Goodies from Vacation, Part II.

VoCE magazine is apparently a quite popular magazine. The issue that I got from my mom was the December 2012. It is chock-full of info on Christmas coffrets, specials and such, but one particular article makes this natural geek tingle all over the place.

Lo and behold, a rather curious semi-scientific experiments on evaluating a performance of a cosmetic product. In this case a pinky beige lipstick -- what a perfect guinea pig cause who can't use a pinky beige lipstick?

The lineup consists of several Japanese brands (RMK, Lunasol, etc.) and mainstream European such as Givenchy, Chanel and Dior. They are all in the pink-beige range. In case anyone is interested, these are the ones that I recognize. Lipstick no 3. is Givency Rouge Interdit Shine no. 30. Lipstick no. 5 is Chanel Rouge Allure no. 89 Gracille. Lipstick no. 6 is Dior Rouge Dior Nude no. 169 Grege. Lipstick no. 7 is Paul & Joe no. 302 Retro. Lipstick no. 9 is Lancome L'absolu Rouge in 309.

I'm not sure what test no.1 is all about, but according to BabyLorp's nanny, who was born in Japan but grew up here, it has something to do with the moisture of the lipstick.

Test no. 5 is pretty much self-explanatory: how sticky the lipstick. It gets A+ for creativity, I thought. The little star confetti shows you how sticky the lipstick once you put it on. Cute and qualitative at the same time.

Test no. 6 is I think the most useful. Many times, pinky beige lipstick can look pasty on me, and something that is quite sheer will be more likely wearable. They paint the lipstick on a piece of crystal, and you can see how different lipstick has different opacity. For example, lipstick no. 5 is the most opaque and lipstick no. 9 is the most transparent.

Finally, test no. 3 is also quite useful and quite self-explanatory. Notice the fake mouth that they use to stamp on the cups. Like they said, reproducibility is the hallmark of a good scientific experiment. A++ for cuteness and creativity, too.

So, which lipstick reign supreme? I'm sure the article talks about that in depth, but I think these tests not only useful in finding the best pinky beige lipstick, but also to choose the lipstick your fancy: would you rather wear an opaque lipstick? A moisturizing one but don't mind the transfer? Or a long-lasting one? Don't you wish the Good Housekeeping magazine would do these tests?


Goodies from Vacation, Part I.

No, not my vacation, sadly. My parents'. Last year, they stopped by in Singapore for their winter vacation and immediately I thought of Japanese cosmetics.

A bit of a background: I have not lived with my parents for almost 20 years now. My mother is a tenured, university professor with zero inclination of makeup. My father is a retired civil engineer who can't be bothered about ladies who wear makeup. The saving grace? My mom loves to shop, especially for her children and grandchildren. Needless to say, there are plenty of goodies going around for BabyLorp, but asking my mom to pick up some makeup items for me was a tricky proposition. Thankfully, through blogging, I met Joey who graciously offered me a list of stockists for Japanese makeup items. These are the goodies my mom managed to find for me out of a list of things I gave her. All of them were found in Takashimaya and Watson's nearby -- quite convenient one-stop shop if anyone is going to that area in Singapore.

Clockwise from top: RMK Blush Brush, Canmake Cream Cheek No.5, No. 11, Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Mascara.
The inspiration from Canmake Cream Cheek was from The Peculiar One, whose quaint, curious blog now become my daily read. I love cream blushes and these blushes really deliver. The fact that they are drug store product earn a big plus! 

Canmake Cream Cheek No. 5 and No. 11, respectively, coordinate well with Chanel Rouge Allure Gracille No. 89 

With so many colors to choose from, I gave my mom a few that I'd like to try and she got me No. 5 -- a coral pink and No. 11 -- a peachy pink pastel. The pigmentation is on the sheer side but certainly buildable. One thing I noticed is the lack of brown/beige pigment in these blushes. The color is quite pastel, a bright pop of pink/coral, tinted down with a bit of white. The result on my skin is quite... cute. Too cute, perhaps for my taste. Nevertheless, they are great alternative and addition to my stash of cream blushes. Both coordinate very well with Chanel Rouge Allure Gracille that I found myself using more often lately.

One may consider RMK Blush Brush a consolation price or alternative to the quintessential Suqqu Cheek Brush. Perhaps this is true, not knowing the performance of the Suqqu brush itself. I choose this brush to complement my brush collection since the head is significantly smaller than other blush brushes I owned. I appreciate the short handle as well, it fits right into the Bonne Maman jar where I store my brushes. 

Finally, another talented blogger, Kate the Driveller inspired this last item. Her posts and looks are so inspirational, I'll have what she's having! -- including this Majolica Majorca Lash Expander Frame Plus. It is quite a feat, really, that my mom found the exact same one, considering there are many Majolica Majorca mascaras out there. 

If one can get only one beauty product from an Asian brand, let it be the mascara. This mascara is da bomb. It lengthens, separates, volumizes and wears like iron. It is soo tenacious that I had to cleanse twice using waterproof make up remover. In fact, I think it can be a bit rough on my lashes, I don't think I'll use this daily. Better save this mascara for special occasions such as parties, parent nights out, or synchronized swimming number in front of the judges. 

Part II of this post will cover the fashionable VoCE magazine -- a very popular magazine among Japanese beauty fans. That magazine left me begging shamelessly to BabyLorp's nanny to help me translate it into English. Stay tuned.


Thankful Tuesday

Something upsets me terribly just now. No, nothing on the news or involving celebrities of such. It is just regular things that regular adults do. They go out, enjoy themselves, have dinner with friends. It's just that I can't remember when was the last time I did it. I can't remember when was the last time I went to a Happy Hour. Can't remember the last time I went for a dinner and a movie. Can't remember when I'm able to myself without being hurried.

If I'm being honest with myself, the thoughts of "lack" is pervasive in my mind. The thought of "not enough." Not enough help, not enough break, not enough time, not enough.

So, what's better to remedy those thoughts of lack than thoughts of gratitude -- affirming to myself yet again that the universe is abundant, even if it is not in the form that I desire.

  • Abundance of help I received today with BabyLorp (thanks to national holiday, PapaLorp came home early from work and no school!).
  • Abundance of delicious laughter from BabyLorp.
  • Abundance of heat and electricity in this chilly night.
  • Abundance of hot running water to wash my face just now.
  • Abundance of safety and security this little house provides.
  • Abundance of health that we've been enjoying in the deep flu season.
  • Abundance of clean diapers for tomorrow, all washed up and ready to go. 
Are you, like me, suffering from frequent bouts of thoughts of lack? What are your antidotes to those thoughts?


Tom Ford Lip Color 10 Cherry Lush

A few years back, during winter time, I read Diary of Anne Frank. In it, she described how she received a jar of yogurt as her first-time ever Christmas present, or how she was saving sugar from her morning cereal to give to Miep and Bep as her Christmas present. I was struck by the simplicity of the gift, yet how precious it must be to have such things during the war. Well, life as we know it is far from that era, or even the futuristic portrayal of "Soylent Green." We all can enjoy a jar of strawberry jam or a pot of yogurt anytime we want, but some of the meaningful gifts in my life are simple and treasured.

We in the Land of Lorp are never big on Christmas gift giving. Perhaps we have not done our part yet to boost the economy by massive consumerism during the holiday, but we feel this is what is right for us. Naturally, Cherry Lush is a solitary gift I bought myself for Christmas. It is something I want, not something I need, and by definition, a pure indulgence. As I mentioned before, Tom Ford lipsticks left me cold but a chance encounter with a salesman changed my view.

Cherry Lush, as I remembered it, pull cool on my warm complexion, so much so I didn't give it a second chance until that morning. It was one of the rare day when I was assigned no shift from work, so I sneaked out for a matinee of Anna Karenina and a visit to Tom Ford counter. A man who manned all of the other counters around him were wrapping a Christmas gift for a gentleman. The rows of TF perfume bottles keep me occupied until he came by to greet me. He asked me if I'd like him to make some samples of the perfume. Ben oui, bien sûr! And he told me that I may like to try out some of the lipsticks. He pulled out Cherry Lush.   

Under the shade of natural lighting (from L to R): Shu Uemura Rouge Unlimited Mon Shu Red -- Tom Ford Cherry Lush -- Chanel Rouge Coco 31 Cambon.

Why Cherry Lush, I asked. Well, he said, because my warm but fair skin tone will clash with the blue-red lipstick perfectly. It is the cure for sallow skin and I think he was right.

My lipstick wardrobe is very tightly-curated and I ruthlessly edit everything into a manageable size. I've got around ten in rotation and they are all have served me well in every look I employ so far. Chanel Rouge Coco Cambon is my to-go cool "red" but Cherry Lush fills the gap very nicely. It is decidedly red, not leaning pink à la Cambon. It is comfortable, creme in finish, and very pigmented. And it is blue-red. Compared to Mon Shu Red (a loan, in reality, I don't own a neutral red like this one), Cherry Lush is cooler. Heck, Cherry Lush even makes Cambon looks warm! All swatches are composed of four swipes; you can see the pigmentation of TF lipstick, compared to Shu's and RC. 

Under direct sunlight. Same order as above.
Having a tightly-curated wardrobe also means I appreciate blog posts out there that compare shades with other shades from other brands. I don't know about you, but I really hate buying something, bringing it home, only to realize that I already have the dupe in my drawer. Perhaps the color is a tad cooler, a touch warmer, etc. etc. but if it goes on the same on my face, why bother? So, I hope mine has helped someone out there who are thinking of pulling the trigger for this investment.

See Cherry Lush in action on a lovely fellow blogger here. How cool is that?

THM: a luxurious gift, pure self-indulgence.


Sunny days!

Sunny days are rare here so we've been spending as much as our time outdoor, braving the cold temperature. That also means I'm saving blogging time for when it is rainy and dreary outside. I hope you are having a good, wonderful week wherever you are.


Drugstore Find: Boots No. 7 Botanics Organic Face Nourishing Cleanser and Eye Make Up Remover.

I've shied away from department store skincare, simply because they are a lot of hype but not much deliverance. Drugstore products are the obvious choice. I do read ingredients a lot and try to educate myself as best as I could, but sometimes I cannot really judge how a product will perform without actually using it.

Case point is these two cleansers from Boots No. 7 Botanics line that I recently got, on sale, at local Target. On sale because apparently the Boots display will be renewed come Spring 2013, stay tunned..

Boots Botanics Nourishing Face Cleanser and Nourishing Eye Make Up Remover
My dry skin is getting even drier during the winter time, and this is when I start breaking into my stash of steroid creams of varying degree of potency, to keep eczematous and psoriatic patches at bay. Steroid creams are the necessary evil for us eczemas sufferer: it keeps the inflammation down, but it also causes thinning of the skin if used too often. My dermatologist told me to clean the face using water and nothing else. You can tell he is not the sort of cosmetic dermatologist as, ahem, doc, I do wear makeup daily.

I've been using foaming cleansers in the past, but they are drying. Of course, by its very definition, surfactant-based cleanser dissolves a layer of naturally-produced oil from the skin no matter how gentle the surfactant may be. The alternatives to this are lotion-type cleanser and cleansing oil.

First up is the eye make up remover. It is perhaps the best one I've ever tried, drugstore or else. The ingredients list is very minimum (please click picture above to enlarge): nothing but olive oil, jojoba oil, water, and glycerin (and some other sucrose derivative to act as emulsifier -- my guess). 

The consistency is like a cream/gel. You squeeze a small pea-size, onto finger tips and rub them on your eyes gently. Then splash your eyes with a little bit of water, and this gel turns into milky lotion that rinses off easily. The result is softly moisturized skin on the delicate area of the eyes. It even dissolves gel liners (Bobbi Brown's and Maybelline's) and waterproof mascara (L'Oreal, Giorgio Armani, and Majolica Majorca Lash Expander)!!! This is quite remarkable. I did a "confirmation" test with Bioderma after each cleansing, I got nothing but a smidgen of liner/mascara on my Q-tips, and that is from the areas that cannot be reached by rubbing the cleanser alone (like in between the lashes). 

Regardless, this humble concoction removed 98% of my eye makeup with a single cleanse. As a bonus, this doubles as lip cleanser, yes, the ones stained with matte/velvet, pigmented lipsticks that we so love during the season. Just follow the same method and lips are cleansed, moisturized, and without nasty taste either. Double hit!

The down side is this cleanser gets into the eyes and can cause some blurring. It doesn't feel irritating, though, but the blurring can be quite tenacious. Consider yourself warned.

Next, the facial cleanser itself. Again, what attracts me is the simplicity of the ingredients. It does a decent job removing makeup. I always cleanse my face twice, then I do a "confirmation" test with Bioderma. This cleanser removes everything: makeup + sunscreen base underneath. A little caveat: it contains alcohol (it does sting a bit on my sensitive patches), and it contains essential oils (I really can do without these, especially on my sensitive skin). Other than that, I'm quite pleased with the performance.

THM: highly recommended on the eye make up remover. Not bad for the face cleanser but I may try some other brand.


Vintage Stila

I love makeup. I love makeup because I can express myself with it. Sure, I wear mostly the no-makeup makeup in daily basis, but deep down periwinkle lipsticks and orange shadows dance like vision of sugarplums. Besides, how else can I own a piece of Chanel, Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford with less than a year's salary?

But Stila was the first love of my makeup life. With the very first purchase of Puck Eye Shadow, Orange Lip Glaze, and Orchid Convertible Color, my makeup addiction journey officially began. This was back in the year 2000. Yes, I was a late bloomer.

Perhaps this Toile de Jouy pattern is my most favorite Stila packaging/collection.
In its glory days, the line was fresh and imaginative, a far cry from semi-clinical, nicely-scrubbed clean makeup brands of the '90s (Clinique, Prescriptives and CK One come in mind). Yes, some may consider it looked like teenage's play, but there were no mistaken identity for us makeup fan, Stila meant serious makeup. Stila was very boho, very cute, and very trendy.

Each Stila pan/palette used to come with its own famous quote.

As you can see, I love this palette so much, it has seen better days.
Stila has changed hands and reborn several times since then. The current Stila hardly inspires me of what it used to be. Most of the eye shadow shades are still there, but they don't even make the lipsticks anymore (remember Natalie?) -- yes, a makeup brand without lipstick. And where are the Stila girls and Stila cans? I visited their website just now, it seems like they are moving toward a different direction now. Every good things must come to an end and perhaps I will check out the new Stila next time I'm at my local Sephora.

What was your first makeup love? Or are/were you also a Stila fan?


A Gratitude to Start the New Year

For the start of the New Year, I'd like to reaffirm my commitment for living a more mindful life, and one of the way to be mindful (besides meditating -- who has time, right? or doing yoga -- I wish!) is by writing down gratitude list.

Listing things to be grateful about is not about boasting, or about checking off accomplishment list. It's about being aware and mindful about what happens/had happened in one's life, big or small. No deep revelation for me here, it just keeps things in perspective.

Sure, there are lots of things that make me mad in daily basis: the constant noise from the neighbor is one of them, his parking the car on the shared driveway is another, his unsocialized pit bull is another, the list goes on... but I can be mad all day and be a non-functioning human if I keep focusing on those. And, let's be honest, those thoughts crop up by themselves. I do not think them, those thoughts think themselves into reality! How many of us lie awake at night with recurring thoughts? Perhaps you don't realize it? Perhaps you do?

On the other hand, when I'm writing this list down, I'm deliberately re-focusing my mind that life is not always all bad. In fact, I've got lots of things to be thankful about. Today, I'm thankful for:

  • Being able to eat a bowl of miso ramen, still steaming hot, uninterrupted, alone.
  • Hearing the chuckle of BabyLorp, and him discovering MagnaDoodle for the first time.
  • Having PapaLorp come home from work early at the end of the day.
  • Knowing that BabyLorp was having loads of fun in the park with his nanny today.
  • A time to get a properly brewed cup of tea, and enjoy them as well, while it is still hot! (Hot is a big deal here..)
  • A beautiful sunny day.
  • A negative skin biopsy result (turned out to be an odd-looking mole + two spots of aggravated seborrheic keratoses). 
  • A quiet night to write this blog post, and contemplate on things that I'm grateful for.
What are you grateful about today?