Rochester Makeup Artist: Megan Burch of Burch Beauty

Monday, April 16, 2018

Photo credit: Leo Timoshuk Photography 

Friends, I have to tell you about a new page on Instagram that you all should follow! It is and the woman behind it, Megan Burch, is one of the most talented makeup artists I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

I met Megan back when I was traveling the Buffalo/Rochester/Syracuse/Finger Lakes region for Cargo Cosmetics. She immediately impressed me when I met her more than three years ago at a Kohl's in Syracuse. In the 23 years I have been in the beauty industry (I cannot even believe it has been that long, but that is when I was freelancing for Lancome back in college), there have many men and women with varying levels of natural talent. Megan is among the best I have had the pleasure of knowing.

Megan Burch is a true gem and she knows what she is doing, Luckily for everyone here in the 585, she is now based here in Rochester. So head to her Instagram, as I know there are going to be some really fabulous tips & techniques shared on her new account.

Monday Motivation: Find Your Wings & Fly

Self doubt can hold us back from going after our goals and achieving our dreams. 🌿

Taking a leap of faith can be scary. Maybe it is because you have spent your life being told you can't do it -- or that your dreams are silly.

Take note: You CAN do it. Anything you dream of, wish for or set your sights on can be a reality. All you need is to believe in yourself. I ask again, why CAN'T you do it? You are brave, you are capable, and you are an amazing human being. Stop being afraid of what could go wrong and remind yourself that everything could go right.

Revisiting a favorite book: The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women

Friday, April 13, 2018

You could say I am a busy woman, like so many women are. I'm a wife and a mom. I write content and copy for beauty brands, manage multiple social media accounts,  and pen the occasional skincare article for magazines. I am busy with school functions, with family, and friends. You likely can relate.

In my "down time" such that it is, I create. Whether it is tinkering with new recipes, writing, planting flowers (should nice weather ever show up) or making jewelry --I am almost always doing something that utilizes my creativity.

Nine years ago, I was part of a blogging book club. It was so much fun and involved a great deal of self-reflection, something I believe we all need. I read a wonderfully inspiring book called the 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women: A Portable Mentor by Gail McMeekin. I found the experience to be quite profound. Not long ago, I stumbled upon the book and decided to re-read it, completing the various prompts.

The book is described by McMeekin as "a guidebook meant to be read and reread over time, as you and your creative challenges change and blossom... the lessons you learn from the myriad of exercises called Challenges will encourage you to soar to new creative heights and joy..."

Honestly, this came back into my life at a perfect time. I really think there is a reason I stumbled upon it in a box from our move 2 years ago.

Feel free to grab the book online, download it, or borrow it from your local library if you would like to join me.

The first challenge in this book is the one I am reflecting on today: Acknowledge your creative self.

I am creative. We have covered that. I own it and acknowledge it, but just what does this all mean to me?

I am going to tell you what creativity means to me.

Being creative is part of my being.

I have been a creative soul since I can remember. I am not one who sees life in black and white. I am not a logical thinker. I am extremely intuitive and introverted, and I cherish the time I have to myself expressing my authentic self--the one who is so multifaceted and has so many ideas running through her brain at once--all in vivid color. 

When I picture the inner workings of my brain, I picture a bunch of sticky notes all with different ideas jotted down in various colors. I'm one of those people who will stay awake into the wee hours with my mind racing and thinking of ideas for a new jewelry piece, for a new recipe, a new blurb to use as ad copy for lip gloss, etc. That is just how my mind functions.

There's really no organization to my thought process. It's kind of like the junk drawer. 

We all have a junk drawer, don't we? It's the drawer full of receipts, $3 in change, a safety pin, pens, a Matchbox car, rubber bands, and a lone M&M... This is the equivalent of my thought process a vast majority of the time. It sometimes drives Tom crazy. My hubby's thought process is the equivalent of that super neat and tidy desk drawer where you everything has its proper place. Creativity obviously is why I loved working as a makeup artist so much. I had a chance to do "art projects" every single day and that truly made me happy--seeing beauty in its raw form and the ability to take a brush and some colors and create so many different looks.

I view my life as a piece of art in progress--a mural I began to paint as a child that will continue to be painted with new colors and with added dimension as my life unfolds. I guess I see all of our lives as a giant canvas and each of us as artists with a giant palette of paints. This world contains palettes of beautiful colors with so much potential to create the most brilliant masterpiece. Reality, however, is that not all of humankind sees the end masterpiece the same. Paints spill and get muddy and mixed into a blotchy mess that cannot always be erased.

Acknowledging my creative self is something I just do. If I did not allow myself to be creative (or artsy and a little "flighty" as some may see it), I would not be true to myself. It makes me content. This makes those around me content. Through blogging, whipping up new recipes, through goofing around with my boys--these are ways I stay true to my self and feel free to be creative -- to be me.

How do you embrace your creativity?

What is Retinol and should you be using it?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

When it comes to turning back the clock on the visible signs of skin aging, Retinol is the beauty industry gold standard ingredient. Backed by over four decades of scientific research, topical retinoids provide a visible reduction in the signs of skin aging.

What is retinol?

Retinol is the name for an over the counter retinoid. 

Before we continue talking specifically about retinol, we need to discuss retinoids.

What exactly is a retinoid? A retinoid is a Vitamin A derivative that accelerates cell turnover, unclogs the pores, and stimulates collagen to reduce the look of fine lines.

The anti-aging benefits of retinoids were unknown back when it was first approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration. In fact, when the FDA first approved Tretinoin, it was for the treatment of acne. Tretinoin was patented in 1957 and approved for use five years later. The brand name you may be familiar with is prescription Retin-A. Since Retin-A, other brand names have come about including Renova, among others.

While acne treatment was its original claim to fame, dermatologists who prescribed it would later notice that patients who used it were experiencing skin with that looked younger and brighter as well.

Today, there are different classes of prescription retinoids, including adapalene and tazarotene. All three classes are quite effective -- they are just slightly different strengths.

While we're talking about retinoids, Differin (adapalene) is now available OTC without a prescription for acne.

About Retinol and its skin benefits

Retinol is an impressive over the counter retinoid.

Retinol gradually converts to retinoic acid, which is the active ingredients in prescription retinoids) and it is VERY effective at treating the skin signs of aging. It just takes a bit longer. It is also gentler with fewer side effects.

Retinol enhances collagen production is truly the most effective OTC anti-aging skincare ingredient available.

Retinol must be stabilized. Most “retinol” products contain esters of retinol, such as Retinyl Palmitate and Retinyl Acetate, which are the LEAST effective forms. You need to see Retinol on the label. If you use the derivatives I just mentioned, you will not be able to achieve the same results that you would with pure retinol.

My favorite Retinol product is Welcome Back YOUth from Robin McGraw Revelation.

I was very skeptical about this skincare brand. I honestly have never loved celebrity skincare products, because they tend to be more hype than anything else. I have been testing out many of the Robin McGraw Revelation products over the past several weeks and am extremely impressed. I really love the Welcome Back YOUth retinol serum.

Here is the listing of ingredients:

Water (Aqua), Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Glycerin, Dimethicone PEG-7, Isostearate, Caprylyl Methicone, PEG-20 Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Methyl Glucose Sesquistearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ethylhexyl Stearate, Allyl Methacrylates Crosspolymer, Squalane, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Retinol, Anadenanthera Colubrina Bark Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Glyceryl Caprylate, Disodium EDTA, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Polysorbate 60, Phenylpropanol, Xanthan Gum, Polysorbate 20, Fragrance (Parfum), BHT, Potassium Sorbate, Propyl Gallate.

Other ingredients in this serum that are worth mentioning:

  • Squalane is a skincare gem. It is naturally produced in our own bodies and, in skincare, is generally derived from olives. Its molecular structure is similar to that of our own skin and is easily penetrated. It is skin protective, skin smoothing, and helps promote skin rejuvenation. It is also beneficial to those with oily skin, as it may help control excess skin sebum.
  • Tetraxyldecyl Ascorbate is a very stable form of Vitamin C. It is oil soluble, aiding in skin penetration. It is believed to help Retinol work more effectively in the skin. It is skin protective and a valuable antioxidant. It may help to brighten the skin and helps to fight inflammation.
  • Anadenanthera Colubrina Extract is derived from the bark of a South American tree similar to a Yopo.  It has long been used for skin healing and shows benefits including plumping and deep hydration.

Does it work?

Yes. I am loving this. Most retinoids are a bit too strong for my skin, resulting in peeling. This exquisite retinol serum has been in my arsenal for a while now three nights per week and I am starting to see a slight reduction in fine lines, especially near my mouth where I have a pesky line. I will keep you updates as I use this for a longer period of time. I love that it is NON-IRRITATING and that great thought was put into what other ingredients would be used in the formula in order to maximize the effectiveness of the Retinol.

Chic & Green Rating: 

4.5 stars out of 5. It would have earned a 5 had it not been for the fragrance and BHT because I truly love how it feels on my skin. I do not generally use any products with artificial fragrance on my face. That said, this is still my favorite OTC retinol product.


Transformation Tuesday: My Progress on Weight Watchers Freestyle

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

I am down 20 pounds since I started Weight Watchers.

Until recently, I had been too self conscious to do before and after type weight loss photos. I guess I had been SO disappointed in putting so many pounds back on. Anyway, as of my weigh-in Friday, I am down 20 pounds on the Freestyle plan, an average of 1.8 pounds a week.

I was looking back at my photos from a couple months back and found this picture from January 27 when I was a guest bartender at the Briarwood Triangle Neighborhood Association Tap Takeover at I-Square. I know there has been a steady weight loss and I know I have now dropped two jean sizes but until I actually compared photos, I guess it just has seemed turtle slow progress to me. Take the photos. Be proud of your progress, whether they be in the dropping of pounds or smaller, non scale victories along the way.

I am half way to goal and honestly have never felt better. I have made many other changes since starting Weight Watchers. You see that before picture up there on the left? That was the last time I had my once beloved craft beer. I am, as of today, 73 days alcohol-free. That will be a whole other post in itself when I talk about the impact that going alcohol free has had on my skin.

Anyway, just wanted to share a little up date. Life changes can seem daunting, but once you start making them, you may just find that you never want to look back. This is just the beginning. This is more than being down twenty pounds. I can't wait to see what happens next.

You can always impact another being.

Think about it: 1440 minutes each day. What are some small - or big - things that YOU can do to shine your light for others?

Monday Motivation: Tazo Butterscotch Blondie

Monday, April 9, 2018

Tea. Lip gloss. My bullet journal. This is how I start off my Mondays.

Y'll know I am tea obsessed. While I generally prefer loose leaf tea, I do enjoy a quick bagged tea if it is good quality. Tazo is among my favorites. Their Dessert Delights line is fabulous and I cannot rave enough about Butterscotch Blondie. It is a guilt-free flavor that TASTES like it should be a guilty pleasure. Try it!

Lightened Up Carrot Cupcakes

Sunday, April 8, 2018

My most favorite kind of cake is carrot cake, so I've been experimenting with recipes that are both delicious and Weight Watchers friendly. I first shared this recipe in 2011 and am reposting with info on points included. Note, this is not a food blog. Just sharing my recipe!

Whole Wheat Carrot Cupcakes

Sift together in a large mixing bowl:

1 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt

Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, combine:

2 beaten large eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar
3 medium to large shredded carrots
8 ounce can crushed pineapple
1/2 c. applesauce (natural without added sugar)
1 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/3 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Combine all ingredients.

Use silicone muffin cups or a muffin pan with muffin liners and pour in the batter.

Bake in a preheated, 350 degree oven for 18-21 minutes. Makes 12 large cupcakes.


While cooling, make the Cinnamon Orange Cream Cheese Frosting.

Mix about 3/4 of an 8 ounce package (6 oz. or so...I never really measure this exactly) of fat free cream cheese with 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar, a teaspoon of fat free milk, and cinnamon (I add just about 1/2 t.). Then add in the zest of a small orange. Mix with electric mixer until it's nice and creamy.

Eat and enjoy! Store in the fridge.

*With the optional nuts, you can eat one cupcake FROSTED for 6 points on WW Freestyle. I would use the app, though, to add in the specific brands you are using to be 100% certain of point totals.
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