Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Hunt is On

...for the perfect undereye concealer, that is.

I haven't been blogging lately because I've been super swamped with work and my thesis. I don't get to sleep as much too so you can just imagine the horror my eyes have become. If you, like me, suffer from undereye circles then you'd understand my need to find just the right concealer. I have these undereye circles that can make me look like tired and stressed all the time. I sleep really late, like sometimes I don't get to sleep till four or five in the morning, so when I wake up, hello Uncle Fester! Even when my sleeping habits do return to normal and I get seven to eight hours of sleep, I find I still have these dark circles that just won't go away. Hence, my seemingly unending search for the perfect concealer that can banish these ugly dark circles to kingdom come. Stick concealers, cream concealers, liquid concealers, bring them all to me! Undereye shadows, begone!

Here are some of the concealers I've tried:
1) YSL Touche Eclat #3:
I chose number 3 because it seems to suit my morena skin tone most. Numbers 1 and two seemed too light. YSL Touche Eclat is a liquid concealer comes in a sassy gold pen-like case which is really handy for quick touch-ups. Just open the cap, pump the liquid and presto! Instant concealer and highlighter. I loved this at first, but now whenever I put this on, I get these unappetizing-looking orange streaks that won't fade even when I top it with loose powder. I suppose I got lighter, but when I tried the #2, it was too light! Plus, over time it kind of develops this smell that's well, not exactly a heavenly scent. While I like YSL Touche Eclat overall, I find that it works better as a highlighter and not so much as a concealer. It does nothing for my undereyes and nothing for my blemish spots. However, when I applied it as a highlighter on my nose or around my lips, it did a rather swell job. I really wanted to love it as a concealer, as I've heard so many raves about it. Alas, not even its ultra-chic golden packaging can help its lackluster performance as a concealer.

2) Watercolors Concealer
I'm a fan of cream concealers so I decided to pick this one up. While not as creamy as other cream concealers, Watercolors concealer does its job well. It brightens the undereyes and manages to hide the little imperfections without caking. The drawback is that it only comes in about four shades so choosing the right shade can be a little tricky. As for me, I got the one in neutral medium and it works just fine.

3) VOV
For just 395 bucks, VOV is just about the cheapest concealer I have. It's a cream concealer that also acts as foundation, so you get two for the price of one. However, finding the right shade for my morena skin wasn't that easy as VOV comes in only four shades. I ended up getting #3 since it's yellow-based and it's the closest I got to my skin tone. Closest, but still not the right match. I use this when I'm just going for a quick trip somewhere and I want to save on other concealers.

4)Cinema Secrets
I've been using Cinema Secrets since high school (let's just say that's a long long time ago!) and I love this product until now. It's creamy, probably the creamiest out of all my cream concealers, glides onto the skin very well and it doesn't cake or streak. Plus, it comes in sooo many shades which can make choosing the perfect shade for you quite difficult. Cinema Secrets is also a cult fave, used by makeup artists everywhere. For morenas, I suggest checking out #62, or #15. One of the best places to try out Cinema Secrets is in PCX at Powerplant. You get to check out all the colors you want. For a hefty price of 1k plus, you really need to test the colors first before purchasing them. Cinema Secrets also comes in a palette which makes concealing even easier.

5) MAC Studio Finish Concealer This is another cream concealer. For some reason though, I have to use a concealer brush to get the coverage I want. Unlike with Cinema Secrets, which I can just use with my fingers, getting the right coverage with this one takes just a little bit more effort. You have to be more careful with this one. If you get it right, you get a flawless finish. If you don't, it will tend to crease and settle in the fine lines. I like that the little itty bitty pot holds so much stuff that you can use it for months on end.

My favorite is still Cinema Secrets but I'm always on the lookout for cheaper alternatives. Plus I heard Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage and Bobbi Brown Concealer are good too. Will update when I get to check out those products!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Synthetic Vs. Natural

Inspired by Liz's comment on a previous entry, I'll put a little something on one of the biggest considerations when selecting makeup brushes: Do I go for natural brushes or synthetic brushes?

(Before I say anything more, I would just like to say that I love animals just as much as the next person and, like a lot of people, I'm very much against animal cruelty. Still, as this is a beauty blog, I leave the fiery debates about animal vs. synthetic hair to other worthwhile discussion sites).

As every makeup enthusiast knows, great makeup application depends heavily on finding the right makeup tools, foremost of which are brushes. Using the right makeup brushes for our various make up needs can spell the difference between skillful and sloppy makeup application. Therefore, it's just but proper to examine which type of makeup brush can aid us in our face painting adventures.

I have to admit, there was a point in my life when I didn't pay much attention to the type of brush I was getting, just as long as the bristles felt soft on my face and they seemed to do whatever they were supposed to do. Apparently, particular brushes work so much better depending on their type and their use. So hey, I'm all for improving my makeup application skills. All it takes is asking the sales assistant at your favorite cosmetics counter the type of brush you want to purchase.

The general rule is: natural fibers work best with powders (powder eyeshadows, blushes, etc) while synthetic fibers work best with creams (lipsticks, cream concealers, cream blush, etc).

There, that's all there is to it basically. Natural fibers are best for powders because unlike synthetic fibers, natural hair has scales and they are more porous so they are able to hold the pigment on the brushes for a longer period. Also, creams stick to natural fibers more easily so they don't glide on as well when you apply them. Natural bristles can be made from a single animal (squirrel, sable, goat, even mongoose!) or they can be a mixture of these animal hairs while most synthetic fibers are made from nylon or Taklon. Brushes made from natural hair are more expensive, so keep that in mind when you're looking for concealer brush or liquid foundation brush. You might be spending more when you could get synthetic fibers that are not only cheaper but are more suited for your needs! Still, some people prefer to invest in brushes made from natural hair because they say they last longer. A drawback of brushes made from natural hair like squirrel is that they take longer to dry when you clean them. In the end, each type of brush has its own pros and cons so it's really up to you to decide which type of brush you'd rather invest in. This is just but a little guide to help you choose the perfect brush for you.

So to summarize, here's something that might help you next time you go makeup brush shopping:

powder eyeshadow
- natural hair

powder blush
- natural hair preferably made from pony or squirrel

face powder
- also natural hair preferably made from pony or squirrel
- brands to check out: Shu Uemura pony brushes, Bobbi Brown pony blend brushes and Japonesque squirrel blend brushes

- synthetic fibers preferably made of Taklon

- synthetic fibers
- check out Stila's concealer brush

lipstick brush
- synthetic fibers

eyebrow - synthetic fibers preferably made from nylon

If, in the end, you just can't imagine using some poor little squirrel's hair on your face, then there are equally good synthetic brushes out there. For fans of synthetic, "cruelty-free" brushes, you might want to check out the following:

Paula Dorf brushes
Red Earth's synthetic eye makeup brushes
Urban Decay brushes*
The Body Shop brushes*
E.L.F Cosmetics brushes*

*Thanks to Fluxcore Magazine for these suggestions!

Saturday, January 19, 2008


I tried out yet another nail polish on my toes: Essie in Wicked.

I love it! The color is just this rich, deep, beautiful burgundy. It's not too in-your-face red but it's not too dark it almost looks black. It takes about three coats to get the color right, though. If you only put one coat on, the dark hue won't show so you have to layer it on. Once you do get it right, the resulting shade is just glamorous and ultra sexy. I like how it offsets my feet. As my pedicurist/manicurist Sherlyn (from Nail Loft in San Juan) says, the color is "nakakaputi." True true! My feet don't look washed out. This shade really suits a whole range of skin tones. I like the shine too. It's only my second day so I have yet to see how chip-resistant this product is.

I'll do a review of Nail Loft in San Juan next time, when I get pictures. I've been meaning to do it for the longest time but whenever I go there, I always forget my camera or my phone's low batt, which means I can't take pictures. For now, I'd just like to say that Nail Loft, along J.A. Santos in San Juan is my nail spa of choice these days. What I love about that place is it's really value for your money. The service is fantastic and the prices are uber-reasonable. I spent only 550 bucks for a foot spa with hydrating mask, french tips manicure (as always) and a pedicure. They have other packages, including packages for guys. All of them are pretty inexpensive. The place has this charming, girly-girl ambiance which I also like. Anyway I'll do a more comprehensive review next time.

Monday, January 14, 2008


Last week, I finally got the Suesh brushes that I ordered. Yahooo! I first heard about them in some magazine, when this makeup artist was raving about them. Since then I'd been hearing and reading about them constantly. I'd been wanting to replace some brushes that I had so I thought, why not give this set a try? This weekend I tried them out and I love them! They're so soft yet they were still able to hold and transfer the colors with much precision. The set also comes in a leather pouch for easy storage.

Check out their other stuff! The bristles are made from both natural and synthetic fibers, depending on the brush. Ordering was hassle free too! They just dropped by my house with the brushes, got the payment and that's that. All I need now is a new concealer brush (I'm eyeing that Shu Uemura #12) and a foundation brush (the M.A.C. #190) and I'm good to go!

Friday, January 11, 2008


I love eyeshadow palettes. They're so pretty to look at and they make my life so much easier. I admit, I'm not yet one hundred percent super confident with eye makeup application. When I see other people's eye makeup photos, I'm really blown away. Haha seriously. The way some people blend colors together just looks so seamless and effortless. Sheer genius.

Because I'm still in the stage of perfecting eye makeup application, (I'm still a makeup newbie) I've found that eyeshadow palettes have become my refuge, my salbabida in this bottomless sea of eyeshadows. Most palettes are designed in such a way that the colors go together, so mixing and matching colors is a breeze.

Here's a shot of my eyeshadow palette collection:

L-R first row: The Body Shop Smoky Grey Eyecolor Trio, Chanel Quadra Eyeshadow in Fascination, Red Earth Cote D'Azure in Sunset Glamour, Estee Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow

L-R second row: Lancome Color Focus, Lancome Color Focus Duo,
Prestige Eyeshadow Palette in Earthling and Red Earth Glamorous Affair palette in Mystic Seduction

L-R third row: Artdeco Beauty Box Magnum for Eyeshadows/Blushers
Guerlain Divinora Radiant Colour Palette in Touche de Bronze

Well, I know it's a tiny collection but I love every one of these babies. I saved up for them and got them over the whole year I think. The newest member of the family is the Red Earth Glamorous Affair Ultra Luminous Eyeshadow Palette in Mystic Seduction. I think it's from the fall/winter collection 2007 of Red Earth. I've been wanting to get another Red Earth palette ever since I got the Cote D' Azure Sunset Glamour one. Red Earth eyeshadows work well on me and they last long. Plus, the packaging is beautiful!!! It even has instructions on the side, so what more can I ask for? This was the first thing I bought after the holidays were over and I could finally spend on myself again. I played with it as soon as I got home. I didn't actually follow what was on the palette hehe. Oh well. So hey, I still get to experiment. There are so many different ways of applying the colors in any palette anyway.

Speaking of the holidays, I know Christmas is over, but still, I'm going to cross my fingers and I'm sending out vibes to the universe in the hopes of letting me have the following:

1. Lunasol Geminate Eye Palettes

2. Awake Limited Edition Stardom Reflective Eye Quads

3. Testimo Grande Shine Eyes Eyeshadow Palettes

4. MAC Royal Assets from the Antiquitease Collection

5. Chanel 4 Fleurs de Chanel and 2008 Aurora Blues Accent Spring Collection

Friday, January 4, 2008

Cheeky Pop

When it comes to blushes, I rely on just two or three brands. They are L'oreal, MAC and NARS. I know, I may be missing out on a lot of good things out there (I heard Smashbox O-glow is fantastic!) but so far, these three are my favorites when it comes to staying power and colors that suit my morena skin tone. I think choosing the right blush shade is pretty tricky, trickier than choosing eyeshadow colors even. I think it's just same level as choosing the right foundation.

For this entry, I'll feature two NARS blushes that I have. They are NARS Orgasm and NARS Mata Hari. I'm sure you've heard of the super famous Orgasm already but I included it here just for comparison.

Left to Right: NARS Orgasm and NARS Matahari

For morenas, I think blushes that come in coral, deep orange, terracotta, rose and warmer shades of peach work best. I go by one rule only really: Avoid candy, bubble gum pink at all cost. I understand the need to look yummy, but wearing cottoncandy pink doesn't look yummy; it just looks scary. Also, just choose shades that will make you look naturally rosy, not naturally muddy. One tip in choosing the right shade for you is to bend your body, touch your toes, and stay there for a minute or so. When you come up, look at your cheeks. The blush that most resembles the color of your cheeks then is the right shade for you. Still, don't be afraid to experiment. Some colors look too peeenk in the pot, but when you apply it, it actually looks quite nice.

Be careful not to put too much color too. I use a nice stippling brush ( the MAC 187 is an example). Then, I run it over the blush pot, tap it, smile and dust it all over the fleshy part of my cheek. I start from my ears all the way to the apples of my cheeks. Some prefer brushing from cheeks to hairline or ears. I prefer to do the opposite. Again, don't forget to tap the brush. Stippling brushes pick up a lot of pigment already so if you just blush directly onto your face, you might get more color than you want. When that happens, I just get another brush and powder my face evenly to tone down the color.

NARS Orgasm NARS Mata Hari

I know, I should've taken a pic of the whole face. But I wanted to show how it looks on the side, so we'll have a better idea. I used the same procedure for both cheeks but Mata Hari looks so much pinker and darker than Orgasm. Orgasm looks more natural. I think the Mata Hari is too pink so if ever, the pic of me wearing the NARS Mata Hari is an example of the WRONG blush or how NOT to apply a blush.

I promise I will get a model!!!! Hopefully I'll be able to bribe one of my prettier morena friends, haha so it won't be my mole-y face that's plastered on this blog. I'm really uber shy, but I figured it won't make so much sense to talk about blushes when you can't really see them in person. So, in the meantime, bear with me!!! Also, if you have tips or you want to suggest your favorite blushes, post away!

Another NARS color that I like that I think will suit the morena skin tone very well is the NARS Gilda. Makeup artist extraordinaire Toto Bagamasmad used this on me when I was attending a wedding once and it looked really nice. Of course I asked what shade it was and he promptly referred me to that shade. I'm itching to check out NARS Lovejoy, NARS Sin, NARS Torrid as well as NARS Cactus Flower. Heck, I'm itching to check out the whole NARS counter once again! I shall write about it once I get my paws on them. For MAC, I trust my MAC Sheertone Shimmerblush in Peachykeen. Other shades I just want to see would be MAC Peaches, Pinch O'Peach and Melba. I think it would be good for me to broaden my horizons a bit, so I'll go check out that Avon Rosy Cheeks Blush as well. I'm a recent AVON convert and I hope their blushes are just as good as their lipsticks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bringing Sexy Back

We all know it's important to look good upfront. It's important to have a clear, well-moisturized, and UV-protected face, nevermind if there's not much make-up. I think what matters is that you have good skin, well-groomed brows (and no other facial hair!) and just look clean in general. Well, that goes for the back too. We may be "photogenic" up front, but it'd be equally good if we're "talikodgenic" too.

One problem that I have is that I'm prone to having dark elbows. I think it has to do both with our skin tone and with nasty habits we've accummulated over the years. That includes placing our elbows on tables (which is not only a sign of bad manners, tsk tsk, but which also makes our skin extra dark and rough) or just not exfoliating them properly enough. One thing I've noticed is that a whole lot of people, morenas and mestizas alike, share my problem. Many of us suffer from having dark elbows, which is not exactly the pretties sight in the world. Plus, I have this scar on my elbow I've had since childhood so that's double whammy for me.

One product that I've tried that seems to show results is Glytone Ultra Heel and Elbow Cream. Glytone contains glycolic acid which exofiliates dry, coarse skin. This heel and elbow cream is just one of the products of the Glytone line, which includes gel washes, facial cleansers, etc. I tried it on my elbows. What I did was, I massaged this cream onto my elbows, left it on for about 15 minutes, then rinsed it with warm water. It'll itch a little, but that's a normal part of the peeling process. As you get used to it, you can gradually increase the time to half an hour. Just remember, DON'T USE THIS ON YOUR FACE. After a couple of days, like maybe five days, the skin on my elbow started peeling. When that happens, resist with all your might the urge to peel it off. Let it peel on its own. It will, eventually, after you shower and pat it dry. The old skin will drop off to reveal whiter skin. Okay, it's not like a miracle cream, of course, but it does make your elbow whiter, smoother and softer. I'll try this on my heels next, and maybe some calloused parts of the feet. The derma said you can even use this on your knees, which is another area we often neglect.

Another problem area is our backs, which are prone to pimples. Sometimes I get one random pimple on my back and I have no idea how it started brewing there. (And I get it too just when I cannot possibly afford to get a pimple, as when I'm attending a wedding for example. Don't you just hate it when that happens?)

"Backne" develops for a lot of reasons. Backne, just like its facial counterpart, develops when our sebaceous glands produce too much oil. It can also be caused by not paying too much attention to your back when you shower so the dirt just keeps on accumulating even when you shower all the time. It can also result from the wrong type of shampoo. Some shampoos and hair conditioners contain chemicals that can trigger backne. Males are also just as prone to this beauty dilemma.

To banish backne and keep your back looking flawless, try the VMV Id Line especially the Id Soap and lotion. I gave it to my brother and it did wonders for his backne. Just a little tip: the soap kinda crumbles or melts easily, so apply it directly onto your body. Skip the loofah. You'll still feel thoroughly cleansed anyway because the soap contains beads that will smooth away rough skin.

If a friend or a relative is going to the States, ask her to buy you Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Body Wash. It contains Salicylic acid which helps get rid of back acne. Too bad it's not available locally. Another tip is to look for shampoos with zinc ingredient in it (Clear and Nizoral have it) because zinc also helps make your back stay clear and pimple free.

Just follow these simple easy steps and you can bet you'll be on your way to bringing that sexy back!