For the Bollywood Or Pocahontas In You

So I may be one of the last people to jump on the ethnic-beauty-bandwagon, but better late than never. I hesitated at first, mostly because I have not tried any of the products out there geared towards 'women of color.' In case you haven't noticed, I've had trouble wielding the most basic of products out there to begin with. While the appeal and usefulness of these new lines will vary from woman to woman, there is definitely a need for cosmetics and skincare that cater to The Ethnic Beauty, which is really like, everyone on the planet.

Some of my fellow bloggers have already talked about Thevi Cosmetics, Vasanti Cosmetics, and Dr. Susan Taylor's Rx for Brown Skin. Whether or not you envision yourself as a multicultural or post-ethnic Disney princess, these lines may have something of interest for you. I know I'm eyeing Rx for Brown Skin because of some wretched post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation I'm experiencing (read - scaring after a zit packs its bags).

It also recently occurred to me that not being able to find the Right or Pefect X, Y, Z of a product might have something to do with how restricted some cosmetics lines are. So I may go for a Thevi blush (or two) soon and see what happens!


Rimmel Lipsticks

Have I mentioned that I'm 4 years away from 30? Because the way I'm acting lately, one would think I'm already over-the-hill. The interiors and inventory of Duane Reade seemed oh-so-important, but I failed to mention my biggest beauty find of the season. Forgive me if I have not forgiven myself. But Rimmel Lasting Finish Intense Wear lipsticks are too fabulous to have forgotten about, and I'll try to make up for it.

Where do I start? Like all junkies and perfectionists, finding the Right everything (let's not get into Mr. at the moment...) is a life's mission. I'm substantially more sane about lipstick than eyeliner, but of late, the few basics I was using just didn't seem fabulous enough for someone still 4 years away from 30. Although I have yet to find The One (again), Rimmel Lipstick in Heather Shimmer has come pretty darn close.

Heather Shimmer is a pink frost/shimmer lipstick - don't cringe. Sure, plenty of older women are into the frost bite, and it can be quite aging. Personally, some frost lipsticks have made me look like a dead ice queen. But I always found them to be the theoretical balance between matte, creme, and shine formulas. You might not think so, but this is my blog, my logic. Rest assured, I do not like an aging woman on Park Avenue shopping for clothes her daughter should be wearing instead.

Heather Shimmer is a well-balanced pink for my skin tone, and the frost/shimmer is work appropriate but not over the top. I've been wearing this lipstick day and night, and my first tube is almost down to a nub. No worries, because I have 2 more! Yes, I was that secure in my relationship with this baby to purchase a couple of others - 1 for the makeup bag, one for the handbag, one for the bathroom counter. It leaves that awesome bit of a stain, and is pretty long-wearing and moisturing. It is one of the few lipsticks that actually embraces the fullness of my lips and I might be developing an unhealthy relationship with it as I speak.

For $5 from a drugstore brand launched by the Brits, I'm extremely impressed. I also have this lipstick in Coffee Shimmer, which is a pretty brown/pink, and am considering purchasing Rhapsody, which looks like a creme version of Heather Shimmer. Any lipstick that makes me want to pucker up and kiss someone is a thumbs-up in my book.


These Are a Few of My Favorite Sephora Things

Most people (and bloggers) I know are not a fan of the Sephora brand of cosmetics. While I've experienced a few duds myself, there are a few products which suit me particularly well, and others that are a steal for the quality and price.

Like with many a "wheatish"-complexioned girl, it's often difficult for me to find the right shade of poweder, foundation, and concealer (although I never actually wear all 3 at once - just like to have them all in my makeup inventory!). So I was astonished to find a perfect foundation color match and formula in Sephora Brand Balancing Liquid Foundation, SPF 15. This product must not be a best-seller because it is constantly on sale at Sephora from $20 to $6 (like now, but only for a few shades online). But for some reason, it works for me. I can barely feel the light, non-greasy formula and because the shade is perfect, I actually get good coverage from it without a cakey effect. Another face makeup surprise from Sephora is the Light Touch Highlighter ($12), which looks to be a more affordable version of the famed Touche Eclat from Yves Saint Laurent. I have this in 05-Golden Beige, and again, the shade is a great match. What good is a concealer/highlighter that doesn't actually match your skin? So while this product may not actually be the best of its kind out there, it does have potential if you find a good match.

Another great new product from Sephora is the Nano Eyeliner ($5). Like the Prestige Total Intensity pencil I reviewed earlier, these pencils are extremely well-pigmented and smooth upon application. I especially love how there are 3 types of brown in the collection - Glitter Brown, Chocolate Brown, and Coffee. I'm a strong believer in dark brown eyeliners, and was glad to see a variety showcased in this collection, along with some great purples. These are a great alternative to the Make Up For Ever Aqua Eyes and the Urban Decay 24/7 eyeliners.

So if you are ever overwhelmed at Sephora with a thin wallet, and the drugstore is too far away, the Sephora brand might be your only escape.

Show me the Dior

Because I really love it. I fell for the Dior DiorShow mascara hype and I don't know if there is any way out. I'm not a mascara person, which true beauty junkies might consider blasphemous, but it is the truth. I always found that well-applied eyeliner was more effective, and I didn't like the feeling of heavy lashes. Until, of course, I discovered this stuff. I began to wonder why I had never noticed the pitiful, sparse state of my lashes, and have new respect for those who don't leave home without it.

There is just something about this huge mascara wand that is unlike any other - and I really don't know what it is. There is no clumping to create a set of 3 lashes, and even though my lashes already curl up, they just soar upwards even more when I use it. All this without making me look like a porn star. When I'm not wearing liner, I go for this with some gloss. Get the waterproof version - for some strange reason, it tends to smudge a little bit towards the end of the day, but I can't risk the regular formula with my sensitive eyes.

Glad to have found a reason to like mascara, and maybe I'll experiment with some more.


Aid from Avene

So my boyfriend Duane Reade had a major makeover. It is worthy of a reality TV series. Inside and out, he looks completely different, and its only now that I realize he was previously a major eye sore. Along with a change in terms of layout and design, a few select Duane Reades have skincare centers (similar to the kind you find at CVS) that carry French skincare lines such Avene and Vichy.

A few months back, I made a few adjustments to my skincare routine, and used the help of a "specialist" at one of these centers to sample products from Avene. The line features products for sensitive, oily, irritated, and aging skin types. As a line of dermocosmetic products (cool word - read more here) that falls somewhere between the usual drugstore and high-end suspects, I decided Avene might be worth a try. I chose the Gentle Cleanser for Intolerant Skin and loved it at hello. It is a light, non-greasy, and non-irritating gel that can be wiped off with a cotton ball or washed off with water.

It took me a few months for my rather sluggish brain to realize that this is sort of a glorified Cetaphil. But if I remember my Cetaphil experience correctly, than the Avene formula is much lighter and leaves absolutely no residue whatsoever. At $17.00, it is pricier than any cleanser I have ever used, and although I think it is worth it, I'm not sure if I'm going to re-buy. I may experiment a little bit more first - I had a decent experience with the samples of the Ystheal Lotion and Cream, and would like to try another cleanser before settling on one. I'll admit that I'm already a sucker for the no nonsense, simple packaging that makes me feel like I'm really not doing much. Might be good enough reason to purchase again.

If you are drugstore obsessed like me, you'll definitely want to explore Duane's latest offerings, especially when a specialist is present and can give you samples. It's about time drugstore loyalists received some high-end treatment!

More from Jane

I thought it would be quite impossible to be more impressed by drugstore brand Jane Cosmetics' wonderfully inexpensive and quality products after trying out their new organic line. But Jane continues to surprise me. Here a couple of recent discoveries:

Staying Powder Loose Powder (Colorless) - I'd always wondered what the hype surrounding translucent/colorless face powder was. Is it really colorless? Is there hope of it providing any coverage? Will it really control oil/shine? Apparently, yes! Perhaps not to the degree you might expect from more heavy-duty products, but still worth it. Would I buy a translucent powder from an expensive Sephora brand? Probably not. But from Jane, it's just right. I decided to try out this makeup mystery with Jane's inexpensive version, and am happy to have this basic little jar on hand. The powder is light and non-irritating, and does control shine, although it definitely is not a long-wearing product. There are days when my skin looks like a patchwork of different shades and tones, and the last thing I want to do is add another. A light dusting of some colorless powder, however, gives your face a little polish without feeling heavy in the least, especially as the weather warms up. I find it easier to blend than my pressed powder from Clinique, and it works well for in-between seasons when you're not quite as pale as you were in December but the sun still hasn't warmed you up enough. Under $5.00, and worth a try if you haven't used a loose face powder before.

Be Pure Mineral One Liner (Ink Mica) - Alas, if you read my post about purple eyeliner from earlier today, you won't be surprised that I have also located the Perfect Blue. Like with everything-eyeliner, I have had issues with finding the right blue. I like sort of dusty-musty-inky blues that border on slate/gray, but are still pigmented enough to show up on my skin. Ink Mica is just that (the swatch on the Jane site does not do it justice). It beats out most of the blues and blue/grays from MAC (which has about as many liner shades as you can imagine), and reminds me of the discounted Slate pencil from Prescriptives. This is a mechanical pencil, which is nice because it allows you to create a thinner line. It also has a smudger on one end - again, amazing for the price of about 3 bucks. Goes on smoothly, and won't create a mess. What more could you ask for? Ah, yes, the Perfect Purple, but that's already been taken care of!

How Many Brown Girls Are Blogging About Beauty?

Perhaps we should start a Facebook group, or maybe our own cosmetics company! A Brown Girl's Beauty Blog is one of the few beauty blogs written by South Asian chickies to be featured in an issue of the South Asian Journalist Association's (SAJA) daily newsletter. Share the beauty junkie joy.

Prestige and a Powerful Plum: Total Intensity Eyeliners

Normally after I've disappear off the face of the earth, I assure you that I've been a busy beauty junkie with little time to share. This has not been the case over the last few months. For better or for worse, I've been hooked on a some great products, and few others have held much appeal for me. But like all my best beauty finds, my latest, long-overdue item was recently discovered accidentally at my boyfriend's, Duane Reade.

If you've followed this blog at all, you know I have serious liner issues, especially with these sensitive eyes and oily lids. I'm always searching for the perfect black, the perfect black-brown, the perfect liquid, the perfect pencil, the least smudgy, the just-smudgy-enough, and so on. Most of these quests are actually complete - I just had to find the Perfect Purple. Luckily, my faith in the beauty world was restored knowing that such a purple exists in the form of Prestige's Total Intensity Eyeliner.

This is really an amazing pencil for about $5.00. Seriously. It's way better than the usual inexpensive classics. Like the Make Up Forever AquaEyes pencils, it is super smooth, silky, and pigmented. In fact, it glides on smoother than the standard kohl liners (expensive and drugstore brand), which are typically the softest type of pencil liners (and also the messiest), on both the upper lid AND waterline. But unlike kohls, the Total Intensity liner stays put even on oily lids like mine. You don't have to worry about looking tired, sad, or bruised with this pencil.

I have this in Powerful Purple, and it is exactly the shade of purple I was looking for - dark like the skin of a dark plum, not overly purple, and not as stark as basic black. Basically, this is an improved substitute for Laura Mercier's Black Violet eye pencil (a kohl formula), which I was previously lusting after - a blackened purple that shows up well on darker skin, with barely noticeable shimmer. This isn't a Barney purple, so if you really want that kind of oomph, try elsewhere. If you want a softer effect than black and would like something other than brown or blue, this is the way to go. It's a subtle difference that only the obsessed might understand...

With a range of shades from black to green to purple, I highly recommend these pencils to all eyeliner junkies.


Beauty on a Budget

Of course, this is my mantra. But luckily others are following suit. Check out Beauty on a Budget - Advice From a Stylist from the NYT a few weeks ago for some great tips on how Duane Reade really can be your best friend. Here's a summary of some of the recommended drugstore beauty and skincare products:

  • CoverGirl AquaSmooth Compact Foundation
  • CoverGirl Cheekers Blush
  • L'Oreal Volumnious Mascara
  • L'Oreal Le Grande Kohl Eyeliner pencil in Black Sable (which I raved about ages ago here)
  • Revlon ColorStay 12 Hour Eye Shadow Quad
  • Neutrogena MoistureShine Lip Gloss
  • L'Oreal Infallible Never Fail Lip Liner
  • CoverGirl TRUBlend Microminerals Finishing Veil
  • Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Double Face Protector
  • Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation
  • Olay Foaming Face Wash
My 2 cents - Ann Orcutt, the stylist who made the above recommendations, might be wrong about needing to invest in high-end makeup brushes. I find the Eco-Tools and Apt. 5 lines to have pretty good brushes, and the Posh brand is comparable to the high-end ones. She also only liked Revlon eye shadows, which I completely disgaree with. In my opinion, she has definitely missed out on some of the even lower-priced drugstore finds, like Jane, Milani, Prestige and NYX (although NYX can definitely be harder to find), which have good shadow and liner selections. But of course, you only know these things when you're a drugstore junkie like me. Even the stylists have so much to learn...

Skin Story

Oh, the sad state of beauty when you are spending most of your time figuring out how to use a statistics program and understanding the electronic health record system in Britain. Huh? Don't ask. But that just about sums up my last few months.

Knowing that I looked increasingly tired and watching wrinkles form from studying and worrying, I considered what type of preventive skincare I might invest in being that I'm also 4-years-away-from-30. I felt a tad bit too young for strong anti-aging products, but I'm certainly not getting any younger. So I spent some time browsing for a day lotion and night cream appropriate for these post-college years.

This was hard. A third of all products are for the over 40 set, a third for teenagers, and a final and ambiguous third doesn't look like it can do much and makes the case for water, bar soap, and a jar of Albolene. When I sampled a few products from Sephora (Ren and Fresh), they didn't seem worth the hefty price-tag either. But after some searching, I found some really simple, straightforward products that are a bit above what I would normally use yet still gentle and mild enough for my age and purposes.

L'Oreal Dermo-Expertise Future*E Moisturizing Lotion, SPF 15 - What a surprise. This vitamin E-infused face moisturizer is the most unassuming product on drugstore shelves - even Pond's Cold Cream stands out more. In fact, I don't think I'd ever noticed it before, and chances are you haven't either. But it turned out to be perfect for daily use - it's light, non-greasy, and non-sticky, but still removes that post-shower dryness and is also a good base for makeup. It sinks in well without forming a waxy layer that contributes to greasiness during the day, and that you can feel when you wash your face later. I started using it a little over a month ago when the weather was still rather cold and dry in NY, and even with it warming up, I still like this moisturizer. I think it may be just the right moisturizer for all seasons. I appreciate that the one skincare "booster" that it has is just vitamin E (which my mother simply mixes into her Pond's - genius), and not harsh anti-aging chemicals or over-hyped and expensive antioxidants. A dose of vitamin E a day with SPF works just fine for me. ~$11.00 @ Drugstores

RoC Age Diminishing Night Cream - I wanted to go the mom way and stick to something painfully basic and classic like Pond's Cold Cream for a night cream, but unfortunately, my mom's genes have played out differently in this 26-year old self, and the stuff just won't cut it. Looking for a promising night cream proved to be an even dizzying affair. At Sephora, the night options were way out of my price range, and I don't have much experience with drugstore skincare either. When I spotted this, it looked and sounded relatively harmless - a night cream that is age "diminishing." Plus, from what I know, RoC looks slightly pharma and Frenchy, which is kind of fun and reassuring. Thankfully, I happen to enjoy using this cream and think it actually works quite well. It glides on grease-lessly, is non-irritating, and if I must sound like a commercial, I'll say my skin does feel rather smooth and nice afterwards.

There are only 2 things that sort of worried me about this cream - 1) I can feel it being washed off in the morning 2) If you look really, really, really closely, there are these microscopic particles that I think are meant to make your skin look "radiant." Not exactly necessary in a night cream, but so far, it hasn't been a problem. It supposedly has some soy-antioxident "complex" which isn't aggressively advertised on the package, something I'm grateful for and don't really care about since it seems to be doing it's job. I was scarring pretty easily over the last couple of years, and I really think using this has helped them fade. Best part - for a night cream, this is very, very reasonbly priced and completely worth it. Very satisfied, and will likely repurchase. ~$15.00 @ Drugstores

Just as a note, I like how these products don't have any fancy labeling/packaging or crazy marketing gimmicks. They seem to fall into my rather gray but surprisingly rigid beauty philosophy - what more can a girl ask for? Here's to nice complexions at any age.


Tea-Off: Blemish Control

Both myself and Sania have expressed much love for The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil Blemish Stick (read about Sania's love here and mine here). After my 2nd rebuy, though, I was a bit tired - there isn't a whole lot of product for $9 and I wanted to try a similar alternative. I thought it might be best to experiment with pure tea tree oil (which you get a lot of it in a very small bottle at about the same price).

You have to be careful with tea tree oil since it is so concentrated and can dry out the skin easily. This is what I experienced when I used it to zap a zit that was taking it's sweet time to mature and die. I squeezed about a drop or two of JASON Cosmetics Tea Tree Oil (The Body Shop sells its own version as well) onto a cotton swab and dabbed it lightly over the zit 1-2 times a day. The oil definitely did dry up the zit, but also the surrounding skin - additionally, the skin on top of the zit looked scaly and parched. The Body Shop Blemish Stick not only dries, it actually speeds up the overall healing time without major dry-out. The zit I have right now is superficially dried up but seems to still be festering beneath the skin, and has somehow begun to scar even though I barely did anything (I scar very easily lately).

I definitely recommend The Body Shop Blemish Stick over pure tea tree oil - the extra ingredients in it seem to contribute to the healing process in a way pure tea tree oil does not. The blemish stick is also a little easier to use, although definitely not as hygienic. Will keep you posted if I find any comparable zit-zappers!


LORAC Blush/Bronzer Duo - Hot & Spicy

I didn't realize how bored I had become with my makeup lately, until I discovered the *amazing* LORAC Blush/Bronzer Duo (Hot & Spicy). I'm not a blush or bronzer junkie, but was on the search for ones that I could feel comfortable wearing in any setting. I tried this on a whim and have used it almost everyday ever since. In fact, I was salivating over it within 48 hours of use, but held off writing about it for a while because of my fickle makeup ways. After a week, I think I'm finally ready to articulate an intelligent review.

Only I can't - because this blush/bronzer is awesome! It's so easy to use! It lasts! I love the colors! It's so versatile! I love the finish! I carry it in my bag and actually touch it up! It's pretty to look at! I think it makes me look prettier! It can look natural! It can look dramatic! It's everything you could possibly want in a blush/bronzer! Sound like I'm exaggerating? I'm really not! I really, truly, genuinely like this product and am not considering returning it. I swear. In fact, I want to buy another to keep at home.

Both the deep pink/peach blush and medium bronzer work well on my medium-tan complexion to warm it up. The blush gives a natural flush that is neither too pink/plum, nor too orange, and the bronzer is neither too matte nor too sparkly. Additionally, the bronzer shade is perfect for skin tones like mine - some bronzers tend to make it look "dirty" or simply way too dark. Not to mention how soft and blendable this is - makes it a breeze to use, but yes, heavy hands beware. If you happen to use too much, you can always blend some away. There is some shimmer factor which isn't cheap or too noticeable, and if you touch your face too much, there can be some sparklage and shimmer fallout - but really, nothing to be too concerned about, especially compared to other products which seem to have a jar of glitter in them.

This is far superior to the NARS Orgasm/Laguna duo in quality, and far more versatile for various complexions. And it comes with a cute brush - when was the last time that happened with a high-end product? I only wish that the compact were slimmer and sleeker. Best of all, it has pretty good staying power - lasts about 6-8 hours unless you're running the marathon (in which case, don't wear makeup!).
After a light touch up, it fades away nicely into that just-warmed-by-fading-make-up look. I actually like going a teeny bit overboard with this for a deeper flush.

2 minor downsides - the somewhat clunky (if also somewhat classic) compact - it's like MAC 's Studio Fix powders, round with a compartment beneath for the brush. A bit thick to carry around, but one can deal. Also, the powder is so fine that some of it ends up on the mirror - clearly no need to dig your brush into the pan.

$28.50 @ Sephora. Looking forward to my touch up!

A Prime Primer - Tarte Clean Slate Face Primer

Too bad this simple product is meant to be worn UNDER makeup to smooth out the skin and make makeup last longer. In my book, this alone would suffice (especially in warmer weather). I haven't ever felt the need to try a face primer although I did wonder what all the hype was about. So I was pleased to receive a sample of Tarte Clean Slate Face Primer with a Sephora purchase, and was even more pleased by the results.

The best way to describe Clean Slate (and I'm guessing other primers) is a dry gel. So, picture a clear gel like you might have used on your hair back in the day - I'm sure you'll recall the wet, slippery texture. Primer, on the other hand, feels a little heavier and actually looks matte. As soon as you start rubbing it into the skin it just dries away into a slightly matte finish onto the skin, completely dry to the touch. No wet residue, no greasiness, no shine - just a light absorpotion of some skin oil and otherwise, just you and your skin. I loved how this didn't feel like sticky goop and how it disappeared on contact. On my skin, it was good for some shine-control, evenness, and a smoother texture. And this is all with a drop or two! No other makeup had even made it to a brush or sponge yet.

Another plus for Clean Slate is that it falls into the "natural" category of cosmetics since it contains no parabens, phthalates, synethetic dyes/fragrances, sulfates, petro-chemicals. Another comparable primer might be Korres Face Primer (which is a silicone-free formula - not sure if Clean Slate has silicone or not) if you're interested in natural, chemical-free products.

However, there are a couple of reasons due to which paying almost $30 may not be worth it for me, even though I think it's a great a product. 1) I'm suspicious of any face makeup due to my generally irritable and sensitive skin; 2) I don't wear face makeup daily and when I do, I still don't wear enough to need primer and am also not concerned about long-wear; 3) I'm fairly young and my skin is in decent shape.

I would like to experiment with some less expensive primers (I've been eye'ing a Revlon Beyond Natural version), but then of course, I would probably be compromising on quality anyway. But during the summer weather (which doesn't seem to be arriving soon anyway), even face powder or a tinted moisturizer may not cut it, in which case, Tarte it will be.


Duos to Love

It's a dreary, grey day in New York and I've got some matching grey eye shadow to go with it. Oh, the wonders of makeup. Amazing how a little dab here and there helps you ease into the mood of the day. Eye shadow is fun and helpful that way, and I recently found 2 extremely versatile and loveable duos that would work well on most skin tones.

NARS Duo Eye Shadow (Brazil) - I love this thing. It is one of the few products about which I have no economic-value doubts. It lives outside of my makeup drawer and has a spot reserved in my travel bag. With the most perfect, basic bronze and an almost metallic, slightly deep pink/mauve, I don't know how anyone can go wrong with this duo. The NARS description - "warm sand pearl/rose pearl"is pretty accurate once on the skin. It's fool-proof for any makeup "look" or outfit, any season, day or night. All I have to say is - get it. $32.00 @ Sephora

elf Duo Eye Shadow Cream (Pecan) - You know me - at 1 dollar, I would force myself to like just about anything. But with this friendly little pot, it wasn't hard. The Duo Eye Shadow Cream has a bronzey-brownie shade and a shell pink. The pink is a great highlighter, and I like the brown shade to dab over the lids. $1 @ elf cosmetics

Although the shades in each of these duos are different, they are equally versatile and easy-to-use. Neither is very overly-pigmented, so a good base or primer definitely helps, but that's the beauty of both. Very "me" kind of makeup and for once, extremely satisfied with both. With my Shady Lady Eye Shadow Palette from TheBalm, the possiblities are endless.


Be Jane, Be Happy!

My recent tinted moisturizer experiments included the Jane Be Pure Aquaceuticals Sheer Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30. Luckily, a promotion at the time allowed me to experiment with some other products from this new line of all-natural, organic, and paraben-free makeup from Jane Cosmetics.

The first product that I really love but wish I had in a different shade - the Agua Blushtix. There is a lot of product in this twist-up creme blush, and worth every penny on that front. If you were thinking about trying Clinique Blushwear Creamstick, I'd experiment with this first. The formula also isn't at all greasy or chalky. I chose Shimmering Brown (the other 2 available shades are Shimmering Peach and Shimmering Pink) because I thought it might be interesting for summer and am already involved with a lovely pink creme blush from Stila. Unfortunately, the color doesn't show up on me too well, but it does give a nice, light, bronzey glow that is not overwhelming or sparkly. ~$8.00

Next up were 2 AguaShimmer Eye Shadow quads. The magnetic, cardboard case (mirror inside) reveal 4 sheer, pretty neutrals for spring (Bamboo pictured here). I have Reef and Sandstorm, and think they are so cute and versatile. Pick one up to keep in your makeup bag! ~$6.00

I've seen these mostly at Rite Aid, but if this makes you super-excited, you can also purchase them online here. What did I say about drugstores? An American makeup dream! Enjoy...


Good Gloss

Oh, how difficult it can be to find one that does not glue hair to your lips or make you look like you just ate a lot of fried chicken. My current favorites for dress-up are ck Calvin Klein Delicious Pout Flavored Lip Gloss in Pastel Gold and MAC Lip Gelee in Saphoric. Milani Crystal Lip Gloss in Taboo is a reliable everyday gloss but I have not gone near it in ages. Partly because I don't wear gloss to the office, and partly because I've been moving away from pink browns with blue undertones and leaning towards peach. By some twisted logic, these two reasons encouraged me to find a better everyday gloss. Read - I'm bored.

I gave Revlon Colorstay Mineral Lip Glaze in Forever Fig a try and found exactly that. The color is a natural, sheer peachy/pink, and the formula is far more moisturizing than I expected. Nice shimmer, but not over-the-top. A very mature and versatile gloss. Give it a try if you want something reliable to toss into your bag.

$7 @ Drugstores


Favorite Liquid Eye Liner

I promised I would report back if I dropped my Calvin Klein and other liner pens and stuck with L'Oreal Lineur Intense Felt Tip Liquid Eyeliner in Carbon Black - so I am.

This is seriously the best liquid eye liner I have ever used. It's not like most other "felt" tips - those are usually more like the pen/marker liners. This tip doesn't have a specific shape, and because it is flexible (it is a tiny nubby little thing at the end of a short wand) it lets you draw clean, thicker lines across the upper lash line or dig a little deeper into the nooks and crannies of the lashes for finer, precise definition.

I wish they had it in more colors, and a waterproof formula, for the spring/summer. Can you believe this is actually a repurchase? I can't either, but I'm happy to put my liner woes to rest.

Tinted Lip Balms & Luscious Lips

Really, it is that easy. I'm a lipstick lover, but I also have perennially dry lips, a condition made worse by the recent icy weather in the Northeast. So I had stopped using some of my neutral lipsticks and was waltzing into work with a pretty boring, bare lip. Luckily, a lunchtime trip to the drugstore resulted in an amazing find - Neutrogena Moisture Shine Tinted Lip Balm.

I love this little gray tube of moisturizing goodness because it makes me feel at once young and simple, but grownup. The practicality of tinted lip balm is a no-brainer, but Neutrogena did a particularly good job with these pretty, sheer shades - these are not the Lip Smackers of your teenagehood. I have a couple each in Clean (mauve), Pure (berry pink), Sunny (bronze), and Warm (nude bronze). There was an amazing sale on them and I could not bear the thought that this might mean the product was being discontinued.

If that does end up beign the case, however, I'll likely move onto these alternatives: Jane Cosmetics Be Pure Mineral Lip Balm and Tarte Lip Sheers Tinted Lip Balm.

While it most certainly doesn't feel like spring here, hopefully lightening up the makeup with these babies (and avoiding the dreaded chapped lip) will make it so.

Tinted Moisturizer Trials #2 & #3: Clinique Almost Makeup vs. Jane Be Pure Aguaceuticals

Experiments just keep falling into my lap lately, especially when it comes to tinted moisturizers. Here are my latest findings:

Trial #2: Clinique Almost Makeup, SPF 15 - I really wanted to like this more because it was about 20 bucks. Sadly, it could not nudge my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer off the counter. Clinique has 2 products that are comparable to a regular tinted moisturizer - the Almost Makeup SPF 15 foundation, and the Moisture Sheer Tint SPF 15 (which I plan to try as well). So while its not exactly a tinted moisturizer, if you're interested in trying something with a little bit more coverage, this would be a good alternative. But not for me, for the simple reason that the shade match was not great. I tried Deep, which is surprisingly the darkest shade Clinique offers in this range of 6 shades. I have the LM moisturizer in Fawn, which is actually number 4 in a range of 7 shades. So it is not surprising that the Clinique didn't match well with my skin. It also had a more matte, "makeup-y" finish which definitely didn't feel like "almost makeup" to me. I prefer the more natural glow and soft finish of the LM. This one was a no-go for me.

Trial #3: Jane Be Pure Aguaceuticals Sheer Tinted Moisturizer, SPF 30. Did I dare try a drugstore tinted moisturizer other than the snobby Neutrogena? You bet. I saw the clean and simple packaging, of this new "organic beauty" line from Jane Cosmetics (read about it here) and was immediately ensnared by phrases like "paraben-free" - not to mention a buy-one-get-one-free sale. Haha. But no, really, I was intrigued by the new line and since it is a drugstore cult favorite, I had to try it. Hey, we're in a recession - good drugstore finds will be a blessing for many downgrading from Sephora.

This is a great product and completely delivers - and not just for a product that is under $10. I found it to be better than Neutrogena's in many respects - it is slightly creamier, feels more like a moisturizer, and is more comparable to the LM. It also does a better job of smoothing out the skin a bit before applying any other makeup. In fact, it is everything I thought Clinique Almost Makeup would be. Better for colder, drier weather and in smaller portions as a foundation. Color match is somewhere between Neutrogena & LM's. Additionally, it has a higher SPF than Clinique Almost Makeup (Neutrogena & LM are both also SPF 30). There are 4 color options, but the darkest one (Medium-Tan) worked well for me - highly recommend this!


Liner Pens

Hail liquid eyeliner, especially newer versions of the liner marker/pen. I've been sticking to this easy, defining swipe over the upper lid for a couple of months now, and found some products that help things along.

I lusted after the ck Calvin Klein Electric Edge Liquid Eye Liner Marker Pen for weeks before locating at one of 2 Sephora stores that carry it (34th St. - was sold out; the other is in Union Square). I thought it would be easier to use than it is. This nicely designed pen is really like taking a Sharpie to your lids, just with a finer tip. This sounds ideal, but turns out not to be because the tip doesn't bend/flex enough as you move along your lid. Instead, you have to draw a line with the tip on its side if you want a smoother line, which leads to a thicker line. I don't like thick lines so early in the morning. At night, they're okay. I prefer thinner for day. A good buy if you prefer this method of lining, although the cost is steep ($16) compared to these drugstore versions: new Revlon Colorstay Liquid Eye Pen ($9.00), Styli-Style Liquid Liner 24 ($2.00) and fresh Minerals ($4.00).

I'm still working with the ck pen, but may instead opt for L'Oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eye Liner in Carbon Black. I previously reviewed the Limited Edition version in Defined by Plum, and am starting to think that overall, L'Oreal may have hit the nail on the head with this product. This is basically a wand with a soft, flexible tip - no brush, but also not a marker pen of the type described above. I had actually used up the Defined by Plum and was about to pick up the Carbon Black - picked up the wrong "black" and ended with another Limited Edition version with glitter in it. Seriously, who is still wearing such things?

Try the ck pen if you need a change but like the look of precisely applied liquid liner.


Black Radiance Eye Shadow Quartets

A while ago, I acquired a special holiday palette of eye shadows from The Balm and have overall enjoyed it immensely. At about the same time, I decided it would be fun to compare it with a drugstore version - you know, just for kicks. While this was semi-tough to do (drugstores often have really cheap, poor-quality palettes and kits out during the holiday season, none of which are appetizing), I did manage to find a collection of quads from the Black Radiance line which are surprisingly fun, easy to work with, and a little different from the usual drugstore fare.

I have 2 of the quartets - Deep Tapestry (blue/gray, deep purple, burgundy, and sand) and Desert Clay (shell, beige, gold, and brown). These shadows are surprisingly pigmented and soft, although their staying power is not the best. They blend easily and have the tiniest shimmer to them. What's fun about these quartets are the color combinations, particular Deep Tapestry - they are unusually sophisticated for drugstore line. Desert Clay is definitely a more basic quartet, and good to have for a quick fix although it's not as memorable. There are splashes of cool purples, greens, pinks, and blues in some of the other quartets, particularly Forest Sand, Blazing Beauty, and Retro Chic.

These are fun to play with if you're still in the experimental stages of eye makeup, and pretty dependable when you're not just playing around. At $4.00 each, you can't go wrong.

Tinted Moisturizer Trial #1: Neutrogena Healthy Skin Glow Sheer SPF 30

I recently discovered Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer and pretty much think it's a wonderful product. However, contrary to popular belief, and unlike most product junkies, I'm rather careful about abusing my wallet. At $42.00 for a 1.7 oz tube, I'm not sure how practical the LM Tinted Moisturizer is for me. Out of sheer laziness or perhaps a fear of running out and having to replace, I haven't actually used it very much. So I'm considering some less expensive alternatives and hope to exchange the LM for something more long-lasting and luxurious - perhaps a nice perfume for myself for Valentine's day since I'm spending it with my grandmother (yes - don't even bother asking).

Alternative #1 is Neutrogena Health Skin Glow Sheer (SPF 30) in Medium to Tan. This friendly little 1.1 oz tube is about $12.00 - pricey for a drugstore product but nowhere near $42.00. Compared to the LM, it has slightly less coverage and a stronger sunscreen scent. If you're looking for slightly more coverage, this probably isn't the best choice for you. In my case, the Neutrogena also gave the perfect base for a light dusting of powder. It's neither greasy nor drying, and doesn't flake in my usual problem areas.

I may be imagining it, but the LM seemed to have a "dewier" finish and slightly creamier formula than the Neutrogena, so I'm a little worried that the Neutrogena could end up drying my skin out in brutal Northeastern weather. I discovered after reading some other reviews that this could be due to the fact that the LM has mineral oil, while Neutrogena's is completely oil free. It might help to add a couple of drops of moisturizer to it if necessary.

This comes in about 6 different shades, which includes 1 bronzer (which I might pick up in the future), so I was skeptical about finding the right one for my skin tone. I lucked out and Medium to Tan is perfect. It helps that the formula is so sheer and can blend in easily.

I'm pretty impressed with this product, especially considering that I loathe buying face makeup from the drugstore. If you don't wear a lot of makeup but would like a little polish to your face, this is a a worthy alternative to more expensive and celebrated brands. And for half the price of 1 LM tinted moisturizer, you can get 2 - 1 for home, 1 for your makeup bag! :) Will keep you posted if there are any changes in opinion. Stay tuned for Trial #2 - it will mostly likely be Clinique Almost Makeup.


Sephora Lipsticks

I know, I know. This review will result in a resounding "I told you so," but I'll go ahead anyway.

I have never actually bought and used a Sephora brand lipstick, although I play with them often in the store and contemplate a purchase. As one might expect, some of the formulas just look too much to handle. The "Star" line of shimmer lipsticks is one such type. Trying to use up the last few dollars on a gift card, I bought 2 of these on an impulse and am still chewing over the results.

I purchased #16 Sienna Fiesta and #20 Fabulous Brown. I have to say that I was a bit surprised by these - they weren't nearly as bad as I thought they would be. The colors were both nice - Sienna Fiesta is a peachy brown while Fabulous Brown is a slightly deeper, mauve brown. They both give a tremendously dewey lip which could potentially be a hazard in broad daylight. When I wiped the color off my lip, glitter particles colonized my face. Sad, because I really did like these shades.

I'm having some lipstick trouble of late, right after getting rid of my Laura Mercier finds, and I'm disappointed. My one triumph has been a drugstore buy from Maybelline (Moisture Extreme in Sugared Bronze), and that's about it. Looking for some lip-inspiration...



Clearly, I am one when it comes to makeup. Since you're probably not surprised that I'm going a bit back on my word about some things, I'll just get right to it:

I'm no longer in possession of Laura Mercier lipsticks in Fresh Brown and Amaretto, or ck Calvin Klein's Glory lip gloss. After some soul-searching, bathroom cleaning, and others' input, I made myself return these. Since my lip color choices are usually neutral and safe, there was just no justification for the space these were occupying. Fresh Brown was replaced by Maybelline's Moisture Extreme Lipstick in Sugared Bronze, and I'm just as happy with it. I kept the ck Calvin Klein Pastel Gold lip gloss because it is a color and type I just don't have. My only other "good" gloss right now is a reddish bronze from MAC, and this is a good complement for a balanced and reliable, if tiny, selection. I'll splurge on a good lipstick for an awesome, hard-to-find color, not a neutral.

There is a Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer sitting in my bathroom counter, and so far, so good! It makes my face look more even and polished without feeling like makeup. As a moisturizer it leaves a soft glow, and is only slightly drying in already existing problem areas. Completely worth the money in most ways, but I have a nagging feeling that I can find something similar and less expensive. Suggestions are welcome.

There is also a beautiful Nars Bronzer/Blush duo (Orgasm/Laguna)alongside the tinted moisturizer, and it makes me so happy just to look at it. It is one of my more substantial buys yet, and I'm proud of it. This duo gives just the right amount color to my face, and with a little work I think I might get the contouring down, too. It's a foolproof addition to anyone's makeup routine, and while I'm still going to give it some time just to be sure, this one will probably be a keeper.

I have similar feelings about Smashbox eye shadow Trio in Smashbox.com. This trio consists of some basic neutrals - a pale but brightening yellow, a soft shell-pink, and a dark, matte brown. The quality of these shadows is wonderful (extremely soft and blendable), and any issues I'm having are more about technique than the product itself. I particularly love the yellow for the inner corner of the eye and on the brow. But my It's-so-basic-there-must-be-a-cheaper-version-out-there moment did force me to peruse the drugstore aisle to no avail. I might just stick with this one to make life easier.

All of these have been much less tricky to use than some of the other supposedly fantabulous things I have bought, and are much more effective - who could ask for more?


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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