Friday, December 30, 2011

Now What?

Hola! So in my last post ('Holiday Harriet') I shared some of the make-up I have been using this holiday season (and I even forgot a few things...smh). But now what? What to do with it all you ask? Well, here are some quick tips and tricks for creating your holiday looks!  We all know we have a few more nights to party and we want to bring in the new year on point (especially with that damn Facebook documenting it all in chronological order...sigh). So let's make sure we don't try a new make-up accessory and commit any fashion felonies folks. LOL!

Here are a couple of GENERAL things to remember:

  1. If you're going dancing or any place that might be hot, be sure to take oil blotting papers or your pressed powder to touch up your face throughout the night
    • Penny uses MAC's Oil Blot Powder or Boscia's Oil Blot Papers
  2. Wear waterproof mascara in your favorite brand; it won't smudge if you get all emotional at the top of the hour, or if you just tear up when you laugh like I do. LOL!  
  3. Wear lip liner and fill in your lips with lip pencil. This allows you to have color even if your lip gloss or lipstick wears off. If you're concerned about changing the color of the lipstick/gloss, use the same color lip pencil or one that is a shade lighter. Some of you don't want to fight your way to the ladies room, or remember to reapply your lip gloss or lipstick as the night goes on; so this is very helpful. 
    • If you're wearing red or dark colored lipstick this is a must!
  4. Think about what you want your focal point to be: Are you playing up your eyes? Your lips?  Your cheeks? Try not to go all out if you're a make-up novice.
    • Remember to always start with a light application of any product; it's much easier to go heavier/darker, than to fix a mistake because you put too much of something on.
  5. Don't touch your face with your bare hands too much. You want to keep your make-up on your face and avoid any possible transfer.
    • Be mindful of other people's clothing. Even with make up setting spray I think there is always a chance for some transfer.
  6. We may not all like to use hair spray, but you might want to consider a light, brushable one for the weekend's festivities
    • Penny recommends Sebastian's Zero Gravity Hair Spray ($9); Garnier Fructis Style Sleek and Shine Anti-Humidity Hair Spray ($4); L'Oreal Elnett Satin Hair Spray ($9-$15)
  7. Carry Wet One's (Citrus Scented) in your purse if you can for emergency clean up. These work wonders for getting drink and food spills, even make-up out of clothing.
  8. Always carry a compact mirror to check for eyeliner smudge or lipstick on the teeth (not a sexy look)
  9. Please be sure that you're wearing the right under garments and that everything fits properly (go try them all on now!) There is nothing worse than the look or feeling of ill-fitting attire. Check your bra straps. Just sayin...
  10. Pack your portable flats in your clutch or at least have them in the car. We all know that familiar burn in the balls of our feet that comes on half way through the night. Ummm hmmm. Walking out of a party barefoot is not a sexy look (unless your on the beach at a luau).
  11. Give yourself time. Unless you're already good at it, make-up application is not a quick process. There are several steps to take for a flawless face.
  12. Carry mints in your purse...nuff said. LOL!
(read full story...)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday Harriet

Happy Holidays! I know I've been missing in action and I apologize. Sometimes I have writer's block and I can't bring myself to write/focus. Other times I have too many things I want to talk about and don't know how to narrow it down. LOL! So feel free to let me know if there is something you want to know about.

The holidays are a fun time for many new many looks to try! LOL! With the many holiday festivities upon parties, charitable functions, family gatherings, cocktail parties, concerts, New Year's Eve party, and more, what better time to amp up your look. Make-up is an accessory like any other. If you're going to buy a new dress, new shoes, a new clutch, and new accessories, why not add new lipstick or eye shadow to the list. A different make-up technique can change your appearance as much as any outfit can. Stay in your comfort zone or go all out...its up to you. But if you play it safe, be sure that the small change you makes a difference. For example, if you've never worn red lipstick, now is the time. Try a bright colored eye liner. If you're not used to sparkles, add a touch of glitter. Penny not only did the red lip this season, but I've even done a smoky eye and plum lip (instead of my usual nude lips) and I looked fab! (If I must say so myself). LOL!

(Courtesy of Black Opal)
For example, I tend to wear matte eyeshadows the most. I love the look, and they are more 'age appropriate' for me with my hooded eyes. LOL! But druing the holidays there is nothing wrong with a little shimmer or sparkle. So I take it to another level by playing with shimmery shades, brighter pigments, or deeper jewel tones. I also began wearing false lashes this season! Yeah...Penny's going there! (Nevermind I might look like the sister of a drag queen since I dont always get the strips on right. LOL! No offense to any queens or their love!)

Anyhoo, since there are so many 'holiday looks' out there, Penny is just going to share some of the products she's been using this season:

I start with a cleansed and moisturized face:
  • CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser ($14) - used on skin without make-up
    • Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil ($26) - used to remove my make-up after I've done my damage out and about. LOL
  • CeraVe Moist Facial Lotion P.M. ($10)
Then I prime my face:
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Primer ($17, travel size)
  • Make Up For Ever (MUFE) HD Microperfecting Primer - just trying a sample of this now; so far so good
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance
  • Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($18) - just for eye lids

Then I work on my eyes. This is new for me to do this first. When doing a smokey eye especially, the pros recommend that you put your eye make-up on before the rest of your make-up so that you can clean off any fall out under your eye without disturbing any make-up on your face. It works!
  • MAC's Paint Pot (in Painterly) - used as my base to neutralize my lids and help eyeshadow colors to show true to color. My lids are dark naturally so I use this as a base to even out my skintone.
  • Eyeshadow colors depending on the look I'm going for. I use the following brands almost daily: Bobbi Brown, MAC, Coasta Scents palette, and Urban Decay
    • Colors that are standard for Penny: Urban Decay in Naked (matte) or Gunmetal (shimmer); Bobbi Brown in Cocoa (matte) ($20); MAC's shadows in Smut, Fig, Sketch, Rice Paper, Humid, and Outre, etc; Smashbox palette for hazel eyes ($42); NYX Eye Shadow Single in Black (matte) as a liner ($5).
    • Sometimes I use ULTA brand shadow in Gold Leaf ($7); or Sephora brand eye shadow in City Fog, a perfect matte gray ($12)
    • Sometimes I use Revlon  Eye Shadow Single in purple or navy (both matte)
    • Sometimes I use NYX Jumbo Pencil shadows as a base to create intense and vibrant color (Gold, Dark Brown, Purple, etc).
  • Eyeliner colors vary but I use the following often: Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Liner Pencil in Zero ($18); Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner in Granite, Graphite, or Saphire ($21); Buxom Lashliner in Leatherette ($16)
  • Mascara: Benefit's They're Real Mascara ($22);  Buxom Lash ($19); Buxom Amplified Lash ($22); or L'Oreal False Fiber Mascara ($8)
  • False Eyelash Strips: Ardell #53 ($4), Mod Lash #108 ($5), or Red Cherry,747S ($13 for 6pk).
After my eyes are done, I clean up any fall-out under the eyes with a damp wash cloth or make-up remover towelette. (read full story...) 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Penny's LBD (for nails)

Penny here!
Just dropping a quick line to share my latest look...I call it Penny's Little Black Dress (LBD)...for nails. LOL! It is often called a 'black french manicure.'  (See pics below...looks better in person). It is by no means a new trend, just something I had not tried before. I like it! Halloween has come and gone but this is quite a sexy little number for the holidays if you ask me. It's a funky twist if you're not afraid of the dark. LOL!
  • Achieve the look:  Just polish the whole nail with 2 coats of matte black polish...let dry...then polish across the tip with a shiny clear top coat. I bought the black matte polish online at; its called Body, by SpaRitual ($10).  Because matte polishes are an older trend I had a hard time finding a matte black polish in store, but I would check there first.
I first talked to my manicurist a couple weeks ago about this look and showed her some pics I found on the Internet. She had not done it before but was down to try it. A couple days ago I tried it myself first using french manicure strips from CVS to mark off the tip I would paint clear, but it left a ridge when I pulled off the tape. I was going to try another technique but when I showed my manicurist she said she could do the tip free hand without the tape. I let her try it and it came out great. You can do this with ANY matte polish by the way. I know OPI has my favorite navy (Russian Navy) & deep purple (Lincoln Park After Dark) in a matte formula...I bet those would look cool too!

Wearability issue:
Day 3
Day 1 
I read on the Internet that you shouldn't use oils or lotions when you get your nails done with this look because it affects the matte polish (please ignore my ashy hands and dry cuticles in Day 1 pic...sigh). But it appears that warning isn't just for initial application. The only problem I'm having is that the matte doesn't seem to be staying that grayish dull matte color. I'm on Day 3 of this look and I think oils from hand/body lotion or maybe my hair could be changing the polish. If I wash my hands with soap and dry my nails completely they look a little better. But you have to look close to see the shiny tip. So I may put on a second thin layer of clear on my tip for more contrast. It just seems to me like that matte isn't staying truly matte. I tried cleaning my nails with hand sanitizer to see if the alcohol would reduce the luster but to no avail. This is a little disappointing to me because I have dry skin and will always have to use hand lotions. 

I'm curious to know if a matte top coat acts any differently than matte nail polish. I may try the look one more time with regular polish. I read one blogger who polished her nails with regular polish, then a shiny top coat. Once dried she used nail strips to cover her tip. Then she applied a matte top coat to the rest of the nail. Same look, different technique.

Be blessed. Be beautiful.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Nothing But Nails

Tao by Zoya (main color)
Over the Top by Essie (accent nail)
Penny here! As many of you know I have a 'thing' for nail polish. I've gotten lots of questions lately about the polishes I've been wearing so I just thought I'd share some of my finds. So far I stick to a few of my favorite brands. The apple of my eye right now are Zoya's 4-Free polishes ($8). As mentioned in my July 25th post, Zoya is a great long wear, polish with over 300 colors to choose from ( As a 4-Free polish Zoya's polishes are free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor.  Back in July I reported that the only down side was that these polishes were not widely available. Well since then I have now found Zoya in my local ULTA Beauty stores. According to their Customer Service department, these polishes are only sold at spas and salons. You can plug in your zip code on their website to see where the polishes are sold near you, or call: (800) 659-6909, Customer Service.

Marina, by Zoya
I also still love OPI ($9.50), and Essie. I also have a couple by China Glaze and my splurge buys are from Rescue Beauty Louge (, $18; usually buy on sale). I have a new Sephora by OPI color I haven't tried yet as well. I try to keep my personal collection to 45 bottles or less. LOL! I gave away about 5 bottles last week. I just prefer to buy my polish and take it with me to the nail salon every two weeks. That way I'm sure to get the look I want and not have to worry about whether they have my colors.

I'm currently wearing Tao by Zoya (see pic above)...from their Fall Collection called Smoke & Mirrors. I bought 6 colors from this collection but didn't keep them all. I get so many compliments on Tao when I wear it. There is also a similar color in the same line with a hint more blue than gray, called Marina. Check them out! I love to change my colors with the seasons so I've been doing lots of dark to medium tone colors...lots of grays, wines, purples and rich hues. I don't go ga ga for sparkles around the holidays but I may pull out something dark with a gold or bronze shimmer like Jem by Zoya. (read full story...)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Penny's Pinked

Hello my lovelies!
Even if you lived under a rock some place you would know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness (BCA) month. :-) Nevermind that the month is almost over...its never too late to show your support. I don't think I know anyone who has NOT been touched by breast cancer or some form of cancer in their lives. It has taken the lives of so many and will threaten many more if we don't continue to support the research and technologies that are hopefully bringing us closer to a cure, and helping to prolong lives today. Take a look at the statistics from the National Cancer Institute (NCI):
Raise Awareness by Essie, $8.50
Here are some other organizations to check out as well:
Some of you may have already seen this article from Total Beauty with 10 myths about the causes of breast cancer. Interesting stuff. Check it out:

Penny believes that every penny counts (no pun intended)! LOL! So whether you give $1 while paying for groceries, or $5 while buying cosmetics; or whether you write a name on a ribbon to hang in the window in honor of a loved one; or wear pink all month long...every gesture of support generates awareness and hopefully education. Early detection is key. So Penny's been pinking it up wherever she can and just wanted to take a moment to share some of the easy ways (while beauty shopping) that you can contribute to finding a cure for this disease.
 (read full story...)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Penny's Sharing

Hi all:
Penny stumbled across this article on Bobbi Brown's website and thought it was worth sharing. It talks about 'being yourself' and being proud to accentuate your features...instead of focusing on what you may consider your flaws. Make-up should be fun and should enhance your features...even Penny sometimes forgets that.

Check it out (paste link into browser if not active):


Be blessed. Be beautiful.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lip Sync

Hi folks:
Last night I began chatting with my cousin about the 'nude' lip look I was wearing with my burgundy smoky eyes. The most important tip for a good nude lip is to first diffuse your own natural lip color with a lip pencil that matches or is close to your skin tone. If you blend the pencil over the entire lip it gives you a nice blank canvas to work with.

On my eyes I wore a Bobbi Brown's Cream shadow in Cement as a base. Then I smoked out my eyes with MAC's eye shadows in Sketch topped with Agate (Limited Edition) for some shimmer. I also blended in Bobbi Brown's Eye Shadow in Cocoa in the crease and above. I finished with Urban Decay's 24/7 Eye Liner in Zero (black) on my lids and smudged across my lower water line. I finished my lower lash line with a dusting of Sketch eye shadow over the black pencil to keep it in place.
I was wearing the following lip products:
Selma Hayek's NUANCE Color Vibrance Lipstick in Shimmering Nude ($9.99, CVS only)

Sephora Collection Nano Lip Liner in Belle Beige ($5, Sephora)
I also love to finish the look with this gloss; its the perfect compliment. I sometimes wear just the liner and the gloss too.
MAC Lustreglass in Love Nectar ($14.50)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Penny's UPDATE - Blank Face

Hi All:
Since my post on September 17th about facial cleansers/make-up removers I tried a new product I have come to like. On one of my many visits to Sephora I came across another great find in the bins near the check-out line with the travel size and mini items. I've been curious about the Boscia brand for some time. So I was pleased to see the mini-bottle of  Boscia's Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil (mini was about $10-$17).

This cleansing oil contains a blend of botanical oils that break up make-up without drying out the skin; much like my beloved Bobbi Brown Cleansing Oil ($39). Bobbi Brown's formula contains olive and jojoba oils for softening, while ginger root extract is said to soothe and calm the skin. Boscia is a natural line and the Boscia's Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil (5oz, $26) is paraben-free, phalate-free, and free of dyes, and perfumes. It is really gentle and has a slightly cooling feeling and smell (possibly from the eucaplyptus and menthol), but neither lingers. The Bosica product also contains jojoba oil, as well as, rose hip oil (Vitamins A & C), and coconut and palm oils. I love that it takes off all my make-up and cleanses my face well without any drying or tigthening. It does not leave an oily residue and rinses clean. And unlike the Neutrogena Naturals Fresh Cleanser and Make-up Remover mentioned in my previous post, it does not burn my eyes or have a strong smell. Although the Neutrogena product is the most budget friendly, I prefer the Boscia cleanser and would definitely buy this again.

Be blessed. Be beautiful.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Penny's Addiction

Hello Friends:
Have you ever heard of lip balm addiction? Well, Penny began to wonder about her own penchant for lip balm so it was time for some research. I don't mean research for the newest and most effective lip balm on the market by advertising standards. I mean research on whether or not there is something called 'lip balm addiction.'  According to my findings lip balm addiction is a myth.  Yes, I now know there are groups out there dedicated to 'support' lip balm abusers (who knew?) but there is no scientific or medical proof that constant use of lip balm is actually an addiction. There is nothing in lip balms that is habit forming or that compells us to be psychologically dependent on them, so continous use is not considered an addiction. So why does Penny have a tube of lip balm within arms reach at all times...home, purse, car, office, etc? Inquiring minds wanna know. LOL!

Lips normally have a very thin oily film on their surface that provides natural protection against moisture loss. As someone with generally dry skin and eczema, I didn't think it unusal that I had dry lips (not usually chapped, but dry). I also have to consider my frequent beauty product trials as some may have adverse effects on me. For example, there is something in MAC lipsticks that cause my lips to dry out severely and crack at the corners. After several trials I found that I could use their lip glosses but not their lipsticks, and I can't use anything constantly for a long period of time. I don't wear lipstick or lip gloss every day, but I do apply lip balm multiple times a day. Lately I feel like the more lip balm I apply, the more I need to apply it. So it got me to thinking....why do my lips feel dry all the time? Is there something in the lip balm that's causing the dryness? That is one theory. Because I don't lick my lips often (a common cause of dryness), I had to consider the ingredients in my lip balms. I've used many brands over the years such as Chap Stick, Blistex, Burt's Bee's, Aquaphor, Palmer's Medicated Lip Balm, and Sephora's Super Nourishing Lip Balm. I noticed that I often used "medicated" lip balms to soothe my feeling of dry lips and I enjoyed the tingling sensation caused by most. However, many of these balms, even the 'natural' ones, contain menthol, camphor, or peppermint oil which have been said to be a 'cause' of lip irritation and dryness. Some also contain fragrance and citric acid both of which I have a sensitivity too. So what is a gal to do to get a more perfect pout? (read full story...)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Blank Face

Question for all your make-up mavens out there....what do you use to REMOVE your make-up at night? I hope that no one is going to bed with make-up on. Humph! If you are, just don't let Penny know...she gets all worked up over things like that. LOL!

Penny has tried a number of make-up removers over the years and some may get foundation off but not mascara; others may get mascara off  but not foundation; so the search for one good product went on. Some of you are wondering...what's wrong with good old soap and water? LOL! Nothing at all...if you want to spend some time 'beating down the mug' (as one of Penny's friends would say). LOL! I always seem to have residue if I don't use something to break down the waterproof gel eyeliner, lipstick, and the various formulas of mascara I like to wear. Eyeshadow and foundation come off pretty easily with soap and water, but some products need an oil-based solvent to dissolve them.

Penny's favorite make-up remover/cleanser is Bobbi Brown's Cleansing Oil ($39, Bloomingdales). I love the feel and smell of Bobbi Brown's product but most importantly I love that it removes ALL my make-up at once. I put the oil cleanser on a dry face and gently rub it over my lids and lashes, and even my lips. This gentle oil dissolves everything and doesn't burn my eyes or leave my skin dry. The only drawback is the price. It is too expensive to purchase on a regular basis but is good for someone who doesn't use make-up often therefore allowing it to last longer. I love that this is a one-step process for cleaning my face and removing my make-up. BB Cleansing Oil is very similar to the more expensive Shu Uemura Cleansing Oils. Shu Uemura was said to be the pioneer of cleansing oils that remove make-up while maintaining the skin's balance.

Before I discovered BB Cleansing Oil, I used Clinique's Take the Day Off ($18, Sephora) for many years. This product is advertised as a make-up remover for "lids, lashes and lips" and it works well on all three. Just shake well before using (you will see the liquid separates in the bottle); saturate a cotton ball, and gently hold over your lid allowing the product to penetrate the eyeshadow and mascara for a few seconds, then wipe away the make-up. You may have to do this a few times. The only thing I didn't care for is the slightly oily residue this product left on my lids. But you have to wash your face afterwards anyway. What I did like was that it did not irritate my eyelids like other removers I tried in the past. My skin is super sensitive and my lids are easily irritated due to allergies. But this product worked fine. (read full story...)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Foundation Fix

Hi there!
Penny misses you all. It's been a hectic month and a half, and I wasn't able to get here, but here I am. Before I get into my love for the change of seasons and all the fun fall trends that I've been reading about these past few weeks, I want to talk about my latest make-up foundation. Cover FX Total Coverage Cream Foundation SPF 30 (Sephora, $42).

With my melasma becoming more of an issue this summer (due to my own neglect and being out in the sun), I needed a full coverage foundation.  The Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation, and the L'Oreal True Match that I started the summer with wasn't enough to cover all my dark spots without a lot of concealer. The Cover FX was a referral by one of my favorite beauty bloggers (MusingsofaCityGirl-Cindy Diaz). I asked her for some suggestions and decided to try Cover FX. It is a foundation and concealer in one, which I so desparately needed. I was trying different concealers at the time because I noticed that in flash photos my MAC Studio Sculpt concealer was showing lighter under my eyes (reverse raccoon). I'm still not sure if it was a concealer problem, powder problem or foundation problem. But with the Cover FX this issue was greatly minimized.

Cover FX comes in over 30 shades but I highly recommend getting a professional to assist you in choosing the right shade for you. I was originally going to make my first purchase online, but eventually called around to three different Sephora locations before I found the product. When I went into the store I had a post-it note with the shade "I thought" was the right one for me, based on what I researched online. But when the sales rep offered to help me and swatched it on my jawline, I was completely off. The shade was too light. Turned out I was in a whole different category and after about three swatches we found that I was a B15. Since I get very pale in the colder months, I'm sure to purchase a different shade then by going back to Sephora and getting swatched again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hair Affair

Hello there!

Are you looking for a new blow dryer, flat iron or curling iron? Are you a D-I-Y kinda gal that will give yourself a blow out, instead of going to the salon? Well Penny has a tip or two for you!

For the past few months I have been using a great blow dryer, flat iron and sometimes curling iron regimen. One of the things I like most about these hot tools is that they are 'wallet-friendly' but high quality. Both the blow dryer and flat iron I'm about to describe were recommended by a friend who has natural hair, but wears her hair in straight styles. I got a chance to see how they worked on her hair and I liked it. The curling iron I've had for a while and probably found after doing research on ceramic irons.
Natural Hair
(Damp; after wash & condition)

Conair Pro Silverbird 2000 Watts (Sally's,; $35-$39.99) - This dryer was so much lighter than my previous one, which was the first reason I was sold on it. My hair is curly, med/long in length and can be challenging to blow out straight.  I also like the comb/pik attachment because I can't blow out my own hair with a round brush like some folks. With the high heat settings I am able to get my hair very straight and it doesn't take much time (see pics). After I washed and conditioned my hair, I applied a little leave-in conditioner; and squeezed out the excess water with a towel. Then I worked some Sabino Lok and Blok serum (, $22) throughout, as I detangled my hair with a wide-toothed comb. After letting my hair air dry half way, I blow dry it completely. (see pic)
After blow dry w/ comb

Penny isn't Penny without products. LOL! In addition to the moisture lock (Lok & Block) which I believe is essential to my smooth blow out, I use the following products when styling my hair (not always at the same time):
  • CHI Iron Guard 44 - thermal protection spray
  • PhytoSpecific Moisturizing Styling Balm w/ Qunioa Oil
  • Elasta QP Curl Wax w/ Aloe and Lanolin
- Always use a thermal protection product to protect your hair when using hot tools.
- Learn the proper heat settings for your hair type; every tool should have a guide. The last thing you want to do is burn your hair. Luckily with the new ceramic and tourmaline technology this is harder to do than it used to be.
- Use a damp washcloth to wipe clean your hot tool as you use it. While using the flat iron and/or curling iron I find it helpful to carefully wipe them clean as I finish a 1/4 section of my hair (I section it off in 4-5 areas usually). By cleaning each tool it helps to eliminate any product residue that could burn on the plate or barrel. No one likes to walk around smelling like an electrical fire. LOL!
- Look for hair tools with Ceramic, Tourmaline, and/or Ionic technology. Ceramic plates distribute an even heat preventing hot spots on the iron which can burn hair. It's better if the tool is not painted with a ceramic coating as over time that coating could start to peel or chip, leaving behind a burn smell and snagging the hair. A tool with ceramic and tourmaline means that it probably uses Far Infared heat. This type of heating heats the hair from the inside out, causing less surface damage. It is also said that tourmaline helps the hair to be smoother, more shiny, and frizz-free. When you see the word ionic on a product this means that the iron produces negative ions. Negative Ions work to eliminate frizz and static by smoothing and closing the cuticle layer.  (read full story....)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Nail Polish in the News?

Hi All!

Many of you know Penny is fast becoming a nail polish nerd. LOL!  I am proud to say that I've managed to keep my collection to 50 or far. What can I say...I just like what I like. Part of the reason for my obsession with nail polish is this great nail blog I subscribe to called All Lacquered Up.  I find lots of great new polishes and colors through this blog (check out her gallery). So I found it interesting that this blogger was chosen to debate "nail polish" of all things in The Opinion Pages of  The New York Times. (See link)

Why Did Wild Nail Polish Go Mainstream?

The 'comments' are just as interesting (if not more so) as the topics being discussed by the seven debaters. If you get a chance I suggest reading some of the other articles by those in this debate. No matter how you feel about nail polish COLORS these days, there is no denying that it's the newest IT accessory.  Not only have colors changed over the years, but nail art, textures and techniques are now all the rage. While Penny is still somewhat conservative after all these years (no crackle, no gems, no designs, etc)...I began to go out on a limb about a year ago with some of the trendy colors in varying shades of grays, blues, purples and greens.

My brand du jour is Zoya!   It's a great long wear, polish with over 300 colors to choose from. It is also a 4-Free polish (free of toluene, formaldehyde, DBP (phthalates) and camphor). The only down side is that these polishes are not widely available. They are only sold at spas and salons. You can plug in your zip code on their website to see where the polishes are sold near you, or call: (800) 659-6909, Customer Service. Yes...Penny called. LOL! I am fortunate enough to be able to purchase my polishes at Hair Cosmopolitan (& Salon) in White Flint Mall, Rockville, MD, not far from my job. I also order online. Right now Penny is trying to refrain from pre-ordering several of the new fall colors. LOL!

I still use OPI and Essie polishes as well. They have great collections and are also long wearing. OPI  and Essie offer 3-free polishes too. The other polishes I want to try in the future are Butter London, SpaRitual and NARS. I like Chanel's colors but choose not to pay $23 for a bottle of polish when there are so many budget-friendly brands to choose from. My only splurge has been a couple of Rescue Beauty Lounge (RBL) polishes ($18 ea) when there was a discount promo. ;-)
My favorite top coat is Seche Vite Quick Dry Top Coat (CVS, ULTA; $9.95)...great shine and durability. My polish looks 10x better, and lasts longer. I found that the nail salons don't always use a quality top coat, which defeats the purpose of a good manicure if you ask me. (Don't be fooled by what the bottle says). I take my polish and top coat with me to just about every salon visit. If I had natural nails (I wear acrylics or silk wraps) I would probably try Seche Vite's nail strengthener as well.

NOTE: Free polishes are polishes developed without key toxic chemicals that we should be aware of in our polishes. See this link for a more detailed explanation:

Check out this link for an extensive list of 3-free and 4-free polishes:

Be blessed. Be beautiful.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Penny's UPDATE - More Sunscreen


This is just a brief follow-up to the posts I did previously (May 25th & 27th) on the importance of SUNSCREENS.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently cracked down on sunscreen manufacturers and what they can claim on their labels. Key things to note:
  • Manufacturers now have to 'prove' that their products protect against UVA and UVB rays if claiming that they reduce the risk of skin cancer, wrinkles, and sunburn
  • Sunscreens also have to have an SPF of at least 15 to make that same claim [NOTE: Most dermatologists recommend no less the SPF 30].
  • FDA is barring the use of the terms: sunblock, waterproof, and sweatproof
  • Labels must be changed to reflect the new requirements
  • FDA also plans to ban the use of any SPF rating above 50, since there is no evidence to prove that those products provide adequate protection.
Here is a link to the Washington Post article from June 14, 2011 regarding the FDA's requirements...check it out!

Be blessed. Be beautiful. Be smart. Be safe.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lip Locked (Part Deux)

Penny here!
For some reason after I post something I remember six other things I should have included in my write up. smh. LOL!

So in my last post Penny encouraged folks to 'update' their lip look and be sure that they were choosing the right liner, and blending their lip liner correctly.  Most everyone has natrual color to their lips; look closely at yours when shopping for a brown or nude lip liner. Here are the important things to remember:
  1. Blend your lip liner by pressing your lips together and moving them back and forth, or use your finger to lightly smudge the line inward. 
  2. Do not overline your lips. Search Google and Youtube for techniques on how to line your lips (especially if you want them to appear fuller).
  3. Find a lip liner color that matches your natural lip color or your lipstick  
  4. Find a color liner that compliments your lipstick or gloss (not one that directly contrasts it)
  5. To get the most out of your lip color one trick the pros use is to dab a little foundation or concealer on your lips to diffuse your natural lip color and let the true color of your liner and lipstick show through. This is especially good for the "nude lips" look. NOTE: Try not to do this every day as it could dry out your lips. M.A.C. used to have a product called Lip Erase, not sure if its still available.
Just to be clear, Penny's not saying that you can't wear dark brown lip liner with something other than brown lipstick or gloss. I'm saying if you do...if there is a look you're going for...if your natural lip color is close to dark brown...then please, please, please blend the heck out of  your lip liner so that the lines are diffused and your lips don't enter the room before you do! LOL! This also applies to purple liner with pink lipstick, etc. Lip liner should be blended into the lipstick. Lip liner can also help your lipstick color to last longer if you fill in your lips entirely with a matching color lip liner. If your comfort zone only allows you to use dark liner, then try a lipstick or lipgloss shade that compliments the darker liner instead of one that is in direct contrast with it. 

Back in the day the look was M.A.C's Chestnut liner with popular shades like  Oh Baby, Chai, or Explicit.  Rupaul rocked the look as late as 2008...but he/she is Rupaul after all! LOL! To update the look, try M.A.C liner in Cork or Oak, and Tinted Lipglass in C-Thru, Spite, or Revealing. Cork also looks great with Hug Me and Honeylove lipsticks. Penny also noticed that the more modern take on this duo usually includes a creamy, or lustre formula lip color or high gloss...instead of a 'frost' formula. (read full story...)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Lip Locked (Revised)

NOTE: Penny wrote this piece a couple years ago (pre-blog) but decided to revise and re-release here goes. Penny knows she's going to get a lot of flack for this one...but oh well. LOL!.

"Back away from the dark lip liner/light lipstick combination!"
We all know the look...we see it all the time. [Think Pamela Anderson, Kim Mathers, and Sara Palin...yikes!].  Yes, this is an outdated look ladies. Don't shoot the messenger; I'm not setting fashion trends or making up beauty rules. LOL! Speaking of rules...there are always exceptions....let's talk about your options. 
"To line, or not to line?...that is the question."
The purpose of lip liner is to keep your lipstick from ‘bleeding’ onto your skin. Some use it to even out lip shape or to try to make your lips appear a little fuller. Lip liner is also supposed to look ‘natural’ according to the pros. When applying your lip liner, remember that it should to be the same color as your natural lip color, no more than one shade darker, or the same color as the lipstick/lipgloss. Never use black anything to line your lips unless your creating a vampire look. LOL! Always blend your lip liner well by smudging it from the outer edges of the lip inward toward the center; its easist to use your finger. Do not leave a hard line around your lips; this is called overlining. If you think blending the liner will change your lipstick or lipgloss color, then pick a shade close to the lipstick/gloss color. It's the APPLICATION as well as the COLOR combination that makes lips hot!

Penny loved her M.A.C. Chestnut liner too back in the day...but now it only goes with dark lipstick shades and is blended well. There are other shades of medium brown liner (i.e., Cork, Stripdown, Spice, Hover by M.A.C.) that will give you a more updated look if blended well with your lipstick or gloss...look for medium browns or pinkish-browns that can be worn with a variety of colors. This is especially for you ladies who have a hard time letting go...just go a little lighter and blend well. (read full story...)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Penny's Not Done - More Sunscreen

 It's 9am....Do you know where you SUNSCREEN is? 

Okay folks! Its currently 91 degrees and sunny where I am now! Well, let's face it, most of us don't wear sunscreen daily or even think about it as we get dressed each day (unless we work outdoors). Penny admits that although I wear sunscreen on my face daily, and have for many years, I don't think about my body. I have worked in a corporate office for most of my career and I can easily go an entire day without being out in the sun for more than the time it takes to get to my car and commute to and from work. But I really want to change my habits and become more protective of my skin. It doesn't have to be complicated people. We develop bad habits in an instant...and keep them for half a lifetime. Why not develop some good ones? LOL!

If you dread an extra step to apply sunscreen in the morning (cause everyone knows we don't have a minute to spare!)...then purchase a body lotion "with" sun protection. The key is to look for 'broad spectrum' products; products that fight UVA and UVB rays. Here are a couple body lotions with SPF you muight want to try:
  • Eucerin Extra Protection Moisturizing Body Lotion, SPF 15 ($9.99, 13.5oz Target)
  • Yes to Carrots Hydrating Lotion with SPF 30 ($14, 4.2oz, Walmart)
  • KIEHL'S Creme de Corps Light-Weight Body Lotion SPF 30 ($27, Bloomingdales)
  • Lubriderm Advanced Therapy Moisturizer with Sunscreen SPF 30 ($6.99, ULTA) *
* Some may contain 'oxybenzone' which may cause allergic reactions amongst other things. See blog post from May 25th.

Here are some more commonly seen brands of sunscreen as well. I found that the list I gave you the other day had lots of brands I've never heard of that may be hard to find. So here are some that should be more recognizable.
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 ($10,
  • Banana Boat Sport Performance Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30 ($10, Target)*
  • NO-AD Ultra Sunblock Lotion, SPF 30 ($9, Kmart) *
  • Walgreens Sport SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion ($2.99, Walgreens)*

* Some may contain 'oxybenzone' which may cause allergic reactions amongst other things. See blog post from May 25th.

Penny also recommends NOT using the same product that you use on your body, for your face. Especially if you have sensitive skin. Almost every brand mentioned in these blog posts has a formula specifically for the FACE. There are also formulas for babies and kids needs.  (read full story...)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Penny's UPDATE - Skin is In

Guess who?

This morning I came across an article about sunscreen that caught my attention. Penny 'was' a sun worshipper in another youthful life. But today she has to be much more wise and conservative about her bake time. LOL! The lovely color that once came naturally to this Virgin Island native is harder to achieve these days. With so many changes to my skin in the past 10 yrs (i.e. melasma, sun spots, eczema, etc)...some from age or hormones...and some from bad habits...I'm now more protective of my skin than ever before. After all, dermatologists and aestheticians have been telling me for years to protect myself from the sun...the sun I love. *sigh* Now I know why. Sun damage is no joke. And in case you haven't noticed Mother Nature has been coming at us with a vengeance for years now...everything occurs at a heightened state. We must be careful of UVA and UVB rays. Growing up in the Caribbean I had never even heard of either. But today we must be more diligent about using sunscreen. Not only are we to wear it DAILY but we need to re-apply it to (especially if exposed to sun regularly or continuously).

And don't be fooled by "high" sun protection factor (SPF). Many believe that the high SPF is no more effective than others with a lower number, and that it gives folks a false sense of security. Please take a moment to read this article that provides more detail on the types of sunscreen to avoid...and ones to try:  (Click on the link)

In my post from May 3, Skin is In, I mentioned that it was important to use sunscreen and listed Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 30   as the one I was currently using. Well according to the article, this sunblock contains "oxybenzone" which it turns out can cause 'allergic reactions and is a potential hormone disruptor.'  Well, Penny needs no help disrupting the hormones so I will be shopping this weekend for a new sunblock from the following 'recommended' list. LOL!

(read full story...)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Penny's UPDATE - Eye Shadow Primer

Hi all:
Hope everyone is well and enjoying their Sunday afternoon.
As promised, I’m going to start posting UPDATES to some of my previous posts. Most times I reply to individual questions about a particular product but then others who have the same questions may not get the answers they're looking for. So whenever there is something new to report even if its a previous posted product, I will try to post a new blog about it.
In my April 27th blog I recommended Stila Prime Pot in Caramel ($20, Sephora)…I said it was the perfect primer (for those with dark lids like Penny)…well, it’s not so perfect. I think I may have jumped the gun on this one and I was wrong. (Stranger things have happened. LOL! Remember that Penny is on the ‘trial & error’ plan too). For those who do not have oily eyelids or a problem with eye shadow creasing, then this primer may still be a good buy for you. But I have since used this primer on warm days when my face tends to get oily and the primer did not hold up (see pic).  Here is my previous list of pros and cons…revised.

  • Holds my eye shadow in place all day
  • Neutralizes the uneven skin tone on my lids
  • Creates a smooth surface to work with
  • Doesn’t crease
  • Easy to apply (for Penny at least)
  • Dries quickly
  • Creases if you have oily lids
  • Only comes in 2 colors (Caramel & Tawny)
  • Dries quickly (for some this can make it harder to apply)
(read full story...)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Skin is In II

I think Penny got tired during the last post because she forgot to mention a couple of products. LOL! Until a week ago when I received my order of Passion Body Butter from Forplai, I was successfully using and loving the following products.
  • Trader Joe's 'A Midsummer's Night Cream' Moisturizing Cream, Extra Dry Formula (unscented) - This pH balanced herbal blend body lotion is an excellent, non-greasy, rich cream that absorbs quickly and tackles my dry skin all day. It is inexpensive ($3.99 I think) and works as well or better than lots of the more expensive lotions on the market. Unfortunately if you don't have a Trader Joe's grocery store near you, its not always available online.
  • African Shea Butter Oil 100% (unscented) - This is a gem I stumbled upon on one of my many shopping trips at LOL! I love this oil! It is pure shea butter that is processed differently so that you get a thick oil that pours instead of a hard solid cream in a jar that you have to scoop. It has little bits of solid shea butter in and absorbs into the skin without feeling heavy. Most of all it helps control the nighttime dryness and itching I experience from my eczema. This is exactlty like the pure shea butter I've bought in the past from random vendors but in a more convenient, liquid formula. I found that the product was cheaper on Amazon than on the distributor's site once you add in shipping & handling.  (; $10, 8oz; $17, 16oz, plus S&H).
This is my nighttime treatment.  I will continue to use this regimen and use the body butter as an alternate nighttime treatment.To successfully treat my eczema I have combined body lotion with a light body oil for many years. I believe this combination helps keep my skin moisturized the entire day. In the mornings I use the same Trader Joe's Moisturizing Cream combined with Neutrogena Sesame Body Oil or Origins Ginger Glossing Oil.  I love the fresh, citrus smell of these products.

(read full story...)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Skin is In

Penny here!
It's time for us to show some skin!'s that time of year again to ready our skin for the exposure it gets in the warm spring and summer. One of the best ways to prep your skin is to exfoliate and moisturize regularly. And always remember your sunblock. Those of you living in warmer climates should already practice this beauty regimen.
Exfoliating helps rid the body of dry dead skin and dullness to reveal smooth more vibrant skin. Focus on elbows, knees, heels, and any place you feel dry, rough, patches. Often we neglect our skin in the winter months because we keep it covered up. So now is a good time to pay special attention to it. Be gentle even with exfoliation; just because you want to rid yourself of dead skin, does not mean you should be harsh or use anything abrasive.
Penny has been known to partake in a brown sugar body scrub or two (or five, LOL). I even make my own from time to time with the simplest of recipes using kitchen ingredients:
  • Light brown sugar
  • Honey
  • Pure Olive or almond oil
Combine all ingredients adding the oil slowly until you make a paste. This scrub may be applied to damp or dry skin. I prefer to apply to dry skin in very light circular motions. Be careful when you shower off the paste as the shower floor/bathtub surface will become slick from the oil. (Use a household cleanser strong enough to remove the oil). You can add other essential oils and spices to your concoction if you choose. Surf the Internet for your favorite recipe!

Lately I have indulged in another scrub. Bath and Body Works now has a Sudsing Scrub ($13, ). I love the Aromatherapy lines Energy (orange-ginger) and Stress Relief (eucalyptus-spearmint) scents.  These scrubs not only wash clean and smell great, but they leave your skin super smooth and soft.  BBW's Aromatherapy line also offers Sugar Scrubs ($16) in my two favorite scents as well as others like Sensual (jasmine-vanilla), Energy (lemon zest), Sleep (lavender-vanilla), Stress Relief (vanilla-verbena), and Sleep (lavender-chamomile). 

Body butters are Penny's favorites. Since I have dry skin (eczema) I need serious moisture and not products with high water contents. Sephora Collection Super Supreme Body Butter ($14) is one of my favorites. It's rich yet light and non-greasy; it absorbs well into the skin. It has a nice smell but scent is a personal thing so take a whiff from the tester while you're in the store if you plan to try this for the first time. LOL!

Penny is also trying a fairly NEW Body Butter. Actor turned entrepreneur Lamman Rucker teamed up with Kofee & Kompany (a Dallas-based spa) to create line of skin care called FORPLAI. I have to confess that I was curious because I love me some Lamman Rucker! (Who doesn't dig Sherriff Troy? LOL!) So I ordered the Passion Body Butter ($22, 4oz).   There are two lines available containing a body mist, body scrub, and body butter. Passion is described as a "unisex fragrance; warm and sensual with hints of chocolate, caramel and vanilla."
(read full story...)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prime Time!

Today I’m going to tell you about a great eye shadow primer that I’ve been using.  Since Penny has issues with dark eye lids, I needed a primer with some base color…something that would neutralize my dark lids so that my eye shadow colors show true. I also hate when my eye shadow creases as the day goes on; which happens more during these warm weather months if you don't use primer. On a recent visit to Sephora I asked the rep for Sephora’s Tricks of the Trade eye shadow primer, as it had that light tint and good staying power…it was also a bargain at $6-$12! LOL! But they didn’t have it. When I told her what I needed from my primer, she recommended Stila Prime Pot in Caramel ($20, Sephora)….PERFECT!


·         Holds my eye shadow in place all day

·         Neutralizes the uneven skin tone on my lids

·         Creates a smooth surface to work with

·         Doesn’t crease

·         Easy to apply (for Penny at least)

·         Dries quickly


·         Only comes in 2 colors (Caramel & Tawny)

·         Dries quickly (for some this can make it harder to apply)

The Stila Prime Pot claims to work on all skin tones, but I’m not sure how that could be with the two (light) shades they have. The 'Caramel' shade works perfectly for me. The young lady who recommended the product said that she tried it but it was ‘too light’ for her dark chocolate brown complexion. Unless you plan to cover the entire eye lid with pigmented shadow it would look odd to have the primer showing if it doesn’t compliment your skin tone. I guess I’d have to see it on someone darker than me…hmmmm.
Although the #1 eye shadow primer (at least according to the beauty magazines) is supposed to be Urban Decay’s Primer Potion Tube ($18, Sephora)…Penny was not impressed. There was not much coverage for my discolored lids and it creased on me a time or two. These come in different shades and formulas…Original, Eden, and Sin & Greed.  Too Faced Shadow Insurance ($18, Sephora) is supposed to be a good one too…but I’ve never tried it.   Most recently I was using NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base ($24, Sephora); it works fine but goes on clear.

Use your fingers to apply Prime Pot but blend quickly with short strokes because the cream base dries quickly. You don't want to have to layer it because then it can be difficult to blend. I just dip my finger tip in the cream or or use a Q-Tip to put a little on my finger tip and then blend over my entire lid.

Be blessed. Be beautiful.

  • UPDATE:  So today was the first 80+ degree day since I've been wearing my Stila Prime Pot eye shadow primer, and it didn't do so well. Interestingly I only wore primer today; no eye shadow. Not sure if this made a difference but I wasn't outdoors for long but my primer was creased by late afternoon. :-(  I will probably still wear Prime Pot for the coverage it gives of my dark lids, but maybe its not the best-of-the-best for Penny if its going to crease. I experimented this weekend too and used my NARS Smudgeproof Primer underneath the Prime Pot when I went out dancing, and believe it or not, my eye shadow looked better than I did at 5am! LOL!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Nail News! Earth Day Sale!

Hi all:
Penny wanted to share news of one of my favorite sales that occurs this time of year in honor of Earth Day. [See Penny's post from June 3, 2010].

Zoya is once again celebrating Earth Day with their Nail Polish Exchange program which offers us a chance to recycle all of our old nail polish or just colors we don't like any more...used or unused, any (non-Zoya) brand. Then you can replace them all with Zoya's beautiful polishes for just $4 each. I have several Zoya polishes and I love them all. Here's all you need to do!

  1. Go to and pick out the polishes you would like and add them to your cart. You must select at least 6 bottles and no more than 24 bottles of polish.
  2. Apply the code: EARTHZOYA
  3. Your order value will be adjusted to reflect the promotion  
  4. SUBMIT your order!
Choose from over 300 formaldehyde, toluene, camphor and dibutyl phthalate (DBP) free, long-lasting, award winning, healthy colors to replace your old color! Zoya will properly dispose of your old polish.

Now is a perfect time to replenish your polish supply! Find new colors for the spring and summer...or even purchase hard find fall colors. If you don't have six (6) bottles of your own, share the sale with a friend and split the goodies. Check this out soon because this sale only runs from April 20 - 27, 2011 (11:59 PM/EST). (read full story...)