Author Archive

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Backstage Beauty Report: LIVE from New York Fashion Week!!

If there’s one thing I’m sure of (besides the fact that you should never wear makeup without first applying primer), is that I have a dream job. I am covering New York Fashion Week right now for the San Francisco Chronicle’s Style section online. You can see my trend report here. All of the photos except the Rebecca Minkoff shot are my own. As you can imagine, having backstage access to all these shows I’ve managed to capture tons of photos the Chronicle didn’t end up using. Enjoy my backstage photo diary from the past couple days…

DSC05623

Backstage at Creatures of Comfort Spring Summer 2015 Photo by Janna Mandell

DSC05611

Backstage at Creatures of Comfort Spring Summer 2015 Photo by Janna Mandell

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted by Tags , ,
Friday, August 22, 2014

Sephora Class Revelation: Evidently I Don’t Know Everything

photo-7

I was invited to a press event at Sephora this past week to experience one of their complimentary classes at their San Francisco flagship store on Powell Street.  I sauntered in (late of course) to a small group of style writers and makeup artists discussing the “if you were stranded on a desert island, which beauty product would you bring?” conundrum. The makeup artists went first. Of course they were pragmatic, naming multi-use makeup palettes like Smashbox Master Class Palette III Color & Contour and other multi-use products and palettes. Then, the style writers went around the room choosing generic makeup items like mascara, lipgloss, etc. When it was my turn, I chose AMOREPACIFIC ‘Color Control’ Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50  because if I’m going to be stranded on an island, you better believe I’m not leaving my grass hut without a flattering, buildable CC Cream packed with high sunscreen. (Leave it to me to choose something not offered at Sephora. Whatever.)

After we had gone around the room divulging our most beloved products, Makeup Artist Kenya Garrett gave an interactive  tutorial on how to contour and highlight. Now, I’m no stranger to contouring and highlighting. Meaning, I know how to do it, but I don’t aspire to look like Kim Kardashian in any shape or form. Occasionally, I’ll lightly contour the hollows of my cheeks with a matte bronzer and slap a cream highlighter on my cheekbones. But, I usually end up blending away the contour powder because it just never looks natural.

Well, Kenya must have been reading my mind because she declared the Kim Kardashian way “wrong” and gave us a thorough tutorial on how to make contouring and highlighting actually look flattering and natural.  She also gave some pro tips I hadn’t heard before:

1) Wear a foundation with more coverage when contouring and highlighting so that redness and other discolorations do not show through.

2) Apply highlighter first so that your face tells you where to contour. Meaning, once you’ve applied your highlighter and you tilt your face down in front of the mirror, you will more clearly see the hollows of your cheeks (where the contour powder goes)

3) Do NOT use a matte bronzer when contouring. Use a taupe with grey in it so that it more resembles your natural face shadows. BRILLIANT! MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!

After Kenya’s demonstration, we were teamed up with makeup artists for one-on-one sessions. I was paired with the knowledgable Elisia Huck, who showed me how to color correct my puffy eyes to make them look flattened and brighter. Then, when I told Elisia I already had the coveted Anastasia Contour Kit  but I was only using it as eyeshadow, she showed me the right shade (you guessed it grayish taupe) to use as a contouring powder and how to apply it.

photo-6

Okay, so I’m the first to admit this class showed me that in fact I don’t know everything. (Yes, it was shocking for me as well) The classes range from “Contouring and Highlighting” to “Day-to-Night Smoky Eye” and you can make a reservation online here. Added bonus: every class attendee gets a little goody bag with fun samples! Classes are complimentary to Beauty Insiders. If you’re not a Beauty Insider yet, well quite frankly, I’m shocked you read my blog. It’s free to join the Beauty Insider program and as beauty addicts like myself can attest to, membership (and spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora) has its privileges.

Posted by Tags , , , , ,
Friday, August 15, 2014

The Hands-Down Best Eyeliner EVER for Blue and Green Eyes

There is nothing I love more than recommending a makeup item that instantly flatters the masses (Cle de Peau Beaute ConcealerCLINIQUE Almost Lipstick in Black HoneyTarte Cheek Stain in Blissful )… Granted, these magical beauty products obviously don’t work on everyone, but they make enough women look in the mirror and say “wow” to be called iconic.

Marc Jacobs Beauty Highliner Gel Eye Crayon in (Plum)Age 60 is the newest product to achieve icon status in my world. I tried this gel pencil on my cornflower blue-eyed friend Melissa on her wedding day and her eyes literally twinkled in every photo. The eyeliner made my friend Shana’s dark green eyes nearly jump off her face.

Even though I own eyeliner in every color, form, and brand I always reach for this one. It makes my dark blue eyes look bigger, bluer, and the subtle shimmer give my eyes a sparkle. The gel pencil easily glides along your lash line, leaving behind smooth, vibrant color.  The eyeliner lasts all day and doesn’t leave the dreaded ring above your crease.

When you wear it, you should keep the rest of your eye makeup subdued. I cover my entire upper eye area with Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow in Ivory  using a flat eye shadow brush. Then I apply a matte brown eye shadow like Urban Decay Eyeshadow in Buck  in my creases in a back and forth windshield wiper motion.  Matte brown eye shadow in the creases makes eyes appear instantly larger! Then I blend to soften any lines with a loose eye brush in small circles.

Now, don’t be turned off by the plum hue. I know, I know… you’re probably married to your faithful brown or black eyeliner you’ve been using for years. Trust me when I say that once you try this one, you will banish your boring black and brown eyeliner to the beauty graveyard forever.

Posted by Tags , ,
Thursday, August 7, 2014

3 Face Masks To Cure Your Summer Skin Woes

kate-moss-diy-face-maskI feel like every winter I romanticize summer. I curse my dry itchy skin and say I can’t wait for summer when the humidity will bring much-needed moisture to my bitchy skin. I imagine myself running through a field of sunflowers, hair flowing under a crown of daisies, my skin giving off a glistening glow (but only along my cheekbones, obviously)… The reality: Me cursing the heat and humidity as soon as I step out of my air conditioned haven, wiping layers of skincare and makeup away as I fervently try blotting the sweat pouring from my face.  I rummage around in my bag for a hair tie since my hair feels like a dead animal around my neck.  As soon as I step into the sun my cheeks start burning. Oh, I didn’t forget sunscreen… It’s the molotov cocktail of skincare products I’m using in my regimen. God only knows which product is the culprit. Once I get in front of a mirror I see enlarged pores and a couple little bumps that could morph into blemishes if I’m not careful. Oh, and did I mention I see a few lines around my mouth and eyes that I had only seen before in my  anxiety dreams? Even being in the sun for for a short time with SPF 50 and a floppy hat can’t prevent the evil sun from doing its damage. Okay, enough crying. Let’s talk solutions… PROBLEM (SENSITIVE SKIN):  Fine Lines, Enlarged Pores, Whiteheads, Blackheads SOLUTION: Perricone MD Chloro Plasma Anti-Aging Treatment Mask ($75) chloroplasma Okay, clocking in at $75 this mask is not cheap. I know this. But, I can honestly tell you this is a miracle mask. It’s by far the only mud mask that hasn’t made me look like I got caught in a chemical fire, and my skin actually looks smoother and brighter after one use. What Perricone MD Says:  Perricone MD Chloro Plasma is an anti-aging treatment mask formulated with innovative plasma technology and phytonutrient-enriched microcapsules to deliver deep detoxification and purification benefits to your skin while smoothing wrinkles and dramatically minimizing the appearance of pores. With one application, your skin is instantly illuminated and your healthy radiance is restored. PROBLEM (Normal / Combination /Oily Skin): Enlarged Pores, Whiteheads, Blackheads, General Greasiness SOLUTION:  Queen Helene Mint Julep Masque ($6.00)  queen As much as my teenage skin loved this refreshing mint mud mask, my adult skin pitched a fit the last time I tried to use it to clear up some unsightly blackheads. Luckily, not everyone has my tantrum-prone skin… My beauty addict friend who has oily skin ditched all her expensive masks when I turned her on to this little gem. Of course she first thought I was kidding and asked, “Are you also going to recommend Sea Breeze to really make me feel like I’m back in high school? Perhaps I should spritz myself with Love’s Baby Soft and tease my bangs?” What a comedian.  She wasn’t laughing the next time I saw her and she showed off her tightened pores and blemish-free skin. What Queen Helene Says… Mint Julep Masque is the original natural home treatment developed by a dermatologist that helps dry up acne pimples, rinse away blackheads and shrink enlarged pores. Simply apply Mint Julep Masque to your clean face and neck.  Within minutes it firms and hardens, drawing out impurities from your pores.  After the masque is removed, your skin will feel clean, refreshed and smooth. PROBLEM: Sunburned, Irritated, Pissed-Off Skin SOLUTION: Skinceuticals Biocellulose Restorative Masque for Compromised Skin($107) skinceutical Yeah, yeah, yeah… I know this mask is pricey but holy shit it’s worth it. Made for post-procedure skin, this mask immediately sucks up redness and inflammation, leaving you with visibly smooth, calm skin. So the next time you ignore my advice and bake out in the sun for too long, you best have this mask on-hand to clean up your mess.

What SkinCeuticals Says… SkinCeuticals Biocellulose Restorative Masque is a highly efficient, supple, sterilized treatment to create a protective barrier that helps facilitate the recovery process for sensitive or compromised post-procedure skin. The unique fibers distribute heat-reducing water to the disrupted barrier, alleviating discomfort and providing immediate relief .
Okay, so if you decide you don’t want to shell out that kind of money, try soaking cheese cloth or cotton pads in whole milk and apply to your face for a half hour. Also, pop a couple Advil and you will be ready to rock.
Did I cover your summer skin woes? What is your skin going through this summer?
Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.
Posted by Tags , , , , ,
Friday, July 25, 2014

A Message from Your Hormonal Skin: Stop Poking the Bear!

bandage

It astounds me how many women stick to their same skincare regimen during their periods. Hurricane Flo blows into town wreaking havoc on your moods, your body, and of course your skin — but you don’t think to go easy on the skincare? Really? Did you happen to notice your mood isn’t the only thing that’s easily irritated during this special time? SO TAKE IT EASY!

DO:

- Replace your aggressive cleansers and exfoliators (especially anything with a physical scrub) with a soothing cream cleanser like Fresh Soy Face Cleanser.

- Unless you have very oily skin, give your Clarisonic a rest and use a damp cotton pad to remove any remaining makeup or grime.

- Skip your usual dose of topical Vitamin C, which can irritate sensitive skin, and instead apply a soothing serum  like Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Restorative Treatment Serum.

- Avoid moisturizers with active ingredients and replace with soothing hydrators like REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream for day and Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial  for night.

- Put off applying sunless tanner to your face if you’re prone to breakouts or oiliness. Sunless tanners can block pores and you don’t want to take any chances when your body is going through a hormonal roller coaster.

DON’T YOU DARE:

- Apply a toner with alcohol. Instead, opt for a botanical or herbal toner like Kiehl’s Since 1851 Calendula Herbal-Extract Alcohol-Free Toner.

- Pick or pop pimples, blackheads or whiteheads. You are just asking for ugly marks that are going to have an even harder time healing that usual.

- Over treat said pimples with aggressive products. Most pimple medications will just dry your skin out and make your skin even angrier. I always use my TANDA Zap Power a few times a day to blast pimples without dryness or irritation.

- Get a facial. That’s right — it’s the only time (besides the week before your wedding) I will advise you not to get a facial. You think extractions usually hurt? Try getting them on your period. Not only will the prodding and squeezing hurt like hell, but expect those ugly red welts to stick around a lot longer than usual. Even if you wanted to get a facial without extractions, the exfoliation process could put your skin over the edge.

Don’t forget to take Advil or something similar, which will not only help your cramps but will help calm your skin down as well. And, if all else fails — keep a pint of ice cream handy.

crying

 

 

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Posted by Tags , , , , , , , ,
Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Ultimate Summer Beauty Survival Guide: Tips and Tricks to Make the Heat Your B*tch This Summer

Well my lovelies, it’s that time of year again… You may call it the middle of summer — I call it my Vietnam. What once looked like perfect applied makeup and a sleek blowout can morph into your worst nightmare within a few minutes of being exposed to the ungodly head and humidity. You don’t have to suffer! Read my Ultimate Summer Beauty Survival Guide on Huffington Post to find out how to beat the heat into submission this summer.

Posted by Tags , ,
Monday, July 7, 2014

Holy Hangover Skin! Redness, Pimples, and Dehydration, Oh My!

Never. Drink. Tequila. Again. 

I hope everyone enjoyed the long holiday weekend, and quite frankly, that you didn’t make the same mistakes I did.  We double dated Saturday night with a couple that apparently brings out my wild side. Now don’t get your panties in a bunch… I didn’t start dancing on the bar and lifting up my shirt (Let’s not forget I breastfed Stella for several months. If I flashed the bar all I would be doing is mortifying the other patrons).  What I did do was ingest ungodly amounts of tequila and sake (that’s right, sake – we had drinks at a mexican restaurant, then went for sushi, and then went back to the mexican restaurant to ensure we really killed our Sunday).

Okay, so I’m pretty embarrassed to confess this next part of the story. To be quite honest it’s worse than flashing pancake boobs… I slept in my makeup for the first time in probably 15 years! I won’t even attempt to make excuses for my careless actions. I was actually considering telling you that I did it on purpose as field research so I could properly dish out advice.  But even I can’t convince myself of such lies. So, to make a long ugly story short — I woke up with my lash extensions sealed together and skin that hasn’t been this pissed off since the Clinton administration.

If you’ve experienced my dreadful situation, I’m sure you were tempted to scrub the hell out of your skin the next morning. No bueno. It’s just teasing the bear — your skin is already red and irritated, don’t anger it further! First, apply a deep cleansing oil-based cleanser like Elemis ‘Pro-Collagen’ Cleansing Balm to dry skin and leave it on for at least a minute to allow the cleanser to penetrate and start dissolving skin sludge. Then, slowly add water and massage.  Next, use your Clarisonic Cleansing Brush to gently (GENTLY!!!) go over your face and rinse. If you don’t have a Clarisonic, use a super soft face cloth or a moistened cotton pad.

Now, assess the damage in the mirror. And by the way, don’t be fooled and think you’re staring back at the worst of the damage. Your skin will air its distain with your alcohol-induced decisions by surprising you with pimples, dry patches, whiteheads and blackheads for the next 24-48 hours. Your strategy is to calm down your skin’s tantrum so no picking, squeezing or over-treating!

I digress… After your skin is cleansed, swipe or spray on a hydrating, alcohol-free toner like Indie Lee Co Q10 Toner which has skin-plumping Hyaluronic acid and soothing Aloe Vera.  Then, press into your skin a calming serum like Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Restorative Treatment Serum  and if your skin is dehydrated (which most hungover skin is) then apply a Hyaluronic acid-based serum like Kerstin Florian Correcting Hyaluronic Serum. Since Hyaluronic acid attracts 50 times its weight in water, I spritz mineral water and then follow with a calming moisturizing cream like REN Evercalm Global Protection Day Cream.

For the rest of the day I try and do the obvious things to avoid conflict with my skin — stay out of the sun, go makeup-free, avoid hot steamy showers, say no to the hair of the dog, etc. And, if you do brave the sunlight, slather yourself with non-irritating mineral sunblock and don your biggest, most glamour sunglasses. If you do have blemishes that pop up or detect a painful red bump that you fear will morph into an alien-size pimple, instead of drying it out with topicals try zapping out the bacteria with a TANDA Zap Power.

I can’t promise your skin will bounce back to its glorious self by Monday. In fact, mine still isn’t speaking to me and punished me this morning by having me wake up to still-dehydrated skin and red angry patches. Fun times. Eventually we’ll make up and everything will go back to normal. In the meantime, maybe I should avoid the tequila and sake and just stick with vodka. Jokes!

 

Disclosure: I was gifted some of these products with no editorial obligation.

Posted by Tags , , , , , , , , ,
Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Two Products That Will Get You the Best Face Faux Glow EVER!

For those of you longtime readers, you know I’m  a complete disaster when it comes to sunless tanning.  No matter what brand of self-tanner I tried, either I ended up looking like an Oompa Loompa (that was the best case scenario) or I would have enough streaks and white spots (I tended to consistently miss entire areas of my face and body) to make me look like I was suffering from a rare skin condition. And quite frankly, I felt like most self-tanners would piss off my sensitive skin and make me breakout.  So at some point I simply just gave up and resigned to the fact that a pale face is better than a wrinkled one.

But that was before I started testing new products for my upcoming summer story for Huffington Post… 

I couldn’t resist trying the Tarte Maracuja Bronzing Serum  because A) Tarte is one of my favorite brands B) I love slathering on the Tarte Pure Maracuja Oil  every night for a dose of hydration and essential fatty acids C) Tarte calls it a “gradual bronzing serum” — “gradual” being the operative word for someone like myself who is self-tanner challenged.

The serum itself is lightweight and absorbs quickly. I apply a few drops at night after I cleanse and then follow with my nightly moisturizer. If you have oily skin you can definitely use this serum alone since it has the same hydrating and brightening power as the original Maracuja Oil. When you wake up and rush to the mirror you will be greeted by a subtle natural glow.  It’s so natural-looking and streak-free I’ve applied it every night for the past seven nights and  I love the results.

Since the serum is so gradual I thought I would try the  By Terry Tea to Tan to give my color a little depth. Again, I’m usually not a fan of liquid or cream bronzers because they always look and feel too heavy and unnatural (especially the way I tend to apply them). What makes the  By Terry Tea to Tan so different is it’s literally a water consistency and provides two different looks — 1) Don’t shake the bottle and you get a subtle natural tan 2) Shake the bottle and you get a little glimmer to your tan. I tend to shake it every time since the glimmer is so slight.  The bronzing elixir is buildable and works beautifully on days when you don’t want to apply makeup and just want a healthy glow. The elixir is also tea-based (hence the name) so it’s chockfull of skin-loving antioxidants. It’s more like tinted skincare rather than a bronzer with beneficial ingredients.

So ladies, now I’ve given you a viable alternative to worshipping the sun. I don’t want to hear your sob stories this summer about premature wrinkles and unsightly uneven skin tone because you decided to ignore my sage advice.

If you insist on sunbathing, at least do me the courtesy of wearing a wide-brimmed hat. My sister Loni gets a gold star for picking up her first wide-brimmed hat this week. Good girl! Now wear it to the beach!!!

Disclosure: I was gifted these products with no editorial obligation.

Posted by Tags , , ,
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Banished to the Beauty Graveyard: Clarisonic Pedi Sonic Foot Transformation

Yeah, that’s right… I’m the jackass who shelled out $199 for the CLARISONIC Pedi Sonic Foot Transformation…  You know you were tempted to buy it when you saw it at Sephora, but of course you probably saw it was $199 and intelligently put it back on the shelf.

Okay, so here was my rationalization:

1) Clarisonic has cred (or at least they did before this debacle)!  Their CLARISONIC Sonic Skin Cleansing System ($199) is considered revolutionary for deep cleansing skin and reducing pore size. And, Clarisonic’s Opal Sonic Infusion System Kit ($185) is by far the most effective product I’ve ever used to battle under eye puffiness. I use it twice a day  – first with eye gel in the morning and then with an anti-aging eye cream at night.  My eyes definitely look brighter more rested since I started using the Opal.

2) I’m never happy with my pedicures. I get home and feel like the bottoms of my feet are still rough. Who wouldn’t want a fun little contraption to finish the job?

3) I had a bunch of Sephora credit, so in my mind, I wasn’t actually buying it with real money.

So what does $199 buy you? From their website:

Transform your toes with CLARISONIC® Pedi sonic foot transformation, a system proven to smooth, soften and hydrate rough, dry heels and toes so you’re sandal ready in no time at all. The precision engineered device gives you a professional quality buff with at home ease.

Set includes:

- Pedi handle
- Pedi Wet/Dry buffing brush head
- Pedi disc
- Pedi boost (1 oz.)
- Pedi buff (6 oz.)
- Pedi balm (3.5 oz

How to use: Charge for 24 hours before first use and between uses. Every day, scrub away set-in debris and smooth dry, rough skin with the Wet/Dry Buffing brush head and Pedi-Buff. Follow with the Pedi-Balm to hydrate and protect smoothed feet. Twice a week, use the Pedi Smoothing disc on dry feet before your daily buff followed by the Pedi-Boost for total foot renewal and additional skin softening. Seal with the Pedi-Balm.

Okay, so it’s nice that the kit includes a scrub, peel, a balm and two different brush heads, but you’ll notice in the instructions above  the words “every day” and “twice a week”. Who the fuck has the time for all that?  I certainly don’t. Even if I did and I religiously spent 15-20 minutes a day essentially giving my feet a facial, it still wouldn’t be worth the money. I tried using the dry disk head more than once and it barely did anything. The wet/dry buffing head is a joke. A wet wash cloth could have easily done the job.

This product was beyond a disappointment.  And, with that I cast it into the ugly depths of the beauty graveyard… Where all useless beauty products go to die.

 

Posted by Tags ,
Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Radical Skincare Instant Revitalizing Mask: It’s Like a Party on Your Face!

Hello, my lovelies! Please forgive me for my prolonged absence!  Things have been a bit busy, but rest assured I’m back and ready to binge!  

You all know I’m a whore for a good face mask… With a 7-month-old baby who just learned (like 2 nights ago) how to sleep through the night, you can imagine my skin is a bit stressed (along with the rest of me). I don’t have loads of time so I try and decompress a few nights a week with a little mask love — exfoliating, hydrating, soothing, purifying — I mix it up depending on my bitchy skin’s latest demands.  When a lovely publicist sent me the Radical Skincare Instant Revitalizing Mask  ($65) my first thought was,”that’s a small ass bottle for $65.” I’m so judgey.


Little did I know before I made my ugly snap judgement, that this mask starts as a serum so you need about a dime size for your entire face. You give it a good shake before you start, to get all those oxygenating bubbles excited. Once you put on the thin serum, the mask starts thickening into a foam. Then, the magic happens a few minutes later…

The mask starts tickling your face and it begins to crackle and pop in random spots. It’s not subtle either. Put it this way, you’re going to want to rush to a mirror and watch the mask transform. And if you have a stoner friend, but nice and let him or her watch the magic.

Wait until all the excitement has died down (you’ll know you’re done because the foam will have disappeared) and rinse. The results?  Brighter, smoother, clearer skin.  A word of warning – if your skin is sensitive, use the mask at night. I got a little pink, but the next morning my skin looked amazing.

I’m not sure if Willy Wonka has opened a skincare factory, but I’m pretty sure this mask is made by Oompa-Loompas. It’s that magical…

From their website:

Restores, Stimulates, and Boosts Radiance.

The Instant Revitalizing Mask is the ideal coach for the skin: it delivers the nutrients necessary for hydration and regeneration while teaching it to breathe, stock up on energy and optimize its oxygen resources in rarefied conditions.

BENEFITS:

  • Optimize oxygen resources for a lasting youthful glow
  • Stimulates energy production
  • Controls oxidation reactions
  • Smoother skin

 INGREDIENTS:

  • Antioxidants are the best defence against free radical damage and ageing.
  • The strongest antioxidants are found in nature’s dark night shade fruits like resveratrol, coffee berry, acai, grapeseed, red wine extract, pomegranate, and cranberry to name a few.
  • Multiple antioxidants are required to fight the numerous types of free radicals. Using one or two antioxidants is simply not enough.
Disclosure: I was gifted this product with no editorial obligation.

 

 

Posted by Tags , ,