Tuesday, October 16, 2007

up and running with the crisp fall air x totalbeauty.com & me

As summer temps migrated south with elongating interruptions of chilled dewy air and drugstore isles stocked with fresh notepads in arcane primary colors, I began to get the first inkling of an urge to start writing once again.

That was a month ago when I thought -- MEAD notebooks uncannily resembled the saturated crayola brights that accented the grey knit sweaters, tights and matte, pale skin at AW '07 Dior, Lagerfeld, Marc Jacobs and McQueen. Is high fashion allowed to be so easily replicated by a kindergarten schoolboy holding a $1.99 notepad against the back of NY's grey skies!?

He can, but I absolutely will not, unless I was to wear this season's hot item, the Balenciaga napoleon style primly lined jacket with some stacked heel boots...

Explanation: As an ex-nerd and an avid note taker, not the cool MAC-clicking type but rather the pencil-type...and you guessed it - the neat, Asian, two lines per row, A-type - how dare I pick up a pencil again and regenerate those unsightly callouses on the insides of my index and middle fingers?

So solution -- instead of a bright notebook that'll get crinkled anyway, try accenting nails with the hot, bold, colors from ORLY. The HOT STUFF collection out this fall features 24 bright, electrifying lacquers to spice up fingertips when shocking blue notebooks aren't quite edgy enough. A dash of color to pretty up nails adds the right touch of wit and kilowatt energy without those bumps that scream, I write novels, not blogs...wait, which is better?


Monday, August 20, 2007

...and this month you will find that you will believe anything...

Because we sometimes need to let go of factual improbabilities and mundane logic and just believe in the lyrical promises whispered into our ear.

Let these whimsical keepsakes twinkle away daily worries and charm you into trusting destiny for a little moment:

Lancome Artistic Director Gucci Westman's magical work of genius, the Destiny Cube is inspired by an 18th century Chinese secret box and holds eye shadows, lipstick and gloss in hidden compartments. Mystical symbols and words help you choose your mood as it rolls across your makeup stand each morning.

The on-the-cusp jewelry collection from Babakul is derived from the French word "bah-bah-kul" meaning "hippie." The over-sized faceted amethyst and quartz rings are inset in an organic hammered metal frame with stars, moons and flower engravings. The peace sign grill on the underside allows light to shine through the stone, giving you their unique healing powers as it shimmers in the sunlight.

...so what would you allow yourself to believe in today? tomorrow? for eternity?


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Concise yet poetic visions of the world - please excuse my late night musings...

Slightly off topic but still too much a beauty to not address -- phrases and descriptions that capture the essence of a feeling so well that in its rarity and simplicity, shines and slices through the verbal romantic's mind.

One such encounter at the MET about Walker Evans' use of the Polaroid SX-70 camera:

"it's instant prints were for the infirm seventy-year-old photographer what scissors and cut paper were for the aging Matisse"

What will be my palliative tool when thin eyeliner brushes and finely bristled mascara wands no longer become an option?


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Miu Miu eye me x

Refined, bold, edgy, kitty-cat flirty – liquid liners reign supreme this fall, uniquely offsetting matte, nude skin and champagne tinged lips.

From Amy Winehouse thick to “is-that-a-long-eyelash?” thin, this was one fall runway trend I was intent on playing into my daily makeup routine.

Night – liquid line dramatically flipped up, up and away at the corners of eyes and smudged with smoky shadows with nude lipstick, defined brows

Day – slightly uplifted thin flick of liner for the day with earthy brown palettes to subtly enhance the eye area, pink lip gloss, lengthening mascara

Got the formula down squat by beginning of August but until then, Q-tips were an absolute necessity – the litter box quickly filled with liner-dabbed white sticks from my countless attempts to keep my liner from looking too geisha-like or overwhelming my Asian eyes which tend to be smaller than Gemma, Amy W, advertisement models and not to mention yes, the general public.

Because it’s mid-August now – tata, the formula to make the Fall ’07 eyeliner look work for your eye shape:

Thin → thick → thin → dip and flick up

Explanation to above:

1. Start with a thin brush tip or extremely thin felt tip black liquid liner as Rimmel Underground Get in Line or Wet ‘n Wild Liquid Eyeliner in black

Note: With liquid eyeliners, the cheap work just as well as the hefty

2. Lightly wipe off excess formula off the brush on the edge of the container opening or a piece of paper

Note: Tissue tends to take too much off when it comes to liquid liner so refrain

3. Hold brush so that the tip is almost horizontal to the eye so that the pen is not pointing straight at your eye vertically

4. Start with the inside corner of the eye on the upper lid and with a slow and steady hand, draw a thin line until you get to the area right above the edge of your pupil

Note: Don’t use liquid liners on the bottom lid – use kohl liner instead for a less harsh line – unless you’re a makeup artist putting it on another person’s face!

5. Press the brush slightly stronger so that the brush flattens out and draws a thicker line. Make the line a little thicker for the area above the pupil – this makes the pupil look rounder, bigger which in turn, gives a wide and bright-eyed open look

6. As soon as you pass the area above the pupil, lighten the pressure to continue with a thin line until the outer edges of the eye

7. Then, dip the line at the outer corner edge ever so slightly to “conclude” framing the eye the flick up, up and away from the eye in the direction of the temples

8. The flick can be a flirty, curved, short line that looks almost like a longer eye lash at the edge of the eye (daytime, wearable look) or it can be a longer, somewhat straighter, bolder line that set the eye trend for this season (night kitten look)

And lastly – mascara, strong brows and darker smokey shadows are a yes for this look but skip the other fall trend – glamourous red lipsticks – for this look…unless you’re going to be a geisha for Halloween and by that time, the flicked eye look might be too old anyway!?


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Glossy, useful, tempting to try - the cookbook for Asian beauty

Makeup is like cooking, directions like recipes - toss together all the right ingredients as basic as tomatoes & basil, or pricey and seasonal as fresh truffles, add a dash of pepper there, a sprinkling of cheese here, all for a spicy, sweet, or decadent result.

Gathering all the ingredients could be a bother, and the cooking less tempting when the recipes are on bland white paper, alas the genius of Nigella Lawson & Martha Stewart. With beautiful, enticing, homely pictures and easy 1,2,3 steps and ingredients for how to achieve the look, the feel, the lifestyle...

Now, the makeup "cookbook" for the Asian face is finally here!

Complete with mimic-able-looking images, straightforward directions and accessible ingredients to create everything from daily looks to costume makeup, Asian Faces by makeup artist Taylor Chang-Babaian is the new powder room goddess.

Three of my favorite looks from the book below! On a side note, I am not copying out her directions here but you can learn how to achieve these looks and many more, if you get, and every woman should have, the book here.

Look 1: Pretty in Pinks
Using pinks, shimmery cremes and salmon tones on eyelids, cheeks and lips, Taylor creates a defined, yet romantic, look.

Look 2: Smoldering

Perfect for evening soirees or if you're just the smoldering type & love to show it. This is my personal favorite NYC night look.

Look 3: Ganguro
A how-to for the toned down version of the over the top Ganguro fashion trend from Tokyo (created by high school girls) - bleached hair, dark tanned skin, pale lips, white accents - the ultimate bold statement for a girl who loves contrasts and standing out.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

A little rebel are you...!?

Antithesis to the velvet-drapery straight long locks with heavy bangs or the film noir waves that framed the pale face in dramatic allure, defy gravity and the dominating trend by whisking your hair to new heights a la Bill Blass a/w '07 runway style:

To up, up and away:

1. Work in a voluminizing gel into semi-damp hair, only applying to the roots

2. Comb the front section of hair all to one side, across the forehead

TIP: use a blast of cold air towards the direction that you want the bangs to go in if you need extra help setting hair to one side

3. Gather up hair in a high ponytail at the crown of your head

TIP: easier done by bending over and flipping hair over the head and brushing down into pony tail at the top of the head

4. Secure pony with elastic

5. Comb backwards from the midsection of the pony towards the elastic from underneath the pony to create texture and volume

6. Loop the pony into a very loose bun and secure the ends underneath the pony to hide the pins. If you are more advanced, separate the pony into three or four strands and twirl each around elastic loosely to create a more multi-layered, volumnous bun on top of head


Saturday, August 4, 2007

Welcome to the forest - a mystical world of natural beauty

Pade Vavra takes the daintiest elements found in faraway forests and crafts them into whimsical, one-of-a-kind treasures that showcase your new flawless, organically-cared-for complexion.

A delicately woven gold nest with three, droplet-sized pearl eggs

Leaves wrap around the wrist as if it is still growing

A vintage, hand-painted robin perches above a 22k gold cabin-esque cuckoo clock on a multi-chain

For all store locations and new collections, go to: www.padevavra.com


PS. The first image is from one of my favorite W shoots of all time - August 07 issue

Friday, August 3, 2007

Flash back to Teenage years - Mass market individualism

My personal fashion statement, which tended to change daily along with my teenage angst, started with the flick of a gooey, lacquer-dipped brush.

When Hard Candy hit counters with bright punchy colors, subdued pastel blues, shimmery purples and vampy goth crimsons, nails became the palette for incorporating Prada orange into daily looks at the price of a mere $7.00. A luxurious habit for a 13 year old perhaps, but an irresistible buy for fashion fanatics...with an empty Chloe wallet.

So when Chanel's beauty team started making their lacquers an essential part of their runway look - of course the beauty tribe followed.

Starting with Black, A/W '06 shows. The silver/gold from S/S '07. Now the crimson, shimmery dark reds of A/W '07 (seen here) is the top "must" color in every, ten pound September issue of Glamour, Lucky, you name it.

Even if you don't regularly check out the awesome resource that is Style.com for the latest runway news (heads up! S/S '08 is hitting NYC in September!) at least take a look at the detailed shots of the Chanel show to decipher what colors will be sold out by next season.

You'll be way ahead on the beauty color forecast radar which:

A: Allows you to come off as a fabulously adventurous soul that couldn't care less about the current big trend - that's old anyway!

B: When the color hits all the magazines and everyone starts wearing it, they'll realize that you are at the cutting edge of beauty trends - YOU DID IT FIRST


Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lust, Caution - the most innocent looking could be the trickiest

I need makeup to purchase beer.

I am vain, I admit, when it comes to stepping out of the house in general but the bodega downstairs and gym are two places that I feel right at home sans mascara.

Except, without makeup, eyes lose impact, face contours seem to disappear and even a pout couldn't make my lips look any less blah -- and I look 15. Even with ID, I have to fight for my right to buy 6% alcohol content liquids.

So, how does fresh new comer, Tang Wei from Ang Lee's much awaited new film Lust, Caution, score her major wow-factor while looking rather bare faced?

Follow these tricks to look deceptively innocent:

1. Start with creating a natural facial contour

Using a soft, big, cheek brush, apply a peachy, bronzy blush starting on the lower edges of your cheekbones and moving up towards the upper edge of the ear. Lightly mist a little along the jaw line to add some dimension to the chin as well.
My summer current favourite is i.d. bareMinerals in Warm Radiance. Light, soft and slightly shimmery enough to not create any embarrassing blush lines on the sides of face or neck.

Second step to enhance the contour, take a beigey pearly loose powder, like Paul & Joe's powder in 002 (not the color shown), and dust across the forehead just above your eye brows, along the bridge of your nose and the center part of the face around the nose and under eyes.

Note: only dip the brush in the powder once for this entire "highlighting" process as too much shine in the middle of the face just looks plain greasy.

2. Eyeshadow should only be used to smudge the eyeliner

I've found that makeup books for the general American public recommend using eye liner after applying eye shadows but with a slimmer Asian eye shape, I find that eyeliners look too heavy on its own unless it is softened and smudged a little.

For this look, go for a dark brown shadow to lighten and slightly shade the area above the liner on the upper lid (2mm or so). This slight smearing definition to the eye area but keeps 'em looking bright, open and fresh.

3. Consider the decollete an extension of your face

The neck and decollete area is a girl's showcase point - ie. the Kimono. Accentuate the clean swoop of the neck and the collarbone with a slight dusting of the pearly powder from step 1 and also by standing with shoulders rolled back and down.

Actually, to get Tang Wei's linear, beautiful collar bones, it takes great posture and by my guess, a lot of yoga which will teach you to keep your collar bones down and straight!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Falling down and getting up again...with the help of friends and some hardcore helpers

Minus the innovations of mineral makeup that now allows a girl to get away with everything (aka pass out without the slightest worry of clogged pores or dark circles under puffy eyes), the closest thing to having your job whisked away from right under your freshly pedicured foot is waking up next to your hottie for the first time, gasp, completely barefaced and puffy from the previous night.

A torturously delightful mixture of complete freedom, embarrassment and "what would my parents say!?" it's an experience that one needs to face at least once (or many more...) in a lifetime whether in bed or in an enthusiastically decorated cubicle. I was the latter for the first time and here's a few essentials that I found 100% dependable and rock-solid-stable in times like either of the above:

The de-puffer of all swollen eyes (whether from crying or from dirty martinis) swipe this gel on and it's like taking a shot of espresso + several tea bags on your eyes. With ingredients grown on Jurlique's own biodynamic farm in Australia, this active plant mix is a wakeup call no rooster can beat.

Marilyn had it wrong. Diamonds really only do a girl good when everything, including manicure, smooth decollete, hair and fragrance are in place to enhance its sparkle. When lids dip low and heavy,long, curled lashes are a girl's true best friend. The fiber-rich mascara that refuses to budge until soap (any kind!) is applied, Fiberwig mascara is as close to a true buddy you can sleep with that will keep your eyes batting at near-fake fabulousness.

and...if all comes to worse, a pair of oversized sunglasses, so ridiculously outstandish that everything will dim in comparison, is your escape Plan B. Betsey Johnson makes the least expensive, most artsy fartsy, retro-fun glasses with all the whimsical touches. Add a dash of aloof and you can re-conquer the world with a fresh new slightly pink-shaded outlook


ps. for those curious - Cocktail decided to not go forward with its launch on my first day at the magazine! see below post for more info