Beauty at Butala Emporium

For those of you who have followed my beauty rants and raves, you know that I occasionally talk about many of the random Indian beauty tricks, remedies, and products that I indulge in. Some of you have asked where to find certain products like eyeliner and hair oils. I usually don't have an answer since it's hard to find certain products in the U.S. But now I do! I recently discovered that one of my favorite stores in Little India, Butala Emporium, has significantly expanded its selection of hard-to-find Indian skincare and beauty products.

Butala Emporium is a huge, treasure chest of a store on the corner of 28th Street and Park avenue. It's one of those wonderful places where you can stroll for a long while before you realize you need absolutely nothing from there. It carries imported Indian goods including furniture/home decor, religious items, magazines/books, music, and other randomly fun stuff that you can't find anywhere else.

But Butala's greatest strength turns out to be its selection of skincare and beauty products. This includes: a wide variety of hair oils, body/facial oils (including rose and almond), soaps (like sandalwood and lavendar), ayurvedic skincare products (from the Himalaya Herbals and Biotique lines), and makeup (including popular eyeliners) from Shanaz Husain and Lakme.

I recently picked up a plastic bottle of rosewater for cosmetic use (I use it in face masks and occasionally as a toner) and an herbal facial moisturizer from Himalaya Herbals. Prices vary from the drugstore range to more expensive depending on the type of product.

If you're into these kinds of things or just want to try something different that you can't find at Sephora or Duane REade, you'll find a lot to choose from at Butala. Butala Emporium, 108 E 28th St., (between Lexington Ave & S Park Ave), New York, NY 10016; (212) 684-4447

Back in Business

With a vengeance! After spending the last few weeks listening to environmental health science lectures on my IPod and genuinely trying to do some good work at the office, I kicked off the impending New Year with Essie nailpolishes on sale for $2.00 at Duane Reade. Got them in Decadent Diva, a wonderfully deep, metallic purple and Alligator Purse, a crisp red-orange.

Other than the ridiculous great price for otherwise $7.95 nail polishes, I picked these two up because I may have finally understood the value of good nail polish. After the NYC version of Decadent Diva ($0.99) chipped within 24 hours, I was also starting to reconsider my various Brucci buys as well ($1.29). Brucci is cheap and reliable with a decent top coat, but I missed some of the scrumptious colors and finishes of past manicures. I was especially craving Alligator Purse.

So it was fate that it happened to be one of the colors on sale, and I had to go for it. I feel good for having bought a few higher quality nail polishes so cheap, and if I notice enough of a difference in how long they last, I may consider investing in better ones in the future.

I know I sound like I'm 12 and trying to figure out how best to spend my allowance money. It's still something like that, sadly, but in many ways, I like the challenge! Hopefully I'll have more cheap thrills to share soon.


Hair Attachments

I recently discovered one of the greatest inventions ever. My hair dryer's nozzle attachment. Seriously. I don't know when and how I fell so behind on such things but I really can't live without this baby. If you have thick, frizzy hair like mine, try blowing your hair with and without one to see the difference.

Hair is naturally easier to handle during the colder months and I practically want to kiss mine every winter. It does what I want it to, and then some, often all on its own. I generally don't have to worry too much about it after one or two good blow-outs for the week. But the nozzle gives the ends a special something that I can't achieve with just the hair dryer alone. And my hair genuinely dries much faster - even in the tropical conditions of my studio!

I know I'm obsessed with something when I go back to my parents' place for 2 nights and feel the need to take it with me. I did this over the Thanksgiving weekend only to have my worst fear confirmed - the nozzle didn't fit my old hair dryer. Luckily, I had my Solano Sapphire straightener to smooth out with the plain old dryer couldn't, but I generally don't like that stick straight look so I kept its use to a minimum.

It's a miracle I don't talk more about my hair since I guess it is one of my better features. I wish I had more to share on what I do with it, but I don't. If you want to know the secret to having good hair, it's doing nada. I barely wash it, brush it, or condition. I don't even oil it much lately. And I'm forced to blow dry it more because of the weather.

I do, however, spent excruciating minutes plucking out the gray hairs starting to form a halo around the back of my head.

If anyone has a cure for that, do tell.

Sick of Shiny Lips

No, this is not a product review. It's been a good few months since I actually complained about something or expressed general confusion/frustration/indecisiveness about my face and how it looks with product on it. But this week, I couldn't help but decide that I'm sick of shiny lips. Even slightly shiny ones. So I stopped applying the oh-so wonderful Cover Girl lipstick I last wrote about. I was starting to feel like I had just sampled the grill section of the hospital cafeteria, polished off by a chicken wing and fries. I was also starting to feel that the slightly shiny effect was kind of jarring under fluorescent lighting and on mygenerally sleepy-eyed face.

I opted for an interesting mix of Clinique Soft Shine Lipstick (discontinued, I believe) in Glow Bronze and my trusty Maybelline Moisture Extreme in Plum Sable. I just can't stick to any one thing it seems - I always have to mix things up. Not surprisingly, this was a nice, sophisiticated, and muted look without achieving the dreaded "nude" lip - remember, I don't want to look dead. Try something similar - it's purdy.


Fall/Winter Makeup Update

Wow, is it almost December already? Scary thought. I can't believe my evolution is - still evolving. The time is flying so fast, I really do forget how many days go by without detailing my current makeup trials and tribulations.

Given that I was still somewhat of a newbie when I first started blogging about them and the current fall/winter season, I thought it was time to update you on what has become near and dear to me.

On a daily basis, I've been using my L'Oreal liquid eyeliner in Defined by Plum, Cover Girl TruShine Lipcolor in Chocolate Shine, and the love of my life, Almay's Amazing Eye Liner in Black Brown. Blush enters in somewhat of a variety show, but big stars have been NYX Blush in Pecan and L'Oreal's TruBlend Blush in Subtle Sable.

Other products I continue to use regularly and which serve me well (both makeup and skincare):

Clinique Almost Powder (SPF 15) in Deep

Clinique Line-Smoothing Concealer in Deep Honey
NYX Eye Shadow Trio - Guru
The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick (a real life-saver)
Burt's Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream
Phisoderm Gel Clarifying Moisturizer
Nivea Lip Care
MAC Lipstick in Polished Up combined w/ Milani Lip Gloss in Taboo

The cooler weather and much clearer skin (thank you, Tretinoin) have been helping things along quite a bit, and I'm grateful. Fall/winter are definitely favorable makeup evolution seasons - too bad I started this over the summer. You live, you learn.

Drugstore Lipstick - Cover Girl TruShine in Chocolate Shine

Ever since I saw Ugly Betty's Wilhemina Slater switch to a rich, velevety, 90s-esque shade of brown lipstick, I have been yearning for the same look. Unfortunately, I am not Vanessa Williams playing a fashionable but evil magazine editor out to rule the world. I am short and have a small face - such a lipstick might be overwhelmingly outdated and semi-vampy.

I sampled some deep shades at MAC and was not impressed. My friend K vetoed all the potential candidates with a quick shake of her head and a long "No," but I could see it in her eyes - I looked like a baby-faced Indian aunty. Not attractive.

Enter Cover Girl's TruShine Lipcolor in Chocolate Shine. Since I decided that creamy, matte formulas in a deep shade just wouldn't work for me, I combed My Favorite Place On Earth, Duane Reade, for a sheer formula in a crisp, autumnal color. This lipstick is exactly that.

Don't be fooled by the almost-holographic casing and the richness of the color in the tube - this is on par with other sheer lipsticks like Clinique's Bare Brilliance lipstick in Chocolate Ice (which I was very into this summer). TruShine is as moisturizing as a balm, has buildable color, and works for both day and night. I'm already halfway done with the tube. Better yet, it has a soft shine without the bronzey sparkles that Chocolate Ice had. The only downside is that because the formula is so sheer, it takes a few layers for a richer look, and needs reapplication throughout the day. But for the ease of use and versatile shade, it's worth it.

Very surprised by this lipstick, and also very happy. I intend to try it in Mauve and a few other shades as well. Again, at about $6.00 a pop. you really can't go wrong.


Nails and the Art of Zen

I know, I know - I've been silent for quite some time. Since the summer, in fact. And we now find ourselves in the thick of autumn.

Let me set the scene: last we saw of Sania, she was lamenting her departure from the land of milk & honey -- New York City -- and ready to move off into the great wild nothingness of the semi-South.

And now that she's here? Well, there is definitely a lot of nothingness. The (semi) South has a different dynamic that's interesting and infuriating at times, while still managing to be somewhat charming.

It doesn't help that I'm in one of the most intense graduate programs that I could have ever imagined. There's not a lot of time for grooming and feeling pretty. Women here also tend to prefer a classic look, which I can appreciate, but sometimes I just want to go for the trendy. I still do it, because that's my personality, but I definitely stick out in the crowd.

There is one habit that I have held onto, though. And that's doing my nails. In the midst of all the craziness of schoolwoork, homework, and all the other kinds of work, sitting down to paint my nails has almost a zen-like calming effect on me.

Maybe it's because it involves sitting down, with no distractions, putting my hands on the table, painting each nail meticulously and waiting for everything to dry. And that's ten minutes that I'm not forced to think about anyone or anything else, worry about what I have left to do, or when I'm going to sleep.

And looking down at my brightly painted nails can get me through any dragging day, because color? It makes everything better.

The Bomb of an Eye Shadow Palette

In an effort to ease my eye shadow experimentation, I've been trying to find a great palette instead of collecting singles. Usually, I either don't like all of the coordinated colors or not all of them actually suit me. The only one I love so far is NYX Trio in Guru. A few weeks ago, I finally found a high-end palette that does the trick - TheBalm's Shady Lady Eye Shadow Palette (limited edition).

This amazing palette has NINE eyeshadows/shadow liners (including 3 new ones) in an assortment of shades and formulas suited for almost any occasion or makeup mood. They are:

Caught in the Act Courtney (rich brown with gold sparkle)
Shameless Shana (tahitian bronze)
Luscious Lani (icy pink champagne)
Jealous Jordana (rich shimmering green)
Risque Renne (dark navy blue sheen)
Curvy Camy (plum shimmer with gold flecks)
Jet-Setting Jennifer (pale gold shimmer)
All About Alex (olive shimmer)
Easy Wheezie (gunmetal gray shimmer)

You see that there is a nice mix of deep jewel tones that double as eye liners, neutral shades, and metallics. And, of course, there is my requisite plum. All these shades work together in a number of different combinations, or can be used alone.

Best of all, I actually really like the quality of TheBalm's eye shadows (see experience with Mysterious Marissa). While clearly you have to be a bit more careful with the shimmer/sparkle and darker shadows, the lighter ones are a breeze to use. My favorite ones are Jet-Setting Jennifer, Easy Wheezie, and All About Alex. They work on just about everybody and are so easy to use, no experience is necessary.

The only "eh" factor with this palette - the leopard print cardboard packaging. Not exactly discreet or sophisticated. Like other TheBalm shadows, this is a large cardboard flip-top with a magnetized lid to for secure closure. Just to be on the safe side, I wish they had changed the packing for this product (and taken down the ugly factor a few notches).

As important as the versatility of this palette - the price. At $15 each, nine TheBalm shadows would normally cost you about $135. This palette is $38.00 and in my opinion, actually worth every cent. Limited Edition @ Sephora

Mad Purple Disease Continues

Ah, I appear to be slowing down with my makeup evolution, huh? No worries - I'm always trying new things, they have just been a bit redundant lately. Lots of different purple and plum eye shadows, nail polishes, and a new lipstick find. I haven't had as much time to browse of late in Sephora so drugstore thrills have been the way to go. Then again, I am slightly obsessed with drugstores anyway so this really isn't out of the ordinary. Moving on....

Purple, purple everywhere! 2 shadows to try:
Maybelline Expert Eye Shadow Single in Amethyst (High Pearl finish) - This is a gorgeous new shade from Maybelline. It is a bright, blue-based purple with a slightly gauzy, neon pearl finish. I know that sounds weird, but I don't know how else to describe it. This shade would be a lot more in-your-face and pigmented if it were a high-end brand. But I found that I can wear this shade rather easily with just a few swipes over the lid. It applies smoothly and is sheer enough to layer as you like. I promise you that this can be work/day appropriate. It's a unique color that avoids giving you a blackeye but also isn't too disco-queen. Hoping to experiment more with this as a crease shade and with smudged kohl eye liner instead of the liquid I'm currently using.

L'Oreal HiP Concentrated Eye Shadow Duo in Charisma - This cute little pot features two complementary pink and purple shades. The pink is somewhat lilac/silver toned, and the royal purple has some hints of shimmer. While this seems like a very versatile combo, the shadow itself is a bit hard to apply and blend. Additionally, I find this kind of purple can quickly give way to a fake blackeye. It's definitely more of traditional crease shade for a smoky eye (which I have yet to master) so I don't find it as easy-to-use (or fun) as Maybelline's Amethyst. But worth a try if you're experimenting.

Maybelline Expert Wear Single Eye Shadow, $3.79 & L'Oreal HiP Concentrated Eye Shadow Duo, $7.00, both @ Drugstores


L'Oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner - Defined by Plum

Finally, a purple/plum liner that lives up to its name. While this limited edition liquid eye liner from L'Oreal isn't perfect, it has temporarily satisfied my purple obsession.

First, what I like - the color. This is a deep, deep eggplant shade that is almost black - almost a liquid version of Laura Mercier's Black Violet kohl pencil. On the eyes, this gives the definition of a black liner without looking too stark against the skin. At the same time, it doesn't have the muddiness of dark brown liners. Overall, a great liner shade for olive/tan complexions.

What I don't like - the ridiculously long wand. It's literally like 4-5 inches long. I don't know when cosmetics companies will understand that this does not make application easier.

What I'm neutral on - the felt tip. It's kind of funny - very easy to use and gives a surprisingly fine line. However, it's not tapered to give that pen-like form. Just kind of strange. But hey, it works, so I'm not complaining.

This is one of the few purchases in recent makeup history that I have not returned - give it a try! $7.99 @ Drugstores


Purple Is The New Black

So proclaimed an ad in Sephora, and I wholeheartedly agree. Purple makeup is everywhere and I'm loving it. From smoky eggplants to neon purples, there are simply too many variations to resist, no matter what your personal preferences. Plus, they look good on most skin tones. If you're not into purple makeup, it's showing up in everything from shoes to bags.

Purple can be a hard tricky color to work with, no matter what the shade - after all, you don't want to look like someone just punched you in the face. An Indian's Makeup Blog has some great tutorials on purple makeup. My personal recommendation is to go easy and start with what makes you most comfortable. This week, I'll be experimenting with L'Oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner in Defined By Plum and a light dusting of deep lavender and bronze shadows.

Below is a list of some high/low end purple makeup to try. Happy purple!

  • NYC Color Wheel Mosaic Eye Powder - Purple Rain
  • Prestige Eye Shadow - Velvet, Blossom, Bisou, Bacchus, & Royale
  • Maybelline Expert Wear Eye Shadow - Amethyst
  • Milani Eye Shadow - Shock (Powder), Royalty (Runway Eyes), & Couture in Purples (Runway Eyes Fashion)
  • L'Oreal Wear Infinite Eye Shadow - Plum Royale
  • L'Oreal HiP Eye Shadow Duo - Sculpted & Charisma
  • NYX Eye Shadow Trio - TS6 (Purple, Deep Purple, Prune) & TS3 Lake Moss
  • NYX Single Eye Shadow - Violet, Eggplant, Red Bean Pie, & Burgundy Pearl
  • Jordana Eye Shadow - Sweet Plum
  • Jordana Eye Liners - Purple Fusion, Parisian Plum, & Eggplant
  • L'Oreal Limited Edition Plum Collection products: Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner - Defined By Plum, Wear Infinite Eye Shadow Quad - Purple Mosaic

Sephora/Department Store
  • Calvin Klein Eye Shadow Quad - Purple Variation
  • Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow - Velvet Plum
  • Laura Mercier Eye Shadow - Black Plum, Kir Royale, & Plum Smoke
  • Laura Mercier Kohl Eye Liner - Black Violet
  • Urban Decay Eye Shadow - Flash, Crash, & Purple Haze
  • Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil - 1999, Rockstar, & Lust
  • Urban Decay Lipstick - Apocalypse
  • Clinique Creme Shaper for Eyes - Starry Plum
  • Clinique Kohl Shaper for Eyes - Black Amethyst
  • Make Up For Ever Eye Shadow - Deep Plum Shimmer Iridescent 79, Matte Dark Purple 160, & Purple 92
  • The Balm Shady Lady Eye Shadow - Curvy Cami & Just This Once
  • MAC Eye Shadow - Purple Haze
  • Rock 'n' Ruin Pressed Eye Shadow - Purple
  • Stila Eye Shadow - Batura
  • Stila Eye Shadow Duo - Orchid & Vieux Carre
  • Cargo Eye Shadow - Cyprus
  • LORAC Eye Shadow -After Party & Rhapsody
  • LORAC Starry-Eyed Baked Eye Shadow Trio - Starlet
  • Sephora Brand Enchanted Eye Palette - Plum

More Nail Time

It seems that the color has been migrating from my face to my finger nails. I'm officially "into" nail polish more than I ever have been. Maybe it's because I love rich colors, and the fall actually allows you to experiment more with them than any other season.

My current pick - Sephora's Pure Plum nail polish. It is a deep, wine-eggplant color. And I mean eggplant. If you layer on enough coats, it can almost look black. I do wish it had a tad bit more purple to it because it borders on burgundy.

Next purple to try - OPI's We'll Always Have Paris (coffee-purple), Louvre Me Louvre Me Not (royal purple), and Yes...I Can Can (jewel eggplant) from the amazing Fall/Winter French Collection (San like some grey polishes from it - read here).

Of course, I'm also a cheapie, and found a bunch of similar shades from Brucci for about $1 (including some cool jewel greens/blues).


Fall Nail Polish

So, nail polish is something I'm not very into. There are a few shades I've mentioned here before, including Essie's Alligator Purse, which is great for fall. But after some beauty magazine page-turning and Sania's review of nail shades that are tres Grey Chic, I was intrigued.

Being drugstore queen, I've find my own cheaper version that incorporates my latest current color mania - purple. Brucci Nail Hardener in Daniella's Curve, #413 (who knew Brucci was a South African company??) is a muted, deep lavender with no muddy taupe/brown undertones and a creme finish. I like to think of it as "Calvin Klein purple" - sophisticated and yet sharp.

There are definitely more colors like this out there, but usually harder to find unless you buy them at salons. I also found that this one had just a few more drops of purple in it than usual, which I prefer.

Perfect ease-into-fall shade, and totally work appropriate. It's also the cheaper alternative to Sephora by OPI's On Stage (grey plum) & Call Your Mother (lavender putty) shades.

~$2.00 @ Drugstores


More Posh Brushes

So...my eye shadow playdates hadn't been goin' so well, why? Because I'm hyper-impatient and was experimenting through a combination of finger/mini-sponge. That's right. I had not invested in any good eye makeup brushes and shadow upon shadow was resulting in major disappointment. I had just one which was too big to use for shading and blending of different colors.

A few weeks ago, I made myself by the Posh 4 Piece Duo Eye Brush Travel Kit. Yes, I actually had to make myself spend money on beauty tools. I kept telling myself that I'd rather save it for a bigger, better purchase, which never came, largely because I wasn't equipped to use the bigger, better purchases.

Like the other Posh brushes I've had good experiences with (the retractable kabuku and blush brush), these have also been a pleasant revelation. The brushes are soft and non-irritating, and shed little. Plus, the little zipper case is very cute and easy to integrate into my amazingly busy and exciting life.

Drugstore brand Apt. 5 has exact replicas of all the Posh brushes at half the price (or less). Mine is a Posh original from KMart. Definitely an investment for those who are working with their makeup looks but don't want to spend too much on beauty tools they won't use too often. $9.99 @ KMart or Use code UA123 or CC123 for 50% off @ Poshbrushes.com

As a fellow blogger just pointed out, yes, with 4 dual-ended brushes, it's like getting 8 brushes! Thanks :)


Much Ado About MAC

Of late, I must admit that I have been contemplating returning to MAC liners for my eye-defining needs. I have found 2 drugstore liners (pencils & liquid) that have been satisfactory, but only in certain colors - black and black/brown. For more interesting colors/formulas, I've been reflecting on my past MAC experiences and think that it's time to revisit.

Which is why I'm excited about a couple of new liners from the company's limited edition (of course) collections. Pearlglide, from the Suite Array collection is described as a "creamy kohl-like eye liner with a sparkly, reflective finish...Highly pigmented: stands out for its rich, luxurious colors and pearl-metal look." This is a look/finish/formula that I've been very eager to work with, but have found that other brands (drugstore and not) didn't have the color payoff I need for my skin. Knowing MAC and from this description, these might be the more pigmented formulas that I need.

The 8 available colors are - Black Russian (black with navy blue glitter), Molasses (dirty brown with midtone brown glitter), Bankroll (rich green with bright green sparkle), Fly-by-Blu (light blue with blue glitter), Wolf (deep gray with gold glitter), Rave (deep purple with purple glitter), Miss Fortune (eggplant with light pink glitter), and Spare Change (midtone brown with copper glitter). Miss Fortune could hopefully fulfill my BIV (blue, indigo, violet - purple shades) quest.

I thought Pearglide might be similar to this summer's Starflash series in a wider (and better) range of colors, but from the descriptions, I'm not so sure. The swatches for these liners are lighter than expected, and I'm hesitant about the "glitter" and "sparkle" content.

Next, the Dual Edge Eye Pencil (limited edition), which has a regular liner on one end and a glitter-based one on the other. Again, I'm not sure how I feel about the glitter-end, but the pencil reminds me of a similar one from Vincent Longo that I've admired for months.

When it comes to shadow, also eye'ing the Eye Shadow Suite in Team Violets. The Rose duo is picture here - so pretty, and it's nice to see duos from MAC.

If all of the above fail to impress, I'm going to go stick with a Powerpoint or two for a while and see if a few months of experimentation has changed my view on them. I will test and report back soon.


Liquid Liner from London

For months now, I've been meaning to tell everyone about a great liquid eyeliner that my sister-in-law in India uses.

No, it's not from Lakme. It's the Liquid Liner from another Indian company called Gala of London. Like Lakme's, this one comes in a small glass bottle that actually looks like nail polish. In my opinion, liquid eyeliner in the US is packaged horribly, and you don't get nearly as much for your money as you should.

What I like most about Gala's liner is the extremely small brush that makes it nearly impossible to make a mistake. It's perfect for painting a very thin, fine line. The only other liner brushes that have come close to are Chanel (a few years ago) and Hourglass. With other brushes, it's hard to paint with short "strokes" because they are often too long or thick - you either draw a straight line or you don't. If you don't, some fixing is usually requird. The Gala brush actually lets you use the "stroke" method to create a more natural line. It also comes in a range of colors - black, brown, blue, green, and grey, and apparently now in a waterproof formula as well. I have not used this in quite a while, but of all my liquid eyeliner experiences, this was definitely nearly the best.

Unfortunately, Gala of London products can only be found in India, although I was able to find one on Ebay (here - this seller also has hard-to-find products like Shahnaz Husain Kohl Kajal) for $3.99 - pretty good considering how much you get and that it's from India. I'll refrain from ordering because my sis-in-law will be visiting soon so I can have her pick one up for me for less than $1.00! If you wear liner daily though, this is definitely worth it.


Smoke Alarm - Etat Libre d'Orange's Jasmin et Cigarette

I'm flabbergasted. Another fragrance with tobacco notes. Worse yet, "cigarette" is a part of the name. This month, a new French line of perfumes, Etat Libre d'Orange, introduced Jasmin et Cigarette. The description of this perfume on the website reads:

"It is the era of Harcourt Studios when Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich magnetized men with a Hollywood look in the eye, smoking a cigarette in a smoky black and white ambience. Jasmin et Cigarette is also the slightly jasminy smell of a women's skin when she exposes her freshness to the dark seduction of night. A hazy atmosphere. The reminder of a fantasy, of an indelible trail she leaves on a dress at the break of day or in the intimate memory of the man who made love to her. It is elegance seen by Gainesbourg, the woman from the 80s who smokes Gitane cigarettes and wears jeans and who, with astounding naturalness, claims her sensuality as a right. Transparency in sophistication, just a trace of jasmine mingled to the so far neglected smell of a cigarette. Jasmin et Cigarette is the twilight zone, the banned, addiction. Nicotine woman or heroine, she is an icon, the woman one longs for."

If suffering from lung cancer wearing 80s jeans and a Gitane hanging out of the corner of your mouth seems like a bright idea, power to it. If nicotine also helps you claim your sensuality, all the more power. Clearly, the world of Jasmin et Cigarette IS the twilight zone, one where feminity is somehow tied to a frankly disgusting and dangerous habit.

I don't know if its a coincidence that both this and Fresh's Tobacco Caramel were launched (or relaunced in Fresh's case) during the same month, but something doesn't smell right. I earlier addressed the Fresh issue as well - read here.

I'm pursuing graduate studies in Public Health and so this is the expected response from someone like me. But I shouldn't have to immersed in PH issues to feel this way. More people should be troubled by the power of marketing/advertising and their implications for tobacco control, smoking cessation, and prevention of diseases and conditions associated with tobacco use. The more eco-conscious are careful about selecting natural products and support companies that don't use animal-testing. This as, if not more, important, and people should be concerned. Particularly young people targeted by this kind of nonsense. Do you long to be like Greta Garbo and snag a man with your coffee and cigarette breath? I didn't think so.

I think a letter to both companies is in order. If you agree, let me know. I'll feel less like - one of those letter-writing people.

Beauty Week At Macy's

Get to it, ladies. This week, Macy's Beauty Week gives you the opportunity to check out new products through several special offers, as well as receive a cute tote page with any purchase of $75.00 or more. And there is free online shipping throughout the week as well. Enjoy!

Skin Breakthrough - Burt's Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream

My cleanser dance continues...

Pears' was a good cleanser, but my skin was dry for days even after 1 use. I don't attribute this to Pears', however - my skin has just become increasingly sensitive over the years. Even the simplest products just won't do.

I reconsidered my options and thought back to what I did in high school/college. Back then, my staples were either Oil of Olay foaming cleanser, Clean & Clear foaming cleanser, or Clean & Clear cream cleanser.

I used the C&C cream cleanser the longest, stopping only after reading too many beauty magazines and convincing myself that it was too greasy for my combination/oily skin. But in retrospect, chances are that my skin issues then had more to do with lifestyle and stress than what cleanser I was using. My skin was never irritated or dry as a result of my cleanser then. Now in my 20s, I thought it would be worth a shot trying something similar.

I almost went for the C&C again, but thought that something "natural" might be a small step up. Since my Burt's Bees Peach & Willowbark Scrub has actually worked for me over the last few months, I decided to try the company's Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream.

After 3 uses, I think it's safe to say that this is The balancing, non-drying, non-irritating cream cleanser for me. I also feel that it's better to have a slightly moisturizing cleanser (or one that leaves your skin's natural oil balance as is) instead of a drying/stripping cleanser after which you have to slather on some moisturizer anyway.

The Deep Cleansing Cream isn't thick or waxy in the least, but is still rich and soothing. It also washes off easily without leaving any residue. It definitely creates a slight "tingle" on application, which I would normally take to be a sign of irritating chemicals. But this hasn't led to any irritation, and the benefits far outweigh it.

I would recommend this as a safe, reliable cleanser if you're skin is somewhat combination/oily, or if you'd like something richer for the winter months. It might not be the best bet for very oily skin, but could be worth a try - the prevailing wisdom on these things isn't necessarily always correct.

Most of Burt's Bees products list how "natural" it is (this one is 97%), and contain no parabens, phthalates, or sulfates. If you're interested, take a look at this helpful page on their website which advises you on How To Read Your Personal Care Ingredient Labels. And yes, it is also a bargain. $7.99 @ Drugstores


Golden Brown Rockstar - Korres Eye Shadow & Urban Decay 24/7

So what I have discovered now? Korres! Urban Decay! Hooray!

Not. Ugh. This is becoming tiring. As soon as I really sit down and assess my latest find, I compare to everything I have and realize, by golly, that it's no different from other products I have. Bummer. I think I'm starting to resist a few things - gasp! Could it be true? It is, indeed.

The latest is Korres' eyeshadow 34S - Golden Brown, and Urban Decay's 24/7 Eye Liner in Rockstar.

First, the Korres shadow in 2 words - refreshingly amazing. A soft, blendable texture, a formula that gives a soft shimmer/sheen, and the perfect bronze shade for darker skin tones. It's even better than the Cargo Bronze - really. Over time, the coppery-pink tinge of Cargo Bronze has become more apparent to me. Golden Brown is a cross between Cargo Bronze and MAC Bronze. Something must be wrong with me for finding all minute differences between what is essentially one, basic color.

Even worse, you can achieve the effect of all three from the NYX Trio in Guru (which I own and love and makes me want to throw out all my other shadows). True, there are differences in formula and texture but honestly, once you put a neutral metallic on your eye in this range of products, it all looks the same.

I'm normally not very critical of packaging, but I find the Korres one to be sub-par for $16.00. It's a plain, white, plastic square with some techy looking black print on the top. I think it's supposed to look sleek, natural, and almost medicinal a la Clinique (sort of), but somehow, it just looks - weird and unimpressive. It looks like you stole your sister's European eye shadow from 1985 and never threw it out.

Rockstar may be the answer to Perfect BIV Eyeliner that I have been on the search for. On the first few tries, I was impressed by this ultra-creamy pencil, but I'm afraid that this lasts almost TOO long on me. It was between this and the Clinique Cream pencil in Starry Plum. I went with Rockstar because it had less shimmer and was a long-lasting formula. If I'm going to go cream, it has to last (just not forever...).

Korres Eye Shadow, $16.00, $ Urban Decay 24/7 Eye Liner, $16.00, both @ Sephora


Ellen Degeneres - New Cover Girl

Well, isn't this interesting and refreshing? Ellen Degeneres (whose talk show is actually really great - I would love to dance with that lady) is Cover Girl's new spokeswoman. Ellen is a far cry from the company's most recent spokeswoman, Drew Barrymore. While I never understood the hype around Drew, Ellen is different - she's got spunk and some character, while still remaining a sweetheart. Read more about it The New York Times here.
I'm not really into this whole "real" and "other" beauty marketing that has been cropping up lately, but there is something to be appreciated in all of it. Its nice to see women who are accomplished in more areas than one being recognized for their own unique beauty, and not just riding on it. Yay, Ellen. I approve (and I seldom do).

New Style, New Thoughts

Hello there, ladies. As some of you have already noticed, I'm experimenting with some new formats. I basically got sick of staring at pink bars on either side of the page - it was like some kind of overwhelmingly sweet, pink, lipstick'ed prison. This is much more liberating.

It is also exactly the same as another new venture of mine, Sumania - La Vie En Suman. Yes, the time has come to bombard cyberspace with my thoughts on things other than beauty. I'm just starting out so bear with me. Thus my lack of originality when changing the format of this blog. I liked how the Sumania one looked, so I copied it. But hey, they are both mine, so I'm allowed. Will continue to fiddle and fine-tune this one...


NARS Super Orgasmic Blush

For those of you who have mastered the Orgasm, rejoice. Now we have Super Orgasm.

I'm speaking of NARS blushes, of course. As much as I love NARS, I'm quite skeptical of what will surely be it's latest over-hyped blush. Maybe I’m bitter because Orgasm has never suited me. But then, I have a pretty universal skin tone so I can imagine that there are many people that it doesn’t work for.

Super Orgasm is also been described by NARS as a universally-flattering peachy pink with golden glitter. Shudder. I know glittery makeup doesn’t necessarily mean you will look like a Vegas show girl, but if this is supposed to be The Blush for darker skin tones, then adding golden glitter doesn’t make it so. I have a feeling this may be a less golden pink but more sparkly version of my beloved CG Cheekers Blush in Golden Pink.

Super Orgasm may be worth a try. My never-ending Sephora credit practically demands it. $25.00 only @ Sephora


A Skincare Classic - Pears Soap

I've been having terrible luck with skincare products lately - they're either too drying/moisturizing or just plain old irritating, especially with this changing weather in NY. To top it off, I'm starting a Retin-A regimen which will likely make things worse.

My only friends have been Burt's Bees Peach and Willowbark Deep Pore Scrub and The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick (a true godsend, by the way). I use the scrub every few days and the blemish stick has taken care of some nasty, cyst-like zits pronto. But I've been on the hunt for a gentle cleanser and moisturizer.

I almost turned to Kiehl's, but that's is a bit pricey for me right now. So I rubbed my chin, twirled my hair, read some online reviews, and decided that I should find a basic, gentle soap instead and use small amounts of an equally basic moisturizer (think Pond's or Oil of Olay).

I twirled my hair some more over options such as Dove Beauty Bar when all of a sudden, I remembered Pears Soap. How could I have forgotten about Pears?! Good old, originally British soap now only manufactured in India that I remember my sister and mother using as a kid (and still have a pack of at home - not in new apartment). A unique, transparent, amber bar with a lovely fresh scent that seemed ideal for what I need right now.

I tried to find reviews online (just for fun), but found nada, although there is a great history about it on Wikipedia here.

I'm surprised this doesn't have its own cult following. Of course, very few drugstores or pharmacies carry it. I finally found a few at an awesomely huge 99 cent store that kept everything from "ethnic" brands to Britain's traditional Yardley's soaps. I used it the other day and was relieved at how simple and non-irritating it actually is. Soaps in general are a bit drying, especially in cooler weather, so I plan on using this minimally but so far, it's been a great alternative to more expensive brands. My skin is clean and balanced, and that is about all I need.

For those of you who are into such things, give Pears a try. It's also hypo-allergenic and non-comedogenic, so if you have breakout-prone skin, fear not. At about 99 cents a bar or $2.49 for a pack of 3, you can't go wrong.

Fresh Tobacco Caramel Eau de Parfum

I recently received an email from Fresh Cosmetics that said that following:

"You asked and we listened! Back by popular demand, we are pleased to re-introduce two of our cult-favorite eau de parfums: Patchouli Pure Eau de Parfum, Tobacco Caramel Eau de Parfum.

Tobacco Caramel Eau de Parfum: Infused with voluptuous notes such as tobacco flowers, tarragon, and rich amber, this musky blend captures the mood of glamorous New York City jazz clubs and a bygone era.

These completely unique and utterly addictive fragrances, developed by co-founder Lev Glazeman, are available now exclusively at Fresh retail stores and Fresh.com."

Hm, ok. Let's see here. "Tobacco," "glamorous," "bygone era," "ADDICTIVE!"

After all the known ill-effects of tobacco use and the public health action against big tobacco, I'm truly appalled that Fresh would contribute to positive tobacco associations like this.

I won't lie. I know what they're talking about. I have an uncle who smoked a pipe when I was younger, and reading this email reminded me of that distinct smell I associate so many memories with. But it ends there. No one needs a perfume CALLED "tobacco" and Fresh certainly does not need to use words like "glamorous" and "addictive" to sell it. Really - addictive? What were they THINKING?

Let's not forget the bygone era they are recalling. Which era would that be? Oh right. The one in which everyone set the stage for developing lung cancer and worsening air quality. What an era to long for...

I haven't bought any Fresh products and don't plan on it anytime soon.

More BIV Pencils/Shadows

Wow, I'm sure getting a lot of work done today, aren't I? I've been itching to share my most recent beauty thoughts, particularly this one. After a couple of less than thrilling experiences with BIV eyeliners (as in blue, indigo, violet from the rainbow acronym ROY G. BIV - yes, I know I'm a dork), I refused to give up. After a few buys/returns/exchanges, I gathered the following thoughts on some products:

1) Smashbox Cabernet Eye Shadow ($16.00) - An absolutely *gorgeous* deep wine (as the name suggests) shade with a very small amount of shimmer/sparkle. Like the other Smashbox shadows I've used, the texture of this was soft, velvety, and very blendable. Unfortunately, I just didn't know how to make it work for myself. I wanted to use it as a liner but at this price, I didnt' think it was worth it.

2) LORAC After Dark Eye Shadow ($17.50) - Eye shadow's answer to Laura Mercier Black Violet pencil liner. Wow. Another amazingly pretty, deep, blackened purple whose name clearly follows its function - this is definitely a shadow for heavier, smokier eyes or just as liner. It felt like butter and with a heavier hand, would've given me a black eye. Again, I just couldn't justify keeping it at this price since my makeup use is rather minimal overall. I tried to pretend I would use it. Then I moved into my new apartment and decided I need the almost $20 back immediately.

3) Sephora Jumbo Pencil Pink 503Y ($) - This chubby pencil is a muted, lilac-mauve with a slight metallic sheen. It was easy enough to apply and rather blendable. I actually quite liked it, but the effect wasn't all too noticeable. It took a few layers for the color to really show through, and I didn't want to apply so much product. There must similar pencils out there with slight better color payoff and consistency - I could see this one drying out pretty fast.

4) Sephora Colorful Mat Mono Eye Shadow Mat No. 07 ($10) - This lovely, matte, deep burgundy/purple shadow was actually quite impressive. Very smooth texture and a great, basic shade that could work with so many looks. However, it was slightly chalky and not very pigmented. I layered it over the Jumbo Pencil and it kinda worked...kinda. I was very tempted to keep this but decided to do a little more exploring.

5) DuWop Eye-Catcher Pencil - Brown Eye Intensifier (Dark Purple)($18.50) - Hrmph. This one sort of stumped me. A combination of Almay's Purple Amethyst liner and Laura Mercier Black Violet, this new liner is sized somewhere between a regular pencil and a jumbo one. The color was pretty and intriguing, but the pencil itself was incredibly dry and difficult to apply. Plus, for this shade, the pencil was too thick.

6) Revlon Beyond Natural Eye Pencil, Dark Brown & Plumberry) ($7.99) - After testing Plumberry, I didn't even bother with the Dark Brown. It was neither plum nor berry. In fact, it was a slightly metallic, muted lilac. Yeah, seriously. It disappeared right into my skin with one smooth blend. Utterly forgettable and not worth a cent. If you're into smokier brown/black eyes, perhaps those shades will work for you (although a better option would be NYX Jumbo Eye Pencils or Jane's ColorSticks Eye Crayons). I wasn't too impressed.

All this, and all I really ended up lusting after is the DuWop Smoke eye shadow duo in Plum Wine (pictured above). These are exactly the shades I've been looking for and the cream, non-pencil formula looks like it might be easier to work with.

I'll keep you posted on the rest of BIV shadow/liner hunting, and hopefully this DuWop duo - stay tuned.


NYX - Jumbo Eye Shadow Pencil - Slate

Couldn't help it. Tried to stick to trustworthy lipsticks for experimenting. But you know me. The eye makeup battle is one I keep fighting. Plus, since I have this in French Fries, I really wanted to give another shade a try, and since the cold weather is approaching, it was time to try something deeper and more interesting for fall/winter.

As an eye shadow pencil generally, this one is excellent - silky, smooth, and non-greasy. There was absolutely no tugging involved, and the color is easy to blend. Excellent for the lower rim, although the thickness of the pencil doesn't allow for thin, precise lines. I'm not sure how this will fare during sharpening though - it will need a good one.

Now, the color - a beautiful, deep, steel/gunmetal, blue-toned jade with a subtle metallic finish. Less "slate" than I would have liked. On my hand it was perfect (yeah, yeah, I know...) but on the eye, it was definitely more blue-green. I drew a thick line over my top lashes, blended out over the lid, and finished with liquid black eyeliner. Very pretty and different, especially for me. Yet I know I won't use it much, as lovely as it is. I would have preferred a true, blue-based slate.

I mayreturn this but will sleep on it since it's a unique, high-end color with great performance and price. $1.99 @ Select retail stores or NYX Cosmetics

NYX - Diamond Sparkle Lipstick - Sparkling Chestnut

Ah, NYX. How grateful am I that I discovered you. Especially since I've been good and haven't bought any new products from either Sephora or Macy's (any new products were bought on credit I had - really!).

The NYX line has allowed me to fall in love with some products very, very cheaply. My latest find is the Diamond Sparkle Lipstick. Normally, I would've been cautious of the "sparkle" in the title but this lipstick was a surprise. I've also been looking for a great, neutral bronze and this quickly ended that quest - for once!

The Diamond Sparkle formula applies like butter, and has the perfect balance between shimmer, gloss, and pearl finishes. Sparkling Chestnut (DS18) is a difficult color to describe. It's a soft, fleshy pink-brown bronze/copper shade. I've been looking for a shade like this that wasn't too dark or frosty. I'm tempted to call it the perfect, slightly glam nude because it manages to be great for that dark eye/pale lip combo without making you look dead or like a porn star. At the same time, it has just enough pigment to be worn alone.

On my lips, the effect was slightly glossy and wet, but not in that awful plastic or glassy finish - just dewy and elegant. I should add that in the tube, it looks there is some MAJOR silver glitter/sparkle action going on, but the particles don't show up on your lips at all.

I'm not sure about the lasting power, but for the results and price, it's worth taking a few extra steps to make sure it stays put. I have issues finding the right color for my skintone, and this is, in one word, Perfect. $3.99 @ Select retail stores or NYX Cosmetics


Daily Beauty Gripe - Brow Behavior

Some people have facial ticks, some, beauty ticks. You know, that weird little mishap that seems to occur repeatedly, daily, that you can never really fix? Some have complicated solutions, others, none. My personal daily beauty gripe is The Brow Droop - my sister and T will know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have pretty thin but just full and shapely enough brows. They are easy to maintain except for The Droop. See, my eye brow hairs are on the longish-side, especially in the middle (like most probably). At some unpredictable points throughout the day, some will fall out of place and tip unattractively into the middle of my arch.

I never really noticed this until the sis and T, being the older sisters that they are, would delicately smooth it back into place. Frankly, it doesn't bother me all that much - I have worse problems during the day and cannot check my face all day long. But it occurred to me that I could use a swipe of clear mascara/brow gel or something along the lines of Vaseline to fix things.

Almay used to make a great clear mascara but I think it's been discontinued, so I tried one from Maybelline that essentially did nada. I'm going to have to succumb and use The Body Shop's brow gel which is what the sis uses. I also came across this one from Anastasia and was surprised at the rave review. Too pricey for my purposes, but good to know nonetheless.

A weekly trim might be in order here. Perhaps this is why I crave being at home most of the time instead of going out. When else would I have the time to think so hard about brows and such?


Black 'n' BIV

Remember how I mentioned Laura Mercier's Black Violet eye liner oh, just about every other day? I reluctantly let go of that irrational desire for a violet/purplish eyeliner only to circle back to it a few weeks ago. Damn that Jordana Easyliner in Eggplant! I liked it enough to continue searching for similar, but perhaps slightly better options that are in the BIV family (blue, indigo, violet - yes, as in ROY G BIV).

I like Eggplant a lot. I really do. But that wine/burgundy quality about it that I liked so much? Well, surprise, surprise - it made me want to go bluer and more purple. Go figure. So I subconsciously edged my way towards LM Black Violet without ever quite getting there.

I began by perusing the drugstore aisles for a cross between Black Violet and Eggplant. Some contenders: Almay Amazing Eye Liner in Purple Amethyst and Raisin Quartz (liquid and pencil formulas), N.Y.C Waterproof Eyeliner in Smoky Plum, Wet 'n' Wild H20 Proof Eye Liner in Amethyst Pearl, Maybelline Define-A-Line Eyeliner in Rich Raisin, and Revlon Beyond Natural Defining Eye Pencil in Plumberry, and Revlon Luxurious Color Eyeliner in Burnished Amber.

I bought, tried, and returned both the Almay in Purple Amethyst (pencil) and the N.Y.C Waterproof liner in Smoky Plum. First off, let me just say how impressed I was the N.Y.C pencil - it was soft and creamy (but not too creamy), actually gliding on with no tugging. The color was also pretty nice - a slightly blue-toned plum with a slight metallic sheen. Sadly, this just wasn't pigmented enough for me. Gave some sort of simple, smoky effect but wasn't all that noticeable. However, at a later time I will definitely purchase a basic black from this line - it may just be the budget-conscious option to Make Up Forever's Aqua Eyes in Matte Black 01.

Purple Amethyst was an almost neon, blue-purple nightmare on my hand but it was less than special on the eyes. I would have been better off using a simple navy blue instead because this color just didn't stand out or blend in - very weird.

Chances are that the Raisin varieties won't fare much better either. Sigh. I may just have to succumb and try Black Violet, but I know it will be a royal mess on my eyes. With cooler weather approaching, however, perhaps it stands a chance.

For now, it's back to the basics - a swipe of black liquid eyeliner and lipstick. Always reliable, if a bit boring.

Hope to try Revlon's Plumberry next - stay tuned.


On Indian Beauty

Do you want this woman giving you beauty advice? To be fair, the woman pictured on the left has been called the Helena Rubinstein of India - mighty impressive if you ask me. She is Shahnaz Husain, Indian beauty entrepreneur whose Ayurvedic products reach the likes of yours truly from New Delhi to New York. Read about her empire in "Indian Beauty" from the Wall Street Journal.

I myself am a total sucker for "natural" skincare and beauty products, particularly if they are from reputable Indian brands, including Shahnaz Husain, Biotique, and Himalaya Herbal Healthcare. When it comes to Shahnaz, I've had pretty good experiences with the line's kajal eyeliner, moisturizer, and an occasional face "pack" or two. Don't know how I feel about the company's philosophy or business aspirations, but wouldn't it be funny if this was the face behind the latest addition to Sephora, QVC, or Whole Foods?

On a more serious note, I do think it would be a refreshing addition, and would be thrilled to find such products at popular stores rather than hunting them down in Little India or Jackson Heights in NY. Can't say the prices would be so pleasing, but let's see what happens.

Here's to Husain's rosy aspirations...


Much Ado About Metals

Convinced that few deep colors look good on me and that neturals are dulling, I've been on a gold/bronze eyeshadow trip for the last few months. Yes, trying to find the perfect ones that could work both in a number of different ways.

It was LORAC to the rescue. Bronze and Gold are exactly that - a basic bronze with a hint of coppery pink, and a slightly mustard gold. These shadows are great alternatives (and improvements upon) my previous MAC Bronze and Woodwinked shadows. In truth, the MAC versions are slightly truer to the respetive metals they are named after but I wasn't too happy with their results. This is still something I'm mulling over, but for now, I feel safer with LORAC.

However, if you're really on a budget or are obsessed wtih drugstores like me, try Jordana's Sunset and Marigold shadows. The quality is wonderful, especially for the price ($1.99) and the shades are nearly exact matches for both Bronzes, Gold, and Woodwinked. Sunset has more orange/peach than either Bronze, but still gives a pretty, sunkissed look. Hard to find, but worth it. Again, that Duane Reade near the NJ Transit at Penn Station is a gold mine...

I also recently (as in...this morning) experimented with Revlon's Illuminence Creme Eye Shadow palette in Precious Metals because it was on sale with a mascara and I've always wanted to try it. I happen to really like creme eye shadows - they are so easy to apply and blend, and I prefer the finish over most powder shadows (I think they look a bit "dusty").

However, this one is going back to the store. These are very, very sheer shadows that take more than a few dabs of the finger to show up, crease easily, and leave behind more shimmer particles than anything else. I'd rather spend a few extra bucks (or use my never-ending Sephora credit) to try Clinique's Quick Eyes Cream Shadow.

Whew, that's a lot of metal for now. Time to explore some deep browns and plums for fall!



Wow, I cannot believe I haven't expressed my odd views and makeup love in almost 15 days. Unheard of. I wasn't even able to christen the new month with a post on Sept. 1st. This is due in part to the fact that I was out of town for about a week and a bit busy before and after.

Some news: have an apartment, and so now must become obsessed with a different, more necessary kind of shopping. Shower curtains, utensils, lamps, anyone? Believe it or not, this is more my world :) If I had a fatter wallet, however, I'd go the high-end way to decorate or at least, Urban Outfitters (although I can't say I love their stuff). Not necessary though. I love my pad, but will decorate and furnish as simply, cheaply, but somewhat elegantly as possible.

I have very little to report makeup wise except that I discovered some Artiba products in San Francisco and found them interesting, but didn't buy anything. Will have to look it up. Exchanged some old, unused products for LORAC eyeshadows and so happy with them - read here for more.

Buying into all this MAC Cult of Cherry Spiced Chocolate Quad and wondering how to get my hands on one!

Overall, been wearing very little makeup lately, but skin is better and weather is cooling down, so now I'm psyched about having fun with fall makeup - so much easier, so much more fun and interesting, right?

More to come!


More NYX Love - Golden & Walnut Eyeshadows

Watch out - I'm sure there are going to be several more posts like this about how much I like a new NYX product I've tried. I've been so extremely satisfied with my Trio eye shadow palette in Guru that I couldn't help but experiment with 2 new eye shadows - Golden and Walnut.

I bought these shadows seperately, but they also come in a Trio with Rust, a bright pink shade comparable to Milani Flare and MAC's Cranberry. I really wanted another trio, and this had the 2 shades I liked best, but the Rust was really killing it, so I settled on the singles. Rust is definitely a beautiful color, but I know it's not one I would have really used. If I ever get to that level, I will surely try Rust as well.

I was most interested in these warm, golden/bronze shades because my love for MAC's Bronze is quickly waning. I wear it on my lid, but when too much hits my crease, it just starts to look dirty. I already have tan skin, so a dirty bronze does nothing for it. If just applied in the crease, it is barely visible - the slightest shimmer that is not worth the price.

Walnut (#Es72) is a deep, mauve bronze in the pan, but goes on a more rose copper/bronze in a slightly pearl/metallic finish (by the way, the NYX color swatches are actually pretty accurate). Gorgeous over the lid for day, and with extra layering on the lid/crease for night. This shade would go with so many pink and brown shadows. Due to my skin tone and tinted lids, I need to use a heavier hand with this, but it is still far more pigmented and buildable than its Milani counterpart, Spice, which is currently collecting dust.

Walnut also reminds me of MAC's Glamour Check from the Starflash collection (which I didn't keep). Starflash is seriously overrated - the finish of these NYX shadows is actually better in my opinion (almost creamy and less dusty), as are those of several other shadows (Smashbox included).

Golden(#ES12) is an almost mustard gold with similar pearl/metallic finish and minimal shimmer. I like this on my lids for a little oomph that is warmer than some of the Guru shades I love. This is also great for daily wear depending on how it's applied, and of course, any gold would work for night. This is the effect I was going for with MAC's Woodwinked, but that also had the tendency to look a bit dirty.

I highly recommend these NYX shadows in particular - all of them are great quality, but next to the Trio in Guru, these are particularly versatile. I hope to try Champagne and Platinum Pink at some point, too! $3.99 @ Select drugstores or NYX Cosmetics

Best Lipsticks - Top 10 on All Women Stalk

Believe it or not, my neurotic ramblings were recently quoted in All Women Stalk's Top 10 Best Lipsticks.

One of my favorites, Maybelline Moisture Extreme (Plum Sable) made it to the list.

The list features a diverse selection of popular favorites, so be sure to check it out!


Much Ado About Clinique & Such

Being that I was born the day I wrote about my Clinique concealer, it's not surprising that I've rediscovered the entire brand. Actually, discovered is more like it. Clinique has always seemed too old-school and basic to me, and I've really bothered with it.

That's right - I've never owned a Clinique skincare or cosmetic product. Once in high school I experimented with the Facial Cleansing Bar and Dramatically Different Moisturizer and hated it. I currently have the gel version of the same moisturizer and feel the same way. I love the 2 lipsticks I have though (Chocolate Ice & Rum Raisin)!

My first real makeup purchases were either from the drugstore, MAC, BeneFit, Prescriptives, or similar, newer lines that didn't exist when my sister was in high school (yeah, that's kind of how I define such things...).

When the sweet sales assistant at the Clinique counter matched me for concealer and the Almost Powder Spf 15, I experimented with its eye shadows, and was so impressed. While I haven't yet found the right shade, there were more than enough options. The few that I did test had an excellent finish - sort of shimmery but not sparkly, pigmented, but not too much, wearable for work but not completely boring either (Gold Rush and Sienna Glaze).

I mentioned to her that I was less and less satisfied with MAC lately (returned Starflashes and contemplating getting rid of Bronze shadow) and she explained the most basic thing to me - certain lines are for certain kinds of makeup and wear, and few of the ones I've been exploring would thus have what I'm looking for. Light bulb moment. Clinique may not have the best shades for my skin tone, but it will be worth exploring brands that carry the lighter, more natural, everyday makeup I'm looking for.

So in addition to the concealer in Deep Honey, I also go the Almost Powder in Deep. It was perfect in the store and has been reasonably good the last few days - no drying, good color match, made my skin feel smooth afterwards. This morning, I had one of those Makeup Alley moments that I loathe reading about - the color seemed to magically change on my face!

Ok, ok, I'm sure it had something to do with the awful condition of my skin when I applied it...I had just walked across Central Park in oh, about 80 degree weather. My face was ruddy, sweaty, and irritated. In an attempt to correct the situation, I brushed some powder on and - ew. It went on an ashy, muddy taupe that looked nothing like my skin.

I hope this doesn't happen again, otherwise I might considering taking this back to the store. In general though, I'm pretty happy with this powder - it's one of the many staples I didn't really have (L'Oreal was temporary) but need. $22.50 @ Sephora


Quick Cetaphil Update

I felt the need to update my thoughts on Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser because as expected, I've hit a snag with it. Ah-ha! I knew SOMETHING had to be wrong with using this product. My initial review was unexpectedly positive, but I'm having second thoughts.

This is mostly because I don't like the method for using Cetaphil, not necessarily the product itself. You're supposed to slather it onto your face and then wipe it off with a washcloth or tissue. I don't like using tissue because it's not strong enough to take off the cleanser or makeup residue, and also leaves fibers behind. Up until recently, a washcloth was working just fine - now, my skin is a bit dry and flaky in the way it used to be before clearing up. I think it's also more irritable, and I'm sure it's due to the rough texture of the cloth.

I'll admit that I should upgrade to a better quality washcloth, but at the end of the day, the texture of any durable fabric will be somewhat rough for the skin, and I don't like the idea of doing that to my skin daily. I've already tried just washing it off, but didn't find that to be too effective.

What to do?! Not quite sure. I don't want to go back to some of the harsher cleansers I've tried. Either I will use this less often during the week, go back to rinsing it off with water, or try the other Cetaphil products (bar soap, gel cleanser) which can just be washed off.

This shouldn't be so hard, should it?


Missing Fellow Blogger

No, she's not actually missing, but I just miss her! San has officially moved - physically, geographically, away from me into a galaxy far, far away, i.e., The Black Hole that is not-New York (give us a break, we haven't lived anywhere else). The time has come to send her all the online coupon codes available, because the poor thing is nowhere near Sephora and I have to make sure she gets her makeup fill.

I've been away from friends/family before, and it always sucks not to just be able to pick up the phone and chat/vent/spew/giggle. Not being able to grab coffee well into dinner-time is also wretched.

But not having your friend around to whip out her retractable blush brush and introduce you to the wonders of NARS blushes? Or explain what BOGOF means on MUA? Heck, tell you what MUA is? It is almost too much to bear.

But San & I are committed to sharing our stories with each other and this funny little cyber world, so of course we will both keep it coming - she from The Black Hole (I promise I'll stop calling it that in a few week's time) and I from The Apartment I Hope My Application Got Approved For. Look forward to even more interesting stories as we continue to evolve for sport.

Concealer Revealed

I'm going to sound like I was born yesterday. Or even earlier this morning. I just discovered a beauty basic that most woman have experienced except for yours truly - concealer.

I only ocasionally use my Black Opal concealer to cover scars. Recently at the Clinique counter, I had a beauty epiphany, a revelation - good concealer makes a gargantuan difference, one that I most certainly need.

I have few Wow moments with makeup - some Whoa's, but not Wow. After the sales assistant blended Clinique Line-Smoothing in Deep Honey under my eyes and on my lids, I could not believe the drastic results - Wow. I looked younger! Awake! Refreshed! Even complexion all the way up to my beady little eyes! I recalled my face 60 seconds before and was truly ashamed. I haven't been doing myself justice.

Don't ask how I went 25 3/4 years without understanding the importance of concealer or getting matched for a good one. I don't have huge undereye circles but they are definitely noticeable - if I were to tell someone I was sick or had pulled an all-nighter, they would certain agree that I look it. Also, since my eyes are on the smaller side, those circles have always prevented liner and shadows from looking their very best.

According to my mom, my eyes looked smaller. I told her that they must have appeared larger before because they were being dragged outward by the abyss of undereye circles. A more even complexion made them pop out for what they are!

If there is one thing I apply everyday, it should be this. I've always been weary of face makeup, but I'm almost 110% sure I should be more consistent with concealer - maybe not every single day, but frequently, and definitely for special occasions.

Application was a cinch (just dot beneath eyes and on lids, and tap to blend in - no rubbing!). Checkout An Indian's Makeup Musings concealer tutorial for additional tips.

This Clinique concealer was a great match, doubles as a good base for other eye makeup, and the consistency is just creamy but thin enough for me. So happy to find something that I don't just like on the back of my hand, but that actually contributes to some real evolution. $14.00 @ Macy's


Color On - Shadow Solution?

Many of you might have heard about this new, slightly odd beauty product now available at Sephora. I was particularly interested since I have many eye makeup issues, particularly with shadow. It's a bit of an art - no, it's majorly art, and one I'm afraid I will never master.

Color On Instant Eye Shadow Applicators look to be the solution for the shadow-challenged, as well as quicken the overall application process for even those more experienced users. These eye-shaped appliques are coated with mineral eye shadow in various natural and dramatic looks. They are supposed to be one-size-fits-all, hypoallergenic, long-wearing, waterproof, cease-proof, and of course, hygienic since they are single-use - whew!

I love this idea, although it's doubtful that these applicators are truly universal enough to flatter everyone in terms of eye shape, shading, etc. Eye shadow is one of those products that is unique to the individual, and the pure fun of it is being able to create new and interesting looks. There is something almost static about Color On - like pictures from a coloring book! Almost too precise and too perfect to look natural.

I do like some of the shades and shadow blends, especially in the Smokey set. A few of the designs are too out there in my opinion (zebra stripes & leopard prints from the Exotic set? No, thank you...), but they're probably a great find for the more adventurous. Other sets include Tropics, Rhapsody in Grey, and Flaunt.

Each EyeEnvy set at Sephora includes 5 pairs of applicators, setting powder, and a brush. Not a bad value if you're a beginner like me, but I'm not willing to take the risk in case it doesn't work out. $25.00 @ Sephora

Things I've Been Reaching For Lately

This is a quasi follow-up to my previous list of products I've been consistently using (check it out here).

Since then, I've become mentally exhausted by many a thing for no good reason, and so I've been reaching for the bare basics in the mornings, if anything at all (those marked by an asterisk are products I don't necessary use - only if I'm in the mood). These include, in some combination or another:

*1) NYX Blush in Pecan or Rimmel Blush in Berry
2) L'Oreal FeatherLash Mascara in Black
*3) MAC Bronze eye shadow or NYX trio palette in Guru
4) The Body Shop Cranberry Shimmer Lip Balm
*5) Jordana Easy Liner in Eggplant

And that's about all - for no more than $15 might I add. I've nixed the face powder since my skin has cleared up a bit.

For some reason, I feel more comfortable with this list than my last one. My makeup bag is definitely lighter, and I never feel the least bit done or not like myself. Although the other day, after touching up with some Pecan, my friend noticed and said "nice makeup!"

I'm not sure how I feel about this - the point is sort of not to look done, and yet, of course it will be noticeable when I'm wearing something since I normally don't. At the same time, there's no point in wearing so little that is completely indiscernible and you don't look any better!

I'm toying with the idea of adding an additional product - or replacing about 4 of the above with it. You will hear about it very soon...


Not So Vogue II

A little while back, I expressed some frustration at Italian Vogue's July 2008 issue, which featured only black models and was hailed as some sort of genuine progress for the fashion industry - meh (read here).

Jolie expressed similar sentiment on her blog, in a post titled "Black is beautiful, says Vogue Italia...but skinny, tall and frizz-free helps." She is completely right in how attempts at portraying real women in all their diverse loveliness conform to the prevailing beauty standard. Right on, Jolie. I'm sure most of you will agree.

Jolie's comments were in response to a great piece on this issue by Prayamvada Gopal in the Guardian - happy reading.

Grey Chic

I've been experimenting with grays and taupes lately - on my nails!

This is definitely a fall look, but I think it's very chic and sophisticated without being terribly goth. Here's a photo of two of my recent favorites, swatched side by side.

Index & Pinky: China Glaze Recycle
Middle & Ring: OPI You Don't Know Jacques from the Fall 2008 France collection

China Glaze: $5.99 @ Sally Beauty Supply
OPI: $8.50 @ Ulta or a salon near you.

So It Begins

I'm taking a quick break from packing and panicking to share a fun find.

My Sephora withdrawal has begun, and I haven't even moved yet!

I've alluded to this in the past, but perhaps I haven't shared the magnitude of my addiction. I adore color. I also adore nail polish, because it's the easiest way to incorporate color into my life without being too outré.

So, of course, shortly after I quit my job in the city does Sephora begin to stock a new line of OPI polishes. I knew these were coming based on press releases that I've seen, but it was a low blow for them to begin arriving in stores a mere day or two after I stopped commuting to NYC.

The line has 43 great shades to choose from. And they've got the most adorable names - a hallmark of their OPI lineage, of course.

At first glance, I'm most interested in Never Enough Shoes (black with multi-color glitter), Metro Chic (dark smoke), and Run with It (shimmering dove grey). Some of the cuter names include I'm With Brad (shimmering wine over dark coffee), Mr. Right Now (classic wine), and Ms. Can't Be Wrong (deep mulberry).

These are definitely a little pricey for nail polish at $9 each, especially when you can choose from thousands of OPI shades for $8.50 or less. But I'd definitely like to check them out in person - some of the more unique shades may be worth it.

If you get a chance to take a look at these, let poor little me know how they are - in the meantime, I'll be jealous!

$9 at Sephora


Jordana Eyeliner - Eggplant

I'm writing about this in hopes of clarifying exactly how I feel about Jordana Easy Liner in Eggplant. While I definitely know that I don't hate this product, right now I feel a bit meh about it when I otherwise do think it's more wow-worthy.

Let's get one thing straight. Jordana has some of the most reliable eye liners at some of the best prices around - about $0.99 to a little more than a dollar depending on what type you buy. They have a cult following, and for good reason. I even managed to find them at a very small beauty store in India a few years ago and was thrilled. The kohl version is probably the best value you will find anywhere for black and well as brown shades.

I recently decided to pick up Eggplant because a) it's been a while since I kept a Jordana eye liner b) I've been looking for a plummy brown shade and wasn't happy with L'Oreal Le Plum and am bored with greens c) this is a truly unique shade that I have not seen anywhere else.

Wine wood comes to mind when I look at Eggplant - don't ask. It's definitely less blue/black/purple than the name would have you believe. It's actually a very deep brown with warm maroon/burgundy/wine tones. Most liners in this color family are too blue and cool-toned. This is very warm, and so I prefer it for my skin. The Easy Liner is a retractable pencil so is not as smooth as the kohl pencils, but still pretty soft to apply.

However, when applied, it basically looks brown - not entirely, but basically. That's why I'm undecided on this one. I know there is something different about it, and that might just be enough for me. At the same time, that difference could just be in my head. In any case, this is a unique color and a great alternative to blacks/browns. ~$0.99 @ Drugstores

NYX Love

I've heard so much about NYX products and have unfortunately, never tried any. Once, I found a huge display of their products in a Canadian store - I loved the texture of the eye shadows, but never bought any. San has love for an NYX blush (read about it here) and I've been itching to explore this line.

NYX is notoriously hard to find. I've been in drugstores where there is a single, lonely NYX product lying around without a price tag or display. So when San whipped out a cool NYX eye pencil the other day and told me where I could find it, I was happy to check it out and purchase some great products from the line. I bought a Jumbo Eye Pencil in French Fries, Powder Blush in Pecan, and Trio Eye Shadow palette in Guru.

French Fries is a chubby-wubby, friendly, creamy pencil in a basic bronze shade. This didn't show up spectacularly on my lids, but it was great for the inner corner of my eyes and would be more visible with some primer or a base. This was so easy to work with - the color stayed put and wasn't too creamy/smudgy. A little difficult to blend but the pencil allows you achieve whatever level of precision you prefer very easily.

Guru includes 3 warm, sheer neutrals (pink champagne, light bronze, and light, coppery pink) that were neither matte nor too shimmery. Great shades for work and daily wear if you just want to brighten your eyes up a bit, and a smooth, blendable texture that is on par with higher-end products. Pure loveliness. I wish there had been more trios available as these are a just tad too light for me (but still very usable and versatile) - after checking them out on the website, I'd like to try TS24 (shimmer, peach, copper) and many others.

Now the show-stopper. Pecan. What a blush. I know I've proven to be very fickle in my tastes but I really do love Pecan. It solves many of my recent Blush Issues. I was finding some to be too pink to wear comfortably all the time, especially on bad-skin days, but didn't like the blush/bronzer duos I've come across and couldn't commit to more expensive ones like Cargo's Beach Blush. I layered some blushes with my L'Oreal HiP bronzer but using 2 products is just annoying and I don't love that bronzer due to its shimmer factor.

I should mention that I've also generally been interested in trying bronzer. Granted, I didn't explore much because I felt that bronzer for my skin tone would be a bit difficult to find. Additionally, my skin is perfectly warm enough for me - I wasn't sure if bronzer would make it or break it. I wanted something that would complement it without too much color or muddiness.

Pecan is the answer! It looks like a very dark, coppery brown, bronzer in the pan but goes on like some wonderful new interpretation of "brick" blush. It is a slightly ruddy brown that creates a warm flush and hints at cheekbones (plenty of cheek here, little bone). This particular blush has an extremely fine, gold shimmer that is barely noticeable once applied but of course, enhances the overall effect.

I'm so satisfied and impressed - for just under $16.00 total and this level of quality, how could you not be? Jumbo Eye Pencil, $2.99; Powder Blush, $5.99; Trio Eye Shadow, $6.99 @ Select drugstores or NYXcosmetics.com

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