DIY: Pressing Pigments

Arts & Crafts 2Nothing brings me quite back to those good ole elementary days like some arts and crafts time. Those were the good days weren’t they? No data analyzing, writing, memorizing, or thinking really – just simple, hands-on activities. Maybe that’s why it felt so wonderful to create this interpretation of a pressed pigment pictured above.  I came up with this idea when I came to the realization I would probably never find an exact dupe of my all-time favorite eyeshadow: Sephora Shimmering Sand from the limited edition Prisme Collection. I picked this up literally years ago, and this was one of my very first eyeshadow purchases. Its yellow-golden hue is my perfect “my lids but better” color, and I love how shimmery it is. Since the product reflects light, my teeny asian eyes are transformed into bigger, brighter and more well-rested versions of themselves when I wear this shadow. Despite it’s many pros, this product unfortunately has a serious downfall: its packaging. Since the shadow is really more of a pigment than a shadow, it requires a deep pan, and something to keep it packed together, much like the L’Oreal Infallible Eye Shadows. As you can see from the photo above, it is quite clear that the packing is the exact opposite of this. The shadow originally came in a 3D block-like shape with a wave imprinted on the top, and was not really attached to anything, but merely sitting atop this odd plastic grate. Weird. Because of this, the shadow often fell apart and clumped up onto the mirror inside the lid, or escaped the packaging all-together and adhered itself onto anything and everything. The inside of my everyday makeup bag basically was a gold-glitter party. Not cool. Serious actions had to be taken.

I tried looking for another version of this shadow that had better packaging, but everything I looked at was either too golden and not yellow enough, or not shimmery enough, or too peachy. Then I read about using rubbing alcohol to fix cracked blushes, face powders, eye shadows etc. and figured, why wouldn’t this work for me?!

Arts & Crafts 1I started by taking the entire eyeshadow block out of its container and slicing off small pieces with a knife. Then, I started piling the little shavings into an empty MAC eyeshadow container. I was a little concerned that the container didn’t have a metal pan in it and that the shadow would just fall out, but it turned out completely fine! Pouring rubbing alcohol over the shavings made them softer and malleable, so then I was able to sort of smush them down into the container with a Qtip, and smooth it to the best of my ability. I repeated the shavings/rubbing alcohol steps several times until the container seemed to be about full, making sure to push down on the pigment with the knife to ensure the product was as dense as possible. After leaving it to dry over night, it was good as new! Check out the final product below:

Arts & Crafts 3Although the texture of the top of the pressed shadow isn’t completely smooth, it’s good enough for me! I kind of like how it came out visually, it’s as if it’s golden cork-board or something. It may not be clear in the photo, but everything is packed down so compactly that when you turn the container over, no pigment falls or anything: success!

It is so nice knowing I will have my favorite shadow in a handy little pot that is travel-friendly and completely mess free! Have you ever pressed your own pigments or fixed broken powders?

Face of the Day: Shocking Coral

FOTD Shocking Coral 1 FOTD Shocking Coral 2I realized I haven’t done a Face Of The Day in quite a while, so I thought I’d share today’s look with you!

Today was nothing special, just going to work, out to dinner and then my suite for the night. Since I work at a luxury PR firm that’s filled with young, stylish women I like to dress to impress when I come into the office, completing my looks with fun yet polished makeup looks.

FOTD Shocking Coral 3I start every look with a foundation of course, and since I’m trying to use up my sample of the YSL Le Teint Touche Eclat Foundation, this was my base product of choice today. To hide my scary dark circles I reached for the classic Bobbi Brown Corrector in Light Bisque, and then applied NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Ginger over the top (review on this coming soon!).  The concealer was also dabbed under my brows, around the mouth and on a couple red splotches on my jaw to create a flawless complexion! To set my base I lightly dusted MUFE HD Powder all over to prolong the lifespan of my base and diminish the shine. Both the concealer and foundation emit a rather lovely glow that usually looks gorgeous, but in 90 degree heat I want to be as matte as possible! My base isn’t complete without contour, so I blended my favorite bronzer of the moment, Stila Sun Bronzing Powder in Shade 2, beneath my cheekbones for a sculpted look. Since I knew I wanted to use a pinky lipstick to match my J.Crew blouse I used a pink blush as well: NYX Bourgeois Pig.

The first thing I swiped onto my lids was a primer of course, specifically Urban Decay Primer Potion, which keeps your shadows from creasing and migrating all over your face by the end of the day. I then used a flat shader brush to pat on MAC Retrospeck, a gold-silver glittery shade that instantly brightens up my eyes and gives my appearance an extra couple hours of sleep. MAC Soba made an appearance on the outer corners of the eyes and under the lashline for a bit of definition and subtle contour before Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner swooped in to produce my signature cat-eye. Two coats of Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof Mascara and some Anastasia Brow Powder in Medium Brown through my brows and the eyes are done-zo.

Now for the most exciting part: the lips (and the saga that goes along with it). When the MAC Iris Apfel collection came out I was absolutely dying to get my hands on the lipstick, Party Parrot, however, being in the cow fields of central New York, I was not near any MAC stores or counters. I tried purchasing this treasured lipstick online but as per usual, the limited edition collection had sold out within minutes of its release on the MAC website. So I cried a little. Just kidding, but really I was pretty devastated. I recently heard that Shocking Coral from the Maybelline Vivids line was a dupe for Party Parrot – so I ran out (literally 5 minutes after confirming this on various beauty blogs) and bought it. And here, ladies and gentlemen, is Maybelline Shocking Coral on my lips. I definitely wouldn’t call it a coral, but I love the fun bright color and the formulation – it’s incredibly pigmented and smooth, making it super comfy to wear on the lips. Will I be picking up more shades from this line? Absolutely.

I hope you guys enjoyed my Face of the Day!

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?

Matchy Matchy

matchy 1

Since I’ve been on such a lip kick, I knew when I bought these matchstick jeans from J.Crew about a month ago that I would absolutely need to pair them with a silky white blouse and a bright pink lip that matched the print. Enter MAC Lipstick in Vegas Volt, a bright pinky coral hue that makes quite the summer statement on the lips.  Because the formulation of the lipstick is an amplified, it is intensely pigmented and thick – definitely not a casual, sheer lip, this bad boy requires maintenance, although maybe not as much as a red per se. Truth be told this was both my first MAC purchase, and MAC lipstick, bought when I was only 17 and desperate to brighten up my pale winter face.

matchy 2I apply this lipstick straight from the bullet (in my book, it’s not dark enough to require lip brush action) and then use a Q-tip to smooth the edges and fix any imperfections. Does it last a long time? Eh, I mean it’s nothing to write home about and really depends on your eating/drinking habits. However, it is moisturizing, which is lovely if you’re spending the day in a moisture-sucking vacuum (thanks a lot air conditioning).

What do you think? Do you like matching your lipstick to your outfit?

Some Summer Skincare Bits

summer skincareLike I said in my winter skincare must-haves, your skin changes from season to season, therefore your products should too! In the winter my skin is super dry, so I normally need a very thick, creamy moisturizer, but in the summer when it’s hot outside, I like using something a bit lighter. I just recently purchased the Origins Make a Difference + Rejuvenating Moisturizer, and I’m absolutely in love with it. The white product is light and thin, but not runny, almost like a gel texture, yet still gives my skin the moisture it needs. I apply it by taking a very small amount on my finger and dotting it around my face – a little goes a long way with this product, people. Then, I massage it into the skin with the tips of my fingers on both hands. Once that is complete I move onto my eye cream, which is Kiehl’s Creamy Avocado TreatmentThis product is amazing, especially at night because of it’s richness and hydrating ingredients like avocado! To apply I dab the tiniest bit onto my ring fingers, then tap then below my eyes. Like the moisturizer, you only need the smallest bit to be effective. Truth be told, this eye cream doesn’t have any anti-aging or wrinkle-reducing properties but since I’m still young, I find that a bit unnecessary. I would also recommend using this eye cream in the winter as well, but since I didn’t have it for my winter skincare post, I thought I’d sneak it in here.

I would undoubtedly recommend both of these products for both day and night use, especially for you ladies with dry to normal skin types. I know Origins makes a Make a Difference + product that can be used as a moisturizer specifically for gals with oily skin so check that out if you fall into that category! The moisturizer can be found at Origins stores or counters, or Sephora for $40, and the eye cream can be found at Kiehl’s stores or counters for $28.50. If these prices seem rather steep for you, don’t forget that you only need a very small amount of these products, so they will last a long time. Additionally, keeping your skin plump with moisture is one of the most effective ways to maintain youthful, healthy skin so moisturizing skincare products are very important. As I always say, the way you treat your skin now reflects how it will look 40 years down the road and girl, I wanna look good. 

Rimmel Scandal Eyes: A Review

 

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Bulletproof Beige all over the lid, Black as liner, Brown along bottom lashline, Nude on waterline

Bulletproof Beige all over the lid, Black as liner, Brown along bottom lashline, Nude on waterline

 

Rimmel is one of those brands that is huge in the UK, but is rather hit or miss here in the States. We don’t get some of Europe’s most beloved drugstore products, such as their Wake Me Up Foundation or their Apocalips, but instead receive a small selection of usually mediocre products. Lately, however, it seems like Rimmel is trying to make a comeback stateside, with the US release of the Kate Moss lipsticks and now, the Rimmel Scandal Eyes line.

Above, you can see I tried out quite a slew of these pencils: the Eye Shadow Sticks in 002 Bulletproof Beige (a shimmery champagne with a slight pinky undertone) and 003 Bad Girl Bronze (a warm, coppery bronze), and the Waterproof Kohl Kajal in 001 Black, 003 Brown, and 005 Nude.  The shadow sticks claim to last 24 hours and be completely waterproof, and I have to say, they live up to these claims. I obviously didn’t wear the shadow for a full 24 hours, however I have worn both shades all day long, and they held up extremely well. I found that even without a primer these creamy pencils did not crease on my lids which is fantastic, as the NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils definitely do. They are also incredibly pigmented, as you can see in the picture below, which is an additional plus over the NYX alternative.  Bulletproof Beige is a great everyday shade, and I can see myself using Bad Girl Bronze as a base for a fantastic bronzey smoky eye. Would you guys want to see a post on that?

The regular eyeliners are not quite as ahmazing as I expected. They do last a pretty long time, but the black one always smudges on me by the end of the day, leaving an unpleasant black ring around my lower lashline. Rude. The nude one is a standout though, as it is neither too pinky nor too white for the waterline. I also have NARS Rue Bonaparte, which is a nude pencil too, but find it a bit too pale for me when I’m in any other season than winter, so the Rimmel one was warmly welcomed.

Rimmel Scandaleyes 3Overall I’d say both types of pencils are comparable to NYX’s versions in that they are similar styles and both extremely affordable! What do you think of Rimmel products?

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….

Mascara Fails

mascara failsLike many women out there, I am obsessed with Maybelline The Falsies Waterproof Mascara. It has been and will be my one true mascara love and it fulfills all the asian eyelash qualifications for a gold star. However, my eye does wander sometimes…is there a better option out there? I kept hearing soo many things about the two mascaras above and couldn’t help but try them out. The conclusion? No, there is nothing better than The Falsies…at least for my stick straight asian lashes!

mascara fails2The first mascara pictured, L’Oreal Waterproof Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara, is a cult favorite that makes the lashes of many fine ladies thick and voluminous, as the label claims. The second, L’Oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara boasted lengthy, defined lashes thanks to its thin rubbery wand. Both did both these things. My lashes were given incredible volume with the Carbon Black, and were made long and fluttery with the Telescopic. BUT. Yes there is a major but. Neither of these formulas lived up to the “waterproof” myth that usually comes true, that waterproof mascaras hold their curl. They flopped within minutes of initial application. And even when I gave my lashes another squeeze in the ole curler after, they didn’t stay perky and upright like they should. In fact, from straight on it didn’t even look like I was wearing mascara at all.

I’d definitely recommend these mascaras for non-asians, people whose lashes are already curled or aren’t stick straight! But for me, there were simply mascara fails.

My Summer Love: Pink Blazer

My Summer Love: Pink Blazer

Not exactly beauty I know, but I’m considering adding a few fashion bits to the blog and I have been absolutely loving the bright colors and prints I’ve been rocking to work and wanted to share!

I love blazers in general, and this bright magenta one caught my eye immediately on Madewell’s website. I’m not sure if it’s still available but I saw an extremely similar one at Zara the other day! I paired it with a Peter Pan collared Madewell sleeveless blouse that has these odd little dog/cat print on it in red, white and yellow. And although you can’t see it, I’m wearing white jeans on the bottom with brown leather wedges!

Why Samples Are My New BFFs

Samples 1 samples 2I don’t know how comfortable you all feel when makeup shopping in either Sephora or department stores, but let’s just say I’ve reached the level where I do not hesitate to ask for samples. Many, many samples. Sometimes it’s because I am dying to try a new product I have no intention of purchasing, or sometimes I actually do want to buy something but would love a test drive before emptying out my wallet.

Recently, it’s been a little of both. I am running low on my darkest shade of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (B40) and as I spend more and more time outside (even walking to and from the subway) I find my skin slowly growing darker and darker. Realistically speaking I don’t need a new one quite yet, however there’s no harm in looking right?

Anyways, I’ve been sampling foundations left and right, agonizing over which will be the next foundation I might purchase, even if it’s a month down the road. Number 1 in the photos above is the Le Teinte Touche Eclat Illuminating Foundation, and while I have already tried this formula in BD40, I loved it so much I had to try out BD50 to see if it was a match. And it is, a perfect one. 2 is Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in OC 3, something I’ve wanted to try since reading gushing reviews about the line from Emily Weiss. It is $62 however, so I knew in my heart this purchase was never going to happen, at least in the next few years.

The latter foundation is 60% water, making it seamlessly blend into the skin while providing decent coverage with the lightweight formula.  I was color matched for both of these in Sephora, however I don’t always trust the professionals, oops. My skin is so yellow toned that foundations don’t always look right when applied over the entire face (I don’t match any shade of Giorgio Armani Maestro Foundation) and it’s important to remember that people that work in these stores simply want you to buy something, even if it’s not perfect for you. This Koh Gen Do foundation for example, pulls a little too orange on my skin in my current state of tan, and it’s only noticable when my face is slathered with it.

Moral of the story? Samples people, samples. Be aggressive and don’t hesitate to ask! Even if the sales assistants are a bit stingy about it, it’s in your right as a customer to receive samples! Plus, you can always pretend you’re intending to return to purchase the product even if you truly aren’t (sneaky, I know, but what’s a college girl to do when she has expensive taste?). In addition, you can save the sample containers and fill them with your real potions and lotions when you travel!

Have you ever sampled makeup?