Tag Archives: make up

Balm to my soul (err, I mean lip)

IMG_0232-e1361524466113-600x372From left to right: MAC Tinted Lip Conditioner in Fuchsia Fix; Maybelline Baby Lips in Anti-Oxidant Berry; Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cherry; Forever Living Aloe Lips

I can still recall the time my mom let me buy my first ever cosmetic item: a tube of lip balm. I was in sixth grade, and I was at the mall with my mom and my two sisters. I don’t recall what I said to finally convince my mom, I don’t even remember what brand lip balm I bought: all I remember is my excitement at finally being allowed to buy a not-really-essential item with which to appease my make-up craving pre-teen self (although I’m pretty sure I told my mom I needed it, or she wouldn’t have bought it for me…shhh, don’t tell her I’m admitting this after all these years).

Many years later, I finally have the means to buy make-up for myself, but lip balm is still one of the standbys in my kit. I usually have one or two tubes of it with me wherever I go, and I reapply frequently; without it, my lips would crack and my lipstick/gloss would not go on smoothly. I’ve even used a bit of clear balm to combat dry spots on my face or as a quick hand/elbow moisturizer.

Here are a few of my favorite brands:

1) Vaseline Lip Therapy in Cherry. I’ve gone through who-knows-how-many tubes of this clear balm. It manages to really moisturize my lips and it doesn’t sit like goop on the surface. Totally love the cherry flavor (though it comes in an unflavored variant as well) and the fact that it’s super cheap (less than Php 80, last time I checked).

2) Alba Un-Petroleum Lip Balm SPF 18. Again, I am partial to the cherry-flavored variant; other flavors are tangerine and vanilla. Available at Healthy Options, this balm is “100% Vegetarian. No: Animal Testing, Artificial Colors, Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or Sodium Myreth Sulfate” (according to the brand’s website) and is perfect for girls who want to go all-natural with their products. At Php 129, it’s a bit pricey but still affordable, I think.

3) Forever Living Aloe Lips. This one I pilfered from my mom, so I don’t really know how much a tube costs. This balm features a really moisturizing formula as well. I think it’s unflavored, but it does have a bit of a waxy scent to it (which doesn’t bother me).

4) Badger Highland Mint Lip and Body Balm. I bought my tin from Rustan’s, but I finished it two years ago and have not managed to replenish my supply. I like its gentle mint flavor and its formula. If you can manage to procure a tin for yourself, I highly recommend this.

Brands on which I’m undecided: MAC Tinted Lip Conditioner in Fuchsia Fix SPF 15 (love that it provides a bit of color on days when I can’t be bothered to apply both balm and color; hate that it’s super expensive and not  so moisturizing on the lips, considering how much I had to shell out for it)…Maybelline Baby Lips  SPF 20 (I’ve tried the mint and berry flavors; nothing to say against it; it is moisturizing but not enough for when the temperature drops and I need something in a richer formulation)…Chapstick

Brands which I won’t be buying again anytime soon: Any of the lip balms/butters by The Body Shop (they don’t get absorbed into the skin; they just sit on the surface, soooo aggravating)…Nivea Sun Lip Care (again, the formula does not get absorbed into the skin).

Let me know in the comments what brand lip balm you recommend 🙂

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Back to the (beauty) books

When I was just learning how to apply make-up, I relied heavily on make-up books for step-by-step instructions. Even now that I am able to readily access vlogs/make-up tutorials on the internet, I still find myself perusing my old books and, occasionally, buying new ones to add to my collection.

I guess this is because I love reading, so it continues to be one of the primary ways by which I learn and relearn information. Aside from this, I think there is just something about the printed medium that helps me retain data; I think that’s called being a visual learner?

Whether you are a newbie or someone who is already adept at applying make-up, I would strongly recommend investing in at least one or two good volumes to help you continually improve your skills. Here are a few pointers that I go by whenever I choose new books to purchase:

Look for content, not famous names. A good make-up book should cover a wide variety of topics and sample looks. You want something that will be helpful to you, something that you can always consult. There are books that have lots of pictures of celebrities, usually written by famous make-up artists as well. If, however, these books don’t contain detailed instructions, then they won’t really be helpful. Admittedly, I have books written by the likes of Bobbi Brown, Carmindy, etc., but these I bought primarily for the content and not because somebody famous wrote them. It goes without saying that you have to browse before you buy, so you know what you’re getting.

Five books from my collection 🙂

Choose a book that contains lots of pictures. The really good ones feature one picture per step. I also personally prefer that all the pictures be colored. Some books will feature a really colorful look, and then give you a final shot in black-and-white; how is that supposed to help you?! I even recall a book that gave detailed instructions on a specific eye look, and then featured a final shot with long strands of hair actually covering the model’s eyes. I rest my case.

Wait before you buy. Sure, fashion trends are linked to beauty trends, and this might tempt you to immediately buy a newly-released make-up/beauty book before a certain trend goes out of style. However, make-up books generally tend toward looks that are more classic or have more staying power (i.e. not easily displaced by trends). Bookstores will always go on sale at least once a year, and sales are the best time to buy the books you’ve been eyeing. If you really want to learn how to work a certain beauty trend, you’re better off buying magazines which will usually feature articles on the said trend and (a big plus) will cost a fraction of what you have to shell out for a book.

Would you believe four out of these five books were bought on sale? I love bargains!

Hope these pointers help should you choose to go out and buy yourself a book or two (or three)!

Oh and just because I’m a curly-haired gal and am sooo amazed that there are people out there who totally get the daily drama that is my hair, I leave you with this…

Curly girls ROCK!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

On witches and wands

In her Harry Potter books, J.K. Rowling was unto something when she wrote about how each wand had to be the perfect match for its witch/wizard owner. In real life, wands have to be matched to the owner, too. Mascara wands, that is. Now before you brush me off as a wacko Potter fan, allow me to elaborate.

More than the actual formula, I think it’s the mascara wand that makes a massive difference to your lashes in giving you the effect you desire. Generally, my only criterion formula-wise is that it be waterproof. I take more time in deciding on the wand shape.

For instance, when I want my lashes to look defined and well-separated, I will use a mascara that has a smaller wand, with shorter bristles. This allows me to really get to the lashline and define my lashes from root to tip.

Something like this…

Too Faced Pinpoint Lash Injection

Now when I want major volume, I will opt for a bigger, thicker wand. This will allow me to really build up my lashes and get them thick and lush after as little as one or two coats. (Me being me, I usually layer more than that.)

Here’s a picture of a wand that will get you volumized:

MAC Loud Lash

I also took a picture of these two wands side by side just to help you see the difference in their shape and size.

Too Faced (defining) on the left, MAC (volumizing) on the right. See how huge the MAC wand is?

Oh and while we’re on the topic of mascaras, nowadays, there is such a thing as lash primer. You’re supposed to apply it to your lashes first, and then follow with mascara. I tried using it once and it makes your lashes look thicker. Personally, I think you can get the same effect with multiple coats of mascara. Some lash primers have added ingredients, e.g. they claim to make your lashes longer/healthier. I haven’t used one for a long enough period of time, so I really can’t comment about that. But I’ll show you some pics of a lash primer that I pilfered from my mom.

This is an Estée Lauder one, and the tube looks like this:

And here’s a close-up shot of the wand and the formula:

You see how ghastly white it is? That’s why you have to layer mascara on top, or risk looking like a weirdo.

So when you go mascara-shopping, apart from the formula, do check out the wand that comes with the tube. Make sure it will work for the type of lash effect that you prefer.

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Getting ready for your close-up: how to look nice in pictures

Admittedly, I am not the most photogenic person in the world. Add to that my current battle with acne, and you’ll understand why I was anxious about the recent photo op that took place at our office for our new IDs. On the day of the shoot (what else am I supposed to call it?), I spent a little extra time on my make-up, working hard to conceal my pimples and scars.

Having managed to make myself look presentable for my mug shot—and with the evidence to prove it (scroll down please)—I thought I’d list a few of the things I did in preparation for having my picture taken.

Ace your base. Sounds like the name of that 90s band; I couldn’t resist, sorry 🙂 Making your base as flawless as possible is key to looking good in pictures. You’ll want to carefully conceal blemishes and any discoloration, taking care to blend your concealer well into your foundation so that no part of your face is abnormally paler than the others.

Take time to define. In order to NOT look washed out in pictures, there are certain features that you need to define with product. These are your eyebrows, lashlines (both top and bottom), and lips. I filled in bare spots in my brows with a grayish-brown pencil, lined my eyes with brown liner, and stained my lips with just a bit of pink lipstick. Of course, I also applied mascara, eyeshadow, and blush/bronzer (not that my contouring was obvious, thanks to my chubby cheeks).

Classic is basic. (Okay, this rhyming thing is getting harder to sustain.) The thing about pictures is that they’ll be around for a really long time. With this in mind, I think it’s better to stick to neutral tones and not opt for shades that are too dramatic or trendy. Case in point: I used shades of peaches and browns on my lids, and soft pink on my cheeks and lips. Keep in mind that this was for an official ID, so I couldn’t really do a smoky eye, now could I? Although I volunteered to do it for an officemate whose make-up I worked on, I’m not surprised she refused 🙂

One last thing, makeup pros discourage the use of foundation/concealer with SPF in it for pictures. It seems the SPF, combined with the camera flash, results in a face that is too white, too pale, too reminiscent of ghosties. Personally, I haven’t had this experience, but I just stick to SPF-less foundation for pictures to be on the safe side.

And now, are you ready for the unveiling? Here we go…

Apart from that pimple above my left eyebrow (which I’m officially claiming is a birthmark which I’ve had since…erm, birth), I think I did okay. Looking at it, you wouldn’t know that I have a bit of an acne situation at the moment.

What do you think? 🙂

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

Eye make-up basics: the different parts of the eye

Whenever I talk to friends who are just learning how to apply make-up, they often tell me that they are mystified by instructions such as “Blend such-and-such a color into your socket line” or “Line both top and bottom waterlines.” I don’t blame them. It took me quite awhile before I could understand such instructions myself, so I understand how newbies would have a bit of difficulty in deciphering directions of this sort.

In this post, I’m going to walk you through the different parts of the eye (in terms of make-up application, that is). I’ve also included some pictures with the areas being described marked out.

The lid. When applying eyeshadow, the lid is where the base color usually goes. A base color is either the same color as your skin (and in applying it you’re just evening out your eye area color) OR the medium/middle shade in a three- or four-shade eyeshadow palette. The lid area starts at the upper lashline all the way up to the crease or socket line. Where’s the crease, you say? Read on…

Your eyelid

The crease or socket line. Gently pat your eyelids with a finger, and feel for the area where the eyeball ends and your eye area recedes or seems to go deeper. That area is your crease or socket line. In most make-up looks, the crease is where the darker colors are placed. The idea is to recess this area even further, to make the eye look more deep-set. However, if you’re like most Asians, you’ll probably find that you have monolids, i.e. you don’t have a defined crease. No worries! There are a host of other ways by which you can define your peepers; I’ll talk about this in a future post.

I have monolids myself, but this is the general area where the crease should be.

The outer corner. This refers to the corner of your eye farthest from your nose. Apply darker colors here and blend softly inwards, going in about one-third the length of your eye (the color here should blend with any color you applied in the crease, if applicable). Darkening this area also helps to define the eyes and make them look deep-set. For people with monolids, applying dark colors here and blending inwards works to give the illusion of deeper-set eyes (better than trying to create the illusion of a crease where there is none).

The outer corner

The inner corner. The reverse of the outer corner, this refers to the corner of your aye nearest to your nose. Unless you have really large eyes, you usually cannot afford to apply dark colors in this area; doing so makes your eyes look smaller. Instead, highlight this area with light/shimmery shades to give you a wide-awake/refreshed look. Any color applied here should be blended softly outwards (i.e. away from the nose), going about one-third the length of your eye.

The inner corner

The browbone. This is the area right below the brow. It’s hard to miss this: there is literally a bone in this area. Light shades are applied here to highlight the area. Shimmer works, but don’t overdo it; you want to be very subtle in emphasizing this area.

See that whiter area where the light hits? That’s the browbone.

The upper lashline. The area where your top eyelashes are, this is where you apply eyeliner and/or false eyelashes. Lining the eyes, when done the right way, makes the eyes pop and can either emphasize or subtly change their shape (depending on the effect that you want to achieve).

The lower lashline. This is where your bottom lashes are. Eyeliner is also applied in this area. You can also add false eyelashes, but they’re a bit trickier to attach here.

The bottom waterline. This is the area that’s practically inside your eyes already, requiring you to go in further than your lower lashline. Applying eyeliner here takes a bit of getting used to. A dark eyeliner applied here works for smoky, sultry looks. A light eyeliner–white, or pale yellow–makes the eyes look bigger and brightens them as well.

The bottom waterline

The top waterline. Like the bottom waterline, but on top (i.e. underneath your top lashes). “What?! You want me to apply my eyeliner there? What if  I poke my eye?” Well, this isn’t for everyone. Even I have yet to master applying my eyeliner here without being reduced to tears. But applying eyeliner here (usually pencil, or cake eyeliner with a wet brush) makes your lashes look fuller without mascara, so I think this is a trick worth learning.

(Note to self: If you want to apply eyeliner here, do it BEFORE applying mascara. I once tried doing it after mascara, and it hurt like anything 🙂 )

See the top lashes? Drawing on your top waterline will require you to bring the liner underneath those lashes. Yikes!

There are so many ways to apply eye make-up that what I’ve just said will not apply to all types of looks. But these guidelines are generally applicable, and they are definitely useful to a beginner.

Remember that blending is key; there should be no visible demarcation lines between one color and the next, or from one area of the eye to another. Hope this helps!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

A guide to buying make up brushes

I was going to do a post on mascaras, but decided to postpone it in light of a recent development: I am now the proud owner of (almost) the entire line of Real Techniques brushes! (swoon)

What, why are you not jumping up and down with me? These are Real Techniques brushes. By Sam Chapman. Of. Pixiwoo. Fame. (pause for effect)

Okay, why do I get the feeling that I’m still not getting the reaction I hoped for? Umm Anj, maybe because not everyone is as crazy about make-up as you are? Fine. I’ll move on.

You see, I am of the firm belief that brushes are as important as the actual make-up products that you apply on your face. With the right kind of brushes, it’s easier for you to achieve seamless application and flawless blending. If you had to choose between spending on brushes or on actual products, I’d recommend that you spend on the former. Having said that, here are some tips to help you in selecting brushes.

Try before you buy. Go for brushes that feel soft and do not prick or scratch your skin. But don’t try it out on your face (brushes displayed aren’t exactly the cleanest); the back of your hand or the inside of your wrist/arm will do.

Ditch those miniscule applicators that usually come with make-up. You know, those sponge-tip applicators or blush brushes that are usually no more than two inches in length. If you’re really serious about learning to apply make-up well, investing in good-quality brushes is a must.

A more expensive brush will not necessarily work better. I learned this the hard way. I once bought an obscenely expensive eyeshadow brush from a reputable brand, only to find that it scratched my lids like you wouldn’t believe. I still use it, if only to get my money’s worth, but it’s made me think twice about buying more brushes from that brand.

Build your collection little by little. If you were to see my brush collection, you’d notice that I rarely have more than two or three brushes from one brand. My Real Techniques haul is the first time I’ve ever bought a lot of brushes from just one brand. This is because I like to hem and haw over each brush that I buy. I want to make sure that I’m really happy with the quality of the brush, and rarely will a single brand offer a line-up wherein each and every brush will satisfy my criteria. Hence my hodge-podge brush collection. My brushes don’t look as nice as those sleek brush sets but at least I know I’m happy with each and every brush that I own.

My brushes…bought from the US, shipped to Japan (it’s a long story, but a million thanks to my Tita Karen who helped me buy them). I can’t wait to try these out!

With proper care and cleaning (yes, you do have to clean them), your brushes should last you for years. Looking at it from this perspective, the initial outlay of money won’t seem as painful.

Happy brush shopping!

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.

It’s all in the bag: a look inside my everyday make-up kit

While I prefer to do my make-up at home, where I have all my products within arm’s reach—not to mention a huge mirror—but I rarely have the time to do so. I usually have to make do with applying my make-up in the office or while in transit (ever tried doing your mascara/eyeliner while inside a moving vehicle?). I often switch up the contents of my kit, but there are some well-loved products that I always tote around. Here’s a list of these products:

1) Liquid concealer. I don’t always have time to do my foundation at home, and it can be a pain to have to lug around a full-sized bottle of foundation for the whole day. So what I do is I only bring a small tube of concealer, which I apply with my (clean) ring finger only on top of blemishes or red patches; I then set everything with powder.

MAC Select Cover-Up: a little goes a long way

2) Eyeshadow brushes. I bring a basic eyeshadow brush and a blending/crease brush. I’ll do a more detailed post on eyeshadow brushes somewhere down the line; for now; let me just say that having these two brushes should take care of most of your eye make-up needs.

My blending/crease brush from Charm, and my basic eyeshadow brush from the Body Shop mineral make-up range

3) Loose powder and a big kabuki brush

4) Eyeliners in the basic colors: black, brown, gray, …hey, I even have a pale yellow one that’s supposed to make me look “less tired” 🙂

When I’m pressed for time, or when I forget to bring eyeshadow, eyeliner smudged on my eyes can achieve the same effect as more complicated eye make-up looks.

5) An eyebrow pencil with a brow comb on the other end. One trick to make eyebrows look full but natural is to fill in any sparse areas with a pencil  and then to comb through the entire brow to soften the look.

6) Mascara. I bring two tubes, but that’s just me. 🙂

7) One or two (or three) lip products: lip balm, lipstick, some glosses

8) Blush. A little bit blended unto the cheeks can do wonders in making me look more “alive”.

9) An eyeshadow palette. This one I switch around the most often, although generally I bring neutral-colored palettes for work.

One of my well-loved eye palettes: this one is by Bobbi Brown.

I hope this post has given you ideas on what products you can bring with you on a daily basis 🙂

Group shot…sans the blusher (whoops)

This post was written by Anj de la Cruz.