-day makeup application, I actually prefer the RT version! Feel free to hit me with angry comments. I promise to respond to each one 🙂 But I dislike the idea of using a $20 for everyday applications. Sure I like the almighty BeautyBlender too. They’re great.  But I tend to save my super-snazzy, jewel-like pink egg sponges for those occasions when I’m getting all dolled up for something special. For one thing, most of the time, I’m not applying a full face of foundation. Most days I’m sticking to simple Tinted Moisturizer and for that, I prefer the flat side of the RT sponge to smaller rounded BB. For another thing, I like the softer texture of the RT for day-to-day application. The RT tends to lay down lighter coverage, which again, is more appropriate for daytime, informal usage. And finally, I use RT sponges most of the time because I’m really rough on my sponges. I routinely use the same sponge for tinted moisturizer or BB cream; to dab on a little cream foundation over said BB cream (just where I need a little more coverage, you understand); to dip into cream concealer or to dot on some color corrector; to smudge out bronzer or blush; and to smooth out my high SPF powder foundation. I even use the pointy tip to go over the (often) messy areas of my eyeshadow. At the end of the day, there’s a whole lot of color product built up on my sponges. I try to be consistent about cleaning my sponges, but I do have a baby and a husband after all. So if I have dispose of my sponges more frequently that say, every 3 months, I’d prefer not to suffer massive pangs of financial remorse every time I toss one. I feel better by saving a little cash and using the RTs most of the time, especially since the performance is really good!

Beauty Resource Video of the Day:
Check out this informative video from Makeup Geek as she shares the top reasons why we (all at one time or another) have experienced this unpleasant phenomenon, and more importantly how to avoid it!

Wisdom for the Day:
Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.
~Proverbs 22:29 (English Standard Version)
Read more here.

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