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review: neostrata skin active retinol + NAG complex.

{$78, available through medical providers and neostrata.com}


i love retinol.  it's one of the things i believe in most fervently.  evolution, always wearing blush, and retinol.  retinol makes even more sense to me than evolution, though because i can actually see the results in days.  aside from getting fillers it's the number one thing a 30-something can do for their skin to get noticeable results.

i'm always down to try a new retinol, and the neostrata skin active retinol + NAG complex has proved to be a new favorite.  the downside to retinol use is a notorious side effect of reddening and irritating skin for a few days after use.  this version is gentle (i've had zero skin irritation), yet effective for smoothing skin.

this quote from the neostrata's VP of clinical affairs kinda says it all for me in terms of antiaging skincare:
Sunscreen aside, Retinol is one of the most important ingredients you can use to prevent and correct signs of aging skin,” says Barbara Green. “It addresses everything from wrinkles to uneven tone to acne and pore size, making it a must-have in every skin care routine. With the SKIN ACTIVERetinol + NAG Complex, we are able to deliver a high strength retinol formulation that is augmented by the matrix building and volumizing effects of NeoGlucosamine which we call NAG. It’s a new way to use retinol.”
that's exactly what i would say - sunscreen + retinol = holy grail.  and this retinol is a perfect balance of effective and not harsh.  (applause emoji).

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review: younique moonstruck 3D fiber lashes.

{3D fibers on top, transplanting brush on bottom, image via blogher.com}


i love lash extensions.  a lot.  i also hate sitting still for over an hour to have them applied.  a lot.

i recently declared that a personal embargo on mascara unless it looks so extra that it could be mistaken for extensions.  and i stand by that (read about that here).  i now finally found a product that delivers a reasonable dupe.

younique moonstruck 3D fiber lashes works so well its sort of baffling.  it is a multi-step process, but it only takes about 5 minutes to complete, and it's easy.  the downside is it only last a few hours, unlike extensions that are there for weeks.

the steps:

  1. apply transplanting gel - to the untrained eye looks essentially like mascara.  also, should be applied exactly like mascara, root to tip of lash.
  2. apply 3D fibers - this is the magic step.  a separate wand over lashes suddenly adds lashes where none or stubby lashes were previously.  
  3. apply transplanting gel - again.  another layer on top presumably to set the 3D fibers, though i wore it both with and without this step and didn't see a huge difference in the wear.


either way, i LOVE the 3D fibers.

{my snuffaluffagus lashes, as amber would say.  $29 at youniqueproducts.com}

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review: hard candy all day eyeliner.

{available at walmart, $6}

thick.  a word that's been at the center of a lot discussions about beauty standards lately, and that i've been catching in the periphery.  two days ago buzzfeed shared 17 reasons why plus-sized women shouldn't wear bikinis, along with some pictures of plus-sized women looking dope as hell in bikinis. cute.  subversive.  click bait.

it joins a larger discussion that dove and other major players in the beauty/fashion/media arena are having about how size shapes ideas about beauty.  what all this hopefully means is that the definition of what is "ok" or beautiful is changing.  it's well-known by those who know me personally that i just don't find skinny to be sexy.  i love curves.  i love thick.  always have.  and just like everyone else doesn't need a reason to prefer beauty normative standards, there's no special reason why i like hips better than none.  i just do.

this may all seem fairly circuitous way to introduce hard candy's all day eyeliner.  but this is a liner for those who prefer wide.  this pen cannot and will not make a wispy line.  it marches to the mantra of  "i like my black eyeliner like i like my women, thick."  it's a gorgeous statement-making sweep of black.  it's amy winehouse level.  and it stays put.  all day.  after taking the above picture i washed my hands three times with soap and still hand the word "thick" scrawled on it the next day.

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review: covergirl colorlicious lipstick.

{available at mass retailers, SRP $6.99}


because it's always something, today is national lipstick day!

this spring there is truly no shortage of great lipsticks.  i've tried and reviewed amped up rose hues, sexy nudes, mattes, and found little to be disappointed in.  but on this special holiday i want to shout out the most overlooked and over-performing lipstick i know.

covergirl colorlicious lipstick has amazing color payout, texture, and color range for any price, but happens to be at drugstore rates.  they have a huge range of shades grouped by color family - plums, nudes, reds, and pinks.  weirdly (and terrifically), almost every color seems to match my skin.

plus if i'm looking for a somewhat obscure shade like a frosty tan  i seem to find a match  (caramel kiss).  they make my absolute all time favorite red (garnet flame).   i recently received samples of an on-trend purple (divine wine) and sweet rose (ravishing rose), and both were just on point.

if i was offered a full range of lipstick shades from any brand, i would chose the entire covergirl colorlicious collection.  happy lipstick day, beauties!

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