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My July 2011 Birchbox! *to be updated*

19 Jul


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Summer

17 Jun

It has been a super long time since my last post, and I’m going to be honest… I just felt lazy about updating/writing. It’s not that I’m trying to ignore my quiet readers here, but it’s just a thing about me. When I commit myself to writing something, my mind runs through a billion ideas at a time and my fingers are never fast enough to keep up, lol. But here, now, I’m dedicating myself to you for a few minutes, and hope you will bear with me for this entry. 🙂

As stated in my past few entries, I have been dealing with some temperamentally dry/combination skin. Depending on the weather, my face ranges from extra dry to … naturally dewy. Recently in New York City, it went from 100 degrees with high humidity to about 60s and 70s with lots of thunderstorms. Well, at least you know summer is here… So anyway, today I’m going to show y’all a bunch of my go-to summer products, for both face and body.

 Face:

To keep your makeup lasting longer, the answer is simple: use a primer. Back when I had oily skin, I depended on a product that can be found in your medicine cabinet… Philips Milk of Magnesia. Yes, we all know what it is originally intended for, but it was a great way to soak up excess oil on the face. Only thing was to be careful with applying it because it does leave a white powdery residue if too much is used. I lightly dab with a cotton ball and apply my liquid foundation over it. However, word of warning, if you are combo skin like me, I recommend this only applied to your T-zone, or where you are more oily. Nowadays, since I am less oily, when I choose to use a primer (I don’t use it everyday), I go for my Dr. Jart Silver Label BB Cream. I apply a very light layer, and I find it enough to keep my nose from getting oily. I then go apply my liquid or mineral foundation.

My favorite foundation for the summer is definitely Maybelline SuperStay. People have compared it to Revlon Colorstay, and though they are similar in coverage, I find SuperStay to actually, well, stay. RCS kind of fades for me after a bit, and feels very goopy and thick on the skin. Plus, the only shade that matches me is Golden Beige, when I am more pale. Anything after that is too pink for me. The MSS has a great range for both pink and yellow tones. Both have relatively quick drying times and leaves a natural-matte finish for me. I apply it with the ELF Studio Powder Brush spritzed lightly with MAC Fix+.

This item is relatively new to my face routine, mainly because I never had the skin to handle the formulas beforehand. Facial sprays. As I mentioned, I use MAC Fix+ on my foundation brush, but sometimes when my skin is feeling dry (from indoor AC, for example), I enjoy spraying my face slightly to rehydrate. They can also help “melt” your makeup a bit, if you were too heavy-handed, leaving your skin a little more natural-looking. I like to carry my Sephora Flash Radiance Spray (this is discontinued but they have new variations of it) around with me during the day so I can retouch my face to freshen up. I usually use a blotting tissue to pat around any oily areas, then I spritz, wave my hands across my face like a crazy woman, and when my face is more or less dried, I lightly powder across the areas where I need it.



In terms of other makeup products, I don’t really have any specific items I switch out. I have been favoring highlighters as of late to keep my skin looking glowy. 🙂 I like MAC Strobe Cream (it comes in mini-size now!) and Physicians Formula Happy Booster powder in Translucent. I dust it on top of my cheeks and a teeny bit down my nose.

Ooh, insanely important: SUN PROTECTION. I’ve become a major nut when it comes to skincare now, because your makeup would look horrendous if you don’t have good skin. You don’t need *perfect* skin (good lord, I don’t imagine anyone living in NYC with all the pollution would have perfect skin), but you want to be able to keep your skin as healthy and happy as you can. I make sure I prevent skin disease and early wrinkles with sunscreen every time I go out. I bring sunglasses with me. And recently, I purchased a big sun hat. 8D I might look like a grandma, but at least I’ll still look young when I become one. 🙂 Look for sunscreen with both UVA and UVB. UVB protection can be found on the SPF level, but the UVA protection can be found on the PA level (Shiseido sunscreen has PA++). Broad-spectrum is also another name for it. Oh yes, in terms of what level of SPF is appropriate, you should always have SPF 30 or higher on your face. However, the FDA is banning sunscreens with SPF higher than 50, mainly because it offers the same protection as does, say, a SPF 100, would.

Body:

Water, water, water. It’s not going to make you fat.

Deodorant. Need I say more?

Baby powder. This is a must to carry around for me, especially on hot sticky humid days… and also for the beach! I dust some powder all over my warm spots (my upper back, under my bra, crook of my elbows, behind my knees), so it will absorb some of the sweat and keep me drier. I suggest using it when your skin is not too wet, otherwise you will end up with baby powder paste everywhere (Ross from Friends?).  It is also handy dandy at the beach because it will remove (most of the) sand off your skin! I usually do this before I get into the car when I head home because the driver/owner of the car will always be 100% upset if they find a mini-desert in their upholstery.

Now this next item was discontinued from Bath and Body Works, but I’m sure there are similar sprays out there. I have two of their cooling mists. It is basically a body spray in an aerosol can, and it emits a ice-cold sprinkle of fragrance. I love this stuff. I hope they bring it back. *crosses fingers* I love spraying this stuff down the back of my shirt and anywhere else I’m feeling warm. Plus, you will smell better. LOL.

Lastly, EXERCISEEEEE. LOL. This has nothing to do with makeup, but I am on an exercise kick at the moment and I really love motivating people to join along with me. I follow the workouts from BodyRock.tv, and I love them! Now you really have to be mature about the whole thing and just focus on the exercises, because she does seem, um, intimidating. But all you have to do is try your best!!! You’re the only person who can hold you back! I love these workouts because they are quicky quick and will make you sweat like a beast! I would suggest developing your fitness levels a bit before engaging in her routines because they are quite intense. I come from a background of 30 Day Shred and P90X, and my ass gets kicked by Zuzana.

So tell me, what are your summer beauty staples? 

origins checks and balances collab mini-review & my skin routine

25 Apr

This is a mini-review collaboration with Alyssa from The Mosiac Bench. She is going to be reviewing A Perfect World.

On Earth Day, Origins had a promotion where you can swap a full or empty skincare product for a full-size cleanser. I chose Checks and Balances. It is meant for all skin types. I have dry/normal skin which is sensitive to anything too moisturizing (ex. thick face creams) or too drying (ex. medicated acne cleansers). I also am prone to breaking out from using the wrong products and have some acne scars.

“When it comes to faces with dry and oily places, it takes a clever cleanser to balance the two. This gentle, frothy face wash carefully does both jobs without canceling each other out. Broad Leaf Kelp Extract discourages excess oil production, while Wheat Protein balances and protects dry prone zones. And Tourmaline actually makes water wetter to more easily disperse dirt and sebum down the drain. There’s also aromatic Bergamot, Spearmint and Lavender to add pleasure to the process. Skin feels comfortably refreshed after cleansing, never tight, pulled or parched.”

“Formulated without:

  • parabens
  • phthalates
  • propylene glycol
  • mineral oil
  • PABA
  • petroleum
  • paraffin
  • DEA
  • synthetic color”

Now I know it’s only been a few days since I’ve picked up my bottle, and tonight was the first time trying it. You might think this is not a great timeframe to review a product fully, but I am not enjoying it enough to continue usage.

Granted, I really enjoy the fact that it’s a foaming face wash, and you need only a pea-sized amount for your entire face! The texture is initially very thick and I had to squeeze pretty hard to get product out. I added a little water and rubbed my palms together to foam. At $18.50 for 5 fl oz, it is actually not that expensive, because it will last you a while (the shelf-life on the bottle says 24 months).  It smells refreshing and minty, sort of like Wrigley’s spearmint gum, only not too strong. I have previously tried a foaming cleanser which it is similar to, which is the Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser ($20 for 4.4 oz). I like the scent of Clarins a lot more, personally.

For me, the real test of a cleanser is how well it removes make-up. This does a pretty good job. I was playing around with a bunch of shadows, foundations, etc. and it was very effective in removing my eye makeup, even my CoverGirl LashBlast mascara. My face on the other hand, although it felt ‘superficially’ clean, I could still tell I had some foundation left. I used a little more and it still didn’t do very much in getting that weird feeling off my skin. However, I find it removes eye makeup better than Clarins. But I like Clarins for removing foundation, lol.

The upside is that it really did not leaving my skin feeling too tight. I did not use any moisturizer for a good half-hour after coming out of the shower and my skin didn’t have a touch of shine.

I thought this was decent. Until a few hours later…

*zit* *zit* *zit* *zit*………….*zit. le sigh.

I was pretty happy with my current routine, but decided to try something new, and it basically backfired on me. :\ Since I found my current routine, I have barely had any zits, even during that time of the month. I was really disappointed. Oh, well. Although it didn’t work out for me, I would suggest this cleanser for skin that is a little more oily. Dry skin is basically a hit or miss, IMO.

MY CURRENT “HAPPY-FACE” ROUTINE:

Morning:

Nighttime:

Occasionally, I use the DIY Rice Scrub from My favorite DIY beauty recipes entry. It may seem weird, but I attribute my smooth  skin to this trick! I urge you to try it. 🙂 I do this about once a week.

Please remember to check out Alyssa’s site, The Mosaic Bench! She has a lot of eco-friendly articles, and she’s a fantastic writer! Plus, she updates more often than I do, LOL.

Ciao, belle!

My favorite DIY beauty recipes…

13 Apr

I love DIY. You can save tons of $$$! It’s great if you’re in a pinch or on a budget, but sometimes, actual store-bought products may be better. However, with these recipies, you don’t have to worry about presevatives and deadly chemicals because you know exactly what is going in!

Honey-Sugar Face Scrub
1 tbsp of brown sugar
1 tbsp of honey
2 gel capsules of Vitamin E

Squeeze out the contents of the Vitamin E capsules. Mix and apply to face and gently ex foliate in circular motions. I like to use this in the shower because it gets kinda messy. You can substitute honey with olive oil for a more moisturizing effect. Sometimes I like to add in crushed uncoated aspirin tablets for salicylic acid for acne.I used this scrub about once a week or once every other week. I don’t have dry flakes on my skin because of this! If you want a more rough scrub, use less honey. It rinses off relatively easy, but you can always rinse with a gentle cleanser (think original Cetaphil).

Homemade Biore Pore Mask
Egg whites
Toilet paper

Biore pore strips never worked for me (I don’t have a lot of blackheads), but this worked on my sister, who has a lot of clogged pores. She uses it about once a month and it’s actually kinda fun (and gross!) to see what you can pull out. 😉

Rice Scrub
leftover cooked rice 🙂

I tried this once, and I am hooooooked. It is cheap and it uses leftover rice (which I always seem to have, lol). My skin felt very soft and supple afterwards. I can’t attribute too much to the glowing skin part, but I like this enough just to get soft skin. 🙂 It’s better to use rice that isn’t too soft, because I ended up having lots of bits stuck to my face. It rinses off very easily though! Queenie also has AMAAAAZING skin, if you haven’t noticed… can you guess her age?

Avocado hair mask
ripe avocado (mashed)

Spread evenly over dry hair and let it sit for about an hour, depending on how dry your hair is. You can also add warm olive oil (microwave for a few seconds until comfortably warm) for even more hydration. If using the OO, be careful in the shower because it can make your tub slippery.

Have fun!

Foundation: The Basics

13 Apr

The world of foundations is extremely intimidating. There are tons of colors and formulas out there… where do you start?

So let’s begin with your skin undertone. By tone, I don’t mean whether you are Caucasian, Asian, Black, Latin, etc. It will come down to two choices: Are you yellow/warm or pink/cool? (Being yellow has nothing to do with being Asian, although generally, those with East Asian backgrounds (like myself) will have yellow undertones.) There are several ways to identify your undertone, and one is to check the veins on the inside of your wrist. If they are green, you are warm. If they are blue, you are cool. If there is a mixture of both, then you are most likely neutral, meaning you don’t fit into one extreme. This is not as uncommon as you think. Everyone has different skin tones, and it is incredibly hard to ever find a perfect match for your face. Another method is to see whether you look better with gold jewelry (yellow/warm) or silver (pink/cool). This step is extremely important if you plan on wearing any type of foundation with a higher level of coverage because it can make your skin look totally off.

When you can, test the foundation on your neck. You don’t want your face and neck to be two different colors (an obvious giveaway you are using the wrong shade). Afterwards, step outside in natural daylight to see if it blends into your skin. If you can barely see it or it disappears completely, you have found your match! If it looks orange or too yellow, try a warmer or cooler shade. If you tend to have a lot of redness from acne, do not make the mistake of automatically trying to match your ‘redness’ with a foundation that is too pink for you. Check your neck!

You have probably heard people throwing around terms such as “NC30”, “NC20”, “NW30”, “NW45”. What does this mean? It is MAC’s general foundation numbering system. NC’s are yellow-toned. NW’s are pink-toned. (I’m not sure why NC is yellow, I would think C is for “cool”, but my best guess is that it means, “neutralize cool”.)  I personally have a lot of yellow tones in my skin, and I am currently a NC25-30 in MAC.

Now let’s look at your skin type. Dry? Normal? Oily? Combination? Wash your face, and pat dry. After 10 minutes, is your skin tight and uncomfortable? You have dry skin. Feeling fine? Normal. Shiny and slightly greasy? Oily. If you seem to have a mixture of oily and dry (ex. dry cheeks, oily nose), you may have combination skin. Why is this important? Well, based on your skin-type, you can narrow it down to what kind of formula your skin can handle.

Foundations come in liquid, cream, powder, etc. Liquid tends to be the most skin-friendly, and also the one that can provide the most coverage (depending on the foundation — tinted moisturizer doesn’t provide a lot of coverage). Sometimes liquid foundations can come in different formulations depending on skin type (ie. Revlon Colorstay for Oily/Combination skin and for Dry/Normal skin). They are usually easier to blend, thus making it quicker to work with. Cream foundations are more recommended for dry skin types, as they can be quite thick. The coverage CAN be opaque, but requires more blending than a liquid foundation. However, it can emphasize dry patches, and also if you have sensitive skin, it can break you out. (Not to say that other formulas cannot, but there is a higher chance of this happening). Also, they will usually come in a compact cake form, reducing the hygienic aspect. Irritants to look out for are mineral oil (which my skin is personally sensitive to), and petroleum. Powder foundation tends to be the least able to provide maximum coverage. It is more targeted to those with few flaws, and just want to look cleaner and matte. A branch of powder is mineral makeup, which has become very popular over the past few years, and out of all 3 formulas, it is probably the most natural looking. It is actually pretty hard to mess up, in terms of blending. I would recommend it to those with oily skin types, as the powder can absorb some of the moisture on your skin.

Another aspect to look for is SPF. SPF is very important to protect your face when you are outside, regardless of how sunny/cloudy or how hot/cold it is. Make sure you have a minimum of SPF 30 on your face whenever you are going out. More and more foundations these days are including SPF into their products. This is great for a daytime product, but if you are planning on taking photos with flash (especially at nighttime), please be aware that the more SPF a foundation has, the more it can reflect light (blame the titanium dioxide) and give you a white cast, aka “ghost face”.

Coverage may be important to you, especially if you tend to have a lot of acne scars or just prefer a made-up look. Look for products labeled, “full coverage”. If something says, “natural-looking coverage”, it is probably not going to cover much. It might nix some of the redness we all get, but you will still see some of it peeking through. However, be careful when applying a full-coverage product, because it will cake on you very easily.

Foundation is probably the hardest beauty product to purchase, because it is the one that will make or break the rest of your makeup. I hope this post has helped you a little in terms of how to choose a foundation! It can be a long process, but I guarantee, when you find your HG, it will be worth it! Happy shopping!

New HG moisturizer… & my next look?

9 Feb

Dr. Perricone Face Finishing Moisturizer.

Holy moly. My face literally feels like a baby’s bottom. And it smells like rosesss! 😀 Lightweight and moisturizing, and I can’t stop touching my face after! I believe it has anti-aging properties as well. Appropriate for day and night. Contains no sunscreen, so if this is to be my only moisturizer, I will have to use some extra sunblock or BB cream.

Only thing is that for 2 oz, it is $60+ at Sephora. They have a smaller size for $10 for .5 oz, which is a waay better deal. However, someone commented on how they aren’t the same things… weird, much? I think I’m going to stock up on the small ones anyway (which is the one I tried)….

 

**EDIT: 02/18/11**

Oh yeah, I went back to Sephora and got 3 more jars. Obsessed, I yam.

**/EDIT**

My next make-up look will be…

*drum roll*

drag.

As in,

drag KING.

Hahaha, I’m so excited. I’ve never done this before, but I’ve been studying Youtube videos of girls who have done so, including “Jared Leto girl”. Most people used eyeliner for facial hair, but one lady in particular used mascara and went over her natural peach fuzz. Ideas, ideas.

**EDIT 02/18/11**

LOL, what do you think?

Monolid-Friendly Emo-ish Goth-ish Super Smokey Eyes!

8 Feb

I don’t know what it is about winter that makes me just want to have super dark eyes, and I finally came up with something that I am proud of.

I used the original Urban Decay Primer Potion as an initial base, then some black gel liner (ELF) all over the entire lid and blended slightly past the brow bone. As a monolid, I know the crease/brow bone won’t be so apparent. Not to worry! Just tilt your head back and *gently* use the end of a brush to kinda feel around for the contours.

I used a fluffy brush to blend out the black and created a winged shape. I set everything with a navy shadow with a satin finish (not matte, not super shimmery). Took some matte white shadow (ELF Beauty Encyclopedia) and used that as a highlight on the brow bone. Then using a dark brown shadow (NYX Deep Brown) and a super fluffy brush, I softly blended the blue into the white.

To deepen the crease, I had to go back with some more gel liner and carve out a crease (once again, try the tilting trick). I set that with black shadow (NYX Black) to really make it pop. I finished off with a dark shimmery charcoal shadow (ELF Beauty Encyclopedia) on the middle of my lid to add some dimension.

For the lower part, I basically used the black gel liner/navy shadow combo and lined it with a jet black waterproof liner (Stila Smudge Stick in Stingray).

And oh yes, super full lashes on top, and half lashes on the lower lid. They are not comfortable to wear together…. ><

Contoured nose and cheekbones. No blush!

For lips, I used only a nude lipstick (Revlon Soft Nude), no gloss.

Of course, you can substitute the navy for any dark color of your choice. I just happen to like the blue undertone of this smokey eye. 🙂