Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Secrets to an Easy Morning Bun...

Nope not the kind you find on a Food Network Celebrity Chef show - I'm talking about the cute, slightly messy, high top bun you see on celebrities and girls about town walking amongst you to the office.

(Was never a Hills fan but I really do like Lauren Conrad's style)
I am not a hair expert so this may be my only hair tutorial. I am a flat iron and split it down the middle, Marcia Brady kind of girl. 

Okay so my version is not as messy but I do get LOTS of compliments when I wear my hair like this to the office.

(my secret to a chic high or low chignon)
The foam donut is your friend! You can find this at Sally's Beauty Store for under $3 (they sell 3 different colors, I suggest you buy the one that closely resembles your natural hair color) - I actually saw this at Walgreens not too long ago also for under $3 but only in black.

1. This is your first step - high ponytail. I also add some hair cream or gel to my (second day) hair for a bit of control and texture.

(I ended up redoing my ponytail because even this was too messy for me)
 2. Slide foam donut around the pony like it's scrunchie - aw remember those??

3. Splay hair out and around covering donut as best as you can. I know it looks like I'm trying to pull a Bieber!

4. Take another elastic and gather/secure hair around the donut.

5. Pin around the elastic and stick bobby pins up and underneath the foam donut.

Finish with lots of hair spray!!

If you are going for artfully messy - this should take you no longer than 10mns. Depending on my mood (if I am trying to make it perfect) this will take me anywhere from 10-20mns.

If you are blessed with lots and lots of wavy hair - you can totally get by without using the donut. And you probable didn't even need this tutorial.

Just add scarf and oxfords that resembles soft toe jazz shoes and you got that off duty ballerina look! Yes, that is my work outfit today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stuck in the Middle...

That song is in my head right now and I guess it's appropriate for the way I feel at this moment. Lately, I have been a bit uninspired so I'm reaching for things that are pretty much "No Brain - No Thought". So I am using my shadow sticks smudged just up to my orbital bone and I smudge - layer with lots of mascara and call it a day. Then I finish with tinted moisturizer, coral blush and glossy nude lips. Yes, I'm done in a little over 10mns but after a few days straight it's boring.

So what do I do??

I tried to take some inspiration from the break we just received from the rain here in the SF, Bay Area. I wanted to jazz up my eyes a bit so I went for the mossy green in my Wet n' Wild palette.

I just used these three colors for a quick eye look.

Green - Lid
Golden Brown - Crease
Champagne - Highlight

Liner - Chanel Black Jade
Mascara - Diorshow Extase

The final result - MEH

Maybe it's just a result that I'm catching yet another cold. I did try to add some health to my cheeks by using Tarte Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in Flush. It's not helping.

I think I need a long nap and another cup of tea and perhaps an attitude adjustment.

Sorry folks, I know this was half assed. Back to the drawing board for me!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Monday - NEW SHOES...YAY!!!

Like any living, breathing woman I have shoe fantasies - okay maybe not EVERY woman shares this affliction but for those of us that didn't need Sex and the City to know who MANOLO is understands what I am talking about..

I don't have $600 just lying around but if I did I would own these by now:

Brian Atwood Maniac Pumps in Nude - retail price $580.

But I come close fulfilling this fantasy shoe - meet the new pump in my life:

Vince Camuto Milesy 2 Peep Toe Pump in Caramel - not necessarily a true nude but it is a hue that matches my natural skin tone quite nicely!

Retail - $98 USD

I took advantage of the last 30%  Gap, Inc. Friends and Family Sale and lucky for me I found this on Piperlime (Gap's online shoe/apparel shop). So with tax (free shipping!!) I only paid a little over $75.

I know this isn't an exact replica of the Brian Atwood pump but it is inspired by that. I have been searching for a great nude pump under $100 and I am pleased that I found it.

It is a 5 inch high heel with a hidden 1 1/2 platform. I haven't tested these out on the pavement because I still need to stretch them out. It's a bit narrow on my right foot but that's just because it's a bit wider than my left foot. I plan to wear these with pencil skirts, wide leg trousers and I think they would be cute with flared jeans. Like my favorite nude gloss, I love this pump - it's very practical color that would go with just about everything. Because the platform is so high it actually helps you walk easier.

This is the highest heel I have ever owned and I use to be scared of this extra height because not only am I clumsy but I was scared that this was bordering on pole dancer. But when I saw these in person, I quickly changed my mind.

I am just waiting for this damn SF rain to go away so I can start wearing these babies around the office but I'm pretty sure you all know that I would be carrying a pair of flats with me - it's a long commute from the train station to my building and I'm not 23yrs old anymore.

Friday, March 25, 2011

GREED is Good...

I have never watched the Oliver Stone film, Wall Street (1987) from beginning to end but Michael Douglas' Gordon Gekko coined the phrase, "Greed is good" and I am here to confirm that.

Greed, the latest Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion that is.

(cute Liliputian version of the regular size)
You know that gum and candy aisle at the grocery store? Well Sephora has duplicated that with their little impulse buy rack by their registers and this is where I found this deluxe travel sized primer potion.

(Top - sheered out Greed, Bottom - heavy swatch of Greed)
 It retails for $9 USD/0.13oz.

It's the latest in the collection of Urban Decay's famous line of eyeshadow primers. It's a shimmery gold that can be worn like a cream shadow or add a bit of a gold backbone to your shadows. It also adds a nice shimmer as a brow bone highlighter.

Solo on my bare lid.

Lid - UD Smog
Liner - NARS Shadow Stick, Aigle Noir
Highlighter - Greed Eyeshadow Primer

I don't have much experience with the original Primer so I can't fairly compare wear time. My shadow did last a grueling gym workout, I did notice a little browbone fading but it still looked nice. I am glad that I bought this travel size - it gave me a chance to play around with this formula without the commitment.

I experimented with some of the shadows in my Ammo palette:

L to R:
UD Smog by itself
Smog layered on top of Greed primer
Smog layered on top of Two Faced Shadow Insurance

I love the golden softness this added to a rather bronzey shade.

And I also played around with Grifter (lavendar w/silver glitter)

L to R:
Grifter by itself
Grifter on top of Greed - it gives it more of a silvery look.

Also, I just wanted to add that this little bottle had more product than yesterday's MUFE full sized lip gloss and it was half the cost. What's up with that?

Final assessment - I may purchase a full size once I use up this mini genie bottle.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Did I Just Purchased a Used Tube of Gloss?

I admit, Make Up For Ever Professional is one of those brands that slips completely under my radar. I always look, swatch and admire the shadows, blushes and lipsticks but I seem to always pick up something from the Nars section of Sephora - sorry, I'm loyal to the brands that serve me well. The first MUFE item I picked up was one of their famous liners - the waterproof Aqua Eyes in 22L, silver grey. Sadly, it didn't really make me swoon. I still wanted to give the line another shot. So I decide to try out their new glosses, Lab Shine - available in 3 different finishes: Diamond (sheer but intense shimmer - 12 colors), Satin (pearl finish with medium coverage - 14 colors) and Metal (full coverage but with a metallic finish - 9 colors).

I went with the Diamond Collection, D16, shimmering beige:

I used it with MAC's Cream O'Spice Cremestick Liner, a neutral beige (and also my favorite nude liner). I love this nude combo especially with a smoky, charcoal eye.

As you can see it is LOADED with pink and gold shimmer. It is finely milled because it does not feel gritty when applied and on the lips. It also has a strong scent - I thought it was a sweet plum but it's labeled as apricot on the Sephora site. I like that it's not very sticky on me and my lips are not raw and peeling the morning after I use it.
I don't even mind this on its own on my lips without a liner.

What I don't like is the applicator - it's got a brush tip. I prefer the doe foot as the brush bristles can easily distort and splay out if you're not paying attention when putting the wand back into the tube. When the bristles distort it's not aesthetically pleasing to the eye. I know this is the common complaint about the Bobbi Brown glosses with the brush tip applicators.

That's not my biggest gripe what really creases me is that for $18 USD, you only get 0.09oz. When you take the tube out of the box and stand it up to settle you will notice that the amount of gloss is less that half full. I feel like I purchased a used tube of gloss.

(Actual amount of product is below the gap of air between the tube and product)

I understand that this is supposed to contain mother-of-pearl particles and camelina oil for reflecting light and high shine, hyaluronic acid for hydration but this is ridiculous. I cannot justify buying another tube for such a small amount of gloss. This barely lasts two hours on me as well so I know if regular use, this won't last me a full month. I am actually going to keep this because I like the color but I feel like a chump knowing how much I paid for a deluxe sample size amount of gloss.

My Final Assessment - Skipping! I hope to have better luck with their eye shadows or the new HD Invisible Cover Foundation. It's a shame because I was willing to purchase a color from the Satin and Metal collections as well.

I no longer feel bad for purchasing Dolce & Gabbana gloss of $29 USD - at least I get .13oz for that!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rest in Peace Liz,

You will always be an ICON to me...

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine - My NC40-42 Picks

Hi there,
I know this an interruption from the week of reviews I had planned but I received a call from one of my favorite people - my Chanel counter manager go-to gal, Margaret - to let me know that finally the Chanel Rouge Coco Shine collection came in. As you know this replaces the Aqualumiere lipstick formula.

(Love the pic of Vanessa Paradis)

I apologize now because I couldn't get the best shots (with my Droid phone) of my arm swatches. I thought I'd go straight to the shades I think would look great on NC40-42 skin tones.

The packaging looks like a taller and thinner version of the Rouge Coco lipstick.

L to R:
Liberte (Sheer Apricot)
Rebelle (Orange Red)
Sari D'Eau (Coral Shimmer)

on my NC 42 arm:
Sari D'Eau

I will be returning for Rebelle - I tried to take a pic of it on me but unfortunately it didn't come out very well. Once I pick it up I will post of picture of it!

Some other pics:

L to R:
Monte Carlo (Pink Red)
Bel-Ami (Plum Brown)

L to R:
Bonheur (Berry Plum)
Biarritz (Coppered Beige)

Fortunately this picture came out nice - it was taken in my bathroom. This is Bonheur, a very comfortable berry plum that I could wear to the office effortlessly.

My initial thoughts: It's definitely sheer. The swatches I captured on my arm were about a good 3-4 swipes on my arm. On my lips I had to apply from the tube on my bottom and top lip then I blended both lips together. It has a light rose scent, which I expected from Chanel lipsticks. It has lots of slip and felt very comfortable. I couldn't accurately judge how long the color lasts but I will say I kept in on my lips for a good hour and a half easily but my night time cup of tea swiped it off my lips. It did leave a nice shimmery plum stain on my lips.

My final assessment: I will return for Rebelle and Bonheur. However, I still need to test out Biarritz (copper beige).

I was really excited to swatch Boy, that was released early on a limited basis, but it was a bit too light for me to take a picture. I'll have to try it on next time.

Side note:
I am not saying that these colors won't work for complexions lighter than mine, I'm sure they'll look fabulous - if anything it may be a brighter for lighter skin tones. I picked these based around my complexion and a step below, hence the NC 40 reference.

This was taken at my local Nordstrom, SF
Retail price $32 USD

This collection is permanent so I'm not worried about waiting till next pay day to pick one up.

Here's a list of the colors:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Buxom Waterproof Eye Stick Falls Flat...

I really, really wanted to like this but I'm sorry I cannot lie - this was a fail for me! This pencil is supposed to be used 3 ways: line, smudge and smoke and I failed three times.

It even has the feature I love - the hidden sharpener:

Bare Escentuals, famed for the whole mineral foundation craze, introduced a line of lip tingling, plumping glosses - Buxom Big and Healthy Lip Polish. I did actually like the lip gloss, at first. Then I discovered lip tingling glosses annoyed me and I gave my glosses to my sisters. Since then the Buxom collection rolled out mascaras, cream shadows, eye liners. Because I'm a packaging whore I fell in love with the packaging - look at that art work:

(Cute, right?)
 Now, bear with me - this is the only second product I have tried from the Buxom collection. This is purely based on my own observation. I'm actually curious about their cream shadows - something I love dearly and willing to give another shot.

Here's why I didn't like it - when I should this arm swatch to my husband he immediately said it looked grainy. He was right.

I could even feel the grainy like texture but I was not going to let that sway me - I was going to give it a fighting chance. It's a lovely gunmetal with blue shimmer - giving it a bluish cast.

Here's my first attempt applying it with a smudge brush from my own collection. It does come with its own brush but I wanted to use what I had or my eye pencil smudging tool of choice my middle finger. I took the brush and dipped it into the stick depositing some color on to the bristles and then I brushed it on my lids.

Not pretty - I had to take it off because I couldn't leave the house like this. I started all over again but with my UD 24/7 shadow pencil in Wasteland - okay now I can face the day. The bottom lash line was lined straight from the tube and then smudged with my MAC #219 pencil brush.

And then I tried with the way I usually apply my MAC Greasepaint Stick - my finger. The result was okay but wasn't better. It feels the same as the Greasepaint Stick, a bit creamy but the dry down left a bit of a grainy and crumbly feel whereas the MAC stick is smooth once it settles.

It looked patchy on my lids - it wasn't even looking. I just didn't like it.

Maybe I'd have better luck if I purchased the coordinating brush but with all the brushes I own you think I could improvise.

My final assessment - I'll stick to my MAC Greasespaint sticks and UD 24/7 Shadow pencils.

I purchased this at Sephora in JC Penny's - $18 USD

Like I mentioned in the beginning - the opinion is my own and I do not favor one particular brand over the other. What may not work for me may work for you! Unfortunately, this will be going back.

Monday, March 21, 2011

On deck - a preview of what's to come...

I just wanted to share a few items I picked up:

From Bottom -  counter clockwise:

Buxom 3-1 Smoky Eye Stick - Silver Sword (Gunmetal)
Urban Decay Primer Potion - travel size (Gold)
Makeup Forever Lab Shine - Diamond Collection Gloss - D16 (Shimmering Beige)
MAC Cream O'Spice Cremestick Liner (Neutral Beige)
MAC Lip Pencil - Beet (Bright Reddish-Pink)

Buxom 3-1 Waterproof Smoky Eye Stick:

3 ways - L to R:
As a heavy liner straight from tube
Smudged with finger
Applied with a densely packed smudge brush

Purchased at Sephora (JC Penny's):
$18 USD/1.0g/.03 oz

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Travel Size):

Heavy swatch and then a swatch I blended with my finger.

Purchased at Sephora (JC Penny's)
$9 USD
3.7ml/.13 oz

Makeup Forever Lab Shine - Diamond Collection:

(Taken in natural sunlight to show the lovely shimmer)

Purchased at Sephora (JC Penny's):
$18 USD/0.09oz

MAC liners:
L to R:
Creme O'Spice Cremestick Liner ($14.50 USD)
Beet Lip Pencil ($13 USD)
Purchased at Macy's.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday Sweat..My Never Ending Weight Battle.

The weekends are usually dedicated to the gym. I hit it hard - about 5x a week. I have made it a habit for quite sometime and if  I skip either a Saturday or Sunday morning yoga class I am pretty cranky. If I miss both days then that means I'm vacation or deathly ill.

I guess you can say I take my workouts pretty seriously. I am also my worse critic and enemy. Yes, I'm back to the way I was before I got pregnant - trying to lose those dreaded 20lbs. It's also the time where magazines are pushing us to work out till we puke to acquire that BIKINI BODY and it doesn't help when I receive the swimsuit editions of the Victoria Secrets catalog in the mail. Wow, really I wasn't feel like a big tub of goo until seeing this:

(I know, I really don't compare myself to a Vicky's model -that would just be cruel)
Yes, I aware of photoshopping and heavy airbrushing but something tells me that this girl is still a size 2 and looks amazing when she's an Off Duty Model in sweat pants.

I signed up for a free 3 day membership at Equinox, Downtown SF - a great freebie from Daily Candy. This is no 24 hr Fitness - this is a serious gym with all the luxury amenities of a 5 star hotel - HELLO KIEHL'S PRODUCTS in the locker rooms!! With all these great exercise classes offered, free use of Kiehl's products, in house Full Service Spa, towel service...blah blah blah comes a hefty monthly membership/initiation fee - $138 month and $495 initiation fee ($175 before 3/22 - SF). So naturally I was thinking of all the things I can cut out to furbish my plan to sculpt a new body at a fancy gym. I am saying good bye to regular highlights - I am missing my natural black hair, no more monthly pedicures (I usually paint my own nails) and the most obvious NO MORE MAKEUP SHOPPING. I know myself well enough to know that I am really dedicated and take my workouts very seriously. Other than makeup, I keep up with all the new fitness activities and I'm game to try any crazy sounding class at least once. I have a love/hate relationship with the whole Zumba craze - it's fun, you do sweat buckets but the classes are always packed and I feel like it's a fad that will probably fade like Tae Bo did.

(is this guy still around)

Well maybe I can curb my cosmetics shopping, afterall I do need stuff to write about, right? Okay a severely tight makeup budget would have to be put into place.

I know what your saying, "Lex, you can just put that money into hiring a trainer on your own or just investigate other classes your inexpensive gym offers" Yes, I have thought about this and also another obvious piece of advice - FINE TUNE YOUR DIET. I have joined Weight Watchers before and yes, I have lost some weight but I also had to rejoin three separate times. I guess this time around I feel like I should no better - why can't I take the tools I have learned and do it on my own? Do I really need to sit in a group meeting discussing strategies on how not to pig out at your next company party? Don't get me wrong I am not bashing the Program or any of you that are members - I am speaking about the way I feel.

I also LOVE to eat and drink booze - therein lies the problem.

Once upon a time, I was a Free Style Women's Wrestler. I was 23 and I didn't do so bad - I actually won some matches.The men's team constantly beat me up but that's how I got stronger and I dropped 15lbs in about a month to make a smaller weight class for a big competition at Northwestern University in Illinois. An impossible feat but also it hindered me - I was so dehydrated and malnourished that I lost all my matches at my last competition - I really felt defeated and I went against my coach's advise - stay in your weight class where you are at your strongest and you will win. NO - VANITY got in the way, even in sports. He was right.

I guess that bit of advise is still in my head - you do not need to stress yourself out into a size 2 or even a 6. Be comfortable in your skin and just get stronger and healthy. I am slowly trying to accept this - I know that to have a better BMI (body mass index) I need to seriously drop 20lbs. I would love to drop 2 dress sized, shoot I'll even take one dress size smaller. I still fight my vanity issues but I know that I can never be a size 6 again and I need to be okay with that.  But when you trained in a sport where you are divided into specific weight classes you can't help to feel frustrated when you are doing everything you can and that scale isn't dipping lower but slowly climbing up!

What I really need to do is work on my own body issues and hang ups before my daughter gets to that age where she'll feel peer pressure to keep up with the other girls or whatever standard the media is pushing. It's still sad to me that the standard fit model size is a 0 or 2, what happened to being a size 4 or 6 - I think that's what Cindy Crawford size was at the height of her modeling career in the 90's. Okay I'm not going there - I will not bitch and moan about the industry that I buy into, it's just a never ending argument.

(Crazy to think that these 90's beauties would be considered plus sized on the runways now)

I just need to be okay with myself before I tell my daughter that she's beautiful no matter what size she is. Why can't I say that to myself?

(more play time like this please!)
 Sorry, this was a weight battle rant, just something I had to get off my chest, er uh gut!

Friday, March 18, 2011

My First Estee Lauder Product...EVER!

Honestly, I was never an Estee Lauder fan. I'm sorry, I was one of those girls that thought it to be a more Mature Lady brand. My Mother never really used it and if I remember correctly my Grandmother's compact was actually from Clinique. It was never really in our household - unless it was given to my Mother as a gift then it sat around collecting dust.

I apologize for I have eaten my words.

I recently purchased the new Pure Color Long Lasting Lipstick by renowned makeup artist and Creative Makeup Director, Tom Pecheux. I am aware that he came to Estee Lauder in 2009 after a stint as Makeup Image Creator at Shiseido in 2007. But I am always the last to find out about everything!

Here's Cafe Chic creme - a warm, brown nude. This is a perfect everyday office lip color. I am just hoping that this won't wreck my lips in the morning. It has a light fig scent - I find that it's a touch lighter than the Edward Bess' fig scented lipsticks and glosses. There is a nice amount of slip on my lips that lasts about an hour and when it dries down it's comfortable and it stains my lips a MLBB (my lips but better) shade. Also, this is a straight creme formula - no shimmer or frost, a perfect base for a shimmer gloss if you want to layer. I know it's suppose to be long lasting but I barely got 3 hours of staying power. I'll have to test this again on a full work day.

and with flash:


(outside with flash)

(Please excuse my haggard appearance)

This is the perfect nude for my skintone - it has just a touch of a peach. I'll be reaching for this constantly when I do a smoky eye - charcoal, brown, violet, etc...

My final assessment - I LOVE it. I am praying that the formula plays nicely with my lips. If so, I'm going back and picking up a DATE NIGHT color.

Available now at department stores carrying the Estee Lauder collection
Retail price $24USD .013oz/3.8g

Here's a better picture and sorry for the raggedy ponytail. The weather has been awful and I'll be getting a hair cut later. Also, I would like to update you all - this did not cause my lips to itch or feel raw the next morning. I am wearing it today here at work so I will let you know how it did on my lips for a full 8hrs.