Saturday, October 27, 2012

What is the most important thing?



When you buy makeup, what are your primary criteria—besides a flattering color match? For example, must your foundation contain sunscreen before you will even consider it? Do you love or eschew the feel silicone-based ingredients? Do you abhor cream eyeshadow? Do you prefer lip gloss or lipstick, with no chance of merging the two? 

When I wonder about these questions, my mind drifts naturally to the the most important thing I want from my makeup, a quality that extends beyond texture or scent or color, and which might even eclipse it in importance. I discovered it was finish that mattered, how the result interacted with my skin by reflecting light, something I could look for in all my makeup products, whether it be for skin, cheeks, eyes, or lips. Once I realized that the finish mattered most, I knew I could eliminate the "noise" from everything else—much the way I have trained my eye (post color analysis) to race past colors that don't flatter me, as well as linger longer over natural fibers. It seems silly, but such a small thing saves a lot of energy, time, and even money, because I make fewer mistakes.




When I shop for makeup, the following are the most important things I look for in my most-often purchased items:

Lipstick

Because a lipstick is my first choice on that desert-island, I expect it to behave as lip balm. That means it MUST be moisturizing on its own. What's more, if I use the same lipstick exclusively—all day every day for weeks on end—my lips must feel conditioned, not flaky or parched or get that disconcerting "cracked" feeling at the corners of my mouth that happens with some lip products over time, almost as if the shimmer were made of fiberglass (e.g., MAC).

Loving right now:
  • Chanel Rouge Coco Shine, Bonheur, still, for its glossy feel and subtly shimmery finish. It doesn't hurt that it's an MLBB shade.
  • Chantecaille Super Sheer Lipstick, which feels exactly like lip balm but adds a hint of color. Look for a review on the color Maia soon, as I may have found a replacement for the tinted versions of Julie Hewett Lip Balm.
  • Chanel Lèvres Scintillantes (Glossimers), which feel and wear more like a liquid lipstick than gloss, and if you read this blog regularly, you know I don't care for lip gloss. So, yes, these are pretty spiffy  to keep me going back for more. Favorites (so far) are Jalousie, Désir, Imaginaire, Magnifque, Star, Venus, and Glaze—pretty  much all the pigmented pink/rose ones.
  • Chantecaille  Brilliant Lip Gloss, another gloss that makes the cut due to its outstanding formula and finish, so comfortable on the lips. Like with Glossimers, I prefer the ones with more pigment, like Allure, Magic, Patina, Charisma, Glee, and Glamour. I will review more of these soon, as I now have a decent collection that get regular use.

Eyeshadow

My strong preference for an eyeshadow formula is one with a satin/sateen/semi-matte finish. I don't mind a little shimmer, and I use creamy mattes, but an eyeshadow that catches the light and imparts a subtly-radiant glow is my favorite.

Loving right now:
  • Chantecaille Shine Eye Shade in Meteorite and Lilac Rose. I can't wear Granite and Sel (too warm) so I swatch them on the back of my hand so I can enjoy their glimmery beauty.
  • Prescriptives Rose Powder (satin), loving since 1989
  • Laura Mercier Topaz (luster) and Sparkling Dew (sateen). Sparkling Dew is currently offered in Laura Mercier's Cool Classics Trio and is a mirror image of my beloved Morning Dew, except it has the preferred sateen finish.
  • Becca Chantiilly, one of their demi mattes.
  • RBR's Gracious Arasari has THE most gorgeous finish; too bad the color makes me look like dog meat.



Concealer

I don't care for concealer, but I love the concealer/highlighter hybrids. Instead of covering, they deflect, which means I don't have to inspect my undereye area mid morning to see if my makeup is caking or creasing or if the concealer sucked all the moisture out of the skin, making it all pruny and wrinkly.

Loving right now:  Estée Lauder Ideal Light Brush-on Illuminator, Soft Pink. I actually prefer it to YSL Touche Eclat #1 for my pinkish skin tone, and I thought nothing would ever replace my beloved TE..

Primer

Eyeshadow looks best on me if I wear a primer. Because my eyelids are moderately discolored (due to sun damage), I need a primer that conceals without drying. It's harder to find than you might think. Primers like UDPP or TFSI don't work because they are clear (or shimmery!); the popular MAC Paint Pot, Painterly, is far too warm on my skin (looks yellow); and even the Laura Mercier eye primers are too drying. I guess this makes sense; most women are using eye primers to keep their eyeshadow from creasing due to their oily lids. Well, my lids don't produce as much oil as they once did, and the surface can actually look parched.

Loving now and always: Paula Dorf's primer. It's soft and smooth and evens out my skin tone by concealing the beige and blue and red discoloration, making the perfect canvas for what comes next (if anything). No change in holy-grail status for more than a decade.

Lip pencil

I have reached a point in my life where I need a pencil to keep lipstick from feathering or gloss from migrating. I used to work diligently at matching a lip pencil exactly to a lipstick color, but choosing the perfect match every morning became tiresome. I now have one lip pencil that almost exactly matches my lip pigment and another that's completely clear, so both go with everything, including low-pigmented lip gloss.

Loving right now:
  • Julie Hewett Hue 011, a blue-based mauve that interplays nicely with the blue in my lips.
  • Laura Mercier Lip Pencil, Clear. The tip is soft but firm with a slightly waxier finish, so I find it preferable to Lipstick Queen's clear lip pencil, which has too much slip.


source


Foundation

I still prefer powder over other formulas, mostly because liquids and creams settle in my pores, but in order to make the cut, the finish must be smooth and semi sheer. Despite a 10+-year love affair with Jane Iredale PurePressed powder, I fear the relationship might be winding down.

Loving right now:
If I want something sheer but with a tint, I turn to Chanel Poudre Universelle Libre, #20 Clair ... or I'll just apply a lighter-than-usual dusting of Jane Iredale PurePressed, Ivory and then spritz my skin with a finishing spray, such as JI's Pommist (smells heavenly).




Blush

I no longer wear matte blush because I have fallen in love with satin finishes, which add the most subtle glow to my cheekbones.

Loving to pieces:
  • NARS Gaiety 
  • Shiseido Luminizing Satin Face Color, PK304 Carnation. 
  • I also like Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color, City Pink, but that one is discontinued, and I like Heather Pink, too..





What is the most important thing you look for when you shop for beauty products?

All photos taken by me, except where noticed in caption with link to the source.

38 comments:

  1. Epic post! Loved reading about all your favourites.

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  2. Zuzu, I totally admire how you've pared down to the very essentials and how you know what really works for you!

    When I look at my pile of stuff, I see there is very little rhyme or reason in how I select things. If anything, I am a true sucker for Madison Avenue, word of mouth frenzy on Makeupalley, and pretty swatches on blogs I follow (including yours)! I am at a point also where I really want to try everything out. After all, it all seems to come of easily enough with my Shu cleansing oil or Bioderma. Unfortunately, I'm accumulating way to much!

    My haphazard approach has snared some really nice things: like Suqqu & RBR eyeshadows which performs exceptionally well and feel amazing. I also ended up with Cle de Peau's Teint Naturel Satine cream foundation which looks amazing when applied with a Beauty Blender. And I am loving Guerlain Rouge Autos for the way it makes my lips feel.

    I'll just not talk about the colors that just don't suit me because I have some horrible lipsticks. And I have lots of base products that just doesn't perform. Shhhh!

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    1. When I had my colors done, the analyst had me bring all my makeup; I complied and nearly needed an 18 wheeler. After we had my season, she went through my stuff and made three separate mountains: Yes, Maybe, and No. She took the "No's" off my hands and discounted the price of the analysis, and we went through the Maybes together. Most of them she wanted me to dump, but I was resistant, and she very likely knew how we get attached to our makeup, even the stuff that really doesn't work. But over the last year, as I have continued to wear and observe those "Maybes," I can see she was right. Not awful, but not my best, and with a little effort and a better eye, I can usually put my best self forward.

      Don't get me wrong: I'd have as much makeup as my house could hold, much the way I'd adopt every stray animal on the planet if my 6th cat hadn't been a nutbag who refuses to let anyone else in. Discovering Makeup Alley did a real doozie on me, especially when I dipped my toe into swapping and realized I was taking in more than I was releasing. I got to a point where I wasn't enjoying makeup anymore because there was too much to paw through!

      My makeup habits are really low-maintenance, anyway. I put it on in the morning, and the only thing I do throughout the day is reapply lipstick and, sometimes, blot my face with powder or a blotting paper. If I were touching up my entire face one or two times a day, a bigger and more varied stash would make so much more sense. Like fostering pets instead of owning them all, I should have become a makeup artist. Except you need TALENT!

      I have not yet tried Suqqu eyeshadows, though they have been on my list for a while now. I'm so sad the Dolly Leo apothecary closed down because that was the one place that sold/shipped Suqqu at reasonable rates. I do agree that RBR eyeshadows are among the best out there. So creamy and so pigmented. And Guerlain RAs are gorgeous and feel wonderful on the lips, not drying at all. Chamade was almost perfect, but the key word is almost. It was so hard letting that one go. I really need to look at some more of them!

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    2. Bellyhead, I just saw your blog. You definitely need to post more often!

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    3. Zuzu! I'm amazed (and so happy you read it!) :) Made my day!

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    4. I've just discovered a kindred soul. I want more! :^)

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  3. Love this post! I'm so inspired.

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  4. I seem to be all about formula these days (after color). Even if I love a color, if the texture is chalky or dry or too shimmery or tricky to apply, it doesn't get worn. Unfortunately, this isn't something you can *really* know until you use it and see it on yourself. But a really good formula can make me sit up and take notice: my current love for the newer Rouge d'Armani lipsticks has re-sparked an old interest in his blushes and eyeshadows. Uh-oh.

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    1. I don't know much about his eyeshadows (I think someone said they are very low pigment), but his blushes are sublime, very natural and glowy. His bronzer is the best I've used, even if it's still just a bit too warm for me. I don't get golden tan--I get rosy tan!

      Veuve, have you tried any of the Guerlain RA lipsticks? They have such a gorgeous texture, too.

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    2. I've been hearing that the new ETK palettes are fantastic texture-wise, and all shades based on "natural" colors (you know I'm a sucker for that kind of thing).

      Haven't tried the Guerlain RA yet-- that will happen someday.

      Also, Zuzu, I'm getting the same error message as lola when I try to access the forum (I was assuming it was storm-related but perhaps not):

      "You don't have access to the URL requested.

      Please try again later."

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    3. Thanks, I'll open a ticket at the server and see if your IP addresses have been banned. The servers have extremely strict policies. I got myself banned by using the word "drugstore" a couple times. In fact, I have been banned more than any other user!!

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  5. Wonderful post. You don't like cream blushes? At 56, I've made the transition. I like stuff that sits well on my skin. That may be what you mean by finish...

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    1. I do like them, very much, though I suspect cream blush is not the first thing that comes to mind when I consider blusher. My skin only recently calmed down after decades of impressive oil production, and I used to look at cream-based products with horror.

      And yes, sitting well on the skin is just what I mean, plus a little something extra, that youthful glow, I suppose. In truth, the less I use of any of makeup, the younger I look; or perhaps more precisely, I don't look older than my age.

      I've been using powder foundation for years, and I find it doesn't play nicely with cream. If I apply the cream blush first, the powder dulls the effect. Perhaps as I use foundation less often of any kind (I'll be experimenting with tinted moisturizers soon), there will be less of a gummy interaction.

      Also, my skin is so sensitive, that any amount of finger blending causes surface redness, even when I gently tap and roll on the color. I realize that happens with everyone, but my flush takes quite a while to go back to normal, so I can never tell how much blush I need. With powder, I know exactly how much to put on the brush.

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  6. Your post puts things into perspective. Sometimes I buy stuff just because it's pretty and then I never use it. Sometimes when someone comes over they end up leaving with some gifts from my stash.

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    1. I am definitely guilty of the pretty thing, Linda. I practically swooned in my seat every time I saw last Spring's 'Garden Party' Collection palettes by Dior. The colors! That garden clutch! When I finally held that compact in my hot little hands in the store, I was completely disappointed. All glitter and no substance. I walked away but not before buying Forget-Me-Not nail polish; sadly, when I finally applied it to my nails, it was too warm.

      How lucky your friends get to benefit from your mistakes. Unfortunately most of my friends wear zero or very little makeup. Sometimes I think they find me an exotic creature among them ... and I don't even wear that much. :)

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    2. I meant to add that I have my eye on Shiseido's limited-edition Camellia Compact. How beautiful is that! I know the well-trusted Non-blonde did not care for it, but that does not stop the fairy dust that shoots out of my eyes every time I see it.

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  7. The glosses and blushes are gorgeous! Those would be my colors too.

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    1. Yay, another rosy-pink soul! I've been such a bad blogger lately, completely MIA. I need to get over to your fountain of youth and see what you're loving.

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  8. Love this Zuzu! Great post!
    I've been thinking along the same lines lately. My skin is going through some epic hormonal changes at the moment-I can feel the texture changing every day . So I've been really into skin care lately, trying to find SOMETHING to help.
    I like powder foundation too like you-kind of always have, although I do love a good tinted moisturizer. If I use heavy coverage I look a lot older. And like you, I notice that the less makeup I wear, the younger I tend to look. And lately, I've embraced lipstick more than usual. The pop of colour is something I really need to balance out the crazy red hair.
    And you know what? I could go without makeup. I go days without wearing any. But sunscreen? EVERY DAY. :)

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    1. Tracy, I know exactly how you feel! I think I know your age, and it was precisely at that point in my life when I looked in the mirror, expecting to see what I always saw, and instead I thought WTF. I knew eventually one day I'd get wrinkles and sags and spots, but I was completely unprepared for some of the changes my hormonal imbalances gifted me! (If you ever have time, you should come visit us on the forum; it's a great group of late 40s to mid 60s women talking about these very issues, including all the products we're trying.)

      What are your favorite tinted moisturizers? I've tried so hard to make Laura Mercier's work (because I adore her brand), but I've given up by now. Too greasy and it irritates my skin.

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  9. What a fantastic post, as always!!! I have missed you so much Zu!!!!!! How are you doing?

    I love that you have continued refining your makeup collection to reflect the most beloved items that REALLY work the best for you. Since your colossal blog sale I have found myself scrutinizing my makeup purchases much more carefully because i came to the stunning realization that there were so many things in my stash that simply go unused. Not only has it caused me to purge lots of things that I don't use (as well as contemplate a blog sale to further reduce), but it has all but eliminated my desire to amass new piles of makeup that will likely gather dust. I no longer have the makeup "haul" mentality because after the thrill of the kill things often become neglected- except of course in the event that I purchase an exceptional product that is a really good fit for me. Of course my penchant for skincare products hasn't calmed, but I do use everything that i buy-- unless I have an allergic reaction- in which case i return it.

    BTW- I can no longer get into the EDB Forum-- it no longer seems to recognize me :(

    <3

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    1. Lola! I have been busier than I thought possible for a person with no kids. Work has been nuts, and today I am preparing for tropical storm Sandy. I'm not worried about the weather as much as the new stray who has been coming around. I want to make sure he's got shelter, especially a dry place where I can feed him so he doesn't eat my cardinals.

      Re your access to EDB, what kind of error messages are you getting? I just checked the IP address you registered with, and I verified that I had already added it to an 'allow' list. Do you need your password reset? Anyway, you can email me with the issue, if you like, and I will send you the details to get back in. And then after you log in, you can change your password.

      That blog sale was epic! I'm so glad I was able to send my unloveds to a happier home and also make a hefty donation to the shelter, the same people who will have to loan me a cage to catch this new cat so we can, at the very least, neuter him, but I think he'd make an excellent pet. He looks an awful lot like three cats we adopted from the very same woods in different years, so there's definitely a grey male with white accents sowing his wild seed out there.

      Cutting down my makeup to a collection that would all fit in a small shoebox means I can use it all and even make dents in it! But I am not immune. After about a month abstaining from buying new makeup, I have started to dip my toe into the water again. I can't help it; it's my nature!

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  10. Finish is the most important thing for me, too. If something is too chalky, or if it exaggerates wrinkles or pores, I just don't use it.

    I'm finding myself avoiding anything too opaque: no full-cover foundations or heavy lipsticks. I want the colors to look like they are in my skin, not painted on the surface.

    Oddly enough, although my makeup is much more subtle and sheer than it used to be, I'm actually using more products than I used to. For example, I'm now more likely to use primers and color-correctors, because these things enable me to use less foundation and concealer. I use more blush, because I need that flush of color on my face. I never used brow gels or eyeliners before, because I always had thick brows and lashes. But I now I feel like my makeup is unfinished if I haven't done those steps.

    My eyes appear smaller and more deep-set as I get older, so instead of emphasizing the crease with dark shadows, I've been gravitating more toward lighter colors, to brighten the area. Oh, and I'm getting much pickier about eyeshadow finishes, too. They have to be super-smooth. I tend to use a matte base to contour the eye, and then finish with a satin color on the lid.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean about less on the surface but more products in general. For years I scoffed at facial primers, thinking I didn't need anything to make my makeup last longer. If it faded, it faded. However, now I recognize primer's benefit in smoothing things over after decades of oily skin have left me with larger-than-desired pores. Primer allows me to use much less foundation, even skip it entirely if I want to, because it behaves like finishing powder. And barely five years ago, I didn't own a single concealer. Or eyeliner.

      I have also noticed my eyes looking smaller, and I have very large, almond eyes. The culprit appears to be loss of elasticity in the creases, which makes my eye area more hooded. I wonder what people born with hooded eyes experience.

      One thing I still don't make a fuss over is skincare. The simpler the better. I don't purposely buy serums, treatments, or specialized eye creams. I just use a single moisturizer to do it all. I will occasionally try the larger-sized GPW eye creams, but mostly I forget. :)

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  11. I really enjoyed this post. After I read it, I went shopping and bought a creamy Chantecaille blush (shy) and eyeshadow (granite). Also a lipstick in amaryllis. Printed the post so I can go back and read all the comments. I have learned so much by reading your blog and others. Thanks

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    1. Thank you, pinkazalea! I hope you enjoy the Chantecaille products as much as I do. Granite is a stunning color, and I have been wondering about their new cream blushes after they phased out the Aquablush--at least I assume they have, since it's been out of stock for more than a year.

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  12. Wonderful post Zuzu! I found myself nodding in agreement multiple times as I was reading! I am losing the desire to have the latest & greatest - yay! But I still love the looking part! I've really honed in on a few colors & textures that work day in & day out. It makes the morning so easy - I have enough for a bit of variety but I don't get caught up in the 'what am I going to do this morning?' quandry. Will have to check out LM Sparkling Dew as I love Morning Dew. I am now turing my attention more to making sure that my skincare works just as well as my color wardrobe does!

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    1. I bet some women love the challenge and delight of deciding what to put on their faces each morning. I consider them the artists. Me, I'm only an average makeup hack who happens to love pretty colors, and as much as I enjoy the transformation, I want it done quickly.

      If you find Sparkling Dew sold as a single, please let me know! I don't know if it has ever been offered as a permanent option, but the "Dews" are perfect for we pale-faced cool folks.

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    2. Stopped by the LM counter at Nordstrom today & found out the Sparkling Dew has only ever been offered in limited edition palettes. : (

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    3. How disappointing. Thank you for verifying, though. I admit I purchased the Cool Colors trio solely for Sparkling Dew, and I feel lucky that I can use two out of three of the colors,the other one being a cake eyeliner in Violet Asphalt, which also appears to be limited edition. I haven't tried the Rosewood eyeshadow, but on the surface, it does not appeal to me at all. In fact, it looks warm, not cool.

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  13. Hi Zuzu, this is a great post & I like all of your choices. I'd love to have a color analysis like you had ... I did do this maybe 20 years ago and was declared a 'Spring' though I know that could still be further-defined. Basically we're similar: pale, blondish, blue-eyed, but I'm warmer than you. I've accepted that I have a makeup addiction & like to collect things but am too lazy to wear them often; this is weird but I'm pretty frugal with the money so I figure, it's not the worst addiction to have. I'm always looking for the 1 surefire product that will make me gorgeous, confident, stunning, and everyone will fall in love with me instantly; plus I only have to put it on once a day and it has beneficial ingredients in it. It's cheap for me, but for everyone else it's horribly expensive (yeah, that elitist factor).

    Your post on Lhasa vs. Blkr 413 was really instrumental for me; I started looking at my products, including Bobbi Brown Fawn eyeshadow which I thought was the most amazing ever, and realizing how much brown it had in it.

    I also am getting the 'you do not have access to this page' message when I try to go to the forum. The server or something is getting cranky with all of us.

    GilberteSwann

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    1. GilberteSwann, I am looking into the denied-access issue on the server. I have no idea what's causing it; e.g., why it's letting some people in but not others. My host's tech support people are working on the issue right now.

      BB Fawn! Oh how I loved that eyeshadow. In the pan. On me it was one hot mess, but I tried to make it work for so long. In fact, I have long bemoaned the fact that BB products "oxidize" on me—until I learned it's not the ingredients interacting with my skin but the color. Just about everything in her line is brown based (probably by design, hee). Even her eyeshadow that she calls Grey is BROWN. Albeit brown with a grey tint, but mostly brown. Cement, for example, is a color that brings to mind a pale cool-neutral grey, and her Cement eyeshadow is absolutely drool worthy, appearing ashy in the pan. Again, makes my eyelids look jaundiced. I shouldn't be surprised. She's one of the makeup artists that insists all women should wear yellow-based foundation. Um, no. Not all of us, dear.

      So aside from finish, my next most important thing (and maybe this should be THE most important) is coolness. Not hip daddy-o but chilly, cold, blue-based color.

      And, when you find that perfect product, you let us all know! :D

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  14. Hi Zuzu..I am so delighted to find out you are a summer season..me too. For me, color is number one, and "drag" is #2. The skin around my eyes is very thin and crepey, so my makeup must be silky and application easy. And yet I fight breakouts on other parts of my face....go figure. Things I"m using and loving right now: apple cider vinegar as a toner; Origins Starting Over Oil Free Moisturizer; Anastasia brow pencil in Granite; Loreal Visible Lift foundation ( blue cap); Physicians Forumula matte eyeshadow quad in Quartz Quartet; Miliani liquify pencils in blue and black, maybelline full and soft mascara; Nars blush in Sin; Revlon lip butter in Berry Smootie.

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  15. Hi Genuine Lustre, I did not realize Anastasia made a brow pencil in Granite! I used the tinted brow gel in the same color and loved it, at least the color, but I needed filling in, not grooming and plumping up, if you know what I mean. I must look for that. I also have the Berry Smoothie lipstick, in fact I am looking at it right now. I keep it in the drawer of my home office and use it like lip balm.

    Thanks for mentioning your other favorites. I will be sure to check them out.

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  16. Hi Zuzu, I just wanted to check in with you and make sure you got through Sandy ok.

    I miss the forum!

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    1. I'm fine, drying out!

      Veuve, I just disabled something on the server. Please try logging in again. If you can't get in, email me so we can try to resolve it. This is very perplexing. I didn't change anything, but suddenly a few of you are having access problems but not others. It makes no sense. I'd blame the west coast, but BF is in. :)

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