Tips, Tricks & How Tos

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?

How to Depot a MAC Eyeshadow

how to depot mac eyeshadow 1As you may (or may not) know, an individual MAC eyeshadow come in a cute little plastic container. As you also may know, MAC makes palettes that can fit 2, 4, or 15 shadows, making your shadow collection travel friendly and space efficient. While you can buy the eyeshadows in a “pan” form that easily fit into the palettes, what if you have ones in containers that you’d like to put in palettes? Easy peasy.  All you need is a MAC eyeshadow, a kitchen knife, piece of parchment paper (optional) and a flat iron.

how to depot mac eyeshadow 2

If you look at the front of the eyeshadow, you’ll see a small little space where the top clasps onto the bottom part. Take the knife and wedge it between there and lift up slightly. The top will just pop out with the pan inside it.

how to depot mac eyeshadow 3Turn on your flat iron as high as it can go, and place the pan & plastic on top. The parchment paper is not necessary (I’ve depotted pans without it) but is a bit of a precaution so that the plastic doesn’t melt all over your iron. Wait for about 30-60 seconds, depending on how hot your iron is.

how to depot mac eyeshadow 4You’ll know when the plastic is ready when the center most part on the bottom is soft and shiny. Then, take your knife or a pen or something and press hard into the center. The pan should pop out easily. If not, put the plastic back on the iron and check back in about 10 seconds! As you can see, the glue should have melted and some will be on the back of the pan.

how to depot mac eyeshadow 5To get the sticker off of the back of the container, put it onto the iron. After about 30 seconds, the glue should be melted, and you can remove the label with tweezers.

how to depot mac eyeshadow 6Put the label onto the back of the eyeshadow pan and voila! All done!

If you have a magnet, attach it to the back of the pan so it will stay easily in the magnetic palette. If not, no biggie, just stick a piece of double stick tape on the back!

The final result:

how to depot mac eyeshadow 7

How do you depot shadows? Do you prefer them in a palette or on their own in single containers?

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?

Tip & Trick Tuesday: How to Enhance A Tan

As you may or may not have known, two weeks ago at this time I was in a tropical paradise soaking up the sunshine with the ocean and a fruity cocktail close at hand. Thus, I am tan!! Well at least I was, and now it seems to be fading away by the minute thanks to the frigid weather I am currently surrounded by. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep my tan and this bronzer/brush combo has certainly been saving the day.

IMG_0808 IMG_0806Instead of using bronzer to contour the face I have been using it to highlight and bronze up the face. The product of my choice has been Tarte Park Avenue Princess applied with the Sigma F50 Duo Fibre brush. This bronzer is a shimmery light golden brown – similar  to NARS Laguna but not as matte (and therefore would be horrible as a contour powder). I love it because it is just a hint darker than my tanned skin so when applied it enhances my tan yet doesn’t seem too obvious. To apply I sweep the powder where one would normally put a highlighter: cheekbones/cheek, chin, forehead, and bridge of the nose. Until now I hadn’t found a good use for my F50 brush as it gives a rather light application of powder but for providing a subtle bronzey glow, it’s perfect. Sometimes I will layer a blush underneath, such as Tarte Amazonian Clay blush in Tipsy, but for the most part I’ve been just wearing this bronzer day in and day out.

The bronzer can be purchased at Sephora for $29 and the brush at for $20. The brush is also part of the Sigma Make Me Classy Essential Brush Kit. I’d definitely recommend this technique/bronzer for you ladies trying to hold onto your spring break tan in the winter!

xox Olivia

Tip & Trick Tuesday: Zit Zapper for Sensitive Skin


Rubbing alcohol: cheap, common, and best of all, great for getting rid of zits gently but effectively. Most products in the drugstore contain salicylic acid, which for girls with sensitive skin like me, can produce breakouts instead of stop them. Rubbing alcohol is a great alternative as it is drying and cleans the area from bacteria that can make the spot even worse but won’t make you break out. Whenever I have raised bumps on my skin or a breakout I can tell is around the corner, I dip a Qtip into rubbing alcohol and then dab onto these pesky places. I’ve found it’s most effective after toner but before moisturizer and serums are applied. This won’t completely get rid of your spot if it’s quite bad, but applied overnight it will significantly decrease the size and redness! It works the very best on white heads (gross I know) because of the drying agents. I’m lucky enough to have never had real acne and all I get is a few stress or hormonal spots then and again. Of course serious acne needs more intensive products to heal but for those who have sensitive and minor spots I’d definitely recommend giving this a try!


Tip &Trick Tuesday: Eyeshadow as Eyeliner

image (5)image (4)We as humans have a tendency to stay within the box and stick to labels. But, sometimes it’s fun to go a little crazy and break the rules, especially if we’re feeling a bit lazy. You all know that I love me some eyeliner; in fact, I simply can’t go without it. Usually I reach for my Stila liquid liner since I love that sharp, crisp black line, but sometimes I feel like looking a little softer. So, I use eyeshadow, as an eyeliner.

image (17)What you need: a black or dark brown eyeshadow (I use Busted and Blackout from the Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette) and an angled eyeshadow brush like the Sephora one pictured. Once my eyeshadow is complete, I load up the brush with brown shadow. Then I pat the eye shadow alone my lashline, keeping the color as close to my lashline as possible. At the outer corner I make a line extending out from my lower lashline, like I do with liquid eyeliner, and then connect it to the long line previously created along my lashes. I like using brown eyeshadow first to create the shape before going over it with black eyeshadow because it can easily be blended out if a mistake is made.

This technique looks super natural if you decide not to wing it out, and is a great alternative to stick or liquid eyeliner as it is much less harsh. The powder also blends into the lashes a lot better than a normal eyeliner. As you can see from the picture above it looks just like pencil eyeliner!

Have you used eyeshadow as eyeliner before?

xox Olivia

Tip & Trick Tuesday: Daytime Bright Lips

Photo on 2013-02-12 at 12.44 #2

Wearing the Revlon Lip Butter in Lollipop

So. Yeah. It’s not Tuesday. Sorry! But, I still want to share a tip & trick with you all!

I love bright lip colors. All my best friends know one of the main reasons I want to graduate college and enter the workplace is so I can wear lipstick every day (among other more serious reasons of course). However, living on a college campus I find I rarely ever wear any sort of color on my lips, except for maybe a tinted lip balm. How unfortunate and un-glamorous. But, some days like today I decide I just don’t give a damn, today’s going to be a lippy day. That being said, it doesn’t mean I feel comfortable strolling into class or the library with a full on hollywood matte red lip, so I’ve decided to share with you how to wear a bright lip in a casual daytime setting.

To me, lips that are overly matte or overly glossy are not daytime appropriate. They both look and are quite high maintenance, and let’s be real, no one has time to be touching up their lipstick every hour. I prefer to stick to products that are bright, but also moisturizing and therefore slightly glossy; a lipstick and lip balm in one you could call it. The most qualifying lip product of this category is the Revlon Lip Butter (review coming soon!). The shade I have been slicking on my lips most recently is Lollipop, a blue toned fuchsia with the slightest hint of shimmer as it is not only fun, but makes your teeth look extra white! Revlon has seemed to find the perfect balance of both pigmented and wearable in this color – it’s not too shiny and it’s not too matte.

To accompany a bold lip for daytime wear, I like to keep the rest of the face pretty neutral: a tinted moisturizer or sheer coverage foundation, a swipe of black eyeliner and mascara and a neutral pinky brown blush. I find that too much eyeshadow combined with a bright lip can not only be distracting, but seem too formal for daytime wear, especially for college life. This combo is a great way to try new things (like a fun lippy)!

Hope you enjoyed this tip of the week!

xx Olivia

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!


Tip & Trick Tuesday: How to Keep Your Lashes Curled


For those girls out there who have lashes that grow straight down, as mine do, I’m sure you can relate to my teenage struggles in how to keep them from falling down.  Before I discovered eyelash curlers I would put attempt to apply mascara on these dreadfully straight lashes, and hope they would make my eyes look bigger and more defined. What a fail. Then when I was 16, a wonderful senior in my boarding school dorm introduced me to the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curler, which she told me, was the best for Asian lashes.  She was right! It fit my flat almond-shaped eyes perfectly, unlike the Revlon one my mother had that I had tried when she wasn’t looking. It made my eyes look bigger and my face look more awake with just one squeeze per eye! But despite this fabulous tool, I found that as the day went on, my eyelashes got droopier and droopier.

Enter waterproof mascara, the answer to all my problems.  The formula for waterproof mascara is oil-based instead of water-based, so it lasts longer and dries in a more rigid form than regular mascara. Although yes, it is much more of a pain to remove, it keeps your lashes in the exact position you want them to be all day long. I can pop on my mascara at 8 am and by the time I’m ready to take it off at god only knows what time of night, my lashes are perky and look freshly mascara-ed.

Note: waterproof and water-resistant are not one and the same. Water-resistant mascara will hold your curl for a couple hours, but will leave you with droopy, straight lashes by the end of the day.

For those who want to keep their lashes curled but don’t like waterproof mascara, many makeup artists recommend using a waterproof formula on the base of the lash, right where the curl is, and a regular formula on the tips!