October 30, 2010

Aroma Lamps

No matter how much make-up or skincare products you put on your face, if you feel crappy it'll show.  So from now on, I'm including posts that'll help us be beautiful inside too.

Aromatherapy has been practiced for thousands of years and uses essential oils (these are oils derived from plants) for healing and to promote an overall sense of well-being. You know how a certain smell evokes a feeling or even a memory?  It's sort of like that.  When molecules of the essential oil are inhaled, they send a signal to your brain which triggers a specific reaction.

One of the more popular aromatherapy methods is the use of an aroma lamp.  Sometimes, when I am desperate for a good night's sleep, I do this while I prepare for bed and it helps.  In fact, there have been times that I ended up oversleeping.  I guess it's THAT effective haha!
An aroma lamp has a well at the top.  At the bottom is an area that fits a tealight candle.

The first step is to put enough water in the well.  No need to fill it to the top, just make sure its a little more than halfway.  Next, put 3-5 drops of your essential oil.  Essential oils are usually so strong that they are mixed with something else to help diffuse the scent and to prevent any harsh reaction to the skin.

Each essential oil has its own properties, so make sure you're using one that's appropriate.  Below are some examples:
  • Bergamot - Calming, Relieves stress
  • Citronella - Mental stimulant, Uplifting
  • Eucalyptus - Energizing, Stimulating
  • Frankincense - Meditation / Prayer
  • Lavender - Promotes restful sleep, Balances mood swings
  • Patchouli - Aphrodisiac, Keeps you awake
That's just to name a few - there's a wide variety available.  You can also create your signature scent by mixing oils together but be prepared because some scents just don't go well together.  It's going to be a matter of trial and error.

Make sure you are using essential oils and not fragrance oils.  Fragrance oils will just improve the scent of your surroundings, but these are usually synthetic and will not provide the same health benefits.  It's good to note that essential oils don't come cheap - there's a huge difference when it comes to price between essential and fragrance oils.

Next, light your teacup candle.  Always make sure that the tealight candle is in a fireproof container to avoid accidents and never leave it unattended!

Leave it burning for 10-20 mintues and blow out the candle.  The scent should linger for some time.  Never let it burn dry because it's just a bitch having to clean up the oil when it dries up on your lamp.

Where to buy essential oils?  There are specialty stores that carry these.  The Body Shop has essential oils that are already blended based on your need.  The Citromint Company carries both fragrance and essential oils - so you need to make sure what you get

October 27, 2010

The Body Shop Brow & Liner Kit

One of my favorite products from The Body Shop, this is one of my make-up staple items.  It comes with everything you need - a mirror, two shades and a brush set.

This nifty little kit contains two pressed powder shades, to provide you a choice depending on the look you want to pull off (or hair color of the moment).  It's highly pigmented so just use a little to get the definition you need.  I find that this gives a softer, more natural look as opposed to using an eyebrow pencil. If you want a darker and more dramatic look, like those actresses in  Mexican telenovelas (they have such beautiful eyebrows!), apply the powder wet.

Because this kit does not include stencils, I had to learn how to define my eyebrows freehand.  I think it's a good skill to have, yeah?

The only downside is that the brush isn't great.  It's easier for me to apply this using a slanted eyeliner brush I bought elsewhere.  In fact, I wish The Body Shop would just get rid of the brush and save on plastic and whatever synthetic material they use for the bristles.

Overall, I like this product... a lot.  So much that over the last five years, I've had 3 of these kits.  The label indicates that each kit should last up to 36 months.

October 22, 2010

Spa Works

I love the fact that there are so many affordable, on-call spas in Metro Manila.  They usually operate way past regular salon and spa hours which makes it very convenient.  Spa Works is one of them, operating until 1am.

I tried out the following services from Spa Works:  Pampered Hands and Feet, Sports Massage and Ventosa.

Thrice, I availed of their Pampered Hands and Feet service.  It consists of a manicure, pedicure, hand and foot spa.  The first time, the therapist left the mask on my foot a little too long which left an orangey color for well over a week.  The second time the therapist was way too chatty, talking about her showbiz clients (like I care).  No hitches during the third time.  The scrub was okay and the nail polish was applied properly.  Just don't ask them to do a french manicure - when "chatty" did, the white line was too thick.  I just had her change it to a plain one instead.

Their Sports Massage, I tried twice.  According to their flier, it is an "invigorating massage technique that relieves sore muscles and tired joints focusing on stubborn knots and tired aching muscles."  Perfect for someone like me, who experiences chronic back pain.  There were some parts of the massage that I felt  the pressure was too hard and rough. I feared that my back would ache afterward.  I was pleasantly surprised that this was not the case.

Their Ventosa massage was also pretty good.  It is the "traditional Chinese medicine technique that combines heat and suction to release wind, remove toxins, clear energy lines and boost circulation."  It's very relaxing, however, you need to be prepared because the suction part causes blood  clots, leaving red circular marks on the back.  Mine stayed with me for about a week before it fully disappeared.  When you avail of this massage, you don't need to pay extra for the massage bed.  And to recreate the whole spa experience, the therapist even whipped out an mp3 player with typical spa music.

Their therapists certainly know their stuff.  At the end of each session, my back felt so relaxed and that feeling stayed with me over the next couple of days.  There is one thing you need to watch out for - they use coconut which is highly comedogenic.  My back brokeout like crazy... it was really BAD.  If you have oily or acne-prone skin, provide your own oil because they have no alternative to offer.

Overall, the Hand and Feet treatment was so-so.  I would rather go to my regular nail spa since the service is much better.  I highly recommend their massages.  But you need to take note of the kind of oil they use.

October 19, 2010

MAC Prep + Prime Eyes

I was never really big on primers until I started wearing eyeshadow frequently.  And because of the climate in this country, it's impossible to wear eyeshadow the entire day without primer.  It's just too hot that it'll melt and crease within a couple of  hours.

The first eyeshadow primer I tried was MAC's Prep + Prime Eyes.  It's super smooth when applied and even feels lighter on the lids compared to other cream eyeshadows I've tried.  It's extremely easy to blend your eyeshadow after application.

Does it work?  Well, it does help your eyeshadow last longer... but not by much.  During the day, my eyeshadow would start to crease after 4 hours or less.  When I'm inside an air conditioned building at night (which is quite often), I have better luck in making my eyeshadow last for about 8 hours.

I tested this is both humid and cold weather conditions to see if it would perform differently.  Unfortunately, it did not.  Maybe my lids are super oily?  I don't know.  I hope MAC comes up with an eye primer that lasts longer.

October 14, 2010

NARS Ashes to Ashes Eyeshadow

Ashes to Ashes is a shimmery taupe color that goes on sheer and feels super silky on the skin when applied.  When used with primer, it stays on longer - I haven't tried it without primer because I feel it's a waste of eyeshadow.  This baby is one of the most versatile ones I've seen around, and is now part of my make up staple.

It's great used solo for a natural look or if you're in the mood for something glam, this works well as your base color.

If you want to try a more subtle version of the smoky eye (or hesitant to try that look), this is the eyeshadow you're looking for.   The trick is to build up the color until you reach the shade you desire.  To complete the look, apply an espresso-colored eyeliner close to your upper lash line and smudge.  Finally, line your waterline.

Check out these beautiful swatches:

With flash - with primer, without primer

October 10, 2010

Expired Cosmetics

It's spring cleaning time!  I'm throwing out some lip glosses and eye pencils that have been with me for quite a while.  Why?  Because being the germaphobe that I am, I can't stand the thought of anything that's expired touching my face.  How do you know if it's time to toss out your favorite moisturizer or concealer, since most cosmetics don't have an expiration date on the box or label?

Thanks to an awesome law in Europe, most cosmetics now have the "Period After Opening" label:

For example, the product pictured above shows that I have 24 months to use it and I need to throw it after that time has elapsed.

The reason you want to get rid of these things after a while is the preservatives and fillers in make up can be quite the bacteria breeding ground.  And if your foundation or moisturizer is past the date, it could cause your skin to breakout.  It's even more dangerous when it comes to eyeshadow, mascara and liners because it could lead to eye infection.  Also make sure that the tools you use to apply your make up (including your finger) are always clean!

Still can't find the symbol on your stuff?  Check how it smells and feels.  If it smells funky or the consistency isn't the same as when you first opened the product, then it's highly possible that you should toss that thing away.  
Below is a guide for commonly used products:
  • Mascara - 3 months
  • Liquid Eyeliner - 6 months
  • Foundation - 6 months
  • Eyeshadow - 12 months
  • Lipstick - 24 months
  • Blush - 12 months
  • Concealer - 6 months
  • Lipgloss - 12 months
  • Eye/Lip Pencils - 12 months (but you need to make sure to sharpen these all the time)
What about Mineral Make Up?  Premium quality mineral make up is supposed to be free from these preservatives and fillers.  They say that these usually don't expire because it is composed of inorganic materials.  However, to be on the safe side, toss them out after 18 months.

Next time you go beauty shopping, keep these things in mind.  You also want to think about how much stuff you buy and use all at the same time.  If you're the type to use the stuff daily, go ahead and get that big bottle.  But if you like to mix and match stuff or like to keep it simple, then you might want to consider mini or travel sized products.  It may not look much, but these babies actually go a long way.

So while you do have an intense love affair with that eyeshadow, it's time to think about how long it's been in your make up kit.  Yes, it can be quite hard to let go but keep in mind that with the wide range of cosmetics available today, it's easy to get the exact same one or something close to it.

October 6, 2010

Palladio Liquid Eyeliner

After an 8-year hiatus, I finally decided it's time to start wearing liquid eyeliner again.  Why did I stop wearing it in the first place?  Well, because my eyelids would always sting.  No matter what brand I wore.  And so, I switched to pencil and powder liners.
Come to think of it, the only one I could stand to use was the one from Maybelline.  My friends back in college were the ones who introduced me to that product.  I forgot what it was called.  It was thick and gooey... when it dried up, it felt sort of like plastic.  And to remove, I would just peel it off.  I don't even know if they still have it today.
Anyway, back to our topic.  I figured since many years have passed, the quality of liquid eyeliner would improve.  The first one I tried was this liquid eyeliner from Palladio which came with a felt tip applicator.

The first time I wore it, my eyelids stung.  So I tried it another time.  It still stung.  And then, the mother of all stupid ideas came to me, I tried it for a third time.  Nothing changed.  I should have quit the first time.

A definite thumbs down when it comes to being hypoallergenic.  Plus, it's not waterproof, so it'll smudge after a while.  Both points are a big no-no for contact lens wearers like me.

* * * * * * * * *

I tried a few more liquid eyeliners after this, and was disappointed.  A lot of them made my eyelids sting and left a dark mark after.  BUT I did find one that worked out just fine.  I'll save that for another day ;)

October 2, 2010

Prestige Light Response Concealer

Light Response Self-Adjusting Undereye Concealer (whew!).  Been using this product for about two years now and it's my choice for daily wear.  Goes on light, unlike some concealers that go on thick and heavy.  So you don't need to worry about blending when you're in a rush.  Just a light dab here and there, and you should be good to go.  To blend, I just use my finger or Suesh's large concealer brush.

Caramel is the shade I use, not just for the undereye area, but in other parts of my face that need to even out -  sides of the nose, under the lip, and it does a decent job concealing broken capillaries too!  I have very dark circles around my eyes and this works really well in lightening it.  Don't expect it to eliminate the dark circles... that's just not realistic.

Make-up, no matter how much primer you put, will eventually fade.  You'll need to check every few hours if your concealer is still even.  If you have fine lines, some product may settle after a few hours.  Just go back to dabbing to even it out, apply a bit more if needed, and pat with some power inward.

Prestige has affordable makeup items and this one is a pretty good deal.