Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tarte: Skinny smolderEYES Liner Review

This summer, I was on a quest to find the perfect eyeliner. One that had natural ingredients (important since it sits on such a delicate area of skin), applied easily without tugging, easy to remove, and wouldn't smudge. Unfortunately, this product from Tarte, which was a recommendation from a Sephora staff member, only met my first two criteria.

This liner comes with a smudging sponge on one end. It's a pencil liner, and I got it in the traditional black color Onyx.


In terms of ingredients, I was fairly pleased that it was made free of parabens, mineral oil, and phthalates. I also liked that it glided on easily, making for smooth application, and you could also smoke it out with the sponge.

My main issue was with the difficulty in removing this product. I get that Amazonian clay is branded as a long-lasting product, but honestly I felt like I was almost tugging my eyelids off every time I tried to remove it at the end of the day. Even with designated makeup remover and multiple face washes (including my trusty Kiehl's calendula cleanser) I would be left with smudges of black under and around my eye. Maybe something like Bioderma would have been better, but I never tried it, and frankly I doubt even that would have been enough.

Worse yet, since it's a pencil liner it would smudge by the end of the day, making it impossible to get that perfect smooth line to stay. At a price of almost $20 each, I didn't feel like it was justified. I have since returned it to Sephora.

If any of you have suggestions on good eyeliners, please let me know and I look forward to finding a better product to fit my needs.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ciate Serendipity: Holiday Manicure

Serendipity is a limited edition color that came out in last year's mini mani set. This is actually the first time I've tried it, as I've been waiting for the holidays to come back around before breaking it out. It's a pink glitter polish with surprising staying power, though it took me about 3 coats to get it to the above opaque level.

While I'm not usually a huge fan of glitter (a bit ostentatious for most daily wear) I'm really liking this, which feels festive without being overbearing. This is probably because it's a darker shade of pink, which glitters subtly in most lighting. I've caught myself staring at my nails multiple times even when I'm just typing. 

What are some of your favorite holiday polishes?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Rising Distrust of Beauty Bloggers and Youtubers

I'm someone who easily follows the herd on the hot trends in makeup, skincare and fashion. A lot of it is because I usually feel overwhelmed or unsure of where to look for solid products. A lot is also because I'm honestly quite insecure, and having an outwardly gorgeous girl recommend a product is something that is almost sickeningly effective for people like me. I've recently sensed a general discontent on the internet with the sheer volume of sponsorships that these full-time bloggers and Youtubers are receiving, as well as a seeming lack of transparency around disclosure. Someone wrote that these people are essentially preying on the insecure, pushing them to purchase expensive and often ineffective products purely to gain goodwill and continued sponsorship with the big brands.

It's led me to introspect on my own buying and viewing behavior, and I'm almost taken aback by how impacted I am by these people, and often not for the right reason. Seriously guys, almost ALL of the products I've purchased and reviewed have been the direct result of seeing someone on Youtube use it. Take for example the following post on Michael Todd's eye cream. I purchased it during the MT craze on Youtube a year or so back, and while all the bloggers were raving to no end about the brand, I was left majorly disappointed. That was about $50, wasted as I can't even use the cream without getting a reaction. Then there's Lush, my recent review on Emma Hardie, the Rimmel Show Off Lip Laquers, even the Victoria's Secret body mists. Pretty much everything I own in my skincare, cosmetic, and even fashion items have been spurred on by the recommendations of these almost-celebrity like, highly successful individuals. Either I'm just super unoriginal, or product placement is truly a frighteningly effective marketing tool.

I generally consider myself a cost-conscious, reasonable person, but then I go out and spend hundreds on products that frankly don't at all deserve the hype. This really makes me wonder at the validity of the argument that sponsorship of these individuals is fine, that ultimately you're deciding whether or not to buy. Because are you really in control? When we see someone who embodies what we want, when we are subjected to repeated messages and rousing support of brands and items, how much of your choice is truly driven by rationality and how much of it is instead emotional, spurred by a very human desire to emulate and become more like the one you admire?

Certainly I've made some purchases that I'm very happy with as a result of these recommendations. But I've also frankly been very financially irresponsible, and made many more buys that I regret. The clear winners here are the brands and the blogger, who walk away with the cash given to them by the consumer. The consumer might be happy with their new purchase for a while, but only until the next item is put forward as the new "must-have." What are they ultimately left with? A stash of barely-used make-up, rejected skincare, copy-cat fashions, and a major hole in their wallet.

When you compound this essential "preying" behavior with the failure to disclose or almost sheer deception inherent in sponsored posts, that's a majorly problematic issue. I've only ever run a small blog, but the few occasions where I have been contacted to put on an affiliate link or to support a product (even without being paid) have been enormously flattering. It makes it hard to say no, and it makes it even harder to be truthful about what you really think. That's another basic human issue, that when the incentives are muddy, people tend to act in ways that reflect that. I can only imagine what it must be like to be paid thousands for a video or a post, but I'd imagine that it'd be terribly hard to express any negativity both out of a sense of owing that person / company and for fear of rupturing the future opportunities to work together.

Will I stop reading blogs / watching videos? Probably not, and the inner psychology for that likely warrants a whole other post. There's something horribly compelling about these gilded videos and posts, like seeing that popular girl in school and trying to determine her secret. But what I will do is be aware of my buying behavior, and next time a product is shown and I feel that itch to immediately buy, I will reign it in, knowing who the true stakeholders are of the underlying business partnership. And of course, I will continue this blog and make it a place where my true opinions can be shared, such that other potential buyers can hopefully be fully informed before they submit to the PPL allure.

P.S.: In case you're curious about the upper image, that's a photo of the packaging for the Bite Beauty Lip Mask, which, you guessed it, is another product I purchased through influence. The product is solid, but why have none of the initial recommenders pointed out the horrendous flaky packaging?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm

Back in February, I ordered a bottle of the very-hyped Emma Hardie Cleansing Balm from feelunique.com. The product has me mixed, and the shipping was honestly horrible - it took over a month for this to get to me, and for some reason my box didn't come with a muslin cloth. Not sure if this is some cheaper packaging or whatever, but disappointing.

I've been using the product regularly, and while there are some aspects I find very pleasant about it, there's other qualities I don't like, and overall I don't think I'll be repurchasing considering the high price tag and difficult accessibility.

The aspects I do like are the scent, which is a nice and light herbal, the all-natural ingredients, and the nourishing, non-drying nature of the balm. This is far, far better than the only other cleansing balm I've tried, The Body Shop Camomile one. It leaves my skin feeling moisturized and gently cleansed.

However, what I don't like is that it's frankly horrible at removing make-up, leaving obvious patches of foundation and smears of eyeliner on if you use this alone. I've also decided that I'm not a fan of the cleansing balm texture. Personally, I find it potentially damaging in the long-term to have to massage and pull at your face so much when you wash it, which is unfortunately necessary with this product. You have to work it in, and similarly have to go at it to get it off. My philosophy is that such repeated aggressive action will destroy elasticity and loosen up the skin, which is definitely not what I want.

For now, I'll be sticking with my Kiehl's Calendula face wash.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Jo Malone Nectarine Blossom & Honey Cologne Review

This was very much a splurge for me, and one I had wanted for literally years. Even with a 10% discount from Neiman Marcus this was still $54 for a one-ounce bottle, which is pretty excessive considering I'd previously never spent more than about $15 for a perfume. Jo Malone is just one of those brands that everyone touts, and I had sampled it in-store a couple times.

Unfortunately, I can't say I would repurchase this, as for some reason this scent doesn't smell nearly as good as I remembered it being when I first tried it. I recall it being heavenly sweet and fruity, but when I spray mine, there's this weird "fresh" undertone that I don't remember being there before, not to mention it isn't nearly as sweet as I recall. I do find it wearable, but I'm not in love with it, and part of me regrets not picking up the Red Roses scent instead.

My lesson learned here is that unfortunately few products are able to withstand personal expectations, even when you've tried them on a couple times. Maybe this bottle got shaken around too much, and I'll have to compare next time I'm in the store, but I think I'd rather just stock up on Victoria's Secret body mists for a fraction of the price.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Healthy Eating: Quick Breakfast for School & Work

I admit that breakfast is hardly usually my first priority, especially on busy school/work mornings, which generally involve me grabbing a granola bar or opting out entirely for a coffee with soy milk. But I am trying to improve on that, and today wanted to show a fairly easy, relatively healthy breakfast I've been enjoying.

It's a simple stack of pre-made waffles with half a banana and pure maple syrup. I'm enjoying the Van's gluten-free waffles, which are already lightly sweetened with fruit juice. However, the texture is a bit dry and crumbly at points, which I suppose goes with the gluten-free aspect. At any rate, this is filling and enjoyable even as a dessert (which I confess to doing more often than not).

Still on the hunt for good breakfast ideas, so feel free to share!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Goldfaden MD Sun Visor SPF 30: Review

As mentioned, I'm normally a drugstore sunblock fan due to the much more attractive price point, but I decided to splurge on the Goldfaden MD Sun Visor after watching a tutorial that purportedly showed how easy it was to spray and go with this product. To be honest, even after months of use, I have no idea how that particular person was able to use it so easily. It beats regular sunblock, but it still is far from an effort-free product, and brings other concerns that keep me at bay.

My first major concern with this product is its use of microionized titanium dioxide, which has been cited as a potential risk upon inhalation. Spraying it directly on the face not only heightens the risk of directly breathing it in, but in my experience also often led to some of the product going into the eye (even with your eyes closed). I had white particles accumulate around my eye shortly after I used this.

However, it isn't gloopy like most sunscreens. This is good and bad, because good news is it spreads easily - I usually spray a bit into my hand and then massage it into my face. I do find it doesn't seem to stay as well on my skin, as it starts running off immediately when I spray a bit of water on. I also don't think it's as effective as my traditional formula sunscreens.

I purchased from the SkinStore, and got the below samples with my order. I think the price was about $35/bottle with discount, so still a fairly pricey bottle. At this point I won't be repurchasing, because I think there's better alternatives.

Kiehl's Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash

I've mentioned before that I've been on the hunt for a one-stop makeup remover that will easily and quickly get off all my makeup at night. Unfortunately, my Emma Hardie balm just hasn't been cutting it (requires far too much rubbing to remove eye makeup), so I swung into Kiehl's after seeing the signs for their new face wash.

Although I have dry skin, the sales associate assured me that this product would work. I like that it's simple to use, you literally just pump out some of the clear fluid and lather it up on your face. 

The product itself is clear and with a very light herbal fragrance, and works up into a light lather that isn't drying (though you will need to moisturize well afterwards). I've been using it now all summer, and I will say it's by far the most effective product I've tried yet. Unfortunately, it still requires a bit of work to remove eyeliner, but for non-waterproof mascara and eyeshadow it does wonders - a few smears and it comes off.

Overall I'm very pleased with the product, and as a bonus the Kiehl's associate was super sweet and threw in samples for their creamy avocado eye cream and midnight recovery oil. I recommend this if you're also on the hunt for an effective, all-in-one makeup remover.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Nighttime Skincare Routine

I try to keep my skincare routine down to about 5-10 mins at night, because honestly I don't think I would commit to much more than that at the expense of sleep. Here are the products I've been using lately. Keep in mind that I have dry skin and usually wear only light makeup (including nonwaterproof mascara). I'm probably also not as thorough as many of the other bloggers out there in terms of cleansing, but so far this has been working well.

I have only four steps in my routine: 1) Cleanse, 2) Eye cream, 3) Face Treatment Cream, and 4) Moisturize. I will rotate out products in these four steps, especially the face treatment as I run low on things, but generally I stick closely to this regime. I'll also be away from home for much of the summer, so here are the products I will pretty much be using for the next three months:

Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser: I got this on a whim, and am surprised at how much I've been using it. I love that it foams, because it makes it feel so much faster and easier to just give it a quick pump and immediately slather it on the face. I will say that this is not great at removing makeup, and on days when I do wear more makeup I have to resort to a cleansing balm instead. However, for light summer days, this is good, and also generally effective at getting my mascara off.

Clinique Repairwear Laser Focus Eye Cream: I like this the best of the eye creams I've tried. It's rich but easy to rub in, and it also doesn't cause millia unlike many other creams I've tried. I just wish it were more moisturizing.

Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Cream: I got this as a sample, and so far I like it. It has a nice herbal scent, and I think I do notice a slight difference in my skin texture and general glow after a few uses. But it's not quite enough to justify the $400 full-size price tag - yikes!

Kiehl's Powerful Wrinkle Reducing Cream: This was also a sample, and I use it on days when I don't use the Sulwhasoo. I like the smell and the light texture, but after continual use I'm not sure it's all that effective, as I haven't noticed any significant changes to my lines. But it is pleasant to use.

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cream: This has been my nighttime moisturizer for quite some time now (reviewed here), and I find I keep going back to this. It's just so easy to use and really is very effective at keeping my dry skin hydrated. But it contains parabens, so I'm going to need to find a replacement after I finish it up.

In terms of how I use these products, I always make sure to gently pat them in and avoid rubbing, which causes premature wrinkles. I also try to be gentle when cleansing. I see so many girls tugging harshly at their faces while cleansing, and it makes me wonder if by being so thorough they're doing more harm than good. Thus, my philosophy is to stay as minimal and delicate as possible with my skin. I won't kill my face to try to get every last scrap of makeup off, but I will do as much as I can. It's a balancing act.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What's in my Bag: Summer Edition

I definitely aspire to be a minimalist in terms of what I allow in my bag. I find that no matter how small or light the bag, your shoulders will end up tired after a day of carrying it, so it's critical to shave everything down to the bare essentials. This is a peek into my current summer bag, which I use for running errands and shopping.

The current bag I'm using is an old Coach purchase from their factory stores. It's a baby blue patent leather, which is pretty much made for summery weather. I like it because it's the perfect crossbody size, holding all of my things without allowing for overstuffing. It zips easily and the patent leather has proven to be extremely durable, as I've taken it out for long days of traveling in extreme humidity, rain, and heat.

My one qualm is with the shoulder strap. Unlike the rest of the bag, it's made of a cloth fabric, which is easily stained and starting to fuzz up with wear. However, the pro is it's the right length to rest on my hips. 

The top row contains:

Mini Notebook: I'm the most forgetful person, and need to scribble reminders to myself constantly. I also find that I have a habit of continually dwelling on what I need to get done. When I write it down though, it helps me refocus on what's at hand, because I know I'll get to it later. This is a small leather notebook I got from an event.

Sunglass case + Sunglasses: The case is from Aldo, and I love that it's super light yet structured and durable. Much better than the hefty cases most designer sunglasses come with. The sunglasses are from Urban Outfitters.

Bottom row:

Missha Deep Moist Lip Essence in Ample Berry with SPF 10: This is from Korea, and to be honest I'm not in love with it. This might be unique to my dry lips, but I find I can't use this by itself or it'll leave my lips completely chapped. It leaves a subtle red gloss on the lips and has a nice sweet taste. SPF in the summer is also essential, which is why I take this even if I prefer some of my other glosses.

Bite Agave Lip Mask: Reviewed here, I can't go anywhere without this.

Blistex Deep Renewal with SPF 15: I keep this purely for the SPF. My routine is to start with the Bite lip mask, apply a layer of this, then top off with the Missha gloss. Perhaps excessive, but a good way to ensure moisture + SPF + shine.

Earplugs: Yes, that's what those weird neon green cones are. I literally do not go anywhere without these, because you never know when you'll be stuck in a loud place and wishing for a reprieve. I'm also paranoid about hearing loss (my grandpa's almost completely deaf), and it's always good to have this in case.

Vera Bradley Keychain Zip Wallet: This needs replacing as I've used it for years, but there's nothing more portable than a keychain holder that doubles as a wallet. I keep all my cards + cash in here. It also makes it harder to lose your keys. If anyone knows of a better-looking alternative, please let me know!

Not Shown:

Hat: This definitely doesn't fit into my bag, but I pretty much never step outside without a wide-brimmed hat (per the reasons stated in my sunblock post). This one is from Nordstrom, and technically it's more of a winter hat due to the wool material. However, I find it works all seasons, and I've received tons of compliments. It's also held up its shape extremely well; I hate it how most wide-brimmed hats start to droop after a few wears. I do try to take care of it by keeping it on my lap and trying not to fold it up if at all possible. 

Water: Also not shown, but make sure to stay hydrated and go out with a full bottle!

Hope you found this post helpful!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

An Interesting Perspective on Manners

One of my friends said something about manners the other day that struck me. She said that manners are all about making the people around you feel comfortable. So it's not about knowing which fork to use for which dish, but instead about creating an enjoyable environment for the whole table. This could entail doing anything from eating with your mouth closed, to demonstrating enjoyment of the food (even if it may not be the best), to just projecting confidence even if you're not sure what's going on.

I'll definitely be bringing this to my next social eating occasion.

Friday, May 30, 2014

My Drugstore Sunscreen Picks

I've certainly splurged on very pricey sunscreens before (I'll be posting a review of one of them shortly), but to be honest have rarely found them to be worth it. In fact, branded, expensive sunscreens are just as likely to contain the "Avoid" ingredients as drugstore ones and the performance gap just isn't enough to warrant the high price tag. 

Here are three of my drugstore sunscreen picks that you can get for under $10. You can zoom in on the ingredients list in the photo below and see that all three pass the "Avoid" test.  

Aveeno Natural Protection: This one leaves the most obvious white cast, so for that reason it's my least favorite of the bunch. It's fine for the body, but I would keep it far away from the face and neck - I once put it on and despite blending it as best as possible, I had people commenting on what the white stuff on my face was. Yikes. However, the texture is quite smooth and less goopy than some of the others, making it easier to spread out than a couple of the others.

I will warn you to watch out against the other products in the Aveeno sunscreen line. They have a Protect and Hydrate SPF 70 version with very similar packaging, but that's a chemical sunscreen with Oxybenzone. Stick to this Natural Protection version if you're doing this brand.

Banana Boat Kids (Yellow Tube): This is my favorite. It's also conveniently the cheapest of the three, costly less for 8oz than the others for only 3 or 4oz. You'll note that I have two kids choices up here, because it seems manufacturers are at least becoming aware of the importance of keeping harmful chemicals off kids skins. But don't be deterred, because these work perfectly fine for adults too!

This one is a nice medium between the other two. It's fairly easy to spread and does not leave a white cast when blended out. I use it on my face and body.

Banana Boat Kids Natural Reflect (Green Tube): To be honest I'm not sure what the major difference between this and the yellow tube are, especially as this costs over twice as much per oz. It is a significantly thicker texture though, so maybe it has a higher coverage (I noted the Titanium Dixoide is 3.6% versus 3.1% for the yellow tube)? Anyways, as much as I like this product, I really don't like the thick formulation. This one is literally impossible to rub in - you have to aggressively pat it onto the skin because it's so thick.

However, unlike the Aveeno one, once you pat this in it all but disappears, leaving a flattering glow to the skin. In fact, that's what I kind of like about mineral sunscreens - they make the skin appear luminous after. Just make sure to powder, or else your face will be too shiny.

As always, make sure to apply sunscreen often, and keep protected!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

All About Sun Protection - Why It's important, What Ingredients to Avoid, and Application Advice

With summer now well underway, here's a summary of my knowledge on sun protection. I'm not a professional, but I have read up extensively on the topic.

Why use sunscreen?
Most people don't realize that the sun is associated with as much as 90% of wrinkles and skin aging. Even worse, the effects of sun damage may not show up for 20 years, so what may seem like harmless tanning or Vitamin D-getting now can wreck havoc on your skin later on. 

Additionally, UV penetrates the clouds year-round, so whether you live in gray Seattle or the sunny equator, be sure to apply any time you'll be outside, rain or shine!

General: There are two types of sunscreens:
·        Physical: Use minerals Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide to physically block sun. May leave a white cast on the face with flash photography, but generally safer to use.
·        Chemical: Uses chemicals that absorb UV rays (e.g. Oxybenzone).

·    Oxybenzone: Active ingredient in most chemical sunscreens, a hormone disrupter that may be absorbed into the skin
·    Retinyl Palmitate: A form of Vitamin A that can increase risk of skin cancer when the used on sun-exposed skin
·    SPFs over 50: Generally not shown to be effective, and may even cause more exposure to UV radiation
·    Parabens: Preservatives included under inactive ingredients

Make sure to:

  • Reapply at least every 2 hours because the sun breaks down the sunscreen
  • Find a “broad spectrum” sunblock that covers UVA and UVB. UVA causes wrinkles, UVB causes burns. Some sunscreens only protect against UVB so make sure to be aware of this.
  • For spray sunscreens, make sure to not inhale while spraying (or spray on hand and then rub onto face). Also make sure to spray a couple times to ensure even coverage.
  • Apply if you're sitting in front of a window or driving in a sunny car! Glass only blocks UVB, but not UVA rays, so keep your skin shielded.
  • Wear wide-brimmed hats whenever possible - they're not only a fashion statement, but also offer valuable protection. Try to get a hat with tightly weaved straw so that the sun isn't able to get through. For the winter, look for stylish black wool options.
  • Pat, don't rub, sunscreens into your face. You don't want to tug mercilessly on your face and cause wrinkles!
Stay tuned for a list of the specific sunscreens I use!

Links to read more:

Check the list of the safest sunscreens here: http://www.ewg.org/2013sunscreen/about-the-sunscreens/

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Accessories Haul: ASOS & Dailylook

Bag | ASOS

I couldn't resist an online shopping look at ASOS and Dailylook, especially to try and stock up on pretty accessories. I've been wanting a simple brown saddlebag for ages now, and this one from Oasis hit the mark. It's not real leather, so the quality isn't fantastic (and the fabric does unfortunately suffer from indentation), but I liked the simplicity, and for the price it was a satisfying buy. 

Top to Bottom:

Multi Row Triangle Necklace | ASOS
Spiked Rhinstone Necklace | Dailylook
Geometric Pyramid Necklace | Dailylook

I've been trying to accumulate some more "edgy" jewelry, and the above really appealed to me. The lighting is a bit washed out, but the Rhinestone necklace is almost a pure gold, and very sparkly on. The ASOS necklace would be great layered over a more high-collar shirt, while the pyramid necklace seems like a versatile piece that could work with just about any outfit. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Bite Beauty: Agave Lip Mask and Rhubarb Lip Crayon

Update: I have to say the packaging for this brand is HORRIBLE. This is after about six months of use and throwing the items in my purse, but the gray paint on both the metal tube and the lid of the lip gloss are peeling like crazy - they leave little gray bits around everywhere. The metal tube is also proving to be very difficult to squeeze now that it's no longer completely full. Products themselves are good, but when every application leaves you with gray clingy stuff all over your hands / lips it makes it far less appealing.

Forget the Bath and Body Works lip balms I reviewed earlier. Bite's Agave Lip Mask is about 1000000x better, and is literally a miracle treatment for my constantly chapped lips. I cannot go without this stuff anymore, it's that amazing.

The lip mask is made with Lanolin and smells mildly like vanilla. It's a pale yellow cream with a very sticky texture, but goes on smoothly like a balm. 

Most people probably use it as what it's intended to be, a mask, but for me I treat it like a daily chapstick and reapply multiple times a day, whenever I feel my lips starting to tighten. While other balms leave my lips feeling peelly and horrible less than an hour later, this will last for several hours if I don't eat or drink. 

Moving on, I've also tried one of their matte creme lip crayons in Rhubarb. I was afraid the color would be too dark, but it applies so lightly and is surprisingly flattering. 

It's also very moisturizing, although it's definitely no where near the level of the lip mask. I usually put the lip mask on first, then apply a layer of this. I like that there's not much need to sheer it out, unlike with the Rimmel lip glosses

On the lips the color is much more subtle than in the swatch above. My only issue with it is that the color rubs off very easily and thus doesn't last long. But the creamy formulation makes it very easy to apply.

Overall, I'm very impressed with Bite, and believe their products are worth the hype. The items are a bit pricey though, with the lip mask retailing at $26 and the crayon at $24. However, they are supposedly handcrafted and contain all sorts of good-for-you ingredients like Manuka honey and resveratrol, so that at least makes me feel less bad about the splurge.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Health Tip: Protect your gums by not using hard toothbrushes

This is a combination beauty and health tip, but recently I've been experiencing some gum pain, and my (much older) doctor told me that one of her greatest regrets is that for over 40 years she used a very hard-bristle toothbrush and essentially put undue pressure on her gums every time she brushed her teeth. This later led to receding gum lines. Scary stuff, and just goes to show that you shouldn't ever blindly listen to dentists' recommendations! Her recommendation is to go with soft bristle brushes, and to use the sensitive setting on electric toothbrushes to avoid destroying the gums.

I wanted to expand that a little further by touching upon my own experience with a deep-cleaning, which was both unnecessary and in retrospect far more damaging than beneficial. My dentist scared me with the idea of things growing under my gum line, so I proceeded to go forth with a deep cleaning. That certainly led to receding gum lines, especially in my rightmost front tooth. The gum line, especially behind the tooth, is noticeably deeper now, and occasionally causes discomfort.

Please note that as a disclosure I am not a dental expert, and I'm sure some people have benefited from deep-cleaning procedures. But if I could go back, I wish someone would have shared this with me and let me understand the full risks, especially as I'm young and honestly it's done more harm than good.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Beauty Tip: Avoiding wrinkles from ill-fitting sunglasses and rubbing your eyes

There's two beauty mistakes I've recently discovered myself to be guilty of, and it's time to change those ASAP. The first is wearing sunglasses that don't fit on my nose and consequently end up being supporting by my cheeks. Turns out this can lead to wrinkles (which makes sense because of the downward pressure by said sunglasses). It's a pity, because my Tiffany's prescription sunglasses (top pair in picture above) are very much of this sort, which means I've literally been doing harm for years (yikes!)

I have a very low nose and relatively high cheekbones, so it's difficult to avoid, but after much searching I think I finally found a pair that fit without nudging against my face (from Urban Outfitters, the pair below). I unfortunately don't find them as flattering on, but for $24 they'll do well as a substitute in the meantime.

Of course, please note that despite the risk of cheek-resting, you should definitely keep wearing those sunglasses, because they still shield your eyes from UV damage and help you avoid constant squinting (which can lead to other wrinkles).

The second rule is to stop rubbing those eyes! Lately I've found myself doing that almost constantly through the day. Much of it is out of paranoia that there's stuff in my eye and other times it's to itch them. This has to stop. It's not only unhygenic, but the tugging of the skin as you rub is exactly the recipe for wrinkles.

Hope this was informative and helps some of you to make a change like me earlier rather than later!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rimmel: Show Off Lip Laquers

These were quite the hit online a few months ago, and I admit to getting suckered in to the hype. My verdict? Definitely not the best lip glosses I've ever tried given the thick, hard-to-spread formulation, but at least the color payoff is solid.

Left to right: Aurora, Celestial, Luna
My main problem with the product is the formulation. It is ridiculously thick and difficult to smooth onto the lips. When you first apply it with the wand, the product just sits in a sticky clump. I have yet to figure out how you can spread it out with the wand, because it quickly turns into a big mess that leaves way too much pigment on your lips (seriously, you'll look like a clown if you don't sheer this out, especially with Luna).

Colors when blended out - Aurora, Celestial, Luna
Instead what I do is rub it with my fingers or with a clean wand to spread it out. The image above is after I rubbed over the initial color spots with my fingers. Still far too pigmented for my liking, and generally it takes quite a bit of work to even it out. What's worse is if you're not careful, the color will easily smear outside of your lips. This is NOT a blindly-apply type of gloss - you better be glued to the mirror when you're putting this on, or risk splotchy, bright orange lips (a lesson I learned the hard way).

The wand is designed with a hole on one side, I guess to drop off more color. I have no idea who in the world would want that much on one application - that's just asking for colored teeth and messy smears in random places. What I end up doing is dabbing a single spot in the center of my bottom lip, then blending out with my finger to the rest of my lip. Good news is this will last forever.

The three colors I purchased are Aurora, a nice, reddish pink, Celestial, a baby-doll pink, and Luna, which becomes a lovely nude once sheered out. This product is not a stain, so even though it'll be quite pigmented when you first put it on, I find the color quickly goes away upon eating / drinking. The smell and taste is a bit tangy and sweet, which I personally quite like.

I got these for half off the retail price, so about $2.80 each from Walgreens during their 50% off Rimmel sale. I wouldn't recommend paying anymore than that, because I think there's far better formulations out there. Unless you like the look of super sticky, scary-bright lips, I'd recommend staying away from this.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Healthy Eating: My Typical Breakfast

I realize that almost everyone has been with the healthy-eating fad lately, but I really do think it's something worthwhile for both long-term health and beauty. Along with trying to expand my diet to include more fruits and veggies, I've been trying to train myself to eat a more healthful breakfast.

Personally, I don't think you should overeat in the mornings. A few of the nutritionists I follow, including Kimberly Snyder, recommend going easy on your digestive system at the start of the day with something light. Listen to your body and don't eat a ton if you're not feeling hungry.

On busy class days, oatmeal is my default because of its easiness and warmth (especially in the cooler months). The verdict is still out on whether grains, including oatmeal, are good or bad, but there's really nothing that beats the convenience in the morning.

I usually prefer my oatmeal plain, generally without any toppings and sweeteners. To be honest, I've always found sweetened oatmeal to be rather sickly. Recently though, I've been experimenting with adding chia seeds on top. Chia seeds have a slightly nutty flavor and add a nice crunch. Plus, they will expand when exposed to water either externally or in your stomach. This helps to make you feel fuller post-consumption.

I'm not sure if this chia craze is truly worth it, as these seeds are fairly pricy. However, I'm willing to give them a shot and so far I've been enjoying them.

Some people do smoothies in the morning, and someday I'll try to find a way to do that instead. But for now I'm enjoying my daily breakfast.

Victoria's Secret Body Mists

I went a little overboard during the buy 3 for $25 special at VS, and picked up three of their body mists, in Pure Seduction Bloom, Lemon Escape, and Mango Temptation. To be honest I've never used VS body mists before, but I was hooked after smelling the Pure Seduction Bloom. As you might be able to tell, I'm a big fan of sweet, fruity scents.

Pure Seduction Bloom

This is the one that instigated the whole purchase. From an aesthetics standpoint, I love the design of the bottle with the golden flower as well as the corally shade of the liquid inside. So gorgeous. It's a very sweet, blend of floral and fruity scent. Perfect for spring/summer. My only problem with it is that the lasting power is very weak - I can't smell it more than a couple hours after I spray.

Lemon Escape

Confession - I returned this after the first use. This was sweet to the point of almost sickening. Pro is it lasted absolute hours. It smells like coconut lemon candy cake, and literally the whole morning after I sprayed it I thought someone was cooking sweets. It's ok, but for me it was too distracting.

Mango Temptation

This one lasts longer than the Pure Seduction, and has a very nice mango scent that isn't too sweet. It's probably my most go-to scent of the ones I picked up, because it lasts long enough to matter and the mango is quite pleasant.

Citrus Dream

I ended up exchanging the Lemon for this, which is a much more tangy, citrusy scent. The lasting power is probably the worst of them all though. It's about what it sounds like - citrus with floral notes, not too sweet despite the description.

Note that VS has done $5 fragrance mist specials (as they did after I picked these up sadly), so keep your eyes peeled and wait for a good deal. I personally am not sure I'd repurchase, because the scents really don't last long enough to make it a good investment. But they are pleasant and fairly affordable, and supposedly contain aloe / other skin ingredients although I usually just spray it on my clothes.