Skincare Review: Paula's Choice CLEAR Acne System

I've struggled with acne since I was about 21 (now 33) and have used practically everything out there. I was recently  prescribed spironolactone for hormonal acne, and had good results, but I don't like taking prescription meds and they made me feel lethargic, so I am back to using topical products to control my breakouts. I recently purchased this CLEAR Regular Strength acne system from Paula Begoun's skincare line titled, Paula's Choice. I use several of her other products and I love them (from the Resist Anti-Aging line) so I decided it wouldn't hurt to try this. So far I have had great results and my monthly pimples are clearing up. The best part is that my skin is not overdry, which is what happens when I use ProActive (even with moisturizer) and almost every other acne regimen I have tried. I have been using some moisturizer samples that I recieved with my purchase and will probably be purchasing a moisturizer from Paula in the near future. I have acne prone sensitive dry skin. My skin type is so hard to deal with because I am dry, yet moisturizers tend to break me out. I also have to deal with some melasma and I am in my early 30's so i am concerned with aging as well. i feel like i combine every product out there!
We'll see how it goes!
I think this system is probably the best that I have used so far. I am comparing this to some other regimens I have tried that include:
MD Forte now known as Vivite - too expensive, confusing if you pick the products yourself- u need a doc or esthetician
Exposed Skincare Acne Kit - pretty good actually.. but expensive, and too many steps
ProActive -too drying
Differin - hated
Tazorac HATED
Retin-A Micro good results but instead of acne i had peely/crusty face all the time
Atralin (tretinoin) -HATED!
Accutane cleared up ONLY cystic acne. I did 2 rounds of this drug hoping it would completely clear my skin and I would never get another breakout again... nope!
Ortho-Tricyclen- HATED made me fat and broke me out more!
Yasmin- this BC pill worked for my acne but it gave me MELASMA! Will it ever end??!??
Spironolactone - worked great but made me feel very lethargic. It is supposed to lower your blood pressure, but mine is already low. Not worth it.
I've also used countless other products I am too lazy to write about!
For now I have my acne under control with Paula's CLEAR, plus Tri-Luma cream 2-3x/week for my melasma. Plus lots of CeravĂ© moisturizer and sunscreen (of course)!

*Decent price $46.85 for all 3 products. the cleanser is bigger than ProActive, the toner is the same size. You get much more Benzoyl Peroxide lotion than with Proactive. This kit will pbly last 2-3 months.
* No yucky smell whatsoever!
* None so far!


Be Smart. Don't waste your $ CASH $ on yet another crappy product!

I HIGHLY recommend researching skincare, makeup & beauty products before you buy!
Get informed about skincare, especially your skin type, and problems that you may be experiencing. This will save you lots of cash in the long run.
Here are some Resources:
DERMAdoctor.com search 'articles'. Dr. Audrey Kunin is a dermatologist and has a great, informative website that addresses every skincare problem you can imagine. She also sells her own line of great skincare products.
Paula Begoun cosmeticscop.com Subscribe to her 'Beauty Bulletins'. She also has a radio talkshow - I post her sessions on this blog! I love Paula Begoun and I use many of her skincare products. She is very no-nonsense and does thorough research.
MakeUpAlley.com "Street Smart Beauty" is a database of real chicks reviewing makeup & skincare products giving honest opinions
Beautypedia.com Paula Begoun's list of thousands of makeup and skincare reviews compiled into an easily searchable database. Requires a yearly membership fee. I have a promo code so you can get 50% a year subscription. use the code BP50 as your Promo Code. After the discount it would cost $12.50 for a year. SO WORTH IT!
Sephora.com Reviews. Sephora stocks a ton of products. reading their reviews will get you some great real-life feedback.
Skin Deep Cosmetic Ingredients Database - for Ingredient Safety info. (This is NOT a substitute for the FDA) I have issues with this site because I think they abuse the fear factor. Fear is always the best marketing tool. Take this site with a grain of salt b/c it seems a little fanatical. No one can possibly avoid using all of their listed potentially harmful ingredients. It would be freaking impossible. Also, they mention "harmful" ingredients to avoid but don't state exactly why or site (link) tests, exactly where they gathered their specific information, or any other tangible evidence most smart people like to know! Nevertheless, it is still a good site to keep mindful of these ingredients, and I do think they genuinely want to inform people of potential dangers. Afterall, cosmetics are not strictly regulated by the FDA. Form your own opinion.
CaringConsumer.com search guide for cruelty-free companies and products. (Get a free pocket-size list from PeTA here)

Paula Begoun, The Original Beauty Bible (3rd edition) covers everything you would ever want to know about skincare, cosmetics, plastic surgery & cosmetic dermatology.
Ruth Winter, A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients A more down to earth/scientific guide about cosmetics ingredients including potentially harmful ones

You could/should also read my blog and tell all your friends to read it too!!


The Kevyn Aucoin Project: The Innocent

For those of you who don't know who Kevyn Aucoin is - he is one of the most popular makeup artists in history. He died in 2002, but left behind a legacy in books and in beauty. The first book I ever bought about makeup was Kevyn's The Art of Makeup. He really inspired me as a youngin' way back in the day when i used to pluck all my girlfriend's eyebrows at the lunch table in High School and used all my allowance to buy Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent makeup.

As maybe sort of an "homage" to Kevyn I've decided a fun makeup project would be to do all of Kevyn's looks in the "Great Looks" section of the book Making Faces. There are 24 looks i will be re-creating over the next few weeks/months..i dunno. I'll take it as it comes!

I will follow the directions exactly as Kevyn describes them in his book and post my results.

 "Throughout history every culture has had it's icons, those brave and extraordinary souls whose exceptional talent and passion have heplped us find our dreams. These icons have, for the most part, shaped our definition of beauty. From "The Innocent" to "The Temptress", from "The Showgirl" to "The Mimimalist", history has given us so many choices for inspiration." - Kevyn Aucoin

PROJECT 1: The Innocent

1. Kevyn says to first groom the brows and fill in where necessary. Did that with MAC brow powder in blonde
2. Apply shimmery liquid foundation- I used LORAC natural performance foundation in NP2 mixed with Benefit's High Beam shimmer liquid after I concealed with Make Up For Ever Full Coverage Cocealer in Flesh 2 under my eyes and on my pimples.
3. Dot pink cream blush onto apples of the cheek, temples and chin and blend. I used MAC Blushcreme in Posey
4. Apply white iridescent creme shadow on the entire eyelid. I used Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow Quartet in 711 black magic and used the white one.
5. Brush brown creme eyeshadow in the crease and under the eye. I used Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow Quartet in 720 Moonlit Jewels and used the brown one.
6. Curl lashes and apply black mascara. I used Japonesque precision lash curler and Revlon FabuLash mascara
7. Outline the lips with fleshtoned pencil and soften. I used MAC Spice
8. Apply clear gloss. I used Smith's Rosebud Salve

And here's my results

The resulting look was a very natural "innocent" look indeed. The pic of Tori Amos in Kevyn's book hardly resembles my makeup even though I followed his directions perfectly. This just goes to show you how much photography and lighting can play a part.
Also, in the pic of Tori, it looks like she has on grey eyeshadow, not brown.


DIY: How to make your own custom lipstick palette

I have soooo many lipsticks and it is hard to keep them all organized in my kit so instead of buying an empty pro lipstick palette (expensive..there is a japonesque one for $26!) i just go to michael's or jo-ann fabrics and get small-medium sized compartmentalized plastic bins and make my own palettes.


1. ArtBins #918AB $4.99 (this brand is my fave b/c they are made of thick sturdy durable plastic) or any other bead storage, paint storage organizer. Check out the selections at the craft stores. make sure they are thick and sturdy!
2. a labeler that prints laminated / waterproof labels - i got mine at Costco
OR dot label stickers -  (you can laminate them with modge-podge) to label your lipsticks on the palette for easy reference

3. Modge Podge ( a water based clear sealer - get at any craft store) and sponge (i used a makeup sponge)
3. A knife

4. A microwave

5. and of course LIPSTICKS

1. Take a lipstick and carefully peel the label off the top or bottom (if possible) i used my nails or a knife.

2. then place the sticker center to the palette "well" on the underside of the palette
3. roll up the entirety of the lipstick and cut it off at the base over the corresponding well. then throw away the lipstick tube & cap
4. repeat steps 2 & 3 until you fill up your palette

 5. This step is optional! if you keep your lipstcks in their original form in the palette they will move around and get a little messy. if you want to melt them to get them to stay put, stick a full palette in the microwave for 1 minute & 30 seconds. time may vary- watch closely. take lipsticks out when they are melted. don't let them bubble/boil.
note: some lipsticks, depending on the formula, will not melt as easily as others.

6. carefully stick palette in freezer for 10 minutes then remove. make sure the lipsticks don't move/are still wet!

7. get out your modge podge and paint/sponge a thin layer over the lipstick label stickers on the underside of the palette . this step preserves your stickers and keeps them from peeling off or getting damaged by water
it will dry to a clear finish in about 15 minutes

8. next you can label your palette with the labeler. i labeled this one by brand- NYX LIPS

If you cannot peel the lipstick label off the lipstick tube (this is hard to do with MAC lipsticks i've found), you can just make a small label then stick it on the underside of the palette just the same way (or use a dot sticker and write the brand and name, then modge-podge it to seal)
here's another palette i made of "miscellaneous" lipsticks
i decided not to melt these


Before & After Shaneice

This is my neighbor, Shaneice. I was going for a 40's Glam Billie Holiday look.

Here are the products I used:
Make Up For Ever HD Foundation Primer
Concealer-MAC Select  Cover NC45
Foundation-Revlon Colorstay Combo/Oily Skin in 400 Caramel
Bare Escentuals Tinted Mineral Veil
NARS blush in Exhibit A
Urban Decay Primer Potion
Revlon Illuminance Creme Shadow Quartet in Not Just Nudes 710
Bare Escentuals Eye Shadow in True Gold
NYX shadow palette in Smokey Eye (Black Shadow) and Catwalk (Gold shadow)
MAC fluidline in Blacktrack on top
Rimmel Spark it Up! eyeliner in Tiger's Eye on bottom and in waterline
Ardell False Eyelashes #110 w/Duo adhesive
MAC brow duo in charcoal
Benefit lip liner in Gypsy
MAC lipstick in Fresh Moroccan mixed with
NYX lipstick in Black Cherry
topped with NYX gloss in Plush Red

Oscar's 2010 Best Makeup


Essie Tart Deco Knockoff - Essence Colour and Go Nailpolish in What Do U Think? I think YES.

i have been intrigued by this new line, essence,  at ULTA for a while now. the line seems to be geared towards tweens and teens (this says to me, "crappy cheap makeup...avoid") with their 'moxie girl' cartoon character advertising. regardless, i decided to buy one of their products...colour and go nailpolish. this color What Do U Think? $.99 (YES $1!) really caught my eye for spring and is fairly similar to the new Essie Tart Deco color for spring 2010.

pastels are so hot right now.
The essence bottle claims "1 second per nail' and it was pretty much true. it dried fast but looks a tad streaky and thick. you will need 3 coats. so it's really more like 3 seconds per nail, but for $1 i can deal!

no animal testing! and they make a big deal about it on their website...love that!

i will def be reviewing more of this line in the future.

2 Smashbox O-Gloss Knockoffs!

the original smashbox o-gloss $22, black radiance perfect tone lip gloss $4.99, and mark glossblossom $6.50

i love smashbox o-gloss. the texture is divine, it smells delish and the extra goji berry c complex makes me happy. the price, however, does not. i just can't be spending $22 on a lip gloss. especially when there are some great cheap alternatives out there!

i was at walgreens the other day because they were having a great sale on revlon colorstay foundations (LOVE) and i noticed this black radiance perfect tone lipgloss. for $4.99 i decided what the heck?! i had previously purchased the mark glossblossom online and loved it but left the tube in the pocket of my jeans and yes, washed them. idiot. not only was my glossblossom peril to this tragedy but many of my clothes were victims also. i hate buying just one product online and paying for the shipping. i am a cheapster coupon queen and fanagled a way to get free shipping but jeez-it's just a pain in the rear...then you have to wait for it to arrive. i have no patience!
anyhoo, i am thrilled to find this black radiance lip gloss at the local walgreens. easy AND cheap. does it get any better? the black radiance lip gloss does not smell as nice or have the great texture that o-gloss and glossblossom have, but it has the exact same effect- a perfectly pinky peach just bitten lip color custom made for you. i love the color it produces. i like it for that no makeup 'i am naturally gorg' (wink wink) look.
according to the black radiance web site you can purchase their products at k-mart, walgreens, rite-aid and wal mart. 

mark glossblossom can be purchased online here or through your local avon/mark rep.

if you like to waste your cash for the brand name status and cute packaging (no judgement- i do it all the time!) go to sephora or ULTA to get smashbox o-gloss.

none of these products are tested on animals. mark glossblossom and smashbox o-gloss are paraben free.
black radiance lip gloss has propylparaben in it and they all have artificial coloring


Besties: Japonesque Eyelash Curler

JAPONESQUE Precision Lash Curler $12
i got mine at ULTA
for precision curling
easy to use and manipulate
small and compact
comes with 2 silicone pad refills (attached to the curler - see pic)
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