Aesthetic and Contrast

The Perfect Pout

This past Wednesday, I came to the realization that the public side of the blogging/instagram/internet world probably isn’t for me. I walked into this stunningly lovely event, full of beautiful people, all gathered together to celebrate the launch of a fantastic lipstick line…and my heart sank. I don’t belong here. I’m not as beautiful, fabulous, confident or socially astute as any one of the people here.

But that’s a story for another day. I promise – I texted Laura on my way home from the event, and told her how I felt and instantly knew that it had to be put down in words. Especially from the amazing responses I got from you all on my anxiety post the other day. Mental illness is a huge thing nowadays, and we should be all helping each other work through it, not pretending it doesn’t exist. So stay tuned for that post – it’ll be a doozy.

Back to this event I attended….I dragged my gorgeous coworker Ashley along with me, as I knew I was going to be an awkwardly nervous wreck in front of all these new people – and also partially because trying to get to West Hollywood from El Segundo (LAX, basically) in a decent timeframe is a nearly impossible feat when you’re driving alone.

13 miles away = 1 hour and 15 minutes drive. (Welcome to LA)

We arrived just before the star of the show, Dr. Kaplan did. We were handed an adorable menu with cocktails named after each of the lipsticks, who themselves are named after famous locales within Los Angeles : Hollywood, Beverly, Santa Monica, Roxbury, Rodeo, and Melrose.

I asked for a Hollywood, which was a Mezcal based drink with a spicy kick but plenty of sweet fruity goodness to not burn a hole through my empty stomach, (Damn, you diettttttt!) and immediately made friends with the lovely man who was holding a giant tray of food.

After we had a drink in our hands and a few bites in our tummies, Ashley and I wandered around the private space of the restaurant and checked out the giant posters of gorgeous gals wearing each of these lipsticks, even catching some of the girls taking photos with their own posters. The entire lipstick line was featured in multiple locations, in case you wanted to grab and play with them to explore.

Thankfully, I was one of the lucky people who were able to receive and test out the entire line prior to the launch, so I didn’t have to push through the beauties playing with the testers. These lippies are a semi-sheer ultra-moisturizing formula in the most awesomely sleek twist-up packaging with fun little trap doors the bullet actually peeks out of.

They boast 22 certified organic extracts, SPF 30, and advanced anti-aging actives. This lipstick is packed with Shea butter and beeswax for moisture, Seabuckthorn Berry extract which is 20x more moisturizing than vitamin E, and my fave part/the star of the show….a combo of Maxi-Lip, Tri-Peptide and Hyaluronic Filling Spheres. Think healthy plumping – not irritating plumpers like concentrated mint extracts and capsaicin (what makes a chili pepper spicy) these kinds of plumpers irritate your skin to the point your capillaries open up and swell with blood. This lipstick is more gentle with its plumping, wears like a balm, but heals like a treatment.


The shades are beautifully sheer – but still pack a gorgeous punch of color that enhances your natural look and brings plenty of color to the table. As a liquid lipstick addict – these lippies are the perfect break to help heal and repair the drying, cracking damage my matte lippies inflict upon the delicate lip skin on my face.

The evening ended when Dr. Kaplan – the creator/namesake of the lipstick line (as well as a stunningly great skincare line) stood in front of us, and thanked us all for coming. He shared a lot of the details I’ve shared with you today about this line of lip colors, as well as his reason for creating it. So many women come to him wanting lip fillers to help them look more youthful – and bless his heart, he wants to help us be more youthful and beautiful without needles! So much of what we want to fix with injectables can be fixed without them. Feeding your body and skin the right nutrients, taking care of your skin, and using the right products can make a bigger difference than a quick fix with a syringe can. Just ask Laura – she’ll tell you all about it!

Find Kaplan MD products at or on the Kaplan MD website!

Stevie.Cakes Blog Signature



Aesthetic and Contrast

The end…of summer

Le gasp! Can you believe that it’s almost the end of summer? Well, for some of us, it is rapidly approaching. Seeing the middle of August on my calendar I felt this was the perfect time to give you all some guidance on how to cope with the changing of the seasons affecting your skin!

Everyone’s skin is different ( you’re probably going to be tired of me saying that) and if you checked out my previous post it will offer more of a direction on routine. This post will be all about preventive maintenance in the form of 5 handy steps to getting your skin in shape for the Fall. 

1) Treat your skin to a facial– If you don’t already do this you are missing out! Not only is it relaxing and pampering, it’s also a great way to stimulate cell renewal and circulate the lymphatic system. Extremely important to help move bacteria and other  microorganisms into the lymph nodes to be destroyed. This keeping your tissues healthier. I don’t recommend anything aggressive like chemical exfoliations and microdermabrasion UNLESS you are done hanging out in the great outdoors for a few weeks. Sloughing off the upper layer exposes beautiful fresh skin that will pigment and can be damaged quickly if you are not careful. So make absolutely sure you are done being a golden goddess for a while. I always like to get my aggressive treatments after the first snowfall or cold snap for you lucky snow free folk. (Need a good on a budget at home facial? Comment below and I’ll write one up!)

2) Throw away expired product- This is the perfect chance to do some decluttering in your life. When your throwing out those pics of exes you should also throw out the products that have been around too long. I won’t get into the makeup part but for skin care you should toss moisturizers and eye creams 6-9 mos after opening. I personally feel, if you are sticking your grubby hands in the container you should keep it 3 months max. Save yourself some trouble and get a plastic or bamboo scoop to dispense products in jars. If you hate a product and you’re still holding onto it throw it away! If the jar is pretty or it’s a status symbol of a splurge gone bad, I say scoop out the product and use the jar for something else. Put you $20 face cream in the $300 jar……not that I do that or anything………
3) Use a gentle cleanser- You’re probably asking yourself how this is an end of summer tip. When the seasons change your skin can freak the freak out. By using a gentle sulfate-free cleanser it can ease the growing pains. My favorite is Special cleansing gel or Ultra calming cleanser from Dermalogica. (It’s hard to find fragrance free products sometimes because according to the FDA fragrance is also a preservative and vice versa). The most important thing is to not strip your acid mantle which can cause undue stress to your skin. Be gentle. You’ll thank me later. 

4) Switch your moisturizer- I can guarantee what worked for you this summer will not be the best for the upcoming fall season. For one, your skin will be faced with different elements. Be it snow, wind, rain, sun, tacos etc. Your skin will be different. I personally switch to a heavier hydration because Wyoming is extra harsh with wind and cold. Experiment. Get samples and try them out. It’s ok to buy the sample size until you know what works. (I’m currently in love with Origins sample set I picked up from Ulta. It’s amazing and I found tons of new favorites).  

5) Drink lots of water- I know. I know. How cliche but what do you have to lose?  Although it hasn’t been proven to improve skin health, it hasn’t been disproven. Water flushes toxins out of the body. Your skin is the largest organ of the human body with an area of 20 square feet…..whaaaat?? That’s a lot of skin. Because your skin is one of the few visible organs it will show signs of illness and disturbances in the body.  Sallow skin, hives, or dry patches can give clues to internal problems. When you drink water it reaches your organs and cells before it will reach your skin but fear not, that’s ok! You need healthy organs and cells. They keep us running smooth. It’s been proven that dehydration causes headaches and fatigue. Nobody like headaches or being tired. So detox your body with water. Not coffee. Not soda. Waaater. 

So there you have it friends! 5 simple end of summer tips to help you transition into the next season. You can apply this to any seasonal change. I even made an adorable infographic for you to pin to Pinterest or save! 

What are your tips for end of summer skincare?? 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Fallout Eyeshadow Palette ABH
Aesthetic and Contrast, makeup, Stevie

Subculture – ABH

Oh the scandal! The intrigue! The Drama!

After the generally accepted awesomeness of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette – I was halfway floored to hear the chatter around the quality of the Subculture Palette. Continue reading “Subculture – ABH”

Aesthetic and Contrast

Skintastic adventure with Laura!

You can buy all the makeup in the world, but if your skin isn’t healthy you’re wasting money and time.


Hey! It’s me! Laura, the skin care sheriff! If you didn’t already know I am obsessed with all things skin. Primarily, the science of skin care and how everyone’s skin is different. Like a snowflake there are no two skin types that are alike. Seriously. Even though the consumer marketing world has labeled you normal/oily (or what have you) the truth is your skin is unique and should be treated that way! I could write a 10k word thesis on the topic, but I’ll spare you. Instead I will share my personal skin care routine as requested by popular demand:

Let me give you the lowdown on my skin type…… The older I get the more dehydrated my skin has become. I also have a tendency to get monstrous hormonal breakouts if I’m not strict about my routine. The seasons also play a huge role in my skin health and I live in Wyoming. Its a square shaped state in the middle of the US. Filled with antelope and sometimes extreme harsh climate. Drying winds and 99% sunny all year long. As much as I think I have a wrap on things Mother Nature kicks my skin’s tookus. So I do change up my products. I just don’t change up the routine. The easiest way to explain this is to just breakdown my routine. 

Let’s begin shall we:

(I really wanted to quote Kesha but is that even cool anymore?)

  1. Wash my face with a warm wash cloth. If my skin feels dry and flakey I will use a little Precleanse to break up the funk. Otherwise with my skin being clean from the night before I shouldn’t have to do much. 
  2. Tone tone tone. This is a step I absolutely do not skip on. Your skin is acidic and in order to reset the ph you need a Toner to kick things back in gear. Your serums will absorb better and if you use a Glycolic or Aha based Toner it will give additional glowing goodness to your skin. Aka chemical exfoliation. You’re welcome. Your skin is going to be better than it ever has been if you use the right Toner. You can even use good ol witch hazel
  3. I scream. You scream. We all scream for eye cream. I am a few short years from 40. Of course that’s not old but my skin has been around for almost 40 years so the little fine lines and loss of elasticity is pretty apparent as of late. I like a hydrating, depuffing, brightening, and of course anti aging cream. MAKE SURE IT IS FOR EYES. Please do not break my heart by using face or body cream on your delicate little under eyes. It’s too heavy and can pull at the skin. Hence, why I don’t recommend the scotch tape trick for eye makeup. We can talk about that later though. Tip: use your fourth/ring finger to apply product and gently pat into the skin. Same goes for concealer. 
  4. Serum treatments. I change this up daily. Kind of like my hair. Or underwear. There are kabillions of serums. For daytime I tend to go for firming and hyaluronic acid based ones. I feel it keeps my makeup looking fresh. Tip: make sure to pat this into the skin in upward motions. If it rolls and balls up sometimes that means you used too much or didn’t get all your facewash off. Sometimes it means it’s just not compatible for the day time. Don’t throw it away just use it at night instead. 
  5. Moisturizzzzzzer. I am on the endless hunt for moisturizers. I feel it works for a bit then it stops. So I switch it up. Remember day creams are for daytime. Nightcreams are for night. Currently I’m in love with Water infused creams. They’re lightweight but ultra hydrating (not oily). Remember there is a difference between grease and moisture. Coconut oil=grease (sorry not sorry). Jojoba oil=moisture. I digress. Another topic. Another post. Carry on…
  6. SUNSCREEN mutha fluffa. There is a reason I do not look my age. I slather this on even if I’m indoors all day. No less than 30 spf. Especially if you are using anti aging or acne products. Protect your skin. It’s the only one you have. Once again make sure it’s for your face or else you may break out. You’ve been warned. Tip: remember to apply it to your neck and chest. Any skin care routine should be brought down onto the dรฉcollete and back of hands. 

I know you take your makeup off one side at a time too

Night time:

  1. Remove eye makeup with either micellar water or eye makeup remover. I love Bi-Facil from Lancome. My eyebrows are liquid lipstick and can be a bitch to get off. This helps gently break it down so I don’t tug at my aging skin. 
  2. Precleanse to remove all the makeup. If you still don’t know what Precleanse is check out my Ride or Die for more info. If my face feels dry I won’t follow it with any facewash. Anytime my skin dries out I break out. 
  3. Cleanse with gentle cleanser. I use Dermalogica Special cleansing gel (a pea size amount will clean your entire face!) or Philosophy Purity. Only if my skin is not feeling depleted. I do not use a clarisonic or scrubbing brush just because I use exfoliants daily as well as a washcloth. It’s your choice though. Remember though that too much exfoliation is bad and can cause dry patches, thin skin and hyperpigmentation. 
  4. Tone! Never gonna give it up. At night I use witch hazel just to soothe my skin from a long day of being smothered in makeup. Tip: to control product usage I put my Toner into a misting travel size bottle. I use a cotton round with Toner to help remove excess makeup but otherwise I will mist my clean face before the next steps. 
  5. Exfoliate all the sins away. I do this every other day. My favs are Kate Somerville exfolikate, Philosophy microdelivery and Dermalogica Daily microfoliant. Side note: If it burns or leaves tiny abrasions it’s not good! I had a microdermabrasion cream that literally cut my face. The rep said that was normal! It isn’t and that’s a great way to age your skin and cause irreversible damage. Tip: When you exfoliate focus on the dry spots and trouble areas. Leaving delicate spots like cheeks for last. The key is to exfoliate away dead skin and stimulate cell renewal. Not cheese grate your face off. Ps please stop using apricot scrub on your face. It’s too harsh. It’s perfect for your body though. Thanks. 
  6. Tone again. You can never tone enough in my book. I actually use two types of Toner at night but it’s ok to just use the witch hazel. Reset that PH so the next steps can do their job.
  7. Serum or mask. Your choice. I love sheet masks because they do it all. Remember to choose wisely. If you don’t have acne don’t use a clearing skin mask. You will aggravate and dry the Halifax out of your skin. Breakouts happen when the skin is stressed or agitated. Be nice to your face. 
  8. Eye cream!! Need I say more??
  9. Treat. This is the time to apply spot treatments for acne or hyperpigmentation etc. My favorite spot treatment for breakouts is Dermalogica breakout control. It uses lactobacillus (healthy bacteria) which I find genius! It works amazingly too. Another fav is Mario Badescu drying lotion. It smells like sulfur but works amazing to shrink down any of those angry blemishes. 
  10. Moisturize. Night cream. Who would’ve thought I would embrace my Nanaโ€™s skin routine? Aside from Evian facial spray I totally get the purpose of a night cream. Your skin is exposed for 6-10 hours and this is the perfect time to protect it and repair it. My current fav is Lancome Energie de vie nuit. It’s an overnight recovery sleeping mask. Ugh. It’s so good. It smells awesome too.  There are thousands to choose from to find the best for your skin concerns and type. A good ol fashion night cream is fantastic too. 

So this leads into my final thoughtsโ€ฆ.. if you do any of this I really stress the importance of washing your face at night. If you do one thing. Wash your face at night! Seriously. It will set your skin up for success. You will notice a huge difference in clarity and texture. Oh and of course sunscreen. Don’t be that guy. Just do it. 

You’re never too tired to wash yo face. Seriously. Mind over matter.

It takes 21 days to create a habit. My suggestion is this: 

  • Keep a skin care journal. Log your routine and see if you can figure out what may cause issues or what is a win. 
  • Keep facial wipes and spray Toner next to your bed in case you feel lazy. Get that eye makeup off! Let your delicate skin breathe. 
  • Drink a lot of water. Every time you enter a room or before you text someone drink a few sips. Keep hydrated. 
  • Nutrition is so important. I’m not a Doctor. But I’m opinionated like one and I will tell you that my recent dietary change has helped my skin immensely. Everyone is different though so do your research and consult with a physician before progressing. 
  • Skin care does not have to be pricey. Sometimes expensive does not equal better. Be cautious of ingredients. Keeping the journal will help. I personally find Neutrogena and Simple make fantastic products to incorporate into the routine for less money. 

I have a healthy obsession not so environmentally friendly addiction to water.

I hope this was helpful! I have so much to share but I don’t want to overwhelm you all! Remember your skin is unique. What works for some may not work for others. Do not give up hope! The right skin plan is out there. Go visit a licensed esthetician or nutritionist for advice. We (licensed professionals) have the training and experience for a reason and it’s to benefit you! We love to help!!! 
Take care my lovely friends!! Leave a comment below which part of my skincare routine you would like more info/suggestions on according to skin type!! 

Aesthetic and Contrast

ZPalette Dupe

I’m a single shadow junkie. Well, I’m a makeup junkie, but I have an embarrassingly (or impressively, depending on whether you’re insane like me) large collection of single shadows. Until now, I have shelled out $28 a pop for an XL ZPalette on Amazon. These palettes hold anywhere fro 20-35 single shadows depending on the pan size and shape. That’s nearly $1 per shadow to store them conveniently. I just spent $1 per shadow at the Coastal Scents’ hot pot sale.


But, until now, I didn’t have much else as an option for storage. I need to have windows on my palettes, so I can see what’s inside of them. Even with labels, I still won’t know what exactly is inside until I open them up, and with upwards of 10 palettes, windows are just the easiest way to pick which shadows I want for the day.

Also, sorry guys, size matters. I have a lot of shadows, so I need these suckers to be biggggggg. But also slim, so I’m not using a dictionary sized palette to hold 20 shadows…that would just defeat the purpose of depotting them. My makeup has already taken over a bedroom/office in my house, I don’t want to have to install library-style shelves floor to ceiling to house all of this stuff. (Though, that would look pretty awesome. – Making a mental note for when I have helicopter money)

Many internet searches and 1,000’s of suggestions/review readings later – I settled on the below palette to be my stepping-out-of-the-zpalette-box first.

These gold glittery palettes of excitement are about 10″x 5.5″x .5″ compared to the XL palette which is 8.25″ x 6.2″x.56″ . They’re pretty similar in total area, with these dupes having just a bit more space. Their shape is different, with the gold glittery goodness being taller and less wide, and ever-so-slightly shorter.

Coming in at (as of the time of this post writing – you know how often Amazon prices change) $8.48 with $1.02 shipping for a total of $9.50 – these palettes are significantly cheaper than the $25 with free shipping (if you’re an Amazon Prime member) at almost 1/3 of the price, I can very easily justify the purchase of these to replace my Palettes, as well as the few drawbacks in quality that I have found.


What are those drawbacks? I’m glad you asked. These are quite obviously coming from China, where – plenty of great items are manufactured, as well as tons of crappy subpar items. Quality is not always #1, which is reflected in the price. Also, I’ll have to check it out, but I’d be surprised if official ZPalettes weren’t also manufactured in China.

  1. Bent Corners – Though these came wrapped in plastic and inside their own glittery cardboard boxes which match the palette themselves, a few of the corners were bent a bit, like they’d been dropped on the edge. For me, this was an annoyance – but not a deal breaker. I’ll be real, I’d have caused these bent corners within a week myself.
  2. Glue Residue –  Two of the three that I purchased had a little string of glue across the window/lid. It was super thin and small – and I haven’t attempted to remove it yet (I’m planning/scheming to doit properly) but again, my original ZPalettes have funk, scratches and all kinds of weirdness on them.
  3. Lid Magnets are Weaker -The magnets that hold the lid closed are not as strong as the original Zpalette, but seem like they’re definitely strong enough to keep the lid shut. I’m not worried about the lid just popping open when its on my desk, or stacked on their side in my bookcase where I store them.

I’ll obviously be sure to update this in case anything changes! I want to steer you guys in the right direction, and give you all of the options you might want. All things considered, I am excited I found these, and will definitely be purchasing more as I need them. *Cough Cough* As soon as Coastal Scents has another hot pot sale.

Any questions about these palettes? Feel free to shoot them down below in the comments, I’m always happy to answer!

Aesthetic and Contrast, Hairs, makeup, Stevie

Stevie’s Ride or Die List:

Being the makeup junkies that we all are – we know the struggle when it comes to choosing what to work with from day to day. But we all also have that handful of products that we cannot stray from, those products that get incorporated into every (or nearly every) look. Continue reading “Stevie’s Ride or Die List:”