Sunday, January 26, 2014

Nails Of The Week

After about two weeks of nasty chipped nail polish, I finally changed my nail polish yesterday. I was browsing the interwebs for cool designs and this one stuck in my head.

I am not a nail master, please excuse the edges :)

From left to right: Revlon Colorstay Gel-Smooth Base Coat, Circus By Andrea's Choice in Reverso,
Sephora by O.P.I in Dark Room, Revlon Colorstay Gel-Smooth Top Coat

Steps

1. Apply base coat.
2. Base color (2 layers), wait at least two minutes between each coat of polish for it to dry.
3. Use a dried out ballpoint pen or other dotting tool to make dots using your accent color. Start by dotting a line across the tip, then gradually make the dots smaller and smaller towards the middle of your nail.
3. Wait at least 30 minutes for the polish to dry, then apply top coat.

Tips

- Be patient! It took a lot of self-control for me to not apply my top coat a few minutes after I was finished dotting, but it was worth it in the end. You want to wait for each layer to dry to prevent smudging.
- You don't need an actual dotting tool. I just used a dried out ballpoint pen, but you can also use toothpicks, the back of a pin, etc.
- Use colors that contrast to make the design stand out (such as black and white).



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Touching Up Your Makeup

I will begin by saying that apart from blotting, I don't actually touch up my makeup at school. Yes, I do check to see if I have mascara smudging under my eyes, but I don't go out of my way to reapply anything. The reason is that I don't have that much time at school between classes, and makeup isn't really my number one priority when I am at school. However, if I do want to touch up my makeup before I go out somewhere, this is what I do.

TIPS

  • In the bathroom, use a toilet seat cover to blot (also, if you find it embarrassing to blot in public, just use the toilet seat cover while in the stall, no one will see). The material is as absorbent as blotting sheets so it works perfectly!
  • Other than concealer, steer clear from adding more liquid makeup to your face, it can get cakey very quickly. Instead, blend in your existing foundation to bring life back to it.
  • Make sure that you gently wipe away any mascara or eyeliner smudged under your eyes.
  • Use a light hand with powder, only in the areas where you need it (T-zone for me).
  • If your blush has faded throughout the day, add some more to bring back that healthy flush to your face. If you don't have blush on hand, just use your lipstick as a cream blush.
  • Reapply your lip color on clean lips so that it doesn't look blotchy and uneven. Use your finger to blend it in for a more natural look.
  • If your don't want to add more lipstick, put on some lip balm and blend it in for a smooth and polished finish.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Buying Makeup 101

I'm not really a "buy on the fly" type of girl. Before I purchase any makeup, skincare, or beauty item, I always do a lot of research. Many makeup items can be quite pricey, especially higher-end makeup brands such as Chanel or even NARS. In comparison to drugstore makeup (which is even becoming more expensive than usual), one single makeup item can set you back north of $50. It is often difficult for me to justify making purchases because I tell myself, "You only have one face, how much makeup do you really need?" So I want to make sure that I truly love what I buy and that each product is an investment. 

image from sephoradiaries.blogspot.com
Buying makeup can sometimes be overwhelming, so I usually only buy makeup when I need something, or when I find that one area of my makeup collection is lacking or not up to par. My last makeup purchase was the Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in 5. Here is my process of buying this item:

1. Address The Reason

The reason I wanted this item was because my previous concealer, the MAC Studio Finish Concealer in NW25 was not working well for me. The color of this concealer was far too dark and far too orange for me to use on my face (thanks MAC lady for "color matching" me, you did a really great job). I decided that the next concealer I would buy had to match my skin color perfectly, while at the same time be full coverage to cover up any blemishes or acne scars. 

2. Research

I had already heard a lot about this concealer before, so to do research, I looked for popular reviews on YouTube and online. The concealer is $32, so was not about to just hop down to Sephora and pick one up on a whim. This concealer would last me a really long time because I would only have to use a tiny amount each day, which is a plus. I find that hearing what other people say and feel about the product is extremely helpful, but I still don't stop there. Just because someone else likes something, doesn't mean at all that I will enjoy it as well.

3. SAMPLES

I cannot stress enough how much I believe in sampling makeup products before I buy them. Samples are there for a reason! I have quite sensitive skin, so I want to make sure that if I spend $32 on a concealer, that that concealer will be perfect for me. Also, in the store, lighting can be pretty wacky (MAC lady, I'm talking to you), so it is extremely important to see what the product looks like in natural light. If you use a sample for a week or two, and you still love it, then go ahead and buy it! I get my samples from either Nordstrom or Sephora. In this particular case, I got it from Sephora. 

Don't feel pressured to buy the product immediately when you get into the store. After I asked one lady to color match me for this concealer, she grabbed the product and gave it to me to buy. Just put it back! I feel like so many people don't know that you can ask for a sample, especially in Sephora. You can get samples for liquid items and for loose powders as well (which is how I found out how much I love the Tarte Smooth Operator powder). The employees are often kind and understanding, so don't be afraid to ask them for a sample, they are usually quite generous. In Nordstrom, the samples are more obvious because the makeup brands are slightly more expensive there, and the makeup ladies are also really nice about it (I got samples for my Chanel foundation there before I made the purchase). 

4. Buy It!

I buy my makeup at either Sephora or Ulta, but mainly Sephora because the marketing ploy of the Beauty Insider cards really works on me. I like seeing how many points I have, which is bad for me but good for Sephora because it turns shopping into a game that people want to win at. No shame. Anyways, when you decide that this product is right for you, go and get it. I bought the full size of my concealer when I was almost out of my sample, because you really want to get the most out of it. By following these steps, I find that I rarely ever regret any of my makeup purchases.


Have fun shopping, and remember, SAMPLES, SAMPLES, SAMPLES!



Friday, January 17, 2014

Photo Wall Using Fairy Lights

I'm sure that you have seen several pictures of fairy lights (string lights) used as room decorations and they always look pretty and elegant. Prior to hanging these lights, I had no photographs in my room at all and I was faced with a really empty wall behind my bed. By combining these two elements--using Pinterest for inspiration, I was able to fulfill both of my desires. 



What You'll Need


1. Draw It First

Before you stick any of the hanging clips on the wall, make sure you draw out the pattern or design you want to hang the lights on the wall. This will take a lot of trial and error. I wanted to fill up my entire wall with my lights, so the final design I settled on was a horizontal draping of the lights. Also, make sure that your lights are long enough to reach an outlet! My outlet is right behind my bed near my nightstand so it works out well.


2. Measure It Out

I measured out one and a half feet in and half a foot down from the ceiling to place the top two corner clips. You can mark this with a pencil. These top two clips are probably the most important because they set the basic framework for the rest of your arrangement. Continue to mark out where you want the rest of the clips to be placed (I had three on the right and two on the left). 


3. Place The Clips



These Command clips are great because they can be easily taken off and moved. The actual sticker strips can only be used once, but the clips can be reused. Before you use the clips, you should wipe down your wall with some alcohol--I just used a drop of hand sanitizer--to remove any residue before sticking on the clips. Follow the instructions on the box to properly use the clips and strips. 


4. Step Back



You might not be happy with how you first hang the lights (as you can see above it took me several attempts to get it just right), but once you do get it right, it's like a fairy sprinkled fairy dust everywhere haha.



5. Hang Your Photos


baby me <3

Once your lights look just right, you can decide on what photos you want to display. In total, I used 18 photos, an assortment of old photos of when I was a baby, and some newer ones that I printed out on photo paper off Facebook. I didn't have any clothespins on hand, so I just used some large paper clips to secure the pictures on the lights. It's also great that you can you always add more photos, switch them out, or clip on anything else you want to remember (ticket stubs, notes, etc.).


6. Finishing Touches



For the purpose of function and accessibility, I added another clip right next to my outlet so that I wouldn't always have to reach for the end of the string to plug it in. This makes it really easy to plug and unplug the lights because you know the end won't suddenly fling back and mess up the rest of your arrangement. 


I can't even begin to describe to you how much I love my wall now. Every time I turn on the lights and look at the pictures, I get this fuzzy feeling inside that makes me really happy and thankful for all the wonderful things in my life :)



Thursday, January 16, 2014

REVIEW: Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer

I caved. I know that I am late to the party and there are already several reviews on this product (which has been out for a very long time already), but only during a trip to Target last month did I finally add the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Concealer to my makeup repertoire. 

oops that's the french side...my bad
(the bottom says Eraser Dark Circles Treatment Concealer with Goji Berry + Haloxyl)




(awkward photos of me looking off into the distance)            top: WITHOUT concealer   bottom: WITH concealer
This photo is with one generous layer of concealer on clean skin, and you can clearly see that it covers the redness around my nose and the dark purple under my eyes. My dark circles are obviously not that severe, but this concealer does do a really good job at covering them up. If you do have issues with severely dark circles, you will probably want to find a concealer that is more full coverage. 

When I first bought this concealer, I immediately ripped off the packaging and applied it in the car. Honestly, I was blown away by how lightweight, smooth, and easy to blend the concealer was. It also made my skin feel really soft! It has light to medium coverage and looks great with or without foundation underneath.

Color

Another thing I love about this concealer is that the color is an exact match for my skin color. It is a tiny bit more pink than my skin color, but it works well to contrast the darkness under my eyes. Because the color is exactly my skin color, it is not as brightening as it could be, but there is a Brightener (and a Neutralizer) shade in the range. The color range is quite limited (Fair, Light, Medium, Honey) so that is a deficiency of the product range as a whole.

Applicator

It has a sponge applicator--which can be unsanitary--that dispenses the product by twisting the red collar in the direction of the arrows, but it works great when you are in a rush. I wouldn't recommend trying to blend the concealer in using the applicator, but rather use it to place the product to conceal any darkness under your eyes or redness.  

Formula

However, I think the formula is a bit too dry for my liking, especially since if I have any dry patches in that area, the product will cling to them and be really noticeable up close. On the other hand, throughout the day, the concealer doesn't crease and it stays put well when there is a layer of powder on top. I have oily skin so I need the powder, but if you have drier skin then you can skip that step. 


I use this Real Techniques Deluxe Crease Brush to blend in the concealer since it is the perfect size and it is extremely soft. You really want to blend the product in immediately or else it will set and be difficult to work with. This also relates to how it is moisturizing, but not as moisturizing as some other concealers are.

OVERVIEW
If you are on a budget, or are looking for a great drugstore under eye concealer option, you should really check this out. Despite its few shortcomings, this product can still hold its own alongside pricier high end concealers.



Wednesday, January 15, 2014

HOW TO: Instantly Look Put-Together

We all want to achieve the best possible result while putting in the least amount of effort. However, when you are getting ready, it can sometimes be difficult to come up with a look that is both simple and put-together. In the mornings, if I ever feel like I look unpolished or incomplete, this is what I do.


1. Add a Black Blazer

If you have to transition a day look into a night look, or be business appropriate for an event, making a strong first impression is crucial. No matter what you are wearing--whether it be a floral print dress or a collared blouse--you can consistently add a black blazer to polish up any look. This type of tailored jacket instantly elevates any outfit, and black is a universal color that is flattering and functional. Getting ready always seems to come down to a few rushed minutes, so if you're in a bind and need to put something on fast as a final touch, you can easily throw on a black blazer and achieve that look. Having this piece on hand will transform you into looking like you are wearing an outfit rather than like you haphazardly grabbed the first clothes you could find. This tuxedo jacket from H&M is perfect because it has the right cut and slightly oversized feel to suit anything underneath.

2. Brush Your Hair

No, I don't actually have a Mason Pearson hairbrush. Maybe one day though...

It sounds silly and somewhat obvious, but you really don't want untamed hair when you are going for a put together look. Smooth and shiny hair in almost any style will get rid of that "just rolled out of bed" appearance that detracts from the rest of your outfit. As we all know, good hair is like an added accessory that has the power to complete any look. Knotty hair is obvious, so if you don't have time for anything else, brush your hair and get one step closer towards looking put-together.

3. Add One Statement Accessory

When wearing any outfit, you can sometimes look like there is something missing. This emptiness can be filled by a scarf, necklace, or even statement bracelet that draws attention to one specific feature. For instance, a statement necklace draws attention to your neckline and up, and it is a fun way to add a pop of color or shine for dimension. With scarves, the rule I always follow is that if I am wearing a solid color, then my scarf will be a printed or colorful, and vice versa. This creates a sense of balance in your outfit that makes it look like you have put in a lot of effort when you really haven't. The necklace I am wearing in the photo above is more of a quiet statement than the chunky ones are (like this one from BaubleBar) but really whatever you feel comfortable with will work best for you. 

4. Fill In Your Brows

NYX Eyebrow Cake Powder in Taupe/Ash
Even for those of you who don't wear makeup, filling in your eyebrows is a way to immediately look polished and refined. There has definitely been a focus on strong, bold eyebrows in the beauty industry for the past couple of years, and it really is well-deserved. Eyebrows frame your eyes and complete your face. This final step of a well-defined brow is the fastest and simplest way to complete your new "put-together" style. To see what I use to fill in my brows check out my post "All About My Eyebrows".

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2013 Must-Haves: Hair and Nails

Here is the third part of my "2013 Must-Haves" series, this time on the hair and nail products that were my favorites of 2013. Hopefully, this series will help you get a feel for what types of products I use and enjoy!

Hair

I'm not as big on hair and nails as I am on makeup, but I still know what works for me and what doesn't, and I'm also constantly searching for the perfect products for that work with my hair. Though it definitely is not glamorous, my hair is temperamental and I sometimes suffer from a dry, itchy scalp along with oily roots. In an ideal world, I would only have to wash my hair a few times a week, but the longest I can go while still maintaining some level of style is washing my hair every other day. And even then, I have to dutifully rely on dry shampoo to cut back on the dirtiness and griminess of my hair. However, these products are what I turned to to take care of both my scalp and my ends.



Styling Product: Sunsilk Layers Texturizing Wax (discontinued)...alternative: Aveda Light Elements Defining Whip


Nails

My favorite nail polishes come and go with the seasons and with my moods, which I think most of you can relate to. Though, there are those colors that I want to wear constantly and these are those polishes of 2013 that I got the most use out of. I don't always stick to the typical polish colors for the seasons, but my favorites clearly represent each category: gold for winter, pastel for spring, neon for summer, and oxblood for fall. In general, I like to change my nail polish every week or two, depending on how much time I have with school and all, but my polish is able to look fresh and acceptable for at least one week because I use four layers. I start with one layer of base coat, two layers of color, and end with one layer of top coat. This sandwich of nail polish really keeps my nails from chipping for quite a long time.





Winter Polish: Essie Pennie Talk
Spring Polish: Butter London Muggins
Fall Polish: Revlon Vixen


What hair and nail products were your 2013 winners?



Monday, January 13, 2014

Four Steps to Morning Skincare

Mornings are often the hardest times for all of us sleep deprived individuals, but with a solid beauty regimen, I am able to slightly alleviate the burden of waking up. In the mornings, I don't want to have to think very much about what I am going to do, wear, or put on my face--which is why I always lay out my outfits for school the night before. Instead, over time, I have developed this habitual process that makes what comes immediately after waking up more of an innate reaction than a thought out response. Also, if this process seems tedious to you, know that all these steps honestly have a purpose. By being kind to your skin, your skin will be kind to you. 

(for a full list of my skincare products and links see my "Must-Haves: Skincare")





1. Cleanse




My day truly begins after I have washed my face with cold water, using my trusted Clarisonic Mia 2 ($142.50) and Boots Expert Anti-Blemish Cleansing Foam ($5.49). I first got the Clarisonic as a birthday present two years ago, and I must say that it has changed my life. That may sound dramatic to some of you, but it may be the Clarisonic by itself, or the combination of it with the rest of my routine that has made my skin more clear and evenly toned than before. Even though it is expensive, it truly is an investment, especially given the two year warranty and great customer service: I don't know what I would do without it! Back to my routine, I find that using a foaming cleanser with the Clarisonic is ideal for my sensitive skin, and I go through bottles and bottles of this cleanser from twice daily use--I actually have four in my bathroom right now--so the price doesn't hurt.


2. Treat



After I wash my face, I apply treatment to any spots or breakouts I may have. I use this prescription from my doctor: Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel 1%. I've used this since middle school because Salicylic Acid and Benzoyl Peroxide really weren't working well for my breakouts, and this was the only acne product that helped clear up my skin. If you have had a similar experience as me, be sure to talk to your doctor to see what they recommend. I use the treatment under my moisturizer so that it has the most contact with my skin, delivering the most direct effect. 


3. Moisturize



After the spot treatment has dried, I use my Philosophy Take A Deep Breath Gel Moisturizer ($35.00) all over my face and neck. If I were to only give one beauty tip, it would undoubtedly be: Moisturize! Moisturize! Moisturize! It doesn't matter what skin type you have, you can find the perfect moisturizer for your skin (which really is the difficult part). This moisturizer is good for my skin because it is an oil-free gel, so it is lightweight, doesn't clog my pores, and soaks in quickly. Don't be stingy, slather it on, gently of course. Moisturizing now will pay off in the future. 


4. Protect



Easy to forget, but important to remember, sunscreen cannot be forgotten...ever. It doesn't matter whether it is winter, summer, spring, or fall, you always have to protect your skin from the sun's rays. My sunscreen of choice actually came to me as a sample from Ulta, and I'm glad that it did. It's the CōTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40 ($19.99). This sunscreen has a matte finish, so it isn't greasy and it won't make your skin look oily, which is an important feature for me. It is tinted to a generic skin color, so it does give you the tiniest hint of coverage, but it isn't too noticeable and doesn't affect the product's appeal. 

What is your morning skincare routine? Do you have any skincare products that you swear by?


Sunday, January 12, 2014

All About My Eyebrows

I will begin by stating how I absolutely loathe red-hued eyebrows. However, if reddish eyebrows flatter you, by all means, go for it, but they do not suit me at all. In my opinion, cool-toned, bordering on grey colors look far more natural than their warm-toned counterparts. My hunt for the perfect cool-toned product seems endless, but for now, I have found a few products that work well for me. 




NYX Brow Cake Powder in Taupe/Ash--$5.99


Anastasia Brow Wiz in Medium Ash--$21.00

Top: myglam Eyeliner Brush  Bottom: Real Techniques Brow Brush 

Brow Powder

NYX Brow Cake Powder in Taupe/Ash--$5.99

Personally, if I only put on one thing, I always always always fill in my eyebrows. Despite my British mother, I have inherited my dad's sparse Asian eyebrows that do not show up in any photographs unless they are filled in. I cannot emphasize enough the need for a well-defined brow because it instantly completes any face--with other makeup on or without. My current eyebrow product that I must have with me is the NYX Eyebrow Powder in Taupe/Ash. Aside from it's extremely reasonable $5.99 price, the brow powders are the ideal colors for me because they are cool-toned and ashy, meaning they don't have any red in them. On a side note, please excuse how extremely gross the brow wax is in the product--the powder mixes in and it gets messy, which is exactly why I don't use the wax anymore.


Brow Pencil

Brow powder and brow pencil are completely different products that achieve a similar, but noticeably different, effect. Powder tends to stay on the slightly more natural side, while pencil can often look drawn in. The NYX powder is obviously far more affordable than the brow wiz and lasts twenty times longer than the few month life of the brow wiz (from daily use). However, the brow wiz is a cult favorite for a reason: it's faster to use, more travel friendly, and the formula is not too soft and not too hard so it stays on all day.


Brow Gel

Chella Defining Eyebrow Gel--$18.00

I don't really use brow gel that often, but if I feel that my brows are just too uncontrollably long and need to be tamed, this is the one I use. I am also not too fussy about brow gel, but this is the one I have. I am sure that Maybelline Great Lash in Clear would work just as well.


Brushes

myglam Eyeliner Brush

This brush is what I use if I want a really sharp and defined line. Because of how dense the bristles are, it manages to get a fine line, but it doesn't pick up and hold as much product. Therefore, I often have to go back into the powder several times in order to achieve the effect that I want.

Real Techniques Brow Brush (from Starter Kit)--$17.99

I am a huge fan of all the Real Techniques brushes, this one including. Larger than most angled brushes, this brow brush really allows me to fill in my brows quickly and precisely (which is exactly what I need when I am rushing to fill in my brows while in the car, on the way to school). The bristles are more loosely packed so it picks up and holds powder well which means I can use less product and achieve the perfect effect. This really is a must-have brush for me!

What are your favorite brow products?


2013 Must-Haves: Skincare

This is my second installment of "Must-Haves" and this time I am going to mention all the skincare products that I couldn't live without in 2013. For some background information on my skin, I have combination/oily, sensitive, and sometimes acne-prone skin that can be difficult to match products with. But through a lot of trial and error, here are the items I found that work well for my face.




Daily Moisturizer: Philosophy Take A Deep Breath 
Night Moisturizer: Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream
Makeup Remover: Bioderma Créaline TS H2O
Treatment: Clindamycin Phosphate Topical Gel 1%
Tool: Clarisonic Mia 2 in Pink

What are your skincare must-haves?


2013 Must-Haves: Makeup

This is going to be my first post of my new "2013 Must-Haves" series where I talk about all the products that came out on top for me in the past year.

I often find that I have so many unnecessary items even just in my modest beauty collection that I really don't use very much. However, there are those products that made it to my everyday-use-makeup-box that I gravitated towards and always needed on hand. By no means did I use all of these products everyday, but if I wanted a full face of makeup, this is what I used.




Face


Eyes 


Lips

Lipstick: Mac Viva Glam V

What are your makeup must-haves?


Things On My Bookshelf




Due to my unfortunate lack of a vanity (they are expensive and I have no space), I find myself wanting an area to do my makeup that is outside of the bathroom. Call it the laziness of not wanting to stand up or whatever you want, but I think it's nice to do your makeup somewhere you can sit down, take your time, and actually enjoy the process--even if it is just those five frantic minutes before school when you attempt to look presentable. Previously, I had an unattractive salt crystal lamp and an unplugged mini fan on my bookshelf. Given that it is winter (voiding my need for a fan) and I have grown too sick of that ugly rock in my room, I decided I needed to do some redecorating, which led me to this.

I am always envious of pretty rooms--you know which ones I am talking about, the ones that look straight out of a magazine and "change with the seasons"--because mine has always been pretty ordinary. By adding these few small elements, I can achieve both the look and the function of those "pretty rooms".

1. Mason jars are for everything

Every night, I write down something good that happened during my day and put it into this jar. At the end of the year, I go back through and read all of the notes, recalling each fond memory. This is truly a great reminder that despite how bad the bad times can feel, at the end of the day, there is always something you can smile about. Also, a year is a long time, so this jar will help you move on to the new year with happy thoughts of the year that just passed.

2. Who doesn't love a good mirror?

It may seem really strange, but I use my bookshelf as a sort-of-vanity. My desk is right next to it and I have a swivel chair, so when I do my makeup I swivel on over and use this mirror. It is handy because I face the window so I apply my makeup in natural light, and I can look down into the mirror which makes winged eyeliner a million times easier.

3. Candles make all things better

I love Market Peach. This jar matches my mason jar. Done.

4. Display your makeup brushes

A simple way to add some flair to a tabletop is by displaying your makeup brushes in a cute container. I am currently lacking on the cute container side of things, but this double-ended acrylic container from The Container Store is perfect for separating face and eye brushes.

5. Jewelry fits perfectly in glass

Evidently, I like see through containers. There is something clean and sleek about having a glass container that really catches my attention. Because it is transparent, it creates the illusion of more space, which mirrors do as well. I use this square glass container/vase to store my bracelets which is perfect trick to make your room more aesthetically pleasing: put pretty things on display.

6. Steer clear from clutter

This last point, is really a rule I follow whenever decorating or designing a surface: Less is always more.

Hopefully this will give you some idea on what to put on your bookshelf or vanity or table or desk. Have fun!

What things are on your bookshelf/vanity?