The Beauty Brief

The Beauty Brief

Hello, beauty lovers! I have lots to share with you in this month’s edition of the Beauty Brief, including my new favorite eyeshadow, the solution to unkempt cuticles, and a peculiar hybrid product that’s basically a flash grenade of gorgeousness for your face. Sound intriguing? Let’s talk beauty!

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm is a mysterious thing. A worldwide cult favorite, it can’t really be classified as one product; it’s part primer, part lightweight moisturizer, part magical airbrushing cream. (Definitely not a balm, despite the name.) Figuring out how to use it was also a bit of a challenge, since the only instructions are to “apply without rubbing in.” I’ve concluded that the best approach is to spread a small amount all over your fingers and then pat it onto your face. It somehow diffuses imperfections and makes you look refreshed and radiant, like you just got a facial. I apply foundation immediately afterwards for an even smoother, brighter complexion. The only thing I don’t love about it is the scent (Clarins products tend to smell a little grandmotherly to me). But in no way is that a dealbreaker!

Laura Mercier Eye Colour

I’ve been trying to get myself out of an eyeshadow rut, so I was very happy to discover Laura Mercier Eye Colour. These shadows aren’t super pigmented, but they provide a beautiful, subtle wash of color that lasts all day (when paired with a good primer, of course). The shades pictured here are Plum Smoke and African Violet – I’d highly recommend them to any other green-eyed girls out there!

Julep Your Cuticles Look Thirsty

Julep’s aptly named cuticle cream is awesome. I go through this stuff so quickly! Made with honey and shea butter, it’s light and absorbs like a dream without leaving any residue, so you can apply it right before painting your nails without causing any problems. It also renders cuticles pretty much invisible, which I love (so much easier than trimming them)! I like to keep one in my purse and one on my bedside table so I can slather some on whenever the mood strikes.

What beauty products are you loving right now? Is there anything new that you really want to try? Let me know in the comments!

♥ Mil

Smooth Operator: Primer 101

I can’t remember how I got by before discovering foundation primer. Those were dark, dark days. My makeup would look perfect when I applied it in the morning, but by the end of the day, I would look like an extra from the Walking Dead. It was not pretty. Finally, I decided to see what all the fuss was about and bought myself a bottle of Prime Time…the difference was striking. Not only did primer provide a smooth, even canvas for my foundation, but it kept my makeup in place throughout the day and into the night. I knew immediately that I would never go back.

Since then, I’ve learned a lot more about the different types of primers and what works best for my face. I’m hoping my years of product testing will help you find your perfect primer, too! Here are my thoughts on some of the primers I’ve used over the years.


Primer 101


one / two / three / four / five


1. It’s when your skin is red, blotchy or broken out that you need foundation the most – and also when you need to NOT wear foundation the most. Cover FX Calming Primer is the solution to this skincare catch-22. Smooth a little on before your foundation to soothe sensitive, dry and inflamed skin. Your foundation will stay put all day without causing additional irritation. I got a sample of this recently, and it’s my new favorite for winter.

2. Benefit Stay Flawless 15-Hour Primer feels amazing going on. It creates a velvety soft, matte texture (somewhat reminiscent of Dr. Feelgood), but unfortunately it doesn’t quite give my dry skin the moisturizing base it needs. This one works best for oily skin, especially if you’re using liquid foundation. You can also use it on its own if your main goal is to tone down shininess. Note: I personally find this primer stick a little more annoying to apply than its liquid counterparts – ensuring that it’s spread evenly across your face is a bit of a hassle.

3. Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Primer is an industry favorite for a reason; it smooths lines and minimizes pores while evening out skin texture. However, it’s silicone-based and can cause breakouts if your skin is sensitive. You also need to be careful not to over-apply silicone-based primers like this one – if you use too much product, it will pill and cause your foundation to clump. Start with a tiny little bit and go from there!

4. Another silicone-based primer, BareMinerals Prime Time is not ideal for those with sensitive or breakout-prone skin. However, if your skin can handle it, this stuff will leave your face insanely soft and help foundation glide on seamlessly (and stay on all day). Packed with antioxidants as well as vitamins C and E, it’s an excellent option for both oily and dry complexions. And if you’re in the mood to experiment, you can combine a small amount with loose powder eyeshadow to create a creamy, highly saturated eyeshadow that stays put for hours.

5. No surprise here, I saved the best for last. To say that Laura Mercier Foundation Primer in Radiance is perfection in a tube is an understatement. Formulated with vitamins A, C and E as well as skin-softening Jojoba, this creamy water-based primer both moisturizes and smooths skin flawlessly. It also boosts radiance, giving you an enviable glow that seems to emanate from within. (Strangers have commented that my skin is glowing when I wear this.) Guys, seriously, this one is amazing. And the best part? It’s frequently available as one of the 100-point rewards at Sephora, so I’ve never had to splurge on a full size tube.

Do you have a favorite primer? I’d love to hear your recommendations!

♥ Mil

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