Monday, March 2, 2015

Thoughts on Beauty and Vanity

At a recent school auction, I was complimented by a fellow mom of my hair and makeup. The compliment bloomed into a discussion about beauty and vanity -- sadly more about beauty as vanity. It was a that moment I said something to her that I've always kept for myself

"... I'm turning 40 this year, isn't it about time that I can do my own hair and makeup?"

The idea of having hair and makeup done as vanity is truly unfortunate. It is a miss-opportunity. In this part of the country, no-makeup makeup is de rigeur. So, when I came to the function with my hair and makeup -- which consisted of a simple at-home blow out, a red lip, and a little shimmer on the eye -- I was quite done up.

Actually, it was nothing extraordinary that I did. Yet, I've gotten comments when I do so. Sometimes, I see women my age or even older with somewhat awkwardly-put makeup, on an occasion when makeup is expected, that I wish I could lend a little advice on them, "try a bronzy-brown liner on your blue eyes instead of teal," "that tawny, too-bronzed blush on your peaches-and-cream skin ages you -- try a rose instead," "a bit bolder on the shadow, just use a matte one instead of shimmer." Or more poignantly, I would come across someone who poke fun at those who are able to use a blow-dryer/curling iron/eye lash curler/mascara, while I think that very simple, doomed-to-be-vapid skill would bring out her natural beauty front and center.

Growing up with a post-WWII grandma and a feminist-at-the-height-of-its-movement mom, I've seen both sides of the ideals. I come to a conclusion that there is no such thing as a balance between primping and being a woman. It is the whole package. As women, or men for that matter, we all have the privilege and the responsibility to take care of our physical form in this life. Presenting the best version of myself to the world is far from frivolous or vapid, it is a life-affirming act I do everyday. As such, it is not vain to acquire skills to improve my appearance -- just as it is not vain to learn how to do yoga, running, swimming, playing tennis in order to enjoy life and to maintain one's health, or even to brush teeth, get a hair cut, or shave. If these things are done as maintenance and improvement on physical self, why should doing makeup or hair be any different? Being able to present one's best physical appearance does not diminish one's accomplishment, point of view, experience, skills, education, status, etc. How could the daily act of brushing teeth daily diminish the value of a human being?

If the idea of using a pair of tweezer or blow-dryer or mascara or eye lash curler scared you to death, or makes you giggle with unease, now is the time to give them a chance. These seemingly superficial act of putting makeup and doing hair can be transformed into a mindful act of self-respect and respect to other. Sure, there are plenty of days I go barefaced, but it hardly comes from the "who cares, who gives a damn" attitude. Whenever humanly possible, each moment presents itself as an opportunity to show up and I choose to show up by being my best-self version.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February Purchases

Phew... February has been a tough month for all of us at the Land so far. We were hit hard with a bunch of illnesses, one round after another, requiring doses of Tamiflu and Z-packs. Dang the faulty flu vaccine of this year and Mycoplasma infections!! Then of course, vacation, family and school obligations all come up at once, I don't see the end of the tunnel yet.

I thought I'd pop in a bit to review two products I purchased in the month of February. 

Laneige BB Cushion in Light

"Protects, Covers, Hydrates, Soothes, Brightens."

Protects: it has SPF rating of 50+ but we all know not to depend on this for all-over-the-face coverage. What this is truly useful for is to touch up SPF throughout the day -- something we all should do but never do because it is too cumbersome. This tinted-liquid compact is a superlative replacement to the messy, cakey, dry powder SPF I've been totting around (Chantecaille Protection Naturelle Loose Powder, or Physician's Formula Compact SPF). Genius! Ahh.. my dry skin certainly welcomes this alternative. For this purpose, the dense compact sponge that comes with it is perfect because it provides dense coverage to ensure maximum protection. A pat on the compact, a pat on areas I need protection (such as top of cheek bones, cheek areas, bridge of the nose, forehead, etc), and I'm good to go.

Covers: since the coverage is so light (think tinted moisturizer more than foundation), I don't actually mind pilling this on. Genius squared! I really started to think that this product is really meant to be used on the go and to be used frequently. I found the tone is yellow enough for my skin but still on the peachy side. Light is suitable on my winter skin since, again, the pigmentation is so light.

Hydrates: not really. On my dry skin, I wear emollient skin care base daily, and I do find that this product tends to sink into dry patches and pores. Not flattering if you look up close. But then again, this product is meant to be touched up frequently, replenishing the moisture that has inevitably evaporated. I'd say normal, to normal-oily skin would benefit best with this formula. If you are normal-dry, or dry, do apply your base skincare for a more palatable finish. 
Speaking of finish, it is not as dewy as I thought it would be, more natural-satin finish, which is surprising for a Korean product such as this.

Soothes: if so, I didn't see it and I won't count on it.

Brightens: if brightening meaning shimmer particles, there are none that I could see. As I mentioned, the finish is actually more natural-satin than glowy-dewy. If brightening meaning protecting from future sun damage, then it has some truth to it.

It is sadly scented -- clean flowery scent. It does not dissipate and I does bother me some, but the benefit outweigh the nuisance, so this compact stays in my handbag for touchups. Does this live up to my expectation as the reincarnation of Stila Sport Pivotal Skin Foundation? Close. I think formula-wise, Laneige is more sophisticated and it applied smoother, but concept-wise I can't help but to think it is a doppelganger.

THM: Not a sophisticated foundation as such but great for touching up your SPF throughout the day.

Sunscreen is a combo of Octinoxate, TiO2 and ZnO

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in Smashed

I got this serendipitously when I ran out of Lansinoh lanolin to use on my chapped lips when I was sick for the past few weeks. Lo and behold, this one has lanolin as the first ingredient and less stinky than Lansinoh.

I haven't used this much but I know this will work due to lanolin. The scent is nicely vanilla-ry, the tint is not overwhelmingly bright, the au naturel, organic, biologique are all cherries. I may also get the Natural since that one has no color. For this product to work, you need just a little and you need to keep reapplying initially until all the dry bits are gone, then do maintenance work as needed (at least this is what I do with pure lanolin).

As I mentioned, I am still in the tunnel as far as blogging goes, I want to know those who have small children (I'm talking those who are younger than Kindergarten or does not go to school full-time yet), where are your children when you are taking pictures or blogging? Are they perched in front of TV/iPad/something stimulating and hopefully educational? Are they with a babysitter/nanny/dad/grandma/grandpa? Are they at preschool/school/day care? Are they napping/sleeping (something the Tod has given up)? I found it harder and harder to accomplish anything when the Tod is at home, I just want to be real and find out what works with mom-bloggers out there.

Monday, February 9, 2015

MOTW: Sick Face

Misery has visited the Land yet again. Last week, the Tod had five days of fever followed by a diagnosis of ear infection and pneumonia -- his first round of antibiotic, ever. Then this week, it is my and PapaLorp's turn while still trying to take care of a recovering child. I really don't know how moms with two or more children do it, really. They must have some support system other than day care/school (they surely won't take sick children); otherwise, it is really, really hard to take care of someone else when all you can do is keel over on a bed.

I'm sipping bone broth as we speak, and this is what I'm wearing today:

  • Laneige BB Cushion -- review forthcoming but so far I like this. The tone is yellow enough. The price is not as expensive as other BB Cushions. The finish is not as glowy as I thought it would be, but with...
  • CT Magic Cream underneath, it is glowy enough to give some life to the skin. I skip concealer -- why bother? It will just exaggerate my sickly face, not conceal it. 
  • By Terry Cellularose Blush Glace in 01 Rose Melba is, like I said, good skin in a pot. 'Nuff said.
  • Burberry Trench on the eyes, so it does not look as pink. This one, I learned, has been discontinued, so could this be my first chance to try Surratt shadows?
  • Maybelline The Falsies mascara, which melts in any cleanser that I use, practically a breeze to clean when I don't feel like washing my face at all.

Hope everyone stays healthy and wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.