Product Road Test: Julep Nail Polish

My fashion resolution for this new year was to try to get better at keeping a manicure. I’ve seen the Julep subscription box advertised everywhere, so I finally decided to give it a try.

Signing up involved taking a style quiz with very dubious results. I have always considered my personal style to be more classic than anything, but they assigned me to the Bombshell category. That’s not a big deal, as customers can manually change their style profiles or order from different ones, but the colors selected for me as a result weren’t to my taste at all. Nancy, a frosted gunmetal gray, wasn’t so bad, but today, for the sake of giving a thorough review, I’m wearing Jessie, a nearly-black burgundy. After applying two coats, allowing them to dry properly, and applying the included Oxygen Performance top coat, my nails still have a streaky appearance that has me less than thrilled. The color isn’t great with my skin tone, either, though I do like that it says in the description that the polishes are cruelty-free and free of many of the toxic chemicals sometimes found in nail polishes.

My biggest issue with the polish is with how it wears. My cat caught the edge of his claw on my fingernail while playing, and instead of simply scuffing the polish, it actually peeled the polish off half the nail, taking the top layer of fingernail with it. Two other nails are also chipped in the three hours since I painted them. Honestly, I get better performance than this with Sally Hansen Insta-Dri for half the price. I’m really not impressed, and I’ve canceled my subscription. My verdict: Don’t waste your money.

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Product Field Test: Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H Foundation

Image of a bottle of Lancome Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation

Teint Idole Ultra 24H foundation

So yesterday I decided to field test a product I’d received as a sample, a liquid foundation from Lancome called Teint Idole Ultra 24H. I had asked for the sample because I’ve been out in the sun a lot so far this spring, and despite my daily sunscreen, my winter color doesn’t work anymore. With an all-day, partially outdoor event to attend, yesterday was the perfect day to take it out for a trial.

The rep at the Lancome counter matched me up with color 26o Bisque N, a full two shades darker than my winter 100 Ivoire N. As I tan (in spite of myself–weird, I wore ivory shades all summer last year!), I do tend to go warmer, and could probably have gone for the 250 Bisque W, but I didn’t want to risk it.

First impressions: It’s designed as a long-wearing foundation, so it hits my skin and stays there. Blending effectively is a bit of a challenge, but the rep was right about one thing: a little does go a long way. The coverage isn’t quite as complete as I’d prefer, but it’s buildable without making a smeary mess. Also, hey, look, SPF 15. My moisturizer has an SPF anyway, but I’d rather have too much protection than too little.

Once fully applied, I did realize that it’s a lot smoother over my Lancome primer than other brands I’ve tried. The Lancome primer works well with other brands, but I can definitely tell a difference in smoothness wearing the two together. The foundation also has a very velvety finish, doesn’t show places where it’s trying to glob on my skin or call attention to dry spots. I like the way it dries, and even though it’s a tad darker than my previous, it looks very natural against my skin.  I also like that it doesn’t feel cakey or like I’m wearing a mask, but rather, very natural. I don’t actively notice that I’m wearing makeup as I do with many long-wearing formulas.

Seven hours later, when I got home from the event, I still had even coverage with no rub-off, wear-off, or darkening. It looked as it had when I applied it, even though the Hard Candy bronzer I’d worn over it had long since given up on me. It even outlasted my long-wearing lipstick.

I finally got around to taking it off around eleven hours after application. It definitely hung in without drying out my skin or looking obvious. It didn’t do anything spectacular, like covering up my dark circles without concealer or anything like that, and it didn’t do anything to brighten my skin. It did, however, match brilliantly with the complexion I do have, and it gave a solid performance, lasting all day without getting blotchy.

$45.50 is expensive for a bottle of foundation, but this is one I can see spending the money on. Perhaps next time the gift with purchase comes around, it’ll be a convenient time for me to be buying. I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars (would have been 3.5 if it weren’t for the SPF, but that’s a big deal for me).

Wearing the trend: Orange lipstick

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I was at the Chanel counter in Belk at Northlake today, and the artist working (if you’re local, go see Lauren–she’s awesome!) talked me into trying on an orange lipstick that I probably wouldn’t have thought to try on my own. It worked great on me, so I thought I’d pass on to you how to recreate this look at home. (Please excuse the pictures; my hair’s a wreck from the rain we’ve been having, and since everyone’s out of town for the holiday, I’m on selfie duty.)

Start with a face that’s washed, moisturized, and primed. Yes, you need primer; I used Lancome La Base Pro. For myself, I always have an issue with undereye circles, so I took a concealer (I went really cheap with it this time, with e.l.f Essential Tone Correcting Concealer in Ivory, $1) and applied it under my eyes in a triangular shape. This makes it blend much more naturally than if you follow the curve of the circles.

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After blending that, I applied a layer of liquid foundation. Nobody’s face is all one color; if you want to do some contouring, feel free to do more than one shade of foundation, but I’m putting on bronzer in a later step, so I skipped that. I used Maybelline Dream Mousse foundation in Classic Ivory.

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Next, I loaded a powder bronzer (Wet’n’Wild ColorIcon in Bikini Party) onto a big round brush, tapped off the excess, and swept it onto my cheeks and up onto my temples in a C motion.  I turned my head in the next picture so you can kind of see what I mean. You want most of it concentrated on your cheeks, but you do want it to extend further up.  (God, I hate that picture, though. It makes me look so masculine!)

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After lining my lips with a nude pencil (match your liner to the natural color of your lips, not to your lipstick; I used Jordana Easyliner in Tawny) and filling in, I then applied a coat of orange lipstick. The one I tried on at the Chanel counter was Rouge Allure in Incandescente; I didn’t have $35 to cough up for a lipstick at the time, so for now I’m making do with Wet’n’Wild Megalast in Purty Persimmon. I’m definitely going back at some point to get the Chanel, though, because it lasted much longer and felt a lot better on.

 

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At this point, I filled in my brows just a bit with a taupe pencil, but you could also use a wax-based eyebrow filler. You usually want to go a shade lighter than you think you need on your eyebrows, because it goes on darker than it looks. Since I was going for a brighter lip color than I usually wear, I decided to go fairly subtle with my eyes. I took a chocolate brown pencil and lined the waterlines (inside the lash lines) and put a matte nude eyeshadow from lash line to browbone. I used a slightly darker taupe shadow on my eyelids, then used a lighter shade at the browbone for a highlight. Curled lashes and black mascara finished it off.

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I think I’m going to end up wearing this look pretty often this spring. I didn’t think I could wear orange, but I like how it plays with the reddish tones I’ve been wearing in my hair lately.

Beauty in a hurry: the five minute face

Some days, there’s not enough time to do much of anything. Breakfast is burning in the toaster, your phone is ringing, the cat needs to be fed, and you’ve got 20 minutes to be at work, 10 minutes away. That doesn’t mean you have to roll into work looking like you just rolled out of bed. Here’s how you do it.

Step 1: Stick foundation

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The stick foundation featured above, by Tom Ford ($78 at Nordstrom), goes on easily and quickly, and you can blend it in a hurry. Now, for those of us who aren’t loaded to the gills with cash and/or smoking crack, Maybelline makes this budget-friendly alternative, or for darker skin tones, there’s this one by Black Opal.

2. Blush or Bronzer

blush

Take a big, round powder blush (not one of those wimpy things marketed as a blush brush) and hit the round part of your cheeks with a blush like this one from Physician’s Formula. Bonus: it contains ingredients that mimic the effect of endorphins to boost your mood!

3. Eyeliner

quickliner

Use a self-sharpening, twist-up eyeliner to go along your upper lash line. Don’t worry about the bottom, and don’t use a regular pencil, because chances are you’ll have to sharpen it. I use Clinique Quickliner for Eyes as my go-to.

4. Waterproof Mascara

mascara

I love trying out different mascaras, but for a rush job, you want one that’s going to give volume, definition, and curl all in one step, and a waterproof formula is going to reduce flaking and smearing later in the day. A mascara like this one will give you what you need in one coat, and it’s inexpensive–Walgreens runs buy-one, get-one-half-price offers on Maybelline all the time.

5. Lipstick

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey is the perfect lipstick. It looks good on just about everybody. Slick this on, and you’re ready to roll.

Makeup doesn’t have to be super-complicated. If you’ve got the right products and the right tools, you can pull your look together even on the most hectic of mornings.

How to Keep Your Cosmetics and Fragrances (And When Not To)

Look, I know that just about everyone who grew up wearing fragrances and/or cosmetics learned to store them in the bathroom. Why else would bathroom cabinets have drawers in them, right? Aren’t you supposed to store your various products there?

Well, the best answer is no. The bright lights and the changes in temperature and humidity in a bathroom are just about the worst thing you could do for your products. If you’re like me, your bathroom is the only room in your house where you have a big mirror and counter space, and I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t do your hair and makeup there. When you’re done, though, take your products out of the bathroom and store them somewhere else. Find a solution that works for you. If that means you take your one bottle of perfume or cologne and stick it on a shelf in your closet, great. If you’ve got a handful of products, you can get a cheap cosmetic bag just about anywhere. (Dollar Tree. No, really.) Like to play with colors? Get a box. And so it goes, on up to product hounds like me. I have one of those three-drawer plastic carts on wheels that I got at Wal-Mart. They run about $15-20, which isn’t that much more than a nice cosmetics box, but they hold enough products for even me. I got the big size, 15x22x24, and the bottom drawer is overflowing with my fragrances, while the two upper drawers have hair stuff, makeup, and skin care.

If you leave your stuff in the bathroom, it’s not going to last nearly as long. Fragrances and other liquids are going to go first, because of their composition. A bathroom gets warmer than most other rooms of the house, so it’s a very bacteria-friendly place, even without taking the flush radius of your toilet (usually 4 feet or so for a home bathroom) into consideration. So it’s very easy for your products to get contaminated. Keep your cosmetics in a cooler room of the house, away from direct light, and store your fragrances in their original boxes. The average life of a perfume is two to three years, but properly sealed and properly cared for, they can last indefinitely. I’ve got some vintage Evening in Paris from the 1930s or so that is still absolutely lovely, because it was stored right to begin with. Fragrances in dark bottles (Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab oils or Chanel Coco Noir) or opaque bottles (such as the aluminum containers from Ed Hardy Villain and Montale, or the printed bottles for certain Bond No. 9 scents) will keep better, because they’re away from light, but if you take care of your stuff and only keep what you’re using regularly, the type of bottle won’t make that much of a difference in the long run.

Don’t ever leave your cosmetics in the car, even if they’re in a case. Like I said, heat can make them go off. Pencils and lipsticks melt and will make a terrible mess. Perfumes will turn rancid. Skin care products will break down and lose their effectiveness. All in all, bad idea.

Use brushes for your makeup instead of applying with sponges or with your fingers. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, you’re going to get a lot smoother application with a brush, which is going to give you a lot more even look. Second, makeup can build up inside a sponge, and you’ll end up wasting it. Third, brushes are easier to clean than sponges. Wash them with soap (or shampoo) and water once a week or so, and let them dry before using them again. Using clean brushes rather than fingers or a sponge will also help prevent contamination, making your products last longer.

Have you ever opened up a mascara and realized it smelled like old sneakers? That’s because it had bacteria growing inside that you really don’t want around your eyes, that can cause staph infections, conjunctivitis, or a whole host of nasties. Throw that thing out, for heaven’s sake–you don’t need to be keeping it more than 4-6 months from the day you opened it anyway. Your eyeshadow crumbled? Get rid of it. You’ve had that foundation for a year? Aside from probably not being exactly the same color it was when you bought it (because evaporation changes the pigment load), it’s probably starting to grow nasty bacteria in it. Chuck it and get a new one.

If you take care of your products, you’ll get a better shelf life out of them, but still, don’t be afraid to throw something away before it’s empty. If your fragrance has turned rancid (it will have sort of a stale, scorched smell, or be significantly weaker and more alcohol-smelling), then you can’t bring that back or salvage it. It’s done. Likewise if a pressed-powder type product (blush, powder foundation, bronzer, eyeshadow, whatever) has crumbled. All trying to save it will do is make a mess. Whether you’ve paid good money for a product or not, you’re not obligated to keep it past its usefulness. It’s OK to throw things out. Makeup is cheap. Infections aren’t. Trust me.