Wednesday, September 15, 2010

My Current Skincare Routine

I've been in dermatological heaven for the last few months. As previously mentioned, I've been taking prescription antibiotics for my acne, and it has really cleared up my breakouts. I still tend to get the occasional pimple, but its such a rare occasion that it's okay. Here's my topical routine for maintaining clear skin. The principles are simple: remove all traces of makeup and dirt, and follow up with a cleanser and/or exfoliator that encourages cell turnover. Cell turnover not only helps fade acne scarring, but can also prevent and fight fine lines and wrinkles, so this routine should work for a wide variety of skin types.

1. If I am using liquid foundation, I first take every thing off with MAC Cleanse Off oil. I skip this step if I'm using powder foundation because by the end of the day, the poor thing has worn off by itself.

2. I remove all my eye makeup with the wonderful Boots Botanics Soothing Makeup Remover. It has icelandic moss (yay for exotic ingredients!). This is so effective that I simply have to hold a dampened cotton square over my eyes and it melts all my waterproof makeup.

3. To cleanse, I use Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant. Although this is technically an exfoliator, the rice particles are so fine that you can use it every day and not worry about over-exfoliation. It's pricey ($50) so I'm glad I won it in a giveaway, but I'm so in love with it that I may repurchase...may...**wrings hands**
4. After cleansing, I tone with Olay Refreshing Toner with witch hazel. This drugstore gem lives up to its name--its so refreshing! And it takes off every trace of remaining dirt and makeup. I also love that for a small price, you get a LOT of toner.

5. Finally, I spread a small amount of tretinoin gel on my cheeks. Tretinoin is a prescription gel for fading post-acne spots. I love this stuff--it has really diminished some of my most stubborn hyperpigmentation marks. 

And that's it. Although it looks like a lot of products, my skin has always been troublesome, and I find that a regular skincare routine combined with a bit of Western medicine has led to the best skin I've had since my pre-teens. 

What is your current skincare routine? Any product recommendations pour moi?  

PS. I purchased all of these products with my own moolah. The only thing I didn't buy was the Dermalogica exfoliator, which I won in a giveaway.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

August Favorites and 1 Regret

August was a month of makeup minimalism for me. I have decided to henceforth channel my inner Padma Lakshmi by focusing on flawless, glowing skin and favoring fresh blush and lip colors instead of over-done eyes. It's just what works for my skintone and sense of style. On to the current obsessions:

First up is YSL Rouge Volupte in #23:
After wringing my hands many times over the sticker price ($34!), I finally bought this lipstick thanks to my husband, who loved how it looked on me and talked me into it. And although I'm a proud frugalista, I have to admit that this lipstick covers so many bases that it's well worth the price and hype. It's full of moisture, yet it dries to a matte finish so it is smooch-friendly. The pigmentation is so great that a few dabs on my lips gives me a my-lips-but-better look. A few more dabs and we're in a peppy bright mode.  The packaging is of course heavenly and has finally taught me that packaging. does. matter.

In keeping with my minimal makeup look, I've been loving Benefit's Georgia beauty powder. I love using this as a blush substitute because instead of making my cheeks pink, it just lightens up that area by a few shades. That looks like a genuine radiant glow because I've noticed that after a solid workout, my cheeks are lighter, not necessarily pinker. I love this stuff. Tan ladies, seek this out.

This month I finally figured out how to conceal my undereye circles! I put a small amount of Smashbox photofinish foundation primer on my undereye area, and then blend thin layers of MAC select cover up on top. The primer prevents the concealer from settling into my fine lines. I set the whole thing with a loose translucent powder or MAC Studio Fix powder foundation. The look stays put without settling into fine lines.

As for my regret, I completely regret buying Rimmel's Gentle eye makeup remover. It's like having a Smart Car when you want a Rover. Ugh. This stuff did take off my eyeshadows with ease, but throw ANY waterproof formulations at it, and it quakes in its pants and runs home to its momma. I have been tugging and pulling at my eyelashes trying to get off my mascara, and it just does not budge it. "Gentle" would be the understatement of the year for this mascara. Stay away. My top recommendation for an eye makeup remover is, and will always be, Boots Eye-Makeup Remover with Icelandic Moss.

Sorry this was an uber long post, but I thought I'd come back with a bang. That, and I didn't want to have a backlog of 10 products I need to write about, so I thought I'd get them all out of the way so I can let new ideas take the stage soon. Thanks for reading chicas.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Aaand, I'm back

Hey guys, a thousand apologies for my absence from the blogosphere. I MISSED YOU GUYS SO MUCH! I have missed blogging, and I've missed the community. I've of course been a silent viewer of all your blogs, so the hype of MAC Face & Body  and UD Naked has not eluded me. No worries there, I want them very badly. But now onto an explanation.

At first, I had to slow down because my computer died on me. After that, I had my in-laws stay with me for the summer, which was lovely because they are so easy-going, but that meant that I chose to spend my evenings and weekends with them rather than blogging. But neither of those excuses really can stop me from blogging if I'm REALLY passionate about saying something. To be honest, at the core of my writer's block was a fundamental shift in my attitude towards make-up. I don't want to get too deep and serious about this, because its only makeup, but honestly, I am just not a makeup collector. I will never be like those YouTube gurus with walk-in closets filled with MAC pigments. I'm more like a makeup curator. I believe that a small but carefully edited collection of products is far more valuable and enjoyable than owning every NYX Jumbo Pencil under the sun. So this summer, I parted with a huge amount of makeup, most of which I shared with my sister and friends but some of which went into Mr. Garbage. I was so happy to give away these items because they were just not working on me or I didn't use them, so it was nice to spread the love. If I show you guys my makeup collection now, you'll probably all laugh (it all fits into regular traincase with room to spare). But I'm happy because having a small collection with no duplicates means that I finish up products while they are fresh, and I can guiltlessly buy new products to replace them if they are not HG material. Case in point: I've hit pan on my Studio Fix Powder Foundation  and my Colorstay is about to run out as well. I will probably repurchase the SF, but Colorstay may be replaced with something new, like Face & Body now that my skin has cleared up (separate post on that to come soon!).

Anyway, I have finally gotten around to taking pictures of some wonderful July/August favorites, so stay tuned for that post, which will be coming out very soon. Thanks for sticking with me guys. :-)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Would you rather?

Hello lovely people! I'm super busy this week, but I decided to indulge in a momentary lapse of work ethic to squeeze out this fun tag:

1.Would you rather go out with messy hair and nice make-up or Nice hair and no make-up? Definitely nice hair and no makeup for me. I do love both, but lemme tell ya, a greasy ponytail looks like crap on me. If I have freshly washed hair framing my face, I am comfortable slapping on a bit of chapstick and rolling out.

2.Would you rather shave your eyebrows or have your eyelashes fall out? 
I would much rather have my lashes fall out any day. False lashes can be made to look natural and beautiful, but rare is the person who can draw on eyebrows and have it look classy!

3.Would you rather be forced to shop at only MAC or Sephora for the rest of your life? 
This is a really really tough one. For the last few months, I've been eyeing a lot of brands from Sephora such as MUFE, Bobbi Brown, YSL, and Dior. So as of this point in time, I would rather only shop at Sephora. However, deep down, I know that MAC is special; as Laura (Lollipop26) put it, the thrill of a MAC haul is truly irreplaceable.

4.Would you rather wear lipgloss/lipliner look or 80's perm?  

Well, I actually had an 80s perm in the 4th grade. I love the idea of curly hair, and so I say why not! After all, an 80s perm is just a perm, and I can style it anyway I please!

5.Would you rather leave the house with an obvious foundation line or overdone blush? 
Put me down for overdone blush, because it wears off over the course of the day (more like 1 hour for me!). But a foundation line? That's just bad makeup skillz.

6.Would you rather wear MC Hammer pants or biker shorts in public? 
Um...I'd rather stay home when faced with those two choices. But fine, if I had to choose one, I'll choose biker shorts because I can get on a bike and make it look like I'm normal!

7.Would you rather have a bad orange-y spray tan or really weird tan lines that can't be covered? Weird tan lines would be fine, because its circumstantial. Bad orange-y spray tan is just an obvious goof up. I think in general, I'd rather have beauty errors due to circumstances, not bad technical skills!

8.Would you rather have a bad haircut or bad hair color? 
Bad hair color, because it can be fixed straight away. A bad haircut spoils my mood for months!

9.Would you rather have youtube or twitter taken away forever? 

Twitter (I never use it as much as I should really).

10. Would you rather give up using makeup brushes or mascara?  

I'd be very sad if I had to face such a decision. But...I'll let the brushes go, because there are ways to use sponges and fingers to apply makeup. There's no alternative to mascara.

Alright people, its your turn now. What would you rather do?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

An acquired taste

Three months ago, my friend gave me a certain cult product that she absolutely hated. According to her, this blush simply did not show up on her skin (which is about an NC15 I'd wager).

It was NARS Orgasm. Now even if someone gives me a product that they personally don't like, I love receiving it because A) it might work on me, and B) I may have a great time reviewing a dud for you guys.

As you can see, she had hit pan on the blush, not because of utter devotion to the product, but because it took a tremendous amounts of swipes to see any color on her cheeks:

After using this product for 1 month, I completely agreed with her. It sucked. I started visualizing blog posts titled "Are you faking Orgasm?". But over time, although it was nothing more than a subtle sheer shimmer, my hand kept reaching for the big O. Was it because of its reputation? Was I just giddy that I was wearing NARS Orgasm? (ok yes a little). Or, was I truly enjoying this peachy pink shimmery blush?

In the second month, I began to admire the versatility of this blush. It paired just as well with smokey eyes as it did with a boring all-over-the-lid-out-the-door eyes. 

But my respect turned into love in the last 3-4 days. This weekend, while visiting my sister in London, I regularly did my mom and sister's makeup. The two women's complexions range between NC30 - NC45. Orgasm looked amazing on both of them even though they have vast differences in skin tones and age.

I have to hand it to NARS. They have hit upon a blush whose shade and texture truly works across all ages, colors and makeup looks. Well done Orgasm. It took me a while to get it, but I finally got it. And it was goood. ;)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

I'm off to London and Redecoration

In less than 12 hours I'll be aboard a flight to London to celebrate my sister's graduation. While looking through pictures of my last trip to London (2006), I cringed and realized I have learned many deep life lessons:

1. Don't dress like a dork.

2. Don't get excited about touristy things like red telephone booths. 

3. Buy a better hand bag.

4. A crappy ponytail is not to be worn anywhere outside of a shower stall.

5. If you have no sense of fashion or interior design, find a friend who does. Then go shopping with her.

That is exactly what I did last week. My fabulous sister-in-law visited us and redecorated our living room in...get this...1 day flat. She makes decisions lightning fast and can spot fabulosity on a budget. Check this out:

This is a wall right outside our kitchen and facing the dining table. We can use it as an extra buffet table or to showcase our keepsakes. Pieces are from from IKEA, Pier 1 and TJ Maxx. One awesome tip I picked up from her is to find accessories at furniture showrooms!

This is the wall facing opposite the first picture. She made use of a lot of accessories we already had, such as the console table and all the accessories on the table.  The wall piece is from Pier 1.

This dining table is between the walls shown on the first two pictures. The mirror is from TJ Maxx.

This is our main living area. We already had the furniture and most of the accessories in the built-in bookcases. Most of these items were simply rearranged. These accessories are from our travels, Pier 1, Ten Thousand Villages, and India.

We added a tall vase from Pier 1 in the corner, and placed some fillers in there. 

I feel like I'm all of a sudden in the lobby of the W Hotel. I also clearly understood what style of decoration I really truly love. I always thought I was a fan contemporary, but what I really love is modern ethnic. I love pieces that have modern shapes, but the color palette, texture or print is warm and ethnic. Thanks for making our place so chic Fal! You need to go pro! 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Body Shop Roseflower Blush in Fuscia

I never go into Body Shop. It's not that I don't like it; it's just that I am totally unfamiliar with their products. Furthermore, since they are a standalone store, the chances are low for me to just explore their counter like I would if I was in Sephora or a department store. Thanks to a giveaway I won a few months ago from Emily's blog, Body Shop now has an admirer in me.

Meet the Body Shop Roseflower Blush in Fuscia:

In the pan, it is a lovely true rose color, and who can resist that beautiful rose imprint? 

On the skin, it gives a flattering flush of color that lifts my whole complexion. I am confident that this color would work on everything from porcelain skin to tanned beauties.
My camera didn't capture this, but the blush has loose gold bits in it. At first I was sure that this would result in a glittery mess on my cheeks but instead, it creates a perfect sheen on top of the blush. Its like I'm using a blush and a highlighter in one step.

One negative of this blush is the amount of fall out you see when you swipe the brush across the pan. Seems like you are wasting a bunch of product, because its like swirl, swirl, get tons of product on the brush, tap tap, 50% of product ends up on sink/towel. But that aside, this blush is gorgeous, works in all 4 seasons, and is now my gateway drug into the wonderful world of Body Shop.

Do you guys have any Body Shop favorites?