Product Review: Quick & easy NYE look by KIKO Milano

Throughout the holiday season, we often have numerous parties and get-togethers that almost always include multiple photo opportunities from beginning to end. And how many of us have photographs from holidays past that we’d rather forget? I’ve often found that busy holiday parties don’t allow much time for touch-ups, and if they are emotional (due to seeing loved ones or friends whom you haven’t spent much time with in a while) can wreak havoc on eye makeup. Plus, if you’re traveling or are out-of-town, it helps to keep packing simple. This may sound funny, but I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the years, especially in trying to balance business, friends, and family parties around the holidays. This past September, I was able to buy a few products from one of my favorite European brands, and put the look to the test through the holidays! And voilá – my 2018 NYE look from KIKO Milano!


The premise of my selections are based on optimal light-catching formulas, a soft eye, and a bold lip. Let’s take a look at each product, and how I’ve worked into my routine for the holidays: (from the top)

  1. Bright Duo Baked Eyeshadow in 14 Satin Ancient Rose + Matte Wine: I love KIKO’s shadows as you can use them wet or dry, and the shadows are matched to exactly compliment each other. To me, this duo is actually a great neutral combo for blue eyes – the pink/purple tones make blue eye color pop. I blend the light pink over my lid, and then using a wet shadow brush, I shade my lash line with the darker purple to create a soft effect. The satin finish isn’t too sparkly, and gives just a hint of shimmer.
  2. Radiant Touch Creamy Stick Highlighter in 101 Rose: since I have a neutral undertone to my skin, I chose a pink highlighter to get a different effect than my other champagne-toned highlighters for the cooler months. The pink plays well with the eyeshadow shades above, and helps give a rosy-glow to skin. In addition to my cheekbones and bridge of my nose, I also use this highlighter directly under my brow bone and on the inside corners of my eyes, before adding eyeshadow. This gives an extra element of dimension, and works well as a day-to-night look.
  3. Jelly Stylo glossy lipstick in 511 Fuscia: for days that I know I’ll be talking a lot, I prefer glossy finishes. They wear more easily, and keep my lips comfortable and hydrated. I love this lipstick, since it combines vibrant color (like a lipstick) with the hydrating finish of a gloss – without the shimmer. This bright pink gives the focal point of the overall look, and makes for an easy touch-up that always looks great on camera! Pink is becoming my new favorite for the holidays, since it’s easily goes from day-to-night – reds don’t always make an easy transition if you’ve got an all-day activity!
  4. 30 Days Extension Daily Treatment Mascara in Black: my quest for a great formula and silicone brush got a win in this great treatment mascara! The treatment complex of the formula stimulates lash growth to lengthen and strengthen. It also wears well through the day, and is buildable for either a natural or a dramatic look.

Pairing these with a great foundation, a natural blush and eyebrow pencil, this combo creates a soft yet dramatic look that looks great for either personal or business parties! I especially love the low effort needed to get an amazing look – perfect for a busy New Year’s Eve! You can recreate look with similar shades, or try this brand out for yourself.

I discovered KIKO while in Italy in 2014, and quickly came to love their professional quality formulas and low price points – whenever I go back abroad, I’ve always stocked up on a few more products to try! Luckily, you can buy the brand online – I think this is a brand to watch, since they have such a huge following in Europe, and are starting to make their way to the States. Heres to a great 2019 – Happy New Year!

©2018 28daysbeauty

Product Review: Glossier makeup

Indie beauty brands, to me, are always exciting to discover. They are often the rebels and innovation starters of the industry, and can really surprise you. Plus, they often market themselves completely differently than the rest of the competition. Glossier caught my eye about a year ago, and I’ve been watching the buzz around them grow. This past Christmas, I asked for a makeup and a skincare kit from them, and spent these first two months of the year giving them a try.

An NYC brand that was built off of the blog “Into the Gloss”, Glossier truly break rules in how they define makeup and skincare. I appreciate the simplicity and direct style of their website, and that they offer value kits of their best sellers to introduce you to the brand. Their product ingredient list is also what caught my attention – fragrance free, paraben free, hypoallergenic, and cruelty free formulas is what I look for in a beauty brand for my skin. This post will focus on their makeup, and my next post will focus on their skincare.

The makeup kit that I received contained three products: Boy Brow, Stretch Concealer, and Generation G sheer matte lipstick. In addition, I also ordered their Lip Gloss, pictured above. And I can confidently say, I’m seriously loving all of it! Let’s take a look at why:

1) Boy Brow in Brown: this has been one of Glossier’s most definitive products, because it shapes, defines, and colors eyebrows but does so in a completely natural-looking effect. Added bonus? It’s so easy to use, and is long lasting. The tube is small, but I’ve found that a few short swipes on each brow is all that I need to fill and define.

2) Stretch Concealer in Light: I’m super picky about foundation and concealer. But what I love about this is that I’ve found it actually acts as both. It’s super creamy and blends in with my skin completely. I use a Concealer brush to apply in patches where needed, as well as under eyes on my eyelids to lighten and brighten skin. I then use my foundation brush to blend in, and build coverage as needed. The formula uses natural waxes and oils to bend and flex with skin, and doesn’t look cakey or dry. I have combination skin, and I really like the semi-dewy finish.

3) Generation G sheer matte lipstick in Crush (hot raspberry pink): this lipstick made me rethink matte finishes. Many of the other matte lipsticks I’ve tried are pretty heavy, thick formulas. And some of the liquid versions that I’ve tried came off on my teeth, or coated my coffee cups with a weird goo-like effect. This is a very silky formula, and you can build for vibrancy. I love hot pink lip color, as I find it’s a shade that looks more natural than red. It also looks great on virtually any skin tone. I’ve also found that some brighter colors made my lips irritated – this felt comfortable all day, and didn’t irritate at all.

4) Lip Gloss: I was really excited about this, because I wanted a great, clear lip gloss to use alone or over any lipstick. This contains zero glitter, which I also like. Over the years, I’ve found that too much glitter or shimmer irritated my lips. This is super concentrated and hydrating. The finish is also mega-glossy, but isn’t sticky at all.

Glossier does not sell mascara, which is against the mainstream look of a “full face”. I get it – their approach is definitely skincare first, and looking more natural, which I appreciate. I love wearing mascara, so I just added it to my look by using one of my faves (L’Oreal’s Voluminous Carbon Black). In all, I loved the final effect – my face felt light and fresh, and at the end of the day, the colors stayed true. Their products do what they say, and are very low-maintenance yet polished. I also admit that I loved the simpler makeup routine in the morning. Give this brand a try – the prices are right, and the quality is fantastic!

©️ 2018 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Top 3 Tips for using Antioxidants

Antioxidants burst on to the commercial beauty scene around the 1980’s as a marketing buzzword, but in truth, they have been used for centuries in bath, skincare and makeup products. And they keep growing in popularity – it’s hard to find beauty products now that don’t mention something on their packaging about antioxidants. But the key is knowing WHEN they matter (for use), and HOW they will benefit you (beauty concerns). Before we start, let’s define what antioxidants are, and why they are important:

Antioxidants are basically molecules that prevent the oxidation (damage) of another molecule, or a healthy cell. Oxidation is when pollutants (free-radicals) attack healthy cells and damage them – think of cutting open an apple, and after a short time the inside part starts to turn brown. That is oxidation. Animals and plants have an internal system for maintaining this natural process, but there are known vitamins in nature that combat the damaging effects: A, E, and C. However, they are all used in various ways to achieve different results, and reverse or prevent damage.

Tip #1: Only use them in products that absorb into or sit on the skin

Why? Well, a cleanser that brags it’s chock-full of antioxidants isn’t really going to give you much benefit – you apply the cleanser for 30 or 60 seconds max, and then it washes down the drain. The skin barely had time to benefit from any antioxidant exposure. Also, you don’t have to have every skincare or makeup product you own contain antioxidants to get the benefit. Here’s my recommendation: use a serum, eye cream or a moisturizer that contains any of the vitamins (A, E, or C)  so that it’s absorbed readily into the skin, and keeps working over time. This will help save you money, as typically even the word “antioxidant” can command a higher price tag on a product.

Tip #2: Know which antioxidants are right for your skin type

Why? Not all of the antioxidants should be used by everyone. Vitamin E is probably the safest, most gentle of the group, and is fantastic for dry or sensitive skins that have a hard time maintaining healthy cell structure (flakiness, dry patches). It’s also fantastic for healing cuts, sunburns, stretch marks, irritation, and Vitamin E oil can be used as eye makeup remover. Vitamin A is also known as it’s commercial name “Retinol”, or it’s drug name “Retin-A”.  Caution – while Vitamin A is great at erasing fine lines and wrinkles, it can also be very harsh on the skin. It’s often prescribed for acne treatment too, as it causes hyper-exfoliation to rid skin of clogs and dead skin cells. However, it can create redness, peeling, and high tendency to sunburn. Vitamin A is best used by oilier or combination skins that don’t have a concern for sensitivity. Lastly, Vitamin C is best used for brightening dull or uneven skin tones, and can fade dark spots over time. Vitamin C is very volatile (unstable) as an ingredient, so any packaging that is worth buying should be opaque – otherwise, sunlight damages it’s potency if it’s in clear packaging. Ever see a chef squeeze a lemon over a fruit salad before serving? Vitamin C brightens the appearance/colors of fruit and prevents delicate fruit (like apples or bananas) from turning brown quickly.

Tip #3: ALWAYS wear sunscreen to prolong the benefits of using antioxidants

This is probably the most important. UV rays damage the effects of antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight the free-radical damage that UV rays cause, but why not give the products a chance to work at their best by covering up daily with a proper sunscreen? Also, make sure it’s safe sunscreens (see my previous post for recommendations), and you’ll receive the fastest results in both CORRECTING skincare concerns, and PREVENTING any UV damage to the skin. Also, don’t apply Vitamin C or A to any sunburnt skin – your skin is already hyper sensitive at that point, and these two antioxidants will probably cause more irritation as they are way too active of ingredients. Vitamin C also keeps working over time, so you can easily use it for years to reap the benefits of brightening and evening of the skin tone. Vitamin A can cause the skin to build a tolerance, so you may find that switching between the two can also deliver benefits, based on your skincare concerns. If you take precaution to use sunscreen regularly, and year-round, you’ll probably find that you don’t have to invest too much in other products. Also, foundations now are great ways to combine both antioxidant ingredients with sunscreens – it’s a way to make your dollar stretch further, and have a multi-tasking product work optimally.

I hope this clears up the topic of antioxidants, especially as we approach summer – more skin will be exposed, and it’s a great time to think about your skincare concerns and how you want to address them. Enjoy!

© 2016 28daysbeauty

Beauty Topic: Soap – is it bad?

I get asked this question a LOT. And the answer is no. Many of you may be surprised, since there are a lot of “soap-free” cleansers on the market, and I think the message has gotten rather confusing over the years. And I actually love bar soaps – I like the way they make my skin feel, travel easy, and can be used from head to toe. So, let me further clarify my answer: no, not all types of soap are bad. What causes some “bad” things to happen (like rashes, dryness, dermatitis, itchiness, etc) is not the soap itself, but the ingredients that are contained within the soap. What may feel like reactions to a soap being “drying” could be more likely a few common culprits:

  • Deodorants: check your soap’s label for anything that is identified as a deodorant. These types of soaps should only be used for your body, not your face. And even then, I dislike them. Deodorants can be rather harsh, and if you shower everyday (and don’t work on an oil rig), then you probably don’t need it when washing. 
  • Fragrance / Parfum: this is one of the most common causes of allergic reactions on the skin. Bar soaps especially are often scented or contain fragrance, and therefore can cause flare-ups of itching, breakouts, dryness, and rashes. My rule of thumb? I avoid soaps with fragrance.
  • Mineral oil / Paraffin: mineral oil, and variations of it, have been around for a very long time.  It’s an extremely common ingredient found in many cosmetics, soaps, lotions, and conditioners; mainly because it’s cheap and an ingredient that combines well with others. However, it’s not great to skin – it will clog pores if it sits for a long time, or create a “film” that causes skin to flake or feel itchy. If you have oily skin, this will not help clarify your skin.
  • Antibacterial ingredients: if you were a kid in the 80’s and 90’s, you’ll remember the antibacterial ad campaigns that were all over TV, reminding everyone how gross everything is that you touch. Unfortunately, while killing germs, this is also one of the fastest ways to dry your skin out. Other than your hands, you most likely don’t need antibacterial soap head to toe.

But what soaps out there are good to use? Well, here’s a list of my favorites – you’ll also notice most of them are from brands that have been around for a long time, especially since they can be used by any skin type, are affordable, and they deliver great results. Fantastic combination of reasons, if you ask me!

  1. Clinique Mild Soap – in the green soap dish, this is one of the best soaps on the market. I have used it head to toe, especially due to having more sensitive skin in winter. Skin feels balanced, clean, and calm.
  2. Dove Sensitive Skin Soap – if you have drier skin, you will love how moisturizing this is. Also, it makes a fantastic shave cream!
  3. CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar – this is one of my new favorites. Also great for drier or combination skin, I find this makes an awesome head to toe cleanser. I often have this with me when I travel, as it is a face and body soap in one. 
  4. Shea Moisture Black Soap – an age-old type of soap, black soap is incredibly helpful in naturally fighting acne, clogged pores, and dullness in skin. It will also naturally deodorize, so it’s a very purifying soap for both men and women.
  5. Aveeno Moisturizing Bar – technically, this bar is soap-free. But it still functions like a bar soap. And it’s wonderful if you have hyper sensitive or dry skin – it comforts and cleans. Many people prefer it as a facial cleanser, but it is also wonderful as a body soap. 
  6. Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Soap and Lavender Soap – ohhhhhh, these are some of the best all-natural soaps you can get! The range of Dr. Bronner’s soaps are legendary, and these are some of the best examples of soap done right. Baby Mild and Lavender are two of my favorites. These are incredibly versatile, gentle, and purifying. And if you need reading material while in the tub, the labels are rather lengthy. 

“Soap” got a really bad rap over the years because of the harsh ingredients that had been commonly used in the distant past. But in the more recent decades, soaps have changed to be much more gentle and comforting to the skin. If you look for brands that stick to using good ingredients, you should have good luck. Especially if you like the convenience and affordability of bar soaps, give some of these a try! 

© 28daysbeauty 2015