Bare Escentuals/bareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation - So Far So Good

Sephora was giving out free 10-day samples of the minerals foundation and powder, so I gave it a try.

So far, I like it. I chose the color "Fairly Light" based on some online reviews that recommended you go with a slightly lighter color than you'd think, since after a few minutes the minerals oxidize on your skin to a darker color. I'm not sure that the color changed on me, but it looks fine.

Today was the first day I've used it, so this review is basically my first impression. I'll update it later if my opinion changes. I've never used a powder foundation before (I've used liquid foundation, and solid foundation), but it's effective.

I applied it over bare skin, using the miniature brush that came with my sample kit. It did a great job of evening out my skin tone, with a really natural-looking finish, neither matte nor shiny. It didn't cover up my large pores, but relatively few foundations do that well for me, so that's not a huge issue. Tomorrow I will use my foundation primer first, then the powder foundation. If my pores still look large even after using primer, then this foundation might not work for me.

One of the things I'm liking about it, is that I don't feel like I'm wearing foundation. The powder is very lightweight, and my skin doesn't feel like it's coated with anything. This is not usually a problem with good liquid foundations for most of the year, but I find that in the summer, sometimes I feel like the makeup is sliding off my face in the heat. Not so with the bareMinerals, although I suspect in reality it is more likely to actually slide off, not less. I base this on a single observation that some color came off on the tissue when I blew my nose this afternoon, and that usually doesn't happen when I use my regular liquid foundation.

But it's now five hours after I applied the makeup, and while my face has a bit of shine (I'll dust some of the translucent setting powder on before I leave the house again), the main color is still in place, keeping my skin tone even.

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer is Awesome Stuff

Last month I decided to update my makeup, so I went to the "new" Sephora in town. It's been open over a year, but I hadn't stopped in yet so it was new to me. And others, at least one friend of mine didn't know there was a Sephora in town when I mentioned my trip.

I got a number of items, but I'll first review the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer SPF 15 with Dermaxyl. I'm a huge fan of this stuff now. Foundation primer has been around for a decade, but I don't know how many people actually use it. I got some of a different kind before my wedding, and used it a bit back then, but it wasn't worth the effort for everyday for me.

This stuff, however is magical. I didn't realize HOW magical until I put on my new foundation without it. I did this because I was happy with my new foundation (review to follow), and I was in a hurry one day so I decided to skip the primer. I also skipped moisturizer, which I'm sure added to the problem. When I slapped my foundation directly on my skin, I was horrified at the results.

There was nothing really wrong with the foundation, it still matched my skintone perfectly, evened out coloration, etc. but there was still a horrendous difference in how my skin looked without being moisturized and primed. I could see patches of dry skin, and my wrinkles were more prominent. I'm sure it was a bigger difference to me than to anyone else, but I suspect I looked more my age that day when I went out. Since I switched to my new makeup I've once again been mistaken for a woman in her early 30s.

So what's so great about this primer? I'll tell you. It really does convert your imperfect skin into a smooth canvas ready to accept makeup under the best conditions. The primer itself has an unusual feel-- not creamy like a moisturizer, not oily, but it's more like a pure smoothness. I think it's got silicone in it, which creates the smooth and slip. It fills in all the microtextures in your skin. Covers any rough dry patches, smooths over minor wrinkles, fills in big pores. It goes on clear, so it's invisible and doesn't really make your skin look better when it's used on its own. But once you put foundation over it, voila, perfection.

I've got oily combination skin, and suffer from frequent breakouts, but the silicone doesn't affect my skin as far as that's concerned. I don't break out any more or less since I started using it, my breakouts are still timed with my hormonal cycle. It also makes foundation more pleasing to apply, since it just glides smoothly and evenly over the skin without much effort. Without the primer, I've got to carefully check in the mirror to make sure I've got it applied evenly and it's not too thin or thick in places. With the primer, it's not an issue, I seem to apply it fine the first time.

BOTTOM LINE: I highly recommend this product to any woman of a certain age who wants to look younger and prettier. It really works. I don't recommend it for women in their 20s unless they have heavy skin damage. If you don't have any fine lines & wrinkles or other skin imperfections to hide, this product doesn't do anything to improve on perfection. Go enjoy your youth, and save your money for when you'll really need the advanced makeup.

I Love L'Oreal ReFinish Microdermabrasion System

I'm surprised I haven't reviewed this product yet, I'm such a big fan. But I just used it again, and am on babysitting duty while Terry showers, so I have time to sit here and blog about it while my enthusiasm for it is fresh.

I decided to try this product after reading an article in a magazine where dermatologists talked about their favorite products. The reason one liked this microdermabrasion kit in particular was because it uses aluminum oxide crystals. Unlike sand or other gritty particles, aluminum oxide crystals have rough edges that stay sharp even when they are rubbed around (other tiny particles with rough edges break down and get smoothed out during use). Aluminum oxide crystals are what they used for professional dermabrasion treatments in that doctor's office, so she was impressed that they L'Oreal had put together such an effective kit for home use.

I've been using it for several years now, and it's the first product I go to when my skin is feeling thick and dull. I have oily skin, and can really feel when the outer surface has not been exfoliated and has buildup.

It's very easy to use-- put the scrubby stuff on your face and rub it in for two minutes (or less if you have sensitive skin). Then rinse it off. That's it. The kit comes with a sunscreen lotion (you WILL want to use sunscreen afterwards if you're headed outside, since your skin will be sensitive after treatment if it wasn't already before the treatment. Sometimes I use their lotion, sometimes I use my regular lotion, whatever.

Today, although my skin felt 100x better after the microdermabrasion alone, I decided to kick it up a notch and used a mask afterwards. With the skin freshly exfoliated, the mask was able to penetrate better. Once that one-two punch to the skin my face glowed like I just came from a facial, and feels marvelous.

I have been using the same kit for years now, with no decrease in effectiveness of the scrubby potion. I suspect the sunscreen has lost some potency, but my makeup has sunscreen in it also, so I don't care.

When I did a quick search to check the exact name of this product, I found some for sale on ebay. It's past its date, but I asked the seller HOW far past its date, since if it's just a matter of weeks or even months I'll probably still get some more, it's a very good price and I know from experience the scrubby part will still be good. I'm still waiting for a response. I think I bought the new kit for around $22 at WalMart, haven't checked the current new price.

In my search, I also found another review of the product. That user expected more dramatic results, but still had an overall favorable impression. I've been really pleased with my results, but I do fall into the category of users who uses it on an as-needed basis before a party or when my skin needs a pick-me-up. I'm not using it to erase years off my appearance or anything, just to make my skin feel wonderful and have a pretty glow.

Here's another page that reviews several different at-home microdermabrasion products. I might try the Olay brand kit myself. I think I prefer to exfoliate without a mechanical tool, too much hassle, so I'll avoid the Neutrogena thing. It's convenient that Olay puts the peeling mask together with its scrub. But then you'll have to provide your own sunscreen lotion. So the L'Oreal makes you provide your own mask, but gives you the lotion. Either way, I figure about the same value (although it looks like the L'Oreal is less expensive now than it used to be).

Bottom Line: I recommend this product to anyone over the age of 25 whose skin is prone to dullness and is not terribly sensitive.

Website For People Who Don't Remember What They Wore

Have a lot of meetings or parties to attend, but don't want to show up wearing the same outfit in front of the same people all the time? If you are spending all that much time at meetings or parties, you are probably too busy to keep track of what you wore to each event. But now there is a website to help! I read about it in the WSJ.

I checked it out, thinking maybe I could use it in place of my superduper clothing selector program I want. But it's not really set up for what I need personally, although I did upload a few things to try it out. Instead, it does seem to look like a good tool if you REALLY need to make sure you're not wearing the same outfit every time you have lunch with someone. I can see that this could help an absent-minded professional who has been told they need to pay more attention to this. Or if you are really paranoid that your friends are whispering behind your back, "is that the only party dress she has?" when you wear your favorite dress a few times in a row.

I don't think I'll be using it right now. To test it, I had to put in "eat in at the Dairy Queen" as today's event, and frankly I don't care if the DQ employees see me wearing the same outfit every time I'm in there. THEY are wearing the same outfit every day themselves!

But I'm providing this link in case anyone else needs it, since you can sort by contact, event, etc., could be useful for salespeople or marketing folks who go to conventions, etc.

Miraclesuit Works As Advertised

I got a "Miraclesuit" from back in early 2008. I was about 10 lbs overweight at the time, and had a corporate shindig to attend which would have pool activities. The suit worked well, it did make my stomach look completely flat when I sucked it in, and reasonably in-shape when I didn't.

I got pregnant later in the year, so put the suit away for awhile. I now have a 3-month postpartum body which is extremely saggy in the middle, and I weigh 20 lbs more than the first time I wore the suit. It still fits without making me muffin-out around any elastic edges, and it is still holding in my stomach.

Granted, when I suck it in now it doesn't go completely flat. I think I'd need something more akin to a steamroller than strategically engineered spandex for that at this point. But when I suck it in, it does make me look reasonably fit for a woman with a 3-month old. And when I don't, well, at least I look like a plump sausage around my middle instead of a deflated balloon.

I really didn't expect it to help as much as it does in my current state. But I am pleasantly surprised, and while the fit certainly qualifies as snug, it's not uncomfortable. For me, the suit is well worth the $150 or so I spent on it (most of the styles are in the $130-160 range last year, haven't checked lately). I wouldn't bother getting one if I was just hanging around the neighborhood pool (unless I was single!), but I got it for hanging around the hotel pools in LA (which I don't recommend if you are not a size 0 and you're prone to depression or feelings of body inadequacy. . .) and of course for wearing in front of coworkers. So now I'll wear it anytime since I already have it.

One thing to be aware of if you get one, the instructions indicate that the "miracle" fabric is very particular about its care. I handwash it with gentle soap right away every time after I take it off. Another reason you might not opt for it as your "everyday" suit.

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