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.