Name: Rebecca

Age: 45

Where I live: Oakland, CA (across the Bay from San Francisco)

My relationship with makeup: Reformed.  I’ve been in a love/hate relationship with makeup since puberty.  I grew up wishing I could wear makeup like my older sisters did, but I wasn’t allowed until I was sixteen.  For a while, I would sneak my sisters’ old and discarded eye makeup and blushes (gross, and so not the right shades for me) and apply them on the school bus, wiping it all off on the way home.  When I was finally allowed to wear makeup, I was in a phase of not wearing much.  I went back and forth several times over the years, with periods of wearing or not wearing color.  But I always had some type of concealer.  For many years, I only used makeup to cover up my real or perceived imperfections.  As if the circles under my eyes or big zits were less noticeable with makeup.  When I discovered mineral makeup in my thirties things took a positive turn, and I was also taking better care of myself, which showed in my skin.  Then when I went clean a few years ago, I learned to love makeup.  I still use it partly for concealing, but mostly for enhancing now.

I have a ton of stuff, though I don’t wear much all at once.  I always use a light, protective base.  Color wise, I’ve been doing two looks lately:

1.  Illuminator for lashes, lids, cheekbones, and just a touch under the eye, plus cheek and lip color.

2.  Mascara, illuminator for eyes and cheeks (sometimes it’s good to embrace the pale), and maybe a subtle lip color.

The products:

Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular CC Cream: Daily SPF is critical in my skin brightening routine, and CC in Natural Glow is perfection for me.

Alima Pure Satin Matte Foundation: I apply this under eyes, on lids, and any blemishes with their Concealer Brush.  It covers perfectly, and only requires a light touch to do its job, which means no creasing.  My shade is Olive 1, and they have such a variety I think anyone could find a match.

DIY Finishing Powder: Equal parts Alima foundation, kaolin clay, arrowroot powder, and rice powder applied all over (including around eyes) with a flat kabuki brush gives a nice finish, retaining the look of bare skin that’s neither dry nor oily.

RMS unpowder: The teensiest bit of this gem applied to just my forehead with a Lili Lolo baby buki brush means absolutely no excess shine, ever.  No matter what.  I’m pretty dry at my age, so I wouldn’t use this on the rest of my face, but I highly recommend experimenting with this if shine is ever an issue for you.

Ilia Illuminator: Polka Dots & Moonbeams is my standard, but the slightly more golden, limited edition Cosmic Dancer is lighting up my eyes and cheekbones lately.  The Ilia illuminators are perfect for lashes on no mascara days.

RMS Buriti Bronzer and RMS Lip-to-Cheek in Diabolique: I am obsessed with these right now.  They compliment each other and also layer amazingly well (either work on cheeks or lips).  I have never been into bronzers, but when Buriti launched I had to try it.  On cheeks, it doesn’t look like I’m faking a tan, just like I’m not my typical True Blood vampire pale.  On lips, it is the perfect nude-ish, almost-shimmer shade.  And I love Diabolique so much, I had to buy a second jar since it’s a limited edition.  It’s my current favorite for a bolder lip.  I find the color stays on cheeks the full day when layered over Buriti, otherwise it will fade somewhat over the course of the day, as with most cream blush.

Ilia mascaras: I was so excited about Ilia’s mascaras when the new phenoxy free formula came out that I was wearing mascara every day for a while (when I had gone months/years without).  It’s fun to change up the color, and Asphalt Jungle and Macao are both lovely.

Afterglow’s Perfecting Under Eye Concealer: I’m experimenting with this a bit lately, using the palest shade, Meringue.  I like just a touch under the eyes, and a light brush of my usual Alima foundation over it.  It’s a good option for brightening without the finish of an illuminator, and I love that it has de-puffing and anti-aging ingredients.

Some long-standing faves that will eventually be back in the rotation are Alima blushes (like Apple Blossom), Juice Beauty’s Irresistable Glow Highlighter and RMS eye shadows (like Karma, Magnetic, and Solar).  My other Ilia lipsticks/conditioners/crayons make occasional appearances too (Ink Pot, Lust For Life, Femme Fatale, Desert Angel, These Days, Come Undone, Dress You Up).  Huh.  I think I may have an addiction there.

What’s in your makeup bag this time of year?

Need a break from preparing for the holidays? Relax with this lovely routine from Ariel. It’s delicious.
Name: Ariel
Age: 27
City: Portland, Maine
Current weather: Frosty with snow flurries
Skin: Sensitive, combination skin. Fair and freckled.
Hair: Light brunette, chin-length bob
Favorite star: Georgia O’Keeffe. I admire her creativity and connection to the natural world.
In the shower…
Here in Maine where we have such frigid winters, I especially like to start my day with a hot shower. Although I adore my John Masters hair products, on most days I use Shikai Volumizing Shampoo and Everyday Conditioner because it’s easier on my wallet. For soap, my favorite is Leap Organics Lavender — smells like a lavender field! I cleanse my face with Origins Checks and Balances, which is frothy and gentle. For years I have been using Kiss My Face unscented shave cream. It doesn’t bother my sensitive skin and creates a smooth glide for my razor.
Outside the shower…
Lately I’ve been moisturizing with Farmaesthetics Midnight Honey Body Oil when I get out of the shower. It has a subtle scent and leaves my dry winter legs feeling soft.  On my face, I use Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Toner and Pai Geranium & Thistle Cream, which both smell like a greenhouse and get me in a good mood.

I then put on my cozy plaid robe and have some oatmeal and green tea while snuggling with my cat before doing my hair and makeup. It’s my time to relax before my hectic workday begins.

To do my hair, I spray it with Yarok Feed Your Ends, which reminds me of mint and lemon drops. Then I work through a small drop of Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair from roots to ends. This smooths my hair and makes it more manageable before blowdrying and brushing.
Each season I find products I’m gaga over and then get into a routine where I wear almost the same thing every day for a few months. This fall and winter, I start with Dr. Hauschka Translucent Makeup. This evens out my complexion, but isn’t heavy at all, and I love the herbal scent of it. Most days I top this off with a dusting of Laura Mercier’s loose powder, and pat on some RMS Uncoverup under my eyes. My blush is Mineral Fusion in the color Pale, which is a flattering way to give natural-looking color to a pasty face! On my lashes I wear Tarte’s Amazonian Clay Mascara. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll put on a wash of Bare Minerals eyeshadow in Vanilla Sugar on my lids and line my eyes with Alima Pure’s Denali, which is the perfect color for hazel eyes. On my lips I wear Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner in Arabian Knights, a lovely berry red for the holiday season.
Thanks for sharing Ariel! Love the sound of the Midnight Honey Body Oil and cuddling with cats, too.

I’ve always had trouble with mascara, though I don’t feel my needs are overly demanding.  I have dark lashes, but I enjoy some additional volume.  Plus, color that stands out all the way to the tips would be nice.  I don’t want to look “made up,” but rather put together and polished.  Maybe mascara is just a difficult cosmetic, or maybe it’s my inept application technique.  In spite of having a mother and two older sisters who were very into makeup, I never received any instruction.  I also seem to have a face that changes drastically as color is added.  As a result, it’s easy to go too far, and in moments I can go from fresh-faced to Marge-Simpson-with-the-makeup-gun-set-on-whore*.

My misspent youth saw my lashes slathered in every dirty drugstore brand out there.  There were a few years with no mascara, or a clear formula.  Right before I went clean, my favorite was Bare Minerals Flawless Definition.  Even that, though, I couldn’t wear on my bottom lashes without smudging or just looking silly.  Add to this my sensitive nature.  With many mascaras, even natural ones, my eyes burn.  Or there’s an icky scent and I can literally smell my eyelashes all day.  Then there’s that awful hyper-awareness of my lashes that happens with many brands.  Plus, of course, the standard smudging/flaking/raccoon eyes thing (In spite of my dryish skin, I’m an oily lid girl).

For well over a year, I’ve been routinely going without mascara, except for some playing with a couple of newish colors from Real Purity.  Violet lashes are not really an every day look, though.

Then this fall, Ilia launched a new phenoxyethanol-free formula, in four beautiful colors.  Cut to me wearing mascara again.

What’s to love:

  • Short length handle is easy to maneuver
  • Rubbery brush gives easy, smooth application
  • Brush has short bristles on one side and long on the other, so you can flip it around to reach different bits of lashes
  • Dries fast and is layerable
  • Lashes stay soft, not stiff (especially with only one coat)
  • Nice balance of volume and length
  • Insanely gorgeous and unique colors
  • Essentially no scent

With Ilia mascara, I don’t look in the mirror and say, “Wow, look at those lashes.”  I say, “Wow, my eyes look pretty.”

There’s enough volume to make it worthwhile even with one coat, and length as well, while still working for every day.  Layering, while not usually my thing, will give you a more powerful and glamorous look.  After some experimenting, two light coats on top lashes and one on the bottom is ideal for my tastes.  I have not yet had a smudge, and learning to apply carefully has left me nearly flake free.  At the end of a work day, it still looks good.  There’s a flake or two if I rub my eyes a lot or take a nap in it.  I have not had a good cry or a rainy day in it yet, but I do often mist Lotus Wei on my face with no problems.

Okay, so we have to talk about the colors.  My hazel eyes LOVE Macao, which is a coppery shade that is so much more fun than a standard brown.  It adds soft emphasis and brings out the green in my eyes.  Asphalt Jungle is charcoal goodness, and simply THE perfect color for those like me who think true black is just too much, but are bored with brown/black shades.  Nightfall is the blackest black I’ve ever used in a mascara, and surprisingly, I like its richness.  This color is a one-coater for me, too intense for daytime with more coats.  So you ladies looking for more va-va-voom may love it.  I can wear all of these colors on my bottom lashes with no trouble, and they all wash off with my usual cleanser.

Who’s tried the new Ilia formula?  From what I’ve heard, it’s quite different from the brand’s first shot at mascara.

*check this out about 45 seconds in for a classic Simpsons moment

Say hello to Jinna! Her routine includes some incredible goodies, but she relies first and foremost on a clean diet for glowing skin. Enjoy!

Name: Jinna

Age: 31

City: Los Angeles, CA

Current Weather: Sunny and dry, with a slight fall chill in the air

Skin: Combination, though my skin has stayed clear and glowing since I cut out dairy and meat from my diet (with the exception of 2-3 “treat’ meals per week). Starting to notice crows feet creeping up though!

Hair: black, long, straight, and fine

Favorite star from past: Jane Birkin. Love her effortless, natural look and Parisian chic.

I am a natural product skincare and makeup junkie and after years of rotating products I have found, for the most part, what consistently works for me (though I can’t resist trying a few new products here and there!)

In the shower…

I dry brush for 2-3 minutes (or even less if I’m in a rush!) before jumping in the shower. Before, I used to swear by dry shampoo and washing my hair every other day, but have since realized that my fine hair gets too oily, especially because I work out every day. I have yet to find a shampoo and conditioner that I’m in love with, and I’ve tried them all: Yarok, Phylia de M., John Masters Organics, Rahua, etc. I’m currently rotating between Rahua Voluminous Shampoo and Burdock and Neem Healthy Scalp shampoo.  Both work fine for now, but I will definitely be on the lookout for something new once I use these up. Three times a week I do a pre ‘poo treatment of coconut or jojoba oil for 1 hour before shampooing out. I find that since I wash my hair daily, it does a good job of keeping it from getting too dry. On the days I don’t do the oil treatment, I rinse my hair with apple cider vinegar in the shower after shampooing and before conditioning. I’ve found that both have improved the overall health of my scalp and hair. For body wash, I use Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castille soap, which multitasks as hand soap and puppy shampoo!  While my skin is slightly damp, I moisturize all over with One Love Organics Scented Body Serum in Lavender.

Outside the shower…

After brushing my teeth, I oil pull with a spoonful of coconut oil for about 10 minutes. I’ve read that the recommended time is 20 minutes, but I just can’t bring myself to do it for that long! While I’m swishing, I exfoliate my face every other morning with Tatcha Polishing Powder in Classic, though I have May Lindstrom’s Clean Dirt waiting as soon as I finish the Tatcha. On the mornings I don’t exfoliate I wipe my face with S.W. Basics cleanser and finish with a splash of cold water. Next, I dab a few drops of Intelligent Nutrients Spot Treatment over my face. After that’s dried, I use One Love Organics Active Moisture Vitamin C serum. This is a recent discovery and I absolutely love it. It makes my skin look dewy and glowing while keeping it moisturized. Since the weather has gotten much drier and as previously mentioned, I’ve started noticing unwanted wrinkles, I decided to bite the bullet and purchase 37 Extreme Actives cream. Yes it is obscenely expensive, which is why I use it only under my eyes and mouth, but as my mother always said, don’t feel too guilty about splurging on food or skincare since you will get a return on your investment. I haven’t been using it long enough to decide if it’s worth the price but so far, I love the feel of the cream on my skin and how hydrated it feels afterward. If I’m noticing my skin getting a little oily, I swipe Arcona’s Tabula Rasa pad over the area, which pretty much stops any pimples from forming.


I started using 100% Pure full coverage foundation (thanks for this website’s recommendation!) and I also love it. It’s the only product that provides sun protection and coverage without irritating my sensitive skin. If I’m especially tired that day, I will also use RMS “Un” Cover-Up under my eyes. I rotate among many blushes: Kjaer Weis in Sun Touched, Vapour in Spark, RMS in Modest, and Revolution Organics in Blushed, just to name a few. So far, my favorite is the Revolution Organics, as it leaves a nice pink flush to my cheeks. For eyeliner, I use an eyeliner brush and The All Natural Face’s Vegan Gel Pot in Black. I LOVE this product, as it’s the only eyeliner that doesn’t smudge and give me raccoon eyes. Once that’s dry, if I’m feeling fancy, I use either RMS in Solar or Magnetic on my lids. For mascara, I use (not in love with this and will be looking for alternatives once it runs out).  For lips, I absolutely love Ilia and have 4 colors: Bang Bang, In My Room, Perfect Day, and Arabian Knights. All the colors are so different and equally great, but the only one I carry in my purse is Bang Bang.  I set everything with RMS “Un” Powder and then swipe some RMS Living Luminizer (can you guess what my favorite makeup brand is?) on my brow bone, nose bridge, and cheeks. I also spritz my face with a spray before leaving. Right now, I’m using John Master Organics Bearberry Skin Balancing Toning Mist, but I have One Love Organics Vitamin D mist on standby once that’s used up.

Whew!  I know it looks long, but by now I’ve got it down to a quick science.  Coupled with a plant-based diet, I have seen such an improvement in the overall tone and texture of my skin. Thanks for letting me share!

This isn’t the first time these two brands have slugged it out on my vanity.  Remember last summer’s highlighter battle? Now fall brings us a new reason to quibble over who’s more awesome.  A deep berry/burgundy lip is very of-the-moment (or at least it was at the writing of this post).  I was quite excited to see this seasonal trend, because I’m a tough nut when it comes to any color described as red or berry.  Everything wants to be pink on this pale olive gal, and I’m not super fond of pink.  But this time the craze is a shade I can wear.  Look at me, following a trend!  A rare event, indeed.  I snapped up my fave brands’ versions and put them to the test.

Ilia and RMS are always high quality products with sleek packaging, so it was impossible to choose just one to try.  Here’s how they compare (Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner vs. RMS Lip-to-Cheek):

Cost: $24 vs. $36

top: Ilia Lust For Life, bottom: RMS Diabolique

Packaging: Stick vs. Pot

Vegan? Both have bee products, but are otherwise vegan

Scent: Slightly fragranced (vanilla) vs. No discernable scent

For the coconut oil sensitive: None vs. It’s the first ingredient on the list

Color: Sheer yet buildable vs. Less sheer and still buildable

Type of pigment: A bit of synthetic pigment vs. Nothing synthetic

Texture/Finish: A little glossy vs. Velvety/matte, both reasonably moisturizing but a balm is a good idea over or under each

Lasting power: Good vs. A bit better (both wear to a pretty stain)

The verdict?  Well, I’ve changed my mind about three times since I bought them.  There are no losers here.  In the swatch, it looks like Ilia has a bit more berry and RMS a bit more brick going on, but it really depends on the lighting.  They are incredibly close in color, but on my lips, I feel like RMS is a touch more purple.  Right now, I’m more into a matte finish, so RMS Diabolique has the edge.  I think the RMS is also somewhat more versatile.  The tiniest bit applied looks quite different from when it’s layered.  I prefer both colors when pressed into the lips rather than swiped on.  The RMS pot is convenient for this, but, hey, nobody’s stopping you from using your finger or a lip brush with Ilia’s stick.

Have you tried these colors?  Is another brand helping you work this trend?