First Blush

Beauty & Health, First Blush

Five Holiday Skin Sins

By Lauren Bowling Forget Hallmark movies or Christmas trees in Home Depot. I know the holiday season has started when my skin starts freaking out on Black Friday. If you’re like me and experience multiple nasty breakouts every yuletide season, you’re not alone. And while you may wonder, “Is it just the types of foods I’m eating and all the holiday booze that’s driving my skin crazy?” the answer is yes. And also no. This month long period known as “the holidays” are the perfect storm for bad skin ― not only because of food and alcohol, but also because of holiday travel, unavoidable winter weather, irregular schedules and expected holiday stress. And while these things definitely happen all at once during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the tips for mitigating holiday skin woes work for any period during the winter months when chaos wreaks havoc on your normal diet and routine. Holiday Skin Sin #1: Skipping Sleep Maybe you don’t associate the holidays with a lack of sleep, but there are many sneaky factors that can make December the most sleepless time of the year. To start, alcohol majorly impacts sleep, and holiday stress ― from financial obligations to juggling work and a packed social calendar ― can keep us up longer. But if you want to keep your skin in peak condition during the holidays, getting good sleep is key. “Lack of sleep not only makes us feel bad, but makes our skin look tired, too,” said Sandra Lee, a board-certified dermatologist and doctor behind the popular TLC show Dr. Pimple Popper. “Bags under the eyes are more obvious, skin looks more sallow, we are probably smiling less, and this translates to negativity,” she told HuffPost. Holiday Skin Sin #2: Indulging In the Wrong Holiday Foods “Most people believe greasy foods lead…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Is Beauty Only Skin Deep?

By Kim Putens Remember the saying, “Beauty is only skin deep.” While that may be true, the biggest dilemma for women as they age is do you show your age or not? Taking care of our skin and how to do that is often a confusing web of vitamins, acids, peels, scrubs, toners, and cleansers. Many of us are rightfully confused about how to care for our skin.  Let’s start with the basics of good skincare. Cleanse, tone, and moisturize. It’s important to select products within this regimen that are appropriate for your skin type. If you have extremely oily skin, it would be completely inappropriate to choose a milky, creamy cleanser. And, vice versa, if you have very dry skin, don’t select a product with too many acids or alcohol that will strip and further dry the skin. The key is balance, and to keep your skin balanced, you need to choose the right products for your skin type. Beyond the basics are a variety of products, targeted ingredients and a myriad of solutions for all skin issues. How does one know what is best for your skin ailment. Let’s break it down to the main ingredients that are necessary to affect change in the skin. Vitamin A – often referred to as Retin A or Retinol – helps to change the way our skin cells work. This is an important ingredient because of its ability to tackle many skin issues. Vitamin A is often prescribed to treat severe acne and is touted as a wonder ingredient for aging skin. Its ability to change how our skin cells work makes it a small miracle. Vitamin C (scientific name – L-ascorbic acid) – known for its ability to rebuild collagen in the skin. It works from the inside out to…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Fall Beauty Trends

By Kimberly Putens The trends for the season seem like a repeat of the trends from last fall. The themes are the same – bold, rich, 80’s inspired. The main difference is the extent to which the trends have skewed to garner attention and make a statement. EYES:  Eyes are the focus this season. Wild eyes are the best way to describe them. The big trend are cat-like eyes made by drawing eyeliner past the corners of the eyes and out to the temples. Many may remember this look in the 80’s. However, what makes this more modern is it is paired with bold colors in shades of red, orange, violet and yellow. But, for a smoldering eye, hues of black, blue, brown or gunmetal still remain a trend. Other wild trends for eyes this fall are glittery eyelids, blue eye shadow, and under-eye accents.  Glittery eyelids are paired with the cat inspired look. Blue eye shadow is making a comeback on its own without further amplification. It is also shown paired with cat-like eyeliner. Under-eye accents, inspired by Twiggy, are making a different appearance. This look is achieved by applying jeweled accents and extra long eyelashes to the lower lashes to create a wide-eyed and doe-eyed look. BROWS:   If the eyes are the picture, think of the brows as the frame. And, framing these wild eyes is the key to being on point with this trend. This season, brows are well defined and well groomed. Groomed brows should not have a hair out of place. If bald spots exist, the groomed brow is drawn on and filled in to achieve perfection. LIPS:  The look of lips this season can only be described as extreme – opposite ends of the spectrum. On one end of the spectrum are bold, red…

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Beauty & Health, First Blush

Q&As With Kim

By Kim Putens How do I choose the right moisturizer for my face? Believe it or not, the most important thing about choosing a moisturizer is the weight, not the fancy ingredients.  The wrong weight of moisturizer can actually cause as many, if not more, problems than the ingredients. If too heavy, it can clog your pores and cause breakouts. If not heavy enough, the lack of moisturizer can lead to premature aging. In choosing the right weight, apply a normal amount to your jaw line. Wait a few seconds and check the area.  If the moisturizer feels sticky or greasy, it means that it hasn’t absorbed into your skin and is too heavy for your complexion. If the moisturizer soaks in and still feels dry and your skin feels taught, then the moisturizer is not heavy enough. Look for a moisturizer that soaks in to your skin, but your skin feels relieved and looks plump. Everywhere I look, all the makeup has shimmer and glitter. How do I embrace it without looking like a teenager? Shimmer can actually be your friend. Glitter, not so much. Leave glitter to stage performances.  A bit of shimmer can actually make old skin look young. And, it is the easiest and cheapest way to freshen up your skin and bring about a youthful glow. But, if you overdue it, you could end up looking like an over-aged teenager. Keep in mind, dry and dull looking skin exacerbates looking old. So, the best thing to do is be strategic about your placement and amount. The best place to get the most bang for your buck is to apply a bit of shimmer along the base of your eyebrow along the brow bone.   It gives the illusion of an instant lift to a sagging eye…

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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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