First Blush

Beauty & Health, First Blush

Primer, Powder, Papers & Eye Shadow that Pops!

By Genevieve LeFranc All year long I yearn for summer’s arrival. It’s the perfect season for so many things—backyard barbeques, eating al fresco and festive fireworks. Everyone has an extra spring in their pedicured step from the sunshine and long days. However, once we round the corner into the oft-blistering August heat, each of us looks forward to cooler weather, and no longer having to deal with our makeup literally melting off our faces. As a makeup junkie, I often find myself struggling in the summer months when it comes to my cosmetic routine. I want to look as polished as usual, but often find my typical regime to be too much in the muggy humidity and temperamental climate. Now is the time to ditch heavy layers of makeup. August can be one of the most brutal months of all, so you’ll want to keep your makeup nice and light. The last thing you want is a muddled, caked-on look that’s sliding by noon; and the more makeup you put on, the more is at risk of melting off. While most of us know how to treat our skin during the far more forgiving climate of autumn, keeping your makeup in place during the scorching heat of summer seems impossible. But follow my tips for the stay-in-place essentials you’ll need to give your makeup a fighting chance withstanding soaring temperatures, and you’ll be sure to beat the heat. Wear Primer I started using primer on a regular basis for a more polished finish to my makeup, and summer is when primer is most certainly not an option. Primer is the key to long-lasting foundation and color, and all you need is a pea-size dot of a lightweight, oil-free formula to help blot away oil and prevent sweating. Try MAC Prep…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Oily Skin + DC Humidity = Complexion Havoc

By Kim Putens Oily skin combined with 100% humidity in Washington DC equals havoc.  It doesn’t, however, have to reach havoc stage if you follow these simple tips: Tip 1 – Keep oily skin balanced by washing right.  Make sure to use the right type of face wash to break down oils but not dry it out.  When we see a breakout, our first reaction is to reach for the benzyl peroxide and dry it out.  While you may see instant gratification, the problem is your skin will have a complete breakout meltdown shortly thereafter.  The reason is the over drying caused by the harsh response makes the skin produce more oils to compensate for the attempt to dry it out.  Thus, the skin experiences more and worse breakouts.   The best way to combat this is to use a cleanser with at least 2% salicylic acid.  The salicylic acid will clean out the pores of the excess oil, but will not dry it out. Tip 2 – Lighten up on your night cream.  No matter your skin type, the extreme humidity of summer makes it unnecessary to use heavy moisturizers.   The general rule of thumb – if you use a cream in the winter, switch to a lotion.  If you typically use a lotion, consider a hydrating serum.  And, if your skin is extremely oily, you may not need a lotion at all. Tip 3 – Exfoliate and slough off dead skin cells and clean out pores.  Using a physical exfoliation once a week will help to relieve the skin of dead cells and unclog pores.  For even better results, follow the exfoliation with a mask.  Clay masks are best – particularly during summer months – because the clay works to suck out impurities in the pores that lead to…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Introduce Your Pop to Some Product

By Kim Putens Father’s Day is around the corner.  Instead of the same tired “ole tie”, why not treat him to some products he’ll use every day.  While many of us associate “products” with beauty and women, it’s a fact that many men use “products” too.  Let’s face it, they need to wash their hair, shave, and take care of their skin, just like women.  So, what do you get a man?  Here are some tips on products men like to use and what to look for. To start, let’s consider the face.  Most men need to shave every day, unless they are choosing to grow out their beard.  When choosing shaving products, there are a few things to consider.  Most shaving products come in 3 different forms – shave oil, shaving cream or shaving gel.  Shave oils are great for smoothing out a rough beard to give a very close shave.  Shaving creams are great for all skin types, except those with the oiliest of skin who aren’t keen about putting a cream on their face.  The upside to a shave cream is that it’s easy to see where you are shaving.  The downside is it can clog the razor.  Shave gels offer the closest shave, don’t dry out the skin, and are great for sensitive skin types. Mint or menthol added to shaving products helps to ensure a close shave and help prevent ingrown hairs. Like women, men need to care for their skin if they want to prolong or limit the signs of aging.  Many wonder why men’s products are created separately from women’s products.  First, and most obvious, is that men like products without fragrance and that don’t appear to be fluffy.  A main reason for male specific products is that most men have oily skin. …

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Five Steps to Fabulous Summer Feet

By Kim Putens Spring hits and we immediately toss off our boots and pull out our flip-flops.  Undoubtedly we do this out of relief that warm air has arrived and because our feet need a break from winter’s confining shoes.  But, most of the time, we really do not take note of the condition of our neglected winter feet.  For many of us, it simply means a trip to the local spa for a pedicure followed by weekly or bi-weekly visits to keep them looking good.  For me, the idea of a $60 pedicure makes me cringe.  Multiply that by several trips a month … I have better things to spend my money on.   It really is not that hard to take care of your feet and keep them looking fabulous – all at a fraction of the cost. Uncover and Observe.  Slip off your shoes and take note of the condition of your feet from the winter.  I mean really take a look at them.  I most notice my feet while doing Yoga.  For some reason, this is when I get up close and personal with my feet and take notice of their condition.  I notice all the calluses that have built up, the rough skin on my heels, and the un-groomed toenails Peel Back the Layers.  Now it is time to get rid of the rough build up from winter.  Invest in a good foot file.  Most foot files dull out over time; most notably pumice stones wear out very quickly.  While you might have to spend a little more money for a really good one, it should last forever if taken care of properly.  The best are those made of crushed diamonds.  Sounds decadent, but if you think about it, diamonds do not wear out and they…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Fragrance: What to Wear and How to Wear It

By Kim Putens The smell of spring is in the air. With the smell of spring brings about the desire to try a new fragrance. Switching to a new fragrance in the warmer months is like shedding our heavy winter clothes. I’ve even heard of fragrance referred to as woman’s clothing.  And, the type of fragrance notes chosen are referred to anything from a spring dress to a fur coat. Since we are all ready to put our fur coats away after this historic winter, allow me to guide you toward your “spring dress” and teach you how best to wear it. What to Wear Warmer months call for lighter fragrance notes – floral, citrus, and clean are most common. Floral is by far the most popular fragrance category. It becomes even more popular when the temperatures rise. Consider floral notes such as gardenia, orange blossom, lily, rose and peony. These are most often found in fragrances. In fact, Casablanca lily is the most popular fragrance note sought out by customers. Citrus Notes – Orange is too fruity, grapefruit too ordinary.  But, bergamot, bitter orange, and mandarin are just right. For a greener smell, look for fragrances that pair citrus notes with green leafy notes. Some examples of common combinations are verbena, lemon and cedar or lemon, basil and oak. Because citrus notes tend to evaporate quickly, pairing them with woody notes will make them last longer. Ozonic (or clean) Notes – When sniffed, these fragrances are reminiscent of the seashore or fresh water.  Most often people will refer to them as clean and fresh. The scent will remind them of a breeze coming off the ocean or the way we expect a summer breeze to smell. When mixed with floral notes, these ozonic fragrances gain more depth, last longer…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

It’s Time to Go Green

By Genevieve LeFranc After frigid winter temperatures, bulky wool sweaters, and the occasional snowfall, Spring can’t come soon enough. Temperatures are fluctuating and warmer weather is right around the corner, along with the arrival of bright, happy colors to incorporate into your dressing and grooming regime. From neons on the runway to bold prints and patterns, it’s time to ditch your neutrals and trusty makeup standbys for a punched up, colorful new look. Emerald is a very harmonious hue on the cosmetic color wheel, and is therefore a universal color for all makeup lovers. The exotic hue dramatizes all eye colors—enhancing green eyes, compatible with blue eyes, emphasizing green undertones in hazel eyes, and richly intensifying brown eyes to make them appear deeper. Surprisingly enough, Emerald also works great as a cosmetic color trend because it complements peach, pink, ruby, and even deep eggplant purple, so your lipstick and blush options are just as versatile. And how chic is an unexpected little pop of green on your nails for Spring? This deep, rich jewel tone is incredibly versatile because—believe it or not—it looks wonderful on nearly every complexion and is the perfect transition shade to take you into Spring. Many see this as a trendy hue and shy away from its boldness, but fear not! If you are hesitant, make this beautiful, saturated color a subtle accent instead of an in-your-face statement. If you’re bored with your look, take a walk on the wild side and add a sultry flair to eyes, nails, and even your beauty tools. For an updated, modern look that will add a healthy dose of color to your makeup regime, try these glittering Emerald-inspired products. Sephora’s 3-In-1 Sharpener This sleek, colorful sharpener is a must-have not only for its vibrant emerald color, but for its…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Y – O – U – N – G!

By Kim Putens You haven’t found the fountain of youth yet, but you’re afraid to go under the knife. You sit in wonder of how to keep your skin looking young, particularly during these harsh winter days.    Many people ask me how I keep my skin looking young. They want to know my beauty tricks and if they involve botox. There is no doubt that in your mid-40’s it’s much harder to fight the signs of aging than at 21. But, I will avail you of the routine that helps me keep my skin looking Y-O-U-N-G and, no, it does not involve botox. I’m too afraid of the needles. Y – Yoga. I can’t live without yoga in my life. It helps relieve the daily stresses associated with running a business, keeping up with my two children and maintaining a busy household.  Research has shown that stress not only impacts your body, but your skin too. As your mom always told you – if you keep making those faces, your face may stay that way. Well, there is something to be said for that. Your frowns and furrows leave their mark when you make them often enough. O – Oxygen. Recent studies have shown that as the skin ages, there is a reduction in oxygen in the skin.  Luckily, there are ways to get oxygen back into the skin. I am an exfoliating queen. I always have been. I use a scrub on most days to help unclog my pores and reveal softer skin. By opening up your pores, you’re allowing more oxygen to get into the skin. Depending how clogged your pores are, a deep exfoliation or exfoliating mask will help to slough off dead skin cells and unclog surface pores.  If you’re skin has been neglected or has…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

It’s Time for Some DIY & TLC

by Genevieve LeFranc It’s Time for Some DIY & TLC It’s January and more than a few of us are feeling completely spent from the holidays. Literally. After weeks of shopping and stacks of bills piling up, January is a time for thrifty resourcefulness. Smart beauty means never paying too much. Knowing a few DIY – Do It Yourself – beauty remedies can really help you save money. This month it’s about taking a break from all the holiday madness—the overindulging with rich food and alcohol, and the staying up and out way too late—things that wreak havoc with our skin and hair. With dry, flaky skin and flat, static-stricken locks, it’s time for a little DIY at-home, self-pampering using inexpensive, common items you have around the house. After a season filled with honey-glazed ham, Christmas cookies, and approximately two thousand peppermint lattes, the fridge is probably the last place you want to turn to. However, there are more than a few excellent beauty ingredients hiding in your kitchen. Avocado acts as a great moisturizer and skin softener due to its high, unsaturated fat content. Mash the pulp into a paste for a quick and easy hydrating facial treatment. You can also combine plain yogurt and oatmeal to make a hydrating mask. Yogurt is especially good for dry, sensitive skin. Leave this concoction on for about 10 minutes for a wonderful skin softener. Legs can be a ghastly sight after suffocating under jeans and tights all winter long, so show your gams a little TLC – Tender Loving Care – by sloughing off the dry, excess skin. Add oatmeal or sea salt to your favorite body wash or gel for a really effective exfoliator. Or for an invigorating citrus scrub, dip half of a lemon, pulp side, into common table…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Get “Glammed” Up for the Holidays!!

By Kim Putens   Get “Glammed” Up for the Holidays!! You’ve trimmed the tree, hung the stockings, decorated the house, and bought the gifts, but what about you? With invitations to holiday parties abound, make sure you sparkle for every occasion.  Consider these trendy make up looks for any possible holiday festivity that may come your way.   The Office Party Your normally conservative office look is still the best course of action even though it is a “holiday” party. Keep your makeup light, but fresh. Freshen and awaken your look with a dab of concealer to the corner and outer edges of the eye. Dab on a sheer lip gloss. And, to lend some festive sparkle, add a dab of shimmer to the apples of the cheek and to the corner of the eye. So as not to compete with the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, be sure not to overdue the shimmer. Be light, be strategic and be discreet.   Drinks with the Girls Think girly fun, think pink, think glossy, and think fresh.  Glossy, sheer lips with a dab of dazzle are best. Pink tones on the eyes and cheeks make for a fresh and flirty look appropriate for an exclusively girls only fete. To ensure a fresh and dewy look, choose cream based products for the cheeks and eyes. Finish the look with a light coat of black mascara on your upper and lower lashes.   Cocktail Party Take subtle to new heights with heavier eyeliner and metallic tones. Try heavy eyeliner over subtle eye base colors for a “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” look. Layer generous eyeliner along the lash line on the top eyelid only, choosing from rich tones such as navy blue, black or chocolate brown. To pull off this look correctly, be sure…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Food for the Skin

By Kim Putens Food for the Skin As we approach the holidays, food becomes more than a necessity to nourish our bodies.  It is a reason to bring families together, a reminder of fond memories, and the focus of many traditions that we didn’t get to celebrate last year in the midst of the pandemic. We don’t typically think of food as an important ingredient in our skin care products.   In fact, many items from our holiday table are showing up in many skin care products.  In the spirit of the holidays, one ingredient worthy of special attention is Pumpkin.  This enzyme is an alternative to alpha hydroxy acids as an exfoliant/peel ingredient for the skin.  A fruit acid, pumpkin has many properties – as an exfoliation accelerator, a powerful anti-oxidant and a mild retonic acid substitute. As an exfoliant pumpkin gently breaks down the outer layers of the skin, leaving it looking fresher and feeling softer by sloughing off dead skin. As a powerful antioxidant, it combats oxidative and free radical damage. The beta carotene properties of pumpkin work to naturally repair skin damage. What also makes pumpkin so desirable in skin care products is that it does not contain fragrance chemicals that are often irritating to the skin. Since food ingredients are proliferating skin care products, let’s explore some of the other common ingredients penetrating our products, their usages and beneficial properties. Basil – contains anti-inflammatory properties and protects the vascular system.  In doing so, it calms inflammation and diminishes dark circles. Blueberries – another darling of the antioxidant world, blueberries also have an important vaso-constricting impact.  They help diminish redness and, because of its gentle qualities, it is safe for the rosacea-prone to use. Chamomile – found in many forms, the principal components of the essential oil…

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