Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lip service: C.O. Bigelow Lemon Lip Cream

One of my countless gripes about the winter season is the toll it takes on my lips. Enter: scrumptious smelling and tasting C.O. Bigelow Lemon Lip Cream – reminds me of lemon pie (so yum!). Not your typical, run-of-the-mill variety, this lip conditioner is packed with oodles of super-saturated emollients that hydrate and soothe chapped lips. The glossy texture will give your lips a lusciously drenched pout, without the sticky factor. Application tip: layer under and over lip colour to up the moisturizing factor. Run to your nearest Bath & Body Works to pick up this stuff.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Victoria Beckham for Indian Vogue

Posh graces the cover of November’s bridal issue for Vogue India. Donning a flowing hairpiece, Victoria traded her micro-minis for designer Indian bridal wear, including a Tarun Tahiliani lehenga along with a traditional bridal jewelry including a tikka. Victoria is said to be blown away by the details and embellishments of Indian outfits, and is quoted to “feeling like an Indian princess” after the shoot. While I think that putting her on the cover is probably a calculated decision to increase newsstand sales, I feel that the readership may have mixed reviews about foreign celebs, so it’s wise to limit their exposure to occasional appearances.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cause-worthy: Estée Lauder’s Pink Ribbon Collection

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and to bring attention to the cause, Estée Lauder has launched its Pink Ribbon Collection. The limited edition collection includes Elizabeth Hurley Lip Color Collection, a compilation of the star’s 3 favorite lip glosses: Pink (limited edition), Rose and Pearl, tucked in a pink (of course!) zippered travel case.

Next is the Evelyn Lauder Lip Color Collection which consists of 3 lipsticks: Bali Rose (limited edition), Candy and Rich Berry also featured in a pink case.

You can moreover show your support by purchasing a twinkling, gem encrusted pin to support the worthy cause.

Part of the proceeds will help the company donate $500,000 to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, so you can feel good about drenching yourself in shades of pretty pinks.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Red carpet ready: Thandie Newton

Spotted: Sultry actress Thandie Newton dropped by in Toronto during the Toronto International Film Festival, looking striking in the pixilated graphic mini-dress. Thandie, which means ‘beloved’ in Zulu, has a Zimbabwean mother and English father, and grew up in the UK. For me, she defines global beauty, with her luminous skin and stunning features. This shot captures her graceful elegance impeccably.

Photo courtesy of Celebrities Wonder

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hand therapy: Biotherm Biomains

Moving is hard work; that’s where I’ve been these past few weeks. All that pointing of where the boxes should go has taken a toll on my hands :). The fix: Biotherm Biomains hand treatment. This silky lotion spreads smoothly, leaving soft, moist (read: not greasy) hands, and is also touted as an age delaying and nail strengthening formula. Super rich ingredients include glycerin, D-panthenol and UV filters, creating a protective barrier for sun spots, while nourishing skin texture and up-ing the suppleness factor. The light scent is not overpowering or lingering. At least my hands look good – far from what my new house looks like right now ♥.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Makeup brushes 101: Powder brush

Creating a flawless complexion calls for investing in proper, quality powder brush, so go ahead and splurge on one – guilt-free. What to look for: a full, dense head of soft natural fiber bristles such as squirrel, pony or goat hair, otherwise a blend of these in a tapered, dome shape. The ferrule (the metal part of the brush connecting the wooden handle and bristles together) needs to be tightly secured and hold the hair tightly in place – the best kinds are made of nickel or brass. A superior quality brush will likely be hand crafted with birch, ramin or linden wood handles. I heart this Smashbox Powder Brush # 1 for its weight-y aspect and seamless application of powders, just swirl in your powder compact and sweep all over face for even, blended coverage. Tip: Don’t be afraid to pick up brushes and run the bristles through your fingers for a quick fall-out test. A few strands falling out are acceptable, but if hair continues to fall out, move on to another brush, until you find one you are happy with.

Makeup brushes 101 is a series of articles focusing on an assortment of brush types, brands, accessories as well as use and care.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Product Review: Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge

For rushed mornings (and I have plenty of them) I like to rely on multi-tasking products like Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks in Blushed Rose. It’s offered in a cream formula so is best applied on top of moisturizer or foundation, before setting powder. What I am fond of is: it’s easy to apply – you can simply use your fingers or a synthetic fiber brush to dabble on cheeks for a stained, dewy texture, or build hue intensity by depositing added layers to the skin. Blot this 2-in-1 emollient with fingers onto lips for a sheer, supple consistency or use a lip brush for a vibrant effect. Best part: it doesn’t hog too much space in my makeup bag.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Buzz-worthy beauty ingredient: Coffee

Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, I feel the need for one today, to get me out of weekend mode. Besides providing a morning jolt, java is being touted as the latest beauty fix ingredient in skincare products. Indonesian spas are distinguished for using ground coffee as exfoliating body scrubs and cellulite treatments. Caffeine contains smoothing agents that work as antioxidants, dehydrating fat cells and shrinking blood vessels, resulting in decreasing the appearance of dimpled skin, when using cellulite products. Bear in mind, these results are temporary, as nothing rids cellulite completely, but it’s good to know there are products available to reduce the look of it. Topical application of caffeine-based eye creams can help you look more wide awake; thanks to its de-puffing properties. Who knew caffeine had beauty benefits? ♥

Friday, August 15, 2008

Hair therapy: Schwarzkopf Spray Conditioner

Memories of waking up to a tangled mess that was my hair are thankfully, just that now: memories. My sanity-saver is Schwarzkopf BC Bonacure Moisture Kick Spray Conditioner (a mouth-full, I know). This stuff transforms my hair from Bride-of-Frankenstein to…simply normal hair. Problem: My hair is fine yet dense, making for knotted locks. Solution: I spray on this leave-in conditioner post shower to restore moisture balance and smooth the ends of my hair. This two part formula consists of pro-vitamin B-5, a miracle ingredient for re-hydrating hair, combined with amino acid for deep penetration, repairing inner hair structure and protecting dry, brittle ends. I found that using this conditioner improved the overall touch and feel as well as the condition of my hair, over an extended period of time (I’ve been using it for 2 years). Best part: Unlike scores of other leave-in treatments, this blue and white potion does not weigh hair down.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Editor’s pick: Beautyblender makeup sponge

My first encounter with this genius, egg-shaped makeup marvel happened when fellow beauty addict and workmate offered me one (thanks, Kristen!). I’ve now been using this hot-pink, oval device, a.k.a., the Beautyblender (available at Holt’s) for over a month now, and am impressed. Apparently I’m not the only one; the egg-sponge has a staunch and obsessive following, from pro makeup artists to celebs alike, in addition to a myriad of rave reviews in beauty magazines. The cheap-o, measly, standard-variety sponge – with its pointy corners – has got nothing on this, especially on the streak-free front. With its elliptical form, the Beautyblender allows for no-brainer blending, resulting in a streak-free, almost airbrush-effect application. Plus the soft, tapered tip let’s you get into the contours and hard-to-reach spots of your face, while the rounded base works wonders for the forehead and cheeks. The trick to using this sponge is by stippling and feathering the makeup onto skin. This “why-didn’t-I-think-of-it!” invention was produced by dynamic-duo, Hollywood makeup artists, Rea Ann Silva and Veronica Lorenz. They recommend washing it after each use (note: it’s normal of this sponge to expand when wet) and placing it in the insert pedestal to dry. Since it’s non-allergenic and latex and odor free, the sponge should last up to three months with proper care. Best part: once you’re done with the sponge, you can recycle it, instead of tossing it out. Info about the Beautysender program is on the packaging.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Gift-worthy: Crabtree & Evelyn soap

What do you give to your friend who has everything? I stumble on this dilemma from time to time, and try my best to avoid resorting to gift certificates. My usual approach is to find a present that is luxurious, indulgent and something that the recipient probably won’t end up buying for themselves. Crabtree & Evelyn’s Triple-Milled Soaps are all that, and then some. Produced in traditions of 19th century French soap makers, each soap is concocted by following a 30-step process, and are offered in an array of skin-nourishing assorted oils including almond, jojoba, rosewater, lavender, aloe vera and others. I’ve tested and adore the Avocado one; it left my skin supple with a subtle scent, minus any residue. The soap comes in a box of 3, ideal for dispensing some well-intended decadence.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Backstage scoop: India Fashion Week, F/W 2008

Sweeping, Amy Winehouse-inspired black eyeliner dictated runway glamour during India’s Fall/Winter Fashion week. This look requires a little practice, and a steady hand. Using a pencil liner, line your upper and lower lash line, then switch to a liquid liner (I’d recommend a felt-tip variety) and trace over upper lash liner. Next (and here’s the somewhat tricky part) extend the liquid liner towards the outer corners of your eye, making it gradually thicker, flicking it in an upward motion at the tail. The key to this look is balance between both eyes. Smudge lower lash liner for a smoky effect, if desired. Polish off with mascara, and pair these dramatic eyes with matte skin, sheer blush and pink gloss, to mimic the look. Here’s a behind-the-scenes-glimpse at a model getting primped for Vijay Arora’s show.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Trend watch: Fashion mags go global

Style bibles such as the likes of Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and GQ have established worldwide appeal by launching versions in foreign languages. Dominating the pack is fashion and beauty heavyweight, Vogue, which has a current international roster of British, French, German, Greek, Indian, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Australian, Japanese, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese and Mexican editions, along with its American publication. These glossies are not mere translations of the English kind, but are produced in, and focused on their respective, unique cultures, drumming up devoted readership. After the flourishing success of Vogue India in October 2007, GQ India is gearing up to follow suit, with its debut issue, expected to drop in October of this year. Marie Claire China, where brand names are all the rage, has swiftly become a platform for designers to promote their lines. Advertisers are taking note, and tapping into the ethnic model and celeb circuit for ad campaigns and endorsements, so readers can relate to their products. Despite a plethora of national publications, internationally iconic titles with cultural flavour have proven to be the winning formula for these magazines.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Product review: Bare Escentuals Get Started Eyes

I picked up the BE bareMinerals Get Started Eyes kit a couple of months ago, to see for myself what all the fuss of mineral-based makeup is all about. This 7 piece package contains 3 top quality brushes: a contour shadow brush, an eye liner brush and an eye defining brush. The collection also includes 3 universally-appealing mineral eye shadows in Vanilla Sugar, Peach Puff, Soft Focus Explore (a subtle taupe-y brown) along with an eye lining shadow in Fashionista (a rich, chocolate brown), in addition to a how-to, instructional DVD for makeup rookies. I tested out the shades, and found them suitable for daily wear. The refined powder blends together pretty much flawlessly, delivering understated contour and highlight for a natural, no-makeup look. The portability factor is low – I had a few spills, and plus, loose powder tends to dust away and scatter easily, so it’s best to leave this kit on your dresser. Verdict: I consider it a decent, basic-colour kit that is simple to apply, if you are just starting to build your makeup collection or need to replenish your stash with neutral shades.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Editor’s pick: Label Whore by Too Faced

Too Faced: Label Whore. Hmm…how about that for an eye shadow name? You shouldn’t expect anything less from the edgy-glam, celeb-craved brand, Too Faced Cosmetics. I have to admit, I was lured just as much by the name as by the shade. This vintage inspired, iridescent blue and metallic brown blend with flecks of shimmer is my favourite eye shadow right now, for its smoky-eyes-in-one-sweep abilities. Packaged in a black lacquered, retro-Hollywood style compact, this shade delivers saturated pigment with no crease-setting, so it’s best to dip a tiny amount on your eye shadow brush, and work the colour in. The external pink box packaging cleverly exclaims: Forget Wall St., invest in makeup! I couldn’t agree more.♥

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Makeup brush 411: How to clean your brushes

High quality, natural bristle makeup brushes are a splurge-worthy investment. So it’s essential to keep them clean and germ-free. Washing your brushes regularly will deliver a consistent and true colour application, not to mention keep your skin in the clear. For daily-brush-use makeup mavens, I recommend scrupulous washings every 2 weeks. Start with mixing 1 tablespoon of mild-formula shampoo (like J&J’s Baby Shampoo) with lukewarm water filled in a large container – avoid water touching the wood handle (long-term exposure to water may loosen the handle from the metal tube, called ferrule). Let brushes soak in the sudsy water for about 10 minutes – this will dissolve impurities; hence the murky water. Rinse brush hair under running water and lay flat to dry overnight. To freshen up brushes in-between washes, try a spray brush cleaner such as Vincent Longo’s Hygienic Professional Brush Cleaner to remove built-up and residue.

Makeup brush 411 is a segment of articles focusing on an assortment of brush types, brands, accessories as well as what each brush is, and how to use and care for it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cult Classic: Shu Uemura eyelash curler

It takes more than a medley of innovative mascara formulas and wands to get fab lashes. Those on the mission for truly dramatic peepers can reap from the benefits of an eyelash curler. Using a curler helps pick up and separate droopy, pin-straight lashes – creating an up-swept curve, opening up the eye area and amplifying the flirty, batty appeal. Shu Uemura, legendary Japanese makeup artist and international icon in the beauty industry, engineered perhaps the perfect eyelash curler. The shu uemura eyelash curler, a makeup addict must-have, is designed to fit every eye shape, including Asian eyes, and those with less-than-ample set of lashes. The “mushroom” shaped, rounded silicone pad forms a curved angle, instead of a crimped, zigzag effect produced with square pads. What sets this curling tool apart from the bunch is quality (the difference is noticeable), attention to balance of the contour cage and ergonomic handles for precise pressure. For wider, brighter, awake-looking eyes, open the curler and position it snugly to base of upper lash roots (make sure lashes are mascara-free), slowly squeeze handles to clamp and hold (about 10 to 15 seconds is enough) and gently release and repeat. Best part: with my shu uemura, my lashes stay curled throughout the day.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Premiere pose: Blake Lively

Spotted: Blake Lively, at the New York City premiere of “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2" yesterday. The 20-year-old actress, who plays Serena on Gossip Girl, sizzles in a Gucci summer-tangerine, tiered maxi dress, while strutting for paparazzi. She pulls off the glam factor with an air of breezy chic – her beach-wave blonde tresses, mixed in with a couple of thin braids up top spells fresh elegance. Makeup wise, I’m loving her peachy-pink flushed blush, paired with a hint of overall gold iridescent shimmer and coral lips. Lively, along with America Ferrera from Ugly Betty, Alexis Bledel of Gilmore Girls fame, and Amber Tamblyn, stars in this chick flick sequel, based on Ann Brashares’ best-selling novels of the same title. The movie, opening August 6, follows four lifelong friends gearing up for college and a getting a taste of independence, all the while keeping in touch with each other. Even though her on-and-off-screen beau Penn Badgley skipped out of the limelight, Lively’s Gossip Girl cast mates Leighton Meester and Chace Crawford were in attendance. On a side note, I can’t wait for the new season of Gossip Girl to start on September 1, and catch up with juicy scandals of snobby, rich teens.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Sneak Peak: Manish Arora for MAC Cosmetics

Manish Arora, India’s vibrant fashion designer is creating an absolute frenzy amid of beauty addicts (including yours truly) by collaborating with MAC Cosmetics for a Rajasthani-themed makeup collection dubbed MAC Manish Arora Collection, rumoured to be launched in October of this year. Arora, renowned for his bright and pulsating designs and fantasy makeup creations on the runway, catapulted India on the international fashion scene by showcasing his collections at London and Hong Kong fashion weeks during the late ‘90’s. His makeup collection consists of a dazzling 6 eyeshadow palette, although the shades are from MAC’s permanent collection with 2 shades brought back as re-promotes from other limited-edition collections, so in other words, no original eyeshadow colours have been produced. Not that it matters, especially after you lay eyes on the brilliant fuchsia, gem-encrusted compact, which is reason enough to get your hands on one. Same story goes for the 2 blushes; Devil and Pink Swoon are from MAC’s permanent assortment, repackaged in orange, gold embellished casing. The limited edition hues are Kiss Manish Lipstick, Pink Manish and Shine Manish Lipglass. The grouping of colours, along with Arora’s vivid packaging design makes this makeup line too tempting to resist.♥♥♥♥

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Beauty News: Bath & Body Works is coming to Canada!

Soap lovers: it’s time to celebrate! One of my main incentives to go cross-border shopping is to hit the nearest Bath & Body Works location and stock up on my list of essentials; and there’s plenty! So you can understand my delight at the news that BBW is finally coming here this fall! Parent-company, Limited Brands Inc. (who bought out Canadian retailer La Senza last year) announced the opening of six stores across Canada at Fairview, Yorkdale and Erin Mills shopping malls in Toronto, along with locations in Guelph, London and Edmonton. This beauty retailer carries body butter, lotions, creams, bubble baths, shower gels, body sprays, hand soaps, fragrances, scrubs – basically all things to help you lather up and smell divine – from a variety of brands including Awake, White Barn, Breathe, Henri Bendel, Caudalie, and of course, the title brand Bath & Body Works. A couple of my fave scents from the BBW collection are Warm Vanilla Sugar and Sea Island Cotton. This place is a must-go for anyone who’s bored of our limited offerings of body care brands, and it’s the perfect place for gift shopping (hint, hint).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Cover shot: Rihanna for InStyle magazine

Much adored Barbadian songbird Rihanna, poses for the August cover of InStyle magazine, bringing plenty of her own style to the pages. I'm loving her short hairdo; she pulls it off with the right dose of attitude and fun. Inside, the fashionista dishes about her latest obsession: tattoos. She has eight as of now, but I’m sure that number will be going up. Her tattoo collection includes a line in Sanskrit along her hip, a star inside her ear, a Pisces symbol on the nape of her neck she got done by a Brazilian artist in Tokyo, a trail of stars on the back of her neck and one in Arabic that means “freedom in God.” Here’s another shot (courtesy of ONTD) from her photoshoot♥

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Brow files: The art of threading

I’m obsessed with brows, probably because, growing up my brows were a constant source of anguish – with “looks” varying from square-patches to plucky. Following more than a few unfortunate tweezing episodes, my aunt cornered me and off we went to an Indian salon for threading. That intervention turned out to be my remedy – threading transformed my brows; making them even and balanced, giving them a shapely arch – a practically impossible feat for me to achieve on my own. With the exception of tweezing strays in-between appointments, I stick to threading to maintain brow shape. While threading is the norm for most brown girls, it’s still not as popular in mainstream salons. The origin of threading traces back to the ancient Egyptian era of Cleopatra, and has been a routine beauty regime in the Middle East and South Asia for centuries. This simple hair removal method is not just reserved for brows – women across the globe regularly choose this form of de-fuzzing to get rid of unwanted facial and body hair. Threading brows is an acquired skill, so it’s crucial you visit a salon, and check out a few clients’ brows post threading, just to be sure. An expert will follow your natural brow shape, to create an arch suited to your features. The average cost of getting your brows done is between $5 and $10; you’re getting overcharged if you pay anything more. The actual technique involves twisting a cotton thread, and rolling over areas where hair needs to be removed, which extracts an entire row of hair from the roots, leaving a straight, clean line. Unlike waxing, threading does not pull delicate skin around the eye area, and there is less chance of irritation. Pain factor: I deem it comparable to tweezing; there is a pinching sensation. Brows frame the face and draw attention and focus to the eyes, so if you’re a threading virgin, I recommend you give it a try – its well worth it. ♥

Monday, July 21, 2008

Secret weapon: Vasanti Liquid Cover Up

The deal breaker with concealer, for me, is caked texture. I’m a fan of Vasanti Cosmetics’ Liquid Cover Up for its light-weight, fluid consistency and range of yellow-based shades for all skin tones, from porcelain to cocoa. The oil-free formula is liquid-y enough to spread evenly and the small built-in brush applicator attached to the cap is ideal for precise application and hard-to-reach spots. At first glance, the concealer appears intensely bright in the tube; don’t let that throw you off because this triple-duty product also acts as a brightener and light-medium coverage foundation. For this reason, be sure to test the colour before you buy. Start by applying a small amount under eyes, on blemishes or all over, pat-on-the-spot and, blend, blend, blend. As for the under-or-over debate, my vote goes to applying concealer under foundation, then gliding on a sheer layer of foundation, if desired. This product delivers a smooth, even coverage with little to no traces of line-setting. Best part: you won’t have a crease-y, crinkling mask staring back at you, when sneaking a quick mirror-check. Vasanti (which means spring in Hindi) was created by two sisters, Pinki and Priti with best friend Monal. The South Asian trio, inspired to create shades that blend well with yellow-based skin tones, launched their brand in 1999, and haven’t looked back. Their products are now available in Shoppers Drug Mart locations across Canada, as well as on their site for U.S. and U.K. customers.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beauty news: Lancôme presents Maharani Jewels

For all the self-proclaimed Umrao Jaan-ish princesses out there, this one’s for you. Lancôme unveils its Mogul-inspired Maharani Jewels makeup collection, for a spell of ancient Indian royalty. The collection offers exotic and luxe shades, reminiscent of India’s colorful and rich gems. The Maharani Color Design Eye Shadow Quads includes Secrets of Benghal, a blend of lilac, mauve and amethyst, and Lotus Splendor, a mélange of pale gold, shimmery peach and bronzed copper. Polishing off the come-hither gaze is Le Crayon Khol Kajal, available in deep black India Ink, Amber Night an intense brown, and Smokey Henna a sultry emerald. Splashing a dose of masti (fun) are Juicy Tubes Maharani Jewels, in Ginger Palace, Maharani Jewels, Autumn Jasmine, Mango Mystere, Guava Enchantment and Bengali Gaze, adorned with intricate mehndi motifs on the tubes. Also adding lip flavour is Color Fever Lipstick in Jaipur Spice and Star of India. Hands down, the pièce-de-résistance is the limited-edition bronzer Poudre Elephant Teint, an embossed symbol of opulence and grandeur, the stunning elephant design is a work of art. The collection is available in U.S. stores in July, and we, in Canada can expect it to hit beauty counters in August.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bollywood Buzz: Queen B in Toronto

Aishwarya Rai Bachan, a.k.a, former Miss World, and Bollywood's first lady herself is in Toronto for the Unforgettable tour, happening tonight at the Rogers Centre. Dubbed the world’s most beautiful woman (and rightly so) Ash is joined by her famed hubby Abishek, her father-in-law and Bollywood legend Amitabh along with bombshell actress Preity Zinta and loads of others. I’m sure the show’s going to be smashing, and I wish I was going just to watch the live performance of Kajra Re. For lucky ones attending tonight’s show, expect a sensory feast of costumes, lights, hit songs and dance, no different from anything else Bollywood. I’m a big fan of Ash’s, especially for her ability to effortlessly transition from traditional Indian culture into the mainstream. I’ll let her pictures do the rest of the talking.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Editor's pick: MAC Blot Film

There’s a heat wave hovering over Toronto, and it’s certainly not helping matters in the shiny–forehead department, for both gals and guys. On sweltering days like today, besides dusting a little powder with a coat mascara and lip gloss, I opt out of wearing makeup to avoid meltdowns. I have, unfortunately, witnessed my share of makeup messes while commuting on the subway – I’m guessing, in a few cases anyway, they’ve been attempts-to-banish-shine-gone-bad, resulting in caked on guises. Instead of packing on layers of powder, I suggest on-the-spot patting with blotting paper to rid the skin of oil. This will eliminate shine without budging existing makeup – or having to overload on product. The variety of blotting sheets out there are abundant – believe me, I’ve tested quite a few. My general grumble with most of them is that they contain talc, leaving a chalky residue until the skin absorbs it, (much like translucent powder); perhaps it’s more obvious on tanned-colored skin tones, like mine. My hunt for instant shine-ban was over once I picked up MAC Blot Film. Made of a patented, almost vinyl-y material, this blot sheet sops up oil, leaving a matte finish without any powdery traces. The simple packaging and large sheet size is ideal for ladies and fellas who want to have a gleam-free complexion.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Spotlight: Katrina Kaif

Happy birthday to Bollywood’s leading actress, Katrina, who turns 24 today. Born in Hong-Kong, and the offspring of a Kashmiri father and British mother, she comes from a brood of eight, all sisters! (Can you imagine, having to share with seven sisters? Being the only daughter, I seriously cannot). Kat’s globetrotting folks moved to Hawaii, then afterwards to London, exposing her to world cultures early on. Discovered by a jewelry designer in London, the 5’8 stunner launched her modeling career at the age of 14. She continued to model in the UK, until grabbing the attention of a Bollywood director, who offered her a role in her first Indian flick, Boom. Excited about the prospect of becoming an actress, Kat moved to Bombay and took on the role, even though she had to brush up her Hindi skills. Dancing, an essential element of Bollywood movies, encouraged her to take traditional Kathak dance lessons. Industry critics deemed her too foreign, and predicted she wouldn’t be able to make an enduring career in Indian cinema, yet clearly, after 5 years in the biz, and numerous hits on the big screen including Namastay London, Welcome and Race, she’s proved them wrong. Along with films, offers of endorsements and modeling contracts from international brands including LG, Veet, and Coca Cola rolled in, helping her establish and anchor a name for herself in India. Romantically, she’s been previously been linked to Salman Khan (sorry Salman fans, but I don’t see why!) which, gossip columns speculate, was a publicity stunt. Today, this fresh faced beauty has bragging rights to surviving the Bollywood scene, being voted Sexiest Woman Alive by FHM India, gracing covers of countless mags, all with a rising and thriving acting career under her belt.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cheap and cheerful: St. Ives Elements Olive Cleanser

This item had been sitting on my shelf for a few days before I decided to give it a test – mostly because I’m super pleased with my LUSH face wash (see post about LUSH). After using this stuff, the result is: I’m adding the St. Ives Elements Olive Cleanser to my favorite things list! It’s one of a rare few clear, gel face washes that did not strip my skin’s natural moisture and leave it feeling parched. Reason probably being, it contains loads of all natural anti-oxidants, including olive oil, sunflower oil extracts and chamomile, which is great for my normal but occasionally dry/dehydrated skin. And it did not leave an oily residue either, just soft, clean skin – it even dissolved my makeup all in one go, no rinse-and-repeat required (note: I didn’t have tons of makeup on, so it if you’re wearing heavy makeup, it might take obviously more than one rinse to remove). The new Elements line from St. Ives is paraben-free (read: no harsh, stabilizing chemicals, known to cause skin irritations) and offers a line of skin care products to promote purity and balance. In my humble opinion, not all quality products need to come with luxury price tags; I think this face wash is an affordable value on a budget.

I'm back!

Greetings lovely readers,
Apologies for missing-in-action over the last couple of weeks. I've been distracted and slightly stressed with selling our place. Now that all the legal mumbo-jumbo is in place, I can focus my attention back to things that matter :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Botanical potion: SUNDARI Essential Oil

A couple of weeks ago, while rummaging through my beauty bins (what I need, is a cabinet) I stumbled on this tiny (15 ml) bottle of SUNDARI Essential Oil. I must have snagged it in the hysteria that comes with going to the beauty sales at work, but that’s another topic. Luckily I had picked up the dry formulation (with rose and orange oils), which describes the typical state of my skin, save the summer months (it’s also offered in oily and normal/ combination blends). SUNDARI, which translates to “beautiful woman” in Sanskrit, is the brainchild of Ayla Hussain, Cavan Mahony and legendary '90's model, Christy Turlington. The holistic skincare line is inspired by Ayurvedic principles, an ancient Indian philosophy that promotes balance of the mind, body and spirit. I must point out that items in this luxury collection, which includes cleansers, toners, day and night moisturizers, treatments and serums, come with lavish price tags. The Essential Oil retails for $52; we’ll have to classify this as an extravagance. The instructions call for applying the oil directly to fresh, cleansed skin, but I’ve been mixing a few drops with my moisturizer instead. My verdict: I'm taking pleasure in soaking up the benefits from using this potion but seriously, I'm probably not going to indulge on an such extras anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hot off the press: Italian Vogue goes all black

The highly anticipated July issue of Vogue Italia is producing much buzz within the international fashion scene, and it hasn’t even hit newsstands yet. Unveiled by The New York Times’ Cathy Horyn, the revolutionary style bible has used only black models, with stunning Liya Kebede gracing the fold out cover, which also comprises of Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell. Editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani – acknowledging that racial prejudice against ethnic models still exists – decided to use an entire issue to make a statement, by covering topics related to black women in entertainment and the arts. Famed photographer Steven Miesel was appointed to capture the essence and beauty of each black model in approximately 100 photographs for the magazine, which includes shots of Alek Wek, Alva Chin, Arlenis Sosa Pena, Chanel Iman, Gail O’Neil, Iman, Karen Alexander, Tyra Banks, Veronica Webb, and Yasmin Warsame. Naomi Cambell, featured in 20 pictures for the issue, (including the shot above) praises the risk taken by Sazzoni to showcase the talent and beauty of black women from across the globe. The fashion industry has been notorious for using only one or two token dark skinned models on catwalks and ad campaigns, leaving scores of other models struggling for bookings. Bravo to Italian Vogue for boldly attempting to break barriers and creating history in the making.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Cult Classic: CARGO Lip Gloss Duo

My love affair with lip gloss is usually spoiled by the gooey factor – love the look of gloss, hate the stickiness (especially on windy days, when my hair gets glued to my lips!) This is why CARGO Lip Gloss Duo is one of my all-time faves. Besides delivering a sheer, smooth, non-sticky texture, this shimmery gloss comes packed in a jumbo tin container, in an awfully generous amount I might add, for serious lip gloss devotees. CARGO Cosmetics, our very own signature Canadian beauty gem, created an award-winning formula containing vitamin E and rosemary extract, to help keep lips moist and supple. The versatility of mixing two shades from this dynamic-duo gloss and the diversity of tints offered are complementary for all skin complexions, and keep pro makeup artists and celebs alike craving for more. Tip: Since this gloss is offered in a container format, I recommend using a lip brush for application. I give it ♥♥♥♥!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Profile: Mally Roncal

Makeup artist to the stars, Mally Roncal has my dream job! As gorgeous as her clients, Mally has dolled up loads of A-list celebs including Beyonce, J-Lo, Celine, Mariah and Angelina to name a select few. Born and raised in New York, Mally’s parents encouraged her to embrace her heritage at an early age. She instilled this philosophy of celebrating individual beauty into her makeup artistry, making her one of the most sought-after beauty experts with Hollywood’s elite cliques. Initially set out to become a dermatologist, the Filipino-American creative talent intuitively realized her true passion: makeup. After studying the art and technique of makeup, Mally rose the ranks and nowadays garners well-deserved admiration for her craft. Her work has been featured in leading fashion and beauty mags such as Allure, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmo, and the list goes on. When she’s not busy primping the rich and famous, and making TV appearances on shows like Oprah and The Today Show, you can find her promoting her own makeup line, mally Beauty. Lucky for us, she’s launched her brand on The Shopping Channel this past weekend – I can’t wait to peruse her collection and do some online retail therapy. Her success is an inspiration for makeup artists (yours truly included) and beauty addicts alike.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Product hype: High-tech mascara

Scanning through the paper at lunch today, I came across a novel bit of beauty news sure to cause loads of eyelash batting: vibrating mascara, coming to a beauty counter near you. Beauty giant, Estée Lauder is gearing to launch TurboLash All Effects Motion Mascara, infusing technology into its latest mascara wand to pump up volume at the base of the lashes. For some reason it reminds me of an electric toothbrush, maybe because both require batteries to operate. According to the company, “there is a relationship between vibration, length, volume, separation and curl.” This gadget-y mascara wand promises to deliver 125 micro pulses per second! The pitch sounds interesting enough I suppose, and I’m all for new formulations – this one consists of a gel formula with olive oil, among other ingredients to take your lashes to new lengths. Still, I’m a bit skeptical about bringing a quivering wand near my eye, mostly because I am capable of being clumsy, and am afraid of the obvious accident waiting to happen, but also because I’m not sure it’s all that essential. How hard is it to wiggle a mascara brush side to side along the lash roots for the same effect? This little routine has done the trick until now. However, its evident the makeup/tech trend is just heating up. Not be outdone, Lancôme is following suit and introducing it’s own version of turbo engine mascara marvel, Ôscillation, which claims to give “a 360-degree coat around each and every lash.” Quick facts: the Estée Lauder TurboLash All Effects Motion Mascara will hit exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue south of the border on July 17 for $30 a pop. We can expect it, along with Lancôme’s Ôscillation, to debut at Canadian beauty counters in early fall. I’m on the fence about trying it once it’s available. On the one hand I’m unconvinced I need this sort of gizmo in my makeup bag but on the other, I’m also curious to see what it’ll be like to use. What do you think, will you try it?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Soap dish: Lush face wash

I first heard about Lush Cosmetics’ Angels on Bare Skin facial cleanser a few months ago – one of my BFFs was gushing about how smooth and soft it made her skin feel (thanks Sam!). Curious to see if it could work similar wonders for my somewhat dry/dehydrated skin, I picked up a sample size (the staff can cut smaller pieces for you to try, instead of buying the pre-packaged sizes). First off, this is not your typical gel, foam or milk cleanser; it’s a mint coloured paste of ground almonds, glycerin, kaolin, rose water and lavender oil so it could get a tad messy. That said, I am impressed with the results – this cleanser holds up to its claim-to-fame: it gently cleanses and exfoliates my skin, without stripping off natural oils or leaving a filmy residue. Since using the concoction, my skin texture is smoother and noticeably even. Tip: keep messiness to a minimum by removing your eye makeup (especially mascara/liner) before washing your face with this item. Best part: it’s made from natural and organic ingredients, and is suitable for all skin types. On a side note, I was equally impressed to learn this truly global brand has recently opened doors in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India, Serbia and Taiwan, just to name a few. I give this product ♥♥♥♥ out 5.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Model Moment: Ayan Elmi

There’s a fresh face in the modeling biz, and it belongs to Ayan Elmi. She’s the most recent model to pose for Lou Lou magazine’s cover, June 08 issue. This beauty shares her heritage and birth place of Somalia with super model Iman, although I don’t think it’s fair to equate the two lovelies – Ayan’s youthful glow, immense brown eyes and full lips can stand their own. In a Q&A with Lou Lou mag, Ayan expresses her admiration for Ethiopian super model Liya Kebede (of Estée Lauder fame). A Canadian citizen, Ayan resides in Toronto and is signed with Next Modeling Agency, along with agencies in New York and South Africa. She has strutted her stuff on catwalks at haute couture shows for the likes of Jean Paul Gautier, Hermes, Gavin Rajah, Yahya and more. I love the combo of vibrant pink and orange contrasting against her radiant skin in this photo shoot ♥.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Makeup spotlight: Aqua eyeliner

Lately, I’ve been feeling stuck in a makeup rut and repeating the same ole routine; black eyeliner, mascara, paired with pinkish lip gloss. Bored, I headed over to the mall and automatically landed at the MAC counter (no alterations necessary for this habit). That’s where I spotted a bright aqua-coloured eye pencil: MAC Technakhol Liner in Smoothblue. Now usually, I bypass this sort of ‘fashion shade’ for myself, and stick to tried-and-tested hues, but I guess boredom pressed me to check out the unfamiliar. After a what-the-heck-I’ll-try-it moment, I’m pleased to report that I’m in a rut no more. Although I don’t think I’ll be sporting aqua eyes at work, I think it’s a subtle way to mix up my makeup routine, and add a jolt of shock to my otherwise neutral (yet beloved) palette. Hint: if you’re just dipping into bright eye colour territory, choose to line either the top or bottom lash line, not both. I prefer lining the bottom rims of my eye, with a wash of shimmery brown on the lids plus two coats of black mascara. If you’re still not convinced about turquoise on your peepers, there are other colours worth experimenting with such as navy blue, purple or olive green. Tip: use waterproof eyeliner to avoid meltdown in hot weather. My suggestion ladies, is not to be afraid to try some trendy colors for eyes or lips. The trick is not overdoing it, so stick to accentuating just one feature at a time.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Skincare Savvy: face toner

As a makeup artist, the most essential feature of any client for me is skin. While cleansing and moisturizing your face are no-brainers, I feel so is using a toner. Now I know there are some of you who are skeptics of this extra step, but hear me out. Using an alcohol-free toner (be sure it’s an alcohol-free variety, so it doesn’t dry out your skin) on freshly rinsed skin softens, refines skin tone + texture, while deep cleaning and ridding pores of any leftover traces of soap or grime. It also helps minimize pore size, and who doesn’t wish for pore-less looking skin? Bonus: I notice after applying toner, my moisturizer glides on more evenly, so I need to use less of it. I am totally addicted to Bobbi Brown Cosmetics’ Soothing Face Tonic (suitable for all skin types). It’s infused with natural lavender and cucumber extracts, and it smells heavenly. This toner is worth every penny simply for the scent alone, but surprisingly, the 200 ml bottle lasts a fairly long time.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Faux glow

Summer weather is almost here – or so we keep hearing. And as someone who prefers to stay in the shade, one of my foolproof ways of catching a sun-kissed flush is with bronzer. Except, with a tan complexion sometimes finding the perfect shade can be tricky. After testing and snubbing quite a few brands, I have discovered one I love: NARS Bronzing Powder in Laguna (it also comes in a darker brown shade, Casino). This shimmering golden-brown, high pigment bronzer blends in flawlessly with my skin tone, giving a warm yet subtle glow. Another plus point: it’s great to use as a contour under cheekbones after applying blush to the apple of your cheeks. Tip: start with a small amount of powder on your brush and sweep in spots the sun would hit naturally – temples, chin and cheekbones. This stuff is so good; you don’t need to use a lot.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Profile: Padma Lakshmi

If you haven’t already heard about Padma Lakshmi, you will soon. Model-turned-foodie, Padma effortlessly blurs the lines between Bollywood and Hollywood glam, having done acting stints in both. At a glance, it’s obvious this Indian-born It Girl thrives on organized chaos: her career expands from international modeling (she’s worked the runways in Paris, Milan and Rome) to multi-lingual films (she’s fluent in Hindi, Tamil and Italian) to global cuisine. Along with sizzling up the small screen on TV shows Top Chef and Planet Food, guest-appearing on Oprah, penning two best-selling cookbooks Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet and Easy Exotic, she’s been featured in numerous magazines including Asian Woman, Allure, Esquire, GQ and the list goes on. Whew! And I haven’t even delved into her modeling career yet (which started when she was discovered by a modeling agency while studying in Spain – can you get any more global than that?), but I think you get the picture. She’s also the ex-trophy wife of controversial writer Salman Rushdie. As mentioned in a recent Vanity Fair interview, Padma dreams of creating a global empire to brand cookware, gourmet food labels, fashion and jewelry in her name. Having beauty and brains has definitely worked for this ambitious and sassy businesswoman – I predict this to be her year.