Airbrush Schmairbrush

Happy Friday, RLBers!

Today we will examine everyone’s favorite contentious modern beauty issue: Photoshop. Since the practice has become ubiquitous in the last decade or so, Photoshop has its proponents, its critics, and those of us who fall somewhere in the realm of ambivalence.

Yes, I am ambivalent about Photoshop. The visceral, Real Beauty Champion part of me dismisses it out of hand, as a tool that compromises and distorts our perception of reality. The part of me that appreciates Photoshop is best summarized by your best friend, Tina Fey:

“Feminists do the best Photoshop, because they leave the meat on your bones. They don’t change your size or your skin color. They leave your disgusting knuckles, but they take out some armpit stubble. Not because they’re denying its existence, but because they understand that it’s okay to make a photo look as if you were caught on your best day in the best light.”

It’s why we all Instagram and Infinicam and Photo Splash flattering, flaw-hiding filters to every picture we tweet or post on Facebook. We want to be seen at our very best, and the modern era allows us to do that at every digital turn.

It’s when photo editing goes to extremes that it becomes a fundamental problem in how beauty is presented. Every woman featured in that slideshow looks amazing in her Before picture, but we have been conditioned to think that they don’t look Amazing Enough. God forbid we acknowledge that Jessica Alba has loose flesh on her kneecaps, or that Eva Longoria is Hispanic but she doesn’t have bangin’ hips, or that Kanye West’s girlfriend isn’t actually Jessica Rabbit brought to fleshy life in an impossible combination of buxom/compact, or that – come on now, she’s 54 and has spent half her life on tour – Madonna is aging. (Who else thinks Megan Fox the “actress” actually looks far prettier with her freckles sprinkled across her nose? Why are we so afraid of letting women look human?)

With all of the attention around image retouching, it still makes headlines when models or celebrities ‘allow’ themselves to be photographed without it, or without the benefit of professional hair/makeup stylists. Imagine a world in which women without makeup and  photos of women that haven’t been (or have minimally been) manipulated are unremarkable. Commonplace. The images we see all day every day. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Let’s contribute to making this hypothetical future a reality! Here are some 100% real pictures of me, as I am right now, sitting here writing this post. I have shadows under my eyes and crooked teeth and crows feet when I smile. I also have killer cheekbones and charming freckles and my eyes are a cool shade of gray today.

Photo on 3-15-13 at 11.19 AM #3 Photo on 3-15-13 at 11.20 AM

Share your real pictures with us! Post on our Facebook page, tweet them to us, or share a link here in the comments. Shower the interwebs with real pictures of real ladies looking really lovely. 

xo, E

Beauté sans Chimiques (part deux)

Happy Sunday, Real Living Beauties!

Welcome to part two of our editorial on natural beauty products! In case you missed it, here is part un. Having depleted my usual make up supply, and curious about switching to natural products, I turned to Ms. Elizabeth to seek her sage advice on the subject.

Armed with her recommendations, I entered my local Sephora store with confidence and purpose. I have field tested my selections and present my findings here for your consideration.

Okay, here is a picture of me with no make up. On the internet. All in the name of science.

The first item I purchased was the Argan Blend Concealer by Josie Maran, which E has dubbed The Best Concealer on the Planet. As you may remember, she prizes it for its moisturizing powers and solid coverage of the under-eye area.

I am so glad I bought this. I am always buying disappointing concealers that don’t conceal shiz. This concealer comes in two tones, which combine forces to create even coverage that does not quit. And it builds on itself! I applied it to my “t-zone” and under my eyes to create the illusion that I totally got enough sleep!


Moving on to cheeks: Tarte Cheek Stain. This neat little guy is like chap stick, sort of? For your face? It blends beautifully. I applied the stick right to my face and used my fingers to blend it in. It didn’t take much to achieve the shade I wanted, and so I can tell that this will last a long time. Elizabeth uses “Blushing Bride” but I went with “True Love” after some preliminary field testing in the store.

Can you see this? I’m looking rosey!

Onward: Lips! I am constantly applying lip products to my smackers. I collect (read: hoard) them. Newest addition to my collection: Korres Lip Butter. I got Pomegranate/Grenade because that is what Elizabeth put on the list and I was not about to go rogue in Sephora. Go rogue in Sephora and you emerge two hours later with yellow nail polish and an assortment of sponges. This lip butter is delightful! It is so soft and…buttery? It also has a nice color that lasts a long time.

Buttery lips. Mmm.

Also, I have a stud in my nose, in case you were thinking I have a green zit. I don’t! And if I did, I would have covered it, with my new dual action concealer.

On to my eyeballs! I’m not great with eyeliner. At least, that’s what I thought! The eyeliner I usually buy melts into the corners of my eyes and creeps underneath them after like ten minutes of applying. It’s not a good look. I don’t usually bother. But this BareMinerals Big Bright Eyeliner does no such running, so I guess I can chalk this one up to being cheap. E suggested blue for a bold summery look, but the store was out of it! Was forced to deviate from the list, but wished to remain bold. Got purple.

Eyes: lined

That’s it for my purchases! As the wise Ms. E mentioned, this stuff ain’t cheap. However, I found that it lasted a lot longer than my old make up did. I’m usually reapplying and retouching on my lunch break, but I didn’t need to with this face on. If I can get that, while also removing the possible risks that other beauty products may have on my health, well, great!

I did not buy everything on E’s list, rather I chose to start with the basics. I think I’d like to phase in the tinted moisturizer as time goes on and future paychecks roll in. Ditto on the mascara.

So, in conclusion, that was fun! Spending a little extra is usually worth it in situations like this. Can you often find an amazing old dress at a thrift store for $5.00? Yes. But are you going to buy that cheap toilet paper they have at the airport to use in your bathroom? No. Pick your battles.

Friday Beauty Shout

Fridays here at RLB are reserved for Shout Outs to ladies and gents around the world (some famous, some should be famous), who promote what’s real. They celebrate the variety among us, and the endless elements that make humans beautiful.

Today I’m going with a celebrity, although when I say “Alicia Silverstone,” I’m willing to bet that most of you think of this:

…and even though the 90’s are back, Alicia has in fact moved on from being Clueless to becoming a vegan eco-warrior who feeds her son from her own mouth.

Regardless of how you feel about her politics or her feeding techniques, Alicia is on our radar today because she has a new line of beauty products that go the extra mile when it comes to being green.

Considering RLB’s makeup theme for the week, I thought it only appropriate to recognize a lady who is using her fame and prowess to promote many healthy ways of living… even if some of them do kinda weird us out.

Beauté sans Chimiques

Everything sounds better in French….

For this week’s editorial, Shannon and I have decided to collectively take on the challenge of beauty products. By definition, you might think a beauty product is the antithesis of what we promote here at RLB, but au contraire; makeup is an everyday part of most of our lives, and whether you’re an All Out gal or Ms. Minimalist, what you use to enhance your loveliness should be just that, enhancement. We believe that makeup should never hide the real you, but only help you flaunt what you’ve got.

To that end, I’ve embraced natural products whenever possible, because I believe what I put on/in my body matters. Increasing your risk of cancer just to look better is not worth it, in my humble opinion. I mean, have you heard of Stelera? CariDee English, a Top Model winner, suffered from psoriasis, so she now promotes a drug that not only has a daunting list of possible side effects, but they actually include the following: a higher risk of cancer, a “rare and potentially fatal brain disorder,” seizures, severe allergic reactions, upper respiratory infections, and so on and so on…. Don’t get me wrong, psoriasis sounds like it sucks – but to what lengths are we willing to go to simply Look Better?

Most of us are lucky enough to not suffer from a condition as serious as Ms. English, and admittedly I can’t fully empathize with her position. But here at RLB we want to find beauty solutions that won’t potentially kill you. Makeup doesn’t usually carry such serious risks, but when there are all natural products out there that actually work, why not use them? If your choices are concealer that might give you cancer* and concealer that won’t, isn’t that a no-brainer?

So, here’s how this will work: It turns out Shannon needs a lot of new makeup, so she’s going to be the field-tester for my recommendations. I’ll gush about some all-natural products that I love, and she will choose some to run out and purchase like a good little consumer. We have different skin types and colors, so this is some real world data, people. Clearly I love these products, but what happens when an everyday gal reading a beauty article decides to try the touted delights for herself? Stay tuned to find out….

Okay, disclaimer up front: I have a small, not-so-secret obsession with Josie Maran and her beauty line. Josie Maran is one of those women it would be easy to get all jealous and snarky about if we were that kind of blog. Thankfully, we’re not, so instead we just get to talk about how Amazing she is and how killer her products are.

Let’s start with the Best Concealer on the Planet:
I have dark circles like whoa. Genetically stubborn, ambitious, permanent dark circles. It doesn’t matter if I have three hours of sleep or ten, if I hydrate like it’s going out of style or get my water only from wine for the day – they are always there. Concealer is my “I will never leave the house without _________.” Hell, it’s my “I won’t even sit around the house without _____________.” What if someone randomly stops by? Without concealer they’ll worry that I’m sick or exhausted, or on really bad days that I’ve been in a bar fight and came away with two black eyes.

Enter my favorite concealer ever. The argan oil is moisturizing, so this stuff is never cakey and never dries out my delicate eye skin, even in the midst of a desert summer.

Yes, it’s a small investment. In fact, none of the products on this page are the $2 wonders you’ll find at Walgreens, but they work, it feels like they last forever, and they’re not filled with unpronounceable chemicals either.

There is no waterproof version of this, so if you’re a crier you might need to look elsewhere. But for a little extra oomph on your peepers, try this mascara for two – one for you, one for a cancer patient/survivor:

Now, S tells me she needs new foundation. I don’t use foundation and I never have. People put it on me when I have to be in front of a camera, but otherwise I prefer to let my freckles do their thing. I’ve heard raves about this lighter, more natural-looking alternative to foundation, tinted moisturizer, so I’m going to recommend that S try my girl Josie’s offering:

This brand is in the process of phasing out parabens and other nasties, so you have to read their labels if you want to be sure you’re avoiding them. Luckily, this stuff is paraben-free, so I get to keep using it.

In lieu of foundation, I use just a touch of powder in what I think of as my I-Zone. It’s not a T-Zone, because I don’t put it on my forehead (my bangs are my favorite accessory). All I need is a little camouflage for the redness that happens around my nose, upper lip and chin. So in truth it’s more of a small i.

I don’t use the poof directly on my face, but instead I tap a brush onto the poof and then apply the powder from the brush. It’s a less heavy-handed application, and makes my face look just a touch more flawless.

Does anyone else feel like Greeks are way smarter than the rest of us? They eat amazingly well, live by the sea, and they don’t put chemicals in their makeup. At least the Greeks behind Korres don’t. Smarty smart pantses.

Primer, because ageing happens:
(No, I did not misspell ageing. It’s how the Greeks spell it, see below. And they’re smarter than me, see above). Yes, yes, you may think primer is pointless – but I swear to you, Girl Scout’s Honor, primer makes your makeup stay on longer. It smooths out the canvas before you even begin. This primer has the added bonus of smoothing out little ageing lines, though S is youthful enough that she can stick with the regular version.

Lip Butter:
Just try this stuff. I dare you.

I encourage everyone to take a look at the ingredients listed for Tarte Cheek Stain. At first glance, it can look like a string of chemicals, but do a little googling and you’ll find that everything in there is mineral and plant-based. Even Red 40, which is derived from coal. No one said being a chemical conscientious consumer would be easy, but it sure is interesting!

What are chemicals most often used for? (Pop Quiz!) Answer: Preservatives. In the case of Tarte Cheek Stain (aka, Blush), we have proof that chemicals are not Needed as preservatives. I bought this shade, Blushing Bride, back when I was a blushing bride, and that was Three Years Ago, people. Three. Years. I still have it, it still works, and I’m estimating another six months or so before I actually run out.

The details are all in the name – Bare products made from Minerals. I’ve used a few of their products before and have always likes the company, but the following will be a new endeavor for me and Shannon alike….

While scouring Sephora for my favs, I stumbled on this au natural eyeliner and seriously, look at that blue! You’re all dying to try this, I can tell. So long, boring blacks and browns! Time to summer things up a bit with a splash of Blue. We’ll report back and let you know if it’s as awesome as it looks.

*There is a debate about whether or not parabens actually cause cancer in humans. Studies have proven that parabens cause cancer in animals (specifically rats), and they have been linked to the development of tumors in human breast tissue. Parabens are found in a lot of cosmetic products, not just your deodorant. If you decide you want to avoid them, you can start with the products listed above, or visit to learn more about natural beauty products.