Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lemon Peel and Rose Water Mask

This is the 2nd in my series of DIY treatments using ingredients from your local Indian store. The Lemon Peel Rosewater mask can be used for reducing redness from acne, lightening acne scars, evening out skin tone, softening freckles, and reducing oilyness. Click here for my post on where to get lemon peel and rosewater.

How does it work?
The acid in a lemon peel eliminates excess oil on the skin. It also dissolves dead skin cells which promotes new cell turnover. Rosewater is a mild astringent so it's basically an all-natural gentle toner. Rosewater also diminishes redness by acting on capillaries just below the skin surface.

Mix about 1/2 tsp of lemon peel powder with 2-3 tsps of rosewater. Mix with your hands until you get a thin paste. Here's before and after mixing:

Apply only on areas you want to lighten. I put it on my forehead and cheeks where I tend to break out or have acne scars. Leave on for 20 min then wash off using a washcloth or a facial cleanser brush. Pat dry and moisturize. I would recommend using this mask 2x a week. The results are wonderful and your face smells like roses!

PS. Now that you have a bottle of rosewater on hand, use it to set your makeup. Just fill up a travel-sized spray bottle with rosewater and you have a great Fix+ substitute!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Easy DIY Complexion Mask Using Gram Flour

This mask is ideal for reducing acne, sorting out uneven complexion, and even buffing away sunless tanners. Its gentle and safe enough to use everyday. Gram flour pastes have been traditionally used in India to brighten up a bride-to-be's complexion a couple of days before her wedding. Gram flour can reduce redness and puffiness, which ends up giving your skin a bright and even complexion.

Ok on to the recipe: Mix ~2 tsp of gram flour (see pictures in my previous post) with 2-3 tsps of water. With your fingers, mix the two ingredients into a thin but non-runny paste. Adjust the amounts of water and gram flour until you get the desired consistency. Here's the unmixed and mixed forms:
Apply all over your face while avoiding the eye area. Here's what the consistency should look like on the skin:

When the mask is dry, you shouldn't be able to move your skin. Also the mask will turn almost transparent. This took me about 20 min. To remove the mask, first splash some water on  your face. Then, use a wet washcloth or face brush to gently loosen the mask. I suggest Coastal Scent's face brush.

There are many other variations on this mask, but this is the simplest and fastest. If you're in a pampering mood, mix gram flour with honey and yogurt, or with rose water instead of plain water. Enjoy!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Indian Store Haul: Masks, Hair Treatments, and more!

Visit your local Indian store and you will discover a treasure trove of ancient Indian secrets to good skin and hair. I just bought enough supplies from my local Asia Grocers to make 2 homemade masks, a weekly hair conditioning treatment, and a daily supplement to combat acne and brighten my complexion. And the whole haul costed me $11.95. I kid you not.

All of these products are known to be very effective as they are all based on Ayurveda, an ancient Indian text on medicine.

Below are photos of all the stuff I bought. This is to help you navigate through the store. Be on the lookout in the days to come for recipes and explanations of how these products work.

1. Laxmi ground chickpea flour, or besan (pronounced bay-sun) $2.99 
2. Dabur Vatika enriched coconut oil $2.99
3. Dabur rose water $1.99
4. Lemon peel powder $1.99
5. Triphala Churna $1.99

I'm super stoked about sharing all these recipes with you guys in the days to come, so definitely tune in for that!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Rave: Style on a Shoestring

Juggling multiple obsessions with makeup, skincare, and accessories is hard (insert sad violin music). Sure, there are greater obstacles to overcome in life (defend thesis, learn how to do taxes), but when you're hooked on weekend retail therapy, smart-shopping can be a life wallet marriage saver. Enter Andy Paige's Style on a Shoestring. You guys have to check out this book. I devoured the entire thing at Borders over the weekend. This little gem basically shows you how to dress well while landing a great bargain. Here are a few really neat tips:
  •  Buy bras in February and bathing suits in May. That's when they are on sale nationwide.
  • Go to stores like TJ Maxx on Wednesdays. That's when their weekend markdowns begin, and you avoid crowds. 
  • Opt for rich colors like peacock blue or burgundy over paler colors. That way even a bargain find looks richer simply because of the color.
  • Accessorize with colors that are complementary to your outfit's color. Like if you wear a coral dress, go for turquoise jewelry or a turquoise clutch. That's a a lot more unexpected and chic.
  • When shopping at consignment stores, establish a relationship with the store clerks. That way they will be happy to call you when something interesting comes in. Also, sell your own stuff at the end of a season. That way you can shop there on store credit!
You can also check out Andy Paige's website here. I especially like her section called "Worth every cent". It reviews products that are pricey but totally worth it. I hope this helps all you frugal fashionistas out there. Happy shopping!

Monday, September 21, 2009

MAC Mini Haul

 I invested in a couple of basics today. If Tim Gunn had a "10 Things Every Woman Should Have in Her Makeup Collection", these two would definitely make the list.
MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack
MAC Powerpoint Eye Pencil in Engraved

I tend to start small then graduate to the good stuff when it comes to makeup. I first bought a liquid liner from the Mary Kay signature line. The application sucked and  it wasn't waterproof. Then I got L'Oreal HIP black gel liner, which dried out on me in a month. Then I bought Coastal Scents' gel liner in Truffle, not black, but that didn't stand out on my skin color. Sooo after spending all that time and money, I finally went and bought MAC Fluidline. Yeah. Shoulda done that first.

I've graduated to the Powerpoint after putting up with my crappy Jordana liner forever. I don't even know why I bothered with Jordana. It looked good for about 1 hour. By the end of the day, it was all gone except for a black spot at the end of my waterline. So I went to the mall yesterday and swatched the Powerpoint Engraved alongside other MAC liners, plus the Urban Decay 24/7 Zero. Here's a swatch pictured after a whole day of walking around, using a hand sanitizer, and washing my hands multiple times. The only mark left is Engraved:

So if you use something everyday, buy the best. It's worth it, n'est-ce pas? 

Saturday, September 19, 2009

My Top 6 Favorite Makeup Brushes: Tag

One of my favorite YouTube gurus, xteeener just did a video about her 6 favorite makeup brushes. I love that her makeup is usually natural and she goes for affordable products. Here are my 6 favorite brushes:

1. Loew Cornell 1/8" 7400C Angled Shader $3.29
This is a MUST HAVE for gel eyeliner. The brush glides on the product without wrinkling the delicate skin above your lashes. I also use this wet to line my lids with eyeshadow. It does such a great job that I am not at all tempted to buy different colored eyeliners.

2. Loew Cornell #8 7500C Filbert $4.29
This is what I use for concealing undereye circles as well as blemishes. Its size and shape is perfect.

3. Loew Cornell 3/8" 270 Maxine's Mop $3.79
This is a nice dense brush for packing on eyeshadow to your lid. It's actually its a bit scrapy, but I like that because it helps when you are trying to pack on color.

4. Mary Kay Mineral Powder Foundation Brush. $10.00
This brush is perfect for quickly and flawlessly applying powder foundation. I use it to apply my Studio Fix.

5. Coastal Scents Silver Duo Fiber Stippler Brush. $7.95 
This is a perfect dupe for MAC187. I use it for liquid foundation. I've also bought the pink duo fiber stippler for applying blush for an airbrushed finish.

6. Coastal Scents C218 Blending Fluff $1.99
I use this a lot to highlight my browbone, blend harsh lines, or give my lids a simple wash of color. I actually reach for this more than my MAC holiday eye brush collection.

Honorable Mention: Coastal Scents Pro Eyelash Defining Comb $3.89
Although not technically a "brush", this is super effective at removing clumpy mascara, and the price is great.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

My favorite foundation & concealor

 Behold my absolute Holy Grail foundation and concealer!

MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation in NC45
Mary Kay Signature Concealor (in bronze)
Mary Kay mineral brush

On weekdays, I just skip the concealer because the Studio Fix gets most of the job done. My MK mineral brush is just dense enough to cover my face in 3 swipes. The only downfall of the Studio Fix Powder is that you need another product to add a dewyness to your skin. I guess one can get dewyness by using liquid foundation, but the time factor just makes this more enticing for me.

As for the MK concealer, its consistency is fluid and yet still gives full coverage. I also like that it's in a tube, so there's no question of the product drying out. This is the only product where I've bought a backup. However, I don't recommend this for undereye circles cuz it sinks into the tiny wrinkles.

By the way, a great brush for concealing spots is the Loew Cornell #8 filbert 7500C. This is available at any crafts store like Michael's or Hobby Lobby.

Monday, September 14, 2009

EnKore's Homemade Brush Cleaner

Try to clean your brushes at least once a week. It's going to prevent breakouts and prolong the life of these indispensable tools. EnKore has a great video on a how to make your own brush cleanser using things you probably already have at home. All you need is a measuring cup, a tablespoon, a mixing container, and a bottle to store the cleanser.

Mix the following ingredients together in a large container:
-1 cup of distilled/purified water
- 1/4 cup of 70% isopropyl alcohol
- 1/2 tbsp dish soap (I used Dawn)
- 1/2 tbsp gentle shampoo (I used Organix Mandarin Olive Oil)
- 1 tbsp of leave-in conditioner (I used Tresemee)
Gently stir to prevent suds from forming. 
To clean my brushes, I poured a bit of the cleanser into another container, dipped my brush in it, and then wiped the brush on a thick paper towel. Overall, I think this worked quite well on my small eye brushes.However, it didn't get my face brushes clean at all, so I had to resort to hand soap and running water.Overall, I think this is a good cleanser for your eye brushes, since it quickly removes the color with minimal mess. However, its doesn't really deep clean face brushes.

This is just the nature of DIY projects I guess. When it goes right, it's like"Take that, retail!". But when it goes wrong, it's like "Grr, should've left it up to the pros." I think this cleanser has left me with a little bit of both feelings. 

I'd love to know your opinions on how to clean brushes, so please comment below. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Milk and Nutmeg Mask

Did you know that milk and nutmeg are a great combination for zapping pimples? I gave this super-easy mask a try today because my trusty aspirin mask was drying me out in this cooler weather. All you need is milk and ground nutmeg!

In a small container, mix a ~1 tbsp of ground nutmeg with ~1/2 tsp of milk. Adjust the amount of milk and nutmeg until you get a paste-like consistency. Here's a closeup (hehe it looks like poo):

Put it all over your face and leave on for ~20 min. The mixture will tingle and slightly burn as it dries. Wash off with lukewarm water. Exfoliate your skin as you wash. Pat dry, then moisturize.

My skin was visibly brighter, super clean, and smelling yummy from the nutmeg! Also, it's not drying me out, so I think this will be a good winter-time substitute for the aspirin mask.

Friday, September 11, 2009

10 Random Facts Tag

The_Perfectionist has tagged all her followers to do this tag, so here I go!

1. My best feature is my height. I'm 5'7".

2. I have an insanely high word per minute typing speed.

3. I have always wanted pin-straight jet black Asian hair. My hair is naturally wavy (grr...)

4 I love to read. I can go through a book in a week. In the case of Harry Potter, make it 36 hrs.

5. I'm originally from India. I love Indian food, fashion, and of course, movies.

6. I don't hoard makeup. I routinely throw out items that I haven't reached for in a long time, and only then buy.

7. I'm a late-bloomer makeup-wise. I got into it less than a year ago, when I wanted to do my own makeup for my wedding. Before then, I pretty much owned an eyeliner, a compact, and a mascara.

8. I'm obsessed with Martha Stewart. I want to be a domestic goddess and a career woman at the same time.

9. I really really want a high-end watch. Either Longines, Movado, or Rolex.

10. I can't have enough purses. I have to have a new one every 3 months. I think I'll hit up my Nine West today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exercise as an Acne Cure?

Ever notice how really athletic people never have acne? Not only that, they have radiant skin, a natural blush, and  a nice bod to boot. Here's why:
  1. Exercise increases blood flow, which provides your skin cells with more oxygen. Oxygen kills bacteria. This is the main way that Benzoyl Peroxide works on your pimples.
  2. When you sweat, your pores excrete dirt, dead skin, and excess sebum. So if you're not sweating everyday, you basically have constipated pores. Eeew.
  3. Exercise makes your kidneys and liver remove toxins from your body more effectively.
  4. Exercise reduces stress and releases pleasure hormones called endorphins. Stress is a common cause of acne (pre-exam blemishes anyone?)

I've started working out  4-5 days a week in the last 2 months, and I've found a couple of tricks to stick to it:
  • Get a gym buddy.
  • Go to a luxurious gym.
  • Buy hot gym clothes.
  • Skip the machines, go for classes.
Hey even if exercise does nothing for your skin, at least no one will pay attention because they will be too busy looking at your rock hard abs, right? Happy gymmin' everyone!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Tag: Top 10 Drugstore Products

Fafinettex3 did her top 10 drugstore products the other day on YouTube, so I thought I'd chime in with my two cents.It's probably useful to first explain my skin. I'm an NC45 with a South Asian background. I have combination skin. I get oily on my forehead and cheeks, but always dry on my nose and chin.

1.Maybelline Define-A-Lash: this product does exactly what it claims. It defines and lengthens every single lash without clumping. It does not volumize though, so if you're happy with your lash length, go for this one. I also love the waterproof formula and how it holds a curl all day long.

2.Soft Lips: This works so wonderfully well. The consistency and non-greasy moisture is way better than Chapstick.

3. Tresemee Thermal Creations Heat Tamer Spray: I have to either blowdry or straighten my hair every day, so I know I'm protecting it by using this before doing all that stuff. Ooh and it smells good too.

4. Goody StayPut Elastics and Hairbands: These elastic scrunchies and hair bands are amazing. They are nonslip, grip really well, and don't pull out my hair when I take em off. I use the headband when I workout or play tennis--not one hair outta place.

5. Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser: I've bought this for the 2nd time now and love it even more. I've written about it in an older post.

6. Oil of Olay Refreshing Toner: Wonderful smelling stuff, and it contains witch hazel. You're better off buying this over the expensive department store toners. Again, blogged about this before

7. Johnson & Johnson Baby Lotion: This is so much to love here. It's gentle, quick absorbing, nice smelling, super moisturizing and non-greasy. It's good in the winter and summer times. Not to mention the price! Seriously, I used to buy stuff from Bath and Body works, but its so greasy, over-perfumed and hard to absorb, that I am just gonna stick to this forever.

8. Uncoated Aspirin: This stuff is the cheapest and most effective exfoliator/face brightening mask. I mix it with honey, yogurt, random cream cleansers or masks, and I have a great weekend treatment.

9. OPI nailpolishes: sigh how can you not love these beauties? Their color selection and staying power are BEST, I just wish that I could find these somewhere for a better price!

10. Random brand Eyelash Curler from Target: I haven't tried any other eyelash curlers, but this one works great for me.

What are your top 10 drugstore products?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Product Rave: Olay Regenerist Thermal Face Polisher

Although most of the Olay Regenerist line seems to be aimed at anti-aging, this particular beauty does wonders for young skin too. I use this after my salicylic acid face wash on a daily basis, but you can also use it as a biweekly exfoliator.

First off I love how the cream is purple.  Second, as soon you put it on your face the cream starts heating up. Third, the exfoliators in the cream feel exactly like a microderm abrasion cream: sandy, very fine, not soft, but not gritty. As soon as I wash my skin, I look revitalized.

At $17.99, it's quite a pricey drugstore product, but it can go a long way if you save it just for the weekends to pamper yourself!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Review: Egyptian Magic

Egyptian Magic has taken the world by storm. It claims to moisturizes the face, lips, and any part of the body. Its also supposed to remedy pimples, eczema, and psoriasis. At $40 a jar, it better be a multitasker!

I got a free sample of this stuff at my local Whole Foods Market. After using it for a few weeks now, I don't know if I'm such a big fan. I put it on my face only once, and next thing morning, I had multiple zits! I should've known because while putting this stuff on my face, I just felt...wrong. A lot of YouTubers swear that this stuff sinks right into your skin after a few minutes, but I felt this stuff on my face for a long time. So yeah, I'm definitely not using this on my face anymore for fear it may break me out again.

On the plus side, this is one amazing lip balm. I put it on a couple of times throughout the day, and it really stays put, and prevents my lips from being flaky. But I don't think a glorified lip balm justifies buying the full size.

Overall, I reluctantly give this product a thumbs down. Why? 1) $40?! Really?! I mean that's one expensive chapstick. 2) The smell is yucky and takes a bit of getting used to. 3) The packaging sucks. I mean if this product has such a big cult following, why can't the jar look a little more luxurious?

Aspirin Mask: a Mighty Multitasker

I first came across the aspirin mask tip when I was trying to battle an acne breakout the week before my wedding (!). Michelle Phan's video on how to make your own aspirin mask literally saved the day. Here is my twist on it.

1. Take 2 uncoated aspirin tablets in one hand. The bottle and tablet should look something like this:

2. Put only a few drops of water on it with your hands. The tablets should start melting right away, and you should be able to crush them easily after 10 sec.

3. Mix in your favorite facial cleanser. I love using Clean n Clear's Deep Action Cream Cleanser because it tingles my skin the whole time. The cream cleanser also helps keep the aspirin on your face. If you have breakouts, pile on little mounds of the mixture onto those areas.

4. Leave on for 30 min, then wash off.

I just love this mask. It's cheap, easy, and delivers instant gratification.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Is constipation linked to acne?

The jury is still out on whether constipation impacts acne, but in my personal experience, the two are definitely linked. They say that when toxins and waste cannot be excreted from your body, it enters your bloodstream. Once that happens, toxins can go everywhere, including your skin, where they can clog up your pores and lead to breakouts.

One of the best things for digestion is psyllium husk. This is PURE FIBER. This stuff is my Holy Grail for staying regular. It works in literally 10 min for me. I take it every morning, but if you're not as constipated, just take it 2 times a week.

In a small teacup, heat up water to the point where you can still gulp it, not sip. Mix in a heaping teaspoon of psyllium husk. Mix it well in the water, and drink right away. Don't drink this too slowly or it will congeal!

3 Day Drugstore Acne Cure

This night-time regimen will eliminate or substantially reduce your breakouts in 3 days. Do this treatment only on an as-needed basis because it will 1) dry out your skin (but clear it up), and 2) you don't want your skin getting used to it.

1. Remove makeup using an oil-based cleanser. I'm loving the St. Ives Olive Cleanser. Massage 2 pumps worth of product into the face for 10 sec, and wash off. Concentrate your massaging on problem areas.

2. Wash your face with an oil-free cleanser that contains salicylic acid. I'm loving Biore Blemish Fighting Ice Cleanser. Massage 2 pumps of product onto your face for 30 sec. The coldness of the cleanser is great for your skin. Wash your face and pat dry with a towel.

3. Using a square cotton pad, apply toner. I highly recommend Oil of Olay Refreshing Toner 

4. Apply a 10% benzoyl peroxide treatment to your zits and surrounding areas. I'm using Clearasil Ultra Rapid Action Treatment Cream. Benzoyl peroxide works even better if its refrigerated.

5. Fill a small Ziplock bag with ice cubes. Place the bag on your zits for no more than 5 sec at a time. Do this for 10 min, then throw away the ice and keep the ziplock bag for future use.

Once your acne has cleared up, maintain good skin by following steps 1-3 at night, and 2+3 in the morning. In the morning, follow up with a good oil-free moisturizer.

Can water clear up acne?

The first and best tip for clearing up your skin is to DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I've started drinking 8-10 glasses of water over the last 2 months, and my skin is not only free of blemishes, but it's glowing.

Here are some tips to keep you on top of drinking water:

1) Don't bother with bottled water. Buy a sports bottle and fill it up with the water from your water cooler at work. If you're at home, buy a Brita water filter.

2) A 24 oz bottle is exactly 3 glasses of water. Guzzle down 3 full bottles a day, and you're good to go!

3) iPhone users: download the free app called "8 glasses a day". Everytime you down a glass, you get to click on one glass and it becomes empty.

4) Water can get boring (my #1 excuse for falling off of good-habit wagons). When you want to mix it up a little, drop slices of cucumber and/or lemon into the water. It's DELISH and looks very Martha Stewart-esque.