10 More Beauty Cheats Every Girl Should Know

10 More Beauty Cheats Every Girl Should Know

10 Beauty Cheats Every Girl Should Know is one of the all-time most popular posts on my blog. I love that I’m not the only one who appreciates a good beauty hack!

It’s been four years since I wrote that post (!!) and I’ve learned a lot of good tricks since then. Here are 10 more of my favorite beauty cheats:

1. Tightline your eyes. 

For subtle definition and fuller-looking lashes, run a waterproof black or dark brown eyeliner under your lashes on your upper waterline. I love this matte gel liner crayon for the job: it glides on easily without tugging at my eyes, lasts all day, and doesn’t smudge or transfer onto my lower waterline.

Check out this helpful how-to for details.

2. Match foundation to your body instead of your neck.

I’m diligent about exfoliating and SPF, so my face is always lighter than my body, especially in the spring and summer. My neck is even lighter than my face because it’s less exposed to the sun. If I matched my foundation to my neck, I’d look pale and washed out, so I match it to my chest and shoulders instead, and make sure to always blend the foundation down my jawline. Then I warm up my neck with a light bronzer to make it all seamless.

Here’s a super helpful video by Sona Gasparian about makeup mistakes to avoid that shows this foundation-matching rule in action.

3. Add a drop or two of your favorite beauty oil to your full-coverage liquid foundation.

I love this trick when I’m getting ready for an event. It gives your skin a luminous, airbrushed finish and adds boost of hydration for dry skin types.

Go for something like a light argan oil mixed with an oil-based, full-coverage foundation. (It won’t work with a water-based formula, because as we know, oil and water don’t mix.)

4. Short on time and need to look pulled-together in a pinch? Define your brows.

Shaping and filling in your eyebrows with a soft pencil and/or tinted brow gel goes a long way in defining your features and brightening up your face. I love this waterproof gel brow filler for everyday, one-step brow maintenance.

5. Customize your foundation coverage with moisturizer.

Turn any liquid foundation into a tinted moisturizer by mixing it with a moisturizer. This French pharmacy cream is a makeup artist favorite, and it’s the perfect blending medium for normal to dry skin types.

I squeeze a dollop of moisturizer onto the back of my hand, add 2-4 drops of foundation to it — the amount depends on how sheer I want the coverage to be — and mix it together before applying it to my face with a Beautyblender or brush.

6. Revive dried-out mascara with eye drops.

This tip is from thebeautydepartment.com. Although it’s ideal to toss your mascara after 3 months for sanitation purposes, some formulas seem to dry out after several weeks. (Lookin’ at you, Better Than Sex.) If you splurge on a mascara and find it’s dry and clumpy well before it’s time to throw it out: remove the wand, add about 10 drops of a lubricating contact lens re-wetting solution to the tube, shake, and replace the wand. You’re good to go! It re-hydrates the mascara and it’s safe for your eyes.

7. Stash an eye cream in the fridge for your AM skin care routine

It’s the best way to refresh and de-puff tired eyes in the morning, especially in hot and humid summer months.

8. Nail polish lid stuck? Wrap a rubber band around it.

It will give you extra grip to twist it open.

9. Apply a thin layer of powder under your liquid foundation.

This sounds crazy, but it really works. It locks your foundation in place all day and keeps the finish luminous and dewy. Use a powder brush to dust a light layer of a translucent setting powder over the last step of your skin care routine — which should be moisturizer and/or SPF — and use a Beautyblender to apply foundation on top of it. This Wayne Goss video lays it out step-by-step.

I love this trick because I personally don’t like a matte or powdery finish on my skin.

10. Spray your bobby pins with hairspray.

It makes them sticky so they won’t slide out of your hair! Also, make sure you insert them with the wavy side against your scalp for the best hold (I had this one wrong for years).

6 Shortcuts For Easier Mornings

6 Shortcuts For Easier Mornings

I shared some helpful habits for non-morning people back in 2015, and my quest to conquer the start of the day is still a work-in-progress. Truth be told: I’m a mess in the morning. I love to squeeze in as much sleep as I can manage — every minute counts! — before I absolutely have to throw myself out of bed, so I’m always looking for shortcuts to shave precious time off my morning routine.

Here are 6 of my favorites:

Make a Designated Drop Spot :: There’s nothing more maddening than a frazzled keys/phone search when you’re already running behind in the morning. I have a small console table in the foyer with a basket to drop my keys and sunglasses in as soon as I walk in the door, and before I go to bed, I stack anything that needs to leave the house with me next to it: my phone, to-do lists, scrawled reminder notes, library books to return, etc.

Plan Your Outfits For the Week :: If you struggle with figuring out what to wear in the morning, try to pull a week’s worth of outfits together on Sunday evening. Iron them, and hang them in a designated place in your closet so they’re ready to go. It’s one less thing to stress about in the morning, and helps keep your closet tidy and organized without those panicked “I have nothing to wear!” tornadoes ripping through it.

Use Bags Within Your Bag :: I love zip-top pouches. I use them to organize all my “essentials” in my bag, and can switch them from handbag to handbag in a snap if I decide to make a quick change in the morning. This BAGGU leather design is my favorite. It’s large enough to double as clutch; I keep it in my everyday tote bag and toss all my stuff in it if I have plans after work.  I also use a clutch wallet that’s big enough to hold my phone, car key, and favorite lipstick so I can ditch the rest of my handbag if I want to travel light.

Pack a Lunch the Night Before :: I’m trying to get in the habit of bringing a healthy lunch and snacks to work so I don’t dip into our stash of leftover Halloween candy to make it through the day. I find I’m most successful with meal prep if I do it the night before: packing up dinner leftovers; making a big salad with mixed fruit, nuts and goat cheese; or rolling up lean lunch meat with cheese and fresh sliced fruit. These stackable glass containers with snap-on lids are my favorite for the job because they’re durable, reusable, and easy to clean. I put my lunch bag next to my purse when I’m finished so I don’t forget to grab what I packed in the fridge before I run out the door.

Be Your Own Barista :: Last year I discovered cold brew coffee concentrate, and my life will never be the same. I’m hooked on this unsweetened mocha brew: I pour it into an insulated thermal tumbler over lots of ice, then fill it up with water and/or milk and go. (A caveat: take the time to measure it out; it’s concentrated and has a lot of caffeine, so it’s easy to overdo it and end up with the jitters through lunch.) Corkcicle tumblers come in a fun range of colors, and keep ice frozen for more than 9 hours; I have a few in rotation and never leave home without one.

Have Cookies For Breakfast :: I found this recipe for healthy breakfast cookies last year, and they’re a hit with my husband and the flower shop team. I like to make a big batch on the weekend to have on hand for easy grab-and-go breakfasts throughout the week, and customize them with different nuts, dried fruit, and dark chocolate. They’re packed with protein and whole grain oats for sustained energy, and pair perfectly with DIY iced coffee.

What are your favorite morning shortcuts? (Seriously, please share them; I need all the help I can get.)

6 Tips For Dark Circles and Tired Eyes

6 Tips For Dark Circles and Tired Eyes

Once upon a time, there was a girl who never fussed with concealer: she was bright-eyed and blissfully ignorant about dark circles, puffiness, and fine lines because she was oh so young and lucky in the under-eye department. Then she joined the ranks of the self-employed, turned 30, and developed a slew of bad habits related to poor hydration, stress management, and  fun- size candy bars; now, when she takes off her makeup at the end of a long day, she looks in the mirror and thinks, “what happened here?!”

Gone are the days of waking up, rolling out of bed, and leaving the house without a stitch of makeup: no matter how many hours of sleep I log these days, the blueish circles under my eyes seem to have taken up permanent residence. Those dark circles, paired with puffiness and dry skin, make me look washed-out and tired. (Don’t you love when people tell you, “you look tired”? I may never understand why some folks think that’s a helpful observation.)

I did some research — i.e., Googled “HOW TO GET RID OF ANNOYING DARK CIRCLES FOREVER AND EVER AMEN” — and here’s what I learned: the skin around our eyes is thinner than anywhere else on our faces, which is why those windows-to-the-soul are the first areas to show signs of aging, bad habits, and fatigue. As we get older, the little fat pads under our lower eyelids start to diminish, leaving the abundant blood and capillaries of the area more visible under the skin (dark circles) and hollowness under the eyes that creates shadows. Genetics play a big role, too: look to your mother and grandmothers for a glimpse into your future.

Of course, lifestyle is a factor is well. Drinking more water, reducing your salt intake, and getting a good night’s sleep go a long way in reducing puffiness.

There’s good news, and there’s bad news. The bad news: there’s no miracle eye cream that can eliminate dark circles, no matter how much beauty advertising may try to convince you otherwise. The good news: there are things you can do to minimize dark circles and puffiness now and protect your eyes from premature aging down the road.

1 :: Practice safe sun. UVA rays damage elastin, a protein that helps the skin “snap back” after being stretched or contracted. I apply a good SPF right up to the lash line every day — I love Tarteguarda gentle physical sunscreen that never irritates my eyes — and always wear sunglasses outdoors for extra protection.

2 :: Get a good eye cream. I don’t think I realized how important this was until I started using one twice a day, every day. Eye cream made a big difference in the texture of the skin around my eyes — no more dryness, crinkly skin, or tiny bumps. Look for a good fragrance-free formula with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid to plump and smooth the skin. Beautypedia is a great resource when you’re shopping for beauty products; they have a roundup of the best eye products for every budget.

I got a sample of Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Eye Lifting Balm in a Sephora Play Box, and loved it so much I bought the full size. It’s expensive, but I use a small drop for both eyes, day and night, and the tiny sample tube lasted nearly 6 weeks. You can also use it on your lips to prevent fine lines, and it wears really well under makeup.

3 :: Get the red out. On the mornings that I wake up with red, tired-looking eyes, I brighten them up with plain ol’ lubricating/redness relief eye drops from the drugstore. Confession: it took me a while to get over my aversion to putting drops in my own eyes, but it’s an instant-gratification trick that makes my eyes look fresh and clear.

4 :: Use a color corrector before you reach for concealer. Peach and salmon-toned color correctors help neutralize dark circles and brighten the eye area. I apply them after eye cream and before foundation. My two favorites: Pixi Correction Concentrate, a highly-pigmented peach cream that melts into the skin and contains a host of good skin care ingredients like rose hip extract and vitamins A,C, and E; and Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector that color-corrects with Becca’s signature micro-fine, light-reflecting illuminators. Most days, I find that either of these is enough to get the job done with a little foundation on top; I usually save concealer for special occasions.

5 :: Speaking of concealer, splurge on a good one. Concealer can be tricky: it does wonders for covering dark circles, but can emphasize any dryness or texture under the eyes; especially when you set it with a powder to prevent creasing. I think I tried a dozen concealers in my search for the perfect one last year, so let me save you some trouble and point you in the direction of Urban Decay’s ‘Naked Skin’ Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer. The buildable coverage dries to a natural, demi-matte finish, and the formula has a mix of antioxidants and peptides to help the delicate skin around the eyes. (I love a good multi-tasking product.) Since I don’t use it every day and a little goes a long way, I bought the travel size for $12.

6 :: Make healthy choices. Or try to, anyway; it’s all about balance. Drinking adequate water, reducing your salt intake, going easy on the booze, and getting a good night’s sleep go a long way in reducing puffiness and may help with dark circles not related to heredity.

How I Take My Own Outfit Photos With My Smartphone

How I Take My Own Outfit Photos With My Smartphone

For the first several years of my style blog, my husband took all my photos. We worked together in our flower shop, in a downtown historic district with lots of great places to shoot, so it was easy to pop out for 5-10 minutes each day to snap photos of my outfits with our Canon Rebel DSLR camera. I imported all the photos to my Macbook, picked my favorites in iPhoto, edited them in Photoshop, and uploaded them to WordPress for every outfit post.

When C started a new full-time job in 2013 and I took on all the daily operations of our small business, I had to get creative to keep the the blog going with much less time and no in-house photographer. Through some trial and error, I figured out how to take my own decent outfit photos with my iPhone and two affordable accessories:

  • A portable camera tripod with a smartphone mount. (Because propping your phone against a ledge just isn’t ideal.) I started with a JOBY Gorillapod Flexible Tripod but found that an inexpensive extendable aluminum tripod is more convenient and easier to use on-the-go. I bought an aluminum camera tripod with a universal smartphone mount for $15.59 from Amazon and use it all the time; I keep it folded in my car so I always have it on hand when I want to do an OOTD post.
  • A bluetooth camera shutter remote. This small handheld device is a game changer if you want to take your own outfit photos: it connects to your phone’s camera shutter via bluetooth, and snaps a photo at the push of a button. I like the Muku Shuttr – Selfie Remote / Camera Shutter: it works at up to 30 feet from your phone, fits nicely in the palm of your hand, and feels more durable than cheaper models I tried (and broke).

1. The Setup

The best photos are taken in natural light, so I try to squeeze in time to take outfit photos in the morning or in that lovely “golden hour” after work. I avoid shooting in places with harsh direct sunlight; shade helps minimize unflattering shadows and blown-out/unfocused shots.

Standing in front of a tripod and snapping photos of yourself can feel all kinds of awkward, so I have a few go-to quiet places near the shop where I can spend a few uninterrupted minutes moving around and snapping lots of photos. If I feel rushed or uncomfortable, it’s all over my face in photos; which is why sometimes I just post a headless shot and call it a day.

I like to use big neutral/light-colored walls as backgrounds. I set up my phone on the tripod about 8-10 feet away from my background, open the camera app, and think about what kind of composition I want so I know where to put myself in front the camera.

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Tip: spend some time looking through style photos on Pinterest for composition and posing inspiration, and turn on the grid in your camera settings for extra composition help.

For full-length shots when I’m farthest away from the camera, I find a focal point — like a spot on a wall or a mark on the ground — and press and hold that spot on the screen until the focus square flickers and the “AE/AF lock” indicator appears. (This tells the camera where to focus and how much light to let in the lens so my photos are always sharp and focused with consistent lighting.)

I stand in front of that focal point and shoot, shoot, shoot while slowly shifting positions. If I hear a delay in the shutter release when I click the remote, I know I’m probably out of focus; I take a second to check things out before I keep snapping and adjust as necessary. For detail shots, I skip the AE/AF step, stand closer to the tripod, and center myself in front of the lens as I shoot. I’m not too worried about the perfect composition for these shots, because I can tweak it in the editing stage with some strategic cropping.

Tip: Don’t give in to the temptation to use the front-facing (or “selfie”) camera to see what you’re doing; it has a lower resolution and the small lens causes lots of distortion. You’ll get higher-quality shots with the back lens. With some practice, you’ll get comfortable with your favorite compositions and poses and you can knock out an outfit photo shoot in 5 minutes or less.

2. The Selection

I like to take a lot of photos in a short amount of time so I have plenty of options for a post. When I finish shooting, I quickly scroll through the photos in my camera roll, delete the terrible ones — about 75% of everything I shot — and mark the best poses/angles as favorites. When I get to the end, I go back through the favorites and narrow them down to the best 4-5 shots to use in a blog post. I delete all the leftovers from my camera roll; it saves on storage space and makes it easy to find and open the “chosen” photos in other apps.

3. The Edit

My current favorite photo editing apps for blog photos are PicTapGo and A Color Story. Both apps let you build and save custom “recipes” with your favorite photo tweaks, color adjustments and filters, which helps you create a cohesive look for all your blog (and Instagram) photos. Once your recipes are set, you can apply them to your photos with one tap for quick editing, which is a huge time-saver.

The left photo is unedited straight from my camera roll, and the right photo was lightened and brightened with one of my saved presets in A Color Story. I apply the same preset on every photo for the post and, fini!

 

Now that I’m used to on-the-go DIY photography for the style portion of my blog, I can knock out outfit photos in about 15 minutes, from shooting to editing to uploading (which I also do from my iPhone now). I’m happy I found a way to keep this fun creative hobby going as the flower shop grows and demands the majority of my time and energy, even if I do look like a total weirdo to passerby while I do it. ;)