3.18.2015

Battle of the Facial Sprays


It's 2pm, you've been waist deep in office work and on your 3rd cup of coffee, you look at your reflection on the computer screen only to see a tired, dull face. What do you do? You whip out a facial spray of course! A few sprays later your makeup is refreshed and you are feel revitalized. 

When it comes to facial sprays most people think of them as unnecessary and gimmicky, truth is they can be a vital addition to your daily routine. With multiple uses from setting makeup to hydrating and replenishing dry skin, facial sprays can be used during makeup application as well as morning/ night time routines. 
I've only used 2 brands and I love them both equally.

• M.A.C Fix + is a cult fave that MAC describes as "A lightweight, mineral rich finishing mist that refreshes the skin and finishes makeup. Helps create an even surface for a smooth makeup application."

 Although it is not a setting spray and won't make your makeup last longer, it's amazing at taking away the 'powder' look and gives a nice luminous, dewy finish. It can also be used to enhance the pigmentation of shadows or pigments. I enjoy the scent and there's nothing better than a cool mist of facial spray on a warm day.   
 You can also use it before applying foundation for easier blending, sprayed onto brushes or beauty sponges to blend or before your serums and creams for added moisture. I especially love the fact that the bottle locks when you're not using it so it doesn't accidentally pump while traveling. There only one negative I have to say about Fix + which would be the price, at $22 for 3.4 oz it's a bit pricey but I will admit that it is ALOT of product and typically takes me about 6 months to finish. 

• Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater is an excellent alternative and claims to be "A refreshing, hydrating mist to use anywhere anytime. Simply formulated with fragrant herbal extracts and rosewater for a pleasant, pick me up for dehydrated, tight and uncomfortable skin. Spray your day and night creams for a boost of hydration or use it to set make-up or spray on dry hair throughout the day. Safe for all skin types. Gentle, non-irritating."

 While the uses are exactly the same as Fix + I rather use this one solely for beauty purposes rather than using after makeup application. It smells amazing as well and is a better deal at $7 for 4 oz. 
  I use them both interchangeably but since the MB is less expensive I tend to use it more often because I can use more of it without worrying about the cost. The only downside I can think of is that it doesn't contain glycerin like Fix + (which helps to attract moisture to the skin) but it does have Aloe Vera juice which is an excellent ingredient for calming redness and irritation. 

FINAL WORD:
 While I Love them both equally, if I HAD to choose just one it would be the Fix +. 
They're both practically the same but I just like Fix + a notch more than the Mario Badescu Facial Spray.

Until next time 
Smooches*

1.12.2015

��A Guide to at Home Facials ��


I usually do my facials Sunday night, just to start the week with clean, smooth skin and if needed I will do another mini facial Wednesday or Thursday. Sunday's are also a good night to detox the skin from the debauchery of the weekend.
Whether its eating a fatty cheat meal, or indulging in an alcoholic beverage or two or dancing the night away in a smoky night club, chances are your skin can use a detox from the fun filled weekend. I will walk you through the steps as well as the exact products I use for an at home facial.



1. Cleanse:
Starting with clean skin, free of makeup or dirt. If you wear makeup daily doing weekly facials to remove oil or dirt trapped in the pores is recommended. I always start with a makeup removing wipe whenever I'm wearing foundation, it gives the cleanser a better chance of getting deep down in the pores rather than simply removing whatever makeup is on the surface of your face. For oily/acne prone skin a cleanser like the Peter Thomas Roth Anti-Aging Cleansing Gel works wonders at clarifying and brightening the skin while the Salicyclic Acid combats bacteria and prevents breakouts. Apply clesnser on damp skin and work product into skin using circular motions, I also suggest starting at the throat and moving upwards to the forehead, this prevents unnecessary tugging on the skin, we already have gravity working against us so always work in upwards movements when washing the face or applying products.

2. Steaming
Damp heat opens pores and flushes out sweat and dirt allowing the pores to be cleaned thoroughly, also bringing oxygen rich blood to the surface of skin renewing the cells. To take steaming a step further I add herbal tea to the hot water for added benefits, my favorites are black and green tea as they provide the same antioxidant benefits to the skin as if you were drinking them.
Bring a small pot of water to a boil, add any herbs or tea of your liking, allow the herbs to steep for a minute or 2 then transfer water to a bowl. I like sitting at a desk or table with my head forward over the bowl and a towel draped over my head preventing the steam from escaping. Sit for 3-5 minutes making sure the heat is tolerable and not burning the face and if at any point you feel dizzy or lightheaded stop immediately.  I have never had such issues but I recommend starting off with 2 minutes working your way up to the full 5 minutes. This is a great step to draw out impurities and toxins from the skin making the next step much more effective.

3. Exfoliating
Now that your pores are open and clean, exfoliating removes any leftover dirt, whiteheads and blackheads as well as sloughing away dead skin cells revealing smoother, younger looking skin. For those with sensitive skin this step can be abrasive so be sure to use an exfoliator gentle enough for your skin type. For dry to normal skin once a week is enough whereas someone with oily/ combination skin can get away with every other day. As for all skin types never exfoliate sensitive skin areas or bad acne breakouts as this can make it worse, and always avoid the delicate skin around the eyes. Take note that if you use a facial brush like the Clarisonic, this is another form of exfoliating so you should alternate days when using a topical exfoliant. I swear by MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator and my new favorite the Peter Thomas Roth Pumpkin Enzyme Mask both really good but the PTR is more potent since it is an enzyme peel.

4. Face Mask
This simple step is an awesome tool to treating skin and reparing skin problems  like dullness, texture issues and even acne. Before you choose a mask determine a. your skin type and b. what problems do you want to address.  When it comes to masks you basically choose based on those 2 factors so for me, oily/ acne prone skin are my biggest problems so I go for clay masks that draw out dirt and removes toxins, an added bonus is it shrinks large pores over time and dries up acne. For that I use Freeman Beautiful Avocado and Oatmeal Mask or Origins Clear Improvement both equally amazing but for $4 or less the Freeman wins for being inexpensive. Another type of mask I use are peel off masks, also great for removing dead skin, treating acne and oily skin but are more nourishing than clay masks. They work but forming a plastic like layer over skin, and when fully dried can be peeled off in one piece or smaller pieces, the process of peeling pulls out everything from the pores revealing soft, fresh skin. Again I live by the Freeman Beautiful line and use the Cucumber Peel off Mask or Boscia's Luminizing Black Mask. Leave masks on for 10-15 minutes or until dry but with clay masks rinse as soon as you feel tightening or itchiness. 

5. Tone
Now after you've done all those steps to your face you want to bring the ph levels back down or up depending on what you used. Toning removes residue left from masks, soothes redness and calms the skin back to its normal state. A cheap yet effective toner that I've used for years is witch hazel, any brand will do but I prefer Thayer's or Dickinson. Another alternative I use often is Apple Cider Vinegar diluted, generally I mix 1 part ACV and 4 parts water, and adjust from there depending on if I need it stronger or more diluted.

6. Moisturize
Last and most importantly is to add moisture back into the skin. Whether you have dry or oily skin moisture is very necessary for youthful, plump looking skin. The act of aging itself is the loss of moisture in the skin, so if you don't do any other steps it is essential to moisturize your skin both day and night. 
A good moisturizer should leave skin feeling hydrated but not greasy and for daytime one that contains sunscreen is key in preventing aging and sun damage from UVA and UVB rays. I use Neutrogena Oil Free w/ Sunscreen during the day and Simple 24hr at night, I also follow with a beauty oil but that's another post in itself. 

I hope I was able to explain why facials are good and what the benefits of each step are. You may not have the time or patience to do facials weekly like I do but I urge you to try incorporating them into your routine to least monthly. Believe me your skin will thank you for it years from now. 

Until next time 
*smooches 

12.23.2014

▪️My Top 5 Foundations▪️


I posted on Instagram (makeup_by_niki) a list of my 5 favorite foundations both powder and liquid, but want to go into more depth about why I choose these foundations as my favs. 



1. Lancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24HR 
I absolutely adore this foundation, I mean seriously one of the best formulas I've ever tried. It is full coverage but lightweight and doesn't look cakey at all. Having oily/ combo skin my main concern is longevity and this does not disappoint. It stays on for hours, doesn't transfer or become shiny and has a nice stain finish. I recommend getting a sample to see how you like it but I'm certain you will love it. 

2. M.A.C Matchmaster
This foundation is exactly as the name says...matches my complexion seamlessly and doesn't get warmer or oily. It is full coverage and perfect for those days you want a glamorous 'beat' face or can be use sparingly for everyday. So glad I picked this up after hearing so many people rave about it. 

3. Estée Lauder Double Wear
This foundation does its job like a pro...covers everything, stays matte, longer wearing but doesn't feel heavy on the skin. I like that it comes in a variety of shades which is huge for those who tend to be in-between shades with other brands. I only wish it would come with a pump but for how amazing it works I can deal. Also the MAC pump does fit this bottle for easier application. 

4. Marc Jacobs Genius Gel
This is one of those spur of the moment purchases that happens after walking around Sephora for what seems to be hours. Prior to trying this foundation I didn't hear many reviews but I knew I liked the idea of a 'gel' foundation. I gave it a go and ended up loving this as my everyday foundation, It's extremely light but can be built up for a medium coverage. I've since been intrigued in trying more products from Marc Jacobs. 

5. Clinique Stay Matte 
You must be noticing a theme here, matte, long wearing foundations are my thing. I'm very oily and need something that's not gonna slip and slide all over my face. I got this foundation over the summer to use as a tinted moisturizer along with my sunscreen. It covers beautifully but isn't necessarily full coverage, it is a great everyday foundation or can be use as a base since it is oil free and oil controlling. 

These are my favorite 'high end' foundations but I also have a few drugstore ones I love as well so look out for that post in the near future. 

Until next time 
*smooches 

10.30.2014

��Fall Monochromatic look��

Haven't done a FOTD in a while so here is a full face look I did today. I used fall inspired colors and actually love the way it turned out. 



FACE
•Lancôme Teint Idole 500W
•Cover Fx Cream Concealer NDeep
•Makeup Forever Duo Mat 218

EYES: 
•Too Faced Chocolate Bar palette
  -Milk Chocolate (Above Crease)
  -Amaretto (Middle Of Lid)
  -Cherry Cordial (inner & outer lid) 
  -White Chocolate (brow highlight)
• NYC Liquid Liner in Black
•L'Oréal Butterfly Mascara in Black 
•Ardell 402 Edgy Lash

CHEEKS:
•M.A.C Crazed Imagination Blush

LIPS: 
•M.A.C Nightmoth Liner 
•NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream Copenhagen 


until next time 
Smooches *


10.05.2014

Karuna Exfoliating + Face Mask

I was a bit skeptical about buying this mask at first but the longer I stood on the checkout line at Sephora the more I talked myself into trying it. {Isn't that why they put those items near the line so you can buy more before checking out lol}


 Anyhow, it was $8 which to me is a lot for a one time mask but I always say there's no price too high for good skincare. I ended up not using it for weeks and forgot I even had it, until last night, I was going through my skincare drawer and saw it laying there waiting to be used. 



The mask was easy to apply and was really wet so be prepared for some dripping while putting it on. The directions said 10-20 minutes or longer for an intense treatment, I kept it in for 30 minutes. When I took it off my face was still a bit damp so I waited for it to dry before going to bed. 

Fast forward 7 hours and my face feels like silk, looks youthful, rejuvenated and 
glowing. I am very surprised by the results and will most definitely pick up another one next time I go to Sephora.
 
 *no filter-  the morning after applying mask. 

8.11.2014

Kylie Jenner Lip for WOC

Have you noticed most of my blogposts are done in the wee hours of the am. Thanks to insomnia and McD's Iced coffee I do my best thinking/ writing between the hours of 1-3am. 

Anyhow, today (well yesterday) I discovered a lipstick that mimics the highly raved about look that Kylie has been rocking for the past couple of months. I've seen many tutorials and they all used a cocktail of lipsticks, liners and such to create the look, and truthfully many weren't flattering for us brown beauties. 

I pulled out an oldie but goodie and it wasn't until after snapping a few pics I realized it looked similar to her lip so of course I had to share the news on all social sites for anyone interested. 

            
               MAC SPICE LIPSTICK  (LE)

-this is taken at night with indoor lighting but I will be recreating this look and take better daylight pics.

 But until then...

Smooches *

7.22.2014

Top 5 Lip Moisturizers



Soft, moisturized lips are a must for me because having flaky lips is a no no especially since I wear lipstick daily. 

With a plethora of choices for lip balm I have found a few that I'm in love with. 

1⃣ EOS Sweet Mint 
I have to admit I fell for the craze of these egg shaped lip balms and own every flavor they make, but for some reason sweet mint is my absolute favorite. I think it has to do with the peppermint tingle it leaves on my lips. 

2⃣ MAC Lip Conditioner (Tube) 
I have mentioned this before in a monthly favorite post and continue to love it. It probably is my #1 because it truly does wonders for my lips. It's works immediately so I tend to use it prior to applying makeup so my lips are ready for lipstick. 

3⃣ Smith's Strawberry Lip Balm
This love affair started with the rosebud salve which I did like but the constant smell of roses got to be too much. So I tried the strawberry and instantly liked using it much better, not only does it smell terrific it keeps my lips soft. 

4⃣ Kiehl's Coconut lip balm 
My newest find and already included in my daily routine. It's a bit thick and I can see it being awesome for winter months. I mainly use it at night and when I wake up my lips are smooth as butter. 

5⃣ MAC Lip Conditioner 
This is now discontinued but it was and still is an excellent moisturizer. The idea that it comes packaged as a regular MAC lipstick is what drew me in when I first saw it. The formula is amazing so I don't know why they discontinued this product. Essentially it's like the conditioner in the tube but more emollient and longer lasting. 


It wouldn't be a good lip conditioning post with out mentioning a lip scrub. I used to use C.O. Bigelow Lip Buffer from Bath & Body but began making a simple homemade mix of olive oil or coconut and sugar, it works just as well and saves $ because those ingredients are always available in your kitchen. 

Until Next Time 
Smooches*
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