Monday, December 31, 2007

December Product Crush

My product crush of December is Redken All Soft Velvet Whip Thermal Softening Treatment for Dry/Brittle Hair. The treatment has a Silk-Luxe Complex that consists of Gold Camelina for shine, avocado oil for softness, olive oil for conditioning and silk amino acid to strengthen hair.

I love this product as it is a wonderful multi-tasking hair product. My hair is curly and coarse and the treatment works as 1) a leave-in conditioner, 2) a heat protectant and 3) a frizz controller.

As a leave-in conditioner, I use it when my hair is still wet when I want to wear my hair either curly or straight. I apply it before any other product and it works well to add moisture to my hair. As a heat protectant, I use it prior to applying a straightening cream and blow drying my hair straight. Finally, as frizz control, the treatment tames my curls or keeps my hair straight without causing my hair to get greasy or weighing my hair down.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Removing Tough Makeup

The holidays mean a lot of holiday parties...which of course mean a lot more makeup on the face than usual. In one week, removing and reapplying makeup can create havoc on the face so it is important to thoroughly, yet gently, remove makeup.
For eyes, I use Neutrogena Eye Makeup Remover Pads. Just one pad can completely remove thickly applied, smokey eye makeup. The pads, which are soaked with eye makeup remover, are very soft on the eyes and do not sting.

For the rest of the face, after I wash my face with regular cleanser, I make certain to remove all traces of makeup with Pond's Clean Sweep Makeup Removing Towelettes. Like the eye makeup remover pads, the towelettes are soft on the face yet effective at thoroughly getting rid of pore-clogging makeup.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Beauty Favorites of 2007!

Ladies, Chic Mommy and I apologize for having gone missing during the last few weeks...there is something about the holiday season that puts us into such a food coma, we just can't seem to type!! This post though, is meant to make up for our delay.

Introducing Chic Mommy and Kohl's Girl's Favorite Beauty Products of 2007!!! While all of you have been thinking about the positives and negatives of your lives over the past twelve months, we have been doing that plus coming up with the list of the products that brightened up our year!!

Chic Mommy's Picks:

Foundation: Vasanti Cosmetics Face Base

Concealer: Stila Illuminating Concealer in Warm

Lipstick for Daytime: Vasanti Bahamas Lip Balm with Madeira Lip Pencil

Mascara: Maybelline Volume Express

Eyeshadow for Daytime: Vasanti Paris shadow

Eyeshadow for Nighttime: NARS Bellydance

Blush: MAC Breath of Plum

Facial Cleanser: Purpose soap which removes even the toughest eye makeup

Daytime Facial Moisturizer: Garnier Nutritioniste Ultra-Lift Anti-Wrinkle Firming Moisture Cream SPF 15

Body Lotion: Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion

Makeup Brushes: Sephora brand is a great value, especially when compared to MAC brushes

Kohl Girl's Finds:

Concealer: Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat in No. 3

Eyeliner: MAC Powerpoint pencil in Prussian, a navy-purple that is absolutely gorgeous against dark brown eyes, either alone or as part of a smokey eye.

Lip Glosses: Peachy MAC Big Kiss as a warm toned gloss and the violet Chanel Summer Plum as a cool toned gloss.

Eyeshadow for Nighttime: MAC Flashtrack -- a shimmery navy that is great for a new take on the smokey eye. It goes great with MAC Prussian eye pencil.

Blush: MAC Blushbaby

Beauty Tool: Clarisonic Skin Brush

Body Lotion: Olay Quench Body Lotion

Ladies, we hope the above lists offer you some great suggestions for the rest of 2007 and the new year. Don't hesitate to email us your question about makeup how-to's and colors. We will be blogging about tons more products in 2008 so keep checking back!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inimitable Lashes

For some reason, the various brands of mascara, unlike the sea of lip glosses out there, are not beauty products I frequently sample. Recently though, I had the opportunity (Translation: the woman at the makeup counter was pushy and made me buy it) to try Chanel Inimitable Mascara. The name itself is quite a was it as inimitable as it seems?

The mascara's pros are its uniquely structured brush which allows for very, very long lashes and virtually zero clumps. The brush has comb-like fibers rather than criss-crossed fibers. As a result, it is a great brush to use both on the upper and lower lashes. It is possibly the only mascara I have used that didn't result in clumps that I have to comb out myself.
The cons? Well, I wouldn't really call it a con. Since my own lashes are quite sparse, I generally prefer a mascara that thickens. The brush's comb-like structure, however, doesn't allow for much volume. Yet if you're looking for a fantastic lengthening mascara that applies smoothly, this is definitely your mascara.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Hot Shade for Holiday Parties: Chanel Glossimer in Eclipse

Are you looking for a nice hot shade to wear to an upcoming holiday party? Then you've got to try Chanel's Glossimer in Eclipse. It's one of four permanent colors in Chanel's Galaxy Collection of Glossimers. Don't be fooled by it's appearance. Even though it goes on like a lipgloss, it's got the staying power of a good old-fashioned lipstick. The color is a little bit of red, brown, copper, and bronze all rolled into one, and it looks best on women with olive or darker skin tones. A must-have for desi girls!

Here's what Eclipse looks like on me (I lined the outside of my lips with Vasanti Madeira lip pencil).

You can pair Eclipse with eyes lined in black kohl for a dramatic look, or just a peach/bronze eyeshadow and some mascara if you want a lighter look. Two eyeshadows I really like with this lipcolor are Vasanti Paris and MAC Amber Lights.

And trust me, once you wear this out, you will have at least a few people come up to either compliment you or ask you what lipstick you're wearing. My husband never comments on my makeup, but when I wore this the other day to a kiddie birthday party (yup, I go over the top for those too) even he said, "Nice lipstick".

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Amy Winehouse is in India

...well, not exactly. You see, for some unknown reason, the models of the Ensemble Fashion 20th Anniversary fashion show, which took place in Mumbai recently, had strikingly similar hairdos as the "Rehab" singer.

I am not sure what the hair stylist was thinking when he came up with these knotted, rat's nest beehives!

As beautiful as these desi models are, I'm just not feeling the ratty hair!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Clarisonic Skin Brush

A few months ago, I heard so much buzz about the Clarisonic Skin Brush and its amazing powers for facial skin, I caved in and splurged on one. Luckily, this is one beauty gadget that isn't just collecting dust in the bathroom cabinet. I use the brush every few days and afterwards, my skin looks brighter and feels more smooth.
The Clarisonic website claims that the benefits of using the brush are:
  • 6 times more makeup removal
  • Leaves skin feeling and looking younger and smoother

  • Cleanses so well that products absorb better

  • Gentle enough for twice daily use

  • Helps reduce oily areas, dry skin patches and blemishes

  • Helps reduce the appearance of visible pores

  • Reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles

Since I don't have problems with wrinkles or fine lines yet, I can't vouch for all of these claims but I can say that the brush does a great job of cleansing, exfoliating and increasing circulation in the face for a brighter appearance. I definitely have also had less breakouts since I started using it. It is a practical tool as it cleanses, exfoliates and massages the skin all at once...and if that's not enough positives for you, it was named one of Oprah's Favorite Things of 2007.

The brush comes with two brush heads (one for normal skin and one for sensitive skin -- I use the latter) and a 2 oz. Gentle Hydro Cleanser. I liked the cleanser as well but once I ran out, I used my regular cleanser and the brush worked equally well. The brush IS expensive, retailing on the Clarisonic website for $195 but there are online sites that sell the product at a discount or at least with free shipping.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Bringing out the Curl in Wavy Hair

A few weeks ago, one of our readers asked for tips on how to bring out the curl in wavy hair. There are a few ways to accomplish a curl, ranging from the lazy girl's method to the more time-consuming. The key to keeping the curl intact in any method is using enough product. Without the right products, the curl will fall out and you will be left with a frizzy mess.

The Lazy Girl Method for Tight Waves/Loose Curls: This method involves braiding your hair in sections at night and taking the braids out in the morning. Apply mousse or gel (see product recommendations below) to damp hair evenly from root to tip. Braid hair in sections with the width of the braid varying depending on how tight you want the curl. The smaller the braids, the tighter the curl. Apply smoothing serum at the end of the braid so the ends of the curl don't come out raggedy. In the morning, take out the rubber bands and shake out your hair with your fingers. DO NOT BRUSH under any circumstances or you will loosen the curl and end up with frizz. Smooth a little more gel or spray hairspray through hair to hold the curl.

This method is best for longer hair and those that want a loose curl versus a tight ringlet.

The Diffuser Method: Diffusers are a circular attachment that you attach to the end of your hairdryer. Diffusers are great for wavy/curly hair as they evenly distribute air (no blowing hair around so no frizz) and coax out the curly. You can purchase a relatively cheap diffuser at any drugstore.

Apply a heat protectant such as to damp hair. As above, apply gel or mousse to the hair next. Flip hair over so your head is hanging upside down and hold the hairdryer vertically so the diffuser's face is cupping the ends of your hair. Dry hair by GENTLY SCRUNCHING the hair while moving the diffuser through different sections of your hair. I like hanging my head upside down because you can get to all sections of the hair but it works the same way right side up as well. Flip head over and again, only arrange hair with hands, no brush. As above, apply a little more gel or hairspray for extra hold.

This method is great for any length of hair and for a more natural curl. The results will depend on your hair type. If you have fine, wavy hair, you are more likely to get a loose curl. If you have thick, wavy hair (like myself), you are more likely to get tighter curls with this method.

The I-Have-All-Afternoon-and-Alot-of-Patience Method: This method may be time consuming but it results in the tightest, smoothest curls. Use either a curling iron or hot rollers. The size of either depends on how tight you want the curls.

Applying a heat protectant to hair is a MUST for this method as you are applying heat directly on to the hair. Next, apply gel or mousse to damp hair as above but must be almost complete dry before using either a curling iron or hot rollers. Use either a curling iron or hot rollers. The size of either depends on how tight you want the curls. Use a smaller iron or roller for tights curls and go bigger for larger curls. Once finished curling, do not brush. Arrange hair with your fingers and finish with a bit of hairspray.

Product Recommendations:

Mousse: Aussie Instant Freeze Sculpting Mousse
Gel: John Frieda Frizz-Ease Clearly Defined Style Holding Gel
Smoothing Serum: Oscar Blandi Olio de Jasmine Hair Serum
Heat Protectant: Tresemme European Instant Heat Tamer Styling Spray
Hairspray: Sebastian Touchable Extra Hold Hairspray with Humidity Resistance

Monday, December 3, 2007

Steal the Look: Riya Sen's Soft Glam Makeup

I love Riya Sen's makeup in the photo below as a look for holiday parties. It is a glam look, but done with a unique combination of colors - soft peachy bronze lips and cheeks paired with sultry, silver eyes.

To get the look:

Eyes: Use a light, shimmery silver shadow, such as MAC Shadow in Electra, as a wash all over the eyelid from lashes to brows, concentrating the color on the lids. Line the top and bottom of the eyes with black khol pencil, such as MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder. Be sure to line the lower rims of the eyes, as Riya has here.

Cheeks: Lightly dust a peachy blush on the cheeks. NARS Torrid works well on darker skin tones.

Lips: Apply a peachy bronze lipstick or gloss, such as MAC Plushglass in Big Kiss.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Kareena Kapoor Goes Postal with Eyeliner

Have you ever started out with the intent of doing really subtle, thin lines around your eyes and then all of a sudden, OMG! realizing that you've drawn thick lines that can be seen a mile away? And they're only getting thicker as you try to even them out?  

That's what I think happened to Kareena here, her eyeliner looks terrible. Not only did she put an extra thick helping of black eyeliner on top and navy on the bottom, she made the horrible mistake of.....not smudging the lines! The look is too harsh with with the rest of her makeup, and there's something about using both black and navy liner at the same time that doesn't look right here. I like the lipstick, (it looks like MAC's Hug Me), but she would have looked better if she had softened the eyeliner with a good smudge brush. That's a good tip to keep in mind next time this should happen to you, you can always fix liner that's way overdone by smudging it and blending it into the rest of your eye makeup. And if that doesn't work, dip a cotton swab in eyemakeup remover and start over. Slowly.

picture via

Friday, November 23, 2007

Smooth Skin Just a Shower Away

The official start of winter may be a month away but my skin is already feeling the wintery effects of the cold and wind. Itchiness, flakiness and roughness of the skin are all the wonderful symptoms of blustery conditions so I needed a tough product to get rid of my skin woes.

I had heard that salt scrubs are better at sloughing away dead skin than sugar scrubs so I picked up the H20+ Sea Salt Skin Smoother at a H20+ store. From the first time I used it in the shower, I could immediately see and feel a difference in my skin texture, especially stubborn areas such as my elbows and knees. The scrub comes in a gigantic tub and a little goes a long way so the tub will last a while.

The H20+ salt scrub contains "marine extracts of sea lettuce, sea fennel, algae and wakame" as well as "natural oils, canola and safflower." As there are oils in the scrub, once the scrub is washed off, I could still feel a little oil on my skin. I consider this a plus in the winter months though, as the oils act as an extra barrier of hydration for the skin.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Runway to Reality: Satya Paul Autumn/Winter 2007

Satya Paul warmed up the Autumn/Winter 2007 India Fashion Week with parrot greens, mustard yellows, blood reds and ocean blues mixed into his funky saris. Paul also warmed up the faces of his models with bronze eyes and cheeks and chili pepper red lips.

The look is easy to copy, with a minimalistic but stunning effect.

Lips: Line and and fill in lips with a neutral colored lipliner such as MAC Spice. Over the lipliner, apply a chili pepper red lipstick such as L'oreal Endless Lipcolour in Crimson Joy. Apply a tiny bit of clear gloss such as MAC Lipglass in Clear for a glossy look.

Eyes and Cheeks: Apply the same bronzer, such as Cargo Bronzer in Light, Medium or Dark (depending on your skin tone) to eyes and cheeks to simplify the look for daytime. Alternatively, apply a regular bronzer to cheeks and a sparkly bronze shadow such as MAC Honey Lust eyeshadow to eyes for a bit of shimmer for nighttime. Finish with a bit of dark brown eyeliner and mascara to define the eyes.

Runway to Reality: Krishna Mehta Autumn/Winter 2007

Krishna Mehta's Autumn/Winter 2007 show contrasted rich jewel tone salwar suits with gorgeous monochromatic makeup in earth tones. The rich, earthy colors used on cheeks, eyes and lips are especially suited for desi skin tones and are a sophisticated look for daytime.
To get this monochromatic, earthy look, only a few products are necessary.

For eyes, lips and cheeks, use Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Milk Chocolate (for light to medium tanned skin) or Chocolate Cherry (for medium to dark tanned skin). Apply with fingers, patting the color onto eyelids, cheeks and lips. Gradually build the color rather than smearing on the product all at once. Decide whether you want to focus the color on lips (as the models above have) or cheeks or eyes and build more color onto that feature.

Define the face by filling in brows, adding mascara and adding a touch of highlighter to the cheekbones for dimension.

photos by

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Runway to Reality: Meera and Muzaffar Ali Autumn/Winter 2007

Similar to the fashion weeks in New York, Paris and Milan, India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2007 had a number of beautiful makeup looks to steal for real life.

At the Meera and Muzzaffar Ali show, the models looked stunning with black and gold smoky eyes, bronzed cheeks and pink lips. This was my favorite makeup look of the fall-winter India Fashion Week!! To get this look:

Lips: Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Glossy Rose

Cheeks: Cargo Bronzer in Light, Medium or Dark depending on your skin tone. Apply on the apples of cheeks as the model has here.

Eyes: MAC eyeshadows in Carbon and Amber Lights. Apply Amber Lights all over the lid. Apply Carbon in the crease and the outercorners of the eye and use it to line the eyes with a wet liner brush.

photo via

Monday, November 19, 2007

Steal Malaika's Look

"In cosmetics I use a lot of moisturizers, mascara and kohl pencil. Other make-up is minimal; I believe that one should highlight the attractive aspects of one's face. I have high cheekbones so I highlight these with a blusher, to achieve a sun-kissed, flushed, healthy look. I use cosmetics by Body Shop or MAC because these shades suit the Indian skin." - Malaika Arora

Dewy skin, smoldering eyes, and a to-die-for dress make Malaika Arora one smoking hot mama in this picture. I honestly don't think she needs an ounce of makeup to look beautiful, she is just perfection from head to toe. But let's see how we can steal her glowing look here.

I doubt Malaika's wearing much foundation here. She reportedly drinks water like a fish to keep her skin clear and free of toxins, in addition to using cleansers, oil-free moisturizers, and masks. The one product she does mention by name, however, is Margo soap. Infused with neem oil, it's great for people with oily or acne prone skin. I've never tried Margo soap, but it must be working for her because her skin is flawless.

For those of us who need to fake good skin like this, I recommend covering up blemishes with a good concealor and using a light foundation like Bobbi Brown Oil-Free Even Finish Foundation. Then brush on Victoria's Secret Mosaic Blush in In Lust on the apples of the cheeks, or any blush that gives you a natural, sun-kissed look.

MAC Amber Lights
eyeshadow on the lids, MAC Vanilla eyeshadow to highlight under the brows, and MAC Kohl eyepencil in Smolder to line all around the lashline, including the inner rims. Top it off with lots of MAC Plush Lash Mascara in Plushblack.

The only reason I know how to get the color Malaika is wearing is because I haphazardly mixed it at home while experimenting with what I had in my makeup drawer. You can get lips like this by slicking Clinique Plump and Shine Lipgloss in Braisin over your lips and then lining and filling your lips in with MAC Plum lipliner (if this liner isn't already a staple in your makeup bag, you have to add it, it's a must for women of color. It makes nearly every lipstick or gloss look good on you.)

P.S. There's a little secret I discovered about the Clinique Plump and Shine lipgloss after using it nearly everyday. It exfoliates the dead skin on your lips while you wear it, so at night when you wash your face, your lips are completely smooth. Bonus!

photo source

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Garnier Nutrioniste Nutripure Scrub

I don't know what's been happening to my skin lately, whether it's my age or the hormones, but I've noticed an increase in what appear to be whiteheads or tiny little bumps on my t-zone. Annoying, to say the least, because they're not quite pimples and don't seems to be responding to anything in my usual zit-fighting arsenal of products. The 2% salicylic acid solution I usually use by Neutrogena only seems to be making matters worse by making my skin dry and flaky, without getting rid of the bumps.

In search of a better solution, I went to my local Ulta where an associate with beautifully clear skin walked up to me to help me out. Must have been my lucky day, because if anyone knew the secret to clearer skin, she had to be the one. I explained my problem to her and she said she knew exactly what I was talking about, because she had the same problem, especially on her nose. She said what I needed was good exfoliator, one that would slough off the dead skin without stripping it dry (which is what my toner was doing).

To cut to the chase, I asked her one question. Out of all the products in the entire store, which one does she recommend, and more importantly, which one does she use to keep her skin so clear? Her answer to both questions, was the surprisingly affordable exfoliator from Garnier's new skin care line, the Nutripure Microbead Cream Scrub, only $5.99 for a 5 oz tube.

She said even though the product says to use it once a week, the key to getting rid of the whiteheads is to use it at least 3 or 4 times a week, or even once daily. So I bought it, tried it, and now, it's the best new addition to my skincare routine. After the first use alone, I noticed a significant reduction in the overall oily appearance of my skin. The dead flakiness was gone almost instantly, and the bumps started disappearing after about two weeks. I found with any product, it works best if you use it regularly. If you forget to use it for a week or two, the little whiteheads show up to party again, so I have made this part of my shower routine to make sure I remember to use it consistently. It's easier to use there anyway, because I tend to make a mess rinsing scrubs off over the sink.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Benefit Cupid's Bow Lovely Lip Shaping Set

Shaping and contouring is not only for the cheeks and the Benefit has created the Cupid's Bow Lovely Lip Shaping Set to essentially "contour" the lips to make them look fuller.

The set includes a double-ended pencil: one side a light, shimmery pink highlighter and the other side a darker rose-brown shaper. The highlighter is meant to be applied at the top curve of the lip, or the "cupid's bow" and the center of the bottom lip. The shaper is meant to be applied at the bottom curve of the lip to make the lower lip look fuller. The set also includes a double-ended brush and sponge for blending the highlighter and shaper into the lips.

The concept of contouring your lips to make them look fuller, in my opinion, seems more reasonable than lip plumpers that claim to inflate your lips in a few seconds. I was pleasantly suprised after trying what I thought was just a gimmicky product because of the multiple ways this product can be used. The dark rose-brown shaper is a great color that goes with many different lipsticks or glosses (reminds me a little of MAC Spice) and can be used as a regular lipliner or lipcolor in addition to a shaper. The highlighter can also double as an eyeshadow, a highlighter for the browbones and inner corners of the eye and a highlighter for the cheekbones. All in all, the Lovely Lip Shaping Set is quite a versatile product.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Runway to Reality: Modern Day Cleopatra Makeup

Alexander McQueen's Fall 2007 makeup featured a stunning take on the Cleopatra look, with focus on a colored cat eye. While the models featured very strong eyes that are unwearable for everyday, it is actually quite easy to tweak the look. Modified, it is still a dramatic makeup look that is perfect for upcoming holiday parties.

Apply a jewel colored shadow to the lids, extending from the lashline to just above the crease. The key is to use a sheer wash for bright shadows such as Haunting eye shadow (a bright blue) from the McQueen for MAC collection and a more opaque application for muted shadows such as Swimming eye shadow (a shimmery light green) or Parfait Amour eye shadow (a shimmery purple), also from MAC. Then take a black eyeliner such as MAC Engraved Powerpoint liner and line the top eyelid and the inner rims of the lower eyelid. Use a black liquid eyeliner such as Shu Uemura liquid eyeliner and follow the line already drawn on the top eyelid. At the outer edges of the eyes, extend the liquid liner out in a straight line (versus a curved wing). Finish the eyes with mascara and be sure to fill in sparse brows to balance the eyes.

As the eyes are so strong, keep the rest of the face muted. Since cool, jeweled colored shadows in blues, greens and purples are best for this look, I recommend using a cool, light pink for cheeks and lips (I recommend MAC Little Vi Lustreglass for this look).

photo via

Monday, November 5, 2007

Signature Look vs. Beauty Chameleon

Some of the most famous female celebrities of our era are known and applauded for their ability to change their looks frequently. Pick almost any currently well-known actress or singer and chances are she changes her look quite often. At the moment, has a feature on celebrity chameleons from Lindsay Lohan to Ashlee Simpson to Jennifer Lopez. In fact, it seems that female celebrities of our time really don't stand a chance of remaining in the public eye unless they have switched their hair color a hundred times in the last few years, like the notorious Lindsay Lohan.

Yet it made me wonder, when did the necessity of being a beauty chameleon come into vogue? The most famous beauties of past eras, such as Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn, retained a signature look that only had slight variations in terms of clothing, makeup, hair and style, in general. Even Marilyn Monroe, who completed a transformation prior to fame, found her signature look and stuck with it.

While I have attempted to change my own look several times, I have come to the realization that I have my own signature style that has been honed over the years, suits my personality, and while it may be boring, quite honestly, the look just fits me better than all the alternative looks I have tried. I also admire current female celebrities that manage to maintain a gorgeous signature look such as Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek, while always adding a little twist to their style. And frankly, its a little irritating that the media expects women to constantly change their look as if non-celebrity women have money flowing out of their ears.

What's your opinion? Do you love to change your look around frequently or do you prefer to stick to one style?

November Product Crush

Every month or so, I become obsessed with one product that I just can't stop using...I use it morning, mid-day and night, at work and for going out, and sometimes even when I am doing absolutely nothing at home because I just love putting the product on.
My November product crush is Chanel Summer Plum Glossimer. As the name indicates, this is part of the summer makeup collection. Even though I discovered it a little late, believe me, I am making up for lost time. Summer Plum is a gorgeous plum color with tiny sparkles. It contains just the right amount of pigment and does not appear too dark or too sheer so its perfect for ladies that want to switch up their usual nude lip for a little color this winter. Plus, the color is the perfect dressing to all the beautiful jewel toned clothes out there.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Sanctuary Products Coming to!!

After reading my first post on my love for Sanctuary products, a publicist for the Sanctuary Spa product line contacted me to inform me that some of the products would be available at starting November 15. I don't know about you ladies, but this is wonderful news to me as most of my shopping these days takes place online!!

The products that will initially be sold at are the Sanctuary Spa Essentials (including Salt Scrub, Body Scrub, Foaming Bath Soak, and Creme Souffle) and the the Mande Lular line that I can't seem stop blabbing about. Happy online shopping!!

End Zit: A Miracle Zit Zapper

Ladies!! So sorry for being MIA for the last two weeks! I have gotten slammed at work, which, among other things, means that I haven't been eating well, sleeping much, blogging at all...and it also means that my normally decent skin has started breaking out like crazy!!

Luckily, a former facialist introduced me to an amazing zit zapper a few months ago called End Zit Acne Control Drying Lotion. I just dab a little on my skin whenever I see a breakout and it works beautifully to dry the yucky stuff up. The best part about the lotion is that it comes in six different colors to match your skin tone so that not only can you wear it to bed, you can wear it during the day as well without anyone knowing that you have zit medicine on your face!!

I have used many different types of pimple creams, gels and lotions and literally, this is the only one that zaps zits overnight for me. Different formulations work for different people, but if you have mild breakouts now and then, definitely give this a try!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Latest Eyeprimer Potion

I've never been the type to use an eye primer before applying eye makeup. I always thought it was enough to just dab concealer onto my eyelids and set with powder before laying on the shadow. But a makeup artist at Sephora recently turned me into a believer with this Eyeshadow Primer Potion by Urban Decay. All you need to do is swipe and pat this onto your eyelids up to your brows (or just the lids, if that's as far as you want to apply shadow) set it with powder (optional, but I prefer to) and it's ready to bring out the true color of any shadow you apply. And keep it there until you take it off. I took it for a test drive by applying it around noon the other day, and at 9 pm, the color still looked like I had just applied it. No creasing whatsoever. Great stuff!

Pros: Adhere's to shadow like glue and keeps your colors from creasing all day.

Cons: It dries and grabs color so quickly, that if you're planning to smudge your eyeliner, work fast, otherwise you'll have trouble smudging the lines.

Eyeshadow Primer Potion is available at Sephora, $15.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Sanctuary! Sanctuary!

One of my all-time favorite brands on earth, from the famed The Sanctuary Spa in Covent Garden, London, is finally in the U.S. I first tried The Sanctuary bath and body products while backpacking around Thailand and despite the griminess and exhaustion of traveling, the spa line had me relaxed and smelling amazing after every use. The Sanctuary spa line is currently sold at Target although it does not appear online on yet. My favorite products of the line are from the Mande Lular range, mande lular being a heavenly Balinese body treatment with specific ingredients. The products not only smell amazing but scrub and smooth your skin to silkiness. It also looks like The Sanctuary has come out some exciting new ranges since I last tried the brand, such as Lomi Lomi (a Hawaiian body treatment), Boreh Spice (another Balinese-inspired treatment) and Sento (a Japanese body treatment).

I am incredibly excited about The Sanctuary's arrival, which means of course, that I will be wasting more time in the morning and arriving even later than usual to work!!

My Failure at Razzle Dazzle Shiny Hair

The purpose of this blog is certainly, to point out products to readers that actually work. Yet I feel it is also my duty to point out products that are actually quite worthless so you don't make the mistake of spending your money as I did.

One of the new trends in hair products is to add a brilliant shine to hair in the form of a glossing treatment rather than simple shine serums. Since my hair is naturally curly and coarse, and could use a little razzle dazzle, I decided to try out a few of these products. Unfortunately, both failed to deliver their product promises.

The first product I tried was the Oscar Blandi Luce Sheer Gloss treatment. The product, which is "a rinse-out gloss...exclusively designed to lock in pigment added to restore shine," did pretty much nada to add shine to my hair, even after I used it a few times.

The next product I tried was Redken's All Soft Gold Glimmer perfecting shine treatment. I reasoned that I would have better luck with this one as, duh, it is a leave-in treatment -- hence, meant to leave in shine. As applied to my hair when curly, Gold Glimmer simply weighed it down and made it greasy without adding any extra shine. As applied to straight hair, the result was somewhat better but I still didn't love the heavy, greasy feeling. I definitely would not apply the product close to my roots for fear of having to wash my hair all over again.
It is possible that my hair simply sucks up light like a black hole, but my next course of action is going to be a professional glossing treatment instead of trying other glossing products. My appointment is next Saturday - wish me luck!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Make Your Eyes Pop with Color

Black eyeliner is one of those makeup staples that suit everybody's eyes. But, let's face it, it can get a little boring if this is the only liner color in your makeup bag. Lining your eyes in a color that contrasts with your natural eye color (or the color of your contacts) is the best way to get your eyes really noticed and make them, as Bobbi Brown would say, "pop".

If you've got:

Blue Eyes
Use an eyeliner in brown or espresso. Although I absolutely love black liner on blue eyes, the look can be too harsh for everyday wear. Try Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Espresso to line your eyes (using an angled brush like MAC 266), or her Creamy Eye Pencil in Dark Brown.

Green Eyes
If you've got green eyes, consider yourself blessed. So many colors complement eyes of this color, everything from charcoal gray to brown. But my favorite color to enhance green eyes is a plum color. Jewel is known to be a huge fan of Prescriptives Softlining Pencil in Fig. Another great color to try is MAC Kohl Power Eye Pencil in Raven, a reddish black that looks amazing against green eyes.

Brown Eyes
Women with brown eyes can wear any color other than brown to bring attention to their eyes. Although brown liner is by no means forbidden for brown eyes, (I wear it myself nearly everyday for a natural makeup look) brown does very little to add "zing" to brown eyes. The key to making eyes "pop" is to line in a contrasting color, and my personal favorite color to line brown eyes is blue, especially navy blue. Take a look at Alicia Keys' eye makeup, the blue liner and shadow around her eyes is accentuating her brown eyes so much better than if she had stuck to a basic black or brown liner. Try duplicating the look using MAC Eye Kohl in Blooz, Elizabeth Arden Smokey Eyes Powder Pencil in Midnight, or NARS Eyeshadow in Night Flight. For a more subtle daytime look, try navy liner with a pearly rose eyeshadow on your lids: try Laura Mercier Shimmer Eye Shadow in Rose on the lids, and her Matte Eyeshadow in Twilight Grey in the crease for a great day-to-night eye look with navy liner.

Angelina pic via, Alicia Keys pic via, Jennifer Aniston photo via, Jewel photo via Yahoo! photos

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Politics of Appearance

A few years back, studies on the interplay of appearance and career success concluded, among other things, that good-looking individuals received higher salaries and better jobs because others perceive them (perhaps subconsiously) as more capable than their less comely colleagues. If the conclusions are true, the current craze regarding politicians' appearance, at least here in the U.S., is starting to make some sense.
From the severe scrutinization of Hillary Clinton since Bill's days in the White House, to catty comments on Hillary's cleavage on the Senate floor, to talk about John Edwards' $400 haircut, to the school-girl crush of Obama Girl on Barack Obama, it appears that U.S. Presidential Election 2008 is going to be at least partly based on our candidates' hairstyles and clothing choices...unfortunately.
The focus on politicians' appearance isn't confined to the U.S., but at least in other nations, it takes on a more positive twist. A recent New York Times article focused on the famous braid worn by Ukrainian parliamentary candidate Yulia V. Tymoshenko. Tymoshenko's braid, or "The Braid" as it is known in the Ukraine, is as much part of her campaign as her political agenda. According to the article, The Braid "echoes the halos found in representations of Orthodox Christian icons." The Braid plus her clothing, which is often an all-white ensemble, gives her an almost ethereal, angelic look...a stark contrast to the aggressive look ofTymoshenko's male counterparts that some constituents regard as "gangsters."
It is interesting to see that in nations besides the U.S., women aren't afraid to display their feminine side in politics and that femininity might actually bolster constituent support. Perhaps not as stylish as Tymoshenko (and honestly, where would they find the time?), Sonia Gandhi (current President of the Indian National Congress), Benazir Bhutto (former Prime Minister of Pakistan), Khaleda Zia (former Prime Minister of Bangladesh) and Sheikh Hasina Wazed (another former Prime Minister of Bangladesh) have all retained their femininity without ridiculous comments from the media.
In my opinion, it is important that any politician look polished and not like they just rolled out of bed. I couldn't care less if they wore a suit from Armani or Banana Republic as long as they have their eyes glued to the issues that affect the American public. I look forward to the days in the U.S. when criticizing a female politician's choice of wardrobe or a First Lady's headband is over. Let's just leave the red carpet in Hollywood where it belongs, shall we?

A Little Pinch, A Little Bite

Having been curious over Revlon's mysterious ad campaign for its current Limited Edition Collection, I tested the Pinch Me Sheer Blush and Just Bitten Lip Stain this weekend.
The gel blush comes in Playful Pink, Peach Afterglow, Cheeky Cherry and Plum Flushed. The lip stain, which is apparently made from real fruit extracts, comes in Berry Juicy, Plum Wicked, Cherry Tart and Blood Orange. I tried the gel blush in Plum Flushed and the lip stain in Plum Wicked and loved both products for the sheer, natural effect they produced on my lips and cheeks.

Learning how to apply both products is key for getting a pretty, and not clowny, look. For the gel blush, I put one pump of the product on the back of my hand and dabbed the color on my cheeks a little at a time with my middle and ring fingers, building the color slowly. I actually found the blush to be somewhat easier to apply than my all-time favorite stain, Benefit Benetint, as the gel formula does not dry as quickly and is easier to blend.

The lip stain is a bit trickier to apply. My lips were super chapped when I applied the stain directly to my lips, so I ended up getting uneven splotches of color on my lips. I ended up wiping the stain off and brushing my lips with a toothbrush to smooth them out first. Then, I applied the lip stain and topped it with a bit of clear gloss (lip balm would work as well) for a bit of shine. Pretty cheeks and lips without a lot of effort -- Muah!

photos via

Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Best of Fall 2007: Giorgio Armani

One of my favorite things about fall and spring is the arrival of the new season's makeup collections. Fall 2007 is no exception -- it has hits and misses, and I'll be blogging about my favorite products in each line. The Giorgio Armani Fall 2007 Leather Collection features:
  • Sheer Blush in 11, a soft, muted pink

  • Eye Mania Palette 10 consisting of peachy pink, pale pink, mauve brown and dark purple eyeshadows.

  • Designer shaping cream foundation, SPF 20

  • Maestro eyeliner

  • ArmaniSilk lipsticks in 55, a nude, and 56, a burgundy

  • Lip Shimmer gloss in 40, a shimmery purply-pink
My favorites of the collection were the ArmaniSilk nude lipstick and the fucshiaish Lip Shimmer. The nude lipstick was peachy-beige, creamy and pigmented. Fortunately, it is not so beige that it makes the face look dead. The peach really warms the face up and I can easily imagine wearing this to work. I love the Lip Shimmer in 40. It looks like a scary fucshia in the tube but is super sheer and smooth on the lips. It also looks somewhat sparkly in the tube but the sparkles did not show up on my lips at all. It is a great color if you normally shy away from wearing very bright colors on your lips but want to give it a try for fall.

I wasn't as sold on the other products in the collection. The blush was too light and would not show up on darker skin tones. I didn't love all the colors in the Eye Mania palette either. The dark purple was nice but the other colors were too light. As for the foundation, I think its great that it has an SPF 20 in it as a sun protectant, but the Designer "Shaping" Foundation seems a little gimmicky to me. The burgundy color of ArmaniSilk lipstick in56 looks absolutely stunning on the model (see above) but I didn't love the little sparkles in it. It seems slightly drying for the lips.

In all, the the collection features a few beautiful, wearable colors...especially for work or on the weekends when you need a little bit of color to brighten up your face.

photos via

Monday, October 1, 2007

Microwaveable Wax: Messy, But It Works

When my local pharmacy was sold out of my usual weapon to fight facial fuzz, Sally Hansen's Wax Strips for the Face, I decided to pick up a box of their microwaveable wax instead. I normally prefer ready-made wax strips because they require no heating and are as easy to use as scotch tape, but in the interest of vanity, I was willing to try this different kind of wax to see how it works.

Now, before I go on, let me just say that "stripless waxes" are not really my thing. I've had some nightmarish experiences in the past with products like Zip where the wax dried onto the skin so fast I couldn't remove it without scraping it off with my fingernails, or using tons of baby oil. I even got burned once from the wax being too hot. Thank goodness there were no scars.

But considering that I've been waxing with ready-made strips (either by Nair or Sally Hansen) for what seems like eons now, I figured I was now more experienced with the technique and more confident to take on the challenge of the "stripless wax". Sally Hansen's Microwaveable Eyebrow, Face & Lip Wax is a "stripless wax" meant to be used like the homemade sugar waxes used in the Middle East. The package says the product is "mistake-proof", and they are right, but it's not exactly "mess-proof".

Heating it up to a safe temperature was no problem, it only took me a few minutes, and it comes with a heat-sensing applicator that changes color to let you know if the wax is too hot. (In which case, you wait for it to cool down before you apply.) But application was extremely messy, and I blame this entirely on the flimsy applicator. Remember the little white applicator that comes with the facial bleach creme kits? That's what they included for this kit, and it allowed the wax to dribble off onto my sink and countertop while I was trying to apply it to my face . Not good, especially if you're a novice at applying this kind of wax. I think a small wooden tongue-depressor would have been a more practical tool to include for application, I've seen the pros at the salons use those to apply wax and they work great. In fact, if you get this kit, only use the white applicator to test the temperature, because that's all it's good for. I suggest getting a few wooden popsicle sticks from the store and using those to apply the wax instead.

That being said, the wax product itself is amazing. Once I figured out how to apply and remove the wax (the instructions are detailed and included in the kit), I found this type of wax removes hair better than the cold-wax strips I've been using all these years. There's something about the warm wax bonding onto bare skin, it removes even the finest microscopic hairs. I normally have to spend a little time tweezing after I wax to pluck out the hairs that didn't make it, but this time, there was hardly anything left to remove. I'm actually looking forward to the time I can use this again, just so I can get another chance to practice the waxing technique.

There is a learning curve involved with using this kind of stripless wax, but once you get the hang of it, it works very well. I still won't give up the convenience of my dummy-proof strip waxes, but on those occasional days I've got a little more time on my hands, I'm going to turn to this microwaveable wax instead.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Curly Hair or Cancer?

Like most women with curly hair, my crazy curly hair and I have a love-hate relationship (yes, hate rules on most days). I usually attempt to straighten my hair into submission or put it up into a ponytail or bun on bad weather days. Frankly, after seventeen years of fighting with my hair (I used to have stick straight hair when I was little), I am getting a little exhausted from the amount of time I spend loathing it each day.

Naturally, I was ecstatic when I learned about a revolutionary new hair straightening treatment called the Brazilian Keratin Treatment (BKT) a few months ago. The treatment is somewhat similar to the japanese rebonding treatment that created a craze a few years back. Unlike rebonding, however, the BKT claims to use keratin (a type of protein already found in the hair) instead of chemicals to naturally smooth and straighten the hair. Plus, the BKT is supposed to be somewhat cheaper than rebonding and the New York Times even wrote an article on its amazing results. Despite my excitement, I decided to wait a while to see if the BKT was really up to its hype, and I am glad I did.

This morning, in the latest issue of Allure, I read that the BKT not only uses keratin to smooth the hair but also uses formaldehyde to straighten. Formaldeyde, however, is thought to be a carcinogen by a number of health and safety agencies both in the U.S. and overseas. Apparently, the use of it in the BKT releases noxious fumes that the customer inhales during the treatment.
Despite the fact that there are no conclusory studies as to the safety or danger of the BKT, I am not risking a treatment that may cause the inhalation or absorption of a potential carcinogen. It did make me wonder to what extent women who know about this risk are still willing to try the treatment because of the results it provides. The before and after pictures on the website are certainly tempting.

Now I am over my excitement of the BKT and have run back home to the curly hair. We are learning to love each other....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Runway to Reality: Michael Kors' Ski Bunny Chic

Translating runway makeup to reality can be difficult task, given that we don't have have the expertise of skilled makeup artists. Its even harder for us brown ladies since, most of the time, the look we would love to copy originate on a caucasian model. My goal is to select my favorite Fall 2007 faces and translate them to look equally beautiful on a woman of color.
First up, Michael Kors Fall 2007. The look: Sun-kissed ski bunny in the French Alps. The how-to:
Face: The skin is really dewy, almost shiny. Skip the foundation and use a tinted moisturizer to cover up discolorations. The great thing about tinted moisturizer is that you don't need an exact color match since it goes on sheerly and is meant to just add a glow to your face. I use YSL Oil-Free Complexion Enhancer in #4 Apricot but it also comes in Beige, Caramel and Golden Sand if you are more tan. Use powder sparingly and only powder the t-zone to keep your cheeks dewy.
Next, lightly dust a bronzing powder such as Shiseido Luminizing Color Powder in Golden Bronze just at the temples and along the cheekbones. I love this bronzer as it has three different colors that you can mix and swirl to get the perfect bronze since even bronzers should be customized to your skin color. Avoid putting bronzer everywhere since this look is"ski-bunny" not "beach goddess." Add a little MAC Clear Gloss or even moisturizer to make cheekbones gleam.
Eyes: Take an eyeshadow brush meant for your lid and brush on the same bronzer used on your face from the lashline to the browbone so that you can see the bronze color when you look straight into the mirror. Use a metallic, silver-gray shadow from the inner corners of your eye to the middle of the lid. Use a darker, metallic gray shadow from the middle lid to the outer lid and blend the two shadows together. Try using the different grays of Rimmel London Underground Stir it Up Trio Cream Shadow in No Way! Line the entire upper lash line and only the outer half of the bottom lashline with a black or dark gray eyeliner and smudge the line with a q-tip so the line isn't harsh. Makeup artist Dick Page used MAC Smolder Eye Kohl but I prefer MAC Engraved Powerpoint Eye Pencil because it has more staying power.
Lips: These are baby lips, light pink and moisturized but not overly glossy. However, avoid using actual light pink glosses since they have a tendency to make you look washed out. Since our lips are already quite pigmented, go for a nude gloss such as MAC Plushglass in Big Baby which will allow the eyes to stand out.
I love this look as it bridges the gap between summer and fall by allowing for a sophisticated yet healthy glow.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Vogue India Strikes a Vexing Pose

While the U.S. edition of Vogue magazine is not one of the must-read glossies on my list every month, I must say I was excited to hear that Conde Nast International was launching Vogue India this month. A glance at the cover of the inaugural issue, however, was less than thrilling. Desi beauties Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra, Monikangana Dutta, Preity Zinta and Laxmi Menon grace the special fold-out cover...with blonde-haired, blue-eyed, fair-skinned Aussie model Gemma Ward smack dab in the middle of the main cover in between Bips and Priyanka.
My first thought was "Why in the world?!" What is Gemma's significance in India and Indian culture? Are the desi models and actresses not sufficiently beautiful and glamorous to hold their own? Couldn't the very first cover of Vogue India be a celebration of only Indian beauty, something that is rarely celebrated in the west with the exception of Miss World and Miss Universe pageants?
At its best, the cover is an attempt to display the rise of India and Indian culture in the international world of fashion with Gemma representing the traditionally western dominance over the fashion world. Priya Tanna, the Managing Editor of Vogue India, says, "Vogue's launch in India symbolizes India's arrival onto the global fashion scene. India is ready for a magazine that is intelligent, sophisticated, and that understands the stylish, modern woman." Still, if this was the rationale behind the cover, it could have been been accomplished in a different way...I would have preferred two Caucasian models flanking Bipasha or Priyanka in the center rather than a Caucasian model as the clear focus of the cover.
At its worst, Gemma on the cover is not particularly original (Gemma was centered in between two Asian models in Vogue China's inaugural issue) nor, in my opinion, appeals to the Indian woman, even if that woman is the worldly, sophisticated individual that is Vogue India's target. Sure, she is a beautiful international model, but Gemma Ward is not exactly a household name in India. If a desi woman living in the west doesn't even use Gemma as a beauty role model where she is more recognized, what woman in India will?
Even further, Tanna states that the magazine's target woman "has come into her own, is more exposed to the world, has a great job and spending power, so consumption patterns have changed." If Vogue India believes in embracing Indian women that have "come into their own," then why did they decide to stick blue colored contacts on Bipasha and Priyanka? Sorry, but my vision of the modern Indian woman coming into her own involves her acceptance of her God-given features without scary accroutrements.
I hesitate to make this an issue of race, ethnicity and the residue of colonization in India and would like to believe that the magazine's editorial staff simply has skewed ideas of what appeals to their audience. Though I am ecstatic that Vogue India decided not to be boring and put Aishwarya Rai on the inaugural cover, this cover is just tired in itself. Here's hoping the contents of Vogue India are not as disappointing.*

*Despite my head shaking and eye rolling, I am making every effort to get my hands on this issue...not only to write the editor a scathing letter but also to discover the makeup magic behind our desi cover girls.

photos via and