opinions on beauty, culture & life

Mind-Blowing TV…

***spoiler alert! if you are not watching AMC’s The Killing, please stop reading now, click here, and catch up! some full episodes will only be available online until June 20th. or you can wait for Netflix to release the dvd’s. after you’ve caught up, come back and read this post!***

I just had my mind blown. I love it when that happens!

It just happens so rarely with TV. For me, it’s happened on a few occasions, with The X-Files, Alias, Lost, Breaking Bad, Rubicon (please bring it back, AMC!), and Mad Men.

I admit, The Killing has had a few slow episodes, and sometimes it’s difficult to watch. It’s a heavy show. But I’m telling you, keep watching! This moment is soooooo worth it!

Watch it here: http://www.amctv.com/the-killing/videos/the-killing-talked-about-scenes-richmonds-deadly-secret

It’s a gasp-outloud twist I didn’t see coming. Love it! Kudos to the writers…you guys nailed it here.

Catch the season finale this Sunday on AMC. I can’t wait to see what Richmond has to say for himself. Here’s a sneak peak: http://www.amctv.com/the-killing/videos/the-killing-sneak-peek-episode-13-orpheus-descending.

samantha daffodil

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Sanitas Skincare

Don’t get me wrong: I love makeup. But I have a confession to make…good skincare is even more important! There’s so much you can do with makeup, but it can only cover up so much. If the canvas isn’t smooth, the painting’s not going to be either.

That’s why I’m so glad a friend recently introduced me to Sanitas skincare. I’ve found some new staples for my skincare routine for good.

Sanitas Solar Block is a healthy sunblock (not a chemical sunscreen), so I feel better about putting it on my face. Instead of chemicals absorbing into my skin, Solar Block soothes redness with zinc and vitamins as it provides a strong layer of protection from the sun. I’m very fair-skinned, so I know how important a good sunblock is. My favorite things about Solar Block are:

  • The smell. It doesn’t smell like sunblock. After all, that traditional “sunblock smell” is only appealing on the beach or at the pool. Solar Block just smells light and fresh.
  • The texture. It just smooths right on. I can actually tell that it visibly smooths the surface and texture of my skin and pores. It nearly acts as a primer for foundation.
  • The protection. It really does protect my fair skin. I wear it under my makeup every day, and as long as I’m not intentionally laying out in the sun and it’s a normal day, I never have to reapply. I haven’t tested it yet, but I’ll bet that even if I did lay out at 3pm (after applying in the am) I would be just fine. I applied it to my arms and chest this past sunny Sunday, and after sitting outside at a restaurant and walking on the bike path – not a bit of sunburn, or even redness!

It’s also oil-free and instead of clogging pores, it’s good for your skin. Sanitas Solar Block is definitely a lifetime product. Find more info on Solar Block here.

Sanitas Lemon Cream Scrub is another one of my new favorites. The number one most forgotten part of a good skincare routine is exfoliation. I’ve realized that I need to manually exfoliate at least two to three times a week to really maintain clear pores and a smooth texture. What I love most about Sanitas’ Lemon Cream Scrub is:

  • The smell. It’s delicious! Yum…
  • The texture. Its granules do the job, but they do it without scratching and damaging the skin. It’s milky and smooth. Most scrubs are too abrasive, and the unsymmetrical grains can scratch the skin and create the perfect environment for infections, bacteria, and acne.

As far as I’m concerned, Sanitas Lemon Cream Scrub is the perfect scrub. Find more info on Lemon Cream Scrub here.

Sanitas Glycotoner 5% is another great product. Applying Glycotoner is not necessarily a pleasant experience…it stings! But don’t worry, that means it’s working. My favorite part about Glycotoner 5%:

  • The benefits. This potent glycolic acid toner chemically exfoliates the skin, basically telling the dead skin cells to scoot and the new ones to emerge. It also helps to decrease pore size and blackheads by cleaning out the gunk. Glycolic acid is also a great preventative weapon against fine lines and wrinkles.

I use Glycotoner 5% a few times a week, and when I feel like my whole face doesn’t need it, I’ll just use a Q-Tip to treat my nose, between my eyebrows, and my chin area. Find more info on Glycotoner 5% here.

I assure you, there will be more wonderful Sanitas reviews to come! It’s such a great skincare line, and I love that it’s all-natural and made in Boulder, Colorado. Check out the full line at http://www.sanitas-skincare.com, and find Sanitas near you.

samantha daffodil

AMC’s The Killing

Last night was the fifth episode of the new AMC series, The Killing. Haven’t seen it yet? Well, it’s the kind of show you have to watch in the dark, wrapped in a blanket, while it’s raining. And like everything on AMC, it’s great TV. And like everything on AMC, it can be tough to stomach. In a recent promo of Breaking Bad, Brian Cranston says it takes backbone to watch their show…and the same goes for The Killing. It’s not exactly pleasurable to witness the intense grief of a family whose teenaged daughter was brutally murdered, but it is compelling human drama.

The Killing asks the question, “Who killed Rosie Larsen?” We know we won’t find out (not for a while, at least), but that’s the fun of it. The story builds slowly, so those who are used to watching Law and Order/CSI: (Insert City Here) will be itching for  more action.

But there’s plenty brewing under the cloudy Seattle surface. There’s a seemingly squeaky-clean politician, an inappropriate teacher-student relationship, and a loving father with a mobster past. The characters are mysterious, but accessible. We can tell that some of them will make bad decisions leading to bad results (much like Breaking Bad’s Walter White or Mad Men’s Don Draper). And we know that when that time comes, we won’t want to look away.

What I love most about all the shows on AMC (The Killing, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Rubicon, and The Walking Dead) is that they don’t assume that we’re stupid. Instead, they make the assumption that we’re intelligent consumers of culture who can reach our own conclusions and read between the lines. AMC characters aren’t stereotypical, one-note caricatures like the girls of Sex and the City (Miranda-The Feminist, Samantha-The Sexpot, Charlotte-The Princess). They’re complex – and they usually have a lot to hide. We don’t find out everything about them all at once, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. That’s what keeps us watching…what will we find out next?

Catch The Killing Sunday nights on AMC.

samantha daffodil

My take on Bare Minerals

I remember the first time I saw Bare Minerals makeup. My sister and I were in Chicago for Lollapalooza a few summers back, and it was so bloody hot. When we were getting ready one morning she pulled out a jar of Bare Minerals and proceeded to swirl, tap and buff. I had never seen anything like this method (up to this point I was a tinted-moisturizer-only girl), so I was very curious. I promptly drug her to the nearest Sephora bought a kit of my own. I remember being so excited because it seemed so complex…I mean there were actual steps you had to follow! My kit came with two yellow-based ivory shades, warmth, mineral veil, and a skin treatment and brushes.

I wore it the rest of the time we were in Chicago, and now that I think about it, I must have looked awful! First, that kind of powder just can’t stand up to extreme heat and humidity. Second, the kit I bought was the lightest one they offered at the time, but it still wasn’t light enough. I have fair pink skin – no yellow undertones here. I must have looked like a cakey, yellow, hot mess! After I went through the shades I got in my kit, I went with the “fair” shade. This was a much better match, but still went on pretty chalky.

I’ve tried to think back to what appealed to me about the kit at the time. The main selling point, I believe, is that it’s supposed to look natural – like your own skin. I also think the fact that there are specific “steps” makes it feel like a special regimen – something special that you have to do “just right” to be beautiful. God forbid you do something out of order!

As you can tell by now, I’m not a huge fan. I’ll say up front that I greatly admire the brand’s success and the CEO, Leslie Blodgett, because she is one smart lady. There are also some BM products I DO love, like their eyeshadows (messy, but gorgeous!), lipglosses (so moisturizing and pretty!), the Skin Rev-er Upper (it has glycolic and salicylic acids, so it’s really good for your complexion) and…well, that’s about it. I love Buxom lipsticks, but that’s their “sister-brand,” so it doesn’t really count.

So, the question is, why is Bare Minerals so damn popular?!? I’ve got one word for you.

Marketing (and The Power of the Infomercial)

You see, BM has really cornered the market on ladies who are obsessive about “looking natural,” and who “never used to wear makeup.” Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look natural – I like my foundation to look like a better version of my skin. But what I’ve noticed from working at Sephora (and trying to help *several* BM fans) is that BM attracts a certain type of customer. She says she never used to wear makeup like it’s something she deserves an award for. She asks you to match her shade and promptly corrects you (“Wrong! I’m Medium Beige”). Or better yet, she drags in a friend or sister, asks you to match them, and then corrects you (“Wrong! She’s Medium Beige”). And she is probably wearing her hair in a ponytail, and is wearing a sweatshirt.

(BTW, there’s nothing wrong with wearing a ponytail and a sweatshirt…in fact, I’m wearing BOTH right now. It’s just an observation…after a while BM customers tend to look the same.)

The kind of women that Bare Minerals appeals to are the kind of women who might not normally wear makeup…and that’s what’s so genius about their marketing strategy. They’ve actually managed to convince strict non-makeup-wearers that they need this foundation. They say it’s so good for your skin you can sleep in it (I wouldn’t recommend it, although it may not hurt). They say it will actually make your skin better (they’re not bad for your skin, but only the Matte version has the proven “Active Soil” complex to promote skin cell turnover). They say it will cover EVERYTHING, and that it won’t make you look older (wrong! Coverage is patchy and not ideal for scars, spots, freckles, etc. And it settles into fine lines like nobody’s business). They even say that you can use their concealer powders instead of regular concealer (for blemishes and under-eye), and that you need another powder to set your foundation powder and your concealer powders! That’s 3-4 powders!

Isn’t this starting to sound ridiculous?

So, the women who normally would NEVER set a foot into a Sephora are willing to hand over money for Bare Minerals. These are the women that act personally offended when you tell them that, “yes, the price of that lipstick is $14” (and that’s on the cheap side!). Bare Minerals has managed to tap into a market that cosmetics companies didn’t even care about – women who don’t wear makeup.

Honestly, my take on Bare Minerals is that it only looks good on one type of woman, or, uh, girl: a preteen with perfect genes, no pores, no oil, and no blemishes. There are probably some exceptions to that, but not many.

I think the foundations are too chalky and go on too thick, but then flake off or get slick or patchy during the day. I think Warmth can look like you crushed up a terracotta pot and smudged it on your face (unless you’re an expert at VERY light brush application). I think the BM brush bristles are too harsh and can be very irritating to sensitive, acne-prone, or fair skin. I think they aren’t as great a value as everyone thinks because women are encouraged to keep buffing in more and more to get the look. And, I think the idea of setting a powder with another powder is ridiculous.

There are a number of things I recommend to a client who just won’t budge on Bare Minerals. (This is after I’ve tried to gently steer them away from it, and failed). I’ll recommend using a softer brush to soften the look of the foundation and avoid irritation (like Sephora brand Professionnel Mineral Brush #45). I’ll tell them that BM is not a replacement for their blemish or under-eye concealer, especially if they have dark circles. And, I’ll recommend using a setting gel or setting spray instead of BM Mineral Veil (like Laura Mercier’s Secret Finish or Secret Finish Mattifying, or Urban Decay’s De-Slick in a Tube or All-Nighter Makeup Setting Spray).

If I succeed in steering a client away from BM, I’ll go straight to Laura Mercier. Her mineral foundation is beautiful on skin. It’s more finely-milled than BM, so it goes on much softer, not chalky and thick. I also think her shade range is more versatile. Even though BM has a ton of shades now, Laura Mercier’s more limited shade range seems to also be more flexible. Multiple variations of a skin tone can all wear one shade and somehow look different. I wear Tender Rose, and it’s one of my go-to foundations (I like the look and application of powder, and it’s actually my shade! Also, BM isn’t the only brand that makes chalky/cakey-looking powders, especially in the light-fair range.) I’m so glad I have Laura! But I’ll gush about her later…

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. Phew…

samantha daffodil

The beginning…

I’m samantha daffodil, and I have a lot to say. I hope to use this online space to explore topics like…

  • art
  • beauty
  • books
  • culture
  • life
  • movies
  • music
  • and much more…

Critiquing has always been a part of my nature (it’s a nicer way of saying that I’m cynical), so I am excited to dive in. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time. Please, let me know what you think!

samantha daffodil