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 http://www.vasanticosmetics.com/ 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 :)
Cheers,
Sarah