20% off coupon at Ulta

I should join Bargain Hunters Anonymous, but for those of you who are on a higher plane of sanity than I am, here's a 20% coupon at www.ulta.com. It is good for your entire purchase, just enter 85525 as the promo code at checkout. It is valid from January 27 through February 2.

A Basic Brush Set-Face Brushes: Foundation Brush

I feel like I should start my first post in a while with some witty banter where you chuckle when you read my startlingly dry and sarcastic hello. Alas, I am without such an ingenious opening. I didn't want to start with yet another "I thought I'd post about . . . " I digress. One of the many questions in this universe that I feel needs tending to is what are the minimum must-have brushes a girl needs. I am going to do a series of posts on must-have make-up brushes and this is my first step.

Here is my mind-blinding or mind-numbing (your choice of which) insight into the foundation brush, which I feel is an absolute essential to a brush collection. I can almost hear you say "well, duh!" I did need to start off with the most obvious one. Foundation brushes are shaped thinly so that the foundation is concentrated within the bristles and are not dispersed in the application. In contrast, a large powder brush disperses powder over a large surface whereas the synthetic fibres of a foundation brush hold emollient products densely packed within a tight area. I personally prefer a traditionally shaped foundation brush versus ones with a squared-head because the domed shape helps me apply foundation in the nooks and crannies of the face easier.

Foundation brushes are also a really good applicator for cream blushes. True, the brush is a bit bigger than a brush meant for cream blushes but the following tutorial explains how to accomplish multi-tasking the foundation brush. It is a very simple, straightforward process and refer back to my diagram on blush placement if necessary.

What I used:

  • MAC 190
  • Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge in Milk Chocolate
Step 1:
Dip the dip into the cream blush and pat onto the blush to pick up pigment. I find that tapping it onto the brush picks up the right amount rather than "scooping" the blush onto the brush. Remember, you can always intensify your blush later.

Step 2:
Smile and find the apple of your cheek. Place the brush on the middle of the apple of the cheek. I try not place the blush any closer to my nose than the inner corner of the iris. You're going to get a splotch of colour here.

Step 3:
With short, feathering strokes, spread the blush with your foundation brush.

Step 4:
Keep blending out the blush with light, short strokes towards the temple.

Step 5:
Blend out any streaks you might have. Voila, we're done.

Washing and Drying
Cleaning your foundation brushes is very important and I really recommend washing them as often as possible. I have a few general guidelines on washing brushes that might be of use:
  • Don't use overly harsh soaps or any conditioners on your brushes. Baby shampoo is my brush cleanser of choice as it is very gentle, effective, and inexpensive. I get one that promises no baby tears and costs roughly $2. Also, this doesn't strip your brushes and you won't be tempted to use conditioner either. Your hair might love the ingredients in your conditioner, but your skin might be sensitive to them. Rubbing conditioner from your foundation brush to all over your face can clog your pores.
  • Don't allow water to seep into the braiding of your brushes. Try not to let water get past the indicated level on your brushes. It might not make a difference now, but with continued use it might end up loosening the glue and your brushes won't last as long as you'd like.
  • Squeeze the water from your brushes after washing them. This way, they will dry faster.
  • Lie your brushes flat after washing them and place a tissue under them so that the water gets absorbed and your brushes don't wallow in the water.

I decided to put up an entire face tutorial/look. Don't ask me how I gathered the courage to put my pic here, but since many liked this rather simple look that I did, I took the plunge. Please link to the page rather than copy the image (I will take down the pic if this turns out to be a fiasco).

This tutorial is rather basic except the liner might need a bit more deftness than usual. Overall, it's a fairly easy look that's a bit on the dramatic side. I am using this as a testing ground to see whether full face looks/tutorials will be helpful or not. Let me know what you think.

Make-up used:

  • Yves Saint Laurent Complexion Enhancer #5. This isn't a foundation or a tinted moisturizer so it doesn't provide coverage. It does diffuse the light and gives me a polished and soft glow. Feel free to use the tinted moisturizer or any kind of complexion enhancer of your choice.
  • Besame Translucent Powder. Any good translucent powder will do.
  • MAC Cafe Matte lipstick.
  • NARS Turkish Red cream blush
  • Urban Decay Primer Potion. Feel free to use your favourite primer as Primer Potion can be a bit difficult to blend with.
  • Tarte Here's Looking at You eye shadow on the lid
  • MAC Mulch eye shadow in the crease
  • MAC Blacktrack fluidline
  • Cover Girl Lash Blast mascara
  • Benefit High Beam to highlight
Tools used:
  • MAC 188 stipling brush to put on the complexion enhancer and translucent powder
  • MAC 239 for application of the shadow on the lid
  • MAC 217 for blending in the crease shade
  • Windsor and Newton angeled brush for applying the fluidline
Step 1:
Apply the complexion enhancer with MAC 188 by stipling it on first and then using small circular motions to buff it into your skin.

Step 2:
Apply a thin layer of translucent powder with the MAC 188.

Step 3:
Prep your lids with Primer Potion and let it dry. If you find blending very hard with this primer, I suggest applying some translucent powder over it so that it is easier to blend different shadows.

Step 4:
Apply Tarte Here's Looking at You on the lid with the MAC 239.

Step 5:
Define the crease and the outer corner of the eyelid with MAC Mulch eye shadow. I used benefit High beam to highlight my eyes, but if you want to add some extra oomph, blend in the shadow highlight of your choice on the browbone and into the crease.

Step 6:
Line your eyes with Blacktrack along the lower and upper lashline. Make the line on the top lid thin and starting short of the inner corner and make the line thicker as you get to the outer corner. Extend the liner slightly past the outer corners and connect the liner on the bottom lash line to the extend part of the liner (on the top lash line).

Step 7:
Apply a generous coating of mascara but be careful to comb out clumps with a spoolie brush.

Step 8:
Pat NARS Turkish Red on the apple of the cheeks and blend along the cheekbones to the temples.

Step 9:
Fill your lips with MAC Cafe Matte lipstick.

Step 10:
Dot Benefit High Beam along the top of the cheekbones, along the bridge of the nose, on the browbones, on your cupid's bow. Blend it out by patting it out and thereby making it a sheer sheen.

Ardell Lash Growth Accelerator

I have phases where I go through the dreaded ‘bad eyebrow’ stage. It’s where I decide to grow out my eyebrows for a month or two and then go out and get them done. Usually, I’m happy with the results, but stylists sometimes get the need to thin out my eyebrows too badly and I burying my head in the mud for a month until things grow back. And they never seem to grow back the way I want them too either. Another complaint I have is that mascara can make my lashes weak and makes them fall off. It’s actually quite alarming waking up in the morning, rubbing your eyes, and having a chunk of lashes stick to your hand.

Ardell’s Lash Growth Accelerator has done a very good job of strengthening and regrowing my eyebrows and eyelashes. The Lash Growth Accelerator is a milky white, thin gel in a clear tube and mascara wand applicator. It is important to be consistent with applying it. I applied it every morning before doing my make-up and every night before sleeping. The formula did tingle, I won’t say it stung, and the feeling was very mild and disappeared quickly.

It is important to spread the product across the roots and to the skin, so be gentle but work the product to the roots/skin of your eyebrows. For the lash line, really make sure to wiggle the applicator into the roots of the lashes. I moistened a q-tip with the formula and made sure to cover the skin at the base of my lashes. I know I should say wait a few minutes until the Lash Growth Accelerator is dry (probably best for the effectiveness of the product), but I was sometimes too hurried to wait and it didn’t seem to deter too much from the effectiveness.

The results I got from the Lash Growth Accelerator were quite amazing. I was hoping it would help regrow my brow hairs and within a week of not plucking my brows and using the Lash Growth Accelerator faithfully, my brows were growing back quite heavily. In fact, after three weeks I couldn’t stand how much hair I had grown and I had to get my brows threaded. Now you might think this is the normal “weaning-off plucking phase” when you resolve to not touch your brows, but that is untrue. The hair grew back quite ferociously and much thicker than my normal regrowth. I am not sure what the results would have been if I had kept growing out my eyebrows, but judging from the speed and quantity of the three-week hair growth, I would have become Cousin IT’s, well, cousin.

The best thing about the Lash Growth Accelerator is what it did for my lashes. Thankfully, they’re not brittle anymore and I don’t loose more lashes than according to the normal cycle of my lashes. My lashes also feel much stronger with regular use. I have also started sprouting a few new lashes above my lash line where I had never had any growth. I can’t say whether this has made a difference in the length of my lashes but they are definitely healthier and thicker since they don’t break off. This itself makes a big difference in their appearance.

On a final note, Ardell’s Lash Growth Accelerator is excruciatingly hard to find. I scoured every drugstore within a 50 mile radius and never found it in any store. Finally, I just gave up an ordered online (why this didn’t occur to me before still needs demystifying) at www.drugstore.com where I got it for approximately $3.99.

Happy New Year Everyone

I'm one of those people who finds out things much later than others (I was just filled in on gossip that was relevant 2 years ago) so forgive me for being late with wishing everyone a happy new year! Hope your Christmas (if you celebrate it) and Eid (again if you celebrate it) and any other festival you celebrated were fabulous.

I will write back on all the comments tomorrow. I am feeling a bit ill since I walked 2.5 hours in the cold after having washed my hair and not dried it completely. I was also not dressed for the long walk or the coldish weather. If you're thinking I'm an idiot you're probably right at this point. Good news is Dayquil is saving me.

Highlighter Obsession Continues: Wet 'n' Wild MegaGlo Face Illuminator

When I was first learning about highlighters a few years ago, I bought Wet ‘n’ Wild MegaGlo Face Illuminator in Rosy. It’s a fairly thick, creamy formula in a soft pinky colour that imparted a pearly sheen. It came in a large disc tub with tons of product and I can proudly say I finished everything in the tub.

My skin is very sensitive and I have to be careful not to used products that break me out. To its credit, Rosy did not break me out at all. It was, however, rather thick and greasy on my face. A little goes a very long way with this but I found that I did tug at my skin at bit to spread the highlighter evenly. It also tended to sit in the newfound creases under my eyes if I ever used it to highlight the inner corners. However, is you’re going to use it on your cheekbones, cupid’s brow, etc. (which is essentially what I did) I think this would be a very effective and inexpensive highlighter. I do advise caution because I found the texture to be slightly thick. Be careful it does not break you out if you’re as sensitive as I am.

Instead of using the highlighter solely on my face, I found Rosy to be a great body highlighter. I used this stuff everywhere and since it was so inexpensive I didn’t feel guilty using it a lot. I used it on my arms, legs, collarbones, etc. It gave me a very candle-lit, healthy shimmer and made me look tons better in my clothes.

As Rosy is a pale pink shade, I would recommend a more golden toned highlighter for skintones much darker than my nc45.

image source: www.wnwbeauty.com

Benefit High Beam: My Cult-Like Devotion Never Seems to End

Some people are aficionados of very dark lipliner with a pale, frosty lipstick. While I firmly believe that there is a time and place for all make-up trends, I sincerely hope that trends such as the aforementioned one remain closeted. I know I sound awful, but I am about to redeem myself. My favourite trend, nay cult-like persuasion, in make-up is that of a dewy, glowy complexion. I want that youthful radiance and have tried countless number of ways to get it. You might remember, I ranted rather bitterly and vehemently against Kevyn Aucoin’s White Shimmer Liquid. I want something that will give me a gentle, lit from within glow that doesn’t look like sweat or oiliness and doesn’t look chunky and obvious. Which is exactly why I love Benefit’s High Beam. Also, the pic is ridiculously crappy since my camera is evil.

High Beam is a light pinky liquid that gives me a soft pearly glow. The consistency is not water or runny and it is easy to dot it on my cheekbones, browbone, the bridge of my nose, etc and blend it with my fingers. I’m not one for science (in my defense, I haven’t reached Sherri Shepard’s “Is the world round? I thought it was flat” delirium yet), but I feel like since I can warm up the liquid with my fingers, High Beam “melts” into my make-up better and doesn’t sit as a layer.

Another benefit (see the pun? I’m feeling awfully clever today) of High Beam is that it doesn’t give you a chunky shimmer. It doesn’t look obvious because it gives you a soft sheen rather than anything. I can’t see the individual particles that give me a glow. I find that this is what helps the dewy look I get from High Beam look natural and radiant.

One thing I must mention is that I think most desi skintones from nc45 to lighter can definitely pull off both, but if you’re much darker I’d recommend Moon Beam as it has a goldish sheen.

I haven’t ever broken out from this product before, so that is always a plus. As always, I recommend you try it out at a counter and walk around with it for a day to see how you react to it if you’re very concerned about clogged pores. For me, this is one of my favourite and most used highlighters along with Albatross (that love affair will never end).