Lotus Herbals Eye Liner

I know it seems that I'm on a herbal-makeup-skincare diet, but I'm not. I received some Indian products as a gift a few months ago, hence the Khadi love and now some thoughts on this eye liner. After requesting some Gala of London liquid liners before a relative from India came to visit, I was disappointed to learn that it may actually have been discontinued. As a replacement, I was given this liner from Lotus Herbals.

The packaging and feel of this product (and from the looks of it, others as well) was a bit old-fashioned and luxurious, kind of like the Indian version of Estee Lauder (not even Lakme). What I liked best about this liner is the sturdy, thin brush (but a bit too long), and the liner formula, which was thicker and creamier than most. This made it easier to apply, and it clung well to the brush.

The only real issue I'm having with this liner is that because it is already so creamy to begin with, it becomes even more so as it dries, making it hard to douse the brush in the liquid and pick up enough out of the tube. However, I do prefer it to the thinner, inkier formulas. Also, I didn't like that it turned into a deep, inky blue after very long wear, but I think that's pretty common with some supposedly "black" liners, and given that this herbal, you can't expect too much.

Overall, a very decent liner out of India. In terms of price, it is nowhere near comparable to Lakme but if you don't use liner like it's water, it may be a reasonable buy. Also a fun treat if you're just visiting the country, or in the position to request lots of fun nonsense from someone visiting you.

NYX on 8th

For all the NYX fans out there, pine no more for your favorite, hard-to-find products - rush to Beauty 35, a beauty supply supply store located on 35th ST. and 8th Avenue. The store previously had some products lined up along the cashier's counter, but now boasts a proper display with more and better organized products (although I couldn't locate my beloved blush in Pecan). It is definitely worth a look if you have ever experienced NYX love, especially since they are all but invisible in NYC. Enjoy!

Beauty 35

(212) 563-1010

505 8th Ave,
New York, NY 10018

Facial TLC & Khadi Beauty

After paying a wonderful but short visit to the original makeup maven in Charlottesville, I returned to NYC with a dehydrated and grimy face. A healthy combination of salty snacks and drink may be to blame, but months of doing virtually nada to my face (other than a steady regimen of Tretinoin and the occasional scrub) were clearly evident. I desperately needed some facial TLC, and since I’m a fan of homemade and kitchen beauty, these three simple steps were the natural and easy thing for me to do:

1) Steam - Just fill a big ol' bowl with some hot water (make sure it is not too hot - the steam can be damaging if it is). Place the bowl on a table and sit down - with your head a few inches above the bowl, cover both it and your head with a towel. Or, fill a sink with hot water and cover both the same way. The steam may feel a bit uncomfortable, but hang in there for ~10 minutes and really let your pores sweat it out. Then pat dry.

2) Face Mask – I normally concoct something from my kitchen, but instead opted for Khadi Neem & Tulsi Face Pack, a powder of ground margosa (neem) leaves and a special type of basil (tulsi). Mix a spoonful with some rose water, massage onto the face, and leave on for 10 minutes. Rinse.
3) Moisturize - Follow with any good moisturizer mixed with a few drops of rose oil.

My skin feels softer and less irritated, and my pores (which are small and clog easily), have cleared up considerably. I credit this in part to the very gentle Khadi mask. Khadi Gramayod Bhavan (Khadi Village Industries Commissions) is a government-run emporium in India includes a line of herbal/ayurvedic bath/beauty products in addition to homegrown fabrics, spices, etc. So far, I'm impressed by both the simple packing and product (a no-frills powder), both of which are far more chic and natural than comparable Indian products. These seem hard to find in the US, but I'll post an update if I can sniff them out somewhere.

Try this routine once in a while to refresh your skin, more regularly to keep your face in shape, or just to simulate a more pampered experience on the cheap when you need it. I sipped some peach-green tea and watched an episode of Cold Case while at it - pure bliss.


The Myth of the Kohl-Rimmed South Asian Eye

One of my many delusions is that I have small, beady eyes. While they are surely not huge, I have to admit that I have pretty normal-sized eyes. A bit close-set for sure, but other than that, they are pretty average. Which is why I am always enraged by the myth of the kohl-rimmed South Asian eye. Makeup advice for the South Asian woman usually focuses on enhancing an inherently large, almond-shaped, doe-like, deep, dark, beautiful, sultry, smoky, and exotic pair of eyes. Such windows to the soul I do not have, and I resent any advice mandating that I play them up.

Note that I hail from a family of non-liner/kohl wearing women. The mom believes liner makes her daughters look like cat-eyed freaks, and she was not much of a liner/kohl wearer during her time. The elder sis thinks liner on the lower rim can look dirty, and the younger one still perceives lip gloss as pink goop, so I can't imagine what she thinks of liner (although both sisters have gorgeous eyes). So I admit that I bring some anti-liner bias. But I just don't think every South Asian woman has made-for-Sharpie-lined eyes, and there are other ways to enhance your looks. At the very least, eye lining should be tailored to the individual and work with the rest of your makeup without being the focus.

My liner woes typically center around ensuring minimal under-eye mess and minimal sharpening-of-my-nose. I've worked around this by only lining the outer corner of the lower rim when I want, and the whole way only for dressier times. A thin line on top (smudged or not) with a good coat of mascara is good enough definition for me, and is infinitely more fool-proof.

Agreed that for more dramatic or fun looks that include eye shadow, more liner action is necessary. When it comes to them, I have no objections. As for everyday makeup, I think it is possible to do away with the lining and see what else can brighten up a "South Asian" face or enhance the eyes without such stark definition. I'm currently experimenting with a smidgen of shadow in the crease instead - will keep everyone posted on what other things I try before I declare again my love for some eye liner or another...


Canaille Was Not The One...

...and I have found not one, but FOUR lip products that could be. I have rarely been so content with such a selection. I'm confident that these 4 beauties can carry me through any situation or event that warrants some makeup, and any in which you just want some because you know it makes you look good, and who doesn't want that???

These are: Laura Mercier Lip Colour-Shimmer lipstick in Fresh Brown ($22), Laura Mercier Lip Colour - Shimmer in Amaretto ($22), ck Calvin Klein Delicious Pout Flavored Lip Gloss in Pastel Gold ($13), and ck Calvin Klein Sheer Pumping Lip Gloss in Glory ($16).

First up, Fresh Brown - at first glance, this lipstick seems fairly ordinary. It looks suspiciously like my beloved Plum Sable from Maybelline, each tube of which costs ~$5 and lasts months. But unlike Plum Sable and other neutral pink-browns that are somewhat flat, LM's shimmer lipsticks are a pearlescent/almost-frost/shimmer formula that gives this shade dimension and a more modern finish. Completely acceptable for work but great for after-work as well without looking like it was meant to be so.

Amaretto is a shade and a half darker and has much more shimmer. In fact, it was my SA's second-choice during my mini makeover last week, but she opted for Fresh Brown (which I had actually picked out for myself a few weeks earlier but was doubting) instead. I like Amaretto because it has a little more depth for night and is better for heavier and ethnic attire. Plus, the shimmer nearly disappears on your lips and just ends up looking young and pretty. Both Amaretto and Fresh Brown are good pink/brown-bronzes lip that might seem a little boring for some, but they create a really simple lip that is still fresh and pretty.

The real surprises were the ck Calvin Klein lip glosses. I am no fan of flavored lip gloss and find some of this new line's packaging to be rather chunky and awkward, but Pastel Gold and Glory were 2 shades that I just could not resist because a) they looked great on me b) they are both versatile in various ways c) they are reasonably-priced and I can see myself buying more in the distant future since they won't be used up too quickly. Pastel Gold's official description is "golden copper," but when I envision such a shade, I think summer-goddess-bronze-orange-copper madness, and this is most definitely not so. It's a more of a muted sunset pink with gold tones. It looked nice over Fresh Brown but could also be worn alone. Another winner for both day and night.

Glory is a simple pink gloss with some punch - think mauve-Fruit-Roll-up. Because I veer towards more neutral glosses , I wanted to try a brighter shade that is actually truer to my natural lip color. A little sticky (as is Pastel Gold) as expected, but worth it (I have yet to find a gloss with a loveable consistency - Fresh glosses come close, however, I'm still upset with that company over it's Tobacco Caramel perfume).

To test myself, these products, and my own makeup convictions, I've decided to do some New Year makeup cleaning and throw out most of my old lipsticks. I want to try and survive on these alone, but will save my MAC Polished Up and O just in case....hey, you never know. Hoping this works, and not too worried that it won't. Expect only boredom to break me down.

Beauty/Dress, Everyone Else

My mother once said to me "When it comes to your stomach, trust yourself. When it comes to beauty/dress, trust everyone else." Following this advice, of course, necessitates throwing yourself out of your comfort zone. I have no problem doing this, and recently realized that superficial boundary-pushing was only indulging my dreadful self-image. To jump start the long weekend of sleeping, eating, and sleeping at my parents,' I thus treated myself to just a small spoonful of makeover magic at Sephora last week. It was high time I threw myself at the mercy of a seasoned makeup artist and trust someone other than myself, which frankly, has not been very fruitful of late anyway.

I was lucky enough to encounter a particularly nice, normal, and knowledgeable Sales Associate who wore decent makeup herself and seemed to pick up on what I was shooting for - natural and sophisticated makeup that brightens up my face without necessarily highlighting a single feature. Two products that I felt particularly in need of were tinted moisturizer and bronzer. So the SA, somewhat of a makeup shrink, encouraged me to explore a little on my own before getting to work.

This is when I discovered that I am a complete and total idiot. I am also aging faster than I thought, for I am also truly delusional and have incredibly poor eyesight. In fact, I should never be allowed to put myself together again. It's a miracle that so far I have looked rather decent in life. Otherwise, things were really on a downward spiral.

The revelation began when I picked out a tinted moisturizer from Laura Mercier that was oh, about 3 shades too dark for me. When I told the SA I had chosen Sand, she looked at me like I was an alien. She actually raised one eyebrow and was about to say something before shaking her head, sprinting to the LM counter, and returning with Fawn. Not surprisingly, her choice was the perfect one. This tinted moisturizer gave an even, sheer coverage without looking like makeup in the least. I desperately want it, but am not sure if the $42 price tag, although worth every penny, is something that I would continue to replace later on.

My next big mistake - blush. I know this is something you can play with, but if you have followed this blog at all, you might know that I appreciate makeup, particularly blush, for "darker" skin tones. I still do, but I have realized that I don't need it. Someone explain to me why I ever thought I needed a different version of NARS' Orgasm? Tell me why I perused hard-to-find makeup shelves of Black Radiance, Black Opal, and Iman? I may seriously have lost it, and I blame everyone for not pointing it out (however, your silence might indicate that I was not looking like a drag queen, so thank goodness for that). The Orgasm/Laguna blush/bronzer ($37) gave a truly natural flush with just the right amount of contouring. Who knew? Clearly, not I.

The final touches included Smashbox Eye Shadow Trio in Smashbox.com ($28), Givenchy mascara (what is the point of that weapon of torture if you have to use a hygeinic mascara wand to test it???), and for the lips, my own choices of Laura Mercier Lip Colour - Shimmer lipstick in Fresh Brown (an all-purpose bronzey pink, $22) topped with a coat of ck Calvin Klein Delicious Pout Flavored Lip Gloss in Pastel Gold ($13, and a brilliant golden copper shade).

The verdict - truly fabulous. The amount of mascara was a bit much for me, but I can't say it looked bad. I should add that the SA barely used eye liner - just a light smidgen at the corner of my eyes, but more on that coming up. I'm truly shocked that this group of products worked so well on me (minus the lip stuff - I generally don't have a problem in that area). It's also a major relief that instead of emphasizing some of my rather sharpish features, I can get away with just brightening up my face overall and look infinitely better. Most importantly, I needed the perspective of an outsider to establish some beauty trust.

Makeup is fun, and for me it has always been more about indulging my inner 6-yr old, ready with a box of Crayolas and a smile, more than anything else. But I must say, getting a little help in an area that is ultimately meant to enhance your features, polish you up a bit, and just make you feel good did not hurt. The 6-yr old in me gave a confident nod of approval well beyond her years, and reminded me that I'm at least wise enough to remember my mother's words (sometimes), toss them up with a trustworthy SA's skills (do keep in mind that finding a good person to help is also key), and still maintain her sense of self.

Seriously, who needs a therapist???


Can Canaille Be The One?

Perhaps. Perhaps I'm just sick of the redundancy of my own choices. But that doesn't mean that NARS' lipstick in Canaille is not a beautiful, versatile, perfectly pink lipstick.

It might even be the orgasm of pink lipsticks for darker skin tones. Ok, I might be exaggerating a little, but it's definitely a stronger but still sheer pink that immediately pumps some life into your lips. NARS describse it as a "plum brown shimmer" but this lipstick definitely does not have a lot of blue/plum tones, nor is it brown. In my opinion, its more of soft, nude-ish raspberry with specks of silvery pink. Not a lot of punch, but plenty of polish.

This is actually my first time using a NARS lipstick, and while I am in love with the color, I was unpleasantly surprised by the amount you get for $24 (not as much as my $5 drugstore lipsticks) and the formula (drying), especially since the formula is sheer and needs reapplication.

Canaille may certainly be The One as far as lipsticks are concerned for some, but I think I'll continue to experiment. $24 @ Sephora.com

Diaspora, Plethora, Begorrah!

DIASPORA Since arriving here from France, this Starbucks of makeup has proved to be an indispensable one-stop shop to throw money at every physical insecurity.

PLETHORA Aerosol foundations, green and purple primers, electric arm-hair removers, deluxe blemish extractors — who knew we required these things?

BEGORRAH! It’s a dirty world, princess. This ain’t the Champs-Élysées. You want spotless? Go kick a Dalmatian.

So states a New York Times: Critical Shopper article on the famous land whose exploration played a large part in the start of this blog - Sephora. Apparently, All's Fair in Beauty and War.

When I realized I did not know how to spend the hefty amount I have sitting in gift cards and credit, I knew I had reached a new low. Not knowing how to spend money in Sephora is a skill I must have acquired in growing up the last few months.

But fear not, I've been re-inspired. This article reminded me of many a makeup staple (including Yves Saint Laurent's Touche Eclat) that need my 2 cents in reviews and could also do my face some good. My only hesitation in buying more expensive products was that I knew I would never spend that much money on my own - I didn't want the excuse of gifts or credit. On the other hand, I'm not ready to stock up on any other favorites and constantly crave new things.

Do I really need a $40 concealer/highligher/brightener? Will my face benefit from contouring? Is it worth investing in quality makeup brushes? It's back to the drawing board, and I'm actually excited. Classes start next week and I will desperately need some new toys.

Any suggestions, please send them my way!

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