Ace of Base

I loathe foundation. Dare I say I detest it? I have worked in this industry for 10+ years so I’ve tried a hell of a lot of them and I was ok with them until my texture changed and I started to develop the dreaded fine lines. I’m getting older guys and gals and things look much different on me than they used to. 

I used to wear the KVD Vegan Beauty’s Lock-It Foundation and that makeup is basically spackle for your face. I thought I looked like a porcelain doll; however, God bless the girl who told me I looked like Billy Butcherson from Hocus Pocus. 

As I’ve grown older and wiser about my skin type, I’ve come across many foundations that work for me and even more that don’t. One of the main things you need to figure out before even going through the process of finding a good foundation is figuring out your skin type. 

There are 5 skin types if you look at the big picture. They are as follows; however, bear in mind that our skin type changes with the weather and our age. 


Sensitive skin is most likely dry, itchy, and flaky. It also burns quickly (in sun or wind), flushes often, and is irritated by changes in weather, chemicals, or even just products in general. Those with fairer skin (and little melanin, a naturally occurring pigment that enables tanning) are more likely to be sensitive. Visible broken capillaries are another telltale sign.


An oily complexion is characterized by shine and excess oil (especially on the forehead and nose), blackheads, and clogged or large, visible pores. If you’re constantly blotting your face and had more breakouts than your peers as a teen, chances are you have oily skin.


The luckiest of all the types!  While normal skin stays fairly consistent without a lot of breakouts, it isn’t immune to dry patches and blemishes. If you can tolerate ingredients and products other skin types could not without irritation, you might be “normal.” Usually normal types are not fair-skinned, as they have more protective melanin.


Cracked skin, rough patches, itching, sensitivity to metals and certain ingredients most people don’t have significant negative reactions to—these are all signs that you have dry skin. Other indicators: your face isn’t oily, the skin on your arms and legs is severely dry, and/or you suffered from eczema as a child.

It’s not uncommon to be more than one skin type. I have Sensitive and Dry skin. I burn easily, sport some broken capillaries and my face does get very red depending on the weather. While I am sensitive, I don’t react to alpha hydroxy acids or Vitamin C since my skin built a resistance to it. I’ve trained my epidermis very well. 

Now, in saying that. These foundations I am about to talk about are what work for me. That doesn’t ultimately mean they will work for you but maybe, if we’re lucky, you find your new HG. (That’s Holy Grail for the makeup naive). 

  1. MAC Studio Radiance Face and Body Radiant Sheer Foundation $33: This lightweight fluid formula contains a special blend of emollients that deliver sheer buildable coverage and a satin finish. The hydrating, long-wearing, water-proof foundation formula glides onto the face and body, providing stay-true colour. I personally believe it’s best applied with fingers. 
  2. Fenty Eaze Drop Blurring Skin Tint $29.50: A blurring skin tint that delivers smooth, instantly blurred skin in just a few easy drops. This can be applied with brush or fingers; however, I like applying it with my fingers. 
  3. KVD Beauty Good Apple Skin-Perfecting Foundation Balm $38: This is full coverage and will hide all your life mistakes; however, it’s a fresh, matte finish. It looks like skin. This vegan foundation is infused with apple extract and sodium hyaluronate to help nourish and hydrate skin. It’s creamy, non comedogenic and it minimizes the appearance of pores for a smooth, healthy look. It’s best for balanced to dry skin. We love non comedogenic items! They’re formulated to not clog pores.
  4. NARS Sheer Glow $47: This is a sheer, buildable foundation with a natural-looking finish that evens skin tone. Complete with skincare benefits including Vitamin C and Tumeric, it leaves skin hydrated, softer, and smoother. Vitamin C brightens skin and diminishes the look of discoloration and Turmeric enhances skin radiance and evens the look of skin tone. I like applying this with my fingers for a “my skin but better” coverage. 

Let me reiterate these work for my skin type; however, depending on time of year and the products you use to Prime your skin, they’re adaptable to many different types. 

The primer I am currently using and obsessed with is Saie Glowy Super Gel in ‘Starglow.’ This one can be worn alone, as a primer and/or mixed into your foundation. Bonus cool points? It’s recyclable! When empty, recycle the glass after twisting off the plastic pump to remove the inner pouch.

I want my skin to look like I just came home from a facial. I want it to look like a dewy dumpling. It’s not for everyone and knowing your skin type is extremely helpful and beneficial when finding your favorite foundations.

Also, remember that your skincare and the way you take care of your skin is going to directly affect the way makeup sits on your skin but that’s another conversation for another day. Happy hunting and I’m here if you need me. 

Hairy Story

As a little girl, I had bushy Italian eyebrows and a thick head of hair. Facial hair never even crossed my mind or became something I was self-conscious about until I began experimenting with makeup in Junior High. 

When I started noticing a mustache, I was mortified and I shaved it off immediately. I fixated on it. It haunted me and I went into a downward spiral of facial hair removal. 

I plucked my eyebrows into nonexistence, completely unaware that they would never fully return. I soon learned that my eyebrows are doomed to grow slower than any other hair on my head (minus these regrettable bangs). 

The real cherry on top of my hairy self-esteem sundae was when I was at an amusement park with a high school crush. He looked at me and said, “You’re so hairy. I can see it on your neck.” Insert mortification. I begged my mom to buy me an epilator and when she gave in, I thought I had the answer to my problems and for a short time, I did. 

For those of you unaware, an epilator is essentially a modern day torture device. You use it like a razor and it removes all the hairs by their roots. My best description is that it’s like hundreds of tweezers pulling hairs out at the same time. It was painful as hell but gave me my desired result. 

What they don’t tell you is that when you’re pulling your hair out at the root, you destroy the path of growth. It begins to coil and turns into an ingrown hair. I already had dark, coarse Italian hair and those grow in like coiled snakes. I was doomed to struggle with body hair. 

Now that I’m older and an esthetician, I’ve learned a thing or two about hair removal.

First of all, because I’m obsessive, I shave my upper lip and pretty much my entire face a few times a week. I also take Spironolactone which is prescribed to people who suffer from Hirsutism. Hirsutism is excessive hair growth on unexpected areas of the body, such as on the face, chest, and back.

A common myth with shaving is that the hair grows back thicker and that is not true at all. Shaving facial or body hair gives the hair a blunt tip. The tip might feel coarse or “stubbly” for a time as it grows out. During this phase, the hair might be more noticeable and perhaps appear darker or thicker, but it’s not.

I also buy little razors that I found on Amazon. I use them as you would if you were to dermaplane your face. I find it helps my skincare to absorb better and my makeup to apply smoother. 

Dermaplaning is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it provide an effective and safe exfoliation treatment, it is also beneficial for reducing the appearance of acne scars.

My routine for facial hair removal is not for the faint of heart nor am I telling you that this is the be all and end all for hair removal. It’s just what I find works best for me. Each person has a different method. This is just mine. 

When I know I am doing hair removal, I set aside a large chunk of my day. I tweeze out every annoying, dark hair on my face. This includes my beard area, upper lip, and eyebrows. After I have successfully wrangled out those unsightly hairs, I start with my dermaplaning. 

On an angle, I use this to exfoliate my entire face. I’m not kidding. Ears, beard area, eyebrows, cheeks and even to trim my nose hairs. I do not tolerate facial hair. My final step is shaving my face. I use men’s razors (they work better!) and a sensitive shave gel. When choosing my razor, I use men’s because they are better suited for the angles of the face. My preference is a five blade because it’s smoother and gets a closer shave. 

My last step is skincare. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to use some form of a chemical exfoliant. Ingrown hairs can crop up when the hair follicle is obstructed by dead skin cells, which is where exfoliation comes in. Exfoliation speeds up the removal of dead skin cells on the surface. 

There are many types of chemical exfoliants and they come in different strengths. They include enzymes (including fruit enzymes), alpha hydroxy acids like lactic or glycolic, and beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid. Be careful at first. Different acids have different strengths. I would start out a couple days a week and gradually build up your tolerance level. You don’t want to start too strong and damage the skin. 

I was already a huge fan of chemical exfoliators but they really help me with ingrown hairs. My current favorite is Freck Cactus Water Cleansing Lactic Acid Toner. If it’s not burning, it’s not working. That’s just my personal preference; however, you will experience a bit of a tingle. Don’t panic. This is a normal sensation. If your skin appears to turn red or develops a reaction, rinse with cold water and discontinue use. 

I also incorporate an AHA serum into my nighttime routine. Recently I started to use Naturium Glycolic Acid Resurfacing Gel 10%. Glycolic acid is the smallest molecule which allows it to easily penetrate the skin. You want to apply an even layer to your face. I use about 2 pumps and apply all over. After it’s evenly applied, I like to tap it in with the tips of my fingers to stimulate circulation. 

Remember, if you’re dry like me, you’re going to want a heavier cream because sometimes chemical exfoliants can dry you out but they are worth it. My current go-to is LaLa Retro Whipped Cream. It’s packed with ceramides and reinforces your skin’s acid mantle. It also defends against the side effects of everyday stressors and these days, we need all the help with stress we can get! Make sure you are using an SPF because chemical exfoliants do make you more susceptible to the sun. 

Can women rock body hair? Of course! I am envious of those that walk around with hair in their armpits and beards on their face; however, that life isn’t for me. I’m smooth and in control of my hairy situation. 

Hi, I’m Rachel.

I’m a sister, aunt, makeup artist, Halloween aficionado, former freelance writer for MANIAC Magazine, and a handful of other things; both good and bad. As a makeup artist I’ve worked weddings, photo shoots, backstage at Pittsburgh Fashion Week, and on a team with other artists doing the makeup for the wives and girlfriends of MLB players during the All-Star Game in Cleveland, Ohio. While writing for MANIAC, I was a co-editor, published in the bi-monthly print magazine, and wrote for their online publication.

MANIAC allowed me to meet and interview amazing, creative people from many diverse backgrounds. In addition to those experiences, it was extremely trendy and the layout/photography looked like it was based out of New York City, not Southwestern, PA. Unfortunately, MANIAC is no longer in publication, but when it was, it felt like Pittsburgh’s own version of Vogue. There are other print magazines in Pittsburgh, but I believe MANIAC left a void (at least in my heart) when they closed up shop.

I enjoy beauty and fashion because it allows you to constantly recreate yourself. I’m a licensed esthetician, the manager of a MAC Cosmetics counter, and I have been in the makeup industry for over a decade. My cup of tea is editorial and avant-garde makeup which is what draws me to MAC. They are the backstage authority at New York Fashion Week and the amount of talent associated with the MAC brand is mindblowing.

Growing up, fashion was something I admired from a distance; I was an awkward, chubby Italian girl. While I am still very much that person, through fashion I have learned how to make myself feel more self-assured and outgoing. When I was younger, I would often cry in the dressing room while shopping. It’s still challenging choosing outfits for my body type. However, I no longer try to disappear under layers of baggy clothes. I have learned to accentuate the details about myself that I feel confident about to balance out the details that make me feel insecure.

My relationship with makeup is a bit different. Before learning how to make clothing work for me, I was at odds with it, but makeup has never let me down. Makeup is special because whether you’re a size 2 or a size 20, it doesn’t discriminate. You can wear all the new trends without worrying if they’ll accentuate your belly pooch and a red lip never goes out of style. Makeup and I are tight.

I hope that readers of this blog will find my experiences in this industry motivating, interesting, and ultimately relatable. I want my readers to know that I struggle just like they do. I want to share the challenges that I’ve faced and the tips and tricks that I’ve learned that have helped me gain more self-love and acceptance. I believe it is something we have to work on our entire lives, and it doesn’t happen overnight. But while we’re at it, let’s have some fun with fashion and beauty, shall we?