May 26, 2010

Beauty Benefits: Green Tea vs. Black Tea

Tea has been a staple beverage in many cultures throughout the world for centuries. Many studies have been conducted on the health benefits of tea like whether certain varieties can reduce the risk of ailments such as cardiovascular disease or cancer. For this reason, Green tea has become sort of a trend in recent years. It's been heralded for its richness in antioxident polyphenols, vitamin C and nutritive minerals. Research has shown that green tea can potentially reduce cholesterol and fight cancer. Although less potent in antioxidants, black tea is also said to be an immune boosting drink. Nevertheless, these are all purported benefits of the consumption of tea since we all know that numerous factors play simultaneously into a person's health, such as genetics and other lifestyle choices.

Despite the uncertainty behind the advantages of drinking tea, there are palpable benefits that you can see when it comes to your beauty regimen. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), found in both black and green tea, is known to aid in the formation of collagen and skin repair. It thus helps maintain a firm and bright complexion. You can make a facial spritzer/toner at home just by mixing some brewed green or black tea, lemon juice and will give you an instand glow and pick-me-up feeling! You can also prepare a mask by mixing green tea powder with water and letting it dry on the face before removing with warm water. Add some coarse sugar to the same mixture and use it as a scrub! Caffeine, also found in both black and green tea, has been shown to boost the circulatory system and central nervous system, thus working as an anti-inflammatory agent (a lot of eye serums and creams include caffeine as an ingredient because it reduces puffiness). Black tea contains Vitamin E, an antioxidant that slows the degeneration of cells while promoting the growth of new ones. It also has emollient properties that "plump" and soften wrinkles and dry skin.

The cosmetic boons of tea have been harnessed in many effective beauty products. One of my favorites is Fresh Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask...after using it, my skin immediately feels supple and looks radiant!

May 25, 2010

Delicious Appetizer Recipes

Hey there.

So this past weekend we had a "baby shower" at our house. It wasn't your typical baby shower though because in our culture, it's not just restricted to women and you don't normally get gifts for the unborn baby as it's considered bad luck. Well, our home was filled with almost 50 of my relatives and for some reason we only decided to cater ONE dish which meant my in-laws had to cook the rest. Even though this party was technically for me, I didn't feel good about letting everyone else do the work and I wanted to chip in somehow, so I whipped up a couple of relatively simple appetizers. I concocted two recipes, one for jalapeño poppers and one for coconuted crusted shrimp. The only paintsaking part was making enough for 50 people, but if you're entertaining for 10-25 then these would be easy but delicious appetizers to serve. You can even prepare them the night before and just fry them when needed.

The recipes are as follows:

Jalapeño Poppers

25 jalapeño peppers cut in half and seeded (more or less depending on number of guests to serve)
1 16-18oz container of cream cheese
1 7oz package shredded cheese (I used mozarella but you can use monterey jack or cheddar depending on your taste)
1/2 cup canned corn
1 onion chopped
5 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. margarine
salt and black pepper to taste
lour, eggs and Italian style breadcrumbs for breading
oil for frying

In a saucepan, melt margarine and fry garlic and onions until onions are translucent. Add cream cheese, shredded cheese, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper and mix through. Allow mixture to cool before filling jalapeño halves. Use one bowl for flour, a second. for bread crumbs and a third for beaten eggs. Dip each filled pepper first into flour then into the eggs, then coat with bread crumbs. For best results, repeat this process at least twice (three times is great but if you're pressed for time, I don't blame ya). Deep fry in oil for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown. Remove and let drain on paper towels. (Tip: don't overstuff the peppers as they tend to burst with melted cheese upon frying)

Coconuted Crusted Shrimp with Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Dipping Sauce

2 lbs of large tiger shrimp cleaned, deveined and butterflied
3 cups flour
2 tbsp. onion powder
2 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tbsp. cumin powder
6 eggs beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 cups panko crumbs
1 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut

1 jar Pineapple preserves or jam
Sriracha Thai hot sauce to taste

In one bowl, combine flour with onion, garlic and cumin powders. In a second bowl, add salt and pepper to beaten eggs. In a third bowl, mix panko crumbs with shredded coconut. First, dredge the shrimp in flour mixture. Dip floured shrimps into the egg then coat with breadcrumb/coconut mixture. Deep fry until golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Remove and let drain.
For sauce, combine 1 jar pineapple preserves or jam with Sriracha hot sauce according to taste.

May 21, 2010

Makeup Show NYC 2010

Hey there. After a couple days of rain, the weather here in NYC has been incredibly nice and that makes me incredibly happy. Even with 34083405 layers of sunblock and my humongous JLO sunhat, I am still happy about summer being so close!

This post is dedicated to my recent trip to the Makeup Show NYC 2010. For those of you who don't know about it, the Makeup Show is a two-day trade event that brings together different brands and professionals in the makeup industry. There are seminars, forums and hands-on workshops held by prominent makeup artists like Danny Sanz, Eve Pearl, Johnny Lavoy, Victoria Stiles, Orlando Santiago...the list goes on and on. As geeky as it sounds, it's cool to see such eminent industry professionals up-close-and-personal. At the Makeup Show, you can also check out new products that are coming to the market as well as find great pro-only deals. Whether you are practicing as a makeup artist or are simply a makeup fanatic, I would highly recommend that you attend this event next year. It's a great event to network with others in the field, to find some inspiration and learn tips and techniques. Tickets are generally $50 for one day and $80 for both days. There is also a 10% student discount.

Some of the exhibitors featured at the Makeup Show this year include MAC cosmetics, Temptu PRO, Smashbox, Makeup Forever, Dermalogica, FACE Atelier, Graftobian Makeup, shu uemura, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics and L'Oreal...and that's only to name a FEW. The deals are so good that people go there specifically to stock up their kits. There were even some people buying and lugging around airbrush equipment! I got a few small goodies, but there are only two worth mentioning.

1. The Beautyblender is said to be "the ultimate makeup sponge applicator." I've seen and heard about this sponge for a while but never considered purchasing it as it costs about $20 at places like Ricky's in NYC. I thought to myself, "So what? It's pink and egg-shaped." But that is exactly what's so nice about it...more so the shape than the pretty color. The Beautyblender boasts a patent-pending elliptical shape that fits the contours of your face...a larger, round end for bigger sections of your face and a smaller tip that gets perfectly into small areas and crevices like under your eye and around your nose. Whether you stiple or swipe, the sponge's suede-like texture is sure to leave a flawless finish free of streaking. The Beautyblender is also latex-free, non-allergenic and odor free for those of you who are extra sensitive. It's small enough so that you can pack it on-the-go. There is also a special blendercleanser that safely and easily cleans your Beautyblender. I've got to say, I really like this product as it does in fact leave a virtually flawless complexion...the only drawback is that it still is a sponge, which means it inevitably soaks up a little foundation. If I had to give it a rating, I would give the Beautyblender a 4.5/5.

2. Becca Cosmetics Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal-Becca Cosmetics is an Australian makeup brand that used to be sold at places like Sephora until a few years ago when they pulled out of larger retail stores here in the US. Now the most convenient and accessible place to find Becca products is online. I love this brand because its mission is to achieve flawless but natural, radiant looking coverage. The foundations and concealers cover blemishes but feel like you're wearing nothing. They also carry a wide shade selection throughout their range, which is a BIG selling point for a person with dark-olive skin like myself. The Shimmering Skin Perfector is a moisturizing illuminator with SPF 20. There are a number of ways you can use this product. You can apply it instead of your normal moisturizer or after OR your can mix it with a foundation. Another option is to just use it as a highlight on areas like cheekbone, bridge of the nose and brow bone. The light-diffusing particles even out skintone and reduces the appearance of imperfections. It also contains anti-oxidant vitamins A, B, D and E which aid in collagen production, tissue repair, and moisture holding capacity. It comes 1.7 fl. oz. pump bottle and costs $41, however, a little goes a LONG way and it should last a while if used economically. A product like this one is a summer must-have if you want a glowy/dewy/radiant look. The shade that I got is Opal, a pinky-peach-pearlescent hue that gives the most beautiful candlelit/ethereal look. I would rate this 4.5/5 only because it is kind of expensive (but again, worth it).

May 14, 2010

Random MAC Purchase

Must. Stay. Away. From. MAC.

This is the mantra that always circles my conscience when I'm out shopping, but who am I kidding? Impulsive, irrational and generally unnecessary buys are the penchant of a makeup addict. It's just...what I do. LOL.
On Monday, my cousin and I went to the Mall because she was looking to buy some new makeup for an upcoming vacation abroad. Unfortunately, my sweet little cousin is allergic to almost every cosmetic product she comes into contact with (especially lip products, which would make me so sad if I were her). When she applies something to her face, her skin starts to swell and she gets blotchy patches within minutes. MAC foundations are infamous for irritating many peoples skin, so she was pretty sure she wouldn't be able to rely on any of those but we went into the store to play around anyway. On a whim, I suggested that maybe she try the mineralize foundations since they might be better suited to such senstitive skin as hers. Because she has combination skin that is sometimes dehydrated, we decided to try out the compact version because the creamy texture would be more moisturizing than the powder and because it would provide more coverage than the liquid. After the artist matched her to NC44, we decided to shop around the mall for an hour to see how her skin reacted to the foundation. Lo and behold! After more than an hour, her skin was not the least bit irritated. In fact, it looked absolutely glowing and flawless! If your skin is irrirated by foundations, I would suggest trying MAC's mineralize foundations as they come in a variety of formulations that will also suit different skin types.
Now on to my purchases...
I couldn't just leave the store without something in hand. That would just be too weird!
Please forgive the pics...I took them on my husband's iPhone. Still researching for a new camera...
1. Touch Lipstick (Lustre)-This lipstick is a dark peach (the MAC website describes it as "peachy cinnamon") and I'm currently loving this as a natural-looking nude for my pigmented lips.

2. Hug Me Lipstick (Lustre)-Is a pinky flesh-toned lipstick. It's a little light for an everyday nude on me, but if I ever want to do a Kim Kardashian look, this is probably what I'll go for next time. (LoL why do I always cite Kim K. when it comes to makeup?!)
Here are swatches of both lipsticks.
3. Lucky Green Eyeshadow (Veluxe Pearl)-I LOVE Veluxe Pearl eyeshadows for their soft texture and because they are shiny without being glittery. This particular color is a gorgeous shade of lime green with a hint of gold...kind of chartreusey, in my opinion. It's not bright in an obnoxious way, but definitely striking. I am looking forward to using this with darker greens like Humid or dark matte browns.

4. All That Glitters Eyeshadow (Veluxe Pearl)-Another beautiful veluxe pearl finish. The shade is beige with gold pearl (but sort of on the pinky side) and works as a nice highlight.
Now for some insight as to how often I go into my local MAC store...the artist helping my cousin with her shade selection asked me if I had a Pro Card...when I said "yes", she said "Mhmm. I thought I recognized your face." How embarassing! Oh well...probably not going to discourage me anyway!

May 12, 2010

Let's Talk About Lashes

In my last post, I said that I don't normally buy drugstore makeup since you can't try it before you buy it. However, I want to make a correction on that statement. There is one drugstore cosmetic product that I almost always choose over its high-end counterpart and that's mascara. Even though they might not be packaged as nicely and carry the clout of a brand name, I've found that some drugstore mascaras do exactly what I and most other mascara-wearers are looking for...volumize, lengthen, curl and darken.

My hands-down favorite drugstore mascara is L'Oreal Voluminous in Carbon Black because it dramatizes my lashes just the way I like. It's nearly indistinguishable from one of my favorite high-end mascaras, Diorshow BlackOut. They both thicken, lengthen, and darken and they both have fat brushes, but at $7.29, it's more than $16 less than the Diorshow mascara ($24). I haven't tried mascaras from luxury brands like Lancome, Yves Saint Laurent or Shu Uemura, but because they are owned by L'Oreal, I wouldn't be surprised if the formulations were similar to the company's consumer products found at drugstores.

Another drugstore mascara that I use often is Almay One Coat Triple Effect in Blackest Black. This mascara is perfect for everyday as it creates alluringly long, voluminous and curled lashes without being overly dramatic. Super-volumizing mascaras like Diorshow, Benefit Badgal and L'Oreal Voluminous tend to clump, but it only adds to their effect...however, this mascara is more liquidy and less likely to clump so it looks more natural.

What drugstore mascaras do you like?

May 11, 2010

I Finally Tried It...Revlon Colorstay Foundation

Well, I finally did it. Even though I've been faithful to my MAC Select SPF 15 foundation for over a year, I gave into the hype and tried the much acclaimed Revlon Colorstay Liquid Foundation. Although I have heard many, many...many great reviews about it, I was still skeptical about trying this product as with any drugstore cosmetics. I've shied away from buying drugstore makeup for a while just because you're not supposed to open and test the product for color and quality before purchase. Ultimately, I figured I'd be saving time, energy and money by going into a department or cosmetic store and trying the makeup before committing to it. However, I wanted try this particular item so badly that I did a bad thing...I opened the bottle and swatched it before actually buying it! I'm sorry Rite-Aid, but I had to do it for my peace of mind. Good thing Revlon Colorstay Foundation doesn't come with a tamper-evident plastic seal, because I would have felt A LOT worse about my delinquency. LOL.

I ended up getting the combination/oily formulation in the shade 360 Golden Caramel. I've got to say, compared to my normal MAC NC42/43 and Makeup Forever HD #153, this foundation is significantly more golden toned. I think it might be a little too yellow, but this shade matched the closest and I used my MAC Studio Fix Powder in NW35 to neutralize it a bit . I did find it a little weird that the Oily/Combination shades seemed darker than the Normal/Dry, but I guess that just goes to show that there IS a difference in formulation and Revlon isn't just trying to pull a fast one on us.

So far, I've tried applying this foundation with a MAC 187 duo-fibre brush and a sponge. I prefer the sponge because it provides the most even and natural-looking coverage in this case (any other foundation and I probably would have sworn by my 187). Overall, Revlon Colorstay is good, not only for its price (about $13) but also for living up to its claim to be long-lasting. After wearing it for nearly 12 hours in 70 degree weather, my foundation hadn't budged and when I went to wash it off, I had to really work at it. Coverage is medium-to full and is comparable to MAC and Makeup Forever, so it does feel pretty heavy but since I'm a cover-everything type of gyal, it doesn't bother me too much. I also like that it's quite liquidy (albeit messy) in consistency so it's easy to blend but that it then dries to a velvety-matte finish.

All in all, if you're looking for an inexpensive but quality foundation, I would recommend Revlon Colorstay. Just be careful if you're going to test it out in the drugstore hehe.

May 6, 2010

Homemade Facial Treatments

Pampering your skin doesn't necessarily mean you have to break the bank. In fact, you can find many ingredients in your own kitchen to create cost-effective and efficient homemade exfoliators, masks and other treatments. Everyone knows the health benefits of eating healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, but many of these healthy foods can also exhibit esthetic benefits when put ON your face or body.

Here are a few concoctions that I like to use as homemade treatments...

Brightening Yogurt Lemon Mask
2tbsp. plain yogurt (Greek yogurt is ideal because of its thick consistency)
1tsp. lemon juice
1tbsp. honey

I love this mask because it seems to instantly brightens my complexion on days when it's looking dull. I just apply it on my face and leave it for 15 to 20 minutes before removing with warm water. Yogurt is a great natural moisturizer and it contains lactic acid (an alphahydroxy acid) which exfoliates and tightens the skin. The citric acid in the lemon juice helps to lighten blemishes, while Vitamin C aids in building collagen. Honey is not only antibacterial but it's also a humectant that attracts and retains moisture in the skin. This mask will brighten and alleviate dehydrated and lackluster skin. For an added "glow factor", add 1 tsp. turmeric powder which has natural skin lightening and antibacterial properties.

Firming Egg Mask
1 Egg (separate white and yolk)

I apply an egg white to my face when my face is feeling oily and I want a tightening effect. I leave it on for about 15 minutes before removing with warm water. Seriously, it's like an instant face lift. I've heard of some crazy ass people traveling across the world to have facials using animal placenta...well, if you're looking to boost your complexion with live cells, pretty much anyone will find eggs in their refrigerator!

Olive Oil Sugar Lip Exfoliant
1tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1tbsp. Turbinado sugar (coarse brown sugar)

Once a week, I rub this mixture on my lips for about one minute to remove dry, flaky skin. Olive oil is a natural moisturizer that contains Vitamin E and is high in antioxidants. Course Turbinado sugar is a natural manual exfoliant that removes dead skin from the lips.

Rosewater Milk Astringent
2tbsp. milk
1tsp. Rosewater

Rosewater works wonders balancing and toning oily skin as well as soothing sensitive skin. Moreover, it smells divine! Again, milk acid exfoliates, brightens and tightens the skin. Just soak a cotton ball in the mixture and rub over your face, then rinse with cold water.

I would recommend these homemade treatments for any skintype, but as with any new skin treatment, I would do a test-patch on the inside of your wrist first to see if you have sensitivities to any of the ingredients.

May 5, 2010

Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

I'm not Mexican, but I had a sudden urge to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Honestly, I'll take any excuse to enjoy good food of a different culture. I made a pretty involved and semi-authentic spread complete with salsa, guacamole, chicken tacos, carne asada, beans, shrimp ceviche, virgin piña colada and pomegranate sangria, and for desert, flan...all from scratch! It actually turned out to be quite fast and simple. Actually, the flan was so delicious and easy, I thought I should share it...

1 and 1/2 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 can evaporated milk (or whole milk if desired)
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325°F. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup sugar over medium flame until it melts and becomes caramel (you will have to stir continuously). Pour the hot caramel into a ceramic or glass pie dish. Quickly tilt the dish around so the bottom is coated with caramel. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, evaporated and sweetened condensed milks, 1/2 cup sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon. Pour the mixture on top of the now hardened caramel. Fill a large baking tray with about 1 inch warm water and place the pie dish in the center of it (this will act as a water bath that will prevent the flan from cracking and will help it bake evenly). Place the tray in the center of the oven and allow to bake for 1 hour. If you stick a toothpick just outside the center of the flan and it comes out clean, then it is finished baking. Let the flan cool in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours. Invert flan onto a serving dish so the caramel flows on top of it. ¡Buen provecho! Enjoy!!

May 3, 2010

Overdue MAC haul!

I know...a post was LONG overdue. I'm feel so bad. Morever, I feel worse because the quality of the following pictures are so bad since our camera is curiously I've resorted to using an OLDDDD school camera (and by old school I mean like 5 years old lol). It's so bad that I couldn't even get some proper swatches. Oh well, I apologize and hopefully I can get on track with a new camera and better pics soon!

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a few goodies I got at MAC. Nothing from a new collection or anything, just products that I've been wanting to get for a while.


These are all brushes I already own, but I love them to bits and use them so often that I went ahead and splurged on an extra set.

1. 150 Powder Brush--It's so super big and fluffy that it's perfect for setting and pressed powder application.
2. 129 Powder Blush Brush--This brush is the just the right size and softness for a not too overdone blush application.
3. 187 Duo Fibre (Stipling) Brush--By far my favorite brush to put on liquid foundation with, but it's also wonderful to apply powder and cream products as well. If I had to recommend any one brush, the 187 would be it.
4. 217 Blending Brush--This brush is simultaneously dense and fluffy, thus making shadow application to the crease and blending a virtual cake walk. I've even tried applying under-eye concealer with this brush because it provides such a flawless finish.


1. Scene Eye Shadow (satin)--I'm a little obsessed with grey smokey eyes right now, so I've been reaching for this slightly muddy purplish-grey shadow almost every day, pairing it with a very dark matte brown like Laura Mercier's Coffee Ground in the crease. I would definitely recommend this eye shadow for brown-eyed girls like myself.
2. Revealing Lipglass--My current HG nude. It's opaque enough to cover my pigmented lips and warm enough to compliment my golden skin...and sure as heck sexxy enough to even put a goddess like Kim Kardashian to shame lol. I like it on its own, but for a more intense look I've put it on top of Stripdown lip liner.
3. Florabundance--This color is nice but a little too milky-pink for my NC 42/43complexion. However, if I apply it on top of Stripdown or Spice lipliner, I can make it work. This would be a nice pinky-nude for lighter skinned girls or those with less pigmented lips.
4. Fluid Lipstick (frost)--I've been eyeing this lipstick at MAC for a minute but have been too hesitant to purchase it. Thank goodness for the safety-net that is Back2 MAC because I really like this color. It's definitely creates a bold look though as it is a deep plum-brown color.
5. Stone Lip Liner--I've had this liner for a long time but lost mine so I just had to repurchase. It's the only cool brown lipliner that I've found and liked. It's perfect when you want that "icy" look. My favorite combination is using Stone with Fabby lipstick and Nymphette lipglass.
6. Fleur Power Powder Blush (satin)--This has so far been my go-to Spring blush and will probably remain so throughout summer. It is a pop of bright pinky-coral that goes with just about any eye-lip combo. I would recommend this blush for pretty much any skin tone, especially those with olive complexions like mine. Just to note, a little goes a LONG way and remember to blend, blend, blend!!