I’m Peeling!

Well, actually, I’m shedding. Which leads to the necessity of an at-home peel. Whenever I’m giving myself different skincare routines or treating skin problems, or even when the weather changes (as it is now, from winter to spring), my skin starts to look like a snake that’s shedding off its scales–not a pretty picture. I’m not trying to scare everyone in my office and lose my job! Therefore, I must get rid of these scales dead layers with a quickness. I ain’t got time for nature! Thank the skin gods for this Korean gel peel called IPKN Pore Essence Peeling Gel, that I came across while at my Chinese spa (why they don’t have Chinese products is a puzzlement to me, but I won’t analyze it–I love Korean beauty products).

Previously, I used a different peel that required me scrubbing my face till it was practically numb (click here to read), but I loved it because it worked. Now I don’t have to use my skincare routine to grow my biceps, so I’m a happy woman for this added bonus. I work out enough as it is. The IPKN gel is affordable, easy to use, smells nice, and it neither irritates the skin nor does it make you irritate/agitate it. One pump of this magic works like a pencil eraser on those scales. It literally makes them roll off like balls of gunk. Don’t believe, just watch!

I hope you saw the “skin balls” that I tried to show in the clip–I moved the camera too quickly. The peel took off the entire layer of dead skin that was just sitting on my face like a mask. I’ve been using IPKN for a couple of months to make sure my initial infatuation with the product didn’t wane. Nope! I’m still loving it and using it regularly. Until I find something that can top this, it’ll stay in my medicine cabinet.

So for now, deuces!
The Vickylicious

Natural Smiles Are the Best!

Anyone who’s known me long enough is very aware of my obsession with teeth. They’re on the top of my list of things I notice first about a person, aesthetically: how healthy, even, white/bright, and clean they are (because hopefully when people meet me they’re smiling, haha!). This also goes for my teeth; a hypocrite, I am not. I dutifully go to the dentist twice yearly, brush, floss, use mouthwash, and I even have a couple of my own dental tools! However, I drink a lot of tea and coffee, so keeping my teeth white and bright is a task that I must deal with carefully. Bleaching products are harsh, expensive, and dangerous, so I’m always looking for natural and inexpensive ways to handle the job. Most people brush with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide–I’ve been doing this for more years than I can count–but I want something that works better and stronger. Besides, using peroxide and baking soda long term can be too abrasive for your teeth and can ruin enamel over time. Well, my wish was some mystery god’s command!
WP Natural RinseThe above pic is all you need to naturally whiten your teeth without having to spend a fortune or subjecting your teeth to harsh chemicals. Unbeknownst to me, this concoction has been used for ages! Bonus: this recipe is also great for removing harmful bacteria from your mouth, which in turn strengthens your teeth and gums. See the recipe and directions for this formula below.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups – distilled water
  • 2 tsp – baking soda
  • 1 tsp – sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp – walnut or sesame oil

Directions:
Heat 2 cups distilled water, remove from heat and add baking soda, sea salt, and oils.

Add 1 cup distilled water and mix together until ingredients are fully dissolved. Transfer mixture using a funnel into a jar with a top and store in the refrigerator until you are ready to use. Shake well before using and swish around in mouth for about 1 minute, spit out (make sure you don’t swallow any of the mixture), and brush your teeth as you normally would.
***Because this is an all natural concoction, please remember to discard the mixture after two weeks and make a fresh batch.***

Unlike many store bought rinses, this natural method contains no bleach and is perfect for removing tartar and leaves your mouth fresh and clean. Will it whiten your teeth after one treatment? No, it won’t. It will however, gradually whiten and strengthen your teeth and gums over time in a healthy, safe and natural way that won’t harm your gums and tooth enamel. This will save you a lot of money and pain in the future when you realize everyone that’s been bleaching has to buy a whole new mouth, can’t eat or drink foods due to gum erosion and intense gum sensitivity, or worse, finds out they have mouth cancer from all the chemicals and unsafe treatments. Like most things in life: slow and steady wins the race!

Because I’m always looking for home remedies for all things health and beauty related, I will probably be posting more regarding keeping our smiles healthy, happy and pearly!

Stay tuned until then (and feel free to send me pics if you try this remedy and want to share your results)…
The Vickylicious

My Special Date

Who knew a doctor’s appointment would turn into taking myself on one of the best dates ever? You really never know where the day might take you. Let me explain.

Knowing that I’d be near SoHo, I thought I’d walk around a bit and explore what’s going on in the neighborhood before hopping on the train back home to prepare for tonight’s plans; the weather was improving by the minute, getting warmer with every block, sunnier around each corner. I found myself walking to the Lower East Side, one of my favorite parts of the city, a section that harkens back to the NYC I remember [fondly]. No matter what street you choose, there’s something new/different/interesting to see/eat/buy. Knowing better than to shop and add to my overstuffed closet and dresser, I decided to treat myself to a facial and a massage–ones that cost a lot less than they do in my neck of the woods (maybe not as luxurious, but certainly just as effective and lovely). Refreshed, renewed, relaxed, and with baby soft, bright, clean and clear skin, I left almost two hours later a new woman with a bit more pep in her step. I didn’t realize how much I and my body needed that; between work, everyday life and working out, my body and mind have been taking a major pounding. It’s sad to say, but I’m so accustomed to living this way that today’s spontaneous treat gave me a necessary wake-up call to power down, breathe and show myself some love and affection.

All that love made me quite hungry though, which is never an unsolvable problem on the LES! There are so many restaurants, cafes, food stands, etc., and so many cuisines from which to choose. My feet guided me to a giant bowl of pho, Vietnamese soup for the soul, an inner hug if you will. Sitting at a beat-up little wooden table in a corner, I was so happy eating and smelling my steaming bowl that I couldn’t stop smiling. I started looking around at everyone because I heard soft sound coming from nearby, but realized it was me. Humming! Humming while eating! Now you know I’m happy and the food is good if I’m humming to myself. Whoa.

Belly full and pleased that my meal was guilt-free (healthy), and wallet happy because dinner was super affordable, I decided to continue my journey because I had absolutely no desire to go home. Strolling into parts unknown [by me], I walked farther than I’ve ever been into that area of the city, to the point where nothing was familiar, neither the street names nor the landscape. Headphones on, bumping New York hip-hop, I walked the streets, felt and saw history, from the old tenements to buildings taken over by yuppies and hipsters. I walked through areas that went from Chinese to Dominican and black to Jewish, then back to Chinese to Dominican and black and Puerto Rican to hipster to rich hipster-turned-yuppie; from row houses to co-ops to projects to modern architecture, then back to projects upon projects upon projects; turning a corner and I was back to apartment buildings, new mixed with old. It was ugly, beautiful, chaotic and orderly, diverse and separate all at the same time. I loved it and didn’t want to stop this field trip, but knew I had to because the sun was setting and it was time to get back to the land of the familiar. I will be back, mind you. I always go back.

Walking directly to a train station would seem like the practical thing to do, so of course that’s not what happened. I walked from the LES through Alphabet City then into the East Village. Heading west, I came upon one of my favorite ice cream shops and treated myself to dessert. Continuing my walk with extra virgin olive oil ice cream nestled inside the perfect waffle cone, I made my way back to Sixth Avenue to finally take a train home. (I did however, make a quick detour to a health food store first.)
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(<—- A makeup-free, spa-faced me getting ready to gobble up the last bit of my delicious ice cream cone)

Home at last, I kicked off my shoes and acknowledged to myself that I would not be going out, as originally planned. My inner monologue and I are best friends and have exemplary communication. So what did I do instead, you ask? I went to the kitchen and whipped up my first vanilla chia seed pudding.
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(If you would like the recipe and/or would like to know the health benefits of chia seeds and this dessert, please let me know. I’ll be happy to share it all with you!)

And you thought my detour to the health food store was for what, exactly…? HA! No, just kidding. I didn’t plan on making the pudding tonight, it was just on my list of things to do in the near future and I just happened to remember that there was a health food store near my train station. So it was planned, but not planned. And while it sets in the fridge (anywhere from four hours to overnight), I’ll be doing one of the things I do best: watch back-to-back episodes of something on Netflix.

Today was a day I’ll remember for years to come. I felt truly happy and at peace with my life, where it’s taken me, and ultimately with myself. Too many people place their happiness into other people’s hands, not realizing that one’s happiness is one’s own responsibility. Also, people don’t have to be happy only around others, or by being in all sorts of relationships. As RuPaul always says, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?!” So, readers, worry about loving yourself and treating yourself well, instead of loving the idea of other people loving you and finding happiness then and only then. Go on a date with yourself and see how it makes you feel. You might even learn a thing or two.

Say It Isn’t So, Revlon.

I wanted my first post of the new year to be happy and positive, but this topic could not be swept aside. The makeup world is ablaze with all the talk regarding the Revlon lawsuit filed by former top scientist Alan Meyer, who claims the CEO Lorenzo Delpani is a racist, anti-Semitic bully. Because I don’t want to get too angry or militant while writing, and therefore not representing the statements accurately, here is an article from the New York Post:

The CEO of Revlon is a bigoted bully who hates “dirty” Americans, thinks Jews “stick together” and believes he can “smell” black people when they walk into a room, according to a new lawsuit.

The beauty company’s boss, Lorenzo Delpani, made the ugly comments after taking over in 2013, according to a discrimination suit filed by Revlon’s former top scientist, Alan Meyers, who says he was ostracized because of his Jewish heritage.

Delpani, a native of Italy, told Meyers he was “shocked” there weren’t more Jews at the company because the biggest shareholder is Ron Perelman, a prominent Jewish American, according to the suit.

“Jews stick together,” Delpani quipped. He also allegedly added that “thankfully,” Perelman “is not like that anymore.”

Delpani also said that he hates living among Americans, whom he called “small-minded” and “dirty,” and that he can’t wait to get back to a “real” country, according to court papers filed this week.

He later allegedly went on an “anti-American tirade” in which he said the US is getting closer to being like ISIS.

Meyers also claims Delpani made a racist comment after a meeting in South Africa, when he said he “could smell a black person when he entered a room.”

Meyers also claims Delpani made a racist comment after a meeting in South Africa, when he said he “could smell a black person when he entered a room.”

Meyers says Delpani had it out for him for having red-flagged safety issues in the production and manufacturing process.

Meyers claims he was concerned that several labs were not equipped to adequately test raw materials to satisfy Revlon’s safety standards.

Meyers, 56, who joined Revlon in 2010, was fired last month after he complained about the issues and his treatment, the lawsuit says.

Revlon spokeswoman Kiki Rees on Wednesday said Meyers was a disgruntled employee who did not perform up to company standards.

“Mr. Meyers repeatedly demonstrated critical lapses in judgment and failed to perform at the high standard we demand of our employees,” Rees said.

In the suit, Meyers claims Delpani’s tirades and tormenting eventually became outright bullying.

Meyers described one incident in October, when he allegedly was forced by Delpani to act as a human easel during a high-level meeting.

Meyers says he was instructed to hold a whiteboard, which covered his entire upper torso and head, for approximately 30 minutes.

He saw this as a demeaning gesture, he says, especially since he was supposed to be part of the leadership team.

Stress from the ordeal forced Meyers into the hospital with chest pains, the lawsuit says. He said he was fired on Dec. 10.

In his suit, he is demanding unspecified punitive and compensatory damages.Attorneys for

Meyers were unavailable Wednesday for comment.

Revlon CEO Delpani_Bad

Needless to say (but I’m going to say it anyway), this is disgraceful. If these claims are true, Revlon better be bracing itself for the major fallout that will ensue as a result. According Revlon’s website, the allegations are baseless and meritless. Ronald Pearlmann, their Chairman states:

“I know Lorenzo as an executive and as a person. These allegations are both absurd and offensive to me and those around me. I personally know his mind and his character. He is among the least bigoted or biased human I have ever known. He has my full support.”

Being a worldwide, famous, cosmetics brand for women of all ages and backgrounds, this is horrendous news [if true]. Will  spokeswomen like Halle Berry pull out of their contracts? Will stores pull product off of their shelves? Whether true or not, bad publicity always generates backlash immediately. From what I’ve see and heard online thus far proves it. Thousands of women have already thrown out all of the Revlon products they’ve previously purchased, many have gone back to stores to return newly-purchased makeup as a direct result of hearing this news, and many have vowed to never buy Revlon again. AND they test on animals, so that wipes out another group of women (if they weren’t already offended enough by their alleged treatment of humans).

If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll know that I’m big fan of Revlon’s Colorstay Foundation, to the point that I hoarded the whipped version in my shade because it was discontinued (click here to read). I also have several shades of their awesome lipsticks–what’s a makeup junkie to do? Should I wait to see if Delpani is guilty before tossing everything? Do I stop wearing all Revlon products in the meantime? Or should I just say screw it and throw everything in the trash now? I’m so conflicted.

Yes I know…first world problems. The world won’t end, wars won’t be won or lost over this, and it won’t be mentioned in our children’s history books. However, people’s lives will be affected–and I don’t mean on the superficial level (my level, admittedly); this could cost people their jobs, affecting the livelihoods of many. Let’s see what happens.

On the plus side, this will clear a nice amount of space on my shelf.

A Broken Ankle, Writer’s Block, Beauty and Ice Cream

Exactly two weeks ago I broke my ankle while leaving for my long-anticipated vacation in London. Instead of going to the UK, I ended up at an urgent care facility for x-rays, a cast and crutches. My long weekend was spent in my mother’s apartment watching endless hours of House Hunters International, Property Brothers, BBC America for our anglophile fix since we didn’t get to set foot on British soil, and PBS for the overdose. Thinking my immobility would be a great opportunity to write for the blog, study, and catch up on magazine and book reading,  the only things I’ve accomplished are the book reading, more TV-watching, and discovering Turkey Hill’s Lemon Meringue Pie Ice Cream (the bits of pie crust totally do it for me and take away some of the cloying sweetness)—I’ve been totally at a loss for words to type that would serve any purpose whatsoever! So here I sit during my lunch break, leg propped up on a cushion, mulling over the last two weeks, hoping they haven’t been completely wasted…blog-wise, that is.

Ahhhh! Sifting through my mental files (read: playing with my curls and touching my chin to check for makeup transfer), I am reminded of two, yes two, new beauty finds that are currently changing my life. The first discovery is the Living Proof line of haircare products. I put a sample of their Perfect Hair Day™ 5-in-1 Styling Treatment in my travel bag so I could try it out in London, but I ended up using it at my mom’s place instead.  According to the Sephora website, “Living Proof was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts by world-class biomedical scientists and leading hair stylists, with the purpose of applying advanced technology to solve beauty’s toughest challenges.” Perfect Hair Day™ 5-in-1 Styling Treatment is “an oil- and silicone-free styling treatment that provides volume, smoothness, conditioning, strength, and polish in one easy step.” Living Proof’s claim to fame is how it eliminates frizz and flyaways without weighing hair down, while nourishing and improving your hair’s condition and texture. So many companies make these claims, however I have yet to find one that lives up to all of them. Thus far, my curls have refused to bow down to any label, so my skepticism was at an all-time high before trying it, especially with Jennifer Anniston as their spokesperson (saying I’m not a fan of hers would be a gross understatement). I was surprised with the results: my hair was completely frizz-free until I washed my hair two days later. My only issue was that my curls weren’t as shiny as I’d hoped they would be; however, the lack of poof in my hair trumped the shine. So impressed with Living Proof was I that I immediately went online (since it’s quite difficult to shop around on crutches) to buy the No Frizz Nourishing Styling Cream because it got an even higher rating the 5-in-1. It “…derives performance from Living Proof’s ‘miracle molecule,’ PolyfluoroEster, to create a weightless shield on hair that blocks humidity absorption, smooths the cuticle, and repels dirt. The PolyfluoroEster shield is established over the first five uses of the No Frizz regimen, so it becomes stronger, the longer you use it—and can be maintained with consistent use of No Frizz products.” On top of that, I also bought Satin Hair Serum to assure the victory of manageability and shine. “Satin Hair Serum is powered by a Sera-Smooth Complex, which offers superior smoothness, eliminates frizz, provides natural movement, leaves hair manageable, and is faster and easier to achieve a desired smooth style. It smooths without the tradeoffs of silicones and oils, doesn’t weigh hair down, and doesn’t create product build-up. Easy to use, lightweight, and long-lasting, it leaves hair grease-free and produces a beautiful, sleek look.” Even though I didn’t buy the entire line of No Frizz products as suggested, I figured the two I purchased should work well enough since the 5-in-1 had already made me a believer.

It’s been quite humid in New York City as of late, and I am shocked at how well my hair has been holding up to the heat and moisture after only a couple of uses of these two wonders. I washed my hair last night and applied the styling cream, my usual coconut oil because my hair is very dry, and lastly the serum. My curls have been staying poof-free and have less shrinkage (my curly girls will know what I’m talking about, so get your mind out of the gutter!). After sleeping on my hair last night (I don’t wrap my hair before I go to sleep, I leave it completely free), walking around on crutches in the humidity this morning, and sweating profusely as a result, here’s a real time pic of me/my hair (please forgive the bad office lighting):

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My hair usually only looks like this after I have just washed it and then fluffs up a couple of hours afterward. It never stays like this overnight and after sweating in humid weather. Almost one whole day later, my hair is still shiny, frizz free, and the curls are keeping their shape. This has never happened to me, and I am not exaggerating. I will take another picture when the day is over to see if the results last after another bout in this heat with my crutches.

8 hours and a switch from a side part to a middle part later:

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Lo and behold, still frizz-free! I am living proof that Living Proof’s No Frizz line works. Corny, I know.

Stay tuned for my next post when I will talk about my second life-changing product!

Until then,
The Vickylicious

Ancient Aztec Secret

On rainy nights, I either turn my little apartment into a spa or a private theater. Last night after an amazing workout that made me sweat like crazy and had my pores open like sinkholes, I chose the former. Not only have I been excited about the addition of my new Clarisonic Mia 2 face brush to my skincare routine, I’ve been loving the new products I bought a while back for my weekly facials. Incorporating these lovely machines and concoctions to my daily and weekly regimens has done wonders to my skin and I’m eager to share them with you.

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After cleansing with the Clarisonic Mia 2 and face wash, I towel-blot my skin and apply a thin layer of Reviva Labs’ Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel (bought from ulta.com). Following the directions, I wait 3-5 minutes before rubbing my face so that the peel starts rolling off under my fingers—much like dried glue (I know I can’t be the only one who played with glue as a child, peeling and rubbing it off like dead skin…c’mon!). After all of it has rolled off, I rinse and towel-blot my skin again. The dead skin has been sloughed off to reveal the clearer, brighter layer of skin underneath. Now my face is prepped and primed for my clay mask.

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I’ve been loving Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay lately (bought from amazon.com), religiously using it every week with great results. In a non-metal mixing bowl, I scoop the bentonite clay powder and the same amount of organic apple cider vinegar (as the directions state: equal parts of each). After mixing them together, I immediately spread it over my face like thick cake batter while my skin is still moist and receptive. As the mask dries, it starts to tingle when it tightens on the skin, so much so that you might be alarmed your first time trying this. Have no fear; that just means the clay is detoxing your skin while drying. I leave it on as long as I can stand it—roughly 20 minutes—then rinse it off with a wet cloth and warm water. After I’m finished, my skin is always blotchy and red for a few minutes, which is common among must users of this powerful clay, but again, have no fear: it will go away and your skin will be clearer and brighter, with tighter and cleaner pores. Please remember the final step: moisturize diligently!

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Over time, my complexion has become more even; I have less breakouts, and my pores are less noticeable. When I do get an occasional breakout, it heals faster and the scarring diminishes at a quicker rate. If you would like more information on the benefits of bentonite clay, let me know in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to write about all of its benefits and uses.

Not only are these products effective, they’re also quite affordable and natural. They’re winners in every aspect—you can’t beat that!

One Brand Face: Kat Von D

Sold exclusively at Sephora, Kat Von D’s eponymous makeup line is chock full of bestsellers. From primer to mascara, her products are long-lasting and heavy duty on coverage and color. The website states:

“Created by Kat Von D, tattoo artist, TV star, and owner of High Voltage Tattoo, this inspiring makeup collection exemplifies the fusion of glamorous, old Hollywood and edgy rock ‘n’ roll. Kat’s distinct style and flawlessly crafted face reveals that she is as masterful with a makeup brush as she is with a tattoo machine. Her passion for makeup and self-expression is inked into every product she creates, from the romantic, soulful designs to the rich, highly pigmented and long-lasting formulations. Exclusively at Sephora, Kat Von D’s one-of-a-kind beauty collection allows you to indulge your creativity and unleash your
inner artist.”

After so many claims of how full coverage her foundations and concealers are—enough to cover a tattoo—and how long-lasting all of her other products are as well, I decided to buy everything needed to “flawlessly craft” my own face and see if all of the declarations are true. Below is everything I bought (photos courtesy of sephora.com), in the order in which I applied them.

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First impression: I love that the Lock-It Tattoo Foundation is in a clear pump dispenser (I’m shade M62); you can see how much you have left and the pump is easier and more sanitary than pouring liquid onto your hand and placing your fingers all over the opening. Contact with skin=bacteria. No pump = easy to spill + unsanitary + lack of control. The formula is thick, highly pigmented and full coverage; a little goes a long way, so this is actually a good value at US$34.00 because I only had to use one pump. The same is true for the Lock-It Tattoo Concealer ($US25.00–I’m shade M26) when it comes to texture and coverage. Using these two products in conjunction definitely make for a flawless face in seconds. I used my Real Techniques Buffing Brush and Expert Face Brush, respectively, to apply them. If you need to sheer the products out for less coverage, a damp beauty blender will do the trick wonderfully (I have since tried this method and loved the more natural-looking results). I didn’t use a setting powder this go-round to see how the products last throughout the day. Next, using my Real Techniques Multipurpose Brush, I applied the Everlasting Blush in Essex, a matte cool rose that’s deep enough to show on my complexion. Just in time for this review, I was able to purchase the early release of the Immortal Lash 24-hour Mascara. I wasn’t crazy about the spiral wand at first, but the formula of the mascara and the spoolie really separated and lengthened my lashes. To finish everything, I applied Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in Mau5, a.k.a. BauHau5, a deep yet bright raspberry (US$19.00; The Painted Love Lipsticks come in the same colors and are the same price). Let’s see how it looked from the start of my day till the very end, no makeup touchups, photo filters or editing.

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Sitting under the infamously unflattering fluorescent office lighting at 8:00AM (left pic), I loved the way this makeup looked; this speaks volumes! Possibly a little heavy for everyday daytime wear (if a damp sponge/beauty blender isn’t used to sheer it out) the foundation looked amazing, covered all imperfections, was a perfect match for my complexion—and I’m sure many others, due to the large shade range—made me look more awake/brighter than I felt so early in the morning, and didn’t reflect a white cast from flash photography. My skin looked flawless and matte. The blush was just enough color (when applied with a light hand) to provide me with a healthy flush, and the mascara gave my lashes natural yet impactful definition. This liquid lipstick got more compliments than any other colored gloss/lipstick/lip stain I have ever worn in my life—no exaggeration (besides one of my reds)! By midday, my skin was starting to look dewy, borderline shiny, but everything was still in place; even my lips were still vibrant 3 cups of tea, a bowl of cereal, 4 glasses of water and a sandwich later. So far, the results were quite impressive, given that I didn’t use primer, set my foundation with powder or use setting spray. After a long day, all of the products endured humid conditions, my oily skin, long hours and a lot of sweating. There was a bit of foundation transfer, which was to be expected without setting it and being in steam room-like weather, and there was still a flush on my cheeks from the blush. The mascara didn’t flake, smudge or budge from my lashes and there was still a hint of color on my lips after breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee and dinner!

Although the day started with visible makeup, it became more natural as the day progressed, and that made me happy since I was at work. Kat Von D definitely has a winning line of products for women that desire a fuller coverage (I was recovering from a breakout and no one could tell), a face that’s beat to the gods all day long (yes, please), trustworthy makeup for a special event, or a night on the town with a show-stopping face (again, yes), then this is the line for you. I have since created the same face with setting powder and the results were amazing, so I know I’ll be returning to these babies again and again. As of right now, this is my favorite high end product line with all hits and no misses. Taking it all off with the makeup removing wipes was a breeze and nothing made me break out anew. Thank you, Kat, for being your wonderfully tattooed self and for loving old Hollywood glam with edge, and needing to cover up your ink once in a while, and most of all, for finding the right people to make your vision come true and put it into such pretty packaging. I applaud you all.

Now we can forever give good face.