Real Girl Lifestyle

Archive for the ‘Cosmetics’ Category

Fresh understands skin tone

Real Girl is forever in search of impressive concealers to mask the inherited deep, dark circles under my otherwise bright green eyes. What so many cosmetics companies fail to clarify, though, is the importance of understanding your skin’s undertones. Clinique, for instance, though one of my favorite brands for skin care products, tends to feature colors that favor “cool” undertones, such as blue or pink. Many more ethnic skin types veer toward a warm yellow or olive base tone. Although my skin could be considered fair (when I’m not using bronzer or a dash of fake tanner), it gravitates toward warm shades–and I’ve found that sometimes they can be hard to find.

Enter the Asian market. Many of the top luxury brands are entrenched in an Asian-friendly fervor, hoping to crack or expand in this vast and fertile landscape. With the Japanese market already decently saturated, China leads the way to the future, and I wonder if Fresh has considered entering the far East fray. Upon trying their luxe and creamy Umbrian Clay Absolute Concealer, my first thought was how appropriate the colors seemed for ethnic skin, including mine. Though I have fair eyes (green, natural) fair-ish hair (highlighted, not), and naturally fair skin, I’m not a porcelain beauty. She would have a pink or blue base, and I wonder if a different brand would better match her skin (although perhaps Fresh’s #1 would suit). But for the Jewish, Italian, Asian, mediterranean skin tones, I think Fresh is a superb concealer choice to match and blend one’s own natural tone. Just the fact that Fresh delineates appropriate undertones for each color goes a long way toward knowing which of these delicate, charming little concealer tubes would work best for you.

I generally prefer a different concealer package, I confess: either a pot, like my dear Laura Mercier Undercover, or a wand like, say, Clinique’s Line-Smoothing Concealer. Both these options work well with a brush and allow you to better control product portion. My least favorite packaging is the tube; sometimes the product inside separates, becoming oily, and almost all the time one squeeze delivers way too much, both wasting the precious elixir and leaving you too heavily made up. For Fresh, however, I will make an exception. Its creamy formula does not separate, and I apply it directly to a makeup brush, squeezing ever so gently.

The effects are impressive. For someone with less prominent under-eye circles than mine, a few brush strokes of this fluid, easily blendable concealer will leave you looking more awake, brighter, happier, and healthier. For me, I use it as the perfect base. The Umbrian Clay claims to provide medium coverage, and I think it offers even a bit better than that. What’s more, its formula appears effortless. Porphyridium Cruentum adds hydration to the weightless formula, and provided you don’t use too much product, it will never look matted or caky. I would say Fresh’s Umbrian Clay Absolute Concealer has nudged its way into Real Girl’s list of top concealers–quite an elite little crew.

For the gal who needs a little extra coverage, Fresh has a companion product that when used in tandem with the Umbrian Clay boosts it just past this side of fabulous. I’ve become quite addicted to the next Fresh product I’ll be dishing about, so stay tuned for another skin-dazzling post soon.


Concealer colors appropriate for warm skin tones

Medium-to-full weightless coverage

Squeeze gently directly onto a concealer brush for best results


Gently rid yourself of the day

Real Girl demands a lot from her makeup remover, much of it contradictory. Must be tough! My waterproof mascara is impossible to wash away, and only a potent makeup remover has the chops to make it budge. Must be gentle! This is facial skin we’re talking about–to be treated with kid gloves–and the delicate eye area, no less! We need potency without irritation, wiping without tugging, strength without forfeiting delicacy.

Thank you, Clinique’s Take the Day Off! You are just schizofrenic enough to be my true remover love. I have only used the liquid version, not the Cleansing Balm (which I think I’d love) or the Cleansing Milk (which I’m not sure about). But I use the liquid like you’re supposed to use the balm–with my fingertips, not with a cotton ball.

Before use, make sure to shake this water-soluble product until the consistency becomes a bit cloudy. Unshaken, you’ll see two layers of product one on top of the other. All this duality must be combined for full power!

Perhaps you remove your makeup all the time with cotton balls, and if you love that then I will not dissuade you–only warn you not to rub. Ladies, treat your eye area like delicate paper-thin tissue. Because in essence, that’s what it is. The thought of rubbing a cotton ball on my poor eye area makes me cringe, and if you go that route make sure you’ve soaked it in enough product. My approach is to put the product directly on my fingers, preserving the slippery texture that then glides over my lids. The frictionless strokes dissolve the makeup, and then I’m free to wash it clean.

After a long made up day, your face wants to breathe again. Don’t be afraid to strip–it’s good for you. Just don’t be too rough 🙂


Remover strong enough for waterproof makeup but non-irritating

Apply gently, with fingertips or saturated cotton ball

I use liquid, but the product also comes in balm and milk

Real Girl reader M asks:

Can Real Girl recommend a mascara that provides natural-looking, clump-free lashes?  Nothing too dramatic…natural is the key word.

Fret not, M, I’ve got just the product for you! For what you’re looking for–your own lashes, but longer and darker–you’ll want to avoid a volumizing mascara and look for key words like “separate” and “define.” Real Girl’s pick for enhanced but not overly dramatic lashes would be Cover Girl’s Lash Exact Mascara. I use the waterproof version myself and love it–no smudges ever!–but you do need a good makeup remover for that option before washing your face at night.

The beauty of Lash Exact is that you can easily control how much product you use. One swipe and your lashes look longer and darker, but not thicker. Indeed this mascara delivers on its claims to define lashes without clumping. But add another coat and you amp up the drama for night-time or those occasions when you might want a stronger look. Real Girl uses two coats on a regular basis, and my lashes look divinely longer, without the clumping you can get from lengthening mascaras that deposit filaments at the tips of your lashes. That second coat enhances thickness, too, without the heavy stickiness of a volumizing mascara.

I use Very Black, and I would recommend that color, but for the natural look perhaps regular Black would be the way to go. From the sound of it, one coat will do it for you, M, but feel free to experiment. The lightweight formula is hard to mess up!


Lightweight, natural mascara

Lengthening without clumping

Two coats add extra drama

Waterproof formula is smudge-free but requires makeup remover

For she who’s not ready to invest in a 5-color palette.

Ooh, Real Girl, you emailed. The Dior 5 Couleurs Designer Palette looks divine, but what if you only want the darker colors?  Real Girl understands. Sometimes you want just one or two wow-worthy colors to make your eye truly pop.

My love affair with Dior eyeshadows continues. On those early mornings when I can’t be bothered to wear more than one eye color, I reach straight for my Dior 1 Couleur eyeshadow single, available in an array of gorgeously flattering shades, some of which are available at My favorite shade, Gold Touch (seen above) was given to me by my blog godfather. That’s right–Real Girl v. 2.0 has a blogfather. He gives me products to review. Not all of them, mind you, but many of the ones I’ve covered have been provided by the Blogfather, as we’ll call him from now on. My product pusher. He chose Gold Touch for me, and it was the perfect choice–a highly pigmented bronzed gold that easily brushes onto the whole lid and swipes gently along the bottom lid to give me a glamorous day-time eye with very little effort. For nighttime, I hope to try the deep purple Ultra Violet, which I think would dazzlingly complement my green eyes. And the Flash Black, with micro glitter, looks like it might be the ideal shade for the girl who wants to make an impression while hitting New York City after dark.

After years of searching for the perfect shimmer, finally with these Dior shadows Real Girl has found one she’s not sure she can live without. Shimmer has always said “nighttime” to Real Girl. It’s been too shiny, or too sparkly, or a melty cream shadow. But the shimmer in the Dior Gold Touch is spectacular–a hint of amped up glam without crossing the line to drag queen, suitable for either day or night. Dior also offers eyeshadow duos–their aptly named 2 Couleurs line–though I confess I’m more drawn to the color combinations in the 5 Couleur palette (reviewed by Real Girl here).

And still you get that luscious Dior packaging–the inky, reflective blue case tucked in its gentle, soft velvet pouch. You will feel like a lady when you use this shadow. A lady whose eyes have been taken care of by the best French cosmeticians, who somehow know just how she wants to look and feel.

Real Girl is looking for the perfect high-end lip stain, but in the meantime this drug store option does the trick!

Never underestimate lasting lip color. Whether it’s a natural, barely there enhanced pout or the bold focal point of a look, Real Girl likes to feel reassured that her lips are dressed and not about to start a strip show. My current go-to lip base is Cover Girl’s Outlast Lipstain. With some tips for application, wearing this stain under gloss or balm will leave your lips with a lovely flush that’s as rich or subtle as you choose. It’s not as glamorous as a department store brand, but I haven’t yet found the one that beats it. Of course if and when I do, you’ll be the first to know!

Have you ever tried long-lasting lipsticks? Real Girl is not a fan. They make your lips feel dry and thirsty, caked up and cracked. Where’s the pretty in that? For that reason, I much prefer a stain, which feels light and natural. It won’t moisturize your lips, but nor will it dry them out. Apply a balm or gloss on top, and you get the texture you prefer without sacrificing long-wearing color. Perfection.

One of the benefits of Outlast Lipstain is its variety of colors. I currently use three: Cinnamon Smile, #445, Everbloom Kiss, #400, and Wild Berry Wink, #440. For your first few uses, the color comes on very strong, and you’ll have to go easy. Start with patting the product on rather than drawing with the easy-to-use pen tip, and blot after application. You’ll then be left with a noticeable but not overwhelming shade of color. After a few uses, the product goes on less liberally, and a couple swipes with the pen will quickly give you the perfect amount of stain. Everbloom Kiss is the most subtle of my favorite three colors, leaving lips with a berry flush that can be enhanced by colored gloss, left natural with a balm on top, or made sexy-shiny with clear gloss. Cinnamon Smile starts off very strong, so apply gently, but after continued use, the pen tip dispenses a gentler shade. The cinnamon tone goes beautifully with Real Girl’s favorite bronzey eye shadows, and it works well under a surprising number of different color glosses. The Wild Berry Wink is like a stronger version of the Everbloom Kiss, allowing for a powerful red lip or–when blotted–a deeper dose of berry to be best worn under pale pink or clear gloss.

Stains are immensely versatile. The colors can be modulated by applying more or less product or by layering different glosses on top, but even if your gloss wears off, you’ll still be left with an impressive dose of color on your precious pout. And they’re great for kissing! On a hot date, if you want to spare your mate from inheriting your color or sticky gloss, then just use the stain with a silky balm on top, and your lips will feel and look amazing without having to worry about transferring product to your partner.

You’ll be left with your lips–only so much better.


Lip stain allows for long-lasting color without extra dryness

Color that won’t kiss off

Apply Cover Girl Outlast Lipstain gently at first, and blot extra color.

After several uses, the pen tip will apply product less liberally

Top off your stain with balm for kissable softness or gloss for sexy shine.

A break from health and organics and a dive into just gorgeous

Not that gorgeous isn’t healthy. Real Girl says a dose of luxe beauty a day keeps the doctor away. (Or keeps the cute doctor very close.)

The Dior Five Couleurs Designer All-in-One Artistry Palette is a true treat for anyone interested in the ritual of beauty. Open the inky blue, embossed packaging, and find your palette nestled in a CD-monogrammed dark velvet pouch–it’s like opening a Tiffany gift, if Tiffany were more sexy Angelina Jolie and less traditional Reese Witherspoon. And indeed, the packaging of this eye-shadow palette is just plain sexy. Shiny, reflective, rich midnight blue and silver, polished enough that you can see yourself in it. All real girls know that packaging is just that–a surface benefit, and we’re interested in the product itself. But oh, this is some lovely packaging. Real Girl feels sexier using it, as if the moment when she slips her palette out of its luxe velvet pouch is more special than when she flips open any old compact lid. Sometimes it just feels good to revel in the ritual of a lady’s toilette. Even a real girl deserves some decadence once in a while.

The four eyeshadows and cream liner inside thankfully live up to the promise of their sumptuous exterior. I tested the gold, tawny, and bronze hues of Amber Design. Other palettes in the line feature base colors in navy, smoky gray and silver, nude pink, and pink. Dior includes a mini tutorial on how to use your five colors–each one numbered–to achieve their version of the ideal eye:

Because Real Girl has quite a hooded eye, I use a variation of the suggested application, and I’ve adjusted for day or night usage. (In fact, a makeup artist friend recently complimented my Diored up “smoky eye,” and I was quite flattered!) But before jumping to application, let’s linger a bit on the scrumptious shadows (labeled “base,” “color,” “shadow,” and “shine,”) and the perfect cream liner. Each of the four shadows include shimmer, with the “shine” shadow amping up the shimmer to a gentle but potent sparkle. For that reason, I’ve mostly saved the extra shine for nighttime drama. I’ve also doubled the base as a highlighter for a 6th step in the process, dabbing a small smudge with my finger just under the arch of the eyebrow and at the inner corner of each eye.

The gold “color” offers a pretty, subtle shimmer for the entire lid. (Of course Real Girl always uses makeup brushes rather than enclosed applicators. I remember the day I discovered makeup brushes, and once that happens you can never go back.) The third step, the “shadow,” is probably Real Girl’s favorite. A universally flattering bronzy-brown, I’ve used this darker color during the day instead of the liner. Using a liner brush, I’ve applied the shadow close to the eyelashes and lightly at the crease. Really, for a daytime effect, using shadows 1, 2, and 3 provides just the right amount of shimmer and color to be sophisticated but also sexy.

For nighttime, I lightly smudge step 3, “shadow,” at upper and lower eyelash line for a smoky effect, and add a touch more just above the crease of my hooded lid. I have realized that I don’t have a slim enough eyeliner brush to use the cream liner–but I’m surprised and happy to say the enclosed tiny brush works very well. Using Dior’s slender-tipped brush, you can get right near the base of the lid, allowing for a thin and delicate dark brown line. Adding “shine” at the browbone completes a look I’ve described to friends as “lovely,” but it’s more than that: dramatic without crossing the line toward garish, subtle enough to be elegant, dazzling enough to make a girl stand out in a crowd. The Dior woman is no shrinking violet, but neither does she draw attention for the wrong reasons.

I do heartily recommend setting your designer-palette artistic creation with Benefit’s She-Laq, especially during the summer months. My one critique of Dior’s sumptuous shadows is that by the end of the day, the color can melt off if not reapplied. A thin coat of She-Laq, though, solved that problem for Real Girl, and her amber smokey eyes have lasted well into the night. Or you can keep the gorgeous little palette in its cozy velvet bag in your purse to easily reapply the darkest color late in the day. The shimmer and shine will  both last well on their own.

Real girls, when you get the urge to treat yourself to something special, sexy, dazzling…here’s your luxurious little delicacy.


Four shimmer shadows and a cream liner

Application tutorial enclosed

Luxe, decadent packaging

Appropriate for day-to-night

Best used with Benefit’s She-Laq

For when part of you needs to go into hiding.

Every girl has her beauty “thing”–perhaps the perfect lip, the smokey eye, the gelled or shadowed brow–that she concentrates on most in her daily routine. For Real Girl, it’s concealer. “I get it,” said the lady at the Laura Mercier counter. “Concealer’s your thing.” She guided me away from the Secret Camouflage I’d been eying and toward the genius little Undercover Pot, an amalgam of two concealers and a powder that combined allow my deep under-eye circles to nearly melt away.

The two secrets to the perfect concealer are color and texture, and at least in texture, the Undercover Pot knocks all other concealers out of the ballpark. Because it’s adjustable. Like an artist with a palette, the Undercover Pot’s two concealers allow you to mix their textures until you find the exact right one. On the left, you find Laura Mercier’s award winning Secret Camouflage, and on the right is the creamier Secret Concealer, created just for the under-eye. Mixed together on a good concealer brush, the resulting combination provides impressive coverage that’s just emollient enough to melt into skin without the pasty effect of a more matte concealer. I prep my under-eye area with light moisturizer before application, which allows the brush to more easily glide the product on and blend it in.

The final step in the concealing process is to unscrew your delightful little Undercover Pot and find a hidden stash of loose setting powder. A dusting over your careful work with a small powder brush (I use a large eyeshadow one) keeps the product firmly in place, smooth and flawless. If you have dry skin, you might want to skip the powder — concealer never looks quite right on dry skin — or use it only in summer.

The Laura Mercier counter girl guided me toward color #3, a slightly darker one than I’d been using, insisting that the lighter the color the more puffy the under-eye will appear. “It’s like when you wear white,” she said. “Darker colors are more slimming.” I’m not sure if my puffy eyes have been slenderized by this closer match to my overall skin tone, but the choice was the right one, and day after day people still look at me like I’m crazy when I complain how bad my under-eye circles are. “Your nonexistant ones?” one friend asks.

Shhhh. We don’t have to tell her I’ve been living Undercover.


Two concealers combine for the perfect texture

Setting powder is included (a step to skip if you have dry skin)

Make sure to use a good concealer brush.

April 2018
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