Author Archives: JuliaJosephBeauty

About JuliaJosephBeauty

New York City Hair & Make-Up Artist!

Thinning Hair and What I’ve Been Doing About It

THE BOTTOM LINE:

I tried a hair serum recipe that I found online, made of three essential oils and it is working.

The recipe I’ve settled on is:
• 5 Drops Lavender (Bulgarian initially, but currently using French)
• 4 Drops Basil (Indian)
• 5 Drops Rosemary (Hungarian)
• in a 4 oz. dropper bottle of filtered water *

*I am not an aromatherapist and my friend who is studying essential oils said it was a bit odd to put them in water, but I did it to reduce greasiness and to be able to get the essential oils on my scalp morning and night. The initial recipe was in a base of Jojoba Oil. You can also use  Watercress Oil, which is supposedly also used to treat thinning hair. You can also make a water based serum for day and an oil based one for night. Please see precautions about essential oils below.

I have applied this serum religiously morning and night for about 10 months now. I simply fill up the dropper, place it to my scalp (starting at the top of the crown) and squeeze out the serum, dragging the dropper along my scalp as I do so, in rows. Then I massage it in a bit. The water based version runs pretty quickly so massaging it in right away helps to keep the essential oils where you want them.

I also switched to natural, gentle sulfate-free shampoos & conditioners. Intelligent Nutrients (less sudsy) and John Masters (more sudsy).

(scroll down for links of where to buy everything.)

 

THE FULL STORY:

My hair has been getting thinner and thinner over the years. When I was in my 20’s I had stunning, full, long locks. My mom, whose hair also thinned substantially as she got older, warned me that her hair was like mine used to be when she was younger too. And her mom was the same.

Until the last year or two I didn’t do much about it, but the thinning intensified after years of a tumultuous break up from a psychologically tortuous relationship (stress!). I didn’t know how much of my hair loss was genetic or stress related, but I figured it was most likely both! It’s also possible that part of the genetic factor might be how the matrilineal side of my family handles and is affected by stress (I am a “highly sensitive person”). In any case, like so many of my family’s patterns, this is another one that I’ve been determined to break!

I have noticed that when I’ve done really intensive diet over-hauls and retreats that lasted longer than three weeks, my hair would start to change for the better. I attribute this to better processing of nutrients and lowered stress levels (nutrition as well as a destressed environment means lower levels of cortisol—the stress hormone that contributes to hair loss, among other things). But I live in one of the most stressful cities in the world and with the type of work I do it’s very hard to vigilantly quality control my diet, so I have experimented with other solutions to help through times of bad diet, lack of sleep and the sporadic schedule of a freelancer.

The first thing I tried was Viviscal, because so many models swear by it. Inevitably, if I was doing a girl’s hair and noticed lots of new growth she was taking Viviscal. Unfortunately, I can’t personally testify to its effectiveness because I’ve never been good at taking vitamins consistently—even when I’ve spent a lot of money on them and Viviscal is not cheap. My guess is that it might be better at recovering from temporary (stress related) hair loss.

I also tried Nioxin shampoo, conditioner and scalp treatment. But it made my hair feel like crap and the chemical nature of it was a turn off.

Then I tried Peter Thomas Roth’s Hair to Die For. This product resulted in a profound and instant change- extremely reduced fall out. My drain catcher no longer looked like a tarantula after every shower! This was the first product that did something, but it has drawbacks. First, it is heavily fragranced— so much so that it made it hard for me to fall asleep at night because the smell was so distracting. And the scent isn’t something innocuous or universal. It’s a very specific, synthetic perfume smell that I did not like. Second, chemicals, chemicals, chemicals. I just didn’t feel good about it, even though it was working.

So then I came across this medical website (the link to which I cannot find) that talked about essential oils as an effective treatment for thinning hair and it had a simple recipe, which was nice because it seemed easy enough to try. It called for 4 drops of Rosemary, 4 of Lavender and 3 of Basil in about 10 oz of Jojoba carrier oil. I ended up using the instructed amount of essential oils in 4 oz of Jojoba instead, as that was the only size bottle I had. I combined the ingredients in a dark blue dropper bottle and I would deposit about one dropper full onto my scalp every night before bed.

Eventually I found the Jojoba to be way too heavy for me since my scalp is already so oily in the mornings, and I felt that the excess shampooing it required was counter productive. So I made a water based formula and have been using it morning and night ever since.

I also changed my shampoos. I started using John Masters’ Lavender Rosemary Shampoo and Rosemary Mint Detangler and then Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Shampoo & Conditioner. Currently I rotate between these two brands. The Intelligent Nutrients Shampoo doesn’t get super sudsy—you have to make sure your hair is well soaked before applying—but it does a good job at cleaning my very oily prone hair. In the last two weeks or so I’ve been trying EO Shampoo & Conditioner. So far I really like it and the price point can’t be beat, especially since sulfate-free formulas often require two passes of the shampoo.

After having used the oils religiously on my scalp twice a day for a few months, I went to the gym with my hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. I was in the bathroom and looking in the mirror, my pony looked lumpy. I went to smooth it down when I realized the lumps were actually short hairs, about two inches long, that were poofing up. They were all over. It was all new hair growth. Then a few months later, after getting my hair cut and watching the stylist blow out my hair, I saw all the new growth every time he angled the blow dryer a certain way and they would blow down (too short to stay in the brush with the rest of my hair). I pointed it out to him and he said, “Oh yes honey, that’s all new hair!” 🙂

After doing more research I made a version based in Watercress Oil, which is supposedly also good for treating hair loss and thinning. Since I don’t really have a control group, I can’t attest to its powers, but it’s just another option to add to the mix.

A WORD ABOUT HAIR TRANSFORMATION:

What you need to know about any program you take on to transform your hair— whether it be through diet, supplements or topicals—it’s A LONG GAME. It takes about three weeks for things to start turning around in your system just internally. And with hair, if the health of your follicles starts improving, all that stuff is happening beneath the surface, so you won’t see anything for a good long while. Then, if you do successfully stimulate new hair growth, it takes another good long while for those new hairs to grow to same length as the rest of your hair! I ordered my first oils in September of 2015, it is now July 2016 and my new growth is probably only about 3.5″ long.

A WORD ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILS:

Essential oils are powerful and mysterious things. I’m a complete novice and have been only self educating over the last year. It is important that you use only therapeutic grade oils for two reasons. One: they are effective and there’s not really any point in using them if they’re not, other than for the enjoyment of fragrance. Two: they are pure. I’ve been getting mine from Native American Nutritionals/Rocky Mountain Oils (these two companies merged this year) and Appalachian Valley Natural Products. They are good, trustworthy companies. They are also small scale operations, so shipping and such can take a little while. Appalachian Valley has slightly better pricing here and there, simply because they want to keep EO’s affordable for all where possible, and you can also purchase samples from them. Both companies will help you navigate their products. If you go out exploring for your own oils, a good indicator of legitimate therapeutic grade oils is whether or not the country of origin is indicated. This is vital information for practitioners as oils from different places have different therapeutic attributes.

It is also important to start small with oils. Always do a little skin to test to see how sensitive you are. There are some that should never be used without a carrier oil! This is where putting them in water like I did can get tricky as they are not water soluble. So please, please, please proceed with caution and trust your body to tell you what it wants. There is lots of useful information on line as to how to navigate EO’s. A quick google search will yield lots of info. Here’s a pretty good overview. This page is great as well.

A WORD ABOUT STRESS AND HORMONES

It is commonly held that thinning hair can be a part of the aging process because of hormonal changes. Hair health is deeply affected by our hormones which change as we age. Our hormones also change like crazy when we are stressed. And let me tell you something: STRESS IS REAL. It profoundly affects our health in EVERY WAY. I highly recommend doing some research on adrenal health and stress reduction. If you are suffering from hair loss, exhaustion, over sensitivity, irregular periods, inexplicable weight gain or weight loss, low sex drive or sleeplessness, these are all pretty good indicators that you are stressed! Essential Oils are very helpful for de-stresssing and lowering cortisol levels. Lavender and Basil are great de-stressors and I’m sure having them in my hair every day is helping from this angle as well. Here’s an interesting read on this front.

Lately I’ve been using basil essential oil on my tragus (near the ear) as a stress reducer. I’ve also started taking magnesium powder every day. Other great stress reducers: exercise, acupuncture, meditation, B vitamins, and SLEEP. For hair specifically, many people also recommend prenatal vitamins. But it’s only recently that I’ve added these particular things to my daily regimen. For the longest time, I’ve just been using the oil formula and it has made a big difference.

So there you have it! If you give it a go, please let me know what your results are like.

BYE BYE LOVE- Discontinued favorites and what to do.

We’ve all been there. A beloved product that we use faithfully for years and years is one day yanked from the shelves never to be seen again. When this has happened to me, I’ve felt frustrated and betrayed. Sometimes being a dedicated customer can feel very thankless.

This is why I rarely buy limited editions- I don’t want to get hooked on something that I can’t replenish. I have also ceased purchasing from companies that discontinue fabulous items too regularly (Lancome, I mean you!) It’s like going back to a commitment phobic boyfriend only to be burned over and over again.

WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO?

If your favorite product has been discontinued there are a few things you can do.

  • Buy up as much as you can on line before all stock disappears forever. Try Amazon and Ebay- but just make sure it’s in a sealed package. Once you’ve got your supply, keep in a cool, dry place, or possibly the refrigerator to keep any oils in the product from turning over time.
  • Write to the company and tell them how devastated you are and why you want them to keep your product on the shelf. Posting to a company’s facebook page will usually get you in to conversation with someone more quickly than a phone call or email will do.
  • Have it replicated. Since discontinued favorites are so common, some companies are filling a niche for disenfranchised consumers by offering replica services. You send in whatever last little cherished bit you have left in your tubes or compacts and they will copy it for you (and return your original). I believe they also keep your formula on file for re-orders. I haven’t done this yet, so I don’t know how close the matches are, but it’s worth a shot! You can try Giella or Three Custom Color for replicating all different types of cosmetics. You can also try Bite Lip Lab and make your own custom color that might be even more perfect for you than the one you’re missing.

54601.baseI suffered two big blows in the discontinued department in the last year or so. The first was my number one drug store secret of all time—

1. COVERGIRL LIPSLICKS. These tinted lip balms were absolute genius (yes, “sheer” genius). The colors were flattering and natural looking, the consistency was rich. They felt so good that I often put them on for the sensation alone. To top it off, they were mildly scented with an innocuous, classic kind of “lipstick” scent…the kind that made you feel that little twinkle of being “put together”. Then there was the way they looked. First of all they had great colors- Hipster had that perfect plumped plum, flushed lip color with a subtle glossy finish, Daring was similar but somewhat deeper, adding just a little more drama with it’s extra dash of red, Bronze Goddess was wear-it-all-summer-long, sun-kissed, natural-beauty, girl-next-door perfection, and even the Clear had a subtle shimmer through that created the most amazing, glowy, natural, smooth, diffused, full pout. The finish on these bad boys was spectacularly flattering.

Then they got yanked. To make it worse, they were replaced by a junky product called “Smoochies” marketed to, it would seem, 12 year olds. Smoochies come in flimsier containers and the colors are all named in cringe worthy “text speak” like “Luv U” and “Text Me”. They are lip glosses for little girls who are most likely buying and wearing make-up for the first time. They are lip glosses that I would be mortified to use as a grown woman. The consistency is also much thinner. Basically they feel, smell, taste and look…CHEAP. Covergirl dealt it’s loyal followers a big hit below the belt with this one.

Help me out and vote to bring it back so that you too can enjoy its wonders! http://www.covergirl.com/beauty-products/discontinued-products/lipslicks-lipgloss

LOreal-Healthy-Look-Dark-Golden-Brown-Creme-Gloss-Hair-Color-P149519132. L’Oreal Healthy Look semi-permanent hair color. I’m a hair color dabbler. I have premature gray and I have mixed feelings about it. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I want my hair Brown! Brown! Brown! I’m also pretty low maintenance. I don’t want to be dependent on a salon or someone else’s taste level as to what a beautiful brown really is (I have my own very strong opinions about this, thank you very much). I also don’t want to to struggle with roots or have to grow my hair out (with roots!) or deal with arduous alterations in the event of a permanent hair-coloring disaster. So, I use semi-permanent color that fades away over time. With these you have no major root issues and the color mellows and washes out gradually over the course of a month or so, thus preventing any embarrassingly unnatural look. They are also a lot gentler on your hair. (I will write more about semi-permanent vs. permanent box colors in another post)

The problem is that only a very few companies make semi-permanent hair color. I tried Clairol Natural Instincts and no matter which light brown to dark blonde color I tried, I always ended up with black hair that faded to a brassy orange. (Ironically their “Brass Free Brunettes” line made my hair the brassiest and most orange!) There are some glosses, but they never quite last and have very limited selection. And then there was L’Oreal Healthy Look. Healthy Look had good browns! There were no dramatic aberrations between promised color and actual color and it faded beautifully. And now it’s gone!! Can you imagine how many women have just been deprived of a product that they were desperately dependent on? I wrote to L’Oreal and they said it just wasn’t selling well enough. I asked them to consider that they could repackage or hone their colors, or make their coloring system easier to understand (it’s not very easy to understand and I was often very confused). They could also just manufacture in lower quantities, right? Well, they yanked it and with NO WARNING WHATSOEVER. It’s cruel, L’Oreal. Just plain cruel.

I will now begin the painstaking process of developing my own color with Redken professional colors. Hopefully I can figure it out before my ebay stock of Healthy Look runs out! Here’s hopin’…

HAIR TO DIE FOR: A Miracle Product That Actually DOES Something!!

THE GIST:

Peter Thomas Roth’s “Hair To Die For” actually stops fallout.ptr-213_1z

THE DETAILS:

My hair used to be absolute perfection. Fine strands, but lots of them, with natural wave, great length and fullness. I could make beautiful braids and perfect “Jessica Rabbit hair”. But over the years it has thinned, consistently and substantially. This happened to my Grandmother and my mom, so when it started happening to me, I figured it was my genetic fate, often exacerbated by times of extreme stress, which then exacerbated my stress about my hair!

I’ve taken measures like adding a filter to my shower head and, of course, trying a gagillion products all claiming to enhance scalp and hair health, revitalize follicles, thicken strands, prevent fallout, etc… I’ve (sheepishly) tried Rogain and Nioxin. I’ve taken supplements like Viviscal, fish and Omega oil formulas, and other “hair-health” vitamins. I’ve also explored stress-reducing practices like mediation, breathing exercises, yoga and many others of that ilk. None of these things seemed to have any effect on the trajectory of my hair situation.

Well one day, being a fan of Peter Thomas Roth products, I was perusing their site and came across this “hair to die for” stuff. I read some reviews and, like so many others, justified the price with “well, it’s my HAIR!” (I was also sure to purchase from Sephora because of their no-hassle return policy.)

I am shocked to report that from the day I started using it, my fallout decreased dramatically. I’ve been shedding like crazy for over 15 years. I keep a drain protector in my shower to prevent clogs, which is great…but, much to my chagrin, it has also shown me just how much fallout is really happening on a daily basis. I’m now on my second bottle of PTR’s Hair To Die For and in very short order, my fallout has essentially been reduced to only a few, nearly unnoticeable strands.

Here’s what it’s changed:

  • I now have little to no fall-out whatsoever.
  • I no longer have impossibly oily hair on the days that I don’t wash it, which means I no longer need to wash it every day. A tiny bit of dry-shampoo (I actually just use pure rice starch) gets me through a no-wash day swimmingly. This has never been my reality, not even when my hair was awesome.

Here’s how I use it:

One to two times per day (morning and/or night) I take a dropper full and touch it to the root of my scalp, dragging it all around, squeezing gently so that a little bit dispenses as I go. I work horizontally in rows from the top down to make sure that I get a good, even distribution.

What I don’t like:

  • It is HEAVILY perfumed—almost shockingly so. In fact, when I apply the product at night, the smell actually wakes me up if I get a whiff of it. The fragrance is pungent and very specific, like a strong, very cheap perfume. I was highly irritated by this clumsiness on the part of PTR. I expect higher end brands to have a little more grace and taste. When it comes to scenting myself, I select very specific perfumes and oils made for the specific purpose of being a perfume. It irks me to no end when products whose purpose is not to be a perfume nevertheless take it upon themselves to scent me! It irks me even more when they overpower my actual perfume of choice with cloying, heavy handed, cheap smelling fragrances. I mean, is this really necessary?!
  • Sometimes my scalp can feel a little itchy. When that happens I reduce use to only once per day. I’ve only been using this second bottle about once per day and the effectiveness has remained the same.
  • The bottle is opaque, making it hard to see when I’m running out!

Overall the product is so effective that I have resigned to desensitize myself to the perfume as best I can, while hoping and praying that PRT improves this flaw in the future. I will also continue to spend a rather substantial amount of money on Hair To Die For becausepinch me—it actually works!

BOOTS: New Skin Treats From An Old-School Brand

THE GIST:144978072

1. Do yourself (and your face) a favor and get to your nearest Walgreen’s or Duane Read for the incredibly affordable, high quality Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil!

2. Boots has put out a few good quality products at a great price point that are definitely worth checking out. I’ve listed them in order of my personal enjoyment of each:

  • Botanics Organic Facial Oil—amazing moisture, high-quality, clean and simple organic ingredients, great price. Perfect replacement for Dr. Hauschka Normalizing Day Oil. As always, make sure you are not reactive to any of the natural oils before use, since even natural and essential oils can be irritants to certain skin sensitivities. Ingredients-wise: much better than what you would expect from a mainstream, drugstore product.
  • No.7 Fanomenal Lashes—quick and easy application, gives my lashes instant, full, furry, wow-factor at a drugstore price. I love the brown/black for a more natural look. Very impressive. I actually use this every day. Ingredients-wise: well…it’s make-up!
  • Botanics Tinted Lip Balm—very comfortable, moisturizing balm with great tint. I have “pomegranate” which is a very natural, reddish-berry, flushed lip color. “Botanics” is a stretch here though. It is not organic and has some good ingredients mixed with some of the not-so-great stuff. Ingredients-wise: what you would expect from a mainstream, drugstore cosmetic.
  • Botanics Organic Body Moisturizing Lotion—while I’m not totally amazed with the feel of this lotion (a little greasy/sticky), it’s ingredients are safe and organic, which is a big plus. If you’re concerned about the toxicity of main-stream products but can’t afford really posh brands like Dr. Hauschka or Jurlique, this is a great alternative and it’s more affordable. Ingredients-wise: much better than what you would expect from a mainstream, drugstore product.
  • Botanics Organic Body Butter—this one also has a slightly less than perfect feel, but I’m more comfortable using this over another body butter like The Body Shop’s simply because of it’s non-toxic ingredients. It’s also more affordable! Ingredients-wise: much better than than what you would expect from a mainstream, drugstore product.

THE DETAILS:

I’m obsessed with deeply moisturizing skin-care products. Dry skin is so uncomfortable, plus it can look cracked, deflated and flaky. But I don’t like things that just sit on top of my skin or feel greasy (there’s a difference between oil and grease in my book). I also don’t like products with too many ingredients- especially chemical and synthetic ones. The products that fit this bill are few and far between and often carry a hefty price tag. Historically, the unparalleled products I have sworn by for deep, healthy moisturizing that my skin gladly drinks up are:

  1. Dr. Hauschka’s Normalizing Day Oil—a luxurious, organic, sophisticated and exquisitely, naturally scented oil.
  2. BoomSilk*—a thick and rich, all natural, organic, hand-made moisturizer.

While BoomSilk continues to be a mainstay product that it would be hard to live without, Dr. Hauschka’s products, with their exorbitant price point, have become a rare treat that I indulge in only when I’m feeling flush.

Well…over the course of the last few years, the Walgreen’s and Duane Read stores of New York City have been getting a major make-over, filling their shelves with some thoughtfully curated beauty products to help customers with their own make-overs. One day I happened into one of these fancy new Walgreen’s and came across a make-up line with very attractive (and effective!) packaging that drew me in for a closer look. At first glance it appeared to be a brand call BOTANICS. Skeptical, I investigated further, reading ingredient listings and sampling available testers. It looked promising and I was intrigued but, being in a rush, I had to make note of it for a later revisit.

Then, while perusing my local Duane Read, I noticed similar packaging in the skin-care aisle, but these bottles and boxes said BOTANICS ORGANIC. I honed in on a little bottle called ORGANIC FACIAL OIL. I was at once excited, hopeful and skeptical. But I read the ingredients and, not only were they few in number, they were high in quality. To top it off, it was eight dollars! (Dr. Hauschka Normalizing Day Oil is a whopping $40 for 1 oz.) Upon first use, I was madly in love and totally devoted. I keep a bottle in my bathroom cabinet, one next to my bed, one at my boyfriend’s house and one in my kit. LOVE!!!

ABOUT BOOTS: Shortly after discovering the facial oil, I did some research and found that the brand is a subsidiary of Boots. I went to a job and raved about it at which point the British stylist and model said, “Oh, it’s Boot’s?!” You see, Boots is a ubiquitous, English pharmacy chain, founded in 1849. It’s cosmetics don’t exactly have the highest reputation in England, being considered kind of old-hat, but after partnering with Walgreen’s in the US in 2012 it seems they’ve done some revamping, first with their No.7 line and now Botanics and Botanics Organic.

After writing a positive review on the Boots site for the facial oil, I received a lovely note from one of their representatives saying how glad they were that I was enjoying the product. They eventually sent me some other things to try. Overall, the facial oil remains the one that truly blew me away, but the products I’ve listed here are those that I found to be noteworthy and deserving of recommendation.

*Full disclosure: BoomSilk is part of my mother, Cindy Joseph’s, Boom! line. Objectively speaking, however, she has put out an awesome product that we both swear by and use every day. 😉

FOUNDATION

In general, I’m not a big fan of foundation for daily life. Our skin is our first tumblr_m04tqgRg8p1ql3mo5indicator of our inner state of health. It tells us when our bodies are over taxed. It tells us when we are dehydrated, in need of sleep, stressed, worried, if our pH balance is off, or if we have accumulated too much toxicity in our body (from chemicals or bad foods). It tells us when our bodies need a break.  Additionally, our skin needs to breathe, even more so when it’s irritated. Covering up distressed skin adds insult to injury.

Since our skin tells us when we are engaging in behavior that is hurting our bodies, if we keep it undercover all the time, we run the risk of becoming blind to our bodies’ more subtle red flags. We are then less likely to cease our damaging behaviors and can fall pray to ailments far more severe than pimples or dark circles. For example, smoking tends to give skin a strange kind of oily dryness and a certain quality of wrinkling. When our skin gets this way, it’s an indication that our smoking is having a serious adverse affect on us, that our immune system just can’t keep up with the onslaught of smoke, nicotine and tar. The wrinkles, oil and dryness are an S.O.S.! We can cover our skin with make-up and pretend like it’s not happening, but the damage will continue and the signals will become increasingly severe, like lung cancer.

Interpersonally, covering up our skin also makes it more difficult for our partners and loved ones to “read” us. For example, if I’m really tired and stressed out but cover up my skin, my boyfriend will have a harder time recognizing my stress and exhaustion. In my fragile state, which can skew the way I experience things, I might interpret his otherwise normal behavior as insensitive to my especially weary state. But do you see how I set him up? I find that my boyfriend, given a chance to read all the signs (like my ruddy skin or dark circles) is actually very perceptive and lovingly responsive to what he perceives. Covering my skin, which he uses as an indicator, whether consciously or not, deprives him of the opportunity to be really attune to me and help in the way that makes him feel like a hero (he LOVES being a hero! ;). Really it deprives us of so much. He doesn’t get to show me that he loves me with or without “perfect skin”. I don’t get to feel loved even when I’m a wreck. Essentially, we don’t get to engage in some really loving experiences of support, connection, mirroring, seeing and being seen. We want our partners to be able to “read our minds” right? Well one of the ways they do that is by reading our faces. Let’s give them a chance!

* * * * * *

Having said all that, sometimes we don’t want EVERYONE knowing the depth of our souls. Sometimes we have a show to put on, either literally (on a stage or in front of a camera) or figuratively (at work or just out in the world). In this case, foundation can be seriously awesome!

FOR REAL LIFE – LESS IS MORE:

By “real life” I mean the kind of make up one would do for the naked eye and in this case, LESS IS MORE! The following list is in order from the heaviest to the lightest. What I use on camera can also be used for daily life as they still achieve a very natural, “skin-like” finish. The daily life recommendations are not good for camera, however, because they all have SPF which can interact adversely with flash photography.

Peter-Thomas-Roth-Un-Wrinkle-Foundation-SPF-20-1PETER THOMAS ROTH UN-WRINKLE FOUNDATION– ($45 for 1 oz) This is my absolute favorite and what I use on myself. It evens skin tone, provides SPF protection and allows my freckles to show through. Falling somewhere between a full coverage foundation and a tinted moisturizer in consistency, it is slightly buildable. The real advantage to this foundation is that it’s basically a skin care product with color. Peter Thomas Roth is primarily a skin care line, and a good one, so using this feels less like putting dirt on your face and more like using a good moisturizer with real skin enhancing benefits. The only real sticking point, that actually verges on a moral dilemma for me, is that is only comes in four shades. It’s basically foundation for white people…from pale to tan ones. Why? Why?! It’s 2014! Anyway, though it’s $45 a bottle, you can rest assured that it’s better for your skin and a little does go a long way.

Stila Illuminzing TintedSTILA ILLUMINATING TINTED MOISTURIZER– ($32 for 1.7 oz) When it comes to “illuminizing” I am VERY picky! So many products are just highly visible, glorified glitter. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE glitter, but deliberately wearing glitter and trying to create the effect of luminous skin are two completely different things! I love this Stila product. It’s infused with micro-fine light reflecting, or light diffusing, pigments, which means no big sparkles! Under any light, or under a microscope, you will just look like you have amazing, glowy skin and as if you are not wearing a stitch of make-up! So, if you are trying to dupe your date, rest assured, he or she will be none the wiser. They will only smell the SPF (if they get a kiss) and think you take good care of yourself, even if you don’t (but you should!).

Sense MoisturizerSENSÉ Daytime Protective Emulsion with SPF 15– ($37.95 for 1.3 oz) This is a moisturizer, with no tint whatsoever. So why is it here? Well, it’s a well made moisturizer with safe ingredients that have mild light-reflecting properties. Anything reflective is deflective, obscuring irregularities in your skin and making you look just a little more glowy than usual.

FOR CAMERA:

These are foundations that photograph very well while still looking great to the naked eye. So if you have an event or if you’re a make-up artist looking for recommendations…these are my faves!

imagesMAKEUP FOREVER HD FOUNDATION– ($42 for 1 oz) This is number one on my list because of the great combination of price point and performance. It looks very good to the naked eye and the minute my models get in front of the camera the results never cease to amaze me. If I could only have one foundation in my kit, this would be it. At around $40 the price is better for the retail consumer than Armani and even better for pros, since MakeUp Forever has a professional discount program.

Armani luminous silkARMANI LUMINOUS SILK FOUNDATION– ($62 for 1 oz) This stuff is truly remarkable. It is nearly invisible to the naked eye, blends perfectly, maintains a perfect skin-like texture and photographs like a dream. It is full coverage without ever masking the skin and it works just as well on wrinkly skin as it does on smooth skin. What’s also impressive is the color range and the ability of Armani’s make-up consultants to color match for their clients. When friends pull this out, I am always pleased to see that whoever helped them at the counter steered them to their exact right color. At $62 a bottle it is pricey, but a little goes a long way here too. If you are looking to try this in your kit, the colors I’ve used most are 5.5, 6 and 6.5. This is an instance where you really do get what you pay for.

inglot-cream-foundation-profileINGLOT CREAM FOUNDATION– ($22 for 1 oz) I bought this on a whim, just to try it because I was exploring the company’s products and really liked some of their colors, namely 26, 31 and 38. It looks very good to the naked eye and photographs well (though not as magically as the Makeup Forever HD). It is a buildable, full coverage foundation that never looks cakey. I also love the scent and the way it feels on the skin. It’s very pleasant to wear which is why I use it on myself at times when I want a little more coverage, like for a stage performance. At $22 a bottle, it’s a good solid option and Inglot does give a small professional discount. I should mention that I tried to find color matches for 26, 31 and 38 in the MakeUp Forever HD foundation but had no luck. So, these colors will remain in my kit!

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Tip: The best way to apply foundation is to stipple it on, whether with a stippling brush, a sponge, a Beauty Blender or by patting it on with your finger tips. It prevents the product from catching on pores or baby hairs and also guarantees you won’t have any streaking. The added moisture of the Beauty Blender helps to create a more dewy effect, keeping the application from ever looking cakey.

NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencils

photoI recently went to NARS to stock up on their exquisite Velvet Matte Lip Pencils.

Because a big kit can be so back breaking to lug around, I try to be very selective about what I use and I try to choose products that can be multi-purpose. I keep primarily matte lipsticks in my kit because: A) mattes photograph beautifully and B) they can easily be turned into creams or glosses by adding clear balms and glosses! This way, with one root product I can create whichever finish I want. (Creams can be matted with powder, but the finish isn’t as perfect and pigmented as I like it to be).

SO! Why these mattes? Well…

1. The finish is pigmented, deep, rich and velvety. Perfect, in other words. They are not cakey in any way. The finish is so natural that the color translates as a stain, without actually staining the lips and with much more depth.

2. They don’t dry out lips! The last thing I need is cracked, chapped lips on my models (or me or you). It ruins the finish and it makes it uncomfortable for the model to model (she needs to be able to laugh and smile and snarl and play!). This product is extremely comfortable to wear.

3. They glide on effortlessly! To do a perfect dark lip can take some time. Not with these beauties. It’s as if they have a built-in homing device to stay exactly within the line of the lips.

4. The colors are extremely well curated. They are always a perfect range of classic, au courant, and universal.

5. Absolute favorites: Walkyrie & Dolce Vita. Dolce Vita is basically “lip color”– natural, flushed, not too red, not too brown, not too blue, not too orange…a classic! Walkyrie is in the same natural and flushed looking vein of Dolce Vita, but more russet, without being too orange. It looks amazing on EVERYONE: tan, pale, black, white, brown, yellow, golden, pink, olive, blue, red and every skin tone in between! STUNNING.

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Tip: When using mattes that aren’t so moist, or if your lips are just generally very dry, pre-treat lips with Shea Butter and then blot gently before applying lipstick. Shea Butter is deeply moisturizing (and safely edible) without being glossy so you can still achieve a matte finish.

Other great mattes for perfect red lips: MAC Ruby Woo, Diva & Lady Danger. MAC’s entire line of matte reds are incredible and iconic. Absolutely the best of the best. Comparatively I’d say MAC’s matte lipsticks are bit thicker feeling on the lips than the NARS pencils.