W3ll People

Awhile back, I had an educational conversation with Kelly Curtis, brand manager at W3LL People. This line of high performing, natural makeup knocks it out of the park with every launch. It's no surprise, given a make up artist (formerly with NARS) and a dermatologist are amongst the founders. 

Here's the line in a nutshell:

  • Everything is mineral based.

  • Just about everything (mascara and lipgloss excluded) is really versatile. They optimize for products performing a multitude of options as opposed to their clientele carrying a bunch of products.

  • No nano particles.

  • Nearly everything is infused with aloe.

  • It’s an artists' line. They encourage folks to play, get creative and get fingers messy. Mixing and matching is paramount.

And below are the product-specific tips I learned from Kelly:

Universalist Color Stick

  • #1 is the sheerest color. (Personally, I'm on my 3rd tube of this gold flecked, pinked up rose that works very well and lips and cheeks – thus securing it's place as a purse staple.)

  • #3 is also highly recommended.

Expressionist Mascara

  • W3ll People's mascara is their top seller (my favorite one in rotation yet).

  • It now comes in neon blue, plus less statement making purple and chocolate shades.

Bio Brightener Invisible Powder and Stick

  • Use the stick underneath your make up, or as a highlighter on the cheekbones, bridge of nose and cupid's bow.

  • The Bio Brightener Powder is for those who don't want a powdered look. It gives a soft focus, photoshopped glow, as opposed to traditional matte powders. 

  • The Bio Brightener Powder can also be used to set eye shadows.

Altruist Powder Foundations

  • They're big on spraying a mist over powder foundations to kickstart the aloe infused in it.

Narcisisst Foundation Sticks.

  • Go with a darker concealer underneath the eyes.

  • Narcisist #1 and #4 are the two pinkiest shades.

  • They recommend using fingers to apply the narcisist stick as a concealer, but the brush is best when you’re using it as a foundation.

Elitist Eye Shadows

  • Pat loose color on, don’t sweep it.

  • Matte brown in the crease no matter what. Capitalist pigment in #912 (unless you’re super dark, then use #913).

  • If there is shimmer in the crease, it will make your eye look puffy.

  • Look straight ahead, eyes open when doing the crease.

  • Do #836 on the lid, and a pop of colour as a liner down below.)

  • #833 or (narcisists0) in the browbone.)

Hypnotist Eyeliner

  • After lining the lower lash line, squint the eye really hard to deposit color evenly.

  • If you have smaller upper eye lids, don’t take up real estate with a thick eyeliner. Instead, tight-line the lower and upper lids.

  • A lot of women think they need a waterproof line, but because their water line is already damp, the pigment rolls. Waterproof pencils won't stick to a moist rim, and will instead consolidate in the tear duct.


Swatches of Elitist Eye Shadows

Swatches of Elitist Eye Shadows

Tiny Japanese stickers help me identify the shades, though their new packaging solves the problem with windows in their caps.

Tiny Japanese stickers help me identify the shades, though their new packaging solves the problem with windows in their caps.

Vapour Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation

That seriously glowing, lit from within, complexion we all aspire to takes a lot of work. Genetics does play a role, but to get there, most of us need a combination of sleep, adequate hydration and nutrition, exercise, fresh air, sun protection, regular exfoliation, and a steady stream of nourishment to the skin through an involved skin care program.

Or an easier hack is to use Vapour Beauty's foundations. Their Atmosphere Luminous foundation, which comes in a stick, and their Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation comes in a pump bottle and the more light weight option. It behaves like a tinted moisturizer with a whipped consistency, and is incredibly easy to apply and blend in. This manages to smooth out discoloration and uneven texture (large pores, slacking skin, dry patches) while looking like you're now wearing any make up. The effect is dewy, well-rested skin. If there was a foundation that could turn back the clock, this would be it.

Earth Tu Face Voyage! Travel Kit

Earth Tu Face, the creation of two herbalists hailing from Oakland has been a darling of the minimalist set. Similar to more simple lines, like S.W. Basics and Soapwalla, in that the list of ingredients are sparse and effective, they are stringent about their safety of their ingredients and responsible packaging. However, one thing that is unusual about them – and that I love – is that their products are formulated to last 3.5 years without the use of traditional preservatives. 

The face wash is gentle and lightly nourishing with the addition of coconut, jojoba and olive oils. The serum is similarly lightweight with natural skin refiners like carrot seed oil, rose geranium and Vitamin E. My favorite of the trio was the cardamon laced coconut oil body butter. This was unlike another coconut balm I tried, the scent was delicate but intriguing. And it worked wonders on my perpetually parched elbows, which is a testament to its efficacy.

Jane Iredale White/Pink Highlighter Pencil

This chubby dual sided pencil is an easy tool for looking more rested.

The shimmery white side is lovely in the inner corners of the eyes (draw sideways Vs, or my favorite thing to do is a light dash along the lower lid until you hit where the lash line starts.) The pink side is a pearly petal, a great accent along the cupid's bow or smudged along the lid as a creamy shadow. You could also use either side along the cheekbones, making this a versatile item for traveling or freshening up in the late afternoon. And no matter how you use it, it contrasts beautifully with a (fake) tan, hastening the feeling (at least in Seattle) that it really is Spring.

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tints

Jillian Dempsey has been a favorite makeup artist of mine for the past 15 years. She has worked with a number of notable faces—including Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Lawrence, Angela Bassett, and Kate Winslet—and she had the cool California girl look down long before beach waves and dewy makeup became a thing.

Marketing from Delux Beauty.

Marketing from Delux Beauty.

She brought this effortless, ethereal west coast vibe to the home vanity when she launched the groundbreaking, finger-friendly (no brushes required!) Delux Beauty line, which featured nail polishes named after old-school 1960's cocktails ("Salty Dog" and  "Kir Royale"), lip glosses with atypically masculine names ("Vinnie" and "Odin"), and the infamous matte electric blue eyeliner "Chimpy." It was such a refreshing departure from the usual offerings one would see at Sephora or Nordstroms, and I was disappointed to see the line shut down in 2007.

Recently, though, Jillian launched an eponymous new line, this time using naturally sourced and organic ingredients. First came the Khôl Eyeliner (to be reviewed later), and then this year, she launched her Lid Tints—chic, white mirrored compacts with wide pans of the easiest eyeshadows you'll ever put on. We've long had matte, shimmering, glittering, iridescent, and creamy eyeshadows at home, but that modern, dewy eyelid that's become ubiquitous on runways has proven elusive in real life. These Lid Tints give just that—a translucent wash of color. The formula boasts organic, skin-loving ingredients like shea butter and coconut oil, but with corn starch to lend stability throughout the day, so the whole affair doesn't congregate in your creases by lunch time. 

Jillian herself suggests the best way to apply them is "to swipe onto clean eyelids with a 'left to right' motion using your finger or a small, nylon, feathery brush. Start in the center of the eyelid and move up to blend out above the crease." I'd strongly recommend a brush over the finger to help ensure the Lid Tint stays put. (EcoTools makes a few great brushes.)

Kristen Stewart modeling the Lid Tints.

Kristen Stewart modeling the Lid Tints.

You can wear it as a primer beneath a powder eyeshadow if you want to anchor color. Or layer on top of powder if you want the color of the powder with a more natural, gleaming look (check out Reese Witherspoon's Oscar look here for reference). But my favorite is to wear the Lid Tints solo for a clean, more modern look.  Dempsey continues, "I love to smudge and blend them into one shade which allows the freedom to customize how much pigment you wear on your eyes."

You can't go wrong with any combination of these lid tints, but I'll break down the color options. Lilac (pictured below on the right) is the safest shade, or as Dempsey puts it, "the new neutral." . A cool lavender tinged pink beige, with no shimmer and steers clear of being too precious. It's universally flattering and a pretty way to revive the winter pallor many of us are contenting with in March. 

Plum (pictured above on the left) is a dusky, neutral greyed mauve with zero shimmer, or as Ellen Pompeo puts it "everything." I find myself swiping it all over, or concentrating on the outer half of my eye. And I can't think of anyone this wouldn't look smashing on. Check out a mini video tutorial showcasing this lovely tint here. Dempsey recommends a black eyeliner with this shade.

Swatches of Lilac (top) and Plum (below).

Swatches of Lilac (top) and Plum (below).

Smoke is the darkest, most pigmented of the shades. It's a modern charcoal spiked with the tiniest hit of shimmer, but still maintains the understated translucency as the rest of the Lid Tint wardrobe. If you're smokey eye novice, this would be a good shade to play with, it's really hard not to get it right. It looks both edgy and ethereal when blended with Lilac. Just make sure you follow Dempsey's suggestion of pairing it with a black eye liner. 

Bronze is likely to be the top seller of the line. A neutral mink-y, yet golden brown, laced with the finest gradient of shimmer.  I love it blended with either the Peach or Lilac shades. Dempsey suggests pairing this with her brown eye liner.


Lastly, Peach is the most exciting offering and very much in the vein of that west coast aesthetic I referred to earlier. While living in Japan, my local friends were obsessed with finding the perfect light coral shadow, which surprised me. I thought peach/coral/orange shades belonged solely on lips or cheeks. But now I understand, and this gets it exactly right; a dab in the center of the eyelid or color-washed across the lid is an easy hack to draw attention to the eyes in the most unassuming way.  It's a sheer, unexpected, and pairs beautifully with a brown eyeliner. Peach would be stunning on deeper complexions or an accomplished tan, but would offer pale faces a little kick of life.

Below are all five colors in the collection again for reference. $28 a pop and available from jilliandempsey.com. Video tutorials can be found here

Kari Gran Lip Whip

Based in Seattle, Kari Gran has created the most decadent lip product ever on the market, and has deservedly amassed a dedicated following for it. Aptly titled Lip Whip, these gleaming black pots house ridiculously rich, handmade, lip gloss/balm hybrids that have been whipped to the texture of cake frosting. No digging your fingertip into an otherwise smooth as glass and stiff, waxy seal, this stuff actually peaks like frosting. No rubbing is needed, it pats comfortably on the lips, but without the typical–and at times, sticky–weight of a lipgloss. 

It's the same feeling on your lips as though you've taken a leisurely bath, shaved your legs, rubbed a lightweight body oil all over, then slipped on silk pajamas before climbing into a feather bed with an astronomical thread count. And that's just how it feels, I haven't gotten to how lovely it looks. 

Kari Gran Lip Whips in Wonder Whip, Shimmer and Jolene.

Kari Gran Lip Whips in Wonder Whip, Shimmer and Jolene.

The newest addition to the Lip Whip line up is the Wonder Whip, of which, Kari Gran is donating 50% of proceeds to Wonderwork.org, a nonprofit that offers miraculous, restorative surgeries to children who are blind, burn victims or with clubfoot. It's the classic, peppermint infused formula, but with a barely imperceptible shimmer. It's become my goto at night, the last thing I do before heading to bed.

Another jar I received contained Shimmer, (previously released over the holidays as "Nice"), which has become a staple in my bag. As much as I hate the idea of touting a glass pot around, this lip whip feels and looks marvelous that I miss it when out and about. It's not pigmented at all, but has a golden shimmer laced throughout. We're not talking Midas 24K gold, this is a much more modern and flattering apricot gold that looks refreshing solo or pairs beautifully with any lip color in my wardrobe. The insanely talented make up artist, Sheri Stroh, uses this on jobs regularly as seen here and here.

The last jar was Jolene, named after Jolene Hart, famed author of Eat Pretty in a collaboration with Kari Gran. This jar packs some color, but the formula is so cushiony and dewy, that it doesn't make a statement. It's just... pretty. A popping, vibrant, and cool pink that doesn't veer too fuchsia. It's not a neon hot pink with so much blue that it requires industrial strength teeth whitening to pull off. It's the sweet, bold pink of a Valentines day heart or a bright tulip. It's a color just about anyone could wear, and whether a sheer application or layered, it wears beautifully. And it's classy, the shine is dewy as opposed to a vinyl-slick, and I'd definitely put this on any lady in need of a Spring inspired pick me up. And good news! Through the end of March, all Lip Whips are 15% off at karigran.com. 

Goop Skincare Discovery Set

It's okay if you're skeptical of Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop, the unassuming name for what's basically her Finer Things Club. Maybe you've gotten burned (literally) from Jessica Alba's Honest Company sunscreen. Or—with good reason—you're just not into the whole celebrity branding effort that's evolved since Elizabeth Taylor launched her White Diamonds perfume. But personally, I've benefitted from Goop's weekly newsletters. Paltrow has done a lot to promote the clean beauty industry, and I'll forever be grateful for her introduction of Tracy Anderson's miraculous workouts. And if you're interested in really effective skincare, this set—including a facial oil, day lotion, night cream, and exfoliating treatment—doesn't disappoint.

The Enriching Facial Oil boasts the usual roster of carrier and antioxidant oils: Sunflower Seed, Olive, Jojoba, Starflower (also known as Borage), Grapeseed, Linseed, Rose Geranium, Cranberry, Iris, and Roman Chamomile. The one exception is Poet's Daffodil, which is really just daffodil and there is very little literature establishing its benefits in skincare. That said, this is a potent cocktail of anti-aging ingredients. Paltrow, herself, confessed that she's a facial oil junkie and that this formula is a personal win for her. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't benefit from it; it's not too heavy, absorbs rapidly, and feels lovely even around the eye area. You can slip this on beneath your moisturizer or pat it over your makeup later for a midday refresh.

The Replenishing Night Cream is just that, a tub of seriously nourishing cream that leaves skin feeling supple and renewed. I was initially worried, because this cream feels heavy and decadent to the touch. It's definitely a luxury item, and I often breakout from any creams with heft. But my skin the next morning looked happy and rested, with tight pores and a surprising brightness. 

The heaviness in texture comes from strong moisturizers like shea butter and avocado and almond oils. Hyaluronic acid binds these moisturizers, keeping it effective during the (hopefully) 8+ hours of sleep you're getting. And it does contain a gentle dose of Vitamin A, which is the most proven anti-aging ingredient on the market. I'd recommend this for anyone who is looking for a nourishing anti-aging night cream. I suspect it will be healing long term, especially for post-acne scars, rosacea, and sun damage. 

The Revitalizing Day Moisturizer is a nice medium weight lotion. It glides over the oil and is readily absorbed when applied solo. It makes for a nice canvas under foundations—especially drier formulas like my compact Kjaer Weis—and leaves the skin feeling remarkable even by the afternoon. My cheeks are often dry, and my t-zone slightly slick by 4pm, but that's not the case with this lotion. It shares many of the same ingredients as its sister night cream and facial oil, but with a higher concentration of Aloe Leaf, Apple, Lemon and Grape juices, which keep this from being too much. It also happens to be the trademark cocktail that gives Juice Beauty—the manufacturer of this line—its name. Beware, there is no SPF, I'd suggest finishing with a dusting of an SPF powder (Jane Iredale's is a favorite.)


Lastly, the Exfoliating Instant Facial is the most intense and memorable product in the set. Juice Beauty—once described to me as the "jackhammer" of clean skincare—is known for pumping out products that don't pull punches. Most notable are their Green Apple peels, which now, thankfully, come in varied strengths. I've been using these exfoliating gel masks off and on for 17 years, and was most excited to give this treatment a whirl. It has a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and I love a serious chemical exfoliation. Sometimes I get too zealous with granular exfoliants, whereas a chemical exfoliant will much more effectively sweep away polish, sweep away dead skin cells, and lighten pesky post-acne scars without the collateral damage from scrubbing too hard.

The first ingredients listed are the classic Juice Beauty cocktail—Apple, Lemon, Grape and Aloe juices—and then things get serious. Glycolic acid (my favorite chemical exfoliant), Lactic and Malic acids are effective at polishing fine lines and healing sun damage, hyperpigmentation, and the keratosis pylaris bumps that plague my cheeks when I don't stay on top of exfoliations. Then there's Salycic acid, for healing and keeping congested pores at bay, and Hyaluronic acid, which delivers a plumping action.

When I tried the product for the first time last week, the combination of these acids gave a warming effect almost immediately upon application. I buoyantly brushed my teeth and blew my toddler's hair dry while letting the Instant Facial do its magic. It rinsed off easily, with little sugar crystals to slough off the cream. Then, I looked in the mirror and saw that my face was bright red. I patted my cheek—it felt like I was rocking a fever. I put a frozen icepack over the Nourishing Facial Oil and an hour later the redness and inflammation had subsided. The next morning, there were no problems to report. My skin was incredibly soft and not brittle or seemingly damaged. But I was more than a little traumatized. A few days later, I tried it again, but only left the concoction on my face for less than 30 seconds before quickly rinsing it off. This time, my cheeks were glowing and lovely, with no red patches to speak of. For me—and anyone with remotely sensitive skin—this will be a quick, no-more-than-once-weekly treatment, as potent as it is effective.