Thoughts on Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

I'm a total conspiracy theorist. My worldview has probably been informed more by X-Files than anything else (sorry, college education). So it follows that everytime a dermatologist suggests Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser to me, I'm convinced they have been bought out by Galderma and become secret Cetaphil missionaries.

I've had to go to a dermatologist a few times over the course of my life and whenever I ask for advice about skin cleansers they either say 1) it doesn't matter 2) use Cetaphil. I had tried Cetaphil a few years ago and was unimpressed.

Recently, after another dermatologist (I hadn't been to one in years) recommended it to me, I decided to give it an honest try. Granted, my skin is in much better shape than it was the last couple of times I tried Cetaphil, but I'm not judging on its ability to magically clear up problem skin. Most cleansers can't really do that, and I don't expect one to fix all my problems. So I'm judging this on how clean it actually seemed to make my skin and its overall texture and tone over the course of a few days.

By those criteria, this has actually been quite good to almost excellent since I started using it. The first few days, I didn't really follow the directions and lathered and rinsed with water like I do with other cleansers. However, like with a cold cream cleanser, you're supposed to smear this all over your face and wipe-off, leaving a thin, moisturizing residue.

Well, the wipe-off definitely proved that this stuff can clean as well as take off makeup. However, I didn't like leaving the residue - I just don't think skin can be clean unless it sees some water. I can do without tingly sensations, lather, and fragrance, but water is a must. So what I've been doing is just gently splashing my face with water after wiping it off with a washcloth.

Afterwards, my skin has definitely looked and felt cleaner and fresher, and has so over a few days. I also don't think that you can judge a cleanser solely based on appearance afterwards - plenty of cleansers have temporary effects post-washing and don't do much else until you use it again. But Cetaphil genuinely seems to have returned my skin's natural balance, and it is far smoother than it has ever been without overdrying or making it greasy.

In terms of actual ingredients, however, I don't know if this is actually any more gentle/skin-safe than other cleansers - the ingredient names are pretty much the same as many others. I don't know much about ingredients in facial products and my last few purchases have been "natural" products from Avalon, Burt's Bees, and Dessert Essence (read here) - although I suppose I have no way of knowing how natural and safe those are as well. But since this hasn't caused any other side effects (overdrying, oiliness, irritation, other sensitivities), I think it's as gentle as they come.

As I mentioned, I'm currently using several prescribed treatments so my skin is definitely appreciating their effects as well. But Cetaphil definitely hasn't hurt it either, and I will continue to use. Unlike other cleansers I've used before, I feel comfortable using this everyday. It's also non-comedogenic and fragrance-free so if you have sensitive skin like mine, it's a pretty safe bet. Also comes in different sizes and in generic versions - definitely worth it. $7.99 or less @ Drugstores

Milani Eye Shadow - Flare

Oh my goodness. It's been a while since I wanted to make out with a product, even though I've had some decent successes so far. But this eye shadow from Milani is something else. I saw it and just had to have it. Luckily, it was so cheap that I didn't even feel bad about it.

Flare is everything I thought MAC's Expensive Pink was going to be. Not that I'm not happy with Expensive Pink - I think it is still a gorgeous, must-have pink that is extremely versatile. While Expensive Pink is a true, light rose gold, Flare is a deep, coppery pink. It's very true to its name - like one of those hot pink/magenta flares or fireworks, but with a far amount of copper and slightly orange tones (image above doesn't at all do it justice). So pretty.

Even prettier when applied. Expensive Pink takes a few layers for the pink to actually show, and when it does, it's a very fleshy pink gold. Flare gives a deeper and less shimmery effect with just one, well-blended layer. This is a shimmery/pearly finish and so it is less reflective than Expensive Pink, which is a Veluxe Pearl and can look much more frosty. Flare blends in so easily due to a very soft, velvety texture much like my Smashbox and MAC shadows. It actually complemented Expensive Pink very well, and would also work with most bronze/brown shadows.

It's one of those colors that every South Asian bride who is going to wear pink or gold (and likes to wear jazzier makeup accordingly) should have. The finish allows it to be used in a number of different ways - I dabbed it lightly over some blush and it gave it a nice, shimmery glow that would be nice for evening.

I love this shadow, plain and simple. I will find ways to wear it because I love the idea of wearing such a fabulous pink.

Milani's eye shadows have often been compared to MAC's, and I wholeheartedly agree - they are of comparable quality, if not better. I found copy-cats of my MAC Bronze (Golden Bronze) and Smashbox Ambient (Sun Goddess) and almost wish I had tried them before purchasing the more expensive ones. $3.49 @ Walgreen's

Rimmel Blush - Berry

Must find apartment. Must write about makeup to relieve stress. Must do so now.

Walgreen's is a miracle. For once, I must succumb to this suburban wonder now finding its way through NYC. They had some pretty fun things I stumbled upon yesterday. Oh, and yes...I went from potentially living a block away from a Sephora to potentially being around the corner from Walgreen's. Can't decide which one would have been better.

First up - I've been meaning to try some Rimmel products. Yes, my drugstore fetish will never end. It is just too convenient to resist. In particular, I'd wanted to try a blush from Rimmel since the packaging is so extremely light and compact. It's just a little, squarish plastic pan with a flip-top lid - no brush or anything. Even lighter than a NARS compact, although of course not as durable.

I got this blush in Berry and was suspicious - I thought it might turn out to be a flat, matte, dusky berry. Surprisingly, it wasn't! Berry was a a toned-down version of my CG Cheekers Blush in Golden Pink - the name is misleading because there are no hints of blue or purple in this (image above is much darker than actual color). It's more of a caramel/tawny rose/pink that gives a peachy effect similar to Golden Pink, but was far less pigmented and much easier to build and blend the color.

This was a dream to apply. Because the pigmentation is just right and the blush is very fine-milled, a couple of swipes was enough to give a naturally flushed look. Very lightweight and blendable, and absolutely no cakey effect. This doesn't have an ounce of shimmer or shine, but is sheer enough to let your skin shine through. Lasting power is also pretty decent - a touch up wouldn't hurt halfway through the day.

I actually like this so much that I want to try it another color, but I have a feeling I got the perfect one. Even after 1 day of use, I can tell I will be reaching for this more often than not. $3.29 @ Walgreen's


Still Alive, Missing Our Makeup

We haven't gone anywhere. Physically. Yet. But we're planning on it. Please excuse our silence of late - myself and San have been wrapped up apartment hunting and things are only just settling down.

We miss writing about our makeup adventures. I've had very few of late, and I can't figure out exactly why - a combination of discipline and motivation to keep my pennies to myself for now.

San has many blush stories to entertain you with - stay tuned.

Ironically, San may end up in a place where the nearest Sephora is 2 hours away, and I a block away from one. She will have to order makeup online, and I'll have to restrain myself from buying the whole store. Rest assured, there will be adventures galore to read about then...!


MAC Eye Shadows To Pair With Expensive Pink

I'm still enjoying my MAC Eye Shadow in Expensive Pink, and am very happy to report that I've found a couple of other MAC shadows that go well with it. They are - Evening Aura and Bronze.

Bronze is actually very similar to the Milani Java Bean shadow I have, although a shade or two lighter, making it a true bronze instead of a coffee bronze. This blends into the skin to give a fine, sun-kissed shimmer without looking frosty or too dark. I had a MAC makeup artist blend it into my crease with Expensive Pink on the lid, and it looked surprisingly fresh and natural. While this is supposed to be a Frost finish, I didn't really find it to have too much of one. My Smashbox shadow in Cinnamon Toast is definitely frostier than this - Bronze has more shimmer and a lighter texture. Very glad I bought this - it's already getting a fair amount of use.

Evening Aura is also a part of the Neo-Sci Fi collection like Expensive Pink for no apparent reason since it is in the regular collection as well. This is very much like my Smashbox shadow in Shell, but that is more of a pink frost. Evening Aura is a very pale, peach/gold yellow that is a great highlighter for warmer skin tones like mine. I found that this looks much more natural than Shell and can be worn alone on the brow bone without looking at all naked. It's a Veluxe Pearl finish, also like Expensive Pink, and so has a small amount of shimmer.

I have to say, so far, I don't love the Veluxe Pearl finishes - they seem to work on my skin, but when I test them next to Smashbox shadows on my hand, their finish definitely isn't as fine as it could be. However, this can be forgiven since the results are still great. $14.50 @ MAC


Clearly Clear

So with the recent spate of hot and humid NYC days, I've been wearing very little makeup. But I have noticed my skin looking better lately, which got me wondering - which one of the eleventy million skin care products that I use have made the improvement?

I can't say that I'm diligent enough to use a product regularly -- I've got product ADD! -- so I was definitely a bit perplexed. But the answer hit me while I was in the shower this morning. There's one product that I've actually been using according to the label directions, and it appears to be making an extremely positive difference in my skintone and complexion.

I present to you: Clean & Clear SOFT In-Shower Facial. No, really. Clean & Clear. I swear. The same brand that many of us were introduced to in the mid-nineties when Johnson & Johnson introduced a gentler, more feminine approach to skin care. They've apparently been evolving the brand offerings over the past decade, and I picked up this product based on some glowing reviews on other beauty blogs.

And boy, they weren't kidding. C&C In-Shower Facial contains a combination of glycolic acid (AHA), clay, natural fruit acids, and exfoliating beads. The bottle instructs you to spread all over your face, and wait a minute while allowing the steam from your shower to activate the formula. After the minute is over, you massage into your face, and the gentle beads allow for a little bit of physical exfoliation. The instructions say to use this 1-3 times a week, and I've managed to keep that routine up, reaching for the bottle while I'm taking a shower.

The result is simply soft and glowing skin that's not tight or over-dry. I"m talking 'touchably soft' and 'pregnant woman glow' here. (Not pregnant, I swear!)

I'm really loving this product. My skin has achieved a smoother texture overall, and my acne scars have faded pretty significantly. Now, I count that as a miracle. I've been fortunate to have reasonably good skin my entire life, but a particularly heinous bout of hormonal acne in my early 20's left some hyperpigmented scars on my cheeks. Of late, I had been using foundation to cover them up; however, since I started using this product 3 months ago, I find that I don't mind going without.

The best part is - it's cheap! It retails for $6.99 and as part of JNJ's marketing campaign for this line, they've been running coupons on their brand site. With these kind of results, I'm definitely going to try out some of the other products in the SOFT line. I'll report back when I do!

$6.99 @ Drugstore.com


Sephora's Lash Stash

I may not be all that into mascara, but I love boxed sets with goodies that would amount to much more if you paid for them individually. I never buy such sets, but I love to long for them.

Latest is The Lash Stash available at Sephora, which, get ready, comes with SEVEN mini-mascaras for a grand total of $28.00. That's nearly a miracle. Retail value of this set is $50.00. Forgive me for sounding like a Sephora ad, but that's an incredible bargain. Full-sized tubes of some of these mascaras are about $20, so this is a real value, especially if you like experimenting with makeup and then blogging about it.

The mascaras (all in Black) in the Lash Stash include:

0.14 oz Benefit A Little Bit BADgal Lash in Black
0.02 oz Blinc Kiss Me Mascara in Black
0.15 oz LORAC Publicity Stunt Lashes in Black
0.12 oz Smashbox Bionic Mascara in Black
0.24 oz Stila Multi-Effect Mascara in Black
1.0 oz Sephora Brand Lash Plumper in Black
0.17 oz Too Faced Lash Injection in Black

Myself and San are considering going in on this one together. Because, you know, mini-mascaras will take up a whole lot less space in our makeup bags than full-sized ones. Besides, what are you going to waste time reading about if we don't?! $28.00 @ Sephora

Maybe It's Maybelline Mineral Lipcolor

Is there no end to the number of new mineral products that are introduced seemingly every week? Even drugstores have jumped on the bandwagon - Revlon, Maybelline, and L'Oreal have all introduced mineral or "natural" products to their lines. I'm not into these products at all, but recently the Maybelline Mineral Lipcolors caught my eye.

Okay - they mainly caught my eye because they were on sale, buy one get one 50% off. I also couldn't resist because the packaging was surprisingly simple - a dark purple plastic tube with clear cover. No interesting shape, bright colors, metal accents, labels, nada.

I got this in Raisin and Terracotta, two neutral, nude/brown/pink shades, and was again pleasantly surprised by a Maybelline product. My other favorite is the Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Plum Sable. Raisin and Terracotta are respectively, a slightly darker and lighter version of that shade (no surprise there since I buy all the same shades).

But these lipcolors are supposedly 100% mineral-based, and so the formula is much lighter, more sheer, and actually somewhat more moisturizing. There is something that feels only very slightly....grainy with these lipsticks, but that could just be me and my dry lips getting used to the formula. These two shades in particular are good for basic, everyday wear, especially if you wear heavier makeup elsewhere. If you're into bolder makeup, skip these, or try the many other shades. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them due to the formula.

Raisin is a tad too brownish/bluish for my pigmented lips - something peachier is more suitable for my lips, which is what Terracotta is. A deeper version of Terracotta would have been even better. As expected, neither is very long-lasting, but they do feel good on your lips!

Since my lips are always dry and sometimes, more pigment in a lip product only emphasizes the trouble, I'm going to keep Raisin and Terracotta, but definitely plan on trying other shades. I think this formula will keep me from looking like a drag queen no matter what shade I choose. Truly natural, and truly easy to wear. But overall, nothing too exciting. These did the job at a time when I couldn't find my other lipsticks, but I would've been just fine with my trusty Plum Sable if I'd just had it on me. $5.99 @ Drugstore.com


Powder Preference - L'Oreal vs. MAC

Another reason why I like L'Oreal. It convinced me to return a new MAC powder I bought.

I've never been able to settle on a pressed powder I like for two reasons - 1) I don't have great skin and avoid using face makeup/cover-up on it 2) I have never had enough of a makeup routine to warrant using a good pressed powder everyday.

Recently, being 25.5 years old and still evolving, I've been more diligent about using face powder, especially since I do have oily skin. I lost my MAC Studio Fix pressed powder a while ago, and had bought the L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder (W4) to temporarily replace it. It worked fine, but I was hoping to go back to a more high-end product.

At MAC, I asked for something with more sheer coverage than the Studio Fix since I had never been particularly happy with it anyway. I ended up with the Select Sheer/Pressed Powder (NW25), which the makeup artist selected and matched to my face with 2 questions and a light dusting that lasted all of 45 seconds.

When I brought it home, I realized how much lighter in the pan it appeared compared to my L'Oreal, although they both looked the same on my skin. The L'Oreal shade was definitely truer to my actual skin tone. The MAC powder also made my face feel a bit dry, whereas I can barely feel the L'Oreal one. Back to the store went the MAC.

I hadn't realized what a good match the L'Oreal powder was, and what a reasonable job it was doing, especially considering the price. For my skin tone especially, I think it might actually offer a better selection of shades that work. Also, the L'Oreal powder has a separate compartment for the sponge, while MAC's does not - interesting, since the Studio Fix did.

Continously impressed by this brand. In the future, will avoid MAC when it comes to high-end and will try Clinique or Prescriptives instead. L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder, $10.95 @ Drugstore.com; MAC Select Sheer/Pressed Powder, $21.00 @ MAC

Jane Eye-Zing in Hazelnut - Blush Zing?

I've mentioned before how much I like this eyeshadow from Jane, but the truth is, I don't actually use it very often. Alas, this is the case with most of my makeup. Even though I've been working more with the blush lately, it's decidedly a much more delicate process in my opinion than applying anything else to the face. With the exception, of course, of eyeliner, which I've given up on altogether lately.

Poor great shadow with nowhere to go but the depths of my top drawer. I felt bad for it. So I retrieved little Hazel the other day to see how it would work with some of my other shadows.

Hazel was looking pinker and crisper in the pot than usual, when it dawned on me that perhaps it would make a good blush. Out came it my Eco-tools blush brush, and I went to work.

My hunch was correct. Hazel gave a a very subtle, slightly rosy/coppery sheen that was actually much more "sun-kissed" looking than any blush I've recently tried. I've previously described this shade as a bellini-like soft tan/peach/copper with very subtle shimmer.

Again, the effect was similar to one I tried to create with my also pitiful L'Oreal HiP bronzer and other blushes. This didn't actually look like either blush or bronzer, but my cheeks definitely had a different glow and some color to them in a way that I really, really liked - some interesting cross between what I always thought an Orgasm for darker skin SHOULD look like. Taos fits that bill as well, but it is definitely HIGHLY pigmented and very, very rosy. This would probably work even better on slightly lighter skin tones.

I'm sure there is a blush shade or formula out there that will match what Hazel did. I'll definitely be on the lookout, and maybe even take this to a store or two to compare. I have to say though, it was surprisingly easy to use a blush brush in this little shadow pot, so maybe I'll continue that method until I get over it.

$3.59 @ Walgreen's and other drugstores

Expensive Pink Correction

Just wanted to correct my previous description of the MAC eye shadow in Expensive Pink that I recently bought. I described it as a sort of cotton-candy colored rose gold that was almost, almost Barbie pink. Let's nix that last part.

After a few more experimental swirls with my eyeshadow brush, I guess the pink pigment that had settled on top has dispersed somewhat, and the entire shadow no longer looks quite as pink. I've also seen the same shadow on display in different stores, and each one looked different due to how much/little it had been used.

If you're considering this color, go for it on the basis of it being a great rose gold. No need to fear any potential pink disasters!



So, I'm probably leaving New York in less than a month. This, of course, inspires much panic in me - the die-hard New Yorker. To that effect, I had the following conversation with a friend:

Me: Oh my god, I have to leave New York soon - how am I going to fit in everything I haven't done yet??

Friend: You're leaving, not dying.

Me: Same difference.

Yup, definitely the same.


Thoughts on Urban Decay Primer Potion

I've been avoiding talking about this product. I was afraid I'd offend the almost cultish following that this product enjoys. But here goes.

The Urban Decay Primer Potion (UDPP) is meant to provide a base which eye shadow and liner can "hold" onto throughout the day, and also a canvas of sorts for more even application that is true to the color of the product.

UDPP comes in a genie-inspired purple tube with a wand whose handle looks like an artifact from The Mummy movies. It could be cute, and is somewhat whimsical, but I don't find it practical. It's too large for an eye makeup primer, and I don't like the wand applicator. It makes digging into the lashline (for liner) rather difficult. It's okay for dabbing on the primer though, but since you have to rub it in with your fingers anyway, I wouldn't have minded if this came in a small tube instead.

The primer itself is a nude-colored liquid that has the consistency of a lightweight lotion. It is not at all sticky and doesn't get very goopy. However, I don't like the color at all, precisely because it shouldn't appear to have one on my skin, but does. It looks like I took some milky paste to my lids and instead of providing a good base for other colors, almost acts like a highlighter and slightly changs the application of whatever shadow I choose to use.

Admittedly, I don't wear much eye makeup. This didn't really make any of the liners I use more long-lasting. I may have to try with a heavier eye someday, since I know that is probably what it was intended for. But I think I'm just as good with a good concealer (my Black Opal one works well for this purpose), or the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Fast-Fix Eye Shadow Base since it is easier to use, although some chalky residue also remains with that one. I don't know if I would pay $16 for this - luckily I received mine as a freebie.

Ok, don't hate me - that's it. If I fall in love with it as many others have, I'll be sure to let everyone know. Maybe Expensive Pink will bring out the best in it.

Things I've Been Reaching For More Than I Expected

So while I still haven't developed a makeup "routine" (and likely won't, for a number of reasons), I find myself reaching for some of the same products over and over again. They help me clean up pretty nice in the morning, and I don't feel like I have guck on my face that I can't deal with.

Eye liner falls into the guck category, and I just haven't had the heart to bother using any lately. My eyes have been sensitive, and in this weather, no matter how long it lasts, it just doesn't feel very summery. Normally, I would reach for liner, some lipstick/gloss, and maybe a dusting of powder.

This is what I've actually been using:

1) L'Oreal True Match Super Blendable Powder in W4, Neutral Beige
2) L'Oreal FeatherLash Mascara in Black
3) Milani Mineral Blush in Sunset Beach
4) TheBalm Shady Lady Eye Shadow in Mysterious Marissa
5) Clinique Buttershine Lipstick in Rum Kiss

Sounds like a lot for me, but the effect is pretty simple and polished. I bother with the powder because my skin is on the oily side, and in this weather, I need something to mattify it a tad in the mornings.

Mascara - so much easier than liner, especially this one. The Marissa shadow is a dream to use, and I love the color/packaging more every time I use it. Just have to remember to use something underneath so it lasts longer...

Rum Kiss, the only product I haven't mentioned previously, is a basic pink/brown/nude with work-appropriate shine. I don't need the color in the mornings, but this is quite moisturizing. Very reliable and useful - will definitely buy again once it's done.

Nice mix of high and low products, huh? I'm quite pleased with myself. Now if only my dermatologist would fix my skin!

MAC Eye Shadow - Expensive Pink

Ok, get ready - I'm about to make up for my lack of blogging this week. This is going to be a long, rambling one (don't ask how this is any different from my other posts) because I'm quite excited but also unsettled by an eye shadow from MAC that I finally got around to trying - Expensive Pink.

I've been feeling low this week and even after all my drugstore finds and gifts (the Milani blush is working out wonderfully, and sometimes I just stare at my NARS Taos blush), I was still unsatisfied. So, I recently stopped by the MAC counter at Macy's. I'm having second thoughts about my Smashbox eye shadows, lost my MAC Studio Fix ages ago and need to repalce it, and also desperately wanted to know what my skin color "code" was since everyone on these blogs seems to use that as a reference point (I'm NW25 - yay). Like I said yesterday, Sephora has been a bit unwieldy lately, and if possible, there is little new there left to discover.

So onto MAC. I had a plan to get some real "professional" help there and spend time experimenting so I could be happy with my purchase and avoid the dreaded Return Trip. But this pesky little boy of a man whose eyebrows were fixed in place kept showing me these awful, dull, pebble-like colors that I could immediately tell would do nothing for me. Seriously, they weren't even worth a try. When I said I'd like to try something warmer, all he could manage to suggest was "How about a pink?"

It was then than I spotted this really pretty pink color that I've definitely tried on my hand before - Expensive Pink. I shy away from color on the eye, so while I had noticed this shade before, I never seriously considered buying it. Since I've had a little more experience with shadows lately, I realized that looks can be deceiving and that most colors actually fail to even show up on me, so after another hand test (I didn't have the patience to actually practice on my eye at that point), I bought it and decided to experiment more at home.

Expensive Pink is a medium, cotton-candy pink shade with warm peach and gold tones, described by MAC as "pink with gold duochrome." Pretty accurate. When I say cotton-candy, I don't mean a very pale, milky pink. This is definitely deeper than that - almost a Barbie pink. Rose gold is probably more appropriate although it looks pinker in the pot and goes on more gold. On my hand, it was a very sheer, multi-dimensional wash of warm pink and gold tones - not actually very pink at all. The gold that was neither very metallic nor too glittery.

On my eyes at home this was a) unexpectedly, refreshingly pretty b) actually more along the lines of what I've been looking for in a "neutral" shadow. The color payoff was minimal on my skin - just a subtle tint of pretty pink and more fleshy gold. More layers of shadow gave a frostier pink, but at least it was still gold and not silver. What I liked most about this was the effect it could achieve without an ounce of the usual neutral brown, other darker tones, or deep metallics like copper. The color was buildable and one light dusting gave a very pretty, glowing sheen that was natural and yet just dramatic enough for some impact.

Expensive Pink is a veluxe pearl finish, which according to MAC means that it is "Vibrantly-toned. Velvety soft. Shimmeringly metallic. Veluxe eye shadow, now overlaid with high-shine pearl." Hate to say it, but that just about sums it up. However, this wasn't exactly "velvety soft," and the formula gave a much less smooth application than I had expected - certainly not as smooth as some of my Smashbox shimmer finishes. Still slightly more chunky than I would have preferred, but for the effect that it is meant to give, that's forgivable.

This is definitely a very versatile color that can probably work with any number of other shadows, and with various looks. The shadows that I currently have tend to get chalky or look kind of dead/dull mixed with other shades - this is a much better base for blending in other shadows. I think I can pull this off for day, and with a heavier hand and some liner, definitely exactly what I had in mind for night (since, you know, I go out so much and need a "night" look...).

Now that I've ventured into pink territory, I'm willing to give deeper shades in the same color family a shot. My friend once did my eyes with some wonderful palette of pink/plum eye shadows, so I know I can go darker without looking bruised. Overall, excited because this was a surprise find, but also unsettled because I'm not sure if it will really work out in the long run.

This has been reintroduced as part of the limited edition Neo Sci-Fi collection for 50 cents more - silly. I hope that doesn't mean it's going to be discontinued from the regular line, though. I will check out some of the darker pinks and rose golds at MAC to see if this needs to be exchanged, but for now, it's a keeper. $14.00 @ MAC


L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mascara - Not the Fairest of Them All

Another mascara to add to the list of oddly colored/packaged mascaras out there in drugstores lately. To put it simply, I find the packaging of the new L'Oreal Bare Naturale Mascara to be kind of weird. I mean, really - kind of weird, isn't it? It's this odd, tortoise shell-looking thing. It kind of looks like the special edition of an old mascara from the 50s which someone's grandmother had custom-made.

This probably isn't fair of me since I haven't even tried the mascara, and don't intend to (mostly because I'm happy with the L'Oreal FeatherLash and Fresh Supernova), but I must admit, the packaging is one reason I'm not so interested. However, it did initially caught my eye precisely because it is not some neon or metallic tube competing with a similarly neon or metallic tube.

It's a little intriguing, yes, and seems to suit this line's natural theme well - sort of. The only reason I may consider trying it (not anytime soon) is because its paraben-free, and since I have sensitive eyes, it might be worth it.

Updates and Such

So I don't know what is up with me. Either I'm not in the mood for sharing or things are at SUCH a standstill that even makeup isn't cutting it anymore. Gasp - I take that back. Of course makeup can cut it. I just haven't tried anything interesting or new lately - all I have is a few updates, and yet another NARS product to lust after.

I decided I can no longer dedicate entire posts to one product I don't even have, no matter how much I'm craving it. Take the NARS Lola Lola eye shadow for instance. I tried it again the other day in the store and all of a sudden, that special magic didn't seem so special anymore. Thank god for a little discipline now and then. I would still like to have it, but am not craving it as much.

Yes, as my sister pointed out, I do crave makeup the way she craves food.

Next up - a NARS lipstick called Kiss. This is a classic, rosy bronze shade with a fair amount of shimmer and frost that is just right and not at all overwhelming. I usually don't appreciate anything frosty, but on occasion, it does achieve a certain something. I can pull it off in this shade because it is just dark enough.

Prestige liquid eyeliner in dark brown - in the garbagio. It got completely watery and was useless. This might be because I never actually had to use it (one sweep of the Wet 'n' Wild one in the same shade was enough for the day) for touch-ups, so it probably...fermented or something.

Mulling over my three Smashbox eye shadows - Cinnamon Toast, Ambient, and Shell. I do use Shell and Cinnamon Toast occasionally, and they are definitely good for dressier days/events. Have barely used Ambient. I'm starting to think this gold may be too orangey. I think overall maybe these were all too shimmery/frosty? Maybe I need something more along the lines of a pearl/satin finish to feel more comfortable wearing it? I know I'm young and could get away with more, for now I need to at least figure out how to play it safe before acing trickier looks. Am considering swapping these for products I know I'll love - mostly lip ones.

I'm considering just throwing myself at the mercy of the M.A.C counter (sorry, San) which I have previously already done with little to show for it. Maybe it's worth another try though. Sephora is very unwieldy lately - yesterday, Kat D Von was paying a special visit and I nearly got killed.


Flower Power?

Above we have one of the latest trends in beauty products - funny flower designs embossed in the product itself. I've included images of The Body Shop Shimmer Buds Eye Shadow, Clinique Fresh Bloom Allover Color, and Revlon A Floral Affair Blush - I'm sure there are quite a few more.

I know this has been done in the past (recall embossed sun images in bronzers), but I find it very annoying. Pretty packaging is one thing, but I like my product to be simply the product, unless the designs serve some purpose. In some cases they do, like with the Revlon Golden Affair Sculpting Blush San reviewed here.

But flowers? At least the strips of color showing up in everything from blushes to lip glosses are somewhat more functional. Flowers, however, don't seem to allow proper mixing of different shades, and some seem to be too small to dip into for individual ones. In the case of The Body Shop eye shadow, I don't think they do anything at all - just decoration.

These are probably meant to make women feel like a special season has arrived and that their makeup, in addition to formula/shade, should change accordingly. Eh. I prefer the bold, functional pan of color in something like NARS' products.

I'm a sucker for pretty things, and most women are, for better or for worse, but I just don't see the appeal of these. Stripes, checker-boards, flowers - what next? Hopefully something more interesting.

NARS Single Eyeshadow - Lola Lola

I'm craving this eyeshadow. Literally craving. I know I'm a sucker for neutral shades that barely appear on my skin - just the way I like it, for now at least. Eye shadows I've been playing with of late are in the neutral highlighter category. I have small, close-set eyes so I'm a bit timid about trying real color.

I can now add this fabulous eyeshadow from NARS to my neutral collection, if only via my wild imagination. I put off purchasing this as an exercise in self-discipline, but I'm sure it would have been worth the price. Lola Lola is another light, shimmery brown that is similar to the Smashbox Eyeshadow in Cinnamon Toast that I've been using.

Cinnamon Toast is slightly lighter, though, and too much of it can have a somewhat silvery, frosty look. I use it to brighten my eyes a bit, but it definitely requires some eyeliner to finish.

Lola Lola created very natural, polished effect that didn't require any other eye makeup (although a light coat of mascara didn't hurt). It appears darker in the pan, but is actually a light, true brown shade with a touch of pearly shimmer - no hints of gray, blue, red, or other colors.

I don't know what Lola Lola did. It was my-lids-but-better. There was just enough shimmer to brighten the eye, and the color so perfectly matched my skin that there was no potential for frostiness. These colors can often look quite dull on me, but with this on, I actually looked a little fresher without appearing made-up - no powdery trace, just a transparent wash.

This would be a great base eyeshadow for people with similar skin tone. You could work virtually any shade/shadow type into this one. It might just be that this makes me feel like I've made an effort and am wearing something to look more polished, but that's enough for me most days.

I know I should experiment with more color - I'll work on this with more professional help at some far off point in the future. Or one day after work very soon since very little else interests me lately. $22.00 @ Beauty.com

NARS Powder Blush - Taos

You'd think I would've written about this sooner now that I have it. Alas, all has been quiet on Shrooms' front for a few days. But since I've been comparing every blush out there to this one, it's high time I shared my love for it.

I've been hung up on the CG Cheekers blush in Golden Pink for quite a while now - it's been the closest thing I could find to Taos...and yet, not really. I've been annoyed with it recently though, because it's rather difficult to blend, and the small pan makes it hard to get color on the blush brush.

Not so with Taos. This is a true rose blush - rich and bright with just enough cool berry tones to prevent an orange effect. At the same time, this manages to be an incredibly warm pink shade that will probably flatter most skin tones. Some consider this to be the Orgasm for darker skinned women - I tend to agree.

The company description for Taos is "desert rose with shimmer," but I would think a desert rose shade would be more "burnt" and bronzey like the Golden Pink, and this is definitely much more vibrant than that, with few netural/brown tones. There is definitely a fair amount of shimmer which most NARS blushes seem to have, but the effect is extremely subtle - don't know how those shimmer particles do it, but they do it well.

Blendability is fantastic, and I'm looking forward to mixing in some bronzer (if I'm in the mood) to add some hints of brown since this has absolutely none. This is very pigmented, and so I have to use a very light hand. That can kind of be hard for me, because I like to be quick in the morning and going easy on the makeup is surprisingly more time-consuming. I dip very light along the side of the brush (don't swirl) and tap it onto my cheeks before blending. If I dip the brush into the pan head-on, it picks up way too much color.

For this reason, I don't know if I can safely and easily use this everyday - I think it suits a certain "look" especially depending on the rest of your makeup. I still think a toned down version of this would work better on a daily basis, but then again, many colors tend to disappear on me, so perhaps this really is my best bet. I think now I really need to get the L'Oreal Tru Blend Blush in Subtle Sable - it could be a good compromise (if such a thing exists when Taos is involved) for daily wear.

The packaging of this blush, like all NARS products, is chic and sensible - the compact is so slim and durable, and there is a huge pan of color, making it very easy to dip in any kind of brush, and a mirror inside. I'm trying to figure out how to make this last longer, though.

I got this as a gift from San (she found some major BOGOF NARS sale god-knows-where), so I can play with this to my heart's content without any guilt. And yet, had I actually bought it, it would have been well worth the price. And, er, I know another blush is currently titled Best Blush but I think we can all agree that needs to change. Love it. $25.00 @ Beauty.com


Hamesha India Mein

Su sent me an interesting SAJA bulletin yesterday evening, and I thought it would be relevant to talk about here, especially since we do occasionally concern ourselves with the 'coulds, woulds, and shoulds' of beauty.

It seems that Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide has developed a miniseries of ads for a Ponds' skin lightening cream, called Ponds' White Beauty. I know what you're thinking - "oh no, another Fair & Lovely conversation"- but I don't have a ton to add to that debate. There are some really articulate posts Sepia Mutiny about it, if you want to check them out (here & here).  This mini-ad-drama is being called "Kabhi Kabhi Pyaar Mein"  

Upon searching for said ads on YouTube, I found that a version of this campaign ran in China and other East Asian countries, where the product was called Ponds' Flawless White, and the campaign entitled "7 Days to Love".  Don't ask me why, but this was a major surprise to me.  

With the exception of the product name, the ads have exactly the same storyline. I have to profess my ignorance about E. Asian cinema, but I do know that the Indian version of the ad has three fairly prominent Bollywood celebrities - Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra, and Neha Dhupia.  I would assume that the actors in the Chinese version have achieved equal celebrity in Chinese society.

What interests me is the fact that this story was used as a 'universal' tale - everything from the 'boy meets girl, boy dumps girl' story, to the color schema, to the camera angles were copied.  It's a pity that we don't often find commonalities with our Chinese/Asian brethren, but it's particularly interesting that the same product is promoted in two different markets in exactly the same manner.  Check it out to see what I mean:

Asian Version

Indian Version

The Indian version has only just yet begun running, so episodes 4 and 5 are not yet available. [As an aside, it'll be interesting to see how they translate the 'white wedding' into the Indian version.] 

Like I said, I was shocked to see these ads  - on so many levels.  First, and most obviously, is the issue of color politics.  And while that's been a part of Indian society for centuries, it is not until celebrities jump OFF this bandwagon and take a stand against the color-ist environment that is perpetuated in India, that we're going to get anywhere.  To see big names like the Chote Nawab and a former Miss Universe throwing their weight behind such a product is extremely disappointing.  

I also have to admit that, while in no way did I think that color-ism was a uniquely Indian issue, I didn't realize the extent to which it was perpetuated in East Asia as well.  

And from a marketing perspective, was it wise of Ogilvy to do a straight translation of this ad across cultures?   Setting aside that such an ad should never ever grace anyone's television screen, is the color issue of equal significance in both cultures?  

What do you think of the ads?  


Firebird is Here!

The pretty, pretty Fresh Firebird Mascara is now available to order online! If you do so before July 16, you get a free 20 mL of their Soy Face Cleanser.

I do want this but I will wait it out since I'm enjoying the L'Oreal Featherlash and Fresh Supernova for now. Luckily, you should chuck mascara after 3 months so perhaps I'll be due in for one soon enough.

Also, my sis uses their cleansers and likes them, so the complimentary one may be worth it if you're on the lookout for a new cleanser.

I was also eagerly awaiting the new Clinique Blushwear Stick and have yet to try it...sigh. Again, what a busy life I lead...

The Drugstore Queen Has Come Undone

This blog's resident Drugstore Queen is really going crazy. I was a full half an hour early to work today and instead of walking straight to the office, I took a detour to CVS and purchased some Black Radiance products (just to, you know, experiment, not keep...).

I picked up the Spiced Ginger blush I mentioned yesterday and it is most certainly no NARS Taos knockoff. Agreed, San, that there can be no such thing. How could I have been so naive. This was a pretty standard rosy color with great pigment for the price, but not really for me - just wasn't interesting/exciting enough. I'd be better of with the L'Oreal Subtle Sable if I'm going to go for a drugstore blush.

I don't know what has gotten into me. I don't know why I'm scared of a $25.00 commitment to Taos when I spend about the same on a number of drugstore products that I go and return anyway. Might as well make one truly great purchase and stick with it.

Also, scouting out products at drugstores is starting to tire me out. They don't all carry the same things and I miss Sephora. Returning is also becoming a pain. Oh, what a busy life I lead...


Taos Knockoff Alert!

I've hopelessly been trying to mimic the lovely NARS blush in Taos, although the process has made me explore and appreciate blushes much more than I ever have.

Today, I read a review on MUA for a blush that is supposed to be a good replacement for Taos - Black Radiance Sheer Blush in Spiced Ginger. I'm quite partial to the Black Radiance and Black Opal drugstore lines although I know that they are probably for skintones much darker than mine. Still, I find that their some of their shades and formulations still work for my skin more so than others. I have the Black Opal eyeliner in Blackened Jade and concealer in Honey.

I haven't actually tried Black Radiance but since Black Opal is pretty decent, I'm willing to give it a try.

I enjoyed the Milani in Sunset Beach like a good drink, and already have the CG Cheekers as a great safe bet. Onward ho. Will report on it soon.

Milani Cyrstal Lip Gloss - Taboo

Ok, this find is not a part of my Milani kick. I discovered this great lip gloss last year and got so much use out of it - I can't believe it took me this long to share what a value this is.

The Crystal Lip Gloss is a chubby, pocket-sized tube gloss with one of those "doe-foot" wands (where do they come up with these names???). It's one those perfect, everyday glosses that has good color payoff and shine, is decently long-wearing for the price, is not too sticky or silky, and has just enough shimmer. This is meant to be some kind of ultra-shiny formula, but I don't really find it to be so.

I love the Taboo shade because it is one of those truly universally flattering neutral pink/brown colors that you can wear just about anywhere and that complements many a makeup "look." It helps tone down brighter colors as well and worn lightly, is a great nude.

I'm all about lip guck, but this is one of those products that is a staple and that I find myself reaching for more often than more expensive glosses and lipsticks. $1.99 @ Drugstores

Milani Mineral Blush

I'm on a Milani kick. I recently spotted a row of pretty Milani blushes at CVS, but thinking I'd find them at another drugstore later, put off purchasing. Bad idea. I couldn't find them anywhere, and they no longer appear to be on the Milani website either.

However, Milani has introduced a line of mineral makeup which includes a Mineral Blush that comes in four shades. Of course, I have also not seen these anywhere else. Otherwise, I would have snatched one up and written about it sooner. The random Duane Reade in Penn Station that apparently gave birth to the line of Posh knockoff brushes from Apt. 5 also appears to have created this blush.

There were three of them sitting neatly in a Terra Cotta bronzer display. I just don't understand where they came from since that store doesn't have its own Milani display and there are no other Milani products there. My only options were Sweet Rose and Sunset Beach. Sweet Rose looked a little too cool for me, so I went with Sunset Beach.

Sunset Beach is basically a vibrant, burnt peach shade with hints of brown. No shimmer, no glitter, just a good old standard blush. I normally would never try such a color as this on my skin, but I've been feeling adventurous lately. Using this was a breeze due to the extremely lightweight, fine-milled consistency that gave a sheer finish.

I would say that most blushes are like confectioner's sugar in a pan, but this is more like ground up chalk (without a chalky finish though!). I lightly dusted it on and then actually layered some of my beloved CG Cheekers Blush in Golden Pink - what can I say, very nice! A little different and unexpected, but still very natural. I don't think this has much lasting power though, even when set with powder.

For the price, this is a pretty large pan of color that comes with a mirror and sponge in a separate compartment. I prefer this to the Glimmer Strips and Sunset Duo blushes because those shades are rather dull and predictable. Sunset Beach is a somewhat unique shade that I think suits me, and because I found it easy to work with, perhaps I'll give Sweet Rose a try as well. ~$4.00 @ god knows where but if you live in NYC, go to the Duane Reade located on the upper level of Penn Station near the NJ Transit!

Posh Brush Knockoffs from Apt. 5

I guess I haven't updated everyone on my quest to find the Posh Retractable Blush Brush. I refused to buy it full-price online, and KMart is sold out (they aren't available at Kmart online either). I checked out some at the drugstores, but wasn't psychologically or emotionally satisfied by them. Until yesterday.

First of all, San will attest to how good the Duane Reade on the concourse level at Penn Station is. I don't know why, but it carries a whole load of goodies that the lower level one does not. I find all sorts of new or hard-to-find products there.

Yesterday, I spotted a row of black and red brushes from drugstore line Apt. 5 that are identical to the Posh ones. And I mean identical. Had I not checked, I would've mistaken them for Posh. They have exactly the same kinds of brushes, same design, same packaging (with one minor exception - the Apt. 5 ones don't come in a reusable zipper pouch).

Best part - the Apt. 5 ones are half the price.

The minute I spotted the retractable blush brush, I had to have it. I opened it when I got home and compared it with the Posh Kabuki I have, and my, was I impressed. Again, almost identical quality. Using this to apply my blush was infinitely easier than using the kabuki - there's some duh factor involved here, don't remind me.

It's a miracle I even found these. They were lined up in the display of some new Maybelline mineral makeup, and not anywhere near the regular Apt. 5 makeup/brushes. I'd also been in a few other drugstores over the last few days and had not spotted them.

I can't find these online, and some sites are saying Apt. 5 is no longer available for purchase - I guess I haven't seen their cosmetics in a while, although I do often see their brushes. I'm not sure if the Posh copycats are new or discontinued.

Getting your hands on these will surely be a hunt, but well worth it especially if you're not interested in paying even the Posh prices for makeup brushes. $5.99 @ god knows where but if you live in NYC, go to the Duane Reade located on the upper level of Penn Station near the NJ Transit!

Lipstick Orientalism

So as the summer continues to roll along, new cosmetics collections are starting to pop up. There are a few that I'm interested in (NARS Fall 2008, anyone?) but there's one in particular that caught my eye, and not in a good way.

Lancome has just released their Fall collection entitled Maharani Jewels, based on the colors and patterns of.. you guessed it - India!

While I understand and (sometimes) appreciate the fashion industry's interest in the Subcontinent, I can't help but feel that their strides toward multiculturalism are.. well, a little shallow. And this collection in particular makes me a little more than uneasy. There are elements of the concept that have just flattened South Asian-ness into garden variety exoticism.  

Shade names like Guava Enchantment or Lotus Splendor, Jaipur Spice or Bombay Glow -- they are fixated on the India of the Kama Sutra, incense and spice markets, and Aladdin's cave full of jewels.  I, for one, would love to see an "India" collection that does not harp upon the 'exotic colors' or the "sensuous women with hennaed hands."  

Just tell it like it is.  While the fact that India is a country of over a billion people, the majority of whom live in poverty, is not sexy - I think there is a ton of ground to cover between Saraswati at one end, and the Unscheduled castes at the other:  the two dozen languages, the wildly different looks and colors and features of those one billion.  But I'm not holding my breath.

Until then, we're left with the collection description:
LancĂ´me’s fall collection is inspired by the beauty of the woman, shown through her ancestral gestures and intense eyes.

and an elephant bronzer in the shade Sunny Manorama:

I have so much more to say, but excuse me for now - I have to go practice my mudras.


Groomed and Polished

So let's set the record straight here. I'm not a 'put together' kind of gal - contrary to what you may think based on this blog. I'm not always well-coiffed. I don't have an amazing and/or unique fashion sense, and I'd probably walk around in jeans all the time if life would let me.

Even when it comes to makeup, I do make an effort to put some on, but it usually doesn't happen in the morning before I leave for work.  Makeup is applied in stolen moments before meetings, at my desk or in the ladies' room at the office.

But regardless of how un-stylish I may look or feel on a given day, there is one aspect of my routine that I can feel good about - my nails.  I discovered early on in life that a few coats of shiny nail lacquer can make me feel everything from dainty and feminine to super-cool rocker chic.  That little pop of color makes my day just that much brighter.  

You're welcome to disagree, but there's something about well-polished nails that's so very Jackie O. But unlike the pale pinks I imagine her to have worn, I like to branch out a bit when it comes to color. The bolder the better.

Here are a few polishes that I adore from various 2008 nail collections:

Essie Secret Stash from the Summer 2008 collection. This bright blue-based pink is intriguing; I consider it to be the color of a pair of Barbie's shoes. But because it has a jelly quality to it, it has an unusual depth of color. And I can't decide if it's more pink or purple. Very refreshing for the summertime.  

Essie Bermuda Shorts from the Essie Neons collection. I debated myself endlessly on the merits of this one; finally, I just had to have it. It's an amazing neon purple that's a total throwback to the 80's - I love it! The only thing to note about this one is that it dries matte, so make sure you have a shiny topcoat handy if you're not into that sort of thing.

OPI Dating a Royal from the Mod About Brights collection.  Such a gorgeous royal blue creme; I can't stop looking at my hands when I'm wearing it.  But this one will get you a few looks, for sure.

Specialty Lingerie at My Intimacy

We often often forget that in addition to what we wear on the outside, what we wear underneath it all is much more important. Yes, I'm talking about underwear. Bras specifically. I happen to be rather well-endowed so have struggled with this issue for a while now.

I had one of those completely seemingly-superficial moments while watching Oprah a few years ago. The episode featured a specialty lingerie store and discussed how most women in America wear the wrong bra size, and how this can negatively contribute to your overall look, as well as your physical well-being (bad bras, bad neck/shoulders/back).

It is sad but true that most department stores and lingerie chains like Victoria's Secret don't actually carry a wide selection of well-made bras in sizes that real women need. A few brands like Wacoal carry larger sizes in select stores, but they are often hard to find.

The boutique featured on Oprah was My Intimacy (you must check out their website and visit a store if you can) which has locations in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Miami. Let me tell you, discovering this little shop and the details of a fine bra fit changed my life. I had never really been fitted for a bra except for one or two slightly odd experiences at Victoria's Secret. I spent almost an hour in the store getting properly fitted by people who clearly knew what they were doing and made me feel comfortable.

My Intimacy carries fine European lingerie that is worth every penny. Some brands that they carry include Prima Donna, Chantelle, Aubade, La Breeza, FayreForm, Simone Perele, Marie Jo, and L'Aventure. Since I started wearing these bras, it has been exponentially easier to find tops and shirts that fit, and I'm much more comfortable throughout the day wearing them. They offer real support for day-long wear, pretty designs, and impeccable fit. Plus, the staff is so friendly and helpful, and offer good suggestions on how to clean and maintain your lingerie. Even better, they do free alterations.

Once you know your size, you are free to find discounted ones from the same designers or other lingerie retailers like Wacoal online. Still, I find that going to the store itself is best. They also carry lots of goodies that you would never think of, like underarm pads for outfits or days when you absolutely cannot afford any sweat stains, and clear bra straps.

The bras are no doubt, expensive. They start at about $60 and go up from there depending on the brand and make. Again, extremely worth it. I would actually venture to say that it is worth saving all your makeup money for these, especially if you need the support in that area. Once you have it, you will be much more happy with what you've got!

M.A.C Lipsticks I Like

Sorry, I haven't been able to come up with very creative titles lately. At least these are to the point!

The last M.AC. lip products I wrote about were the Lipgelee in Saphoric and Polished Up lipstick. I know San doesn't love M.A.C., but I'm quite partial to their lipsticks. There are a few other honorable mentions that I have been meaning to share. These are all lipsticks that I'm hoping to adorn my dresser in my non-existent Manhattan apartment where I will not be able to eat because I will have spent all my money on rent and makeup.

One lipstick that I used many years ago and eventually had to throw out was 3D. This shade is hardly ever mentioned as one of M.A.C.'s classics, but it is a wonderful rosy/pink with a very pretty sheen. I love this for day and even for night. It's a great base for almost any gloss but manages to hold its own as well. It is more pigmented than some of the other lipsticks below, but has just the right amount of color payoff.

Next up - Touch. I borrowed this from a friend once and immediately wished I had my own. It's another very nude, pink/brown that is definitely more suitable for the most natural look. It has a slightly balmy/glossy effect and is a bit refined looking without seeming done. 3D definitely has more color payoff than this. Touch is more like a nude balm that is probably also best for heavier eye makeup looks when you need to go easy on the lips. The gay sales guy at the M.A.C. counter told me it didn't look like I was wearing anything (in fact, he said the same for several shades - don't know if it was him or me!), and had urged me to settle on Polished Up, but I'm determined to go back at some point and get this.

Now, a series of special M.A.C. lipsticks - Viva Glam IV through VI. I know, I know - some must think these are so overrated, but I think they're perfect, why? Ta-da, because they are some awesomely fresh, more glam combination of the above two shades and all the rosy/mauvey pink/browns in the world that I can think of. They also definitely have some more shimmer/shine, and the packaging is different. If you want to spend money on a M.A.C. lipstick that also supports HIV/AIDS, these are good choices.

Lastly, the Sheer Plum. This color is the most similar to the Plum Sable from Maybelline that I've written about. A very light, natural plum shade that is "my lips but better." I could probably same the same for all of the above, actually. You just can't go wrong with any of them.

All of these are decently long-wearing. I reapply often anyway because it is fun and because who wants them shellacked into place? $14.00 @ M.A.C.

Why I've Never Liked Mascara

Maybelline Great Lash. Yes, this is really the reason why I've never liked mascara. Everyday on MUA, there are new glowing reviews on it and I cannot for the life of me understand why. I know I'm no makeup expert, and I haven't used this mascara in years, but puh-leez. I hated it when I did have it. I thought it was something I should have, and it was cheap, so I kept a tube but barely used it because I hated the results.

This always clumped and instead of separating the lashes, it made them stick together for that annoying 3 lash look. I never cared about brushes or formula or anything back then, but I do remember that compared to mascaras I've recently tried, there was absolutely nothing special about this one. I was always surprised to see it receive magazine awards.

After I chucked my last tube AGES ago (because I realized how little use I had for it and how not-into-mascara it had made me), I didn't even bother with mascara for a loong time. The next tube I had bought was the L'Oreal Voluminous and thought, wow, is that what mascara is supposed to do? Recent experiments with Fresh Supernova, Dior DiorShow, and L'Oreal Featherlash have led to the same conclusion - Great Lash must have really sucked.

I'm sure, like everything, this works for some and not others. But I'm not looking for any specific results - full, long, glossy, thick - don't care as long as the lashes just look better! This definitely didn't do that. I don't think I would ever bother using this again. Unless someone challenges me to give it a try and see how I feel about it now. Even if it is better than I remembered, I'm quite sure it won't beat any of the ones I mentioned trying above.

Small Lips, Broad Nails, Aiming for Prettier Feet

The other day, myself and a friend were discussing how we both have small, if nicely-shaped, lips. Then my sis (she's been getting quite a few shout-outs the last couple of days because we just spent almost every waking moment together over the weekend) went and told me I was wrong. Now I'm not sure if I'll look like a prostitute, island native, or desi aunty with darker lipstick or not.

My other sis once told me my dark brownish lipgloss looked slutty and that I should take it off. Not that she is any authority on these matters (the girl can barely use moisturizer). In any case, I usually stick to pretty natural pinks/browns/plums anyway, so I guess it doesn't matter. Just funny how we see ourselves so differently from the way others see us...

The one thing me and the sis did agree on is how freakin' broad and large my nails are. My thumbnail is a nail artist's dream - I think I could probably have my name painted on it. When I had Alligator Purse applied the other day, the strong burnt orange color really emphasized just how wide they are. It's kind of cool, actually. Very prominent without being scary. I was kinda worried for the first time that I should stay away from color and stick to nudes so as not to emphasize them but I think that's just a little crazy and I'm thinking too much as usual. If I can take the color, might as well go for it.

I should take better care of them so they don't become another thing that age quickly without me realizing it. My idea of hand/nail care is using lotion like, maybe twice a week. So bad, I know, but I think anything else would be unnecessary and a waste of money, and I don't like greasy hands. This is why I've never understood why there are so many hand creams out there - what is the point?

My feet, on the other hand, get horrifically dry and cracked year-round. I usually use any old thick lotion that I have on hand (Pond's is good), but a hand-me-down cream that I received is particularly good - Epoch Sole Solution Foot Treatment (a Nu Skin product).

I've recently seen those new Vaseline cream formulas and I imagine they are somewhat like this excellent lotion that I've been using on my hands and feet. It's extremely thick but not very greasy - I actually kind of enjoy using it, which is rare for me and lotions/creams. It also doesn't leave your skin looking for shiny, but doesn't disappear and make you wonder if you put anything on in the first place, and doesn't rub off easily once massaged into the skin.

$21.85 @ Nu Skin Enterprises

Just Me Today...

Wow, Johan Jr. answered my prayers today and wore white loafers, a white belt, and a handbag-ish messenger bag. I was waiting for the day I could report that he had matching white accessories...if only he had been wearing the sunglasses too.

My melatonin levels have been sinking rapidly so that's about all I could focus on this morning. That, and the evils of U.S. agriculture while reading The Omnivore's Dilemma on the train - a true must-read. It is probably the most informative thing I have read in the last few few years. Clearly, of late the only informative literature I read has to do with product, but that's probably because everything else was boring me. Read it.

My sister asked me how I am affording my budget-conscious makeup purchases and I told her I make my own tea every morning. Then she bought me coffee. Right now, I need about 10 cups of both. I love how my day-to-day decisions revolve around makeup, food, and clothes lately. I'm trying to tell myself that after living in India for a year and subjecting myself to pre-med courses for another year and a half, I deserve it.

By the way, I read on An Indian's Makeup Blog! about a look using only Milani cosmetics. Sounds fun. Now I want to try every famous Milani product there is - I already have the Java Bean eyeshadow, but want to get the Rose Fetish lipstick and a couple of blushes. These are really cheap and I could probably afford to buy tea, too :)


Polishes I Liked

Well, sort of loved. Nail polish is definitely more San's thing. I only occasionally do my nails at home - they grow so fast that I can't keep up, and I don't often get manicures/pedicures. I like doing them on my own, actually - it's kind of therapeutic and relaxing. Like, wow, I have so much time I can just sit here, watch Law & Order, and do my nails!

I also don't buy polishes often, but am tempted to get a few Essie nail polishes after I had them painted on for a rare pedicure (Pepperoni) and manicure (Alligator Purse) over the last week.

It took me forever to find Pepperoni. I forget the name after leaving the salon and searched forever - unfortunately, Essie has about a thousand colors just like it. I even picked up a L'Oreal one (in Lady Luck - nice) thinking it might be a knockoff. But then, someone miraculously reviewed Pepperoni, and it was exactly the one I had been looking for. This is a true, bright red with the most subtle pink punch. It is not wine red or fire engine red - just a good, flat, basic red that would look good year-round.

But Alligator Purse is even better. It's a crisp, creamy, burnt orange/deep orange-red. My sis noted that it's a great fall color - leave it to me to pick such a shade in July, but it's such a nice pop of color. It's definitely more orange on my nails than it looked in the bottle, but that's okay.

Would love to purchase both but am thinking about it since I'm so fickle about these things, and since I have yet to round out my 9 great L'Oreal products by purchasing the True Blend Blush in Subtle Sable. Plus, if there is one thing I'm cheap about, it's nail polish. It took a lot out of me to buy the L'Oreal one for $4.99 (hmm, perhaps I could use that to round out my list instead...).

When I eventually move out, maybe I'll christen my new medicine cabinet with these. But I might not have money to eat then. Oh, well - everyone else should try them if you can handle the color. $7.00 @ Drugstores

Longing for Longo

My first Vincent Longo lipsticks ever were Empire and Chika Mokita. That was during a time when all I did with my hard-earned pocket money from working at a local doctor's office was buy expensive lipstick and eyeliner once in a while, and dinner with my friends on Friday nights. Now, not so much. Clearly, I still indulge, but there are some things I'm avoiding, like these pricey, if worth it, babies.

I've mentioned several Longo items that I'm longing to buy on my Wish List. I can now add a new one - Gelli Gloss.

I know. Let's count how many times me and San have posted about L'Oreal HiP Jelly Balm. I'm sure the Gelli Gloss is basically the same thing, but, well, it is Vincent Longo so way more glam, and I like the spelling. Jelly and Gelli have got to be two different things, right? Right.

Sadly, this only comes in 2 shades - Aria (sheer apricot) and Vela (sheer pink). Not the best choices for my skin, but I'm sure these sheer shades are versatile enough - just not sure if they're worth the price tag. Oh well, a girl's gotta long. $15 @ Sephora.com

The 9 L'Oreal Products I Like

Ever since Anna mentioned that L'Oreal's HiP line seems to be particularly good for all sub-continental skintones, I've been thinking about how many L'Oreal products I've actually gone through (not all HiP) over the years. I've come to the conclusion that overall, I've had a rather good experience with L'Oreal products. Considering that this is a drugstore line, the quality, product range, color selection, and price are very good.

Thought I'd list some of the things I have tried, liked, re-bought (or would re-buy), or am using right now, although I don't currently have them all.

1) True Match Super Blendable Makeup Foundation
2) True Match Super Blendable Makeup Powder
3) Le Kohl Eyeliner in Onyx and Black Sable
4) Voluminous Mascara
5) Featherlash Mascara
6) HiPIlluminating Highlighter in Shimmer
7) HiP Vibrant Shimmer Bronzing Powder in Glowing
8) Colour Juice Stick in Chai Love You
9) HiP Jelly Balm in Luscious

#10 would have been the True Match Blush in Subtle Sable which I have not yet purchased, but will...soon. Just to make this list an even 10.

Should add that my sister has the Colour Riche Lipcolour lipstick in Brazil Nut - a fantastic shade for my skin, and that my mom uses L'Oreal lipsticks almost exclusively (only other competitor for her is Revlon).

Subtle Sable, Subtle Blush

I did not have the happiest weekend and so by the end of last night, I desperately needed four things: 1) a drink or two, or three, or four 2) cheesy Italian food 3) chocolate 4) makeup. Me and my sis pulled of the first two pretty successfully, but I still needed to take care of #3 and #4. At 11:15 pm, it was Duane Reade to the rescue.

I had settled on my favorite choco bar (Lindt Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts - 2nd runner-up is the Skor bar) before I was lured into the makeup aisle by an invisible makeup lurer. I thought I could keep off some calories by buying something to dust across my cheeks again.

So it came down to the Lindt bar and L'Oreal True Match Blush in Subtle Sable. I picked this up and put it back about 10 times. I'll even admit to opening the package, testing the color on my hand, and then tucking it in the abyss of the Wet 'n' Wild display so someone can retrieve it and put in the clearance bin later.

But I'm glad I did (of course - don't I always say that?). Subtle Sable is bright yet just dusty enough rose shade that's kind of similar to the effect I got from the CG Cheekers in Golden Pink-L'Oreal HiP Bronzer in Glowing combo I came up with (yes, I know I also have to try San's BeachBlush suggestion). True to the color names though, that combo is definitely much more bright and glowy.

Subtle Sable may be a tad bit more like San's recent Dolce Vita discovery from NARS, with a dash of NARS Taos and Orgasm thrown in, if that makes any sense. Fine, matte finish that is perfect for everyday. I would love to try the Sweet Ginger and Rosy Outlook shades, too.

Anna mentioned how L'Oreal HiP is great for brown girls, but I'm feeling that L'Oreal is overall pretty great in terms of color/shade selection for those with our skintones. I would have loved to try the HiP line's blushes, but they have been discontinued. Had I bought this blush, it would have been the 10th L'Oreal product I have had a good experience with (will have to make a list of those!). I would've willed it to.

In the end, the chocolate won because I could share it with my sister and it was about 3 bucks. I told my sister she should be proud of me for resisting the blush urge. According to her, I desperately need a hobby or a boyfriend. $10.95 @ Drugstore.com


Que Bella Dolce Vita

We interrupt our normally scheduled blush programming to present to you a lovely little goodie that I got my hands on two weeks ago: NARS Dolce Vita blush. Dolce Vita is the latest color in the NARS blush lineup - it's part of the Fall 2008 color story that isn't due to be on sale until August. Shame on me for not posting about it until now!

Dolce Vita is a lovely dusty rose color that originally started as a lipstick, spread to gloss, with the most recent addition being the Dolce Vita Velvet Matte lip pencil. And now there's a blush to round out the happy little cosmetic family.

A NARS sales associate at my local mall was kind enough to let me have one from early stock that they had received. It's simply gorgeous, and very true to the Dolce Vita essence.

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A comparison pic to show how it measures up to the Velvet Matte lip pencil:

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As we all know, I'm a huge fan of NARS blushes, but this one might just have edged its way to the top of the list. It's a fantastic matte, everyday kind of blush - a perfect complement to the olive in my skin.

The NARS Fall 2008 collection is due to release in August 2008 at NARS counters near you, and at Sephora. Definitely get your hands on one if you can!

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