The Brush Series: Eyes

When I started doing makeup more "seriously," I didn't understand why there are more eye brushes than face brushes, but now, duh! I owned more brushes than what I share with you in this post, but most of them have been weeded out and given away, leaving me with this very few core brushes which I rely on again and again. With these brushes, I can do as many eye makeup look as I wish and I continually learn and gain ideas from other beauty bloggers out there on how to use a certain brush to achieve a certain effect. Don't you just love blogging for that?

Let's get on with it. From left to right we have:
  • Stila no 9 blending brush
    Squirrel, maybe? since it does not bleed when I wash it, bristles uncut, super soft. Somewhat dense but very fluffy, excellent for blending. I really don't feel the need to try other brushes because this performs so well for me. I've had this for years (from back when Stila was the "it" brand).
  • Sonia Kashuk no 13 blending brush
    This one is goat -- again, maybe? since it bleed a few times during washing, not anymore, though. Still very nice and soft with uncut bristles. Definitely not as soft as the squirrel but the head is small and floppy at the same time, perfect for crease/precision blending. 
  • MAC 217
    This one is the newer version, which I heard is not as good as the older ones? Good fluffy all-over wash for me, multi-purpose blending of all sort.
  • Hakuhodo K004
    A replacement of freebie Bobbi Brown eye brush that usually comes with Bobbi palette, I use this one as a lay-down brush. If you like your lay-down super pigmented (like foiling effect), this probably won't work, but it works for "everyday" lay down. The bristles are nicely packed that it picks up enough shadow and deposit almost all of them on the lid, leaving the brush clean (isn't that what a good brush supposed to do?) A few wipes on tissue paper is all it takes for me to clean this brush in between use. The head is just of perfect size of my lids.
  • Tom Ford Eye Shadow Contour Brush
    I picked up this one as a lash-line smudger to replace an old Stila no 32 that was quite scratchy. The head is dense yet tapered enough to get into the roots of the lashes to smudge pencil liners or shadows alike. I think it has other uses to it, but this is one of the brush I use daily as many of my quick eye-looks rely on lining the eyes with Pixi Endless Silky Eye pencil and smudging it upwards.
  • Hakuhodo "pencil" G5515BkSL and G5520BkSL
    These two pencil brushes are for precision work. I use the goat/horse one for lining the lower lids and the squirrel/horse one for other detail work needing larger surface area. Both perform better than any other pencil brushes I've owned.
  • Hakuhodo (? can't seem to find this one)
    Made out of weasel, this one is to line and tight-line. It performs well with shadow or gel liner alike, I wish the fibers are a bit stiffer so it holds its shape better, esp when pushing it into the roots of the lashes.
  • South Texas Dental freebie toothbrush
    The best brow groomer for someone who has bushy brows like me.
Eye lash curler: I am enjoying the Shiseido one at the moment because the curvature is flatter than my eyes so I can maneuver it right on the outer corner when I need curling the most. I suppose I can use that mini-Shu outer-lash only curler, but it looks like a lot of hassle. This one is an oldie as well.


Happy Homemade Sew Along, Day 1

As I mentioned before, I came across a cute "Sew Chic Kids" which inspired me to pick up sewing again. There are not a lot of children sewing books that feature items for boys, but this one has several that are promising, including a versatile pull-over Parka. And what a happy serendipity it was for me to come across a sew-along that happen just recently, hosted by Cherie from You and Mie and Meg from Elsie Marley.

Sew-along is a great opportunity to break up a daunting task into manageable chunks and to ask for help along the way. Today, for example, I've got about 2 hours free time for myself during which I could accomplish things needed to do on day one of sew-along.

Let's talk briefly about the fabric. The plaid shirting flannel was already in my stash since forever. Maybe at some point I meant to make a PJ bottom for PapaLorp (who is 6'1" and thus the extra yardage on it). The red wool is a fabric remnant of a kimono. I inherited a pile of kimono remnants from a friend of mine, whose grandmother owned a kimono store in Kyoto. Many of the remnants are silk, which I have yet to find a suitable project. I may use this woolen red one as a hoodie lining or accent for the kangaroo pocket. We'll see about that.

O.k. back to the sew-along. Day one is all about tracing and cutting pattern. I love the ease and simplicity of Japanese sewing book. Yes, a bit of detective work is needed but even for those who do not read Japanese, the diagrams are very user-friendly. There are many bloggers out there who dedicate their time and effort in Japanese sewing. I suggest checking them out if you fancy any particular pattern/book -- chances are someone else have already done it.

Normally, patterns are drawn on special pattern paper (such as this swedish tracing paper). It is a special type of paper that can be machine-sewn and won't tear easily. For my everyday pattern-making purpose, I trace my pattern onto newspaper using wax-free carbon paper and tracing wheel, or, if I am particularly careful with the original paper pattern, I trace them onto a piece of parchment. This baking parchment from Reynolds is cheap, readily available, wide enough to accommodate children patterns and pencil-erasable.

As with many Japanese sewing pattern, seam allowance is not included on the pattern. You must add it yourself and one way to avoid error is adding the seam allowance on the pattern piece, like this. Normally, seam allowance is one centimeter (or 3/8 inch) -- using metric measurement will give a more accurate fit. On curved lines such as armholes, a french curve will be handy but if you don't own one, you can measure one-centimeter along small intervals and connect the dots like I did above.

Sometimes seam allowance is wider, for example, on the hem of the sleeves or bodice. You need to look for this clues on the book. In this case, the seam allowance for the sleeves needs to be added such that when you fold it in (left picture), the edges on the seam will line up. The resulting seam allowance will look like a fish tail (right picture), not straight out.

I also decided to add a kangaroo pocket. Cheri gave me the measurement of hers (since we were both making the size 2). It is about 5 x 10 inches. I cut a pattern of 5 x 5 and will place this on the fold line. Notice that I did not add seam allowance to this, which I will have to do when I cut the fabric later.

All in all, I did the tracing and cutting in about 2 hours. By that time, the Tod and PapaLorp had arrived from grocery shopping and I had to stash all my clandestine sewing project out of sight.

Until next time, where I will cut the fabric and do the prep work as prescribed in day two.


Summertime Pastime

I recently dusted off my sewing machine again for a little project courtesy of the Tod's preschool. I gave a facelift on the ugly-stripped floor cushion using a salvaged denim nursery curtain.

The cushion may look ugly and dated, but it still has a lot of life in it. With a little TLC, I ripped the stripped cover, washed it thoroughly, patched the many holes in it and put it back on permanently to protect the foam cushion. The foam was thoroughly spot-cleaned and sunned for several days to get rid of germs and wanna-be fungal infestation. The curtain was washed, cut, and sewn. It was upholstery-weight denim, so it presented a challenge both for my machine and my sewing skill.

Sewing denim requires a bit of preparation. First, the right needle is a must -- consult your machine's manual for the right type of needle. Second, the right thread is also a must -- apparently my machine will accept #60 or #50 weight all-purpose thread so long as the right needle is used. Finally, fiddling with stitch tension is another crucial point. I found the automatic adjustment in my machine was not enough to compensate so I had to fiddle a bit. I also experimented with the stitch length, turned out around 4-5 was perfect. If I were to do this project all over again, I would also serged the raw edges as denim is notorious for unraveling.

I didn't have any pattern for this particular cushion cover, all they wanted was a removable cover with velcro (not zipper) so I improvised the best that I could. I'm sure there are many improvements I could have thought of, but I was in quite a bit of a hurry, not to mention measuring and cutting fabric on the floor gave me a backache.

In the end, I'm very pleased with the result, so was the Tod who, as you can see, couldn't wait to nap on the cushion. I was very glad leaving it in his classroom on his last day of class, thinking it will get a lot of use and abuse from the many children who need a soft spot to rest.

My sewing adventure shall continue. I found this "Sew Chic Kids" book with its lovely illustration and simple design that I had to buy for my own inspiration. And serendipitously, I found this happy homemade sew-along with a hoodie project perfect for the Tod to wear in the Fall. When the stars are aligned, I will post my sewing project here as well.

Do you sew or have other summer hobbies to share?



I know, I know. The week is almost over but better late than never. I planned to post this on Monday but things happen. "Things" meaning the Tod waking up from his nap, barging into the bathroom while I was trying to take the much-needed shower and insisted that I came out with him. There went my 2-hour of solitude and a chance of looking half-decent. I'd like to know how stay-at-home moms take her showers with a toddler (or two!!) on the loose.

This week, I've decided to try Japanese tuto of "Reverse ULTRA-C" featured by Kate the Driveller on her recent post here. If you've been following me for a while, I adore everything Japanese (Korean a v. close second, darn the kimchi!) and I do secretly want to join the club and be one of those flawless-skinned ladies. Although my eye shape is classically "caucasian" I love adopting Japanese/Korean makeup technique and some of them do work well. For e.g. I use the color gradation placement quite a bit; focusing on the darkest on the lashes and using lighter colors moving up. I found this technique much more flattering than giving a definition to the crease where the skin is the saggiest & crepey-est. Initially, I doubted that the Reverse ULTRA-C would work on my eyes, but with a bit of tweak, I actually manage to adopt the look although sadly, you will never see my picture on this blog :-D

O.k. so here's what I do:
  • Tom Ford Quad in Enchanted.
    Perhaps this quad is not ideal for doing the Reverse-C look by reasons mentioned below, but it needs some much needed love so we'll make this work! It consists of two shimmer, one glitter, and one matte shades. In order for the look to work on my eyes, I blend the mid-tone lavender with darker matte wine shade into nothingness on the back of my hand. Then, I place this trace of mixture on the outer corner of the crease, just enough to give a definite shadow, but not shimmery as to emphasize the skin beneath. Using mid-tone shadow (as directed by step no. 3 in the tuto) does not work in my case: it did not give enough contrast to define the eyes, and especially since the mid-tone shade in this TF palette is shimmery, it will only emphasize the fine wrinkles on my lid.
    I dabbed a teeny, tiny hint of the glitter shade in the middle of the lid (closer to the lash line, away from the movable part, again to down play the saggy crease and to open up the lid space underneath).
    I do lower lash-line as prescribed by the tuto. Lots of mascara to contrast the glittery lids behind the lashes.
  • Le Volume de Chanel Mascara
    Still good from the last time I used it
  • Le Metier de Beaute Creme Fraiche Fresh in Coral Nymph.
    Applied somewhat diffusely on still-damp skin, pre-foundation, then topping the skin off with..
  • Bourjouis Healthy Mix Serum Foundation + Healthy Mix Concealer
  • Maquillage Crystalizing Lip Compact no. 33
    Oldies but goodies.
Summer has arrived here which means blogging will be quite sporadic. Follow us on our summer adventure on instagram or twitter. Wishing everyone a good week ahead!


MOTW: Sunscreen Primer

Please pardon the blurry picture, I have neither the steadiest hands nor convenient tripod.

All links are non-affiliate, just for your convenience.

I like to revisit my sunscreens as summer months are approaching While my core skin care regime hardly changes, I do like to try on sunscreens and the variety available out there. I ordered two recently from La Roche Posay US website when they were having a promo. This look features one of them.

The idea of using sunscreen as primer is perhaps nothing new, but sadly, there are few primers that qualify as good, solid, decent sunscreens. LRP Anthelios has an anti-aging primer-sunscreen but from the reviews that I read, it performs dismally as a primer. I thought I'd share a mini-review of LRP Anthelios 40 SX that I am currently testing.

I chose the Anthelios 40 SX due to the ingredients, Mexoryl SX, which not only is a chemical sunscreen blocking UVA on its own, but also acts as a stabilizer of other chemical sunscreens. This particular product used a combo of some chemical and Titanium Dioxide as shield. The addition of TiO2 does increase the whiteness of the sunscreen, but it also evens out my skin somewhat, turning it into a good "primer," so to speak. The base vehicle is quite thick and emollient, perfect for patting on a thin layer of medium coverage foundation as Lunasol Skin Modelling. However, I found the formula a bit unforgiving, depending on how you prep your skin. Too wet and the sunscreen will ball up, too dry and the sunscreen won't spread due to lack of slip. My trick has been to use non-sillicone serum/moisturizer underneath that helps the sunscreen spread out but without balling up. A tricky situation..

One redeeming quality, I found the combo gives the Becca Beach Tint (in Lychee) a good staying power which lasts through sessions of running around in the park, around the sprinklers and such. I wish it comes in SPF 60 but I can work with daily SPF 40.

Other items used:
  • Becca Eye Tint in Baroque: a nice wash of mushroomy taupe color upon which I layer..
  • Burberry Eye Definer in Golden Brown, the pencil version of the eponymous Pale Barley
  • Burberry Eye Definer in Midnight Ash to line upper lash.
    Burberry eye pencils are along the formulation of Elizabeth Arden or Charlotte Tilbury The Classic Eye Powder Pencil: it is not the kind of soft-smudgy kohl liner but more of a hard, waxy, powdery liner. It lasts a while and gives the eyes a subtle look. Definitely not to be used on the waterline. As I grow older and lids grow droopier, I appreciate this type of eye pencil since it does not transfer as easily to other parts of the eye lids.
  • Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Volumizing mascara sample which is surprisingly good! It is not waterproof but it does not smudge or budge. The consistency is on the wet side but it is not goopy and it does not give that tarantula effect. Since the formula is on the wet side, it does not hold curl very well, but it does not weigh down my lashes, either. Finally, have you ever noticed that some mascara crumble and flake when removed with eye makeup remover? Not this one, it dissolves entirely into a little blot of black on the cotton pad. In short, L O V E. I'm hoarding every single sample that I got from the counter.
  • Charlotte Tilbury lip gloss in Portobello Girl, on top of the Becca-tinted lips.
Wishing you all a great week ahead!

Update 7/10/2014: 

I returned the La Roche Posay sunscreen above due to dissatisfaction of the formula. As I mentioned above, the formula was too much of a hassle to work with as a makeup base. I also found out that by the end of the day, I could see sunscreen creasing around the nose and even on my fine lines. Not attractive!

The product was returned back in June 5th (fyi, I've tried this product since May 30th, when I received it, so I feel I have had a good chance to make this product work before deciding to return it), received at LRP facility on June 9th (thanks to USPS tracking) but when I called today, not only the return has not been processed, the customer service rep was most unhelpful. It is such a lot of hassle for $40 worth of product, I would not recommend this product nor shopping at La Roche Posay USA to anyone. Truly, the experience was so appalling that I feel compelled to write share it with you as a precautionary measure.

For fairness, I will update the resolution of this case right here, so stay tuned if you are interested in following.

With so many sunscreen out there to choose form, I'm sure you all can find something else. On my part, I plan to keep reviewing other sunscreens that I've used with great satisfaction.

Update 7/11/2014:

I tweeted @LaRochePosayUSA who reached out to me promptly and referring me to a specific person in customer service. It turned out that my refund was posted back in June 19th. The original agent I spoke to yesterday did not even mention this important piece of information. With apology, the new agent explained that they had retrain this agent to appropriately problem-solve refunds.

Apparently, June 19th is right on the cut-off date for statement. Yes, I admit, I should have done my due diligent of calling my credit card company, but honestly, with so many ping-pong of "Press 1 to be connected to this and that" who has the time?

I'm all about learning from experience and this is what I've learned:

  • Beware of buying products sight-unseen, especially sunscreen. With SO many options of sunscreens out there, I would go to a store front where samples are liberally given, and it not, to actually try it out in person, by myself.
  • Never return products. Take it as a responsibility and perhaps pass it on to the next person (something I preach daily but look who's talking?). Before deciding on a purchase, decide that you can and willing to take the risk and swallow the loss (In all honesty, the sunscreen I returned at LRP cost less than $40, which really does not worth the time and the hassle of returning).
  • When dealing with return, have everything in writing. It minimizes misunderstanding. Paper trails are more of a proof than "he-said-she-said" phone conversation.
  • Do your due diligence to avoid problems, even problems that are out of your control (e.g. was the original agent I spoke to actually have access to the information of previously-posted refund? was he/she adequately trained to handle returns?)

Ok. Let me turn the table to you:

  • You sent a return a month ago. 
  • You never got an email that the company has received your return/your return has been confirmed/processed. 
  • You checked your credit card online statement, and a return has not been posted. 
  • You called the customer service agent who, not only said that no return has been received, and that she could not do anything about it until she actually accepted the return, even with evidence of delivery on my part (in short, not helpful).
What would you do?

Leave your comments below. We all can learn from this. My sincere thank you to La Roche Posay for the prompt resolution of this incident.