Fabulous Me: Ode to Denim

I give very little detail about my job on the blogosphere. There’s a very good reason for that. We have a blogging policy and I value my paycheck.

I work in the communications field, and our office has been business casual for years. Denim was on the no-no list until about a year ago. We were given the green light to wear it on Fridays only. Last week, management announced that we can wear denim any day of the week, as long as we use our best judgement.

There was a denim jacket in my office from a casual Friday. As soon as I left the staff meeting, I put it on. If I had some confetti, I would have thrown it. I love denim.

I’ve heard arguments on both sides of the denim-at-work argument. Some say that it hinders productivity and professionalism, others say that denim makes employees happy. And happy employees are more productive. I tend to agree with the latter.

Plus, did I mention that I love denim?

In honor of my job’s new dress policy, I’m wearing denim to work every day this week. I’ll post the pics on Friday for you to see.

What do you think about denim at the office? How do you dress it up to make it work appropriate?

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Five Minutes for Makeup, Part 3

This is the third installment on my skincare and makeup series.

I wrote about my five-minute face a few years ago, but some things have changed. As I mentioned in a previous post, it seems to take more makeup these days to make me look “natural.”
I’ve focused on clearning out my old products and keeping my makeup brushes clean, and that has helped a lot. My skin experiences fewer breakouts, and fewer breakouts means less make up. So, I can still get ready in about five minutes.
This blog is about my everyday face. On special occasions, I make an effort to get more glam. Before I dive into my routine, here’s a bare-faced shot so you know what I’m working with:

Step One: Wash. Tone. Serum. Moisturize. I have this down pat. It only takes a minute.

Step Two: I completely make up my eyes with primer and shadow, then I add concealer. I learned this trick from a Sephorian. It allows you to clean up any mistakes with concealer and not waste any time.

Step Three. Foundation, then powder. Use a stiple brush, and I put foundation only where I need it. Then I give my entire face a quick sweep of powder.

Step Four: Blush. This is a recent addition. I use two blushes; one is for color, and the other is a translucent that gives me a dewy look.

Step Five: Lips. Half the time, I end up putting on lip gloss in the car because the color I want to use is in my purse.

The first time I clocked this routine, it took me six and a half minutes to complete. I realized I spent a lot of time digging in my Caboodle for things one by one. Now I pull everything out first, and that reduced the time by a minute.

Here’s the finished product. My bathroom light was terrible, so I took the photo at work.

I’d love to hear any tips you have about makeup and skincare. Even though I’ve simplified things, I’m still a cosmetics junkie!
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Five Minutes for Makeup, Part 2

This is the second in my three-part series on my experiences with skincare and makeup.

I’ve been on a mission of late to maintain to most radiant skin possible. In my previous post, I talked about getting rid of old and unusable products.
After I tackled my Caboodle full of expired skincare and makeup, I focused on how my makeup brushes affect the health of my skin. I’m sure there is a scientific explanation about how it works, but I’m going with logic. Using a brush over and over without cleaning it means at some point, you are putting dirt on your face and back into your products. This sounds gross, and I doubt that it’s good for your complexion.
A Sephorian once suggested I use sponges to apply makeup. I wouldn’t have to worry about contaminating products or keeping tools clean. I tried it and hated it. My makeup was splotchy, and I kept forgetting to buy new sponges after I ran out. So I stick with brushes. They give me the application I like with minimal effort. To keep the makeup cooties at bay, I spend five minutes each week cleaning them. There are two techniques that I’ve tried.

Baby Shampoo or Liquid Hand Soap. Wet the brush and work a little soap into the it. Rinse until the water’s clear. Be careful not to let the metal clamp that connects the brush to the handle get too wet. Over time, excess moisture could weaken the glue that keeps the bristles in place. During one of my numerous trips to somebody’s cosmetics counter, a consultant told me to let the brushes dry while lying on their sides. If possible, the bristles should hang over an edge. Never put your brushes upside down in a cup; they will get mangled. Lying your brushes on a towel to dry could bring on mildew (yuck!).

Dishwashing Liquid + Vinegar. I found this link thanks to Pinterest. Mix one tablespoon of dish detergent and one tablespoon of vinegar with a cup of warm water. Swish the brushes around, again taking care to avoid the metal clamp. Rinse until clear and dry as indicated above. I thought my brushes were clean until I tried this method. The water turned brown as soon as the tip of the brush hit the water.

I’ve seen a HUGE difference since I started regularly cleaning my brushes. My makeup applies much better, and I tend to use less product. Between this and using unexpired products, I’ve had fewer breakouts.

Stay tuned for Part 3 – My five-minute face!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Five Minutes for Makeup, Part 1

The older I get, the more makeup it takes for me look as if I’m not wearing all that much makeup.

I spent my teens in nothing but lip gloss. A brief summer job at a department store cosmetics counter won me a slew of eyeshadow, most of which I gave away or let expire. I breezed through my 20s with gloss, groomed eyebrows and the occassional application of undereye concealer or powder.

Then 30 happened. That year, I had my first child, and fluctuating hormones, sleepless nights, and sketchy eating habits made my skin go beserk. The makeup routine of my youth no longer cut it.

Fortunately, my time at the cosmetics counter put me on a good skincare rountine. I wash, tone and moisturize twice a day. Unfortunately, that same experience made me a skincare junkie. I’m willing to try just about anything, and the words “gift with purchase” are very difficult for me to ignore. Once I decided to jump on the makeup bandwagon, the addiction took hold. Emails from Sephora inevitably ended in an online order.

The binge resulted in an overwhelming collection of products. I figured out how to put on my makeup in about five minutes (explanation to come in Part 3), and I was generally pleased.

Yet, I was not that happy with my natural complexion. I experienced occasional breakouts, and the zits left dark spots that took months to fade.

I opened my medicine cabinet one day and looked at my skincare and makeup. I was unsure of when some of them were purchased. That’s when the epiphany hit:

Was I making my skin worse by using too many products and/or expired products? The miracle of modern technology known as Google led me to a few articles that confirmed my suspicions. Makeup can grow bacteria if it’s kept too long. I’ve never known the “b” word to be associated with anything good, so I went about the business of cleaning out my cosmetics.

I pulled out my Caboodle and stash of cosmetics bags. I’m a child of the 80s, so yes, I still have a Caboodle. It’s blue with a purple clasp and pull-out tray; I convinced my mom to buy it for me because it was on clearance at Target.

But, I digress. Here’s how I spent five minutes:

Samples and unflattering free gifts were the first to go. I have sensitive combination skin, so anything uncomplementary to that hit the trash. BB cream and foundations labeled “oyster bisque” were next out the door. My profile pic should tell you why those don’t work. I also tossed samples of high-priced products. There’s no need to fall in love with anything I can’t afford to buy when the sample runs out.

Then I tackled my products in rotation and got rid of anything that expired. I’ve heard so many things about how long you should keep makeup, so this was tricky.  In general, mascara is a three-month deal. I value my eyesight, so I adhere to this one. Most foundations last about a year, some powders can go for two. Eye and lip liners, when sharpened from time to time, can last about three years. If you’re like me, and you don’t remember when you bought it, it’s probably a good idea to throw it out. And if it smells funny, that’s a definite toss.

During one of my many trips to Sephora, a makeup artist told me to pay attention to product labels. Some manufacturers indicate how long to keep a product with this tiny diagram:

If you have extra time, you can use those little round stickers to label products. I write down the date that I open it so that I know how long it takes me to use something completely. And I know exactly when to toss it if there’s any left when that window expires.

So, how’s my skin doing? I’ll give you an update in Part 2!

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

#31WriteNow Blog Challenge

When writing and I are in the midst of a love affair, things are good. Sentences and turns of phrase come to me without hesitation. Paragraphs feel as if they write themselves. And the best part? I like what I’ve created.

But writing and I aren’t together right now. Putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard feels like a chore. I often face a blank screen instead of inspiration.

Life has pulled us in two different directions. A new baby, a new job for Hubby, and a quasi-new job for me are just a few of the forces that have grappled for my attention. Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to get us reunited. It’s been a series of fits and starts.

So when I ran across Awesomely Luvvie’s post about a 31-day blog challenge for August, I was intrigued. The challenge is to post new content every day from now until the end of the month. No throwbacks.

After my initial interest settled, doubt began to creep in. I have too much to do. Work is starting to pick up. Hubby will be leaving town soon. The three posts a week I’ve been trying to write are hard enough; there’s no way I can handle a post a day.

Doubt moved to worry: What if I fall off after a week? What if I can’t think of anything to write?

Worry gave way to fear: What if I my writing is awful? What if the love affair never returns?

Our relationship may not become what it once was, or it could come back stronger that ever. I won’t know, though, until I try. So I’m closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, and digging in.

I hope you will come along for the ride.