Saturday, October 31, 2009

Biore and Burt's Bees Haul

As the weather turns cold, my acne-prone skin gets quite dry. So I run into the dillemma of needing intense moisture while at the same time not clogging my pores and getting more breakouts. So I bought two things the other day: The first is Biore's new moisturizer with the dual pump thingy that reminds me of an epoxy gun. I love Biore's Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser, which I've repurchased twice, so I wanted to try their moisturizers too. This product is for women that are past teenage acne but are not dealing with wrinkles yet. So its just prevention: 1 part moisturizer, 1 part SPF 30. I've only been using this for about 3 days and so far so good.
The second purchase is the Burt's Bees Radiance Healthy Glow Kit. The Radiance line's main ingredient is royal jelly. This sample kit comes with 7 Burt's Bees products, which is awesome as I've been really curious to try out all-natural skincare products. I will say that I am glad I bought this sample kit. It's been a lot of fun getting to try so many things at once. I've got that haul-high all week long. Yaaay for samples! Ok here's what you get

  •  Body lotion: contains natural mica to enhance skin tone
  • Creamy body wash: infused with oil beads to moisture while it cleanses
  • Soap: cleanses and exfoliates to smooth and even skin tone
  • Day and Night creams: increase radiance, firmness, and minimize the appearance of fine lines
  • Eye Cream: reduce fine lines and natural lip shimmer  
  • Lip shimmer (not shown cuz its currently tucked away in my purse)

I'll do in-depth reviews of both the Biore and Burt's Bees products once I've used substantial amounts of both. Till then, I'm enjoying my haul high!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Espresso Yourself! Coffee+Chocolate Mask

It's getting cold, and that means that I'm craving 1) hot chocolate and 2) steaming cups of joe. But did you know that chocolate, coffee and milk are an excellent combination for a DIY mask? Here's why:

1. Chocolate and coffee contain caffeine, which constricts blood vessels, therefore reducing redness from acne or rosacea.
2. Chocolate and coffee contain antioxidants, which can prevent and even repair sun damage. Fall and winter are the best times to repair sun damage from the summer months.
3. Milk contains protein, fat, and vitamins A and D. All of these ingredients calm down dry, chapped skin.

        Mix 1/2 tsp of coffee, 1/2 tsp of cocoa, and 1 tsp of milk. I used Starbucks french roast, Hershey's cocoa powder, and 2% milk (you can use any kind).You can reduce the lumpyness of the cocoa powder by putting it through a sifter, but you and I know we're too lazy to do all that. ;)

       The mixture will be granular and runny. You can add some honey to bind the mixture a bit better, but I had no problem keeping it on my face.
      Leave the mixture on for 15-20 min, then wash off. It can be a wee bit messy when washing off, so you can just do this before taking a shower. I love how I smelled yummy the whole time!
      I didn't see immediate reduction of redness from this mask, but my skin looked very bright, awake and refreshed. Also from just smelling the chocolate and caffeine, I kind of felt revived. I think this mask is a fun pampering session, especially on a cold and rainy day like it has been here all week. So take it for what its worth, and enjoy this little pick-me-up!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My fall purse

I snagged this supple leather purse by Guess at Macy's for around $80. It was originally in the $90 range, but I got a 20% discount with my Macy's gift card. I work in a fairly conservative environment, so I love how this purse is sophisticated, black, and yet has the chunky metal trend incorporated into it. It fits into any environment, and I lohohove it. I think it'll see me through till spring. What do you think?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Product Review: MAC Strobe Liquid

In my ongoing quest to look radiant and dewy, I've been on the hunt for the perfect illuminator.
So for the last month or so, I've gone through a generous sample of MAC Strobe Liquid. Strobe Liquid is a lighter-weight version of the Strobe Cream, and is meant to give you an illuminating effect.

Now that I've gone through the whole sample, I keep going back and forth about whether or not to purchase it. The pros are that it absolutely does give you a J Lo glow. I dab it on my cheekbones and browbones, and its just the most beautiful finishing touch. And I'm an NC45, so it looks good on dark skin too. But the big ole' con is that it doesn't last more than an hour. I refuse to believe that a MAC product would not have lasting power, so I think there might be something wrong with my application. Maybe since I use powder foundation (Studio Fix),  this light-weight cream just gets absorbed by my powder? Maybe I need to set my makeup with Fix+ or my rosewater spray? I dunno...the MUA at Nordstrom suggested that I mix this with my liquid foundation to get an all-over dewy look, but given how pearlescent it is I think I'd end up looking like a disco ball. Plus I'm not a big fan of liquid foundation for everyday use. It's messy, time-consuming and I always get a feeling that there's a lot of makeup on my face. Maybe I haven't found the best liquid foundation yet, but that's another post.

So in total, Strobe Liquid, in the first hour, gives me a beautiful celebrity glow. But after a while, it goes away. I tried on Strobe Cream the other day (Strobe Liquid's original thicker formula) thinking it would have more staying power, but its not really very illuminating; just moisturizing with a bit of a sheen to it. So it's not really an illuminator. I think for now I might pass on this product. It's quite beautiful, but at $29.50 I need it to stay on all day long.

Have you guys tried Strobe Liquid? What did you think? Do you have a favorite cream illuminator?

Friday, October 23, 2009

My First Blog Award!!!

The lovely  Eliza-Make Up Junkie has awarded me my first blog awards! Eliza has awesome hauls, product reviews, and makeup tutorials. She's one of the sweetest bloggers out there as she always gives kudos to fellow bloggers, which is so generous of her. So here are my awards (woohooooooo!)
With these awards, I have to:
1. Thank the person who nominated me for this award (Eliza, you da bomb diggity)
2. Copy the award and place it on my blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated me for this award (here's Eliza)
4. Tell us 7 interesting things about yourself (see below)
5. Nominate 7 Bloggers (see below the below)
6. Post links to the 7 blogs I nominate.

7 things you probably didn't know about me:
1. I get cold very easily. When I'm cold, I bother my hubby by 1) turning up the heat and 2) whining.
2. I hate unnecessary abbreviations. What the hell is "peeds"? Why can't you say pediatrician?
3. I love the spicy italian sub at Subway. It's da bomb. daaaaa bomb.
4. "Halo" by Beyonce gets me soo pumped up during kickboxing. That song is magical.
5. I sit down in random parts of my living room when I'm tired. It's like I'm half cat or something.
6. I have a love/hate relationship towards La Mer. It's stupidly expensive, and yet I want to try it.
7. I want Santa to give me a Lush haul this Christmas.

7 Bloggers I nominate
I love everyone I follow, so this was quite hard to do. Here they are in no particular order:
1. My Fashion and Beauty Blog is one of the first girls to follow me. She's very honest about her experience with products, and her hauls are lovely yet approchable.
2. Gaby's Beauty Blog is a great place to find DIY products and deals and steals. And she has this adorable hamster on a wheel on the side bar. I'm such a sucker for cute animals I swear.
3. Makeup Diary Confessions is a fabulous place to read about hauls on all sorts of products. I basically live vicariously through her shopping sprees.
4. Hell Candy Make-Up has some of the most enviable hauls I've ever seen. She's also very honest and hilarious about everything she tries out.
5. Amynicola_ox is someone I can live vicariously through for over-the-top hauls. Love it!
6. Awilda Hearts Makeup is one of the most talented MUA out there. Also her skintone is close to mine, so anytime she buys something, I haave to have it.
7. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder does such great hauls. She's also beautiful, hilarious, and honest about whatever products she tries out. I think she has substantially increased my wishlist.

Sorry so long, but loving other bloggers takes time! I hope you all enjoyed this. Please let me know if you'd like to see a blogger of the month post from me. I might also do just blogger of the month in the sidebar instead of a post so it stays up all month. Not sure which one I'll go with but in any case, the bear hugging has started!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What's in my travel makeup bag?

Hi guys, sorry I haven't updated my blog in a while; I was away in Chicago for a conference. For my 6 day trip, I packed makeup that made me look polished, but not colorful. After all, this was a scientific conference. No one was going to appreciate a Manish Arora pallete on my eyes.

I picked up a generic travel kit that included a soap case, hairbrush, toothbrush holder, and 2 empty bottles ($2.99!). I didn't take the bottles or hair brush, just the toothbrush holder, the soap holder, and the travel kit. The soap holder was filled with hair accessories, q-tips and toothpaste. The travel kit contained makeup:

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation
Maybelline Dream Mousse in Soft Plum
Mary Kay Mineral Powder Brush
Mary Kay Signature Concealor
Loew Cornell concealor brush
Lancome eye makeup remover
MAC Powerpoint Engraved
MAC Fluidline Blacktrack
Kat von D eye palette in Ludwig
Loew Cornell 1/8" angled shader
Coastal Scents blending fluff
Random Target eyelash curler
Maybelline Define-a-Lash
Egyptian magic (sample size)
MAC Fastlane
C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine

I was kind of strict about how many "me too" products I took along just cuz I like to travel light. I'm overall quite happy with everything I took, but the only thing I'd change is to take more than one lip color. What kind of stuff can you not live without when you travel?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Secret to Clear Skin

After dealing with acne for about 12 years now, I want to share my thoughts on what are the two most common underlying causes of acne. Remember that acne is just a symptom of a deeper problem. Solve the problem, and you'll get rid of acne. In my experience, acne is caused by  1) a hormonal imbalance, and 2) inefficient digestion. If either of these two things is out of whack, I break out. It's as simple as that (for me!). Here are my 2 top tips for good skin:

1) Balance your hormones: the best way for girls to calm down their hormones is to birth control. My hormones were all over the place as a teenager because I always had severely painful periods and I always broke out like crazy around that time. It sucked because it was like a billboard to the world that said "Aunt Flo is visiting me for the week!" So I've conquered the hormonal issue by getting on trisprintec. Obviously, talk to your family, dermatologist and/or OB/GYN before getting on birth control.

2) Have a good digestive system: if you are constipated, chances are, you have acne. When you're constipated, the toxins in your body have nowhere to go, so they get into your bloodstream, which goes everywhere, including your pores! I know that's disgusting, but bear with me, this is VERY important to good skin! There are very simple ways to stay regular. Here are a few all-natural, no-side-effects, results-driven and super-affordable tips:

  • Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day. If you do NOTHING else on this list, do this one. Your makeup will stay on longer, you won't have mid-afternoon lulls, and your skin will not only be acne-free, it will glow.
  • Take psyllium husk every morning with warm water. Psyllium husk can be found under the brand name Metamucil, but you can also find higher-quality stuff at the Indian store, where its called Sat Isabgol. Take a heaping teaspoon every morning with warm water.
  • Take 1/2 a tsp of Triphala every morning and night. This is a wonderful Ayurvedic compound that acts as a mild laxative. It works wonders and there are no side-effects.

On a last note, I've seen that taking charge of my hormones and my digestion has not only cleared up myskin, it actually makes me feel happier on the inside. Believe me, clear skin starts from here, so I hope you try it!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thank you + Survey!

I want to say a big thank you to all my followers for taking an interest in my bloggy blog! I can't believe I've reached over 30 followers,. I am amazed at the sense of community here. Writing about makeup and skincare is such a great outlet for me as my day job is anything but girly. So as a way for me to know you guys better, please fill out this wee survey and post in the comments below.
  1. Favorite makeup line?
  2. Your favorite weekend pampering session? 
  3. What are the three makeup items you can't live without?
  4. What are three items you're lusting over right now? They can be makeup, skincare, or nails.
  5. What kinds of blog posts do you love the most and why (haul, product review, DIY, tag, etc.)?
  6. If you have your own blog, when did you get started, and why?

Here are my answers:

Favorite makeup line? MAC
Favorite weekend pampering session? 
Threading eyebrows, DIY mask (aspirin or besan/yogurt/honey), manicure, and a makeup haul. ;)
What are the three makeup items you can't live without?
MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation, Maybelline Define-A-Lash, Merle Norman Super Lube (lip balm)
    What are three items you're lusting over right now? They can be makeup, skincare, or nails.
    Revlon Colorstay Foundation, Dermatologica Daily Microfoliant, OPI Barefoot in Barcelona
      What kinds of blog posts do you love the most and why (haul, product review, DIY, tag, etc.)?
      DIY skincare cuz they're so effective, cheap, and fun, and all-natural.
      If you have your own blog, when did you get started, and why?
      I got started by wanting to learn about how to do my own makeup for my wedding this last summer. So I watched hundreds of YouTube videos and even read books by professionals in the industry about makeup and skincare. A week before my wedding, I was totally broken out, and Michelle Phan's aspirin mask literally rescued me! So I decided to pass on the good and share my tips and tricks on skincare and makuep. I have to say that the blogging community has taught me so much. In the last 3 months, I have had the best skin and makeup of my life. :)

      Have a lovely week and hope to see your comments soon!

      Monday, October 12, 2009

      Mini Haul: Maybelline Dream Mousse

      UPDATE: Eliza mentioned in the comments that the Dream Mousse disappeared right after putting it on. After using the Dream Mousse for a few days now, I have to agree that its staying power is not that great. Its not a big deal for me because my Coastal Scents blushes also don't stay on all that well either, and I tend to use a very light hand in the first place. I'm gonna try to increase the staying power by setting my makeup with my rose water spray (my uber cheap Fix+ substitute!). But that's something to be aware of before buying! Ok here's the original post:

      Walgreens was having a a BOGO 50% off sale on all Maybelline products last week, so I hurried over and snagged a couple of things from the Dream Mousse Collection. Bubblegarm has raved about it, and the products looked divine on her. I got:
      Dream Mousse Blush in Soft Plum
      Dream Mousse Bronzer in Sunglow
      Nivea Creme, mainly because Fafinettex3 raved about it before, and its only 99c.
        I gotta say, the Dream Mousse collection is AWESOME. It really feels like mousse! Its like you dab on bits of mousse, and then it transforms into an airbrushed shimmery finish on the face. And because you apply it with your fingers, the application is precise yet seamless, hence airbrushed. I also quite like the shimmer. I first thought it would only be suitable for nighttime, but you don't see the shimmers until you face the light and are close to a mirror. Here are the textures. It's so moussey! My husband wanted to eat it. ;)
        The coverage is sheer to medium, which makes this a very buildable blush. I guess the one downside is that you're using your fingers, so you have to make sure its clean and then wash off the blush from your fingers once you're done. But I don't mind, since I'm now able to skip the additional step of putting an illuminator/highlight on my cheekbones. Definitely loving it.

        The one question in my mind now is whether this is a good dupe for MAC's Mineralized Skin Finish Blush. I think this might be since both the dream mousses are blushes with bits of gold sparkle.

        As for the Nivea...well that's another story...I'm glad it was only 99c otherwise I'd be taking this back to the store. It's quite greasy, doesn't sink quickly into the skin, and there's no way in hell I'd put it on my face. I guess I'm just gonna stick it in my purse and use it on my hands over the winter because its a majorly intensive moisturizer.

        I also tried Carmex while I was in the store to see what the fuss was all about does everyone stand the smell? Its so medicinal! I'm going to stick with Softlips for now.

        So to sum it up:
        • Maybelline Dream Mousse: 2 thumbs up
        • Nivea Creme: 1 thumb down for performance, 1 thumb up for portability and price
        • Carmex: 1 thumb up for performance and price, 1 thumb down for smell

          Friday, October 9, 2009

          September Favorites!

          September has been such a fun month for me because I started blogging. It's like my baby now. Here are my favorites this month:
          1. Kat Von D True Romance Ludwig pallette
          I'm probably going to end up hitting pan on all of these colors. They are so versatile and all of the shades can go from day to night, depending on the application. My favorite colors are the two highlights colors (clay and tequila). I use Clay as an all-over browbone color, and tequila just under the highest point of my brows.

          2. Fluidline in Blacktrack
          Sigh. I'm a slave to it. 'Nuff said.

          3. Organix Shampoo and Conditioner
          I've been using this for 2 months now, and my hair is thick, healthy, no breakage, and the smell is divine.

          4. Coastal Scents 88 piece pallete
          This is a staple for every makeup collector. The sheer variety of neutrals and brights is great--I can always match my outfit to my eyeshadow by using this pallete. Love it. I especially love the grays, they're so pretty.

          5. MAC Lipsticks ($14 each)
          Left to right in 1st picture, and top to bottom in 2nd picture: Chintz on Chintz, To Swoon For, Romancin, Fastlane. I think the middle two are from last year's holiday collection. All of these lippies work well with any outfit. The pink ones are a little too pink for me, so I put a layer of the darker colors to tone them down. LOVE! 

          Yay for fall!!! I love layering clothes, wearing dark nail color, and having shiny hair!

          Wednesday, October 7, 2009

          Who are your style icons?

          Style: Pronunciation: \ˈstī(-ə)l a distinctive manner of expression or conducting oneself; a particular mode of living; in fashion: elegance beauty, grace, or ease of manner or technique

          So ladies, which women do you want to be like? Not just their clothes and looks, but their presence, everything they stand for, the whole package of fabulosity? My style icons not only guide my clothing decisions, but also how I try to present myself to the world through my actions.

          Aishwarya Rai
          Crowned queen of the Indian cinema, the former Miss World just takes my breath away. Every single feature is not only perfectly proportional, but each one is stunning in its own right. Her eyes of course steal the show for me, they're just so big and mesmerizing. On top of her looks, I find that her choices in her film roles are always regal, classy, and timeless. If I could look like any one person, it would be her.

          Lucy Liu
          Lucu Liu is spunk personified. She's got a delicate frame and feminine features, but her roles in films like Kill Bill and Charlie's Angels betrays a tomboy side that is anything but delicate. I just love how she represents the yin and yang equally in these two movies--the yin being her delicate beauty, the yang being her ass-kicking personality.

          Padma Lakshmi
          Padma has such an approachable beauty. She's just perfectly symmetrical, nothing too crazy in her features. But her height (5'9") really amps up the volume on that quiet beauty. She just commands attention when she walks into a room with those neverending legs and it seems that any, any outfit looks good on her. She would make sweat pants look like high fashion.

          Ana Ivanovic
          One of the best tennis players in the world, the former #1 has the added gift of natural beauty. I love that beauty is a part of her--she doesn't get dictated by it. It's just there. And that only seems to bring it out even more. Even in her multiple covers of Vogue and Vanity Fair, Ana presents herself as comfortable, chic, and effortlessly beautiful. 

          Kate Winslet
          Besides the fact that her amazing skin tone and features make her look like a Renaissance painting come to life, Kate is an incredible actress. The roles she chooses are as diverse as they can get (Titanic, Quills, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). But what makes her a style icon for me is that she really exudes intelligence and a sense of mystery. Her celebrity status is only one aspect of her. It seems that there's a whole other side that is far more private. I love that mysterious quality. It's really what makes women, women.

          So there you have it. My I'm-secure-enough-to-swoon-over-women list. Now I tag you all to share who are your style icons and why!

          Monday, October 5, 2009

          Hot Oil Treatment

          Coconut oil is one of the best things on earth for nourishing your hair. It's used all over the Indian subcontinent for promoting hair growth, and getting thick shiny hair. In fact Indian men obsess with long hair to the point of it being a national fetish. Here, look at this ridiculous image:

          Here are a couple of tips on coconut oil:
          • Buy it from your local Indian store not the drugstore (see picture here). Coconut oil has only recently made a splash in the western hemisphere, so I'm pretty sure drugstore prices are far higher than the Indian store prices. I paid $2.99 for mine.
          • Coconut Oil is equally beneficial for your scalp and the ends of your hair, so massage it all over!
          • Oil works much better when warmed up. Your pores just invite it in. So don't apply oil straight outta the bottle. Pour it into a small bowl, and microwave until it's lukewarm.
          • Look for enriched coconut oil in Indian stores. That means that the coconut oil has other awesome oils and extracts added to it. Dabur's Enriched coconut oil also contains:
            • Triphala for hair growth
            • Brahmi for luster
            • Henna for thickening
            • Neem for removing dandruff
            • Lemon for exfoliating away dead cells
            • Rosemary for softening
            • Kapurkachri for its antiseptic and antioxidant properties
            • and Soya Extract for increasing hair growth
          AndreasChoice has a pretty cool tutorial on how to apply hair oil, so check that out. Happy hair days!

          PS. A HUGE bear hug to all my awesome followers! I feel so welcomed into the blogging community! If you ever want to request a post, or just want to tell me that I'm boring you to death, holler at your girl. I LOVE hearing from you all!

          Friday, October 2, 2009

          On being informed consumers

          There's been a lot of drama on YouTube lately. Instead of everyone taking sides on the issue, I think it would be far better to just learn from the experience and move on. This experience has taught me that I need to be a wary and informed consumer when seeking advice on YouTube.

                My sincere hope is that the beauty community eventually agrees on a standardized set of ethical guidelines about honesty on whether a product is a promotional gift, or an item they have actually bought. OxfordJasmine recently made a pledge of honesty to her followers. How fabulous is that?
                So let's just learn from the experience and move on to more interesting things like makeup. Here I want to share some commonsense tips on how to spot whether a haul or rave video is featuring a promotional product, or an item that has actually been bought. These tips are not hard and fast rules, they're just signs to look out for when you're seeking beauty advice:

          • If someone is doing a video on a massive haul of products from a company (especially online company) that you've never heard of, it may be a promotional video. Obviously online companies like Coastal Scents, Sigma, and Elf are now well known, but I'm talking about totally new companies.
          • If a price has not been mentioned, or the guru has not explicitly stated that they in fact paid for it, it might be a promo.
          • Look around YouTube and Makeupalley for reviews of the same products the guru talked about. If no one else has reviewed it yet, chances are the company is new and is trying to promote itself.

          There is nothing wrong with a guru being paid to give their opinion about a product. It's great that they are so successful, and are making a buck doing what they love. So now, the onus is upon us as consumers to take these steps:
          • If you want to try out a brand new company's products, order $10 worth of items from them and see if you like it. If you hate it, at least you didn't blow a fortune on rubbish. Consider it a trial fee.
          • Curb your instinct to purchase every single thing that a popular guru suggests. I know it's hard, but watching hauls helps me live vicariously through others. I set a monthly budget for makeup. If I'm drooling over something, I sleep on it, and then ask myself the next day if I still want it. Chances are, the thrill will have died down and I will think rationally. However, if I'm still thinking about it for a solid week, and it's within my monthly budget, I go for it.
          PS. My blog is far too new to receive free promotional products, but just to put out the disclaimer, all of my reviews to date have been things I've bought. If the day comes when I am given products to review, I will be perfectly honest about it. In fact I'll brag about it. ;)