March 26, 2010

Sephora Hair and Skincare Haul

Fortunately for my cosmetics addiction, but unfortunately for my wallet, my daughter's Gymboree classes are right near a Sephora. Yep, and it's conveniently located right near the subway and taxi stands we have to get to in order to go home LOL. I really went into the store to purchase an eye cream but, like always, I ended up with a few more items than I had originally planned on. For some background information, I have combination skin that can get dehydrated at times, meaning that if I don't take in enough liquids, exfoliate or moisturize enough, it can get a little flaky around my eyes and nose. The skincare prodtucts I've purchased are either geared towards combination/oily skin or all skin types.

I'll start with the eye cream. When I told her that I was concerned with my dark under eye circles, the Sephora associate suggested I get Clinique "all about eyes". She said it would tareget my dark circles as well as hydrate and prevent fine lines. At $28.50, it was significantly cheaper than many of the other eye creams available there. I decided to give it a try because the description on the box says it's for all skin types and reduces dark circles and puffiness. Furthermore, being a licensed esthetician, I can decipher if some of the ingredients listed might be effective. This particular product contains isostearyl palmitate (i know, it's a mouthful)...this ingredient is what makes the product supposed to be "non-greasy" and non-comedogenic which I am all about. It also contains strawberry begonia extract to help lighten as well as grapeseed and mulberry extract and caffeine which all possess brightening and anti-inflammatory properties. For hydration, you've got petrolatum and dimethicone in the mix.

The next skincare item I bought was a Shiseido Anti-Aging, Ultimate Sun Protection Cream for Face with SPF 55.
Because I'm of Southeast Asian decent, and have a medium to dark olive comlexion, I was looking for a sunscreen that did not leave a white cast when applied. This product seemed to do the trick when I tested it on my hand, but we will see when I try more on my face. SPF, or sun protection factor, indicates how long one can stay in the sun before reapplying and while maintaining a low risk of burning from ultra violet B (UV Burning) rays. Anything with an SPF of 30 and higher protects against 98or so percent of UV rays. This Shiseido sunscreen also protects against the aging UVA rays. At the same time, the ingredient xylitol is supposed to keep the skin soft, and rose apple leaf extract is supposed to work as an antioxidant to help prevent DNA damage from UV exposure. Even though a sunscreen claims to be "very" water and perspiration-resistant, I would still re-apply every hour or two if possible. I got the smaller version for $19.50, since I'm trying it for the first time, but the larger one for about $32 seems reasonable for a Shiseido product.

The next few items I purchased were haircare products. First, I got Ojon Rub-Out Dry Cleanser, for days when I don't have a chance to wash my hair. I have normal, color-treated hair and I love dry shampoo because it soaks up any extra oils and refreshes hair so it looks bouncy and clean without water. The travel-size costs $10, but if you don't want to spend the extra cash, you can always try applying baby powder closer to your roots. It has the same effect in soaking up the oils but can leave white traces if you don't brush it through properly. The second hair item I bought was Ojon Animated Styling Cream. The label says it "increases hair volume, adds separation and texture, boosts moisture and shine". It's also supposed to be a lightweight, non-greasy formula so it creates "extreme body with movement". The ingredients include Olive Oil butter, Creatine, Keratin, Silk and Wheat proteins to help increase hair volume while keeping it soft. Although I said my hair is normal, it can get a little dry from overheating, so I'm going to try to use this product after my heat-protecting spray to control frizz after I blowdry, iron or curl. It sounded kind of pricey at $26, but I've heard that Ojon products are very effective. The third and last hair product I bought was Oscar Blandi olio di jasmine hair serum ($16 for travel size). I'm going to use it as a finishing and glossing product for the ends after I style.

March 25, 2010

Taupe Nails!

I know it has been a trend in nail polish for some time, but I rarely get manicures so I'm loving my taupe nails right now. I wish I could show you pictures but some of the polish got chipped while I was chopping onions the other day, so I'll spare you the unattractiveness. I usually like dark red, black and gunmetal colors on my nails but this is a great's still sort of dark and edgy but more earthy than black. It's a great fall/winter color for it's gray-mauvey tones but I think I'm going to stick with it for a minute even though it's Spring and most other people will be opting for bright, candy or melon nail hues this season. My husband said it looked like I was playing in the mud, but he doesn't know what he's talking about. Plus, my manicurist was right, men only like RED nail polish on women.

I used OPI's Over the Taupe, but similar nail polishes include Opi's You Don't Know Jacques, OPI for Sephora's Metro Chic, MAC's Wham Bam Glam (from the Riveting collection), Chanel's Particuliere, Orly's Country Club Khaki and Zoya's Pasha.

Here are Sandra Bullock and Gwenyth Paltrow sporting some taupe nails...

March 24, 2010

Rockin' Maternity Wear in 2010

I’m just about six months pregnant with my second baby girl. It seems like time is simultaneously flying by so fast and so slow. Having just recently grown out of my regular wardrobe, I’ve had to grumble my way into maternity pants. This change could pose as a quandary for a self-professed stylista like me, but I'm taking a stand for the sake of elegance.

When I was younger, my sister would tell me to always dress to impress because I never knew who I would meet or what opportunities would arise that day…so I’ve made it a conscious effort to look the best I can ever since. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I didn’t have a clue about maternity fashion, what was available and how I could make pieces work. It’s true that pregnancy clothes have come a long way from muumuus and aprons, but even with a few more options, I nonetheless felt as if the industry failed to accommodate early twenty-something stylish mommies-to-be. Young women want to look hot…I mean, come on, I admire celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Beyonce for their va-va-voom flair. What young women do not want is to look maternal, even when they are with child. Why else would the acronym MILF be a considered a compliment?

While it’s the most natural process, the pregnancy experience was so alien to me that I was convinced I was ballooning at an exponentially exponential rate. That being said, all my personal notions about elegance basically got kicked to the curb for some months. In the end, I wore whatever fit, even if that meant going out in public in sweat pants. Wearing clothes that I generally wouldn’t dare to, I did not feel like myself and as a result, my confidence was shaken.

When I found out I was expecting again, I vowed that I wouldn’t allow the same style bungle to trap me again. This time around, I’m determined to look and feel the way I envision myself, only with a big ‘ole baby-filled belly. Gathering cues from stylish young moms like Nicole Richie and Angelina Jolie, I’m now sure that I’ve put together a practical, yet chic maternity wardrobe to reflect my age and personal flavor. The following are some maternity wardrobe staples I’ve compiled for others who are trying to stay stylish while preggers:

1. Maternity Skinny Jeans…Being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up your skinny jeans, especially since it seems like every maternity designer is coming out with their own version these days. They come in a wide price range from about $50 at Motherhood Maternity to $250 for designer brand jeans which can be found at A Pea in the Pod. They are also available in under-the-belly or full-paneled styles, but either way, a good pair in a dark wash and stretch denim can be dressed up or down and will last you the duration of your pregnancy.
2. Wrap Cardigan… In a neutral color, the wrap cardi should be a staple in your maternity wardrobe because it’s a chic and comfy way to cover up. They can be paired with a dress or jeans and a top. And because it doesn’t require buttons, you’ll use it throughout your pregnancy and after!
3. Maternity Leggings…I’m obsessed with leggings, mainly because you can wear them day or night and they’re really easy to throw on. Some expecting moms may find them more comfortable and practical than maternity jeans because of their stretch capacity. You can find a great selection at DestinationMaternity. Just a thought, I’d wear leggings with a long top only, unless you look like a seven months pregnant Gisele Bundchen.
4. Long Tank…Purchasing long tanks in an assortment of colors that work for your wardrobe is definitely a valuable investment. They are versatile, so you can wear them alone but for those of you who know what pregnancy can do to your boobs, tanks can also be worn under a low-cut top or dress to demure-ize out-of-control cleavage.
5. Oversized Accessories…My theory here is that big and bold accessories work as statement pieces, therefore detracting attention from your gigantic belly (for those of you who want this effect). Anyway, oversized jewelry like boyfriend watches, cocktail rings, tribal cuffs, chunky chain and bib necklaces are in now. Big Ray Ban sunglasses are cool not matter what. You can add a perforated leather belt slung low under your belly and carry a large fringed-out bag for a bohemian approach.
6. Maxi Dress…They weren’t originally designed as maternity attire, but maxi dresses looks good on almost everyone, so why not? Celebrities like Gwen Stefani, Angelina Jolie and Amy Adams have been seen rocking these dresses. My sister had a summer pregnancy, and she loved maxis because the flowing material under the bust leaves room for growing bellies. She wore them even after giving birth! Also, for expecting mothers who get overheated quickly, maxi dresses are also a…err…well-ventilated option.
7. Maternity Lingerie…While most maternity lingerie consist of plain, granny-panty style designs, there are a few companies like Belabumbum that make sexy yet sweet bras and panties for pregnant women who need extra support and styles that grow as they do. Girls, what’s under your clothes really does make a difference!
8. V-neck Shirt…Enhanced cleavage that comes with pregnancy can be a huge positive for some—play it up with a basic v-neck top like the super comfortable unisex jersey tees found at American Apparel.
9. Shoulder Embellishments…Tops with embellished shoulders have recently been seen on many celebrities such Rihanna. They can balance the proportions of a bigger belly and hips. You can find tops with puffy or beaded shoulders at TopShop, H&M and UrbanOutfitters.
10. Wedges…I love a high-heel, but pregnancy makes me even more clumsy than normal, so I’ve opted for wedges because they provide height with more balance. Aldo has come out with some neutral color wedges in gladiator styles that could work with almost any outfit.
11. Grecian-style…The draping can camouflage, but the style is just pretty, isn’t it? Pair a Grecian inspired top with your skinny jeans and wedges—there, you have a night-out outfit!
12. Military-style Blazer…We’ve been seeing boyfriend blazers everywhere these days, but the hardware on military-style blazers offers more interest. I was so coveting this white Balmain jacket after seeing it on Beyonce.
13. Ballet Flats…I cannot live without my flats. They are adaptable to practically any ensemble and when you are lugging around an extra few pounds, they are a godsend to your aching and seemingly ever-swelling feet.

March 23, 2010

A Preface of Sorts...

I can’t imagine starting this blog off without introducing myself. I mean, if I intend to divulge my thoughts, finds, tips and everyday occurrences to you, then why not first tell you why my experiences and opinions are worth sharing. I’m a young mommy and wife with stories to tell. I’m a makeup artist just starting my business up and am looking to document my venture. I have a curiosity and appreciation for things of style, elegance, loveliness…and I want to comment on them. I’ve always been a writer. However, in the past few years, as I’ve been besieged by the day-to-day responsibilities of running a home and raising a child, I inadvertently put my love of writing to the wayside.

Not a day goes by when my unfalteringly supportive other-half doesn’t ask me when I plan on writing a novel. I would love to, I think to myself. But with all these meals to prepare, clothes to launder, diapers to change, toys to pick up, and (of course) Tyra Banks to watch, how can I dedicate any meaningful attention to composing a piece decent literature? “Just write anything,” he says. Normally, I would chalk this kind of slapdash philosophy to the absurdity of the male mind, but in this case, the guy is right. My anxiety over writing something “of substance” has caused me to use everyday life as an excuse not to write, when in fact, it should be my fuel and fodder. What’s more is that in the meantime, I feel as if I’ve de-habituated myself from the technical act of writing…I’ve forgotten what it’s like to actually sit down and “put pen-to-paper”. Having already made a long story, um…long, the purpose of this blog, aside from being an outlet for me to rant about lifestyle, fashion and beauty, is to help re-initiate myself as a writer. So far, I’ve grown accustomed to being unproductive when it comes to my passions and I’ve felt justified because it’s not like I haven’t been busy, right? Well, now my ego is more insatiable than ever. In an age when you see young people making their first millions before their thirty and forging fame out of thin-air, I desire to accomplish more.

As far as the blog title goes, it’s quoted from French writer Marcel Proust. Elegance is defined as the attribute of being simple yet effective. Usually, this word is used as a standard of tastefulness, but “good taste” is in the eye of the beholder. For me, living with elegance is being choosy…not persnickety in an insufferable Simon Cowell sort of way…just selective. As I see it, I deserve the best for myself so I can put out my best self. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll elaborate on my attitude towards elegance at some point later on.

At last, I hope I can offer some valuable, if not entertaining, commentary in sharing this journey with you!