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A Beauty Chat with My Mom, Rose

We fell hard for Natalie Alcala last fall, when the LA-based writer and blogger spent a week guest blogging for us. In fact, we loved her posts so much that we asked her to be a contributing editor. In addition to blogging for us once a week, she’ll also be writing for the Birchbox Magazine and keeping us up to speed on all things fashion, beauty, and fun.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I sat down with my beauty idol to learn more about her best secrets, the discontinued products that she wishes would be reissued, and the one tried-and-true product that she’s been using since high school. (Try this Q&A with your mom on Sunday—you’ll learn so much!)

What was your earliest beauty memory?
“I used to really love flipping through Cosmopolitan magazine—that’s where I first discovered vanity. My favorite model was Cristina Ferrare. I also loved Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. I even used to fake Marilyn’s beauty mark with a pencil!”

So funny! Who taught you how to put on makeup?
“I think I taught myself really, but I also got some tips from your Auntie Esther [her sister-in-law]. I first started experimenting with mascara because I was so amazed by how long it made my eyelashes look.”

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My Daily Line-Up: Guest Blogger

The moment you start reading Alex Yeske’s dreams + jeans blog, you know one thing for sure: the girl has excellent taste. Musing on everything from fashion to beauty to design, the recent Syracuse grad has a knack for spotting pretty things — a skill that no doubt serves her well in her day job as a graphic designer for Madewell. This week, we’re lucky enough to have her guest blogging for us about everything from her beauty must-haves to how to get the perfect blow dry.

I love trying out new products (who doesn’t?) and love it even more when I find something amazing to add to my daily routine. These are my essential every day products, and I can’t imagine life without them.

Laura Mercier Eyeliner in Stormy Grey: I love the color of this eyeliner — it’s perfect for every day and isn’t too harsh a contrast against my fair skinr.

Bobbi Brown Extreme Party Mascara: I love mascara and discovered this one earlier in the summer. It makes my lashes look long and full and works just as well for day as it does for a night out.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rose: I’m starting to wear more lip stuff now and this lip tint has been the perfect transition product for me. It’s super moisturizing, smells fabulous, and gives a nice sheer application of color.

Clinique Superdefense Moisturizer: I’ve been using this lotion for over five years! It’s a great moisturizer and I love that it has SPF 25 in it.

Bvlgari Omnia Crystalline : My signature scent. Enough said.

Living Proof Shampoo and Conditioner: I actually just started using this a week ago and have already added it to my must-haves. It leaves my hair soft, silky, and frizz-free.

Another major essential? These towelettes.

Guest Blogger: Fashion Insiders Best Beauty Tips (Part 1)

This week’s guest blogger is Natalie Alcala, a Cali girl with a penchant for all things style and fashion. When she’s not soaking up the sun or rocking dangerously high heels, you can catch her feeding her insatiable sartorial appetite on her blog, Natalie’s Menagerie. She also pens a daily fashion column for BlackBook Magazine and is an assistant editor at FashionStake.

Left: Stylist and Tales of Endearment founder Natalie Joos. Right: Clinique products

Jewelry designer Pamela Love

My late grandmother had a wealth of knowledge and as a little girl, my ears always perked up when she would reveal her clever beauty secrets. From moisturizing hands with Vaseline at night to adding a touch of lipstick to cheeks for a dewy finish, some of her tricks are forever engrained in my own routine. Whenever I’m at a shoot or fashion event, I love asking insiders what their own makeup or skincare pointers are—either passed on to them or self-discovered—and I’m always amazed at the variety of answers. Exclusively for Birchbox, I’ve checked in with some stellar tastemakers to share their trusty beauty advice. Enjoy!

Natalie Joos, Stylist and Founder of Tales of Endearment: “I learned from my mom to wash my face every night before going to bed and not to wear too much makeup. I never wear foundation—it dries my skin. I spend a lot of time in the sun, so I wear SPF 15 or 30 on my face every day. I live for the sun—it makes me happy and I think I look better with a tan anyway! And I love wearing a red lip to really make my blue eyes stand out. I also learned a few tricks from my girls in Belgium, which is where I was born and raised. They not only taught me how to shave, but they also introduced me to Clinique’s 3-Step Skincare Routine. Oh, and this is no secret, but I try to drink as much water as possible.”

Pamela Love, Jewelry Designer: “The only real beauty tip my mother ever gave me was to stay out of the sun, pile on the sunscreen, and wear hats. I didn’t really listen—I love going in the sun and getting a tan! I do try to wear sunscreen, though.”

Check back tomorrow as Natalie reveals the best beauty secrets from Danielle and Jodie Snyder of Dannijo and Jessica Moss and Lisa Guajardo of Leyendecker.

At What Age Is It Appropriate To Start Wearing Makeup?

Suri Cruise tests lip colors at a makeup counter inside Canadian department store Holt Renfrew. Photo:

A couple weeks ago, Suri Cruise was out on a shopping expedition with her super-stylish mom at Holt Renfrew and swung by a makeup counter. The celebutot turns five in April, so I was a little surprised to see her test-driving products already.

Then again, it would seem that girls these days are using makeup at a much earlier age than my friends or I did. In a recent WSJ article about Wal-Mart’s new tween makeup line, geo-Girl, the marketing director at Aspire Brands Inc. (which is the marketer of Bonne Bell and Lip Smackers) says, “Girls start cosmetics usage really as young as six,” and goes on to explain that their first foray into makeup is usually a clear lip gloss or nail polish. Funny enough, I distinctly remember owning a ton of Lip Smackers lip glosses and would say that those as well as Hard Candy nail polishes were definitively my first makeup products. But that was in eighth grade. Maybe I was a late bloomer? To investigate this phenomenon, I asked a couple of co-workers when they started using beauty products and if the remembered what they were. Not surprisingly, they all have affectionate memories of their ‘firsts.’ Continue reading for their fun flashbacks. But their testimonials still don’t answer the larger question: At what age is it OK for girls to start experimenting with makeup? What do you think?


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Do You Need A Mascara Just For Your Bottom Lashes? Clinique Thinks You Do.

Clinique Bottom Lash Mascara, $10, Sephora

Very cool concept alert: Clinique has just released a mascara specifically designed for your lower lashes. Sold at Sephora for $10, the product page says that the “brush was engineered to grasp even the tiniest of bottom lashes; its expert formula resists pesky smears.” I am kind of surprised no one has thought of this before, especially because the longer, fatter brushes found on many volumizing mascaras are often overkill for the smaller bottom lashes. The stumpy (by stumpy, I mean cute) wand of this version seems perfect for precision.

For convenience’s sake, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to tote around two different types of mascara with you when one might do the trick just fine, but the lower-lash-only look seems to be a new trend. For example, designers like Cynthia Rowley and Giambattista Valli went the bottom-only route for their spring 2011 shows. While I am not sure I would embrace this technique, I am totally willing to try it. If you think about it, most of the time we only apply to our top lashes, so why not try just coating the bottom ones?


If you’re interested in a new regular mascara, one of our all-time favorites is Benefit’s BadGal.