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.♥