Home Spa

It’s a rainy Friday night. Zumba class was great, as usual, and I worked up an amazing sweat. I figured I might as well capitalize on all of this by treating myself to a little luxurious pampering.

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After a hot shower that kept  pores open, I applied Remede mineral exfoliant to my clean and damp skin by massaging it all over my face for a few minutes until it started drying up and rolling off my skin–this process was very reminiscent of playing with glue as child. After most of the Remede had rolled into my sink, I rinsed my face with warm water and posted my skin dry with a towel. Yay for fresh and squeaky clean skin! Next, I spread a nice even layer of the famous Glam Glow Super Mud all over, avoiding my eye and mouth area. By the time I finish writing this post, it will be dry and ready to be rinsed of with warn water and a towel. My pores will be tighter and cleaner, and my face will be smoother, clearer, and brighter! However in the meantime, I’ll be sitting on the couch looking like this:

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I just wanted to give you a good laugh/scare, haha. Toodles!

Back to the Lab

A while back, I posted about using rubbing alcohol to fix pressed powders, shadows, etc., that had been shattered in their palettes/compacts*. I decided to revisit this chemistry experiment when I completely ran out of my NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Face Powder in Translucent. This has got to be one of my all-time favorite drugstore setting/blotting powders; it’s widely available, sets and blots extremely well, and only costs about $2! You can’t go wrong at that price. I mean, seriously. On this particular day however, its awesomeness proved to be a double-edged sword because it was sold out at my beauty depot (i.e.: Duane Reade, my too conveniently located 24-hour drugstore and enabler)—I guess the word is out!

Meandering down the beauty isle on my way to pick up my other favorite, Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Translucent, an idea occurred to me: why not buy the NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder and use it to fill my compact? This way, the loose powder can be used at home and I can tote my homemade pressed powder. Yes, this is exactly what should be done. Back to the lab!

As you can see from the pictures below, I poured the loose powder into my empty compact and added a capful of isopropyl alcohol.

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While mixing, I realized that wasn’t nearly enough to moisten that amount of powder and kept on adding more alcohol a little at a time. Once a paste-like consistency was achieved, I smoothed the mixture evenly in the compact with the back of a spoon and my [clean] finger.

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I was a little worried at first because the color of the mixture was quite pink (see left); it’s supposed to be practically white! All I could do was hope that when it dried, it would be usable. A couple of hours later, voila! My compact looked like it came straight from the factory (see right). OK, not exactly, but close enough. Now, I’m sure you’re asking: Will it work like the original, or did The Vickylicious make a huge mistake? Guess what. IT WORKS LIKE A DREAM!

Go ahead. Keep doubting my genius. I see you…

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(*Referred-to Post: “Dust to Dustbin…? I Think Not.”)

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An OMG Post

What did Plato say way back when? “Necessity is the mother of Invention?” Well, Invention, meet your other mothers: Laziness, Exasperation, and Convenience.

As you already know from previous posts (if you’re a regular The Vickylicious reader), I’ve been experimenting with different foundations since I used up a beloved jar of RCW. My latest drugstore excursion (of which there are many, thanks to having a 24-hour Duane Reade downstairs from my building) has me trying out L’Oréal Magic Nude Liquid Powder. I can tell from the colors that there isn’t going to be an exact match for me, so I buy two shades: Sun Beige 328 and Classic Tan 330. I pray to the foundation goddesses that this will be worth the investment and run home (upstairs) to my mirror.

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Liquid is right! I shake up the bottles and attempt to pour a little of each shade onto the back of my hand (my all-natural, homemade mixing palette) and I have to make sure to keep it steady so none of it will run down my arm. I can already foresee this process disrupting my morning routine, but I press on to see if the results will be worth it. Fingers crossed for tomorrow morning…

This morning… My, oh my, is it ever worth it!

This formula truly dries to a powdery smooth finish; the coverage is medium, yet buildable to a full and matte finish. I can’t stop touching my skin; it’s so soft and smooth! I just dab some concealerunder my eyes, a little blush on my cheeks, dress my lashes and go—NO setting powder needed. Oh yeah, remember I told you that I had a bad breakout recently? Well, you can’t tell with this lovely product.

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And look, I even took pics in bad office lighting so you could see its true effect and finish. The picture on the left was taken at 8:46AM and the picture on the right was taken at 3:16PM. Can you see how nothing at all has changed? Everything is still in place and just as fresh as the initial application. Again, this is without using primer, setting powder or spray. I’d say that these are pretty impressive results; possibly the best I’ve had thus far. (As always, no retouching, editing or filters are used on my photos.)

But, pray tell, what did I do about the pesky, messy process? Queue Plato and let’s rewind back to last night.

Once I saw how runny the Liquid Powder was, and knowing I would have to blend two shades of it every time–potentially creating twice the mess—I looked high and low in my kitchen for a container and stopped mid-search when a light bulb flickered in my brain. This formula is just as thin as the ones used for airbrush applications; why don’t I create my own? I went back downstairs to the drugstore in search of a travel-size spray bottle. SCORE!

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Upstairs at my sink, I poured the contents of both Liquid Powders into my new bottle.  Donning a shower cap to protect my hair, I shook up the bottle to blend the shades and product (as the directions dictated), then held my breath. Of course the spritz wasn’t as fine and light as an actual airbrush machine, but it definitely did the trick for a quick-fix home remedy. Using it this morning was simple, quick, and a lot less fuss and messiness. I blended it all in with my buffing brush.

Final answer: OMG. I am in love with this product. Lightweight with good coverage, it doesn’t oxidize and there’s little to no transfer. It doesn’t break up and I haven’t had to blot or touch up all day. I can already predict that this will take 2nd Place on my list of drugstore favorites, knocking Covergirl Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 to 3rd. Do I dare say it might become No. 1…?
Thank you, foundation goddesses. Thank you for this gift.

OH! And L’Oréal, I’d like to present to you the new [patent pending] Vickylicious shade: Suntan 329 in a travel-friendly spritzer. 😉

OMG or OHN: The Body Shop Oil-Free Foundation SPF 15

I finally used up one of my Revlon Color Stay Whipped Makeup (RCW) foundation jars from my hoarded collection, so what better time to write a foundation review? Yes, I’m itching to crack open another jar of my beloved (although discontinued) RCW, but as I said before, I’m an equal opportunity experimenter and there are many bottles/tubes/jars/compacts awaiting my brush.

After perusing my entire collection, I decided to revisit a bottle I bought several months ago and then completely forgot about: The Body Shop Oil-Free Foundation SPF 15 in 07 (For convenience, I will call it TBS). For your reference, I’m an NW35 in MAC, Toast in Revlon, and W7-Caramel Beige in L’Oreal True Match. I will test this foundation to see if the claims of the description hold true and to see how it lasts throughout the day. As in my last foundation review, no primer, setting powder or spray will be used in order to get true results, and as always, all of my photos will be unedited/un-retouched. Before the full review, below is the website’s description of this foundation line:

A range of innovative lightweight, oil free balancing foundation that provides medium to full coverage for a luxuriously smooth, matte, shine-free and healthy-looking finish. Dermatologically tested.

How to Use: Smooth evenly over a clean face using our Foundation Brush or Professional Makeup Sponge.

Overall Rating: 4.3/5 Stars (from 47 reviews)—85% would recommend it to a friend.

Before buying it ($23.00—now on sale for $5!), I had already noticed one immediate detractor: this line only comes in 5 shades. How limited! Luckily, there happened to be a shade for me. Please note that the only reason I hadn’t used this foundation until now is not because I doubted it in any way, but because this purchase was made around the time I did a serious Sephora haul (read: I still have more reviews coming for you) and truly just forgot about it. Plus, I got sidetracked when I found my discontinued RCW shade. I digress. On to the trial.

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As a reference point, take a look at my naked face on the left, fresh from a breakout. This is actually the perfect time to test a foundation’s coverage and longevity; so, here’s to looking on the bright side of stress acne! Now take a look at my face on the right, after applying one pump of TBS foundation with a Coastal Scents Bionic Buffing Brush. What is staring you in the face? A glaring white cast from the camera flash due to the SPF 15 in the formula—a major con in my book. However, since you don’t see that off camera, let’s try to get past that for the moment. Coverage is excellent and full, there’s no offensive scent. It applies with ease, has a matte finish and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. So far, so good! Let’s see if it will hold up by the day’s end.

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No dice. Major makeup meltdown. Undereye concealer? Gone. Blush? Nowhere in sight. Shine? All over.  Scars? Visible. The formula has broken up due to oiliness and has transferred like crazy. Whatever is left is sliding all over my face. The only things that still look fresh from my morning routine are my “mascara’d” lashes, which coincidentally, are the only things that don’t rely on foundation. The only positive result is that the white cast from the camera flash is gone, thanks to my oils breaking down the foundation…

NONE of the claims on the website’s description hold true. Maybe they will with some help from setting powder and spray? On to Round 2.

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There’s less shine, thanks to setting powder and spray. Setting the foundation preserved some of the white cast flashback, however it didn’t prevent the formula from breaking down. By looking closer in the mirror, I noticed breakdown started around midday. On both days, I was tempted to blot and blend in the office bathroom because I felt like everyone would be looking at me strangely, but no one seemed to notice; I even received compliments the second night when I went to an event with my girlfriend. I think it was due to it being dark outside. Go figure.

Final answer on TBS Oil-Free Foundation SPF 15: OHN (Oh, hell no)!

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This is going straight to the trash bin to make room for better formulas. If you have tried this foundation and gotten different/better results, please let me know. I’d love compare notes!

Since this didn’t work out for me, stay tuned for another review soon. Until then, keep celebrating life!

Eeks!

You’re Being Abusive. I Know It.

Not to gross you out, BUT…makeup products harbor organisms that can multiply and cause infections if you neglect to wash or discard them at proper times. This goes for tools (brushes and the like) and the cosmetics themselves. Here’s a list of the most common dirty makeup “eeks!”of which you might be guilty. Read on in order to stop abusing your makeup and your face.

Eek #1: You’re using mascara so old that you don’t remember when you bought it. – Keep your tube of mascara too long and you’re probably coating your lashes in bacteria. Bacteria naturally present in your eyes transfers to the wand and spoolie, which contaminates the tube with germs that lead to pink eye and infections like staph. Yes, your own bacteria will do this to you!

The Clean Up: While most mascaras contain preservatives that keep bacteria from growing, those preservatives only work for approximately three months. So to be safe, try to replace your mascara every quarter (about four times a year. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to!).

Eek #2: Your eyelash curler is caked with old mascara. – Quick question: Would you reuse your fork from last night’s gooey mac n’ cheese dinner without washing it first? Yeah, I didn’t think you would. Leaving your curler uncleansed will allow it to do all the nasties stated in Eek #1.

The Clean Up: Clean your lash curler with an alcohol or disinfecting wife after each use. There are also replacement sponges you can purchase.

*Bonus: On top of saving your eyes, a clean lash curler will save your lashes too! The caked up mascara can adhere to your lashes and rip them out of your lids!

Eek #3: You apply liner (eye, eyebrow and/or lip) with a dull pencil tip. – Basically, this faux pas creates the same issues in Eeks 1 and 2.

The Clean Up: Sharpen you pencil liners once a week. Also, can you remember to use a disinfecting wipe in between uses? Good. And if you can’t or you want to slack off, know this: shaving the top layer off will remove infection-causing bacteria. Not only that, it makes your liner that much easier to apply. Win/Win!

*Important side-note: clean out your sharpener too! Just use some soap and water, followed by a disinfectant. (Or, use the solution I make in Eek #4 below.)

Eek #4: You never wash your makeup brushes—ever. EEEEEK! Dead skin, oil, dirt, bacteria—all of that is collecting on all of those bristles. You’re clogging your pores and creating a breeding ground for breakouts.

The Clean Up: Wash them daily with brush cleaner or even warm, soapy water then rinse them and squeeze the water out with your fingers. Lay them flat to dry because brush bristles are heavier when wet and will lose their shape if you stand them up.

*I make my own brush cleaner with 1 cup of warm filtered water, about 4 drops tea tree oil (a natural anti-bacterial, non-greasy oil) and a tablespoon of baby shampoo (because it’s gentle). Cetaphil is pretty great, too.
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**Side-note: I don’t do this every day—guilty as charged! I try to clean my brushed every couple of days. Are you worse than I am? Shoot for at least once a week.

Eek #5:  Do you apply lipstick when you’ve got a cold? – Germs live on your lipstick, making you more vulnerable to other bugs/viruses, especially if your immune system is already on the fritz.

The Clean Up:  Using an alcohol or disinfecting sheet, wipe the outside of the lipstick case and rub the surface of the lipstick before applying next time. Do you use lip gloss with a doe-foot applicator? DON’T when you’re sick, unless you disinfect the applicator before re-inserting it into the tube.

Eek #6: You take your makeup bag to the bathroom, public and private. – If you’re the kind of woman who carries her makeup bag to the bathroom and sets it, along with your beauty products, on top of counters in public/private restrooms, they will pick up bacteria. Lots of them. Yours and a MILLION other women’s nasties!

The Clean Up: Put a paper towel under your bag before you sit it on the counter, or keep it inside your purse to avoid picking them up at all.

Speaking of bathrooms…Eek #7: You leave your makeup/tools by the toilet. – Every time you flush the toilet, fecal matter sprays into the air and lands on your counter and on/in your products and tools. This might be the eek of all eeks. Ew, ew, EW!

The Clean Up: Store your makeup, supplies and tools (toothbrush included) in a closed cabinet.

Eek #8: The makeup bag dilemma – Yes, your cloth/leather makeup bags looks great and super stylish, but it’s tough to clean. And what does that mean? You got it: bacteria.

The Clean Up: Use a bag that is made of plastic or nylon and clean it out at least once a month, wiping down the lining with a disinfectant wipe. What else is awesome about using a plastic or nylon bag is that they’re cheap enough to buy a cute new one every year. Woo hoo!

Eek #9: I know you love looking at your collection of makeup, but hoarding it all (foundation, concealer, lipstick, mascara, etc.) after you’ve already used it previously but haven’t worn in years, is a no-no. Even though there aren’t expiration dates on makeup products, you can still when it’s time to say goodbye.

The Clean Up:  Say “Adios!” to anything that smells different, looks cakey and dried out, has changed color, or the ingredients look like they’ve separated. The general principle for most creamy or liquid products: 12 months; powder/solid products/lipstick: 2-3 years.

Eek #10: Your icky fingers are making everything else icky, too. – Dipping dirty fingers into jars or touching the tips of tubes does what? Uh huh, you got it. It spreads germs and bacteria. I think you’ve caught on to the theme here, finally.

The Clean Up: Wash your hands before doing your makeup, or there will be germs, germs, everywhere.

Now that we all understand the moral of the story, let’s stick to not having bacteria stick to us! Don’t let makeup build up on the openings of your jars, tubes, etc.; clean them every now and then with an alcohol or disinfecting wipe. Always keep lids and caps screwed on tight in order to avoid exposing your products to the air and germs. And remember, the MUA term “beating face” is not to be taken literally. Stop the abuse!

All Banged Up

Getting a new hairstyle is a big commitment, especially when it involves bangs. Being that I have naturally curly hair makes creating bangs all the scarier; there are endless possibilities on how to botch the job. After mulling this decision over in my mind for months…fast-forward to Saturday, January 4th, 2014: I finally decided to get bangs! (Translation: I have decided to take the easy route and buy a clip-on set.)

On a whim, I took the express train to Harlem to visit all of the beauty supply/hair stores on 125th Street in order to understand all of my options. Having never delved into the weave/wig/extension world, I really didn’t know what I was looking for; all I knew was that I wanted my bangs to look “real,” and that I didn’t want to spend a small fortune on them. I spoke to the Korean and African “experts” behind the counter at my very first stop and they steered me in the right direction. For the mere price of $17.99 I was able to procure this lovely little piece that they guaranteed would look like my own hair that I grew myself:
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Honestly, I didn’t believe them. Regardless of the package’s claim that the clip-on piece was 100% human hair and that it was part of Vivica A. Fox’s hair line, it looked rather fake to my untrained eyes. The women behind the counter were nodding their heads so enthusiastically that I felt compelled to go for it. Hey, for under $20.00, why not? I could afford to take this little gamble.  After I finished all of my skincare, beauty, and clothes shopping, I hopped on the train back home, super excited to start experimenting with this creature (which is exactly what it looks like if you come across it lying on a surface). Don’t fail me, Vivica!

Since my hair was curly that day, I slicked it into my usual bun so that the bangs would blend in more seamlessly. Here’s the result:
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Did I pull off Kourtney Kardashian’s look successfully? Albeit a little bushy/thick,  I’d like to think I did! Maybe I’mjust not used to bangs, and they really are supposed to be like this…? I consulted a friend who confirmed that this is indeed the desired length and density women seek out when getting bangs. This made me more confident about my new look. Check out the side view and you tell me if these bangs are convincing. I want to make sure my friend isn’t lying to me.
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Don’t you just feel the confidence in my pose?! I’m going to give it a road test this weekend to see people’s reactions to them. If agreeable, I’ll be able to change my hair like I change my lipstick!
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Smooches!

P.S. I do know that there’s a way to use my own hair to create bangs by leaving fringe out of your top knot and styling it to hang over your forehead, but my hair isn’t long enough to do that when it’s curly, and again, this is so much easier!

Happy New Year!

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Always strive to be a better you. Yes, I constantly say that you don’t need a new year to make a resolution, but I do agree that New Year’s Day does feel like a fresh start and a good day to remind yourself of your goals; New Year’s Day is an apt time to focus and recommit. So, here’s a reminder photo to stay focused on your dreams, goals, aspirations, etc. Cheers!

OMG or OHN: Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius Waterproof Topcoat

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No smudge-proof, waterproof, water-resistant, claim has stood up to my oily lids. They cause every shadow, liner, and mascara to pool under my eyes so that I look like a zombie within an hour. This product has changed all of that when it comes to mascara! I can now use every single tube that has been collecting dust because I didn’t have the heart to throw them (and my money) down the drain. Not only does it waterproof my lashes, the spoolie also separates and de-clumps. Thank you, Anastasia, I can now wear ANY mascara with confidence!

Final answer: OMG! It’s amazing–a modern day miracle (for me).

Have you tried this product? If so, let me know what you think about it.

OMG or OHN (Oh, Helllll No!)?: A Review

(Yes, there’s a lot of punctuation going on in my title.)

I really like Sephora’s own product line; from their lipsticks to their concealers, I’m a fan. So when the Sephora Collection Instant Radiance Foundation went on sale, it immediately went into my virtual shopping cart. I gave it a test run the day after it came in the mail, I was so excited. Want to see how this foundation stood up to the test? Then keepon reading! (This trial was done without primers, setting spray or powder in order to get an accurate feel for the product.)

First, let’s take a look at the naked face (please refrain from nasty comments, thank you) next to the face with freshly applied Instant Radiance Foundation, side by side, no filters no editing, no PhotoShopping—that would render the experiment pointless. Plus, I don’t use those things anyway.
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The coverage seems pretty natural, and I’d say the formula provides medium, buildable coverage with a semi-dewy finish. Although I prefer matte finishes, I like that this seems fresh and breathable looking. So now let’s see how it all looks after I apply Sephora Collection Perfecting Cover Concealer for my under eyes, and everything else I normally do.
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Much better, yet still natural (to me). My initial reaction to this foundation is that I like it, but I’m not in love with it. After a whole day of wear, I don’t like it one bit. Take a look at the oil slick my face has become:
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Mind you, I didn’t use a mattifying primer, a setting powder and/or spray—but I shouldn’t have to use all of that. There was a lot of transfer, and the formula broke down, visibly separating on the skin. I washedit ofimmediately after I took this picture.

Not wanting to give up hope, I tried this foundation again the next day, using setting powder AND spray. Did anything improve?
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As you can tell by the exasperated expression on my still greasy face, no, there was no improvement whatsoever. It was sliding off of my face, it oxidized and became darker, transferred like crazy, and the formula still broke apart. By the end of the day, the discoloration on my cheeks was starting to show as well. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

I highly recommend all oily/combination skin types to AVOID Sephora Collection Instant Radiance Foundation. Avoid it like it’s your pervy uncle during holiday family picture time.
Final verdict: Oh Hell No!
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Dust to Dustbin…? I Think Not.

Picture it: You’re making up your face and carrying on as you do every day. The routine is running on autopilot when, while applying your brow powder/eye shadow/powder blush/face powder/bronzer, you all of a sudden get a case of the Butterfingers. Your palette crashes to the floor/sink/tabletop and powder fragments are everywhere. You shriek or moan (depending on your personal style) and dejectedly gather up all the pieces and clean up the mess.

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Don’t get angry and don’t throw it out! It can be saved! Rid yourself of the powder palette woes with this little trick:

*Add a few small drops of rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) into your broken powder makeup compact or case

*Re-form the mud-like mixture by smoothing it out and pressing it flat with your finger or the bottom of a spoon. You will know what to do naturally because you’re smart like that.

*Let it dry for a few hours or even overnight for best results.

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I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that this experiment worked. When I tested out my shadow to make sure nothing about it had changed, I was truly impressed. Why alcohol as opposed to water, you ask? Because alcohol is a gas, the vapor causes it to evaporate quicker and leaves the substance more solid and without residue, chemically speaking. The water would work temporarily, but break apart again into even tinier particles. Also, water on a product that is being used on your face would cause germs and bacteria to multiply—that’s a big no-no. For this reason, do not attempt this with hydrogen peroxide either, as it turns to water when exposed to air. And no need to worry; because you are using such a small amount of alcohol, it’s safe to use on your face, even if you have sensitive skin. Remember, most cosmetics have various alcohol-based ingredients already, another reason that rubbing alcohol works so well.

So  the next time you order makeup in the mail and it comes to your doorstep shattered, or your compact breaks in your purse, you’ll know exactly what to do. BONUS: create your own shadow and blush colors by breaking them on purpose you can mix them together! Makeup is supposed to be fun, yes?

 I thank my lucky stars that I paid attention in chemistry class. 😛