Beauty Balm – BB Cream

In my recent reading of InStyle magazine, it seemed like every third ad was dedicated to BB Cream. It took me at least two magazine’s worth of poring over it all to discover this is an acronym for Beauty Balm. After having been brain-washed by sufficient repetition, I began to find the BB concept compelling. I mean, check this out:

BB Cream in shiny package

BB Cream in shiny package

Experience 5 complexion-perfecting benefits in a single step. Youth Code BB Cream Illuminator instantly evens, illuminates, perfects, moisturizes and protects skin.

Illuminates! They’ve come so far with LEDs!

I decided it was clearly part of my job to figure out what this BB Cream was, and whether we are interested in it. Standing in the sultry and alluring lighting of my local Stop-N-Shop I reviewed the five or so BB Creams on offer, and picked the one with the shiny label (Youth Code BB Illuminator ~$15).

I’ve been using it for about two weeks. You put this stuff on a lot like you would a moisturizer/sunscreen. And it does, in fact, claim to do those two things. However, unlike my moisturizer and sunscreen combo, it is tinted. They didn’t have a “practically albino” setting, so I picked up the light version, which still looks unexpectedly dark in my hand.

I took probably 30 pictures this morning in the bathroom mirror (I even cleaned the mirror first!) so you could see the “before/after”. So even though they look identical due to lousy photography, I feel obliged to include them. Here’s the before:

BBB - Before BB

BBB – Before Beauty Balm

This is my morning face. I’m sorry. I’ve seen it look worse, too. Anyway, here’s how I go greet the world on weekends, work from home days, or any time before I started wearing makeup to work. (I actually don’t usually wear makeup to church. It’s funny – I dress up in order to be respectful and honor God, but I don’t wear makeup in order to be less vain and to be honest with God and myself. I get the feeling these two things somehow are not sympatico, but I can’t figure out which one to drop.)

Sometimes when I put on the beauty balm, I put on Regenerist eye cream first. I’m not really sure why, other than that it seems like the thing to do. It takes me a touch longer to put on the BB Cream than it would my good ol’ SPF/moisturizer, but not much. I’m not sure if the shine would wear off by the time I am done with my coffee, but I usually end up putting my powder on over that. When I have this cream on and the powder, I feel like my face has been wiped clean and is now a blank slate. This is the feeling that tempts one to wear a lot more makeup. Still, I only add mascara and eyebrows, and sometimes lip gloss. The end state is this:

After BB and makeup application

After BB and makeup application

Summary:
I like this cream. I think it actually does a lot of what it claims to do. While I feel slightly cakey and make up in the morning, by the time I get to work I feel like my skin looks better. I think the biggest difference is in the evening, when my skin does seem to have a more youthful radiance than it does when left to its own devices. I naturally have pretty decent skin, so this doesn’t make a huge difference to me, but if you have any blemishes/patches/things you don’t like about your skin, this might be really helpful to you. After two weeks of regular use, I have not broken out or noticed my skin seems damaged in any way, so it’s not just plastering over issues.

Use if:
– You have skin you aren’t happy with
– You are already using sunscreen, moisturizer and foundation in different steps
– You have a big public presentation, and there may be photography/unflattering lighting
– You are going to be very good about removing your makeup every night
– You want a solid base for more fun/exciting makeup

Do not use if:
– You don’t like feeling or looking “made up”
– You already have a great skin
– You are not going to use other makeup

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Made Up

An Intro To My Makeup

$25 of pretty

$25 of pretty

Just over two years ago, I switched jobs from a pure-programming, behind-a-computer-all-day, best-dressed-because-my-jeans-don’t-have-holes job to a terrifyingly corporate environment. I went from a place where the CEO wore shorts, to one where the click of high heels rang through the halls. This was a job change I wanted to make. I like people. I like writing. I like coding too… but I wanted a mix, and this was my chance to get it.

And I did.

But before I showed up at my first day at the new job, I thought very carefully about how I wanted to look. How did I want people to see me? I could get by with my wardrobe for a while. My hair was ok. (Not great, but ok. That’s another post.) But I had just crossed the threshold of 30, and borne my second child. It was time for me to start wearing some makeup. Oh, and moisturizer.

So I did. Here were some of the things I weighed in my makeup decisions:
1) I didn’t want to wear a lot of makeup (or look really made up)
2) I didn’t want to spend a lot of time putting it on
3) I didn’t want to spend very much money on it
4) I wanted to be able to buy it in a store I already went to
5) I needed to come up with a good, non-obnoxious way of removing the makeup every night, so I didn’t seem young due to zits
6) I didn’t want to feel like I HAD to wear makeup to look normal. I wanted to feel makeup-free and confident on weekends and other days.

I’ve accomplished most of these goals. Here’s how I did it:

1) Moisturizer with SPF 35. (Target – $9.99) I use Neutrogena oil free moisture at least in part because it rubs in quickly and easily, and comes in appropriate portion controls. (I had trouble with some other kinds I tried giving me way too much.) Even if you do nothing else, if you ever might think you could care a little bit someday about how you look…. use a daily moisturizer with an SPF over 20 to prevent wrinkles. And by daily, I mean every day since you will burn much more easily if you use it regularly and then forget one lovely clear day in October. (Not that I ever did that. Ahem.)

2) Pressed powder. I use the Maybelline Shine Free Pressed Powder #4 Beige. (Target) It costs $4.94. The primary purpose of the powder is to reduce the shininess that comes from the moisturizer. (I actually brush my teeth between steps 1 & 2 in order to give the moisturizer time to “Sink in”). I think this has a pretty big impact on how I look – it gives me a more polished, even look.

3) Mascara. I have blonde eyelashes. I like to use brown mascara because I don’t like a look that screams EYE MAKEUP, but brown mascara is not an “in” color so I’m still wrestling with finding the perfect mascara. In the interim I use Maybelline Great Lash. ($4.44 Target) Beware if you wear mascara and have never worn makeup before… if I had even plausibly present eyelashes I’d probably skip it. When you are wearing mascara you cannot cry or rub your eyes while you’re wearing it, or you look awful. Waterproof mascara may be ok, but it’s really difficult to get off afterwards. Try both ways – and not wearing mascara. If you wear mascara, can you keep your hands off your eyes? Are you a cryer? Do you have darker lashes? These should all affect your decision about whether to wear mascara, and what kind to wear.

4) Eyeshadow but… for my eyebrows. I also have blonde eyebrows. They sort of vanish by themselves. So I more or less paint them on with brown powder every morning. You probably don’t need this, unless you also have pale facial hair. Once again I find myself with a $5 Maybelline product (Maybelline Expert Wear Eye Shadow – $4.49 at Target.)

That’s my daily routine. It takes two minutes. Nothing in that set costs more than $10 … you can stock up brand new for $25 at Target. (And most of that is moisturizer.) The powder goes fastest, followed by mascara, followed by moisturizer. I have yet to “finish” an eyeshadow.

At the end of the day, I remove it all with makeup wipes from Costco (~$15 for a bajillion). Chemicals yadda yadda, but awfully convenient and not at all messy.

There are a lot of makeup elements I don’t use, that you may need or want. For example I don’t:

– Use blush. I have a great natural blush and I don’t need it.
– Use eyeliner. I have not the skills. Nor do I want the “made up” look that eyeliner gives you.
– Use eyeshadow as eyeshadow. I only do this when I’m dressing up, and I have trouble making it look the way I want to look. The colors in eyeshadow are very particular to a season or trend, so you can easily go wrong in eyeshadow if you don’t know what you’re doing. (See also: blue, green, purple)
– Use lipstick. Proper lipstick is a dangerous thing, in terms of going where you don’t want it, being hard to maintain, and being hard to get a color that flatters. I use a lip gloss if I am feeling fancy, but most of the time I have naked or lip-balmed lips. Again, my lips have good natural color, so I don’t need it. Some lipstick colors are highly seasonal, so it’s easy to go wrong.
– Use foundation. I just never have. I have relatively good skin, so I don’t really need it. Also, when I see people whose makeup seems excessive to me, it’s usually with eyeliner, foundation and bright lipstick. That may be why I avoid those three.

Do you wear makeup daily? Do you feel naked without it? Do you know how to put it on? What mystifies you, and what have you mastered. Do you feel that expensive makeup is really that much better than cheap makeup at Target? What’s your makeup story? What do you do every day?