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.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Model Moment: Daria Werbowy for Lancôme

Polish born, Ukrainian-Canadian international supermodel Daria Werbowy, (she grew up in Mississauga, Ontario) who is a spokesmodel for Lancôme Paris, has launched her own limited-edition collection of cosmetics. Inspired by a recent trip to Brazil, the 5’11, 24 year-old glamazon teamed up with Lancôme and produced Brazilian Earth Colors. The cause-worthy line will shell out a portion of proceeds to support Centro Espacial Vik Muniz, an arts center for teens in Rio de Janeiro. The makeup line includes an earthy-toned lipstick, lipgloss and a velvet, travel-ready eyeshadow notebook in my everyday, go-to shades of natural nudes and warm gold – perfect for both dark-skinned and fair-skinned beauties.