Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nail Care Necessities

As is the trend with most things, I'm lazy. Sadly, it makes me perhaps the most un-cliched beauty blogger ever. Now, I'm all for diversity, but, unfortunately, I take it to another level--and it's up for you to decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. Above all, I can't apprehend from revealing that I rarely wear nail polish. But don't be mistaken: I still have over twenty bottles--thank you, Ciaté Mini Mani Month. Nevertheless, nail care over color is my mantra. I'm too much of a perfectionist to let my ragged tips and nail beds let loose. So, in the essence of keeping things polished and absolutely as no-nonsense as possible, here are the nail care necessities.

The basics of nail care always start with nail clippers and a nail file; even my brother and dad use them. I'm never finnicky about clippers, but files are another story. Ever since I was an adolescent, I've always hated nail files, the sawing motions and sound sending chills up my spine. Luckily, I've surpassed the fear...slightly, and use motions in one direction to smooth out any sharp points. The Butter London Nail File is also fantastic in being sturdy and not too cringe worthy--and, funny story, I stole one of these thinking they were free; it turns out they aren't. When cuticle troubles induce, unfortunately, I have another complex in which I feel the need to pick at them, sometimes even making them bleed. But the key to ridding of them all together is hydration. For overall hand health, I slap on the Caudalie Hand and Nail Cream: a light formula that smells slightly sweet and sour, and sinks in quickly to make it the perfect day option. During the winter, though, my hands need some serious, heavy-duty moisture. The Burt's Bees Hand Salve is a mix of shea butter, olive oil, and plant extracts for a concoction that seals in moisture and sends flakiness on its way.

But, sometimes, that's not enough moisture; it's crazy, je sais. For exclusive cuticle hydration, I massage the Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream into my nail beds and any signs those sprouting or even those that are obviously evident are gone. This is even my second pot, and it's a true miracle worker. Another cuticle option that may be a less exclusive offering is Homeoplasmine*. It's obviously French and a makeup artist, cult favorite, so it must be amazing; it turns out, it succeeds in the title. Cuticles, hands, even lips, toes, and cuts, this tube will satisfy all your needs. And, when it's time to clip away the cuticle corpses, cuticle trimmers are the only civilized manner to do so (this is no finger nail picking territory). But, sometimes, I go wild and choose to paint my nails, because an occasional paint job aligns with my nail polish philosophy. But in an effort to save time, I forget base coat, go straight in with color, and seal the shade in with the Seche Vite Top Coat. This may come with a warnings list the length of my arm, but I don't care--it's darn awesome. I certainly don't have time to wait yonks for my hands to dry.

But let's not get too radical, as most of the time, I stick to the bear bare necessities; now, I need to stop alluding to The Jungle Book.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Three Minute Makeup

I'm normally prompt. But I said "normally," not always. Most of these exceptions come in the mornings. I guess I love everything about the sunrise period: a fresh Bloglovin' feed, breakfast, lounging in bed with coffee in hand, and slapping on my makeup. Although, in an effort to shave off time and get out the door more quickly, I've experimented with makeup. As the five minute version of the daily slap floats around, I was all for a try. But I like to be different--I am the only ballet dancer in my school class of one hundred and twenty--and I'm delivering the three minute makeup. I'll admit that I've practiced, and it also helps if you lay your products out before hand rather than rummaging around in your makeup stocks. And, in the essence of time: ready, set, go.

To start, I rub the Dr. Jart Waterfuse BB Cream all over my face. With a self-adjusting shade that camouflages redness, more than anything, and, massaged with fingers, imparts an ever-so-glowy, natural finish, it earns an "A+" in making my complexion more perfect and the thin, slightly moussy, but not silicon-y texture blends really easily to save time, too. Since I'm human, I use the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla, blended with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush, on any spots and other areas of redness or imperfections. If you've tried this concealer, you know how amazing it is. Then, I quickly brush a hint of the By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder over my forehead and chin because I've been a little spotty this week, and this finely milled, powder of gold--referring to the price...eeek--smooths over the skin and hinders and tell tale signs of "I'm breaking out." Moving onto color, I quickly run a bit of NARS Laguna Bronzer under my cheekbones and on my temples, nose, and neck with an über fluffy brush to look healthier and dab a bit of the NARS Blush in Douceur on my apples and up to my temples; the shade adds a bit more sculpt and a hint of pink-tinged glow, which is rather ironic considering it's a matte formula--it's magical. And, then, as always, the rest of my makeup is super simple. I brush through my eyebrows with a spoolie, and that's it. Then, I curl my eyelashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers and apply the L'Orèal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara, wiggling up from my roots to tips and focusing the pigment on my outer lashes (it's the most flattering for elongated eye shapes).

Three minutes, and makeup is done. Although, there is a slight problem: I've performed this makeup everyday this week and have been later than normal. Perhaps it's reverse psychology and I'm, in turn, spending too much time on my computer to compromise. Oh shoot, I'm supposed to be leaving now (note: I'm still in my pajamas and haven't done anything to my complexion--even cleanser). One minute makeup?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Starting Out With Skincare

It's quite evident how the media and general public define "beauty. Perfect skin is one of these characteristics. As much as I try to defy these ideals, they continue to loom over heads, and sometimes send us out the door looking like a lion; when will I learn that my hair will never be voluminous. But, luckily, achieving a nice complexion is manageable. And, as it turns out, every person now has a skincare routine, in search of the Holy Grail--a smooth, baby-like complexion. Two years ago, I was one of those people. But there are many things I wish people had told me when I started out with skincare.

Before I turn to numbering the constituents, I wanted to hand over a few tips. First, keep it simple and consistent. If you chock and change your products around everyday, your skin is going to go mad; miracles don't happen overnight. And sticking to a minimal routine will not only save you money, but also time as you ache over your horrible skin--I'm guilty. Second, learn the map of your skin. I don't only mean Face Mapping (Rebecca and Suzie both did amazing posts on the topic), but also learn your skin's blueprint. Mine is combination, leaning on the slightly oily side with a touch of dehydration. Truly grabbing the ropes will come as you experiment, but choose your products with intention, not just because someone else says it's "good." And, last, figure out what you're actually putting on your skin. Either learn how to read ingredients list (A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients and No More Dirty Looks are both stellar sources) or take the natural or organic route. Either way, it can be difficult, so I've helped you out with a comprehensive list of staples for creating a skincare stash.

Cleanser: They come in varying textures. Stereotypically, dryer skins go for balms and milks, while oilier complexions opt for gels, while both work well with oils. Either way, make sure you invest in a gentle cleanser--even if your skin is an acneic mess, as using a harsh product will only make it worse. Always double cleanse, especially if you're wearing makeup; you can use a separate cleanser for this, but you don't have to.
Budget: Herbivore Botanicals Clay Soaps (all skin types), coconut oil (for dry skin or eye makeup removal)
Higher end: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish (normal to dry), REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser (acneic, either oily or dry)

Exfoliator: Exfoliation is key, especially if you're a lover of glow like me. You can achieve this with either a manual exfoliator--normally in the form of beads or grains--or chemical, using acids (if you choose this method, select which acid---AHA's or BHA's--work best for your skin type with a little research). Of course, there also also combination of both. Depending on your skin, determine how often you should exfoliate. Twice weekly is a good place to start, and then you can increase or decrease from there.
Suggestions: Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant, Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask, REN Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask, Clarins Gentle Exfoliating Brightening Toner, Alpha H Liquid Gold (intense), REN Micro Polish Cleanser

Serum and oils: Like shots of high-potency ingredients, serums and oils can target your main skin concern and prep your skin for the rest of your routine. Often, they make your moisturizer more hydrating and your skin better on the whole. Dry and oily skins alike can opt for either, it's just worth a play.
Budget: Aura Cacia Skincare Oils (I've tried the rosehip and it's really good), Indeed Labs Pepta-Bright
High end: Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend (like a souped up, über packed version of the Aura Cacia one), Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair (not just for aging complexions)

Moisturizer: For some reason, everyone seems to screw up moisturizer, whether it's my Sahara Desert complexion-ed friend who uses mineral oil or my oily-skinned acquaintance who doesn't even use a drop. No matter what type of skin you have, you must moisturize. You can use separate moisturizers for day and night, or the same one. And stay away from mineral oil unless it's really working for you because it restricts penetration of other ingredients.
Suggestions: Kiehl's Skin Rescuer (sensitive, dehydrated, normal, combination, or dry), Origins Vitazing (normal to oily), The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream (oily and acne prone), Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins (made in an oil-free and regular version)

SPF: Magazine editors gush that sunscreen is the secret to anti-aging. Well, I hope that's the case, because it's far cheaper than any anti-aging cream. Slap some on in the morning after your moisturizer (apprehend from buying a cream with SPF in it; then you can't use the cream day and night and there are plenty of good budget SPFs, but not many good budget moisturizers).
Suggestions: Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch Sunblock, MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28

Masks: Masks, like serums or oils, give you an extra boost, but can act in ways the other categories can't. Clay masks are perfect for drying out spots or alleving congestion, as are exfoliating formulas (see the "Exfoliator" category). They can also add another dose of moisture when needed--always a necessity come winter.
Budget: Aztec Clay (was too drying on my skin, but it's worth a try)
Expensive: Aesop Parsley Seed Deep Cleansing Mask, Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask, Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask (oily), Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask (normal to dry, dehydrated)
See "Exfoliator" category for scrubbing options.

It's a good thing it's Sunday; I think I know where you'll be the rest of the day.

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. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...