10.28.2013

The Fingertip Crew.

I used to be quite lazy with my nails, and while I enjoyed wearing polish, I didn't take particularly great care of my nails otherwise. It all changed when I started noticing how even the most beautiful shade of polish would look horrendous against a backdrop of haggard cuticles and misshapen tips. So, I thought I'd show you the main players that have transformed my nail routine.

After removing all traces of existing polish with a non-acetone nail polish remover (I'm not picky on which one, as long as it doesn't contain acetone, which weakens my nails), I run a thin line of the Sally Hansen Instant Cuticle Remover along the base and sides of my nail, where the nail meets the skin. After about fifteen seconds have elapsed, I use my thumb nail to gently push back the cuticle on each nail before washing my hands clean. The cuticle remover softens and dissolves the cuticles so that they are easily removed during a simple hand wash. Once in a blue moon, when my cuticles have grown like weeds, I take a cuticle cutter (mine is from Ulta) and carefully trim them just a bit to make them presentable again.

Instead of clipping my nails, I typically opt to use a nail file to create a length and shape I'm happy with. I typically like my nails short and more on the square side. To achieve this, I file my nails straight across until they're quite short, then I use the nail file to ever so slightly round out the edges.

Once the shape of my nails are to my liking, I prep them with OPI Nail Envy. Now, if you read this post, you'll know that I'm not blown away by Nail Envy; however, as I don't necessarily hate it either, I've vowed to use up the entire bottle before trying something new. 

After painting on a few, thin coats of my nail color of choice, always waiting about 5 minutes between each coat, I seal everything in with CND Super Shiney High-Gloss Top Coat. As its name would suggest, it has a brilliant, shiny finish, and the thicker consistency really helps to protect the polish underneath. I've found that it's not ideal over lighter polishes, though, as it can cast a purple tinge. Instead, I've recently started using Essie Good to Go Top Coat on top of lighter nail colors, and so far, so good.

Lastly, to help speed up the drying time and lessen the time spent flailing around helplessly, OPI Rapidry is absolutely brilliant. About 45 seconds to a minute after painting on my top coat, I spritz Rapidry over my nails and they're ready to go in no time. Seriously, it works.

Occasionally, before bed, I apply a bit of the Deborah Lippmann Cuticle Oil. The jojoba oil, coconut oil and vitamin E really help to soften and nourish my dry cuticles. And, the yummy coconut scent doesn't hurt either.

10.26.2013

The Quintessential Autumn Polish.

In terms of nail color, I seem to back away from the neons and pastels a bit and gravitate more towards warm and rich burgundies, wines and maroons in the fall and winter. Luckily for me, I've discovered the quintessential autumn polish.

The beauty in question is Formula X by Sephora in Infinite, described by Sephora as an aubergine pearl. It's a rich aubergine with red shimmer heavily laced throughout it that in some lights, it makes the polish appear more maroon or wine. 

In reality, what drew me to this shade, despite my eyes and senses being bombarded with what seemed like hundreds of brand new shades from Sephora's new line, was how similar it was to the types of warm burgundy and maroon shades I like to wear in the colder months, but at the same time, how the obvious purple base really set it apart from others I already had in my collection.


In these next two photos, Infinite looks noticeably red when the natural sunlight is shining directly on it.

Infinite looks most true to color in these last photos, both in the bottle and on my nails.

As for the formula, my expectations were set high, especially as Sephora claims that Formula X boasts "invincible wear, incredible saturated color, and ultimate shine." The Sephora SA even told me that she felt the formula was just as good as gel nails.

My experience? I applied it over my usual base (OPI Nail Envy) and topped off two coats of Infinite with my usual top coat (CND Super-Shiney High Gloss Top Coat), and by day 3, several of my nails had significant chips. In terms of application, however, the formula was great and achieved flawless coverage and decent shine in two thin coats.

Despite the obvious shortcoming, the shade is so stunning that I'm prepping my nails for a fresh application as we speak. Hopefully, this time, I'll be rewarded with a more impressive wear time.


Formula X by Sephora in Infinite is available at Sephora for $10.50.

10.23.2013

The Anti-Bronzer.

When Chanel launched their Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15 Powders, truth be told, I had a difficult time understanding what all the fuss was about. Was it a face powder? Was it not a face powder? What exactly was so special about it?

It wasn't until I saw the powder mentioned on Lil Lady's Life a few times before I finally decided to give it a shot, still unsure of its purpose, simply because J.'s recommendations have yet to leave me disappointed.

Since I had my heart set on using the powder to warm up my complexion rather than as an all-over setting powder, I went with shade No30,  one shade darker than my skin tone. The powder comes housed in a beautifully chic black and ivory compact. A surprisingly great quality brush is included but annoyingly, it' as separated from the powder only by a dinky piece of black plastic that needs to be removed and set aside each time in order to access the powder.


No30 is noticeably orange in tone, but the sheer quality of the powder means that it doesn't translate as such on the skin. There are miniscule shimmer particles that can be detected in the pan, but they are so sparse throughout the powder that again, they don't translate as shimmer on the skin. 


I apply No30 with my EcoTools Bronzer Brush in the classic 3 shape on each side of my face, similarly to how I would typically apply bronzer, but the effect is so much more subtle and natural. It creates an effortlessly soft glow that warms up my complexion just enough. I call it the "anti-bronzer" because it achieves everything I aim for with bronzer, but without any of the fuss or fear of over-application, muddiness, or everyone's favorite - the oompa loompa effect. The powder is impossible to mess up - it blends into the skin with minimal effort and just looks like one with the skin the very second it's applied.

What the Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Powder is used for is completely dependent on your skin tone and which shade of powder you're using. For example:
- Dusting on a powder that is two or three shades lighter than your skin tone could be used to softly illuminate the high points of the face.
- The shade that matches your skin tone could be used all over to gently set foundation without any cakey-ness in sight.
- Choosing a shade or two darker than your skin tone, like I have, could be used to add a warm, healthy glow to the complexion. 

I truly think that Chanel could not have come up with a more apt name than Healthy Glow Sheer Colour, because that's exactly what the powder is and exactly what it accomplishes - sheer color that creates a healthy glow

Happy to have another winner in my arsenal, thanks to J. :)

The Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15 Powder is available from Nordstrom for $57.50.

10.21.2013

The Monday Post #4

Monday is by far the gloomiest day of the week for me, followed by Sunday simply because it precedes Monday. Hopefully, The Monday Post will give you some beauty inspiration and help you get through the week! 

Favorite beauty read/viewing: The best "Get Ready With Me" video ever created. Just watch it - trust me on this one.

Beauty goal: Put down the waterproof mascara. Those who have been following my blog for a while may know that my HG mascara is the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Volumizing Mascara because it volumizes and holds a curl like no other; however, I feel as though my lashes are looking somewhat sparse and feeling a bit brittle at the moment, so I'm going to try to go easy on my lashes for a while and use a more gentle, non-waterproof mascara for a few weeks.

Product Rediscovery: I've been pretty loyal to my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in recent months, but I randomly used my Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage Concealer on some blemishes the other day, and my goodness - it's amazing stuff. Great coverage and incredibly long-wearing.

Beauty lust: I've seen a few mentions of Sally Hansen Gold Roses polish lately, and it looks absolutely beautiful. Sadly, it was sold out at my local Target when I checked yesterday, so my hunt continues.

Most looking forward to: The end of October when I get to come home to California for a few days! Woohoo!


Hope you all have a great week!

10.20.2013

The Drop-Everything-And-Paint Polishes.

I guess these could also be dubbed my favorite polishes of recent months because regardless of what I already have on my nails, if I read a blog post, watch a Youtube video or so much as see a tweet or instagram photo mentioning either of these shades, that's it - I drop everything and paint.
Nails Inc. Baker Street (left) and Porchester Square

Baker Street is a striking cobalt blue that I lusted after for an abnormally long amount time before finally caving and purchasing it. It's one of those shades that I get tons of compliments on every time I wear it, which I can completely understand, because even now that it's in my possession, any time I see someone else wearing it, I think, "Damn, that's a beautiful polish!" It has that effect on people.

Porchester Square is a more recent addition to my nail polish collection, and I opted for the Gel Effect formulation, just to see what it was all about. The pale, taupey-grey with a hint of lilac is just so....chic. And the formula? In one word - beautiful. I'm able to go about 6 to 7 days without any chipping or tip wear, and the finish is unimaginably smooth and glossy, even without a top coat.

Needless to say, both Baker Street and Porchester Square get my stamp of approval. What are your drop-everything-and-paint polishes?

10.19.2013

My Favorite Look This Week #4

I've been dying to wear the Rimmel by Kate Lasting Finish lipstick in 107 ever since I picked it up a few weeks ago, and I knew immediately it would pair perfectly with a coppery bronze shadow, like the Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono in #661 Météore.

The combination of the deep, berry red and warm, dazzling copper tones just scream Fall to me, but I especially love how the sheerness of Météore still allows the focus of the look to stay on the lips. Add on a radiant base and a peachy neutral flush and I was good to go.
Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme in 002
NARS blush in Luster
Rimmel by Kate Lasting Finish lipstick in 107
Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono in #661 Météore


Final verdict on the lipstick? Gorgeous color. Perfect for fall and winter. Fantastic, non-drying, long-lasting formulation. Need I say more?

10.13.2013

The Repurchased Skincare.


When something works, it just works, you know? Here are a few skincare bits I've loved enough to repurchase...


1. Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentrè - This is basically the perfect all-purpose moisturizer for me. It carries the potential to make me a bit shiny in the warm summer months when my skin is already more prone to oil, but I love it during the other 9 months out of the year. Its light cream consistency is not so light that it fails to offer substantial hydration, but it's also not so heavy that it clogs pores or interferes with makeup application or longevity. It's perfect for day or night, and that's why I always keep a tube on standby, even if I'm trying out other moisturizers.

2. DDF Glycolic Toning Complex - I swipe a cotton pad dampened with this toner all over my face every night after cleansing. The glycolic acid acts as a gentle chemical exfoliant that, surprisingly, doesn't dry out my skin as I had expected it to. It helps keep breakouts at bay in addition to prepping my skin for all the serums, oils and creams I put on before bed.

3. Pai Echium & Argan Gentle Eye Cream - I recently repurchased this after having an allergic reaction to my last eye cream. Sadly, I think I might have developed an allergy to this one as well, despite no changes in formulation since I last used it, as my eyelids and under-eye area both became inflamed and itchy shortly after I started using this again. Nevertheless, it's a fantastic, hydrating eye cream that I continue to recommend to others, as it works brilliantly overnight and under makeup. Don't worry, Pai, it's me, not you.

4. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser - The best no-fuss, no-frills, does-what-it-claims-to-do cleanser around. I like keeping a bottle on hand at all times in case my skin ever reacts poorly to something because I know that Cetaphil will never irritate my skin or exacerbate any reactions I might have to other products. 

5. Emma Hardie Natural Lift and Sculpt Moringa Cleansing Balm - I'm nearly coming to the bottom of my second tub of this luxurious balm, which is definitely a testament to the immense love I have for it. Read more here.

And last but not least, my trusty Shu Uemura Fresh Cleansing Oil. I must have forgotten to photograph it (shame on me!), but I've been through at least five large bottles (450 mL each!) of this baby over the years. If that's not love, I don't know what is. Best makeup remover ever.


In the blogging world where we often throw around words like 'love' and 'favorite' far too often (myself included!), repurchases are sometimes the best way to gauge how much a blogger 'loves' a product and whether or not it's still a 'favorite' :)

10.07.2013

The Monday Post #3


Monday is by far the gloomiest day of the week for me, followed by Sunday simply because it precedes Monday. Hopefully, The Monday Post will give you some beauty inspiration and help you get through the week! 

Favorite beauty read/viewing: Liz from Beauty Reductionista introduces the idea of a "Later List," and I'm on board. For anyone who has ever struggled with balancing the constant want vs. need for more, her post is a must-read.

Beauty goal: My goal this week is to stop touching my face throughout the day. Seems simple enough, but I have a feeling I may fail miserably. As I sit typing this, I caught myself touching my chin, and surprise, surprise, I tend to have the most breakouts on my chin. Wish me luck!

Product Rediscovery: Revlon Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya - I always see it out of the corner of my eye sitting on my dresser when I'm doing my makeup in the morning, and I just recently started using it again and was reminded of how fantastic it is. I find it really moisturizing, and the peachy shade goes with just about everything.

Beauty lust: I have a feeling I'm nearing the end of my much loved Pai Camellia & Rose Gentle Hydrating Cleanser, and I'm just itching to try something new for my morning cleanse. Oskia Renaissance Cleansing Gel is currently at the top of my list.

Most looking forward to: Sunshine! Last week was straight up miserable with all the rain (not to mention traffic caused by the rain), so I'm excited for a bit more sun this week, starting Tuesday (more showers on Monday apparently, ugh). To say I miss California weather would be a vast understatement!


Hope you all have a great week!

10.06.2013

The Early Fall Edit.

As we're only in the beginning weeks of fall, I haven't quite gone into full-blown fall makeup mode yet, but these are a few of the products I've been using recently to help with the transition.

Although I've been switching it up with my choice of foundation, I've been consistently setting my base with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light and loving it. It offers a subtle, warm radiance to my overall complexion that I just can't get with other powders.

I've been yearning for a more subtle alternative to bronzer, and the Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 15 in No30 has completely filled that void in my collection. I purchased one shade darker than my skin tone and apply it in the same way I apply bronzer, except the effect is a soft, barely-there warmth that livens up my complexion, keeping it from looking overly pale and sallow. On my cheeks, I've mainly been alternating between Benefit Rockatuer and Tarte Exposed. I've also recently fallen back in love with NYX blush in Taupe, aka the perfect contour for lighter complexions.

The Dior Diorshow Fusion Mono in #661 Météore recently made it home with me after my curiosity led me to swatch it in Sephora. The golden copper shadow's micro-glitter made it glimmer so magnificently that I simply couldn't resist. Since it's quite warm-toned, I've been wearing it on my lid paired with a cooler toned crease shade, such as MAC Wedge, and it seems to off-set the orangey tone of Météore nicely without completely negating it. If I have time, I love finishing off the look with a thin slick of black liquid liner, and the Physicians Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum continues to be one of my all-time favorites.

Lastly, on my lips, I've been loving the Jordana Twist & Shine Balm Stain in Honey Love, which is the same muted berry shade I wore in this post. It's super moisturizing, even after the initial balm has worn off leaving only a stain, and the shade is perfect for transitioning into deeper berry and plum shades later on in the fall and winter.


What have you been wearing lately?

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