Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Diamond in the Rough

Finding good skincare is about as thrilling as doing the laundry. It's a task to find the right products, and if you use the wrong ones, you end up with spots and issues that you only pray can be reversed. Recently, I was sent a bundle of items from the highly esteemed Shahnaz Husain line. Shahnaz Husain is well known for her application of Ayurvedic technique to skincare. Not sure if that's ringing a bell? Well, you're probably familiar with her kajal stick, that has inspired many copycat look-alikes over the years.

I received the Diamond Range, and I have to admit--as beautiful as it looked in the packaging, I was a bit hesitant to forego my normal skincare routine and give it a go. As my skin tends to be dry and finicky, I didn't want to risk breakouts and blemishes within such close proximity of the wedding date. However, as any good beauty fanatic would do, I knew that I had to go forward. After what's been about a month of use (I really couldn't make a fair assessment any earlier, as I have a habit of liking something only to find out that two weeks later my skin is flaring and irritated), I am pleased to report that I am thoroughly impressed with this line of products. I think Shahnaz may just have a secret or two up her sleeve!

Diamond Exfoliating Scrub: grainy as many exfoliators tend to be, this scrub really does a polish on the skin. I didn't feel as though it was abrasive, but after washing, my skin feels a bit more supple and moisturized than with typical scrubs (which is a common theme with this line).

Diamond Skin Rejuvenating Mask: I was very impressed with the consistency of this mask. It goes on very smoothly (it was as though I were using a facial brush, but there was no brush in sight), and doesn't dry right away. The instructions say to wash only once it dries--and there is no confusion as to when this occurs. However, once the product comes in contact with water again, it melts away almost instantly. No dry residual product around the hairline or jaw.

Diamond Skin Nourishing Cream: This at first was the hardest product to understand, but can be likened to a moisturizing cold cream. It's to be applied prior to moisturizing, and is to be massaged into the skin for about a minute's time before removing. I found that after using this, my moisturizer seemed to sink in a bit deeper--proving for great results the morning after. It contains date and vetiver which are very soothing.

Diamond Skin Rehydrant Lotion: Easily the most-used product of the bunch. I use moisturizer like a crazy woman. Morning, night, immediately after the steam room, again prior to makeup. The final effect is non-greasy moisture, and a decent starting point for makeup.

Typically I mix and match my skin care--facial cleanser from one brand, a moisturizer from another--but using this entire line did not bother me one bit. I was surprised to find how well my skin reacted to all of it. The scent is very floral but pleasant, and I received many a compliment from the Mr. about it. It has a fresh note about it that seems to linger throughout the day. As the main active ingredient in all of the products is diamond ash, I feel as though it lives up to its claims of regenerating the top layers of skin, while eliminating toxins and wastes. These were all taken with me on a vacation in the desert, where my skin left in desperate need of a small revival. The only thing that I believe could make the line even more promising, would be to add a cleanser and eye cream (my other saving grace).

The final judgement: Would I repurchase? You bet!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

South Pacific Shimmer: Up Close

Every girl has her favorite type of makeup. I love a good bronzer, almost as much as a good blush. Wait no, I care about them equally. Reason being, even if I'm running thirty minutes late and I want to look a little less like I just crawled out of bed, a quick swipe of bronzer will 9 times out of 10, do the trick. Because there are certain products that each one of us feels really is "their" key item, it's natural to stock up on those things or gravitate toward them when you're at the cosmetic counters.

Since again, for I it is bronzer, there are different qualities that I'm looking for when seeking new formulas. Typically, I enjoy a bronzer that is matte and has little to no shimmer whatsoever. I want to look naturally tan--not as though I just dipped myself in a jar of sparkles at Claire's. However, for evening it's often nice to add a bit of shimmer, as light has its own way of reflecting off of shimmer and making you appear as though you have the most ethereal skin this side of heaven. You see, I'm never opposed to that sort of skin. When this is the case, I ensure that it's not a chunky or glittery type of shimmer--and for that, Global Goddess' South Pacific Shimmer works just perfectly. Of course I was sold on the name--but the intricacy of the design was too much to pass up, and it's infused with moisturizing ingredients like aloe that my skin is always thirsty for. The shimmery silverish threading disappears after a few applications, but the powder still remains a smooth and shimmery tan in general.

Have you tried this? What's your standby go-to makeup?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Wedding Makeup

So, on the road to being wed I have had three test runs in the area of bridal makeup. My last run-through was my favorite, and therefore I chose to work with her. We had so much fun discussing makeup, and chatted for a long while about beauty products in general. My dream. It was a match made in heaven, and I was sure that her positive vibe would mesh well with the girls (she already scored with mom, who decided to make her tea and sweets while she was working on my face). Only problem is, she unexpectedly moved to Japan. Therefore, I am now going to be working with her bff who is also a fabulous artist and parallels her every technique. This is the look that she left me with...

Please don't mind the bright red jumper (or for that matter, the oven) which makes me appear as though my face is even more pink than it is. This is a very heavy look for me--I've said it several times and I'll say it again: for the amount of makeup I own, I tend to go very light when it comes down to actually applying it. I know that this tactic isn't very successful when it comes to bridal (as it also is not for fashion), because the color needs to take on film. The look I was aiming for was fresh and clean, yet with an accentuated eye. I wish I could replicate my eyes like she did. Ah well...there's always practice. I've considered comparing this to the looks that the other artists did--but I think this one wins out. What are your thoughts?

I'm Backkkk, And With Fiyah!

I have so many things to share, that I almost don't know where to begin! But since the usb cord for the camera has been rediscovered at the bottom of a u-haul box, I believe I'll be adding quite a few pictures as well!

Life has been hectic beyond belief--planning for a wedding is NO joke, and as the month countdown begins, I can feel myself struggling a bit to breathe. Of course blogging is a nice relaxing break from it all. I'll keep you all updated though, and as of late I've decided that pictures aren't such a bad thing. It's a lot more fun to see real pictures than it is to just check out product photos, right? If I second-guess myself on this in the future, you'll know by the mere fact that all the photos are missing. Hahaha!

One project that I finally got to last month, was the de-potting of my MAC single eyeshadows. I had put this off for ages, as I felt that with my luck I would completely and horribly melt the entire thing, leaving it useless. No way. It was so simple, and the fact that I used a papaya candle really kept the burning plastic smell at bay. There are a million tutorials on YouTube of how to do this--but I tell you, it makes everything easier and more compact. I love space savers.

Begin by purchasing your $12 empty MAC palette, and gathering all of your shadows, tweezers, a knife and some heat (I used a candle, others use a lighter or a flat iron):

With the knife, dislodge the inner palette from the outer plastic rimming. The area in which the lid snaps shut to the base, will reveal a slight break in packaging. Slip the knife into this, and begin to run it around the edge until the pan pops up:

Next, while holding the rim of the pan with your tweezers, let the pan rest above the flame of your candle. Be sure to keep a bit of distance between the actual flame and the pan. You don't want baked shadows:

Keep it there (with a steady hand, don't drop it!) until the bottom has melted away and the silver pan has been revealed. Just a bit of pan peeking through should be fine--you don't need to melt off the entire thing. It should look like such:

With pliars, a pin or tweezers, push the silver part out of the melted casing. It should pop out without a problem:While the glue on the back of the pan is still a bit warm, add a piece of magnet. I cut my magnet strips to about the size of the pan--better staying power. Not everyone chooses to do this step, but I travel quite a bit, and like to store my palettes sideways in my toiletry bag:

Now, since you'll be able to slip each shadow in and out of your palette at your own disposal, I think it's equally important to let each one sport their respective names. Therefore, this is when the outer packaging gets the hot seat over the flame:

The tag on the bottom will begin to show a slight air bubble, and then peel just a bit at the edge. Your work here is done. All you need to do is lift the peeled side up:

Now place it atop the magnet which is already affixed to the pan. The label also tends to be a bit sticky, so it should need more than a little pressing to adhere to the magnet:

Flip it over and pop it into your palette:

A semi-finished product is proof it works:

Why would one go to all of this trouble (it's really not) to have their shadows in a palette? It's more cost-effective (when you buy shadows in the future, just buy the refills for the palettes, which are a break in cost), space efficient and prevents you from overlooking colors that you own. For that matter, it also prevents you from buying multiples of the same color because you have forgotten that 3 Cranberries are lurking at the bottom of your drawer. Have any of you done this? As always, let me know if you have questions :)

PS. Are you on Twitter? Who isn't these days? Follow me!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hello, Tonga?

I'm a sucker for shady marketing like this--but NARS' newest line for Summer brings about a lip pencil that must be included in my kit. Tonga is the newest hue--and I guarantee you it's gonna be good! Pinky amber, and perfect for the sun!

Work It Out

Yes, this is a beauty blog. But you know what? There are things that keep us beautiful on the outside, but require a lot of work and effort on the inside. One of those things is working out (aka hittin the gym, pumpin iron, etc..hahaha).

In many of our communities today (especially us island folk!), diabetes seems to be as common as the cold--and for the sake of droning on and on about the consequences and horrible effects of the disease, I'll spare you some time and urge you to do your research. You know how bad it is. I know how bad it is. I don't want it, and neither should you. This is one of the big factors in why I have to push my lazy bum to get to the gym. That, and the fact that I feel that working out and exercising consistently, leaves you with healthier skin--thus, a better base for makeup :) (I'm sure that by this point, readers think that I pile the stuff on day after day--which is why I plan to start posting real photos to prove this thought untrue). Sure it does numerous other fine things for our health, but why not start with the basics, right?!

Alright. So gym is good. Disease is bad. Getting to gym can be difficult. Getting on treadmill, even worse. The last thing I want to do--at any point in the day--is throw on some spandex and hop on a treadmill. Work requires me to spend long hours on my feet--so throwing on some runners and moving at fast paces on those same two feet does not sound at all appealing. Ever. But it's necessary, and for that, I need a boost of energy. Yes, help from outside of my steadfast will. Recently I have turned to one of my favorite new teas--Oolong Ti Kuan Yin (or Iron Goddess)--for energy. This stuff is genius. It offers such good clear energy, and it isn't at all grassy tasting like some green teas are (it tends to lean towards the green tea family). Apparently it's very good for flushing fat, so I shall keep you updated with whether or not this is true. If I don't feel like chugging hot liquids, my next (and possibly favorite) trick, is my newly found EBoost effervescents. Oh me, oh my. Energy? You've got it. After letting one of these dissolve in a glass of water, I get so vitamin B12-ed up, I could run a marathon! Thanks to my new fervor for life, some of the family is now also hooked on this stuff. Although difficult to find in many places, you can usually find it at the cash wrap in Borders of all places). Try it, and you too will be running like someone's chasing you.

I understand and respect the fact that many people choose not to consume tea-based products, and for that I have one last standby. Advocare (the nutrition line) has a product called Spark which I have used on and off for years. It's perfect for all of the above mentioned tasks, and is made up of tons of vitamins and minerals. What I prefer about it (in contrast to energy drinks and supplements--all of which I tend to hate, and have way too much sugar), is that it gives you all of the benefits, but doesn't leave you feeling as though it's dropped you off of a mountain once the energy fades. Now is probably the time to throw in the reminder about water. Also a non-caffeinated beverage, it's probably the greatest thing you can consume--in copious amounts throughout the day.

So, moral of the story is...do what you can to stay active. It will pay off in the short term with clearer skin, but also in the long run with those health traps you won't regret avoiding.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where Are you?

Tonight I will provide some new reading material. Promise :)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What I'm Using Right Now: Tag..You're Now It!

Alright, every once in a while I get tagged for one of these things--but I've forgotten time and again to ever complete it. For whatever reason, I always think it's interesting to hear what others are currently using. More interesting than learning what's in their purse. I mean, there's all sorts of weird stuff in my purse--who cares, ya know? So here we are:

Shampoo: Avalon Organics Tea Tree Scalp Treatment Shampoo
Condtioner: Ojon Shine & Protect Conditioner

Styling products: TreSemme Heat Protective Spray, CHI Silk Infusion, Herbal Essences Longterm Relationship

Hair Mask: Coconut Oil left overnight under a showercap

Shower Gel: Heno de Pravia soap

Body moisturizer: H20+ Raspberry Guava Moisture (I've been loving you for too long...)

Deodorant: Ban Roll-On

Fake Tan: n/a

Cleanser: Shiseido Benefiance Cleansing Foam

Eye makeup remover: Mandom

Exfoliator: Shahnaz Husain Diamond Skin Exfoliating Scrub (review to come)

Primer: n/a

Foundation: Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (this has never broken me out...very good indeed!)

Brush: Sonia Kashuk Flat Blusher Brush

Concealer: Make Up For Ever Full Cover Waterproof Concealer (not all the time--or sometimes on its own)

Powder: Jane Iredale Mineral Compact

Blusher: It's different every day. But always something. This is KEY!

Bronzer: Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Medium

Highlighter: Don't always use--depends on the day

Eyeshadow base: Too Faced Shadow Insurance (better for me than UDPP, as it doesn't completely dry out my lids)

Eyeshadows: Varies with the day--I've been using a lot of the Coastal Scents neutral palette as of late

Eyeliner: Rimmel Spark it Up Eye Darkening Liner in Black Gold (I've been a bit overboard with this one lately--review to come!)

Eyelash curler: Shu Uemura

Eyelash base: n/a

Mascara: Dior Show

Lipstick: Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Lipstick in Exhibitionist

Nail Colour: They've been on a break--gaining their strength since the move. That did a number on them!

Now it's your turn! As always, let me know if you have any questions about any of these products. As much as I love all of this stuff, I have to admit I don't wear all of it every day--but these are the staples as of right now :)
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