Basics

How to: Gel Eyeliner Cat-Eye

how to gel eyeliner 1If you know me in person or have previously read my blog, you may know I’m a sucker for a great cat-eye. Not only are simple black flicks remarkably good at reminding people that yes asians do have eyes, but are also a simple way to sex up a plain, barely-there makeup face. Paired with either a neutral shadow and lip or a bold smoky eye and red hot lip, cat-eyes are versatile and timeless – a style every girl should be able to whip out of their back pocket.

For you beauty newbies who are intimidated by the infamous cat-eye, I’ve broken down the process into 4 steps using gel eyeliner.  Although I prefer liquid eyeliner, specifically Stila’s Stay-All-Day Waterproof Liquid Liner, it can be a bit tricky to use for first-timers, and definitely requires practice. Gel eyeliner, however, is super easy to use as a fine tipped brush allows for both control and precision when applying. My brush of choice is a small angled synthetic brush, such as the Sigma Small Angle E65 shown above. Classic pointed eyeliner brushes work too, however I find angled ones apply the line thicker and more quickly in addition to simplifying the creation of the flick! My staple gel liner is MAC’s trusty Fluidline in Blacktrack – it’s richly pigmented, doesn’t dry out (I’ve had mine for years) and has a smooth creamy texture that glides onto the lid.

*note that these steps are designated for after eyeshadow completion!

how to gel eyeliner 2Step 1: Start by creating a base line. Drag your brush from the inner corner of your eye towards the outer corner in a straight line. It’s okay if the line doesn’t hug your lashline near the outer corner – the overall finished line should be thinner near the inner corner and thicker near the outer corner. The bottom of the line can be jagged (we’ll fill this in later) but be sure to make the top of the line as smooth as possible.

how to gel eyeliner 3Step 2: Draw the flick! Extend a line from your lower lashline towards the end of your brow. The line should be angled as if it is a continuation of the lower lash line. Making sure the two “flicks” are at the same angle on both eyes can be tricky, so be sure to keep cotton swabs close by in case you have to adjust the flick or redo it completely.

how to gel eyeliner 4Step 3: Connect the line you drew across the lid to the flick! This can be accomplished easily with the angled brush by positioning the sharp angled tip of the bristles at the edge of the flick and sliding it towards line #1. Make sure the transition is smooth and smudge-free and try to keep the overall curve of the eyeliner as close to the natural curve of your eye as possible.

Step 4: Fill in the small gap between your horizontal line and your lashline. One of the most important parts of wearing eyeliner is to keep it close to the lashes! Finish with mascara and your eye is complete!

Now you are ready to rock your cat-eye look! This type of eyeliner is definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a classic Olivia look. I love wearing it with neutral eyeshadow so the crispness of the black is accentuated. How do you like to wear gel eyeliner?

10 Tips for Clear Skin Part 2

picstitch (5)Hi guys! I’m back with part 2 of my “10 Tips for Clear Skin.” My first 5 tips can be found here, and here is my second installment:

6.  Wash your face every night with no exception: This may seem self-explanatory, but many, many women do not abide by this rule! Think about all the pollutants and bacteria your skin is exposed to throughout the course of your day – do you really want that sinking into your pores over the night?  Hell no. When you’re tired it may seem tedious to take off all your makeup and give the face a thorough washing but believe me, your skin will thank you and reciprocate by being clear and radiant!

7. Invest in quality skincare products: I know sometimes my friends (and my mother) cringe when they discover how expensive my skincare products can be, but it’s important to remember – this is your face! How you treat your face at a young age will significantly affect how you will age and look in 40 years time. You should invest just as much money in skincare as you would with makeup, clothes or accessories. Also, as always, high prices mean high quality

8. Don’t touch your face!: This also seems self-explanatory but is often overlooked. The more you touch your skin, the more breakout-producing bacteria and oils your skin is exposed to. This goes for hair too! Having oily hair touching the perimeter of your face all the time, and especially the forehead for bangs, causes breakouts as well.

9. Be patient: As a member of the Millennial generation, I want results and I want them now. But with skin and skincare products, results take time, especially for serious breakouts. It can take your skin days or even weeks to adjust to a new product or routing and begin clearing up. So if you don’t see clear skin immediately, just wait!

10. Eat healthy!!!! This is one of the most crucial tips of this post! While it is important to treat skin from the outside, it is also essential to treat it from the inside as well! Avoid overly salty or sugary foods that will make you break out and stick to healthy options like fruits and veggies. Lay off the soda and drink lots and lots of water to stay hydrated – remember it’s all about the moisture!

Following these 10 guidelines will help you detox and clarify the skin, with less breakouts and increased radiance. Of course, these tips won’t necessarily help hormonal breakouts or serious acne that requires a dermatologist or medication, but for normal, pesky zits, blackheads and pimples these tips should help – I know they do for me!

What are your best tips for clear skin?

10 Tips for Clear Skin Part 1

clear skin part 1

I never realized how much stress and anxiety my skin caused me until it went completely clear. To set the record straight, I am lucky enough to never have suffered from serious acne, but I had some bouts in my teenage years when a gigantic zit would rear its head in the most undesirable place possible, like smack dab in between the brows. Cute, right? Random red bumps also had a habit of appearing randomly along my chin and sometimes cheeks that were incredibly irritating to me. It seemed like no matter what I did, my skin was never perfectly clear. Fast forward a couple years and subtract a hefty wad of cash from my wallet and I finally have achieved clear skin. Now, I know not everyone has the same skin as me, and may have serious skin issues that require medication like Acutane, but here are the first set of tips that I’ve discovered along my skincare journey.

1.       Know what type of skin you have – Knowing if you have oily skin versus dry versus combination etc. is crucial at obtaining results. It will not only determine your tactics for clearing up the skin, but also what skincare and makeup products you should use as well. For example, if you have oily skin you will want to stay away from “dewy” foundation and stick to mattifying powders and foundations. Additionally, you would want to use gel-like textured moisturizers versus heavy creams.

2.       Stay away from mineral oil! – Mineral oil is a substance used in a lot of drugstore brand skincare since it is quite inexpensive. It’s similar to petroleum jelly in that it sits on top of the skin, without penetrating deep down into the pores. As a result, it clogs your pores and cause break outs instead of providing moisture, especially with sensitive skin. Aveeno is a great brand to use if you’re not trying to break the bank because of its drugstore prices and lack of mineral oil.

3.       It’s all about the moisture – At my young age (under 25), there’s really no need for anti-aging products. But, it’s incredibly important to keep the skin moisturized at all times. This will prevent dry patches on the face and with the right products, control your natural oils if you are an oily gal.

4.       Sunscreen! – Sun protection is an aspect of skincare that most people, especially young people, tend to overlook. Why apply yet another product when you won’t be out tanning? What you may not know is that the #1 cause of aging is sun damage! Additionally, harsh sun exposure can cause your skin to go all red and bumpy (I know from personal experience), and wearing an SPF of at least 15 at all times can easily prevent this.

5.       Stick to a routine – Skin is fussier than one might imagine, and in general, it doesn’t appreciate being a little experimental hamster. Once you find a skincare routine that works for you, stick to it! Constantly changing products will only fluster your skin, leaving it confused and broken out.

That’s it for part 1 ladies, hope you learned a few things. Part 2 will be up early next week!

How To Clean Your Makeup Brushes

how to wash makeup brushes 3One of the most dreaded makeup-related tasks in my book is washing my brushes. I hate getting my  hands wet in general (they get dry very quickly) and it takes a good enough chunk of time that I need to set aside 20 minutes to complete it. That being said, it is one of the important parts of makeup as tools are extremely important, and they can build up bacteria and all sorts of nasty things that you do not want all over your face! You can normally go a bit longer without washing your powder brushes, but brushes that work with cream products, especially foundation, should be cleaned at least once a week.

Things you need: a clean sink/kitchen surface, water, dirty brushes, and a gentle cleanser.

While you can buy a specific brush cleanser, you can also just use plain ole baby shampoo! My favorite to use is the Burt’s Bees Baby Shampoo because it is gentle and all natural, yet effective. I tried the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo but it didn’t really lather up very well and took me twice as long to get all the gunk out of my brushes.

How to wash brushes 1So, first I turn the water on to a medium stream, lukewarm temp. Then, I take the baby shampoo and pour a small dollup into the palm of my left hand (more for foundation brushes, less for eyeshadow brushes). Then I take a dirty brush into my right hand and get the bristles wet. Take care not to get the barrel of the brush wet – the water can seep up into the barrel and loosen the glue that holds it to the wooden handle. From there, I swirl the damp brush into my palm, as shown below, to create a soapy lather! I swish the brush around in the soap for a few seconds, then rinse it out under the water.

How to wash brushes 2For larger face brushes, I usually wash them one at a time, however with small eyeshadow brushes, I wash up to three at the same time. I go through the same exact process as above, but hold three together at once, killing three birds with one stone you could say I guess. Some denser brushes, such as my kabuki brush I use for applying foundation, require a couple repetitions of the whole swirl-in-shampoo-rinse-repeat action, as they have more product wedged between the bristles.

After your brush is clean but still damp, store them in a well-aired area to dry. Be careful to either lay the brush down flat with the ends hanging off, like in the picture above, or at an angle with the brush head tilting down to avoid water damage in the barrel.

Some brushes take longer than others to dry – natural hair brushes usually dry much faster than synthetic ones, but it really depends on the individual brush and how wet they were when you laid them out. For instance, my Real Techniques brushes dry amazingly fast, but some of my denser Sigma ones take hours. To speed this up it helps to brush your makeup brushes on a dry towel, which will absorb some of the water lurking in between bristles!

How do you clean your makeup brushes? Have any tips for me, ladies?

Fave Face Brushes

fave face brushes 1Expensive and high quality products may be important to a flawless base, but tools are far more important. Would a realistic painting be the same if the painter did not use a paint brush? I think not. The same applies to your face. The product becomes irrelevant if applied with an incorrect tool, and can result in a disaster. The following four brushes are my absolute favorite for laying down a gorgeous base.

fave face brushes 2Foundation brushes insure an even application of foundation and are usually either a flat pointed brush that lays the product on top of the skin, or a kabuki brush that allows the product to be worked into the skin. Although many prefer the former, I prefer the latter, especially my Sigma F80 Angled Top Kabuki Brush (the lower of the two pictured above). It’s dense but super soft bristles really buffs the foundation into the skin and does an amazing job of blending both foundation and concealer. I love this particular kabuki brush because of it’s angle – it fits perfectly into the nook of my nose and under my eyes, and can also be used for cream blush or bronzer along the cheekbone. When using this brush, I simply swirl it all over my face in small circular motions, to ensure the foundation is blended in quite thoroughly. Sigma actually has a whole line of kabuki brushes that are great; the larger ones can be used for foundation or cream products, and the smaller ones are perfect for concealer or cream eyeshadow!

The next step after foundation (and concealer) is setting your makeup! This normally requires a big fluffy brush that has a large surface area, as the powder is applied all over the face. My favorite is the Sigma F30 Powder Brush because it always applies the perfect amount of powder – not too much but not too little either. It’s also ridiculously soft and super fun to play with. The black bristles make it easy to tell how much powder is on the brush as well, so you know if you need to tap off excess product before setting the face.

fave fash brushes 3These next two brushes gained access to my favorites because of their versatility. Both can be used for bronzer as well as blush, as well as for both cream and powder products. The top one, the Blush Brush from Samantha Chapman’s line Real Techniques is quite high quality for it’s cheap price! All of the Real Techniques brushes are amazing, but this one was the very first one I bought so it holds a special place in my makeup heart. It has a rounded shape that is slightly tapered, so it’s quite useful for really contouring the cheeks with either blush or bronzer. But because it is not too tapered, it still works great for applying blush to the apples of the cheeks or applying any powder really. The other brush, the Sigma F50 Duo Fiber Brush is more of a bronzer brush to me, since it has a larger surface area that is great for bronzing up the face or creating a more blended out contour look. I do, however, love using this brush when applying Nars Luster Blush, since that blush in particular doesn’t need a very precise application and looks better kind of blended out like a bronzer. Because it is duo fiber, it fares well with cream products, and I sometimes use this brush to apply very pigmented cream blush such as Illamasqua’s Rude, since Duo Fiber brushes often have sparse bristles and will apply less product. 

All of these brushes are incredibly easy to use and have actually sped up my morning makeup routine quite a bit, as they do their job in the most thorough yet efficient way. I’d definitely recommend both the Sigma and Real Techniques lines to anyone, especially since they are much cheaper than MAC brushes yet still do a great job! I acquired these Sigma brushes through the Make Me Classy brush set, but you can purchase them individually as well, and Real Techniques brushes can be bought at Ulta!

If you haven’t invested in any face brushes, now’s the time ladies….

Liquid Foundation 101


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I was inspired yesterday, when a friend came to me in a base crisis. “I need something for my skin,” she sputtered, “but I don’t know what.” So I decided a post dedicated to choosing the right foundation was long due. Choosing the right foundation can be extremely difficult and therefore super stressful, but having a proper base can make a huge difference to the face. But first, we must consider the various steps and elements one needs to complete!

First up, coverage. Most women think of foundation as thick gunk that makes your face look cakey and fake. However, when properly applied, foundation can instead look extremely natural! Liquid foundations come in one of four varieties: tinted moisturizer, sheer, medium, and full coverage. As you can guess, the most low-key is a tinted moisturizer. While they can act as substitutes for regular moisturizer, they won’t cover up blemishes or major discolorations. Because of this, I only recommend this for girls who have fabulous skin, or for those lazy days when you just don’t give a toot. Laura Mercier makes a great one, as does Origins (Vitazing) which is a bit cheaper. My personal preference for foundation coverage is the sheer category. I like a little bit of coverage since I don’t have perfectly even skin, and definitely have some red patches, but I don’t need complete coverage since I have pretty clear skin. Therefore, sheer-to-medium coverage foundations are perfect: they let my skin peek through and evens out my skintone wonderfully. A lot, but not all sheer foundations are water based, such as my beloved Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua. Full coverage foundations, however, cover completely everything, hence the “full” aspect. These sort of foundations can seem cakey and makeup-y if one doesn’t apply them correctly – it’s all about the blending! If you have a lot of blemishes or are self-conscious about your skin these foundations are the way to go. Laura Merciere also makes a great full coverage foundation, as does Illamasqua. And of course, medium coverage foundations provide coverage between sheer and full. One of my favorites sheer-to-medium foundations is Neutrogena Healthy Glow, which is a cheap dupe for Nars Sheer Glow and can be found at any local drugstore. Makeup Forever HD Foundation is another cult-favorite that is not only available in a wide range of shades but is also medium coverage.

Remember, foundation isn’t meant to cover absolutely everything. If you have a couple spots or dark under eye circles, don’t pile on the foundation on these areas – that’s what concealer is for!

Shade is something else that needs to be considered for all you foundation-shoppers. Women’s skintones fall into the pink, yellow or neutral categories so make sure you find a shade that has the same undertones as your own skin! I’m personally a yellow-toned girl, being Asian and all, and very yellow at that. Even neutral undertoned foundations look too pinky on me so I have to pick shades very carefully.

Finish also needs to be considered. Matte? Dewy? Velvety? Matte finishes are best for girls with oily skin since over day their natural oils will create the shine a dewy finish foundation would create. On the other hand, girls with dry skin often love dewy finishes the best, like myself. They leave the skin looking fresh with a bit of a healthy shine that can be toned down with powder if necessary. It also happens to be all the rage right now if any of you followed New York Fashion Week makeup styles. Velvety finishes lie between matte and dewy, not too matte but not overly glowing. These tend to work well for formal occasions or for photography as they can catch the light without causing you to look greasy.

One last factor to consider is wear time. Most foundations last between 6 and 8 hours long with minor touchups before they completely wear off, however long-wear foundations do exist that can last for up to 24 hours (although I would not recommend wearing makeup for that long!). Lancome Teint Idole 24 Hour Long Lasting Foundation seems to be the original in this product, but more recently Bobbi Brown, Revlon and Maybelline have come out with their own versions. I did try the Revlon Colorstay 24 Hour Foundation, and why I can’t say I wore it longer than about 16 hours, it looked just as great when I took it off as when I put it on in the morning.

I know that shopping for foundation can be a stressful and can require a lot of research, but it’s not as hard as it looks. It always helps to ask the women at the counters to be matched for color and to give extra info about the products!

Happy foundation shopping!!

Tip & Trick Tuesday: How to Conceal Under-eye Circles

Concealer, what would I do without you?  Always a dear friend ready to comfort me after late nights of staying up to write papers or watch Desperate Housewives on Netflix, or to deal with the naturally discolored skin around my eyes. As mentioned in my Minimal Makeup post, under-eye concealer (and corrector) is one of those must-have products for me. That’s why this week I’m going to share with you my tips for concealing under-eye circles.

origins ginzingIt all begins with Origins GinZing.  This is an amazing eye cream that not only moisturizes your eye area to prevent dryness and nasty milia, but also eliminates bags and puffiness. It achieves this while simultaneously reflecting light away from the under-eye area to brighten the area! How incredible is that. Can’t go a day without using it. I apply it after washing and moisturizing the face but before applying primer and foundation.

concealer correctorAfter foundation however, it’s time for corrector. While some may consider this an unnecessary step, it’s essential for my everyday makeup. Color correctors for the under-eye area are generally peach or pinky in color as to cancel out the blue tones. One of the best correctors out there belongs to Bobbi Brown. She makes some fabulously hydrating correctors in both peach and pink (known as bisque) shades; I personally own the Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque. I apply this with my ring fingers straight from the pot and blend under both eyes to brighten the area even more. Then I use Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circle Treatment Concealer in Neutralizer, a yellow-toned concealer one shade lighter than my natural skin color, as a final “top coat.” I love this concealer because it’s cheap in price but a great quality product. It’s a thin, liquid-like formula that comes out of an antibacterial sponge-tip applicator. I just dab a bit under my eyes and blend with my fingers. A last but also necessary step is to set the concealer with a powder so it won’t budge all day! I know this sounds like a whole lot of effort, but believe me having an impeccable under-eye area really brightens up the face and makes you look 10 times more awake.

I hope you enjoyed my tip of the week!

Olivia

Essential Beauty Tools

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I’ve found that while many women understand the importance of high quality makeup products, many women do not understand the importance of high quality makeup tools. Makeup is really all about the application – you can have the best products available but if they aren’t applied precisely and correctly, no one will ever know. The most obvious tools that come to mind are obviously makeup brushes (on which a blog post is currently in the works), but the other odd tools are equally important!

Let’s start with Qtips. These little things are simply a godsend. They are cheap, disposable and helpful in a myriad of ways. Cleaning up a eyeliner mishap, a bit of lipstick outside the lines, a mascara clump and smudged eye makeup under the eye after a long day are only the beginning of what these babies can accomplish. Next is the eyelash curler. One squeeze can instantly lift your face and make you seem more alert. Besides, who doesn’t love fluttery come-hither lashes? My personal favorite one is by Shu Uemura but I’ve raved about it enough on this blog to go into again (check out my How to Keep Your Lashes Curled post).

The final three products are almost exclusively for eyebrows but as I consider them to be one of the most important parts of the face they are definitely necessary for every woman to have. The role of tweezers is a given –  to remove those stubborn stray brow hairs in between waxes, threads, or just overall. Let’s be real ladies, having messy brows with a bunch of baby hairs scattered around them is just not a good look. Tweezing every day can prevent this as well as help maintain your overall brow shape. When I was younger and struggling with my brows I realized that if I went a long time between pluckings I would often forget what my natural shape was and end up with different brows every time I did them, but when I take 30 seconds to attend to them on a daily basis I avoid that issue completely! And let’s also not forget that I’m not just talking about any type of tweezers, I’m talking good tweezers and let’s face it, no one does it like Tweezerman.

Cuticle scissors also aid to the brows in that sometimes they just need to be trimmed, a delicate action you wouldn’t use normal scissors for. Plus, I always find that I’m usually doing my makeup while getting dressed, and having a small pair of scissors handy to cut tags is so convenient. It’s the little things, right?   The last essential tool is the spoolie. So useful for combing through your brows to put the hairs into place or blend out a pencil/powder as well as for getting rid of mascara clumps and using mascara on another person. While you can buy one of these at MAC for around $15, you can also just go to your local drugstore and pick up a huge pack of disposable ones for about $5 like I do.

I hope you enjoyed my essential beauty tools – what are yours?

Olivia

How to Contour & Highlight

Contouring and highlighting are two of those magical makeup techniques that can truly transform a face.  Many times when celebrities are accused of getting nose jobs or face-lifts, cream or powder products have just altered their face. Having both a round face and rather chubby cheeks myself, I consider contouring and highlighting a necessity, as they give the illusion of having more chiseled features, a stronger cheekbone, and an overall slimmer face.  The idea is based off of how one’s face would appear if you shined a light onto it: some areas would sink back in the shadows (eye sockets, under the cheekbones, beneath the chin) and some areas would reflect the light (brow bone, tops of the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead). To mimic this with makeup, you would use a bronzer in the contours of your face and a highlighter on the parts that would hit the light.

While you can achieve this look with either cream or powder, I want to share with you how I contour with powder.

before

Here I am with my face done, but with no bronzer, highlight, or blush on. As you can see my face looks pretty normal, but lacks dimension.

1 side b1 side profile b

To demonstrate the effect of contouring with bronzer, I have only done one side (the left in the picture above). Although the effect is subtle, it makes my cheeks less chubby and my nose less wide.  From the side you can see that it looks like I actually have a cheekbone, when in reality the side of my face is pretty darn flat.

This was accomplished by applying bronzer with a contoured brush in a backwards “3” shape along the side of my face: on the side of the forehead, under my cheekbone, and under my chin. An easy way to find where to contour on your cheek is to make a fish face – where your cheeks go on is where the bronzer should go.  It’s important to make sure the bronzer is thoroughly blended in so it doesn’t look like you have a brown streak across your cheek – the contour should look as natural as possible! Because I have a wide nose I like to contour the sides to make it appear more structured and slimmer. Using a small brush and a very light hand, I sweep the bronzer on the sides of the nose, while keeping the brush parallel to my face. Then, I blend it in with my finger to give it a more natural look.

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noseTo enhance this, I like to use a highlighter on the tops of my cheekbones, brow bone, down the bridge of my nose and on my cupids bow (right on top of the V part on your upper lip). It gives your face a pretty sheen in just the right places without making you appear oily.

highlight

In order not to make your face look muddy, choose a bronzer that is 2-3 shades darker than your natural skin color but not too orange! Because my skin has a very yellow undertone, I can get away with more orangey bronzers in the summer when I have a tan, but definitely not in the winter. I’m pretty pale at the moment so I’ve been using the NYC Smooth Skin Bronzer in Sunny. Although it’s only $3 or something at the drugstore, it’s surprisingly pigmented and a great shade.For a highlighter I love my Dior Diorskin Shimmer Star in Amber Diamond. Yes, it is $45 (it was one of my 3 am impulse buys), however it is so versatile as it can be used as eye shadows because of the individual strips, or as a highlighter. Mixed together, it creates a beautiful golden bronze, but you can use the different parts for lighter or darker effects. In the winter I like to use the left sides of the bronzer, and the right sides in the summer.The brushes I used to contour are my Sigma Large Angled Contour F40 which doubles as a blush brush, and this random small brush I got at CVS like 3 years ago (sorry the name/brand rubbed off!). For the highlight I normally use a tapered brush like the Sigma Tapered Highlighter F35, but I left it at school so I used my Real Techniques Blush Brush.

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I hope this was helpful to those girls out there who wish they had a slimmer face!

-Olivia