Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Pack it! (Part 4-Beauty in the Beach)

I know right? lugging makeup to the beach sounds ridiculous, talk about the height of prissiness. But hey, we all want to look our best and some of us don't exactly wake up in the morning looking it. I'm just keeping it real peeps! and in line with doing so, I've streamlined the beauty stash you can't leave home without.

I've said it many times and I'll say it again: I love multitasking products. Nivea Lip Care Star Fruits is a lip balm that's tinted and fruit-flavored. My two faves are cherry and strawberry which leave your lips soft, supple and looking just-bitten. Leave the heavier lip glosses at home. The aim is DEWY not looking like an oil slick.

Speaking of oil slick, I suggest you start hoarding Clean & Clear oil absorbing sheets. Fine, let them call you a metrosexual guy but nothing turns me off more than a guy whose oil glands are more active than mine, and mine are pretty active. We have a saying and it goes: Oiliness is next to ugliness, but a dermatologist friend of mine coined the phrase: Oiliness is next to Saudi Arabia, haha get it? I stuff packs of these in all my bags and toiletry kits. Even as a makeup artist, there's one in every makeup box and touch up kit. Guess what? Clean & Clear makes them in citrus-smelling flavors too! in pink and yellow!

If wearing foundation or concealer is a non-negotiable for you, I strongly suggest a waterproof product to wear outdoors or none at all. At the beach, less is truly more and it's kinda futile to wear makeup that's not waterproof. Why? I'll make a bet it'll all slip off within an hour or two with all the sweat and humidity. By far, Shu Uemura's UV liquid foundation wins where waterproof, high SPF and flawless foundation is concerned. I've personally tried and tested this through a very bad skin phase due to my having hormonal imbalance. It's SPF 25 so you can use this in place of sun block or layer it with the UV armor (see in Part 3). Use only a pea-size amount to even your skin tone and cover the undesirables such as blemishes and under-eye discoloration. Skip the powder please unless you wanna look like a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut.

The down-side to any liquid foundation is that it ain't exactly portable and touch-up friendly. It's very unhygienic to retouch with a liquid foundation: yuck where have your fingers been? From it's hall-of-famer Nobara line, Shu Uemura launches it's Nobara stick. Nobara is Japanese for "desert rose" which is the best-selling foundation of the brand. It's a malleable cream foundation which is highly adjustable, you can look very dewy or very matte - it's up to you! In a stick, I feel like I've just won the lottery. Touch up on the go? Spell fabulous.

I'm going a surf trip in two days and omitting the foundations from my stash. Luckily, my skin has cleared in time for this trip (thank you Doc!) and I'm able to lighten my load. Quite frankly, I'm relieved cos I really can't be bothered with having to bring makeup. I don't mind bringing my favorite bronzers though. Guerlain Terracotta Bronzer is perfect for enhancing a tan or faking one. Guerlain products are rose-scented, kinda reminds me of my grandmother's rose water. They also make a bronzing spray which I use for the legs called Teint Dore (ten-door).

My latest best-bargain purchase from MAC is the Skinfinish Mineralize powder in DARK. It goes on matte which is rare for a bronzer because a matte bronzer, well that's an oxymoron. So it's matte, it's a nice golden tan and it's mineral. Talk about value for money. This is a staple in both my personal and professional kit. Sigh, I love being a girl what can I say.

If you're trying to second-guess which eye shadows I'm going to tell you to bring, well shame on you. I'm crazy but not THAT crazy. I'm asking you nicely to leave them at home and opt for colored eye pencils or mascaras instead. Save the boring black and brown for later on in the year, instead try spring/summer alternatives which are way more fun. Did I mention that colored liners/mascaras enhance eye color? Urban Decay 24/7 makes the nicest metallics. I have the metallic green on the farthest left. I kinda regret not getting the other two beside it. Glides on easily and stays put!

I'm not really a big fan of Estee Lauder Cosmetics. I worked for the enemy for more than 6 years so you can't really blame me. I'm one to give credit though, where it's due and these mascaras made me do a quadruple-take. Colored mascaras are hard to find so when a brand comes up with not one, but FIVE shades - well that leaves my mouth gaping. Estee Lauder's Sumptous Color mascaras bring it to the finish line and then they take it all the way home. The blue and the purple, on opposite ends are my best picks.

Urban Decay known for being a major player in the color game comes out with their own winners. I love the fat brush and the packaging reminds me of a spray can that grafitti artists use for some weird reason. That rust/red colored one is interesting but pass on this if your eyes are tired or veiny.

My sister sent me these from California. Cover Girl Exact Eyelights mascara enhances eye color and there's a particular shade for each eye color. I have both black mascara shades and it's alright for my brown eyes. I'm not exactly wowed by it BUT i love that it doesn't budge or smear and has tiny shimmer particles which make my eyes look like they've got eyeliner on. I like that effect a lot. So that's it for now, have a good one this Lenten season and remember: Less is more! Have a great Easter!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Just Pack it! (Part 3-Sun Care)

I shouldn't be promoting laying under the sun and baking. Sun tanning is the fastest way to skin aging. BUT People still do it, and in a tropical country, people can't help it. For skin that burns easily (like mine!) I've narrowed down the choices and steps to get that sun-kissed look minus the pain. See, the trick is you start with a high SPF and you downgrade as you go along. I know this sounds pretty tedious, but it's really up to you: beach babe OR overcooked lobster.
After you've exfoliated your face and body (scroll down to Part 1 if you haven't) I reach for the highest SPF in the bunch, which is usually SPF 50 and I put on a coat of that all over before donning my swimsuit/bikini. For best absorption, I slap the sunscreen on immediately after a quick shower when I arrive at my sunny destination to rinse off the city grime, dust and sweat.
I usually pick out a shady area when I want to lay out in the sun. Aside from providing the obvious, I would like to enjoy a good read without having to squint and wrinkle my nose uncomfortably. I also have a glare problem and I don't like wearing sun glasses while sun tanning because it leaves a ridiculous reverse-raccoon mark around my eye area which is difficult to cover with makeup when the rest of your face is already tan. Everything in it's place, I bring out the tanning stuff aka the big guns. Since I'm forever trying products for critiquing, my sun care is always changing. Lately though, I've stuck to the same formula because this is the one that seems to work for me.
One of my guy friends actually introduced me to Maui Babe. So after that initial coat of sunscreen, this goes on next when I am actually under the sun. Go easy on your knees, feet & elbows, and you can skip your face entirely - areas which are the most thin-skinned and burn the fastest. Be mindful about staining your towels and any light-colored items like your bikini!.

For those too lazy to slap on sunscreen you can take oral sunscreen. Yup, you got that right! sunscreen in a tablet. Ask your dermatologist who should be able to hook you up with Heliocare, the only oral sunscreen brand I know. You can also hit me up here or on twitter, I'll forward you the number of my doctor who sells this. My only issue with oral sunscreen is that you have to be good at taking this, to the point of setting an alarm on your phone for when you have to drink these tablets. I guess this works for people who don't like the greasy feeling that most sunscreens bring when applied to the skin.

I alternate coats of sun tanning products with sunscreen products. I like multi-taskers and my favorite suncare staple is by Shiseido. It's a sunscreen & cooling mist for the body & hair. How awesome is that? super duper awesome if you ask me. Alternating this with the Maui Babe stuff leaves me golden, not burnt to a crisp.

For water activities I switch to this one made by Kiehl's (Vital Sun Protection). I like that it comes in a spray bottle which means not having to struggle with greasy hands and reaches hard-to-reach places like the small of your back and underneath your tush.

Most clients who consult with me often complain that they don't like wearing sunscreen particularly on the face because A. it leaves a greasy coat B. it's so thick you can't wear makeup with it/on top of it. So leave it to Shu Uemura to come up with an SPF 50 that enhances flawless skin. It disappears on the skin, it's anti-blemish (won't clog pores or cause zits!) and you can actually layer it with foundation as a primer. I never go on a vacation without this!!!!

When my day in the sun is over I give my skin a treat with Nars' body glow oil. The makeup guru/photographer also has a new formula without the shimmer! Made of Monoi oil from Tahiti, this leaves the skin supple and soft. I use it in place of lotion and scrunch some of it in my hair. It leaves a trace of coconut-like smell wherever you go that's yummy to the senses. Don't drink it, even if it looks and smells good enough to!

Just pack it! (Part 2-right before the trip)

Forget the boring flesh tones or french tips. Nothing complements a tan better than punchy-fruity nail color. Take your cue from the colors below, and remember - the more neon, the more tan your skin will appear to be. Get your nails done a day before the trip and keep them looking fresh by rubbing a bit of dry oil/baby oil to alleviate dry skin caused by prolonged exposure to flip-flops, sun & sand.

Sephora usually sells value sets. Check out this season's Limited edition nail set by OPI. These make me wanna run to the store and buy skittles for some reason. Yummy!

Essie also makes them in a similar range. A little bit more upscale, these guys are experts in the nail care biz. That neon purple has my name on it!

I'm starting to wonder if there's some secret society or conspiracy between cosmetics companies. Look at the pattern here: 3 brands, 3 similar color choices, and we're only talking about nails. Chanel names theirs after Los Angeles hot spots, a city where the sun shines all year round. I have my eyes set on that LA Sunrise, a very matte yellow which doesn't leave you looking jaundiced!

Right now, my toe nails are painted bright pink by Face Shop. It's the one right smack in the middle. I was quite surprised to find a full range of colors in the store. We're talking all colors of the rainbow. I'm still deciding on a bright orange or a yellow for right before my coming surf trip.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Just pack it! (Part 1-Pre-Sun Care)

Sun Exposure can't be avoided especially if you are living where the sun never sets. This brings us now to the coming week of Lent, a holiday we take quite seriously. A vast majority of us are heading somewhere even sunnier, which means more sun, sand, sea & salt, a recipe for disaster sure to wreak havoc on skin and hair. I always say that it is way better to invest in a good sun block rather than a jar of very expensive anti-age cream. But a good sun block isn't enough when you already know that you will subject yourself to prolonged sun exposure. Aside from protection, the other benefit of pre-sun care is a guaranteed even, long-lasting tan that won't leave you looking like Freddy Krueger.

Already part of your skincare regimen is facial exfoliation at least once a week. You may want to exfoliate 2 days in a row prior to prolonged sun exposure. I would normally do the exfoliating before bed time. For problem skin, it's always best to consult with your dermatologist, most scrubs cannot be used on open wounds or blemishes.

ST. IVES APRICOT SCRUB is already a hall-of-famer. A household name I've been using as far back as my college days (well not THAT far back!). It's value for money, very recession-friendly.

My bestest, most favorite, ultimate Kiehl's non-negotiable (not the lipbalm!) is the Pineapple Papaya Face Scrub. Aside from ridding your skin off ruddiness, it soothes any redness and inflammation caused by blemishes or imperfections. I literally slap this on and leave it as a mask before rinsing off. Note to self: DO NOT EAT.

Since the skin on the body is tougher, exfoliation should be more frequent. Bump it up to every day prior to prolonged sun exposure focusing on your legs and arms. Go easy but DO NOT forget your elbows, knees, decolletage & feet.

I'm more amazed with a brand that has limited product range but works rather than a brand has everything but fails to deliver. I got sold on MODELco 4 years back when I went on a quest for the least greasy body lotion. They win hands down in that department too, but my favorite top pick is the Exfoliating Body Wipes. Talk about exfoliating on the go. I remember making a mad dash to the airport en route to a summer shoot in Koh Sah Mui and stuffing these babies in my pockets then remembering I had them on the plane. By the time we landed, my legs and arms were saying "we're ready for ya sun!". Aside from the cool packaging ala baby wipes, the sheets are two-sided. One side is rough (like sand paper) to exfoliate, and the other smooth to buff. Yes, buff the same thing you do when you get your toes done. The rough side is to slough off dead/dry skin (elbows, knees, feet,) and then the smooth side is a nice wipe down infused with a hint of ilang-ilang that leaves your skin feeling like a baby's butt.

Another hall-of-famer range is the Creme de Corps line of Kiehl's. I'm not a fan of the body lotion, the star product, only cause I abhor lotion or anything that will make me feel sticky or greasy in this already too humid climate. The Soy Milk & Honey Body Polish though is one I won't pass up. I'm guilty of using this in place of body wash, because it's gentle and smells awesome.

L'Oreal's Sublime range is no stranger to the sunless tanning game. My only apprehension with the self-tanning stuff is that it's not suitable to my typically Asian skin tone. I'm quite in between depending on the season. I'm pink during the rainy months when I'm fairer and sallow/yellow during the summer months when I'm golden brown...okay fine, tan!
L'Oreal Sublime Bronze Glow Body Scrub in the shower doubles as a body wash as well. This gives my legs a deeper tan, without the self-tanning ingredient. I don't know maybe I'm imagining it? Well whatever it is, these guys really mean business where sunless tanning is involved and this is a great complementary product to go with the rest of the line.

If any of the options I've tried first hand are difficult for you to find (you've got a well over a week before the Lenten holiday!) then a trusty loofah glove with a foamy body wash will do. Just remind yourself to be gentle because you risk scrubbing yourself raw under running water and suds. Remember, we are aiming for beach babe not road kill.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stay Tuned!

Brand-spanking new photos and entries up soon.