Friday, June 29, 2012

June 2012 Wrap Up

Another month gone by too soon! June meant the start of summer but also summer classes. Thankfully my professors are amazing and three days of class is a heck-of-a-lot better than my usual four days. The power button on my point and shoot (Canon Powershot ELPH 300 HS) decided to jam itself (I swear it wasn't any fault of mine!) but I bought insurance for it and took it to Geek Squad for a repair. Unfortunately they could not fix the problem and it turns out the model is discontinued and out of stock.... Boo.... So now I have $200+ in Best Buy store credit which makes me happy but also quite sad as I really enjoyed my cute red camera. I didn't want to overload Instagram with photos so I didn't snap up photos of everything that went on this month. Anyways, camera woes aside, let's uncover what I did during the past month!

I guess I'll start with one of the most disappointing food experience I had this month. In fact, this was one of the worst tasting meals I have eaten in a long time. I met up with some former co-workers for lunch at Vegetarian's Paradise 2 because my friend had been there before and liked it. Many Yelpers also seem to like this place so I had high hopes. I have no idea if I went on an off day but I will never come back to this place again. It's no fault of my friend because even she was put off by the food that day. 
I ordered from the lunch special menu which included an appetizer, soup, and entree. I chose the spinach dumplings (shown above) expecting normal looking dumplings with spinach innards. It turns out the wrapping is supposed to be spinach but I am almost certain that the wrapping is only green due to food coloring. The wrapping was thick and chewy in the worst possible way and the filling was unappetizing as well. 

The soup was thick and not better than the appetizer. This is what I expect when I order American Chinese takeout. You know, when you get fried chicken wings and french fries with your pork fried rice. That kind of Chinese food. Not good. At all.

The main dish, garlic eggplant with faux chicken, was not much better. The dish could have been perfectly edible but it was the severely undercooked rice that bothered me. I hate undercooked rice with a passion. Seriously? An Asian themed restaurant that can't steam rice.... The rice cooker pretty much does everything for you nowadays too! Seriously, save your money and do not eat here. There are many more tastier and cleaner restaurants in the West Village. 

Another disappointing food adventure was LadurĂ©e which is loved by seemingly all. These tiny morsels are ridiculously expensive but the exquisite packaging, shop front, and sales staff made me feel a bit better about dropping so much money on some sweets. I'm not too keen on very sweet foods so I found these to be too sugary. I guess that's a good thing since my wallet would be taking a hit each week if I liked these as much as everyone else.

My boyfriend is taking summer classes with me in the city so we get to spend a lot of time together (just like in high school!). We like to wander around the neighborhood and we saw this patch of "beach" along the water. What you see in the picture is basically all the sand that above the murky waters.

I treated my boyfriend to a lunch buffet at an Indian restaurant since he had been wanting to grab some Indian food for awhile. To be honest, the tastes are a bit too strong for me and I'm not a big fan of spicy food so I mainly enjoyed the roti (flat bread) and the yellow seasoned rice. Still, for $8 it was a good meal.

As you might have seen in a previous post, I attended a blogger event at Jurlique's flagship store. It was my first time at a blogger event and it was great to meet fellow bloggers and I had a chance to try Jurlique products for the first time. 

Now that my boyfriend and I go to school together we get to eat together a lot more and I finally got to try a waffle from the Wafles and Dinges truck! After an unsatisfying meal at Rickshaw's Dumpling (expensive and strange flavors) we decided to get some dessert. We loaded up our original wafle with whipped cream, nutella, bananas, and strawberries. Usually we're let down by hyped up food but we can't wait to treat ourselves to another wafle soon. The wafle is chewy, soft and has just the right amount of sweetness. I often see the truck hanging out on Fifth Avenue on the side of the Flatiron Buidling but it moves around at times.

I started going to the gym this month which was surprisingly not that bad. I haven't been to a gym for about two years and I thought it was about time to take advantage of the free school gym. I need to be more consistent in terms of going to the gym and I'm going to try for two times a week.

I ate dinner at Clyde Frazier's again (went there for the first time back in March) because my cousins really enjoy eating there. The basketball "court" wasn't ready the last time we went but this time we had the chance to throw a few post-dinner free throws. The kid in the orange was a stranger but he was really good!

For Father's Day we headed to Staten Island for a barbecue which I somehow failed to photograph. We strolled along the beach and enjoyed the sunny day with family and friends.

My friends and I somehow usually find ourselves eating something totally unhealthy after going to the gym. We wandered to Times Square and chose Junior's as we wanted some cheesecake to end the evening. It was my first time eating at Junior's and their portions are HUGE. It's great when I eat with the guys since they always split my leftovers when I'm too full.

I finally got to bring my boyfriend to the Highline which is one of my favorite spots in Manhattan. The ambiance is perfect, the architecture is quirky, and the people are beautiful. I don't hear too many people talk about the Highline and I only found out about it last year but it really deserves more praise. We ended up walking down to Chelsea which is a lovely neighborhood as well. I got pretty excited when I saw the Diane von Furstenberg flagship as I remember seeing it on an episode of The City. I think I only watched about one episode of that show but I think Whitney Port or one of the girls interned there. Yeah, I had a mini internal fangirl moment.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, there were a few happenings that I failed to produce in photographs. I went to my first improv show at the P.I.T, the People's Improv Theater. All of the shows on Wednesday are free and they have at least one free show everyday. I read mixed Yelp reviews but I thought it couldn't hurt to go to one show since the most I would be losing would be an hour of my time. The show turned out to be quite funny and I had a good time. I hope to go back another time before the summer is over. 

My boyfriend's birthday was on the 23rd and he kept it low key by celebrating with his parents and me. We spent a day relaxing in his neighborhood, checking out the farm (which I mentioned in January), and eating dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. His family had a giftcard to the resturant which was the main reason we went. I ordered the fish tacos which unfortunately did not meet my expectations. The pastas everyone else ordered looked scrumptious though. 

That's about all I can remember from the past month. June was a nice mix of catching up with friends, school, and enjoying the sunshine. I can't wait to see what July has in store!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Beauty Products To Beat The Heat

Summer is in full effect as I type and the heat, sun, and sweat are threatening to melt off makeup in minutes. Luckily for us, the right beauty products can have us looking fresh and primped without the drama of running mascara or sunburnt lips.

Sun protection is a must everyday of the year but a high SPF is especially important for summer days. My favorite sunscreen is still Shiseido's Extra Smooth Sun Protection Cream SPR 38 PA+++. This sunscreen has an added fragrance which masks the usually icky smell of most sunscreens (I know, fragrance is usually a big no-no but I can overlook it if I really like the scent). This sunscreen also makes a nice primer for makeup as it keeps my skin from getting oily.

Instead of wearing heavy foundations, I like to use a concealer to banish dark circles and imperfections and top off everything with Neutrogena's Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation. As you can see by the large portion of visible pan, I've had this powder for about two years and it's been featured in past favorites posts. This powder does not look cakey but gives visible coverage and wears beautifully throughout the day. This impresses me more than Mac's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural to be honest because it has superior oil control.

My face often turns a reddish hue when the temperature rises so instead of using pink or red blush, I opt for coral and orange shades. I love cream blushes for warm weather despite my usually oily skin and Illamasqua's Cream Blush in Rude does the job nicely. The orange cream blush blends into my skin effortlessly and lasts throughout the hot day.

If my skin and makeup needs a bit of a refreshment, a few spritz of Melvita's Eau Florale de Rose soothes any irritation. I have been obsessed with rose scented skincare recently and this sample of organic rose water that was in my last Birchbox has been a staple in my makeup bag. 

My friends who are not makeup wearers or enthusiasts are often surprised when my eye makeup is still vibrant and neat after a full day of sweating in the summer sun. There is no secret really; I just use Urban Decay Primer Potion. Too Faced Shadow Insurance works just as well and if you're on a budget the E.L.F Mineral Eyelid Primer is just fine too. Priming your eyelids will do wonders, trust me.

Pencil eyeliner is not the best choice for hot weather as it is more prone to smudging and running. I much prefer gel or cream liner and the Physician's Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Gel Cream Liners (wow, what a mouthful!) are great. Waterproof liquid liners also tend to be great for summer weather if you prefer that formulation.

Waterproof mascara is something I can wear year round simply because waterproof formulas hold a curl much better than regular mascaras. But using a waterproof formula on your lashes is especially important in hot weather because you don't want humidity or sweat leaving pools of black under your eyes. I have had very good results with Maybelline waterproof mascaras and I am currently using and loving the Maybelline One by One Waterproof Mascara.

On the lips I often like to wear lipgloss rather than lipstick because I want a lightweight, glossy pout. Lipsticks can be drying over time and too high maintenance. Too Faced's Glamour Gloss is one of my favorite lipglosses of all time but I especially love it in the summer because it gives the lips a cool, tingling sensation. The cooling sensation is perfect to trick your lips into thinking they are moist and incredibly hydrated. Revlon's Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef is another hot weather favorite because of the added SPF15 and the super fun pop of color shouts summer without being too over the top.

What are your favorite warm weather beauty products?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mandom Cleansing Express: The Asian Bioderma?

Mandom Cleansing Express is Japan's version of the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution which has had overwhelming success in the Western beauty world. Unfortunately Bioderma is ridiculously difficult to obtain in the United States and I refuse to pay the marked up prices that Amazon sellers charge. Maybe when I travel to Europe I can pick up a bottle to try. But until then, Mandom Cleansing Express will do just fine.

I have known about Mandom cleansing waters for several years now but I never took the plunge to try one with no particular reason why. I purchased my bottle at a local Asian beauty store for $16 so it's actually a little more economical than what I would pay for Bioderma if I succumbed to the internet sellers. You can find Mandom retailers online who sell the cleansing waters for around the same price (under $20). Mandom Cleasing Express comes in four formulations: Age Care, Moist, Sebum, and BrightUp. I chose the BrightUp formulation because I always want to lighten my acne scars but realistically I doubt there is a significant different between the formulations.

The packaging, as with  many Asian beauty products, is very well done. The sturdy plastic bottle is an appealing purple shade with simple floral decorations. The cleansing water is dispensed via a pump. Yes, a pump! Something that Bioderma does not have and that I think is very necessary for a cleansing water. The pump dispenses a decent amount of product and it's great for lazy nights when I don't want to be bothered with tipping over a bottle a thousand times just to remove my makeup.

But the real question is, can a cleansing water effectively remove makeup? In short, yes, Mandom Cleansing Express can remove makeup well. Even eye makeup comes off surprisingly well without any stinging or irritation. However, it takes a fair amount of product and cotton rounds to remove all my makeup. If I'm wearing light eye makeup, I can get away with using two squirts of product on a cotton pad to take everything off. If my eye makeup is heavier, I can count on using a cotton round for each eye. But for my face, I typically need two cotton rounds and multiple squirts of cleansing water to remove every trace of makeup.

Although Mandom's Cleansing Water is effective and gentle, I prefer cleansing oils since they last me much longer. If you have very sensitive skin and you do not like using oil to remove your makeup, Mandom's Cleansing Express may be a good product for you. If you're a fan of Bioderma, the pump packaging of this might be your new favorite.

To see a demo of Mandom's BrightUp Cleansing Express in action, watch the video below!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Revlon's Coral Reef Lipgloss Revisited

I wanted to revisit my lip product stash and swatch some of my most loved products so I thought I'd start with something summer appropriate. Coral is that shade just shy of being orange and often times leans a bit pink. If there was one color I could wear on my eyes, cheeks, and lips, for the rest of my life it would be coral. Many of you probably own the Revlon Super Lustrous Lipgloss in Coral Reef or at least you have probably seen it on a blog or two. I actually blogged about this gloss over a year ago HERE  but I only did pathetic skin swatches and my lighting was less than phenomenal.

Coral Reef is a true orange coral in the tube but once on my medium pigmented lips, a bit of the pink tones of my natural lip color peak through. Coral Reef instantly awakens my face with a pop of color on my lips. The gloss lasts about three hours and is initially quite sticky upon application but after a few minutes the stickiness is gone. I find this to be the case with many of my lipglosses. Perhaps it's just me.

There is no need to make this a long post because my point is simple. If you like coral makeup, lipglosses, and a good drugstore buy, you need this in your makeup bag.

Monday, June 18, 2012

My Take On: Weight and Body Image

Click on the photo to see the full size! All photos are unedited (aside from the logo in the bottom left most photo) so you can see the awkward pre-teen me in my entirety :)
I have been meaning to do a series in which I talk about something beauty or health related based on my personal experiences for awhile. I look at this as a cross between the blogging me and the "real" me. One day I had an epiphany to call this series "My Take On:". These posts are all based on my personal experiences and thoughts so take what I say with a grain of salt. For the topics dealing with things like appearance (like this one!) I will try to include unretouched photos because I think it helps tell my story. The point of this series is to start a conversation because every topic I will cover is something I have thought about and probably still think about frequently and I constantly try to fine tune my views in life. Now that I gave you a bit of background and disclaimer, let's get on with the topic of the day! This is going to be a long post... so I hope you can read through it all. If not, then that's okay too! I will bold all the major points I want to make in case you're a skimmer!

I decided to kick off this series with weight and body image because it is something that many people struggle with, especially in recent years. I have never been close to overweight but that does not mean I was always comfortable with how my body looked. My weight was never something I was preoccupied with until I was about 12 years old in middle school but I'll get to that later.

As you can see from my photos from my elementary school years to about 2005, I was a thin child. Personally I do not believe genetics are a major factor in determining weight but in case you're wondering, my Mom is about 5'3'' and 115 pounds and my Dad is 5'11'' and 140ish pounds. My dad is very thin and he eats a lot but never manages to gain weight. Anyway, I was never a picky eater but I was a hyper active kid who loved to play and in my mind I'd much rather be outside running around than at the dinner table eating. My Mom was a stay at home mom for ten years so she prepared most of my meals. Once in awhile she would bring me to eat McDonalds or something along those lines just to change things up but I mostly ate home cooked meals. My Mom rarely let me eat junk food so you would not be able to find many snacks in my child hood home. Like I said, I was a very active child and in the summer I would spend most of my days in public playgrounds and doing something that was burning calories. Since I was in kindergarten or first grade I started taking weekly swimming lessons at the YMCA year round. I took a break for a year or two because I kept getting sick (I remember being sick quite often as a child) but I pretty much swam weekly until middle school. I was always pretty tall for my age as well so that played a big role in how skinny I looked.

By the time I was in middle school my Mom went back to work and I had much more freedom when it came to my food choices. I walked home by myself or with friends after school and we would often stop at a deli or bodega to buy snacks.... Snacks were my downfall. Starbucks fraps to twinkies, you name it, I ate it. I think it was the combination of the somewhat good taste (I have not touched a twinkie since middle school and drink Starbucks perhaps once a year) but mostly the newfound freedom that triggered this junk food craze. I wasn't growing vertically as much anymore so I started packing on the pounds. The heaviest I ever weighed was about 118-120 pounds which isn't much, I know. But for someone who was always stick thin, it was very obvious that I had gained weight and it was all fat. I gained the most weight in my midsection (hullo love handles!) and arms. For some reason my legs never gain weight and I don't have any curves (darn you Asian genetics!). I stopped exercising as I got older because the internet starting taking over my life. AIM, Neopets (elementary school), and Maplestory (middle school) kept me sitting for hours upon end.

My parents and their friends (who I am very close to and consider my Aunties and Uncles, if you're Asian you can probably relate) reminded me whenever they saw me that I was "fat". They used to tell me to eat more but now they were incredibly critical and it was humiliating to be picked on at family gatherings. I can't exactly blame them entirely because my eating habits and lack of physical activity was unhealthy. But they did not focus on the health aspect but the visual aspects. I don't think I ever thought I was fat (maybe I did at one point but I really can't recall for sure) but I was mostly annoyed. I hated being made the center of attention for negative reasons. It was damaging to my self confidence which probably explains why I lived in tees, jeans, and hoodies for much of my adolescence.

My weight and the verbal humiliation lasted for a few years into my sophomore year of high school. You can see in 2008 that I had a bit of a gut and I was not very comfortable taking photos. Wearing clothing that was too small for me definitely did not help. In my first two years of high school I continued to eat horrible foods included lots of cup ramen and sugar glazed super sized donuts.... They were dark times....

From junior year onwards my self confidence was better and I starting standing up for myself against people who criticized me for no reason. I ate junk food less but I never put myself on any kind of diet or weight loss plan. I just kept living my life. I also did not exercise anymore than I did in the years before that. My weight still hung around the 118 pound mark but I felt that my body proportions were more flattering and my overall mindset was better.

Then in the summer before my first semester of college, I lost 10 pounds. It was unintentional and to this day I have no idea how I did it. I was on summer vacation with my family and family friends and we were in Myrtle Beach, SC. It was a glorious day by the beach and everything was going really well. Then it was dinner time and we went to a seafood restaurant and I love my seafood. Then I completely lost my appetite and I ended up having a mental breakdown which included a lot of tears. It was incredibly embarrassing but I did not regain my appetite for a few days and by the time I returned home, I was 10 pounds lighter. I expected to gain all the weight right back because I had a few occasions where I stopped eating because I simply couldn't, lost weight, then promptly gained it all back. I clearly remember the first week of sophomore year in high school I was extremely stressed out (probably due to having to wake up at 6 AM for school and it was a sudden change from my summer schedule) and I literally did not eat for a week because I did not feel hungry. I was not hungry at all that whole week and everytime I tried to eat I felt like I was going to throw up. I even went to the doctor because I thought I was going to die but the doctor laughed at me instead of giving me real advice.... Thanks doc. Anyways, I lost 10 pounds which brought me back down to 110 pounds.

Two years later, I'm still 110 pounds and it's my ideal weight. I do not believe in fad diets or diet programs. A diet is a way of eating for life. In the last year or so I have been more attentive to what I eat and I do not eat as much fast food as I used to when I was a pre-teen. I eat fruits and vegetables daily and I try to eat less meat (mostly from animal reasons and less for health reasons). For a few months last year I was pescetarian which was interesting to try. I might go back to that kind of diet some day. I'm happy with where I am now only I need to work on exercising a bit more for the sake of my health.

It's more rewarding to think about changing your body for health reasons rather than vanity reasons. I wish I had more confidence to stand up for myself earlier in life rather than let people weigh me down and inject negativity into my self esteem. Instead of ignoring the changes in my weight and body shape, I should have tried to understand myself better and clothed myself in better fitted pieces. Hiding and continuing to eat more than healthy amounts of bad-for-you foods was much worse than confronting the issue and ending it. 

Watch the video below to hear me speak about my experience and advice for those of you who went or are going through similar problems.

I am very interested in reading any of your thoughts or reflections about this topic as well as any suggestions you may have for future "My Take On" posts. Please post your experiences with body image in the comments below to get the discussion going!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Maybelline Expertwear: Plum Smokes

Long time readers of this blog will know that Maybelline Expertwear shadows are some of my favorite inexpensive shadows that are readily available at the drugstore. I have quite a number of these shadows and I have already done reviews and swatches on all them (click on the Maybelline tag to see these posts!). I saw this quad in Plum Smokes at CVS for 50% off and I had two coupons to use so I broke my makeup spending ban {I lasted over two months and I had other things I had to purchase (hint: lashes for an upcoming tutorial!) so I let myself go a bit} to add to my Expertwear collection. I love all four shades that are included in the palette.

There is a peach champagne, a midtone plum with gold shimmers (similar to Mac Trax), an eggplant shade with a satin finish, and a gorgeous deep brown.

This was my first time trying the new formatted palettes with the different sized pans as all the other ones I own have equal pan sizes. I much prefer having equal quantities of each shadow but overall the shadow quantity is the same as before.

The peach champagne is the most lackluster shade as it is not as smooth as the other shades. It is not as buttery as the other Maybelline shadows I have but it is still usable for an all over lid color. The two purples have decent pigmentation, not stellar, but not bad. I think these will make beautiful crease colors or outer lid shades. The deep brown is my favorite. I absolutely love dark browns with microshimmer as they are incredibly complex and multipurpose. This shade had the smoothest texture and the best pigmentation.

Did I need another eyeshadow quad? Definitely not. Is this a must have eyeshadow palette? Probably not. Am I happy with the $3 I spent on this? Yes, I am. While the shadows are not as high quality as others I have tried, these are by no means bad shadows. If you can find this at your local CVS on clearance, I recommend trying it out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Jet Set Birchbox: June 2012

This month Birchbox gave their subscribers a sneak peek of a bunch of the products that were going to be in the June box. I was originally lukewarm to this box as I knew theBalm's Staniac was going to be one of the focus products for the month and I already own the full size. Luckily I am actually incredibly pleased with the products I received this month and I will be passing on my mini Staniac to my Mom! Oh, as a side note, it took four whole days for my box to ship to me which is quite long considering the warehouse is in New Jersey and I live in New York City.... The contents of my box was revealed online before my package arrived so my surprise was a bit ruined. However I usually go scouting for what people get in their box anyway so it's not a major issue. The contents are the main attraction!

I don't travel often although I tend to shop for beauty products with the mindset that I can tote along the products in case I need to pack for a trip. I love minis and multitasking products so this box was exciting. I also love that quite a few brands featured are international brands. Melvita is from France, Eyeko is a British brand, and Yu-Be hails from Japan.

The Eyeko Skinny Liquid Liner is one of the main highlights of this box not only because it is a full sized product worth $15 but because I have never tried a pen liquid liner. I am horrible at applying liquid liner and I try to avoid it at all costs but I have been pondering about using liquid liner in the form of a pen applicator.

I love my Thayers Witch Hazel with Rose and the rose scent of the Jurlique products I had a chance to test out at the blogger event was amazing. The Melvita Rose Floral Water smells like rose and lychee and the portable size makes it great for tucking into my purse. After I'm done using the original contents I can always refill the mini spray bottle with my Thayer's water if I so choose!

After spotting the Yu-Be Moisturizing Skin Cream at Sephora and Duane Reade I was intrigued by the multipurpose uses for the skin and even lips. The sample tube is teeny weeny so I will probably just keep this handy for my cuticles.

I never thought I would get excited over band-aids but I did. An entire box of Cynthia Rowley Dress Up Band-Aids was my lifestyle extra this month and I couldn't be more pleased. I always need a band-aid in the most random situations and these are trendy and useful! The price is the only thing I am not pleased about.... Twenty strips of adhesive for $15? Really? I mean, if you have the money by all means indulge but I think most people will have to think twice before shelling out so much to cover up their boo boos.

In honor of Father's Day a little sample of John Varvatos' Star USA cologne was featured in this month's box which I promptly handed to my Dad. He doesn't use cologne much and isn't a very high maintenance guy on the grooming front so I don't think he would be interested in BirchboxMan unfortunately.

That wraps up my initial impressions on the June 2012 Birchbox. This month's box was definitely a great value and almost all of the products are things I would not have picked up on my own accord but that I am more than happy to receive and try! I can't wait for next month's box which will be a collaboration with Glamour magazine and the theme will be the Five Senses of Summer. Sounds intriguing, no? If you're interested in subscribing to Birchbox, check out their site HERE via my referral link (if you don't mind).

Are any of you subscribed to Birchbox? What did you receive in your box this month? Have you tried any of the products shown above? I'd also love to know what your favorite travel beauty products are!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Jurlique Blogger Event

Yesterday evening I headed over to the Jurlique New York City Flagship boutique for my first blogging event where myself and fellow beauty enthusiasts learned about Jurlique. Most of you may have heard of Jurlique before as you can find their products at Sephora. The Australian skincare brand emphasizes the importance of natural ingredients and eco-friendly production methods. Many of the ingredients, such as rose petals, are grown at Jurlique's farm in South Australia. 

The event focused on three main collections and products. The first was the new Rose Moisture Plus line which is meant to hydrate the skin and protect it from the harsh environment. The scent of all the products in this line is absolutely divine. Jurlique's rose scent is sophisticated and pleasant without coming across as a strong fragrance. The Rosewater Balancing Mist was very refreshing and the first thing that came to mind was the similarity to the heavily hyped Caudalie Beauty Elixir. I have not tried either for an extended period of time so I can't say if they're similar products but in theory they seem to be comparable.

The Herbal Recovery Antioxidant Gel Mask was another product that we were introduced to. I was very excited to learn more about this product as I have been searching for a hydrating facial treatment. This gel mask is unique in that small capsules of vitamin E are suspended in the gel formula which are supposed to nourish the skin further. 

The Purely Bright line intrigued me because Jurlique claims that using this regimen will even out the skin in 30 days. I must say I am a bit skeptical of high and lofty claims like these but who knows, maybe it does work! I tried the Purely Bright Radiance Serum on the back of my hand and I loved how easily the formula absorbed into my skin. 

Besides discovering the many products that Jurlique offers, I was also ecstatic because I had the chance to meet some other bloggers! Here I am with Cydia and Wing who you might recognize from Youtube. I also met Jessica and Alice who were incredibly nice as well. I rarely get to talk about beauty products with people in real life so the event was a great chance to chat with other ladies who love skincare and makeup as much as I do!

At the end of the evening Jurlique sent us all home with goodie bags containing some of the products that we tried in store. 

I can't wait to try out the products and I will be doing reviews for each of the items after I have had sufficient time to assess them. I want to use up some of my current skincare items before delving in the Jurlique products so I probably won't be reviewing these too soon.

Based on the information from the event and speaking to the Jurlique representatives, I have high hopes for the products and I am eager to see how my skin responds to them. If you have never tried Jurlique, I would urge you to go into a Sephora or freestanding store to just smell the products even if you are not looking to change your skincare routine because the scents are really nice.

As a little bonus for my followers, if you spend over $50 on the Jurlique website and enter the code JUNEROSE at checkout, a deluxe sample of the Rose Moisture Plus Moisturising Cream will be added to your cart! This offer expires at the end of the month.

Have you ever tried Jurlique? If you have, what were your impressions and are there any products you recommend?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pin-Up Inspired Makeup Tutorial

My day to day makeup often consists of natural and neutral eyes, lips, and cheeks. But the makeup and beauty addict in me loves to dabble in strong brows and red pouts. Pin-Up ladies ooze femininity and confidence while staying classic and desirable. When I think of pin-up, images of curvy women from yesteryear come to mind but the pin-up look can be modern and easy to wear everyday as well. The four most prominent features of a pin-up look are luminous skin, strong brows, flirty lashes, and the signature red lip.

To see the step by step tutorial of how created a wearable pin-up inspired look, check out the video below!

On my skin I started by applying Smashbox's Photo Finish Primer to help mask enlarged pores and imperfections. Benefit's Erase Paste is one of my go-to under eye concealers because it's peach tone helps conceal dark circles better than most other concealers. I applied Revlon's Mineral Mousse Foundation with my fingers all over my face because it is a full coverage, long lasting, and matte formula. I prefer light coverage foundations or tinted moisturizers but flawless skin is a must for this makeup. To set my makeup I used Mac's Mineralize Skinfinish Natural because it adds a bit of coverage and does not look powdery or cakey.

I applied a bit of Revlon's Matte Blush in Perfectly Peach to the apples of my cheeks. For a subtle glow I swept Tarte's Smooth Operator Illuminating Serum with Real Techniques' Pointed Foundation brush to the highest points of my cheekbones, down the bridge of my nose, on my cupid's bow, and my chin.

I prefer a more full and natural brow so for this tutorial I did my normal brow routine which consists of penciling in my natural brow outline. I used The Face Shop's Automatic Eyeliner in Black Brown (yes, it's an eyeliner but it's very waxy and more suitable for brows from my experience).

Instead of using my usual Urban Decay Primer Potion to hold my eye makeup in place, I opted for Benefit's Stay Don't Stray because it has a skintone pigment which helps neutralize redness in the eyes. I made sure to dab a bit of Stay Don't Stray under the arch of my brow to subtly highlight my brows. I kept the eyes natural using a matte brown eyeshadow from Wet n' Wild's Vanity 6 Pan Coloricon Palette on a fluffy blending brush to define the crease. Then I added a bit of the shimmery pale gold from the same palette in the inner corners of my eyes.

I did an exaggerated version of my usual winged eyeliner by taking Physician's Formula Gel Liner on my E.L.F Small Precision Brush. I absolutely love the small precision brush as it makes winging out liner a breeze. I curled my lashes with Koji's No. 73 lash curler and applied generous amounts of Lancome's Doll Eyes Mascara on both my upper and lower lashes. To achieve the flirty eye look I added a few of Ardell's individual lashes to the outer corners of my eyes. I purchased these lashes especially for this look and it took a few minutes to get the hang of how to apply individual falsies but I really liked the subtle effect. My mom couldn't tell I was wearing false lashes at all! Also, individual lashes are a lot more comfortable than a full set of lashes because your eyes are not restricted by the lash band.

For the signature pin-up lip, a red lip color is a must! I've written and talked about the awesome color and formula of Tarte's Lipsurgence Pencil in Swank many times. A few quick swipes and my lips are vibrant, glossy, and most importantly, moisturized. A trick to make your lipstick or lip pencil last longer is to apply a layer, blot on the back of your hand or a tissue, and apply a second layer. I almost always use this method when I wear a bright lip!

Would you wear this look for a day to day affair or only for special occasions? Let me know how you would recreate a pin-up look in the comments!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Not Quite Summer OOTD

Charlotte Russe scarf, Zara blouse, Uniqlo jeggings, Vince Camuto boots, Zara bag, Marc Jacobs watch, wrist candy from Target, H&M, and BaubleBar
A few weeks ago New York was experiencing sunny skies with temperatures in the 80s. Last week, not so much. I thought about retiring my cooler weather boots since it seems about right for sandals but cool mornings, sometimes in the 60s, keep me from embracing summer just yet. Don't think there will be many more days when I can wear these boots outside without looking out of place.

Friday, June 8, 2012

How I: Apply Blush, Bronzer, and Highlighter

No, I did not get multicolored tribal tattoos all over my face. I just want to share how I normally apply bronzer, blush, and highlight! The diagram above should be self explanatory. The brown spots indicate areas where I apply bronzer, the pink is where I apply blush, and the cream is where I apply highlight. Easy, right? 

If you have the right tools (i.e. brushes), applying makeup becomes a lot easier and the end result usually turns out better. My current face brush staples are the blush brush from Ecotools, the high definition angled blush brush from Walmart (made by Paris Presents), and the stippling and contour brushes from Real Techniques. The duo sided Essence of Beauty brush with the angled side with white hairs and the small contour side with black hairs is also very nice although I wish the hairs were a tiny but softer.

A key tip to keep in mind, especially when applying blush and bronzer, is to build up the color gradually. I prefer to gently dab my brush into the product and tap off any excess powder before applying the brush to my face. That way, I can use as little product as possible on my face. It is better to build up color rather than to apply too much on the first swipe. It can be incredibly difficult to remove excess makeup that has already been blended into the skin. If I accidentally over apply, I simply use a fluffy powder or kabuki brush to dust off the excess color.

From my experience, blush is the most flattering when it is on the outermost region of your cheeks when you are looking straight ahead. Blush applied too close to the center of the face and near to the nose makes the skin seem red and irritated. I like to keep the center of my face bright and luminous so I avoid placing blush there. Similarly, highlight should be kept toward the sides of the face so that the inner part of your face does not appear shiny or oily. 

Don't feel the need to apply all three types of products all the time. In fact, I rarely wear bronzer, blush, and highlight altogether on any given day. Sometimes I'll opt for a bronzer and shimmery blush which acts as a highlighting product as well. On lazy days I might opt for just a blush or maybe nothing at all. It's important to realize what you want to be on your face and to not simply follow every tutorial word for word. It's makeup, have fun with it!

Watch the video below if you're interested in seeing how I apply bronzer, blush, and highlight step by step!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Move Over Seche-Vite, Revlon's Taking Your Place!

Seche Vite is the cult favorite top coat that seems to be a staple in many manicure routines and it has been my top coat of choice for the past few months. But at $10 a bottle Seche Vite can be a bit pricey, even if the bottle will last me quite a long time with regular use. My base coat was a random L'oreal base coat that wasn't doing much for my nails. I've been through about 3 bottles of the L'oreal base coat and I'm not sure why I've been using it for as long as I have. I guess I was never really concerned about a layer of polish that I couldn't see.

Last week Rite Aid had Revlon nail polishes for $3 (excluding the new colorstay line) so I picked up the base and top coats just for kicks. The promise of a quick drying polish piqued my interest as that is one of Seche Vite's most prized qualities.

The base coat has a milky coloring in the bottle but applies clear on the nail. Application was easy and the dry time was quick. But then again, most base coats I've tried have dried pretty fast.

The top coat is clear and as you'll see from the photos below, very shiny. I love the look of glossy, almost vinyl looking nails and this top coat delivers just that. The smell of the Revlon top coat is much less offensive than Seche Vite which is a huge plus. A small con would be that the brush is a tad small and it takes a few more strokes than I usually need to cover my entire nail. Also, you can see how my polish transferred onto the brush which usually does not happen with Seche Vite or other top coats. I can see this being a potential problem in the long run as the residue collected on the brush may transfer onto my other manicures.

In the photo above you can see my freshly varnished nails and the incredible shine that the top coat delivers. If you are wondering, the polish I am wearing is Spoiled's Lox-y Lady. I absolutely love everything about this nail polish. The color is phenomenal and the application was effortless. It's the best 99¢ I have ever spent on a nail polish. Normally the Spoiled nail polishes retail for $2 at CVS but I (well, actually my Mom if you want to get technical about it) bought (I chose the colors though) them when they were on promotion.

On the morning of the third day my nails still looked very much intact and no chipping had occurred. The shine is definitely not as intense as the first day but my nails are not totally dull. 

Here you can see the condition of my nails at the end of the fourth day. There is some minor chipping on the tip of my pointer finger but the other nails are intact. Today I am writing this post on the fifth day of wear and my nails on the whole look very good. The chipping is still only on the pointer finger and from a distance my nails look pretty perfect. I'm impressed! It is quite rare when I can keep a manicure looking this nice for a whole work (or school) week!

The quick dry base and top coats by Revlon are definitely worth the money and I'm glad I found an alternative to the good, but pricey Seche Vite. If you're in the market for an inexpensive base or top coat, I highly recommend the ones by Revlon. I hear the base and top coats in their Colorstay line is quite good as well! What are your favorite base and top coats?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Business Cards For Your Blog!

Recently a friend showed me some business cards that he created just for laughs through a site called Moo since they have a trial package of 10 cards at absolutely no cost. No, this post is not sponsored nor am I in any way affiliated with Moo. I honestly really enjoyed the entire experience from creating the cards to seeing the finished product. I urge all of you who have blogs or any other platform to take advantage of the 10 free cards because they're simply adorable and useful to boot!

The Moo site is easy to navigate and I love that I could choose a different design for each card. I used mostly my own photographs for the cards as well as some with just plain text which I designed in Photoshop and simply uploaded to Moo. Really, the ease is definitely one of the most attractive things about Moo.

The company has a quirky and modern aesthetic which is visible on their website as well as in the packaging of their products.

All the trappings felt smooth and high quality so even before seeing my cards, I had high hopes.

When I removed all of the cards from their containers I was surprised by a cute little message. Oliver Twist, anyone?

This is the back of my business cards and you can see a few of the front designs that I chose. The back logo was a bit off center but that was my fault more than Moo's as I did not center it properly online (oops). Nonetheless, I am incredibly pleased with my free cards and I will be keeping a few cards in my wallet in case I ever decide to divulge the presence of my blog. For those of you who are proud of your blogs, I think it's a great idea to take your website to the next level with a savvy business card!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Not Worth The Hype: Philosophy Hope in a Jar

Philosophy makes all of their products sound like dreams come true with their catchy names and made up definitions plastered all over the packaging. I haven't delved into Philsophy's skincare all that much but the two moisturizers I tried, Hope in a Jar and Hope in a Jar Oil Free SPF 30, are underwhelming to say the least. You can read more about my thoughts on the SPF version HERE.

A few months ago Sephora was offering a full sized moisturizer in exchange for 100 beauty insider points. I had heard a lot about Hope in a Jar so I jumped at the chance to try it for pretty much free. I am so glad I traded my points in for this rather than actual money because I can't wholeheartedly recommend this.

First off, Hope in a Jar is not inexpensive, retailing for $39 for a 2 ounce jar. There actually isn't a 1 ounce jar for sale but you can get a .5 ounce jar for $15. I don't mind paying more for high quality skincare that works for me but this is something I will never spend money on.

The texture of Hope in a Jar is nothing I have come across before. The best description I can come up with is a dense whipped cream that is weightless on the skin. One of the few positives to this product is that it sinks into the skin very easily and leaves a comfortable feeling once applied. There is no greasiness at all.

The most off putting aspect of this moisturizer is the smell. As soon as I opened the jar I took a whiff and almost gagged. I can't even describe what this smells like. It's part chemical, part something that expired. It's just not a good smell at all. I'm not usually very sensitive to scents and I can withstand pretty bad chemical-like scents if I like a product (Nars' glosses are a perfect example of a horrid smelling product I can tolerate).

The claim that this is suitable for all skin types did not hold true for my skin. I first tried this moisturizer in the winter when my normally oily skin was dry. I ended up with flaky patches on various parts of my face. One week a section of my chin would be dry and flaky, the next week it would be on my cheek. From my experience this did not help my dry skin at all and only exacerbated the dryness.

I am currently using this as my night time moisturizer and it has not done anything bad to my now oily skin. It's still incredibly unpleasant to use due to the scent but I can put up with it. If you have oily skin, nothing has been working for your skin, and you want to try this just for the sake of trying this cult favorite, I highly urge you to go take a whiff of Hope in a Jar before purchasing. If I had been smart enough to smell this before I traded my points in for it, I would have definitely redeemed another moisturizer. For the price there are other good moisturizers out there that you can apply without holding your breath.