Lady Elizabeth and the Quest For the Holy Grail

A rather whimsical title because I’ve always been a reader of Arthurian lore. But instead of the miraculous cup, I refer instead to Holy Grail (or HG) beauty products. I do read some modern beauty publications to get ideas for my makeup, and occasionally, they will list their HG products. I have to say, I’ve never understood such an idea.

I mean, I spent a month wearing all my red lipsticks to decide what I wanted, and then bought a lipstick that I like a lot. But it’s not the ultimate red lipstick. It’s just the best I’ve found so far. I still have complaints. And I’m going to keep buying lipsticks, even red ones. In fact, I’ve already bought two red lipsticks and a couple of sheer red lip stains since then. So no mythical status.

And yet, recently, I discovered the meaning of the HG product. It was after a years-long journey that I discovered it, and I didn’t even know how much I needed this particular product until I found it. I almost bought it on a whim, which is ludicrous considering how expensive it was, but I consider it worth every penny and I will not hesitate to buy it again.

You see, I try not to wear a full face of makeup every day. But I do need sun protection every day, and since I prefer more natural, mineral-based sunscreen products, I like a tinted sunscreen moisturizer to avoid the white cast that mineral sunscreens leave. But I have rather oily skin, and I’ve found that every tinted sunscreen I’ve tried has left my face looking shiny/oily, even the oil-free one. I had resigned myself to using a bit of powder, even though that ruins the light feel of tinted moisturizer.

Enter True Nature Botanicals. On a whim, I typed “matte finish natural tinted sunscreen” into Google, and got a bunch of hits about their Pacific Everyday Sheer Coverage sunscreen. It’s an all-natural tinted moisturizer with SPF 20 and it supposedly dries to a matte-powder finish. Huh. Sounded interesting. The price was less interesting, but after checking out their return policy (30 days, for any reason, satisfaction guaranteed), I decided it was worth it to buy a bottle, use it for a bit, and if I had to return it, the cost of return shipping was probably reasonable for a sample of a luxe product.

And it does have good ingredients. Even though it’s not oil-free, the oils are high-linoleic oils, mostly, which I know work well with my skin. Some of the oils are oils I use by themselves, or oils I’ve looked at buying. Intriguing. I ordered a bottle of the “Light” tint, and it came a few days later.

I have to say, I’m kind of hooked. I need about 2-3 pumps to cover my face generously. It smooths on and then starts to dry to a truly matte finish. The only issue I’ve had is that if I sweat profusely, it will sometimes dry a bit patchy. But other than that, it’s weightless, natural, matte sunscreen that makes my skin look flawless, but without looking like I’m wearing makeup. I’ve definitely gone a couple of days with just this moisturizer and maybe a touch of lipstick.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that my skin is actually looking really good, even bare. I generally have pretty good skin, but it started breaking out around my chin a couple weeks ago and I had two giant pimples on my chin for an audition early last week. I got my tinted moisturizer that evening and started wearing it daily on Tuesday and I’ve noticed that the pimples have gone away a lot faster than usual and haven’t left a lot of lingering marks. Perhaps it’s my new attempt at oil cleansing, but I think the botanicals in this moisturizer couldn’t be hurting. At the very least, I know it’s not causing me to break out.

So that’s the story of my quest for my first Holy Grail product. I’d be interested to hear about any Holy Grail products you readers have found!

Disclaimer: I purchased this product with my own money and have not been offered any incentive to write this review.

The Art of Looking like Yourself

This past weekend, I had an appointment to get my head shots re-taken, as it’s been about a year since my last photo shoot. My hair has grown six inches and I’ve shifted my style towards a more vintage look. I was fortunate enough to earn a favor from a local photographer, so I had a wonderful hour-long shoot at a local park for free, including a few shots of Boyfriend and me.

Head shots are always a challenge for me because I don’t think I photograph well, and I find it difficult to smile on command. Previously, I had a friend with a decent camera take shots that I used for auditions. He’s a good photographer, but his greatest talent is being able to get me to smile well for his camera. That said, we often found that the best shots were ones where I was holding up cards for white balance, goofing off, and not really posing. But the point of head shots is to look like yourself, so it’s great when we end up with those shots. I’ve seen some friends whose head shots look too refined and almost nothing like they do in real life, so I’m always worried my shots will turn out like that.

Of course, leading up to my photo shoot, I was in a flurry about what to wear. I ended up wearing one of my favorite dresses (I have four in the same style) because it’s beautiful, a nice blue color that looks good on me, and feels like I’m wearing pajamas because it’s so comfortable. But I brought a change of clothes for some variety because I hear it’s the spice of life. For makeup, I did not use my standard clean face because the powder would photograph oddly. Instead, I used a matte foundation that I use for stage because I know it won’t melt off in the heat. I mixed it with a little rose-scented day cream for a base, and then used it full-strength on my undereye circles and blemishes. I added a touch of my Vapour multi-stick on the cheeks, and lined my top lash line with a bit of brown eyeshadow. A coat of mascara on all my lashes and I was almost done.

But what about lips?

Head shots are supposed to be about showing your natural look, so I knew I needed shots without my signature red lipstick (which I rarely wear to auditions anyway). But I went back and forth about whether I wanted to include a couple shots of myself with my red lip, for other cases when I might want a head shot. Ultimately, I decided that I didn’t need it, and stuck with my natural-but-flushed lip look using 100% Pure’s lip glaze in Raspberry to add a berry-stained flush to my lips. It provides just enough contrast that I don’t look odd without my red lips, but it’s sheer enough that it doesn’t look like I’m wearing lipstick.

Now that I had my wardrobe and look down, I went out for my appointment. The photo shoot took place at one of my favorite places: a local park with a lake where I spent so much of my time, in all weather, walking or jogging, or just wandering about. The background of nature definitely felt very “me” and I think set off my peculiar coloring better than a studio might. And the lighting was perfect.

The photographer seemed very pleased with the shoot, and I was pleased with the thumbnails I saw on his camera screen. I’m looking forward to see the final shots after he edits them. My hope is that I’ll have a lovely shot that I can use for the next year that really and truly makes me look like myself.