7 Face Masks That Will Transform Your Skin

Charlotte Tilbury Goddess Clay Mask

After a decade of struggling with acne I've learned that the best way to keep my skin under control is by paying attention to how it reacts in different environments (late nights, flying, humid vs dry climates, etc) and adjusting my routine before the breakout occurs.  My favorite way to do this is by keeping my cleanser and moisturizer consistent wherever I am, then introducing masks to prevent whatever problems are about to arise. 

The Daily

Clear Pore Mask and Cleanser

At just $5.99, this Neutrogena mask is a total steal but it works so well that I'd recommend it even if it were $30.00. This can be used as either a cleanser or a mask, which makes it ideal for travel (the less you have to pack the better!). It's gentle enough for almost daily use as a cleanser but the mask function gets the job done when skin is at risk of becoming congested. 

The Total Purge

Aztec Secret Healing Clay

To be honest, this product was a complete impulse buy. I came across it on Amazon, when I noticed it had over 11,000 reviews and 4 1/2 stars I had to try it. Let me tell you, 11,000+ people were not wrong! This mask is incredible, albeit disgusting.  For $10.99,  the mask comes in dry form which is then to be mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar, painted onto the face and left until dry.  It smells disgusting and will leave you looking like a Ninja Turtle when it finally dries but the  results are so worth it. This mask brings every possible piece of gunk in your skin to the surface, I broke out for 2 days after applying but for the next 2 weeks my pores were smaller than they've ever been.  This mask is intense so I don't recommend it before a big event and it shouldn't be used more than every other week. 

The Night Out

Goddess Skin Clay Mask

I don't know how she's done it, but Charlotte Tilbury has created a clay mask that simultaneously shrinks your pores and leaves skin feeling moisturized. This is not an active mask but it does have a firming affect that creates the perfect base to apply makeup for a big night out.  It's gentle enough for every day use, but at $55.00 its probably best saved for special occasions.

The Peel

REN Radiance Renewal Peel

Slow cell turnover is one of the biggest culprits of congested pores, which is where a great peel comes in.  This REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask uses fruit enzymes to gently slough off any dead skin cells that are hanging around longer than they should.  I like to use this immediately upon returning from a trip to get rid of any buildup caused from traveling.  At $55.00 this mask isn't cheap but it is worth the investment. Mechanical exfoliants (like the ever popular St. Ive's Apricot Scrub) are too harsh, they can cause micro tears in the skin which speed up aging.  Better to spend more money on proper care now than to deal with premature ageing later on. 

The Detoxifier

Dr Jart Pore Minimalist

Sheet Masks are all the rage right now, and for good reason!  They'r effective, easy to pack, and and offer a spa like experience without the hefty price tag ($7 vs $100+). The Pore Minimalist mask from Dr Jart is one of my favorites.  I keep a few of these in my luggage at all times then apply them when I arrive in a new city, they do a great job of cleaning out my pores while hydrating my dehydrated skin post flying. 

The Perk Me Up

Tsubaki Hydrogel Mask

When my skin feels dehydrated, dull, and uneven, the Boscia Tsubaki Oil Deep Hydration Hydrogel Mask is the first thing I reach for.  Simply apply this mask and chill for 20 minutes to reveal skin that's brighter, plumper, and more even.  Perfect for those days you don't want to wear makeup but still want a little glow. 

The Baggage Reclaim

While realize this technically isn't a face mask, the Purederm Collagen Eyezone Patches were too incredible not include.  Travel really has a way of taking its toll on your body.  For a while, I developed under eye bags that were so tragic, no amount of concealer could cover them.  Under eye bags have a bad way of bringing down your whole face so for a while, I resorted to dermal fillers, UNDER MY EYES. Yes, that's a thing. And it d1oes work but it is also ridiculously painful, hard on the wallet, AND  it has to be repeated every 6 months. Definitely not ideal.  I discovered these eye patches 18 months ago and haven't looked back since.  They've lightened my dark circles and plumped my under eyes so much so that I don't even need concealer anymore.  They're the closest thing to a miracle product that I've come across yet. 

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Review: Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick

Photo sourced via Pinterest

Photo sourced via Pinterest

 Having tried and loved Anastasia Beverly Hills' brow products, I was thrilled to learn they were expanding the line and could not wait to get my hands on their first non brow related product, the ABH Liquid Lipstick.  Unfortunately for me, their initial launch was US only (I was living in Hong Kong at the time) and they were so popular that many colors have been sold out, on and off, since their initial launch in 2015. It took two years of scouring Sephora but I finally got my hands on them and decided to review them here. 

I'd been admiring them on Instagram for so many years that I knew exactly which colors I had to have: Crush, Dolce, and Dusty Rose. 

Arianna Chaylene Blean wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Crush https://ariannacb.wordpress.com/

Arianna Chaylene Blean wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Crush https://ariannacb.wordpress.com/

@mina_a wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dolce

@mina_a wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dolce

Jade Marie wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dusty Rose 

Jade Marie wearing ABH Liquid Lipstick in Dusty Rose 

My initial impression was positive.  They were easy to apply and took about 10 minutes to dry to a matte finish.  For the first hour, they looked fantastic and I was so happy with my purchase.  The color was long lasting but unfortunately it seeped into my lip lines the longer the day went on, giving them a prune like appearance no matter how many times I exfoliated or moisturized my lips before applying. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Liquid Lipstick in Dusty Rose

I really, really wanted to love these but I just didn't.  No matter how many different times or ways I applied them, the result was always the same.  I still love Anastasia Beverly Hills but this product just wan't for me.  

If you've tried them already, or have any tips for liquid lipstick, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the comments below!

Shop Anastasia Beverly Hills 

VC Tries..Eyelash Extensions

eyelash extensions review

A CoverGirl Study revealed that 50% of women  would choose mascara if they could only use one beauty product for the rest of their lives. As an eyelash obsessive myself, I am totally with them, even if that makes me #basic. While I was lucky to be born with lashes that are naturally long and dark, they're also quite straight and not as full as I'd like to them be.  Over the years, I've tried dozens of different lash curlers, growth serums, and mascaras hoping to achieve Bardotesque lashes.  While I have come across some great products, there's always been one issue that I could never quite solve: smudging.  No matter how many concealers, primers, or waterproof mascaras I try, I simply can't avoid it.  My makeup will look amazing when I leave the house but within a hour, I'm left with full on panda eyes.  After years of carrying concealer and obsessively checking for signs of smudging, I decided it was time to try something new, eyelash extensions.

Beyonce Panda Eyes

Eyelash extensions have been on my radar for years but I could never quite bring myself to try them because of the high price tag and the fear that they'd damage my real lashes.  I'd pretty much resigned myself to a lifetime of carrying concealer and constantly running to the bathroom for touch ups, until a few weeks ago when I met Jessica and Jenica from  Pretty in Pairs. We were on set shooting for Weddington Way and I could not. stop. staring. at their amazing lashes.  Long and lush with the perfect amount of curl, I had to know what they were using. Luckily for me, they were nice enough to let me in on their secret: eyelash extensions from Neva's Beauty on Lombard.  

I booked an appointment ASAP and had my own set of fabulous lashes that very week. The initial application took about 90 minutes, it was a long time to lay flat but a great excuse to pop in headphones and catch up on my favorite podcasts. You have to go in with no makeup or moisturizer as they can impact the staying power of the adhesive. Wait 48 hours after application before getting the lashes wet and you're good to go! They have to be refilled every 2-4 weeks, depending on how well you care for the them.  Apply makeup as you normally would, minus mascara, and be sure to use oil free makeup removers as some oils can loosen the adhesive. Prices range depending on where you go, because the eyes are such a sensitive area I recommend doing your research beforehand and only trusting a qualified professional.  Saving a few bucks is NOT worth losing your lashes, or worse. 

If you live in the Bay area, I highly recommend Neva's Beauty.  They have locations in the Marina and Nob Hill,  the initial application is $120.00 and fills are $60.00 but if you mention this post your first application is 20% off :) 

http://nevasbeauty.com/ 

 You can see the full result of my lash extensions below, I've had them for 6 weeks now and could not be happier.  If you do try them out, be sure to take a photo and tag me on Instagram, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

photo by Rachel Radcliffe 

photo by Rachel Radcliffe 

 

 

My Everyday Beauty Favorites With It Cosmetics

It's no secret around here that I am  a beauty addict! Every time a new product comes on the scene, I can't resist trying it out.  There are hundreds of products in my makeup drawer (let's be honest, at this point its more of a makeup room than a drawer! ) but only a few that have proved valuable enough to be repurchased over the years.  A few weeks ago I was cleaning out my makeup collection and realized that several of the products I've loved, used, and  consistently repurchased over the years happen to come from one brand, It Cosmetics.  

It Cosmetics (the 'IT' stands for Innovative Technology)  is a cruelty free line of color cosmetics for the face and body. They work with leading plastic surgeons and dermatologists, utilizing clinically proven anti aging technologies and high performance ingredients, to create products that solve even the biggest beauty problems.

I first became acquainted with the brand in 2008, when I was still competing in pageants.  At the time, many of their products focused on using contouring techniques to make the body look more toned. They were great for the swimsuit competition, but required too much effort to be used regularly.  Their product range has expanded dramatically since then, and is filled with highly effective products for everyday use.  

My favorite product from the line, and the one I've been using the longest, is the Bye Bye Under Eye Anti Aging Concealer. Dark circles are my biggest beauty woe and this concealer makes them disappear completely.  It is highly pigmented ( a little bit goes a long way) yet easy to blend.  I love that it never dries out my under eye area and that it lasts all day long, even through a day at the beach!

The CC+ Cream Illumination SPF 50 is a great everyday foundation I picked up earlier this year. I used to use the Smashbox HD Foundation, it was my all time favorite because it gave me flawless coverage without looking like I was wearing makeup.  They discontinued it in 2013 and I've been trying to find something similar ever since!  The CC+ Cream Illumination is the closest thing I've found.  It is easy to apply, wears wells, and provides great coverage without using too much product.  The glowy finish of the CC+ Cream is slightly less natural than the Smashbox HD but it is still very wearable.  I've recently ordered the non illuminated version of the CC+ Cream and am hoping that it will be the perfect dupe. Nonetheless, this is my favorite everyday foundation. 

I didn't use powder for several years because I've always preferred the look of dewy skin over a matte complexion (dewy skin is more youthful and better for hiding flaws).  When I moved to Hong Kong, the humidity turned my face into a complete oil slick-yuck! I tried several powders but stopped using all of them when I discovered the Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder  because I'd finally found a powder that didn't discolor my foundation or spill all over my makeup bag (pressed is so much better than loose!).   I apply it using the Heavenly Luxe Wand Ball Powder Brush #8 , I don't know how, but it really does make my pores disappear!

The Vitality Lip Flush 4-in-1 Reviver Lipstick Stain is a relatively new addition to my makeup bag.  I purchased it after seeing how beautiful it looked on several of my favorite YouTubers.  The Vitality Lip Flush is formulated with ingredients like Plum Oil, Argan, and Jojoba, that moisturize your lips, giving them a plumper appearance.  It come in six different colors but they work on all skin tones because the ingredients blend together to enhance, rather than cover, the natural shade of your lips.  I've talked a few friends into picking this up and they've all agreed its the most soothing lip product they've ever used. 

One of my goals for this year is to improve my packing skills, which requires lightening up my makeup travel bag.  The Naturally Pretty Celebration Matte Luxe Transforming Eyeshadow Palette has made it easy to streamline my beauty routine. While I've tried packing with palettes before, I always felt overly limited.  The Urban Decay Naked Palettes are good, but the ratio of shimmery to matte eye shadows isn't preferable and I always ended up packing a few individual Matte shadows to balance it out.  The Naturally Pretty Palette is great because it contains an equal ratio of cool and warm tone neutrals, all in Matte shades, with one shimmery shadow that can add something extra to any of the colors, when desired. The shadows are highly pigmented, I notice very little fall out when I wear them, and I feel I can create nearly any look with this palette. This is a limited edition palette and is only available through the It Cosmetics site (www.itcosmetics.com) so hurry up and grab it while you can!

Sweatshirt: Wildfox Couture

Photos: Hailey Wilson of Verse and Venture

 

November Beauty Favorites

Blonde Applying Makeup

Anyone who's ever met me knows that I'm absolutely addicted to beauty products.  I'm constantly reading about new products and watching youtube tutorials; I've spent more time at Sephora than any non-employee should.  Over the years, I've learned a few things about makeup (and by a few things,  I mean I've been known to identify the exact lipstick a complete stranger is wearing) and have become the go-to person for my friends and family whenever they have a beauty related question.  

Even when I find a product I love, I can't help searching for one that may be even better.  Which I've why I've decided to launch this new series, Monthly Beauty Favorites, chronicling my search for the best of the best in makeup, skin, and hair care.  Each I'll month I''ll be sharing new products that I've discovered and loved,  as well as some old favorites that are perfect for each season. 

If you've tried any of these products before, or have some new favorites of your own, leave me a comment below, I'd love to know what you think!

Beauty Blender

Beautyblender 

If you've picked up a fashion magazine or watched a makeup tutorial in the last five years, chances are good that you've already heard of the Beautyblender. This reusable sponge makeup applicator is famous for its ability to apply foundation in a way that leaves your skin looking flawless, pore free, and totally natural, no matter how much makeup you've applied.  When I first tried the Beautyblender three years ago, I didn't understand what all the hype was about. I recently decided to give it another try after watching a few makeup tutorials and realized that I may have been using it wrong.  Now that I've learned how to use it properly, I'm obsessed!  Its ability to apply concealer in a way that looks totally natural and stays put all day long has earned it a permanent spot in my makeup bag.

Ilia Balmy Nights Lip Exfoliator

 

Ilia Balmy Nights Exfoliator 

 On top of being painful, flakey lips are a complete eyesore and ruin even the prettiest lipsticks.   This chic exfoliator is made of essential oils and volcanic stone powder, a quick swipe leaves your lips flake free without being overly harsh.  All of the exfoliators I've tried in the past have been in jar form, I hated having to scoop it out with my fingers (so unsanitary!) and getting granules stuck under my nails, the stick formation is one of many reasons to love Balmy Nights!

Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial

Korres Greek Yoghurt Advanced Nourishing Sleeping Facial

The hard thing about skincare is that as soon as you think you've got everything under control, a slight change in your hormones or your environment can bring you back to square one.  I've been using the Obagi Nuderm system since June and things had been going really well, until I visited New York a few weeks ago.  The cold, windy climate was too much for my skin to handle on top of the Retin A in my usual routine.  After my first day in the city, my face was left peeling and red. I was in desperate need of something that would soothe my irritated skin without breaking me out.  I remembered reading about the anti acne benefits of greek yoghurt so I decided to give this mask a try.  I applied it at night and woke up the next morning to skin that looked even and felt totally hydrated.  I've been using this mask twice a week for the last month, my skin has felt more balanced, it hasn't caused any breakouts.  I highly recommend this for anyone with combination skin, this is my favorite hydrating face mask! 

Bobbi Brown Intensive Eye Concealer

Bobbi Brown Intensive Skin Serum Concealer

 I've been using Bobbi Brown concealer ever since I started competing in pageants, over ten years ago.  I've tried other concealers out of curiosity, but I always end up going back to Bobbi.  I used to use the Creamy Concealer Palette, but I discovered this concealer in liquid firm during my last visit to Bobbi Brown  and I decided to give it a try instead! The finish is nearly identical to the creamy concealer but I prefer this because of the wand applicator, it is easier to apply and removes any tugging on the delicate eye area.  

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze & Glow

Charlotte Tilbury Filmstar Bronze and Glow Palette

I love, love, love Charlotte Tillbury! This woman could sell ice to an Eskimo, she oozes confidence and is the definition of fabulous.  I was so excited to try her makeup line but was afraid that the products wouldn't live up to the hype. I've tried several products from her line now  (I will be posting a review of those soon) and am happy to report that many of her products are as effective as her marketing is.  My absolute favorite is this contour and highlight palette.  I've tried so many contouring/bronzing palettes trying to achieve the super sculpted face that is so popular right now, only to end up looking dirty because the products were the wrong color for my skin.  Charlotte Tilbury's palette has the perfect colors for my skin tone and is ridiculously easy to use, a must have for anyone with fair skin.

 

Boots No 7 Contour and Highlight Brush

Boots No 7 Contour and Highlighter Brush

After falling in love with Charlotte Tilbury's Bronze and Glow palette, I considered purchasing her contour brush but couldn't bring myself to spend so much when I could likely find something similar for less. I found this brush at Boots during my last trip to London and its proved to be a great dupe! The hair feels high quality and I love that it is double sided, leaving you with one fewer brush to pack when traveling.

Nars Satin Lip Pencil Hyde Park

Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Hyde Park

I'm a big fan of Nars Lip Pencils; they're highly pigmented, easy to apply, and they never dry out my lips.  Hyde park is my favorite color for Fall and Winter.  It is a gorgeous, rich red with cool burgundy undertones making it feel especially appropriate for the season.

A review of Makeup Forever Aqua Brow

I've always loved changing my beauty routine up, trying out new hair colors and and experimenting with dramatic makeup. I love how trans-formative it is, it can make you feel like a totally different person! But over the years, I've learned that when it comes to beauty, what's natural is usually best. Anytime I've veered too far away from what I was born with, I wind up cringing when I see photos.  Luckily, getting rid of unflattering makeup is as easy as washing your face; but not all beauty mishaps are as easy to fix.  For example, eyebrows.  The brows we're born with may require a few hairs to be tweezed throughout the years but they're generally a good fit for our faces.  Unfortunately, as Joni Mitchell said "You don't know what you've got til it's gone" and too many of us have overtweezed  our brows, forever losing the natural arch and fullness we were given.  I know I certainly did, and I've been trying to fix it ever since!

Finding a natural looking brow product is no easy feat.  I've bought pencils that seemed great at the store but looked too orange or to grey in the light of day. Even when I've found a good match color wise, they seem to dry out quickly and become near impossible to use.  Brow powders were too difficult to manage and brow wax ended up looking, well, waxy. Not exactly the look I'm going for.  I watched countless tutorials on youtube, but they all seemed geared towards brunettes. Until I discovered this tutorial by youtube guru  Stephanie Lange, featuring the Makeup Forever Aqua Brow and and the Makeup Forever 270 Angled Eyebrow Brush. The process looked complicated but her brows looked so perfect I had to try it.  

With high hopes and low expectations, I headed to my local MUFE location to give it ago.  The makeup artist on duty was incredibly helpful, within 90 seconds she'd expertly applied the Aqua Brow, giving me the fullest and most natural looking brows of any product I'd ever tried. I was sold! I left that day after purchasing the Aqua Brow in blonde as well as the Angled Eyebrow Brush.  

To my delight, the product was quite easy to apply at home.  You simply brush your brows, squeeze a tiny amount of the product onto your hand, then dip the brow brush into it and apply, leaving you with a full and natural brow that is even water proof!

image.jpg

Aqua Brow retails for $22.00 at Sephora and the Angled Eyebrow Brush retails for $21.00.  After three months of use, the package still looks completely full. This is not a cheap product but considering the little amount that is required, this will likely last for several months.  This is the best brow product I've come across and I definitely plan on repurchasing.