This past January, I bought my first pair of red shoes*.  I quickly realized that I needed more.  Fortunately, I love to shop for a bargain.  With spring fully in gear, I have hunted and gathered my way to a few pairs.  For casual days, I love them with faded ankle-length skinny jeans.  And red lips.

The Red Shoes: I am insanely in love with my pointy-toe red flats and ankle boots (not pictured) from Frye.  The only eco-fashion thing I can say about them is they last for freaking ever.  Not cheap, but if you are patient you can find them on sale.  And this pair of Converse canvas sneakers does the red shoe thing in playground casual (more support than the standard Chucks, too).

The Skinny Jeans: I’ve long been a Levi’s kind of gal, but I recently discovered Henry & Belle jeans.  They make super soft, super stretchy, comfortable jeans, in lots of colors and styles.  And – bonus – a portion of every sale goes to a variety of good causes, such as Every Mother Counts and Girls on the Run.  I like to order from Melange, which has great sales, a cute blog, free shipping and superior customer service.  To top those jeans, they also carry great organic cotton brands like Prairie Underground and Raw Earth Wild Sky.

The Red Lips: Still working for spring are my fall reds – RMS Diabolique and Ilia Femme Fatale.  I’ve also recently discovered Alima Pure’s Lip Tints, which are immense chocolately improvements on the old peppermint formula.  I can’t tolerate peppermint on my lips, so I was thrilled to try the new tints.  Cranberry is a warm burgundy that really has enough pigment to wear as a lipstick, though it feels like a balm.  The glossier Holly Berry is a spiced rose that is super subtle.  I’m loving wearing the RMS or Ilia pressed into well-moisturized lips like a stain, with one of the Alima tints over as a balm.  I generally like to put a balm over my lipstick, but sometimes a clear balm kind of sucks the color away.  These tints are a perfect topper, and can handle a touch-up on their own when I don’t have time for a full reapplication.

Just some Ilia illuminator around my eyes and RMS bronzer on my cheeks finishes my barely-made-up spring face.

One More Thing: Those exposed ankles are going to need some glow…easily provided by my old favorite, May Lindstrom’s The Good Stuff, and my new favorite, Yuli’s Harmony.  Or, try one of my other favorite body oils.

What are your spring inspirations?

*actually, my first was a pair of Adidas sneakers in the mid-nineties, but I’m not counting that right now

Oh to be Lola’s friend so we could play makeup together! Rest assured, we would never fault you for your RMS habit, darling.

Name: Lola

Age: 36

Where I live: Brooklyn

My relationship with makeup: evolved with time. My parents didn’t let me wear makeup, so I would wait until my mother left for work and sneak a swipe of her khaki-gold eye pencil before leaving for school (I’m still a little obsessed with that color). I started college at 16 and became a club kid, which meant lots of glitter everything. Then, an absolutely remarkable makeup artist at the very first MAC store on Gay Street taught me the art of the eye makeup and I became the girl who would spend 40 minutes and use 5 eye shadows to achieve the “no makeup” look. These days, I’m a busy working mother and can’t be bothered with any makeup at all on a daily basis, but I still love a dramatic eye for a night out. I also love to experiment with color—mostly on my eyes. My mother (who has amazing skin) instilled in me a hatred of foundation, so I’m a big fan of the bare-skinned look and limit myself to concealer and tinted moisturizer. Whatever happens in my own life, though, I love the artistry of makeup and its transformative power.

I clearly have a bit of an RMS habit. I use the un-coverup in 22 as concealer/spot-foundation, the living luminizer, a bunch of the shadows (solar, karma and magnetic), the buriti bronzer, the lip shine in Sublime and the Lip-to-Cheek in Diabolique, which is a perfect and much more wearable dupe for my old dirty fave Armani lipstick, which I offloaded on my mum. I also use the Un-powder, but it doesn’t fit into my makeup bag.

Eyes: I love the RMS shadows—they are just so easy. I either do a smokey eye using karma and magnetic, alone or together or load up on solar and the Luminizer for a soft, glowing look. I still use my dirty Armani eyeliner and Eyes to Kill mascara. I’m anxiously awaiting some reviews of the new RMS mascara because I’m hoping it might replace the Armani. The little black tool on the right of the Luminizer is my Japonesque travel eyelash curler. I can’t live without that thing. I used to be a Shu Uemura curler acolyte, but this little thing is sooo much better and easier to control, plus it’s super-portable.

Skin: I just ordered the Ilia powder (that’s the fat metallic tube) and I’m so thrilled with it. I love brushes preloaded with powder. It’s perfect for getting rid of excess shine, yet leaves my skin soft, dewy and not-at-all dry. It’s colorless, just like the Un-powder, so I imagine it would suit most complexions. I do still like the Un-powder as well, so I tend to alternate between the two. The Suntegrity 5-in-1 is the only bit of makeup I wear every day. I love the texture and the color and it’s loaded with fabulous ingredients. It provides light coverage, but I really don’t need anything much heavier and it never settles into fine lines or looks dry. Finally, the Buriti bronzer is something I use on special occasions (unlike the Luminizer, which is my night out staple) and I love how subtle it is.

Lips: For lips, aside from the RMS, I mostly use Hurraw balms, but I love the Yuli Lip Treatment (it makes a great moisturizing base for the somewhat drying Diabolique) and the Ilia White Rabbit lip gloss (it’s perfectly sparkly and makes me happy).

The last parts of my makeup bag are my natural fragrances and essential oils. Here I have the Leilani Bishop Lilac roll-on, the Essence of Vali perfume, the H. Gillerman tension remedy (awesome for headaches and I get tons of compliments on the smell) and the EoV Calm Spray. I’ve a lot more oils in my arsenal, so I rotate them depending on where I’m going and how I’m feeling. Oh, and the pretty, floral makeup bag is from Liberty in London. I have a matching, larger toiletries bag and I am obsessed with them. Having a nice cosmetic bag really does make packing so much ore pleasant!

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