Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Look at what I have to put up with!

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to show you the hubby's eyelashes. What's a girl to do? He has lashes that a camel would envy!! Sorry about the photo being a bit blown out, but you get the idea--they are uber massive (especially the ones at the edges, can you imagine if they were curled?!). All I can say is that my progeny better inherit his lash genes and not mine! How about you? Do you know people who are naturally-gifted with beautiful features? My friend and sister-in-law both have gorgeous high cheekbones and my sister has a beautiful complexion and gorgeous hair. Hmm, this may be the start of a new series. I'll call it: "It's not Maybelline. He/she really is born with it!"

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How I blow dry my hair (Requested)

The sister recently asked how I blow-dry my hair. My philosophy on hair is"keep it simple, stupid". Hair frames my face, so it should be fresh and bouncy, that's all. You will never find me messing about with extensions or colors. I am quite content with a well-layered style that is blow dried, flat ironed or softly curled. Here are my tools:

Tresemee Heat Tamer Spray, a Conair paddle brush, a Brushlab ceramic brush (available at ULTA), and a Conair hair dryer. I love all of these products and recommend them all. I should mention a great blowdry actually begins with using a great shampoo and conditioner. I highly recommend Organix Shampoos and Conditioners.

Easy peesy blow drying:
  • Towel-dry hair
  • Spritz Tresemee heat tamer into hair (3-5 sprays should do it). 
  • Detangle hair with the Conair paddle brush
  • Turn the blowdryer to high, and blowdry your hair until it is about 80% dry. Keep flipping your hair up and down and use your hands to feel for wetter spots at the roots and direct heat to it.
  • Once hair is 80% dry, use the Brushlab brush to grab large chunks of hair. Any large barreled, ceramic brush with vents should do the trick. 
  • Grab a chunk of hair, direct heat to the roots, and move the brush and hair dryer downwards (see stock picture below). Repeat till all the hair sections are dry and straight.
  • Spray any fly-aways with hair spray. If you have static in your hair, rub a bit of lotion between your hands and run your hands through your hair.

What are your must-have hair products?

FTC disclaimer: All of the products except the Brushlab brush was bought with my own money. As always, this is my honest opinion.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Colossal? I'll Say!

Woohoo for good calls! I picked up Maybelline Colossal Volume Express mascara (really Maybelline? Any more adjectives you wanna cram in there?) recently, and have been loving using it thus far. The wand is thick, the bristles and soft and grab all the tiny lashes, and generously, but un-clumpingly lay down a lovely coat of blackest-black on each lash. I adore the effect of this mascara because I can happily pull it off day and night. My gateway drug into falsies can wait a few more months thanks to this badboy (I've taken to calling makeup things like puppy, bad boy, and baby. hmm....this could be diagnosable...)

Remind me one of these days to take a picture of the husband's eyelashes. They are pheeeenomenal, you have to see them. He gives me lash envy.

Back to the mascara. It's wonderful in every sense of the word, and a repurchase is very likely. It does not clump, yet adds volume, definition, and length. It stays on all day, does not smudge, and holds a curl without making my lashes feel brittle (I'm looking at you, L'Oreal Volume Shocking!). Maybe it IS Maybelline (sorry couldn't resist).

What is your favorite mascara to date? (Note that I said "to date" because I think its a fact universally accepted that a quest for the holy grail mascara is a never-ending one.)

Friday, March 26, 2010

How I do a Manicure (Requested)

My sister has asked me to demonstrate how I do manicures. Although I'm no expert at this, I'm good enough so that with the right tools, I get good results.

Hardware: nail cutter, Q-tip, orange stick & cotton balls. 
Essential Fluids: 1) A base coat of your choice (the one shown here is Sally Hansen Miracle Cure. There's nothing miraculous about it. I bought it to stop my nails from peeling, but it spectacularly failed in that area. So I just use it as a ridge filler, which it is good for). 2) An OPI nail polish. I love OPI because its creamy consistency is forgiving, the brush is wide, and the shade selection is unrivaled. 3) Seche Vite top coat. This is a must-have! 4) A nail polish remover.

Easy peesy manicure: 

  • Remove existing nail polish. Make sure there is no lotion on your nails. They need to be bone dry. 
  • Cut your nails straight across with the nail cutter so they are square shaped. Carefully, cut a bit off the corners so that they are blunt. 
  • Push back your cuticles
  • Apply Base Coat. Wait till dry. (watch YouTube videos to pass the time) 
  • Apply 1 coat of polish. Wait till dry. OPI dries pretty fast, so yet another reason to buy it! Use the orange stick to remove any nailpolish that spills over. No worries, we'll get the rest out later.
  • Apply 2nd coat. Wait till dry.
  • Apply top coat. Wait till dry. Seche Vite (if you know French) really really lives up to its name!
  • If possible, wait 1/2 hour to thoroughly dry the nails before doing the next step.
  • Dip a Q-tip in nailpolish remover and carefully flatten the tip between your fingers. Slide the Q-tip over any polish that got onto your skin. The key is to have a very wet Q-tip, so you're not really rubbing it on your skin (which can lead to fibers coming loose), but just pressing the tip on your skin so the acetons flows out and gently dissolves the nailpolish on your skin without disrupting your nails.

Here's my final result. The color is OPI Italian Affair:
Hope you guys enjoyed this post. To help the sister out, feel free to chime in with your favorite manicure tips!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Move over, Lush. Hellooo, TJMaxx!

That's right. Lush, in my eyes, just got 0wned. That's because I just discovered TJ Maxx's best kept secret: their bath and body aisle. This hidden gem has a gorgeous selection of hand soaps, bar soaps, shower gels, bubble baths, and even body scrubs. Best of all, most of the products are from spa companies like Ahava, H20 and adorable English companies (I'm a closet Anglophile...a bit ironic for an Indian...but I digress). Here's my little loot:

I got 3 shower gels and a hand soap: H20 ginger-citron, Lavare Fig Hand Soap, H20 spa cooling mint, & AHAVA tranquil wash.

Total cost? $20. And get this: the other day I actually saw the AHAVA mineral wash at ULTA, and it alone costed $20. I think I did good, guv'ner.

Now, obviously these products are neither handmade nor uber-crunchy like Lush. Lush still has a special place in my heart (one can't easily forget the ecstasy of Flying Fox). However, these puppies do have cute packaging, lovely new scents for me to play with, and have a spa appeal. To me, they are fulfilling at least that part of the whole Lush experience.

The other upside is that Lush's products are not always amazing (I'm glaring at you, Sea Vegetable!). The same is probably going to be true at TJ Maxx, but now I won't regret it one bit, because each item is around $3-5. I already have plans to buy some lovely hand soaps for my guest bathroom so my guests feel all pampered and stuff with spa bath products.

Are you a TJ Maxx (Marshalls/Home Goods/Ross) fan? What do you love to buy from there?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Old Makeup, New Life: Part 3

This is my third mini-series post on using your makeup for a new purpose. This time up is a product I actually love for its intentional purpose and its new purpose: my MAC Hello Kitty Popster lip conditioner. This puppy is the most adorably-packaged lip balm in my collection. Ergo, it does get plenty of use. But lately, I've also been using it as a base for my blush! The sticky texture and subtle pink tint give my powder blush a great surface to stick to, and therefore it can last longer. It also gives my cheeks a natural sheen.

Though I do still have an itch to go buy a proper gel or cream blush, I am happy to make this work for the time being. You can use any lip tint for this purpose, even a dab of Vaseline should do the trick. I actually got this idea from a Korres Lip Balm display at ULTA. The sign said try using the lip butter as a nice flush of cheek color.

 What are your favorite ways to make blushers last longer?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Old Makeup, New Life: Part 2

Welcome to another post on my series on giving your unloved makeup a second chance by "retraining" it for a new job (hehehe Recession-speak happening on a makeup blog!). Up this time is my e.l.f bronzer ($1). Aaah I bought this at my very very beginning of makeup collection. This product really sucked as a bronzer, because its just copper-shimmer with very little pigmentation and zero staying power. However, I love using this to mattify and bronze up my super pink lipsticks. Do you have a lipstick that is too cool toned, washes you out, or is just too pink to pull off? Whip out this bad boy, and take a look at the transform!

Here I'm showing my To Swoon For lipstick by MAC. The hand swatch shows To Swoon For at the top (too cool-toned for my skin!). The bottom swatch shows  the same lipstick, but this time with the bronzer dabbed over it! A huge improvement I'd say! I never like a totally matte lip though, so I have put Ever So Rich Cremesheen Glass on top of it (as seen on the lips). I love Ever So Rich by the way. It's a very sheer baby pink gloss, and is perfect when you want a bit of shine but no color to compete with your lipstick. This was a great gift from a dear friend. :-)

Have you tried face products on lips to get a different effect? If so, please share below!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Old Makeup, New Life: Part 1

I'm starting a mini-series on makeup that is unloved for whatever reason, and thinking creatively to give it a new purpose. A second chance at life, if you will. My first pick is my Maybelline Dream Mousse Bronzer. Although this product totally sucked as a bronzer, it is an incredibly wearable eyeshadow! Take a look:

I love using this brown shimmery color all over my lid, put on a bit of Fluidline, mascara, and I'm all set for everyday makeup! I use a Coastal Scents blending fluff to apply it. Best of all, its totally buildable, and you can always intensify this look color by using a dark crease color, or a foiling effect for night. I've made quite a dent in this baby since I found it to be such an appealing day-time color. I'm actually loving it so much that I might repurchase once its out. :-)

What makeup products have you given new purpose to?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Up and Up Eye Makeup Remover

After playing around with my DIY eye makeup removers (coconut oil, or olive oil mixed with water), I was ready to go back to a store-bought one. I don't know if I was doing something wrong, but these oils just didn't remove my waterproof mascara unless I rubbed really hard. Fail. So onto the buy:

Target's Up and Up eye makeup remover:

I think this is a great buy. You get a lot of product for a very low price, and above all, it works very well. I just dab some onto a cotton swab and hold it over my eyes for 10 sec, and without any rubbing, the mascara and everything else comes away. I repeat on the other eye, and then use a the back of the cotton swab to remove any traces.

Quick tip: don't throw away the cotton swab right away. Sometimes after cleansing the rest of your face, additional eye makeup may come off and settle around your lower lids. A quick swipe with the original cotton swab removes this residue.

The only con I've noticed is that this dries out my eye area if I don't apply a night eye cream to my eye area immediately after. Not a big deal because I use a night cream anyway, but make sure you do this too! If the drying factor sounds like its a big minus for you, I recommend the Mary Kay eye makeup remover. It worked quite brilliantly for me a while ago, but Up and Up  is easier to find and cheaper.

Overall, this gets a solid 4.5/5. Three cheers for drugstore finds!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Shu Uemura Face Architect and Base Control

I've used Shu Uemura's Face Architect and Base Control for about a year now, and I haven't seen many reviews of it. Not sure why, because I have nothing but praises to sing for it.

This is an amazing medium coverage foundation that gives you that next-to-skin look. The packaging is a frosty glass bottle with a pump (yay!), and I find that one pump of product covers my whole face. I use a dense flat-top mineral brush to apply, and set it with rosewater spray. This foundation has a pleasant fragrance and the texture is light but its not watery at all. A perfect middle ground.

Whenever I wear this foundation, I can easily skip concealer. And believe me, I have dark circles, blemishes, acne scars to deal with! Although it covers my imperfections, I never feel like I have a heavy layer of foundation on. Face Architect has a matte finish with teeny tiny shiny bits in it that give you an overall sheen. Surprisingly, although this foundation has shiny bits in it, it can be worn in broad daylight. I've worn it all day to a tennis tournament before, and I looked great and not at all overly done up.

As for the Base Control, it is a liquid bronzer that I mix with the Face Architect (1 pump is enough!). The Base Control makes the foundation look warmer, and not "ashy". What bothers me, however, is that I have to buy 2 products to achieve the look of one. But oh well. The end result is the much coveted no-foundation-foundation look.

The only downside to these two products is the hefty sticker price. I paid $42 for Face Architect and $24 for the Base Control. Ouch. As a makeup beginner, I never reached for this foundation except on special occasions (that's why it lasted me for a year!). But if you think about it, it's worth splurging on a foundation that looks great, stays on all day, and doesn't break you out. What do you think?

PS. The foundation shade I'm wearing is #934. The Base Control shade is called Bronze. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

How to make a MAC 188 brush

This DIY was so simple to do that I simply had to share it with my bargain-loving readers. Compared to the MAC 187 duo fiber face brush, the MAC 188 has a smaller diameter, and is great for blush since it's small enough to precisely apply it on the apples of your cheeks. Before I shelled out $34 for one, I had to see if it was worth buying, or if I could make do with what I have. The two duo fiber brushes I have are from Coastal Scents and can be found here and here. Of the two, I find the silver duo brush to be of higher quality. 

Materials needed: a duo fiber brush of your choice and a small rubber band:

Place the rubber band like so around the back end of the brush, and gently push it forward.
Stop pushing it forward about 1/3 way up the bristles. This location resembles the diameter of the MAC 188. It ain't that pretty to look at, but who cares? I can use that money for a certain ombre blush I've been lemming instead!
Now for the review: the smaller diameter of this brush is absolutely ideal for precise placement of blush and for those with smaller cheekbones. This brush is also ideal if you use multiple blushes at different points of your face. However, since this brush is extremely soft, you will have to build up color with multiple layers, especially when working with mineralized blushes. This brush would also work perfectly with highly-pigmented cream blushes. 

Please note: If you take off the rubber band, you will see a dent in the brush similar to when you have a dent in your hair from a scrunchie. So make sure you are okay with that before you proceed! I have 2 stippler brushes, so I keep one in its original condition, and the second one has this rubber band on it at all times.
I hope this DIY inspires you to turn your spare stipplers into a MAC 188 dupe. After I started using dense flat-top brushes for applying foundations, my poor duo fiber stippler brushes fell by the wayside, so I'm very happy that they've been given a new purpose. :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll haul if I want to

As any self-respecting makeup junkie would do, I treated myself to a birthday makeup and nailpolish haul last week. I went to my local drugstore and then to ULTA, and all in all, I think I did good because I got everything for around $50. Here are my new toys:

Left to right: 
Maybelline Sensational Lipstick in Warm Me Up 
Maybelline Sensational in Pinkalicious
Seche Vite
OPI Sand in my Suit 
OPI Italian Affair
Maybelline Colossal Volum' Express Hydrofuge (Classic Black)
MAC Cremesheen Glass in Ever So Rich (this was a gift from a dear friend and makeup enabler)
    Pencils, from front to back
    Prestige Waterproof Eyeliner in Surf
    NYX Lipliner in Soft Brown
    Prestige Eyeliner in Smokey Green
      I got the Maybelline products at buy 2 get 1 free from Ulta, and the OPI nailpolishes were discounted to $6.25 each. 

      L to R (on both pictures): Pinkalicious; Warm Me Up

      Top to bottom: NYX Soft Brown, Prestige Smokey Brown, Prestige Surf
      Without Flash:
      With Flash:

      I'm loving this haul so far. I find a restrained haul lets me enjoy each product to the fullest. I'll do full reviews in the upcoming days, but I'll give you a sneak peek now: I already know that Prestige Surf, Colossal, and the Maybelline lippies are all going into March faves. I'm also getting a soft corner for Sand in my Suit. But shhh, full reviews will follow once the honeymoon period is over and I've tested them thoroughly.

      PS. I've just installed a third party commenting system called Disqus which allows comment threading and more. Please do me a favor by commenting on this post (even if its just a "hello") so that I can test whether it's working well. Thanks!