Kitchen Face Packs

Yes, from now on, I refuse to say "face mask" - it will be "face pack" instead. Don't ask why they use "pack" instead of "mask" in India. I still cannot understand how anything can be a pack or be packed with regard to the face. However, it feels deliciously defiant to refer to the gooey-ness that we slather all over faces as a pack instead of mask, so here goes.

Again, despite my apparent obsession with product, I'm rather stubborn about skincare and beauty routines. Since age 10, I'd been taught to use most things anyone can find in their kitchen as a beauty product, with the exception of Pond's Cold Cream, Oil of Olay, Baby Powder, and Baby Oil (which, now that I think about it, all deserve special mention on this blog). These included: yogurt, gram flour, turmeric, honey, milk, lemon juice, lentils, rose water, and almonds. When I was younger and would get dreadfully tanned to the point where both grandmothers would gasp in horror at the very sight of my face (let's not get into the very many issues present here), my mom started suggesting that we use some of her handy-dandy food-based packs to keep our skin fair and lovely. I thought this was awesome because I've always been a tad bit earthy and feel better when I can indulge that side of myself.

I thought I'd share some of my face pack "recipes" (although there is of course no science to this - many of these things are generally good for your skin in any combination/proportion) since they are simple and easy to make/use, and since, despite my love affair with drugstores and Sephora, they were my first forays into establishing any sort of beauty routine:

1) Gram Flour/Turmeric Pack - This is a milk/yogurt based-pack, which generally calms and soothes irritated skin, and moisturizes as well. I like to use one weekly/bi-weekly during the warmer seasons since they are cool to the touch and because it helps fade a bad tan quicker (most people like us do not tan well - if you disagree, please comment). The yogurt-based one is slightly acidic and so helps exfoliate.

1 tbsp plain yogurt (whole-milk based is best) or
1 tbsp milk (again, whole-milk based)

1/2 tbsp gram flour
A few pinches or 1/4 tsp turmeric
1 squirt lemon/lime juice (for oily skin)
1/2 tsp honey (for drier skin)

Apply directly to face and massage gently. Leave on for 5-7 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer, especially if you use the yogurt-based one.

2) Almond Pack - This pack is another great moisturizer and is good at anytime of the year. Soak about a half a palmful (I didn't say I was going to be precise, did I?) of almonds overnight in a small bowl filled with water. Remove the skin from the almonds and grind up either by hand (pretty easy) or a coffee grinder to form a smooth paste. Adding a bit of yogurt or honey can help with consistency here. I like to add a few drops of rose water to also calm/soothe skin.

Apply directly to face and massage gently. This pack is harder to use since it doesn't always give a very smooth consistency and isn't easily slathered on. But stick with it and it will still do wonders. Leave on for 7-10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer if needed (I don't feel one is really necessary with this pack, unless the weather is cold and dry or your skin is on the drier side.)

3) Lentil Pack - You can find lentils at Indian grocers as well as a lot of other supermarkets now a days. I like the pink kind for this pack. I refer to it as pink because that is what it looks like and because I always confuse my lentils (trust me, when you're a second-generation subcontinental person who likes to be uber-subcontinental, it can happen). For now, let's refer to it as the pink lentil. I think its actually "moong" dal (lentil), but I will verify later.

Soak 1/4 cup lentils overnight and grind into a paste using a coffee grinder or food processor. Add 1/2 tsp freshly grated turmeric and 2-3 tbsp rose water.

Apply directly to face and massage gently. Leave on for 7-10 minutes and rinse with warm water. Follow with a light moisturizer if needed.

4) Plain Yogurt - Take a tablespoon and slather on!

I don't have the best skin but when it has been at its worst, one of these babies has always freshened it up in no time. It's also fun to use them because you can always add natural ingredients like oils (olive, jojoba, or vitamin E) or even sugar as an exfoliant.

Things I've Read That I Like

Apologies to Mindy Kaling for stealing her line, albeit slightly modified.

I have upwards of 60 feeds in my Bloglines, and I log in daily to read my own personalized mix of news, gossip, food-blogging, and product reviews. I thought it would be fun to post a round-up of things from around the interweb that I’ve liked and/or found interesting.

Stuff Indian People Like - I love Aspi’s blog, and the ever-fabulous Mind Rush has posted a wonderfully funny take-off of Christian Lander’s blog Stuff White People Like. Except that it’s about our beloved brown brethren. Here’s looking forward to part 2!

Miracle Berry – The NYTimes reports about a ‘miracle berry’ that distorts the flavor receptors of your taste buds temporarily – sounds like a wild experience that I’d love to try!

Michael Jackson Bhangra! - A great set of performances from “Britain’s Got Talent”, with commentary from Sepia Mutiny. Admittedly, the second is significantly weaker than the first – but seriously, are they having fun or what?! Part 1 commentary here.



I'm feeling the itch... the itch to make a drugstore run.

I can't say I do it as often as the other lovelies here, but sometimes a good drugstore binge can really hit the spot. Many a bad day at work has been soothed away with a nail polish, lipstick, or mascara.

My shopping list for the time being:

- St. Ives' Warming Scrub - discussed previously (here)

- Clean & Clear Soft Shower In-Shower Facial - another brand that I ditched a few years ago, but Kristen's great post on it (here) really makes me want to pick up a tube.

- OPI Mod Brights - 'That's Hot! Pink' and 'Brights Power' - I'm the nail polish girl in this group. The crazier the color, the better. I've already picked up the yellow ' The "It" Color' from this collection, but am looking forward to getting my hands on more of these. There's nothing like a bright color on your nails to pick up a dreary day. Read All Lacquered Up's review (here)

- Neutrogena Hand Cream, Norwegian Formula - This box catches my eye every time I'm in the moisturizer aisle. I might have to succumb to the pressure eventually. I wash my hands more times in a day than any one person should, so I love hand cream. Currently in love with The Body Shop's Hemp Hand Protector for the time being, but I'm always willing to stray... this better not be greasy!

- Yes to Carrots products - I see these in Walgreens all the time, I'm thinking about picking up a shampoo or face cream. Might have to do some more research first, though.


S'M.A.C. My Lips

Clearly, I research my makeup and facial products. It really is bit neurotic. Its not uncommon for me to try something at a makeup counter REPEATEDLY before finally deciding to buy it, although the circumstances under which I make the purchase are really no different from the first time I tested the product. Duh. After a lazy Sunday spent returning all previously reviewed eyeliners EXCEPT for the Make Up Forever Aqua liner, I decided to exchange the last 2 (M.A.C. eyeliners) for a couple of lip products instead, since they are my first love, and since I had been eyeing them for a while now. This lipstick and lip gloss go well together, but can also be worn separately for a very pretty, polished look that still has plenty of oomph to it.

The Lipstick in Polished Up is kind of a satin version of the Clinique Bare Brilliance in Chocolate Ice - but not really. It's actually a difficult color to describe - it belongs in the plum family of M.A.C. lip colors but is darker than the Sheer Plum and lighter than the heavier plum/wine/brick shades. I think it's probably the perfect subdued red/pink/brown for someone with my skin tone (olive...ish). The finish is a nice light, pearly lustre that again, is nice for day but even better for night with an extra coat or two and a layer of gloss.

The Lipgelee in Saphoric is incredible. By far my favorite tube gloss yet. It looks almost scary in the tube but goes on beautifully. It feels somewhat like a balm and is definitely less sticky than the famous Lip Glass (which I do not like because my hair would always get stuck in it). Saphoric again is a great warm red/bronze that is surprisingly sheer. It definitely does not make me look like a drag queen or a sub-continental auntie.

$14.00 each @ M.A.C

Oil Rig

I woke up last Thursday morning with horribly dry skin. Like, peeling, flaky, dull skin around almost the entire right side of my face. My face is otherwise rather oily or combination/oily or whatever fancy label you want to put on it, but I've started using these antibiotic acne creams which are severely drying, in combination with the freezer of an office that I work in. I was seriously disturbed though, because who wants to face nerdy Indian lab technicians with a flaky face? Not I. I'm supposed to be the Cute One here. Self-appointed, but no matter, must live up to name.

Because of the prescribed creams though, I didn't want to add harsher chemicals so followed my natural instincts instead. I keep Vitamin E oil (I use the generic drug store brand - oil or gel caps work), olive oil (any old kitchen brand will do), and lately, jojoba oil (I use the Desert Essences brand) to mix in with lotions/creams when I need something soothing. I have to say, this trio of oils in combination with my Phisoderm Gel Clarifiying Moisturizer really helped my skin without going overboard.

I felt slightly gross and shiny after mixing in a few drops of each with it, but it really helped and trust me, it didn't actually make my face oilier. In fact, I still had dry patches throughout the next few days and slathering on small amounts of each oil throughout the day didn't hurt. Once, when I lived in India, my Martha Stewart-of-a-cousin gave me a mini bottle of olive oil to keep in my bathroom (for a week I also had to slather on coconut oil - ew - due to a really awful, drying mud mask that killed my face for a week). It helped then, and I'm glad I remembered to use it again. The jojoba is also nice. I don't know how good these oils are when it comes to fighting acne and general problem areas, but I think they're helpful in small amounts. Not a bad idea to have some around. Also good for nail beds and heels.

Say Cheese

Whoever invented the camera sucked. I mean, they really kind of sucked. I decided that the camera is one of the most imperfect machines ever and I hate it. I hate how they've evolved into these sexy nifty little things I don't have that people carry around and use to take awesome Facebook photos. Mostly, I hate how I look different in every single picture anyone has ever taken of me, and how the sexy cameras have raised expectations to have the equivalent of entire photo albums online.

I've been fumbling my way through a slightly shady but equally entertaining encounter with a gentleman from Unnamed online dating website, who initially inquired as to why I did not have expected photo album on my profile. I mean, really. Really? I don't have a cool little gadget to take profile-worthy pictures and what I have are limited to old ones my friends have taken. Why should I have more, let alone make them public? Then, said gentleman (who actually isn't really one at all but we both agreed that when it comes to dating, "volume is key") had the audacity to check out my tagged Facebook photos.

Damn Facebook! Damn tagging! Damn my accepting-his-friend-request-too-soon and not-setting-strong-enough-privacy-settings! As if there isn't enough to worry about. Gentleman comments on how I look different in photos and I did not take this as a good sign. After a frantic cancellation of our first-date-business-meeting-last-date last week, he contacted me several times again to apologize and ask me to give it a shot. I agreed not because he was so persuasive, but because "volume is key." Also, because I'm a sucker. A big one. A big middle-child one. It doesn't make me feel any better that he was interested in the first place because of my picture. I hate you camera.


My, oh my. You know its a sad day when you actually have to ask a cashier to repeat how much you owe. Either because you're getting old or because the cost of whatever frivolousness you indulged in is truly insane. In preparation for what will probably be a hopeless first-date-business-meeting-last-date orchestrated on Unnamed online dating website, I decided to check out a salon near where I work (on Madison Ave.) to get some good ol' threading done. Bad idea. Bad, bad, bad idea.

Upper lip - $6.00. Eyebrows - $8.00. Grand total, with tip, - $17.85. Possible, you ask? Apparently, on Madison Avenue at least. Atrocious? Absolutely. I nearly fainted. Perhaps I'm overreacting, but I've had it done often enough for it to never have cost me more than $11.00. I wish I worked in Jackson Heights, Jamaica, Astoria, or Hicksville!

To make matters worse, when I checked myself back in the office bathroom mirror, bumps galore. Big, red, itchy ones. This has almost never happened to me before. Luckily they have already gotten better but I'm sorely disappointed. But my Make Up Forever Aqua eyeliner did not budge!!!! And good thing I now keep Vaseline Aloe Vera lotion in my grown-up makeup bag - hurrah for being a lady and always prepared.

Then I got a scrumptious Caesar salad which I swear, was big enough to feed 10 people - for $5.95. Hrmph. Go figure.

Apricot Scrub Gets a Facelift?

I'm a marketer. By profession, that is. I spend my days trying to determine how consumers behave and how to capture their interest.

And yet, at the same time, I'm the world's biggest sap when it comes to marketing. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely some things I see and raise an eyebrow at. But when it comes down to a friend recommending a product (I'm looking at you, Suman!) or a huge, slick-looking campaign for something nifty, I'm putty in your hands oh ad gurus!

Case in point, during the course of work one day, I came across this site - Get a Happy Face. It's part of a campaign for a new line of St. Ives' products - St. Ives Elements. I haven't used anything St. Ives in ages, probably since I was in high school. All us girls thought St. Ives Apricot Scrub was big league, but alas, I've since moved on.

And yet, this new line of products with a more holistic premise and its chic sitelet is starting to suck me in. St. Ives' core products such as scrubs and cleansers have been revamped, all centered around a more organic, sulfate- and dye-free premise, with ingredients such as olive oil and jojoba.

Knowing St. Ives, it's probably not that expensive either. In particular, the "Warming Scrub" and the "Olive Cleanser" look interesting. Frankly, I'm hoping the Warming Scrub is the 21st century version of the Apricot one we all know and love.

Next time I'm in the drugstore, I'll certainly poke around. Here's to hoping that it lives up to expectations! I especially hope that it's gentle and not strongly fragranced - I find that I'm getting particularly intolerant of strongly scented washes, soaps, etc. I'll do some digging and will report back...!


Ace of Base

Excuse the corny title - couldn't help it. I've mentioned the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Fast Fix Eyeshadow Base before, but only recently formulated some opinion on it. I rarely use eyeshadow, let alone base underneath. When I need to, I dab some concealer or powder on my lids before applying the shadow, and that has always seemed to work fine. I picked this up on another impulse, and also because it just looked kind of cute and uncomplicated. It was also much less expensive than primers, bases, and other similar products at department stores or Sephora, so I decided to give it a try.

I was skeptical at first because it really did just look and feel like concealer. After using it a few times though, I decided that it's actually much better than that - it has a thinner consistency that you can layer on depending on need, and a great natural color that can look a bit pasty on application but quickly blends in. I must also say that I like the simple, no-nonsense packaging and ease of application - just a dab or two in the pot.

Most importantly, it has really helped to hold up my favorite new Calvin Klein eyeshadow throughout the day. I have very oily lids and makeup generally slides off my face because it doesn't like me or completely blends in, but this has worked so far. It also doesn't make me FEEL like I'm wearing all this extra nonsense. Very natural, very nice, and altogether, very repurchasable. Especially if you decide to use it as a concealer as well. $7.00 @ Drugstores



Psst...I have a secret.

I hate the idea of waterproof mascara.

Ok, I guess that's not really secret-worthy. The secret-worthy part of that statement is that I hate the idea of waterproof mascara because I feel like it assumes women cry too much. I feel like for this one lame stupid assumption, a man invented waterproof mascara so that he can see women make their eyelashes longer-than-natural AND make sure that when they presumably inevitably cry, there are no visible streaks of black across her face to burst his little bubble.

I'm ranting. Probably because I don't know how to write....that I was wrong.

I was wrong. There. Easy.

There is a purpose for waterproof mascara other than saving a woman embarrassment when she cries: It saves her embarrassment when it RAINS. Yesterday, it rained, and I forgot my umbrella. In true Bollywood style, I pretended that I MEANT to forget my umbrella, and with about as much style as Kajol in DDLG, I held my head up high and faced the sky. I was thoroughly enjoying it, when I had a bit of deja vu of the last time I enjoyed the rain this way.

I was a junior in College and I was crossing Campus from one end to the other. It was POURING. But I refused to go back and get an umbrella. Columbia flooded whenever it rained, but I didn't really care. I loved it. I had a cute coat on, so I wasn't getting too soaked or anything, but it was the most liberating feeling to just look up at the sky as it rained. I think I was going crazy in the romance of it all because I ended up literally bumping into my future first-I-don't-know-what-to-call-him-except-significant-someone head on. He intelligently had his hood on and didn't see me, and since I was looking up, I didn't see him. I remember the look of mortification on his face....though I couldn't tell if it was because he bumped into a girl (he was very conservative) or because he bumped into me (he thought I was very liberal). He asked why I was looking up and why I didn't have an umbrella, and again, in true bollywood fashion, I said " I love the rain, isn't it awesome?"I don't know if it was the sight of my huge smile plastered on my face as water dripped down from my chinhairs, or just the response in itself during a major flood watch, but he laughed, and took of his hood off, too. Then he walked me to the other end of campus.

I didn't use to wear mascara then, so there wasn't much to worry about. But when I looked in the mirror last night, I looked like Gene Simmons from KISS. My face was streaked with black lines.

As I made the mental note to myself to never wear non-waterproof mascara on days where there was a risk of rain, I smiled at the irony of the situation. Inducing deja vu only got me black tears.


Bingo Liner

I know we are all sick of my liner woes (although Trish will attest to the fact that I have difficult eyes to work with - right?) but I think they are about to end. I've finally accepted that finding the right black/brown is very difficult, and my Almay one is the best its going to get. However, I still wanted to find something in either black or black/brown that was more long-lasting that other liners I've used.

I've finally settled on Make Up Forever's Aqua Eyes liner in Matte Black #0L (black). This liner has received rave reviews and all kinds of beauty awards, so it was inevitable that I try it. I put it on this morning and it went on extremely smooth even over my eyeshadow - no tugging, no smearing, nada. I know it's only been about 3 hours since I put it on but I'm very impressed so far. I usually have some smudging under my eye from the top rim and there is none of that. I also applied some to the outer lower rim and that has also not smudged. It also gave a very precise line, which is hard to get with softer, cream-based liners.

I think I will just go back to my roots and stick to this because it really doesn't look too dramatic for day at all. It also comes in a color called Star Black (#1L - a black sheen), which is another type I had been looking for. Unfortunately, I think it may go on too gray judging from my experience from other similar liners but perhaps I will give it a try. Overall, the metallics that I was initially interested in haven't been working for me - they reflect too much light and don't give enough definition. I wish this pencil came in a deep black/brown or other more "blackened" colors, but everything is rather bright (and mostly metallic). I'll have to see how it sharpens in the future....It's great overall though, and I think actually worth the price. $16.00 @ Sephora

All that Shimmers

If it's possible, I may have actually found the perfect eye product. It's almost too good to be true. Really. I know this blog may argue otherwise, but I am not actually very enthusiastic about makeup. Its precisely because it frustrates me so much that I feel the need to talk about it. This might change though.

On an impulse, I picked up an eyeshadow from the new cK Calvin Klein makeup line at Sephora (ok, ok, I was also returning a few eyeliners and looking for a new one). At first I thought everything in it would be really expensive, but it was actually average-priced. The Tempting Glance eyeshadow in Copper Sun looked great on my hand so I decided to give it a try at home - I'm so glad I did. In addition to eyeliner, I've also been looking for the perfect eyeshadow. I had given up on it a while ago though, after another unsatisfactory experience with one from MAC (Hoodwinked - a shimmery gold). It had looked great in the store but when I tried to use it myself, the shimmery gold of course washed me out instead.

Copper Sun is a light, beige/gold/peachy shimmer than you can layer on for a more dramatic effect. It's not exactly a "pearl" or "shimmer" finish but a nice combination of both that works for both day and night. It looks great on me because it highlights without making me look like an Albino, but also blends in well with my skintone so that my lids have a nice, soft, golden/coppery finish. My problem with most neutral/gold eyeshadows has been that they either completely wash me out or make me look like a disco queen. They are never warm enough, or are too warm. They also usually leave something akin to glitter or finely-milled mineral particles on your skin and I hate this.

This CK one has solved all those problems. I truly, truly want to make out with it. I want to write to CK and thank them for making such a great product in such a great color for people with in-between skin color like me. I want to make sure it never gets discontinued. I want to buy an extra so if it ever does, I can send it in to 3-Custom Color Specialists and have one made just for me for more than 3x its price. Will truly use it forever. It's that good. $16.00 @ Sephora


Black, blacker, blackest?

What is it with cosmetics companies and labeling their colors? A quick scan of the mascara aisle presents options in: Black, Rich Black, Very Black, Black-Black, Soft Black, Blackest Black, Carbon Black.

I mean - how different are 'black', 'very black', and 'carbon black' mascara really?

Weren't we all taught in grade-school science that black isn't a color anyway? It's the absence of color. Does that mean the blacker the mascara, the more nonexistent it is?

New Clinique Blushwear Cream Stick

My life is at an even bigger standstill than I thought. Clinique introduces a cream blush in stick form in July 2008 and I'm excited. Plan to try it since Sania swears by blushing beauties. It was featured in a recent issue of Instyle (Instyle Magazine Product Details).

Clinique Colour Surge Bare Brilliance Lipstick in Chocolate Ice

I love lipstick. So does Sania. Especially since I've never had luck with eye makeup and its one of the many things my naturalist mother disapproves of. Also because it genuinely looks good on me, and everyone else. I swear most people can get away with just lipstick in the right shade and formula. All my life, my mother has only applied 2 things to her face - powder and lipstick, and for the longest time, I did too. After rediscovering Clinique, I may go back to doing the same.

Even though Mindy Kaling terrified me with her claim that lipstick ages, I strongly believe that finding the right formula is key. Back in the day, matte/cream options could be a bit aging (although also very elegant, and all you really need to freshen it up is a dab of Vaseline), but nowadays, there are a ridiculous number of lipstick options to choose from. I had been looking for something very light and sheer for work. I work at a med school where makeup is rather minimal on most faces, so I wanted a color that was just a tad darker than my own.

I had seen Clinique's Buttershine and Bare Brilliance formulas before so decided to give them a try. While I lost the Buttershine in Rum Kiss, I've been keeping the Bare Brilliance in Chocolate Ice in my pocket because I love it so much. When I first tried it on in Sephora, I asked the sales lady if she thought it was too much like my own lip color and she said "yes." Bingo! But she agreed that it was great for everyday. Its this perfect brown/bronze that doesn't actually look brown or bronze - its rather neutral with a slightest hint of red. While it looks ultra dark in the tube, it is not so once applied.

I love it because its so sheer and shimmery and the color really does "enhance" your natural lipcolor - and it doesn't bleed! It feels more like a balm and is pretty moisturizing. Plus, it has just enough shine without going overboard for day. While its not great for that "stained" look that lasts all day, you can probably layer it with a lip pencil or something to make it last longer. I, of course, avoid such steps, so instead, I just rub on to the point where I'm almost making out with it. Perfect for everyday. Going to get it in more colors. Sephora, $14.50

More Liner Woes

I know we are all sick of this topic but its just too damn juicy. I could go and on about eyeliner, and I will because I can. Since I haven't yet located my missing cosmetics bag, I've had to use some eyeliners that I was planning to return, including a MAC pencil in Cocoa. At first I didn't think it was that bad, but even WITH that mysterious Sally Hansen Organics Eye Base (a line which What Not To Wear's Carmindy helped create!), it smudged. Can you believe that? I'm quickly losing faith in MAC by the way. It is so popular for eyeliner, and yet I haven't had any real luck with them over the last few weeks. They all smudge too quickly, no matter what the formula, and the colors go on weird and then fade weird and overall I'm just not too happy with them. I miss my Almay in black/brown. Luckily, Sania and I ordered many unnecessary things on drugstore.com and I so I got 2 on sale for $3.90. All is not lost!

After work yesterday, I went to Sephora to test out some Clinique Quickliners in Black Brown, Violet, and Really Black, as well as a Bourjois Regard Effet Metallise in Noir Effet Miroir (a pretty "luminous coal"). Was not too happy with Clinique, and while the Bourjois was pretty, it just looked kinda grey and shiny on me. Back to the store today. I may have to give in and try the Laura Mercier Black Violet, which is soooooooooooooooooooooooooo unbelievably pretty, but may really make me look like a raccoon. Why is this so hard? :( I just want my eyes to look a little defined and purdy. I should just stick to lipstick.


Google, I'm annoyed with you

A quick off-topic post (although, really is anything off-topic here?) about why I think Google is an Orientalist pig.

Ok, so that may be overstating it a bit - but when I edit my blogger posts, I see the following message in the sidebar:
Is Hindi my native script? Really, now..! Yes, so I've signed up for Google News India (what? I like the Bollywood newsbites), and have dabbled in the Hindi translation groups. But native? Did we really need to go there, Blogger?

Masc(ara) of Tears

Suman and I must be on the same wavelength this morning, because I was going to write about my own personal makeup crisis as well.

My latest mascara mistress is Covergirl Lash Blast. I love this mascara so much I want to make out with it every morning. It's perfect - not too wet, not too dry, and has a great wand. (That sounds a little dirty, doesn't it..?). It applies beautifully, rarely making a mess, and separating my lashes quickly and easily. If civil unions between woman and mascara were legal, I'd be heading up to the courthouse.

Of course, when you love something that much, the honeymoon has to end sometime. This morning...it clumped on me. Like, I had a blob of mascara hanging from the lashes of my left eye. It was tragic. I really thought I had found 'the one'.

How sad is it when you put all your faith in a product and it lets you down? What does it say about us that we're dependent on life's 'old faithfuls' to always be there and get us through the day? What am I supposed to move on to now?!

Lessons Learned

In addition to losing my mind lately, I learned the hard way what it means to lose your cosmetics bag. I never even used to have one. I used to throw some lip guck, an eyeliner, and the necessary face powder which I never use into my bag to make myself feel like a grown-up. Recently, I decided to use the little pouch that came with my fake Gucci/Coach bag to feel like a more pulled-together grown-up. And what did I fill this little pouch with? All the goodies I have been indulging in from DR and Sephora. It really did make me feel oh-so pulled-together and ready to take on the world. I even started to use some of what was in it. My perfect black/brown Almay eyeliner was getting a lot of play, and it was fun to poke around and experiment with other products throughout the day when I was bored.

And then. Then, I had a crazy social week and could barely keep track of my stuff. I mean, I was leaving/losing things all over the place. I still don't know how my work ID card landed on my friend's 2nd floor windowsill. On Saturday, I headed into the city for work and partying later, and of course, was excited to fill the little black cosmetics bag with more fun party things that might make me look like a drag queen later. By tea time, when I needed a streak of eyeliner to see a friend I have not seen in ages, I realized it was nowhere to be found. Searched my bag (which is always huge) through and through to no avail. Its not at home. I have to call the LIRR and Mt. Sinai lost and found - maybe I left it on the train or during work? My friend, who I refer to as the Universe, says this is a sure sign that I need some mental rest. So last night, I went to sleep at 8, and certainly feel calmer and less like this is some grand tragedy.

However, lesson learned: I was previously right in never spending much on make-up. When its gone, you feel like the biggest idiot for losing something so frivolous and expensive.

BTW, I tried a waterproof Wet 'n' Wild eyeliner the other day and there is still a trace of it on my hand. SCARY.


Mom, Dad, meet Duane Reade

Mom, dad, friends, and family - I'm in an unhealthy relationship with an entity known as Duane Reade (DR). DR is all over this friggin' place. I can't walk a block in the city without an encounter with DR. Its like running into that old high school friend you desperately tried to avoid, or an ex, or someone who's so good for you they're bad. Waiting for the train, needing a quiet place to use my cell without sirens blaring outside, a spot to dig into my bag and find something I couldn't locate on the corner with an umbrella in one hand and coffee in the other. DR is always there for me, is easy, quick, and always satisfying. So as a thank-you, I always ended up forking over some cash for a prize I don't need. Today, I had roughly 7 1/2 minutes before catching my train. I decided that even in this short amount of time, DR wouldn't fail me. And it didn't. I got an eye shadow base from Sally Hansen Organics. I don't know why I need one. I wear eye shadow maybe once a month. But it was like picking goodies for your own goody bag at a party. Except it cost me 8 bucks. And more, if you consider how often I encounter DR. Yesterday I met up with DR for a stroll through cheap eyeliners (yet again). One day I tried to find jojoba oil before hitting the office. Sometimes I cheat with Sephora, but that's such a serious commitment, and I feel safer with DR. I may need therapy for believing in retail therapy.

The worst part about DR is that it actually sucks. Majorly. As Sania and Trish so kindly pointed out, DR never has sales or deals and just won't give you a break. It is the most expensive relationship ever. I don't think its even heard of clearance sales, let alone BOGOF. CVS/Rite Aid are so much better, but they have some respect and don't throw themselves at your feet every block. This is disastrous. Must stop.


I have no interesting buys to share. Unfortunately, I don't have Suman and Sania's knack of discovering deals. I do, however, share their love affair with make-up.

Mind you, they send me tips and deals ALL the time...I have 100 emails in my inbox to prove it. But for some reason, I never actually buy anything. Actually, that's not true. I MAY buy something. Just later. When my cheeks are pale enough to need blush, or my neutral lipstick looks too bland against my tan skin-tone, I'll buy something. When the timing is better.

It's all about timing. There are days where you could wear all the right colors from all the right product-lines and look like crap, and then there are days where you could look completely awesome with only 99cent eye-liner. You need to be ready for it-- the look. You could win one of those Oprah makeovers where inevitably EVERYONE looks faboulous, and STILL not look fabolous, just because you aren't ready. You aren't ready to look at a different face in the mirror, or you aren't ready to have that person looking back at you feel something different inside. Don't worry, I don't presume make-up to have such a power over one's emotions, but you have to admit, it does change something. Regardless, you need to be ready for the look, and it needs to be ready for you, because no matter how much you put in an effort, it won't work without perfect timing.

The same goes with everything else in life-- work, friends, boys. Especially boys. You could be single for a year, and get introduced to a handsome successful dreamboat of a guy, and not look at him twice because you just aren't ready. Would you really be losing out? Is there really a punishment for not trying? What if you just aren't ready to look in the mirror and see that dreamboat next to you? People may think you are crazy, but I stand with the theory that regardless of all the deals that life hands us, we don't miss out because we didn't take it. The fact that we didn't take it contributes to 51% of why the timing of that deal actually sucked. The other 49% you ask? :P Well...maybe we ARE crazy.


On Clean Skin

Despite my efforts to slow the aging process by using as little product as possible, clearly I'm intrigued by everything bottled, tubed, encased, and dispensable the way little kids are by fingerpaint and Crayola. Normally, this doesn't apply as much to skincare, since my own skin isn't great and I've been waiting to see a dermatologist to dump on the chemicals. For no reason whatsover, I decided cleansers were a safe enough product to explore. To make matters worse, my dermo just told me any cleanser I want is a-ok, and so begins the madness. I will of course be adding to the new collection I've established (sadly, it only has 2 products!), but for the time being, I'm liking my Burt's Bees Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub and Desert Essences Thoroughly Clean Face Wash with Organic Tea Tree Oil and Awapuhi.

The BB Scrub has worked for me when used in moderation (which is how I use scrubs - I find them too harsh for daily use). I bought it because I "needed" a scrub and because BB is supposed to be au naturel and I liked that willow bark supposedly has salicylic acid, which is supposed to be good for my skin "type" and everything it is "prone" to. I actually like the creamy texture (normally a no-no for oily skin?) that doesn't feel greasy. And yes, I like the scent and it feels all nice on my dirty little face at the end of the day (or after a few days of not-cleansing/scrubbing - happens more often that I like to admit).

There is definitely a slight "film" or "waxiness" left after rinsing but I think that's the natural effect of the natural ingredients used, and because of it, I don't have to follow-up with a moisturizer. I think most people are too used to that awful, chemical "squeaky clean" feeling which is just so unnatural - you're supposed to have some oil on your face! Afterwards, my skin always feels fresh and not too dry/tight. Normally, within a few minutes of washing off a scrub, I feel like I have to slather on some moisturizer. I also find it way better than St. Ives', which has way too many harsh granules and a much more chemical smell/feel. So far I've used it a couple of times a week and am satisfied - it actually made me want to try more BB products. Do I sound like a commercial or what?! Such a great blogger am I.

Tea tree oil and awapuhi - a naturalist's dream! I keep hearing about how awesome tea tree oil is supposed to be for zits/blemishes/scarring/all bad skin things, and have been trying to find the perfect product that has it. I haven't yet, but I do really like this organic cleanser. It has a very water consistency - good sign, not too many extra chemicals! It smells a bit acidic, but that's always okay, right? Afterwards, my face definitely looked cleaner and fresher, and there was absolutely nothing different-feeling on my face - not moisturized, not dry, not tight, not filmy, nada - just my skin. Felt good the next morning too.

I feel good not so much because my skin does actually look a bit better lately, but because I don't feel guilty about wasting money on products that were just not special enough. Patting myself on the back.

Blushing Beauty

It's only appropriate that my first post be about blush. It is my latest obsession, after all. In the last six months, I've gone from one to too many. Over a dozen, as a matter of fact. Before that, I'd considered blush to be a 'special occasion' item, not for everyday use.

What spurred this sudden change of heart, you may wonder. Well, I started going to the gym. (Yes, me. I know, I don't believe it either. But it's true.)  I realized that I would turn a rather lovely shade of tomato once I started huffing and puffing - basically after my first few steps on the treadmill. Not attractive. But that redness would slowly fade away into an amazing rosy glow, which isn't something you see often on this brown girl.  It was a good look on my olive-toned complexion. So I set out to replicate it.  

I've always heard good things about Tarte cheekstains.  They were one of those things that I always stopped and looked at when I was in Sephora, but never picked up.  So I bought one in Blushing Bride, a deep plummy wine color.  

Tarte cheekstains are different than most blushes.  They're in a stick format, a solid gel encapsulated in a tube.  To use, just dab the stick on your cheeks and blend in with your fingers.   Blushing Bride is an intimidating red-black in the tube, but goes on a perfectly flushed color - perfect for the post-gym look.  

The Tarte cheekstains give you a different effect than a typical powder blush.  They allow you to achieve a glowy complexion that looks like it's coming from within.  They're a bit pricy, but come with more product than you could ever use up in a lifetime. 

  $28 @ Sephora


On Eyeliner...And all that follows

Oh dear, I'm this close to seeing a therapist because I have been fixated on finding the perfect eyeliner for more than a few days now. I am returning several new MAC ones as well as Clinique/Sephora ones.

Btw, I know this picure is corny as hell (and I also don't have pretty green eyes with perfectly applied green eyeliner and shadowing/contouring/funny colored patches on my lid), but it makes this page look nicer. I may return to my L'Oreal Le Khol pencils but they are not smudge-proof enough. I've heard about this Metallic Bourjois one and the Aqua's from Make Up Forever. They are my next experiment. Sigh. Could i sound any more bored and neurotic???

I tried the Clinique Cream Shaper but its too soft and creamy and very difficult to sharpen, although the colors are gorgeous. My eye area is incredibly oily and I also tear a lot, which is why this is a problem. I know I should use a primer, but the extra step might really kill me. Really. I find it difficult to wash and brush my hair sometimes. I know - me, and a blog, about beauty and product of all things - go figure.

I should add that I was looking for metallics/cream formulas because I sort of like an inkier look, even for day, as long as the color isn't pitch-black and too smudgy. A great color is L'Oreal's Le Khol Black Sable. It's the perfect brown/black and I wish I could find a longer-lasting, inkier version of it. I need a long-lasting pencil for mainly my lower rim. But that's also the oiliest area, which is why I'm looking for something more smudge-proof.

On a whim I went to Duane Reade and got 3 eyeliners for a total of $11.00. I think the girl undercharged me - yay! I got the blackest brown I could find from Almay, the blackest Jade from Black Opal (which is such a random drugstore brand but I like some of their stuff), and a lovely copper cream crayon from Maybelline (very similar to that chubby pencil Sania bought a few weeks ago). So far, I really like this black/brown color from Almay. At work, layered on the Jade. Before I left, layered on the copper - I looked interesting by the time I left. Ugh. Only in my world could this be such an issue. The powder thing hasn't really been working for me. It works for evening make-up, but not day-long wear. Also, in my quest to age gracefully, I want to use as few products as possible. The other problem I'm finding with creamy/waterproof formulas is that they are very hard to sharpen. I cannot bother to sharpen something EVERY morning and clean my friggin' sharpener too.

Recently I also went to Sephora and got 1 Bourjois and 1 Make-up Forever pencil. Tested them briefly at home and they definitely have some staying power. The Bourjois one definitely has some nice inkiness as well. I didn't see a bronze cream crayon - phooey. Will have to look again, although I sort of like the Maybelline pencil, even though it goes on more orangey than bronze/brown.

Results of a drugstore impulse during lunch:
Black Opal in Metallic Bronze
Maybelline Line Stylist in Bronze Gleam
Maybelline Line Stylist in Black Sparkle (no sparkles, just has a slight inky sheen)
Maybelline Unstoppable in Espresso
HIP Shadow Stick in Majestic (guess what color - bronze)

So in case you can't tell, I'm on a quest to find a soft inky black and a softy dark brown, as well as a bronze one that I can smudge into the lash line/lid for a little bit of gleam. I opened the Line Stylist ones and although I do actually love the colors, they are extremely thin and the self-sharpening kind and you kind of can't even tell if you are drawing anything on. The Black Opal is of course, good. The espresso on my hand seems better than the Almay I got yesterday.

Latest - returning them all. And I mean ALL. The only ones I am keeping are the Black Opal Black Jade and the Almay Black Brown. Oh, and I may keep the Bourjois and Make Up Forever ones - I think I'm just too lazy to return those! :)

On Solano Sapphire Collection Professional Straightening Iron

I have been using this straightener since high school/college. It was all the rage then (such things become rages when you live in Great Neck), and for good reason. It is the best straightener I have ever used, although I must say that I have not used many because this has been such a great tool. It was my first one and I have never felt the need to buy another. The 2 1/4-in plates are perfect for thicker, wavier/curlier hair and although it is a bit heavy, I feel that a good iron should be. Those thin, lightweight ones from the drugstore don't look like they can do much, and the newer, more expensive ones are overrated and overpriced. It has never fried my hair and creates a nice smooth, shiny finish, not that fried and dried look. Mine is about 5 years old and going strong. Definitely an investment you will not regret.

On Black Opal Metallic Precision Eye Definer

I found this accidentally while trying to avoid another expensive-eyeliner disaster. I have tried Black Opal's concealer before and used it religiously for a few years, so I was open to trying other products. I was on the lookout for metallic eyeliners and decided it would be worth checkout the usual cheapy drugstore brands that have been reliable (if not perfect) in the past - Jordana, Wet 'n' Wild, Black Opal, NYC, etc. I picked up the Black Jade Metallic Precision eyeliner because I loved the deep, intense color that was not too green. I love dark green liners for my brown eyes and olive skin, but sometimes they are a bit too green and can fade to a not-so-flattering mossy color. This one retained its black quality with the right tint of jade green. I agree that the color could be a little bit more metallic but for the price ($3.15), it was still worth it. It does require some powder/concealer/primer/whatever around the eyes to avoid smudging but stayed put for the most part. It did not immediately run like some of my prior MAC eyeliners, and was easy to remove. I would repurchase, and I'm going to try the other colors as well.

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