Oh, and a loose powder I forgot to include in the last post – whoops!

Brows. I never gave a huge amount of attention to brows when I first started wearing makeup, save for a little stray hair tweezing as needed.  When I was coming of age in the 1980s, in a very general sense, the trend for brows was to keep them naturally shaped and not overplucked, a la Brooke Shields.  Not sure you believe me?  Check out movies and TV shows from the mid/late 1980s and you’ll see what I mean.  And when I felt like coloring in my brows a little I used a good ol’ Number 2 pencil.  No joke.  I read about this trick in a magazine and it actually worked with my skin and brow color!  Talk about beauty on a budget!

And while my hair color is naturally an ashy brown shade (now shot through with a few greys), for some reason my brows have always stayed fairly light colored.  I get my hair highlighted blonde regularly and never had to worry about it looking too “fake” having dark eyebrows in contrast.  But one day my hair colorist, whom I’ve known for years, told me “why don’t you get your brows tinted?”  It never had occurred to me to try this!  She said you know, your brows really define your face shape and yours are pretty light and thinner now so give it a shot!  I wasn’t sure I was ready to take the plunge so I went to the Lancome counter at the nearby Nordstrom and had an SA help me choose a brow pencil.  She was both hilarious and glamorous – a dead ringer for Star Jones before her weight loss, and spent quite a bit of time with me showing me how to use the pencil – which also had a small brush on the opposite end.  She did one of my brows and had me do the other one to mimic her work.  I admit I was a little shocked at how I looked, as I wasn’t used to seeing myself with defined brows but I was glad to have some help! 

Since then, I did take the plunge and start getting my brows tinted at the spa I go to for waxing appointments.  The same woman who does my waxing did my first brow tinting, so I trusted her given she “knows” me very well.  She assured me she was using a vegetable dye so it would gradually fade and wash out over a few weeks.  I really liked how it turned out!  And I realized it also saved me time in the mornings not needing a few extra minutes to use that brow pencil.  As you can see, I’m all about saving time whenever possible, especially on those workday mornings.

But with the Money Diet in full swing I decided to stop the brow tintings temporarily.  And on a whim I picked up MAC’s Browset in Beguile. It’s in the long tube on the right side of this picture.  “Beguile” is just a fun, fancy word for a light taupe shade.  This stuff is like mascara but for your eyebrows.  Unlike the Lancome pencil I first tried a few years ago, the Browset also keeps the brows in place, which is nice as for some strange reason a few of my brow hairs are starting to stick out. Ugh.  Department stores or maccosmetics.com.

One more loose powder. How could I have forgotten about this one?  Ah, the power of online makeup discussions.  I heard rave reviews about Smashbox Halo Hydrating Perfecting Powder, and this is a splurge I haven’t regretted.  Inside there is an inner lid which has small holes in it, kind of like a cheese grater.  It rotates to “shave” just a small amount of the powder at a time.  I love it!  As you know I can’t stand wasting product and loose powder is probably one of the most vulnerable for spills.  But this package design makes it easy to just use a small amount – and pack for business travel without worries of a powder explosion in your suitcase.  I use this as an alternative to foundation on days I just don’t feel like it.  It helps cut down the ruddiness in my face.  It’s at Sephora.

Contour.  This can be dangerous and unfortunate territory without great lighting, great brushes and a lot of practice!  Just like the obvious line of mismatched foundation along a jawline (yuck), poorly applied contour will look like you have two brown lines on your face.  I used to attempt this when I first started wearing makeup but more often than not I would skip this step.  And even today, I still do as it takes time and practice.

After reading more rave reviews I picked up NARS bronzer in Laguna. I actually saw this being demonstrated on a YouTube tutorial and the woman using it had skin about the same (pale) shade as mine.  She used the bronzer as a cheekbone contour and it looked great!  Normally I shy away from bronzer as it only succeeds in making my face look dirty.  However, this shade and texture is absolutely wonderful (and very layerable/blendable) for contour.  Find it at Sephora.

Stila Contouring Kit. This is in the silver box on the left.  I saw this demonstrated on someone who has skin even paler than mine if that’s possible!  And, I caved. There are 3 powder shades inside and they are very gentle and light – meaning it’s easy to layer without it going on too thickly. I usually just use either the medium or the darker shade.  I think the lighter shade is for highlight but I often don’t have time for that last step. I’m very impressed with the color and texture of the product.  However, the packaging inside is a little cheesy – there are small tiny lights along the inside lid border around the mirror which frankly don’t help at all.  At Sephora.

Blush. How would it be necessary for someone like me with pink chubby cheeks to wear blush?  I used to just wear foundation and skip blush altogether except for special occasions.  My “natural” pink seemed to peek through enough.  But after a 15 year or so hiatus, I decided to give it a try.  Blushes and contouring powders have come a LONG way in the past 20 years or so…it seems more products are sheerer, layerable and just overall smoother in texture.  I do think it gives a more thorough polished, finished look and I admit I’m still practicing and experimenting with getting it just right.  Again, this is where great lighting and great brushes are Your Friends.

MAC Mineralize Blush. I once again sing the praises of MAC (well, except for their foundations).  MAC makeup is an absolute steal price-wise for a department store brand.  Don’t get freaked out about their theatrical looking website or other displays.  MAC has a ton of wonderful, neutral makeup for everyday normal people if you look under the flamboyant surface.  And I always get great help at the MAC counter in the Nordstrom at Bellevue Square – thanks, girls!  They are always super friendly, helpful and attentive no matter how swamped they might be.  And when I feel like shopping in my PJs maccosmetics.com has super fast service and free shipping promos all the time.  What’s not to love?

So, the Mineralize Blush is very sheer and layerable – don’t be put off by the bright shades.  The one in the picture here front and center is called Gleeful.  It might be hard to see from the glare but it’s a nice, basic peachy-pink – another “jeans and a t-shirt” everyday color.  True confession – this shade is one of, gulp, 10 in my stash.  That’s how much I love it!

Laura Mercier Shimmer Bloc in Pink Mosaic.  You know, I hear people rave about Laura Mercier all the time but I have yet to try any of her products save for this one.  Inside there are 4 different, sheer shades that you just swirl all over together with a brush and apply.  It gives a light glow which I’ve used as a blush substitute (I think this is meant to be a bronzer as it comes in darker color themes as well). It’s $38 and probably not my wisest purchase as I hardly ever use it.  It’s nice but nothing to shout about.  Department stores or Sephora.

MAC Powder Blush. These are in the 6 palette at top center.  I’d consider these more traditional-style blushes than the Mineralize formula.  They come in different formulas from sheer to satin to matte.  I typed up a small table in Word, printed it out and taped it inside the inner lid for reference.  The MAC palettes are wonderful because they are magnetized.  And if you buy the blushes in just the basic pan format – not with the extra black plastic packaging – they come with a small magnet on the back!  Voila – you just plop them into your palette.  They stay put but are easy to switch around too. Yay for magnets! And yay for these blushes!  I actually do have one other palette of 6 not in this picture so you can say I’m making up for lost time not having worn blush in so many years.  These are really worth testing at a counter if you are not sure about ordering online; lots of the more vibrant-looking colors are actually very sheer while some of the lighter shades might go on matte and heavier.  All a part of the joy of experimenting!  Department stores or maccosmetics.com.

And I also included two of my favorite MAC brushes. The angled 169 is fabulous for getting contour under the cheekbones and the 150, while designed for all over loose powder, is one of my favorites for applying blush.