Friday, April 18, 2014

Everyday Makeup Staples

Based upon the plentiful amount of makeup posts on Parisian To Be, it's no doubt that I'm a makeup floozy, constantly chopping and changing my daily slap from product to product. It may mean that writing monthly favorites posts is slightly difficult--which base do I choose when I put a different one on everyday?--and I still may look the same everyday, but there are is a collection of a fair few that are really kick a%$ products, oomping up my complexion and making me look flawless (okay, that may be a bit of a stretch...) daily.

With a slightly less than perfect complexion, concealer is always a must. I've tried different formulas, in mousse, cream, and liquid forms, "twenty-four hour" formulas, waterproof concoctions, and other varying types. But my favorite that I've ever tried (bold statement coming) is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer. I'm not much a under eye concealer lover, but I imagine that its creamy formula would cover in a non-creasing fashion. Nevertheless, it's stardom shines when it comes to blemishes, not only covering them with an opaque finish, but the mousse-y texture covers the lump (and, more often than not, bulbs) completely and smooths them, as well. Another smoothing product is the NARS Pro Prime Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base, creating the quintessential canvas for pending lid pigment. I featured this in my "Disappointing Products" post, so it's slightly ironic that it appears here. I do continue to think that it's a little overhyped, but it is perfect for keeping the oil on my lids at bay all day long. Right beneath the lids are the eyelashes. After curling, I apply the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara--a repurchase after parting from this grey tube. I've missed its extremely lengthening and curl holding power, also providing a tidbit of volume, as well. Nevertheless, I sometimes need a little bit of volume aid, so, I smudge the Rimmel Scandal Eyes Kohl Kajal in Brown right in between my lashes for that "I naturally have Cinderella lashes" look--i.e. barely detectable. It's smooth and comes out without a hitch, also impeding of any panda eye moments and, if needed, smudges well, too.

When it comes to brows, the fact that my pair haven't been sorted by a professional for two years and my hack-handed-ness ways suggest that they always need a little bit of aid. I use the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Dark Brunette to fill in any slightly sparse spots and to extend the edges, then use the spoolie to comb them through, even on days they aren't accompanied by pigment. Last is lip balm; a true necessity, especially since my lips always feel so strange after brushing my teeth. The Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip in Peppermint is my most recent find. At first, I thought it was lacking in the moisture department, but now that we're nearly into spring, I find it's rather suitable. And the pigment, especially, is gorgeous--a light pink, ever so slightly paler than my natural shade--and the enhanced shine and thick yet thin texture (just don't ask) also makes it amazing.

So, now you know exactly what I'll be slapping on today, tomorrow, and probably the day after. All I have to say is if I go a day without the NARS concealer, send me to therapy, stat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bumble and bumble

Many females my age look to their moms for skincare advice, makeup know-how, and general tips and tricks. For some, it's the reason they pat serum into their skin rather than rub. Perhaps it's why they started using eyeliner. Well, like many things, my mom is different--thank goodness all our mothers aren't the same. But my blonde predecessor and creator didn't have a solid skincare routine until maybe a year ago when I vehemently urged her to get one (right after she told me she used to sleep in her makeup...eeek). As for makeup, other than some eyeliner and a swipe of mascara, she was done. Somehow, she still managed to look gorgeous, and happens to receive more "you're so pretty" compliments that I, but there is one facet where she has stayed sturdy: haircare. With highlights, cuts, coloring, shampoo bottles, and many mornings of waking up to the roaring of her blow dryer, it's fair to say that she is the most influential when it comes to haircare. And there was always one dominating brand in her drawers: Bumble and bumble.

Luckily, this plentiful array has allowed me to steal some Bb loot for my own joy. But once my allowance started rolling in at a Barbie Doll exceeding rate, I bought some own booty for myself. And, once, my mom even treated me to a cut at one of their salons. With the first one opening in 1977 in NYC, Bumble and bumble began a race with a new philosophy. Exuding creativity to elevate their craft, revering authenticity, and creating editorial-quality products, they soon grabbed the attention of haircare lovers alike. It's the latter statement that truly set them apart, though. Their first product, Brilliantine, was revealed in 1990, designed to be used editorially, a new facet that many products didn't tap. And after that single launch, many others followed--and many now perch in my stash.

Although I don't possess Brilliantine (it's pending on my wishlist...), I have other treasure to enjoy. Their shampoos and conditioners serve a variety of hair types. Specifically, their Sunday Shampoo works wonders for cleaning out a clogged scalp, and the expansion of their Surf line with a shampoo and conditioner duo imparts beachy, texturized, and appealingly gritty hair that's model-worthy. Their famous Surf Spray is a favorite of mine, urging extreme texture and naturally beautiful locks with hold for other styles. They also recently expanded their Thickening line, previously just consisting of the Thickening Hairspray, which is a perfect compliment for blow dryers, and a shampoo and conditioner, with the Thickening Dry Spun Finish*--an aerosol spray the bursts fibers to whip hair into an airy delight. They also cover moisture with offerings of masks and creams, such as the Quenching Complex which always succeeds in making hair look healthy and polished. And, for more texture, their Texture Hair (Un) Dressing Creme works wonders for achieving the stereotypical British do. 

Establishing a new trend in 1977, Bumble and bumble have achieved in forming a new path of haircare, covering all needs and hair types. I wonder how long it will be until my mom's next Bumble order?

Monday, April 14, 2014

NARS Blushes

I don't often repurchase items, nor do I buy loads of the same type. I'll admit that I'm not exactly the most clingy, anyway (except when it comes to almond butter) but beauty is definitely the category I always flint with. Heck, I even named a particular base the best of last year and am currently slapping it on everyday, but I still don't think I'll repurchase; my point exactly. Nevertheless, an exception discreetly snuck into my stash.

This exception is NARS blushes--beautiful, squared pots of pigment housed in nearly silky, black compacts that happen to attract dirt just as much as they attract my love. I have three of them drifting within my possession, but each pigment reveals another facet. Why? Well, in my typical philosophical pensions, I've decided that it's the ridiculously amazing range of colors that NARS boasts in pigments that has me oblivious to my consistent black compact buying habits. Plums, burgundies, even neon pinks that I wouldn't ever dare to dip my own brush into. For a brand who vehemently showcases blue eyeshadow-encrusted models in their ads, I'd say it's rather interesting that I have such a penchant for a brand so makeup-y (as in the antonym of "no makeup, makeup," my mantra). And I prefer my dose in the form of blush.

The oldest blush in my possession is Deep Throat, a neutral and slightly golden toned pure pink with a hint of shimmer. But being "old" has a negative connotation. What if I told my makeup ignorance three years back chose this shade, minus knowledge of hype and NARS blush hysteria? Then it would be a keeper. As a bearer of a naturally pink complexion, though, it's rather ironic that I'm praising a further tomato inducing shade. Nevertheless, the buttery and pigmented formulas make for easy application, especially when accompanied with another magical power of never looking too over the top. Although obscene in name, Deep Throat was the pretty blush for the beginner Lillian, and also the (recently) most worn for a mind about to explode with makeup knowledge. On a warmer front is Luster. It's orange and nearly as warm as blush gets. And, when I first applied it, I just begged that I wouldn't look like an Oompa Loompa; but the shade in the pan shouldn't scare you. I don't get much use out of it in these cold--although slightly exothermic--days, but it looks absolutely stunning in the summer, paired with bronzer, and a slightly bronzed (or, if you're like me, faux bronzed) complexion. And there's also the trademark hit of shimmer--and don't be weaned away; trust me when I say I'm a glitter-phobe. Last is a dusky, pink, slightly brown-tinged, earthy pigment known as Douceur. Some praise it as their contour of choice, but its slightly rosy glow in its matte formula adds grace to your face with an edge and barely-there feel thanks to the sublime grey and brown. Yes, it's sculpting, but it's also perfect for no makeup days where you really want to wear makeup (i.e. me everyday....) and for moments when it's time for another feature to shine, whether it's red packed lips or a burnished lid.

I like to stick to my word, but obviously François Nars has me a changed woman. Their shades are gorgeous, and the easy formulas don't hurt, either. Unfortunately, François may have me hypnotized; blue blush, here I come.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blog Photography

Photography is the vain of my existence. I'm a perfectionist by nature, so if I'm not completely satisfied with a photo, it means that I will retake it. Sounds rather innocent, non? Well, I'd say it's rather compulsive, and retaking a photo six times and still not being satisfied isn't exactly...civilized--if I may say so myself. Nevertheless, in the months that I've run Parisian To Be, I've picked up a few hints and tips on blog photography; but, I think my OCD has only gotten worse.

I don't necessary take my photos in "bulk," per say, but I do take multiple at a time. When I'm planning out my week, I'll make a list of photos I need to take, and take them all on one day. I prefer to take my photos around ten o'clock in the morning, as I've found that this time presents the best balance of both warm and cool light. When it comes to "setting the scene"--as I like to call it--I always prefer a white background; I mean, just look at all my photos. Then, I decide if I want to include junk (notebooks, jewelry, fabric, etc.). Incorporating different items is always nice, as it seems to make for a more complete photo and conveys its own story. I choose items related to a photo, for example, if I'm doing a photo on "makeup for spring," I may include a flower--although flowers look nice in all photos, but you get the jist. This leads me to another point: all photos looking the same. Organically, a blogger develops her/his own style, so, when the reader flips through their Bloglovin' feed, they immediately know which photo is yours, even without seeing who has written it. Nevertheless, all photos looking the exact same--from the same angle, on the same background, laid out in the same pattern, etc--seems to make the visual content a little boring. The photo, after all, is often what leads a person to your post.

Taking the photo
Once you've set up, it's time to take your photo, but you must adjust your settings first. I won't go too in depth about the nitty gritty of your camera, because there are so many tutorials online to help you (and they will help you a lot more than I ever could), but here are the basics:
ISO, aperture, and shutter speed all play a balancing act to control the light in your photo. Your camera has different modes where you can control one aspect and it will set the rest to create an even balance of light. I normally shoot in aperture priority mode, since I only ever shoot beauty products, and I choose a smaller f-stop (the index of numbers pertaining to aperture) if I want to focus on one object and blur the background, or if I want a lot of objects in focus, I choose a higher f-stop, but you won't let in as much light this way. Similarly, if you're taking a photo of a moving object, then increase your shutter speed (the number is represented in photos per second), and your object will appear sharp, even though it's moving. If you still need to let more light into your photo, bump your ISO up to increase your camera's sensitivity to light. I try not to go higher than 800 ISO unless I really have to, because this loss in quality makes the photo more "grainy."
Once you've organized and set your buttons, it's time to finally take your photo. Move the camera around--obviously not while you press the shutter button, of course--to catch the frame at all different angles. I normally take around fifteen to twenty photos per post, so I can choose the best of the best.

Oh, editing--the second vain of my existence. I used to have this ever-so complex system of editing, but I don't even want to remember those days. If I want to edit on my iPad, I use the Snapseed app, but to upload photos from a SD card to your tablet, you have to buy this lightening (c'mon, Apple). Normally, though, I edit using Photoshop. It's a complex program, and I've only nipped the iceberg on it, but it's worth learning. After selecting my favorite two, three, or four photos, I upload them to the shop, adjust the brightness, adjust the curves, then occasionally mess with the vibrance, color balance, or add a filter if needed. Then, I choose my favorite one and save. Sometimes, though, if I can't decide between two, I'll upload them both to a post and "Preview," and choose my favorite from there; you'd be amazed at that power. I save my photos using dashes in between words (ex. my-photo.jpg) because it makes it easier for search engines to recognize that your photo matches the search terms. Once you've uploaded, you're done.

P.S. If you use Blogger as your blog host, change your Google + settings to turn off "auto-enhance images;" it caused my photos to look much darker than they actually were.

The ancient Chinese secret to blog photography has been revealed. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream

Skincare, as it exists, is already annoying. Actually, let me rephrase that: my skin, itself, is very annoying. It's a true puzzle, in which the pieces are consistently changing, and, chances are, one piece that once fit no longer does. In practicality, my skin is a combination, dehydrated, acne prone, easily scarred racket. To cure the mess, I somehow sorted that slapping on thick creams to cure my moisture-seeking dermis was the best bet, but I'll admit that it didn't do much to normalize my combination skin. In fact, I ignorantly thought that my skin was rather "normal," until I found this moisturizer.

The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream is a "balancing light moisturizer," formulated for "blemished and congested skin," but also calming, antiseptic, normalizing, and flake reducing. Within the first sentence of the packaging, this cream was already out of my comfort zone. But the lovely Abby Fazio insisted that I give it a try. So, I did, slowly pushing its seventy-six dollar price tag over to the cashier. And when I was within two steps of a sink, I washed my faee, then slapped this on. Although, this isn't the jar you shove your fingers in to dish out the product. What do you think the tiny, white spatula is for? And this was the first plus; all potted moisturizers should come with these germ saviors. Perhaps the most surprising effect, though, was when I woke up the following morning, spots diminished (if not gone) and chin congestion subsided. The drawback, though, was that my face felt rather tight--a desperate cry for moisture, perhaps. My cheeks were a little redder, as well (in their true Rudolph fashion), but, I went through the day and realized that I was willing to make those sacrifices, for an excess oil-free day had officially been inaugurated.

With aloe, honey, marigold, rosehip, tea tree, jojoba, and, notably, manuka (the antiseptic), this moisturizer is a true wonder for oily, combination, or acne prone skin. But I still haven't released the true profundity that this moisturizer holds. I was wrong. I failed in my skin assessment, piling on those thick creams--sometimes even balms--to aid my complexion in its journey to a better place. In reality, I don't think I even came to this assessment until last week (a good fourteen days after the first application of this moisturizer) when I slapped on hydrating masks to send my skin to a less awkward-feeling state--to subside the redness and tightness. What happened? Spots, spots, and more spots, and these were the painful, under the skin ones, too; it hurt to even move my mouth. Nonetheless, I slapped myself in the face and used just this moisturizer and a cleanser to mend my complexion once more. And, within eight hours, my spots had diminished again, and, this time, there was, luckily, no Rudolph side effect and it hasn't risen since, either.

I hate being wrong, but sometimes it's essential on the road to better skin. I'd rather have the latter, anyway. And especially because I think I've found my new holy grail moisturizer; you don't hear that phrase coming from me, often.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Face Base Wishlist

As an eyeshadow ignorant, hair styling minimalist, skincare persister, and fashion shopping hater, there are two dominating categories on my wishlist: cheek products and complexion enhancers. They're the two largest compartments in my storage drawer, the complexion covering tubes housed in an empty Glossybox, and the blushes, bronzers, and light-attention-grabbers nesting in a ever so slightly smaller, flimsy, sheer blue nest. So, to say that I'm constantly coveting them isn't a surprise, but I have a strict "one in, one out" policy that means I can't quite justify purchasing other cheeky additions. And the story is the same for the bases; there's only so much foundation I can slap on. Nevertheless, base products seem slightly more justifiable. I do squirt out a sizably more grand amount per application--as opposed to a few particles of blush; there are no dents coming in the near future--and I haven't treated myself to one in quite sometime. But there's a caveat: choosing just one seems to be a nearly impossible task. So, as I discuss the lusts below, tell me which you think I should choose--in a forum-esque fashion.

Without any mineral makeup in my stocks, the Laura Mercier Mineral Powder seems to be the most plausible of choices. A natural, slightly radiant, and barely detectable finish is what has me swooning, and the wide spectrum of coverage opportunity also seems to make it the most versatile. Although, I'm lazy, and buffing in mineral makeup not only sounds more time consuming that my current "slash it about with fingers" stylée, but doesn't quite coincide with my five-minute-makeup  standards. The RMS Beauty Un-Cover Up, on the other hand, seems to be right up my alley. I have yet to be disappointed by any RMS pots (and they recently came out with tubes--i.e. mascara, but this is a bases only wishlist), and, luckily, a little bit of coverage here and there is all I really need--except for a few days. Many natural beauty lovers swear by the stuff, but Kate recently praised it, too. But I'm still hesitant about the über creamy standards the pot holds, and that's why I continue to lean towards liquid bases. The Revlon Nearly Naked Foundation is bottle I've been eyeing ever since it came out last year. With descriptions leaning more towards "tinted moisturizer" than foundation, it seems to fit my pending foundation guidelines. The only hitch that has me weening away is the lacking lasting power.

With both a BB and CC cream already gracing my face (mental note: mix them together; that would be amazing), I'm edging to try the Bourjois 123 Perfect CC Cream. I first saw Lisa Eldridge work her magic, strategically applying this flesh-toned cream to yet another gorgeous face, then some of my other favorite bloggers and YouTubers and it appears to be a dewy, lightweight yet perfected skin-giver in a tube. And it also doesn't help that it's unattainable on U.S. shores; you always want what you don't have. The same ode rings true for the NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer. I've been lusting after it since December and still haven't picked it up, and here's why: I tried a sample and, although I was fascinated with the lasting power, the dewiness wasn't quite there. Nevertheless, I saw it on Suzie and Estée and it looked so damn amazing. So maybe my eyes are just not able to see the glow. Perhaps the serious glow-getter--the Jouer Luminizing Moisture Tint--can cure that issue. I'm already a fan of the matte version, and, after seeing it on Tamira (and the fact that she insisted her skin was "awful" and it looked absolutely fabulous) means that it has a spot on the face base wishlist.

And this is where I open it up to you; since I'm clearly incapable of choosing one (or two--let's just say my countenance and brain are in serious need of a pick-me-up), leave your two sense below to send me shopping. So, which one should I snatch?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Noteworthy Natural Beauty Brands

In my opinion, natural beauty has a bad reputation. Hippies? Yogis? Kale munchers? Eh, you're not too far off; I'm one of them, at least, satisfying every stereotype above. But, there's so much more. In fact, I even have my mom--in her rhinestone loving, Jo Malone obsessing, and pedicure addiction ways--slightly hooked to products that have a guilt-free conscience. If you're a newbie or expertise on the subject, here are some natural beauty brands to note. They're guilt-free like ninety percent cacao, goji berry pumped chocolate, I tell you.

Australian at heart, this plant-based and laboratory-made, ingredient chocked brand isn't organic, or boastful of other nano-free claims. Nonetheless, who cares? It's obvious that simplicity of nature is at it's heart; just look at one of their ingredients lists. Notably, Aesop expands from the cosmetic level of other skincare brands: "we advocate the use of our formulations as part of a balanced life that includes a healthy diet, sensible exercise, a moderate intake of red wine, and a regular dose of stimulating literature." Now, that's what I like to hear.
Try the Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Mask

Based in New Zealand, Antipodes ticks all the right boxes: certified organic, a light carbon foot print, and eighty percent of their products are sourced from New Zealand, with effective products in nutrient-sustaining packaging. It's also a plus that their formulations smell stunning, chock-full of extra boosts for your complexion and nasal cavities.
Try the Aura Manuka Honey Mask

Burt's Bees
I like to think of Burt's Bees as the brand that got this whole "natural beauty" ball rolling. Now stocked in grocery stores and drugstores alike, it's more than widely accessible. Although their products may not be organic, it's clearly stated slap bang on the casing how "natural" the content inside really is. If that still doesn't do it for you, take a look at their ingredients list; it's minimalism in tubes and tubs.
Try the Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream

Herbivore Botanicals
Mineral and plant based Etsy shop Herbivore Botanicals was my first foray into natural skincare. And I'll be honest in that it was their gorgeous packaging that, with first sight, had me smitten. All their products are hand-crafted in Seattle, Washington by owners Julia and Alex, themselves. On a more profound depth, their potions are natural, organic, and vegan and their oil-based (although not oily in the slightest) soaps are made using the cold-press method, sustaining all the completely untouched oil has to load my skin with.
Try the Blue Clay Soap

Joanna Vargas Skincare
New York City facialist Joanna Vargas--not to mention alumni of University of Chicago--mended her way into the beauty industry, working with day spas and company Jurlique. In a mission, she launched her own spa and now has her own skincare line which caters to her partiality to natural and organic ingredients.
Try the Exfoliating Mask

John Masters Organics
I like to consider John Masters Organics the "NARS" of the natural world, eclectic, well-known, and stunning in its own foray. As the name suggests, this organic brand boasts a conscience apparent on the outside, but also impressive on the inside; all their ingredients are either cold-pressed, steam distilled, or wild-harvested. It's even more impressive that their products are amazing, too.
Try the Sea Mist

Josie Maran
Perhaps you didn't quite think of Josie Maran as a natural brand, posing with the ethos and aesthetics of a model (like Josie Maran herself, per say) aside your conventional wonders; it does line the walls of Sephora, after all. Nevertheless, often utilizing plant extracts and crafted with an identic base of argan oil (pressed by women's co-ops in Morocco), Maran's potions also rock a near clean ingredients list, with constituents shamelessly notated as "natural" or "organic."
Try the 100% Pure Argan Oil (the classic...duh)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals
For skincare newbies, or even natural beauty newbies, MyChelle Dermaceuticals is the shelf to look towards. The best part is that the white and soft color clad tubes and pots may line the shelves of your local Whole Foods, but they're also easily found online and don't break the bank. With products organized by skin type, it's as easy is "1, 2, 3" to craft your skincare routine from scratch.
Try the Sun Shield SPF 28

Recently, Pai has become the talk of the beauty blogosphere, bringing in effectivity and remarkable principles. Creator Sarah Brown missioned her brand with sensitive skin in mind, but that doesn't mean her line's constituents lack a punch. With its own lab and manufacturing facility, there's also minimal chance of inadvertent additives and political drama...because you have to worry about these things when it comes to skincare.
Try the Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend

REN Clean Skincare
I'll keep this one simple, considering I've talked on and on about REN's products for as long as I can remember. "Clean" is the most fitting adjective, really, to describe this brand, free of....the list is too long to notate. Nevertheless, their products are truly stunning, really wacking my complexion back into shape when I've had separation from these clear, minimalist bottles.
Try the ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser

RMS Beauty
Like REN, RMS can past the "free of" test and stump the inquisitor. Free of mineral oils? Oui. Free of nanos (whatever those are)? Yes, and their stunning pigments blend to skin seamlessly with the help of coconut oil and rosemary extract. Following the motto, "created by nature, untainted by man," RMS withholds these principles with raw and organic formulas. You could eat them if you wanted.
Try the Living Luminizer

The Organic Pharmacy
Created by a homeopathic pharmacist, British brand, The Organic Pharmacy, mixes cosmetic level problem solving with a philosophy of "from the inside, out" beauty. Her range of creams, cleansers, and serums, along with supplements and powders truly embodies the doctrine, and I like someone who sticks to their word.
Try the Manuka Face Cream

Now, it's time to grab a pad of paper and note away. And, FYI: using these products will not turn you into a kale-massaging freak like me.
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