Monday, March 31, 2014

Restocking the Necessities

In the beauty hemisphere, there are necessities and unnecessary products. Candles? Although I love them, they're not essential. Sunscreen? The sun is quite evil, you know. Five tinted moisturizers? Definitely essential...just kidding. But besides a tidbit of a clear out, my spring beauty clean has been relatively minimal--because I'm using all my products up without effort. Trust me, if I could draw out the constituents inside that tube, I would because, then, I wouldn't have to purchase a new one. Or, in this case, any new ones. Unfortunately, though, the integrals of a plethora of pots, tubes, and bottles are without salvaging and I've had to embrace the inevitable: restocking the necessities; it's a good thing I saved my Christmas money.

After a trip to New London Pharmacy and my skin consultation, I parted with two products; it's impossible to leave that place empty handed. On the slightly less necessary front is the Joanna Vargas Exfoliating Mask. Botanically based, this combination of kaolin clay, volcanic rock, hyaluronic acid, and various extracts overhaul your skin's surface with the help of manual and enzymatic exfoliation. On the inside, the constituents sound dreamy, but I had not heard of this brand until it was recommended by Abby Fazio, president of New London. After showing her the small bumps on my chin, she suggesting this exfoliator as a swap from my usual exfoliating routine (previously consisting of exfoliating toners and oils) which she ruled as being ineffective. The saga is for another day, but, so far, she was right (I'm not surprised.). After this grainy recommendation, she directed me to the true necessity--a new moisturizer. With my acquisitive sight glancing to a specific array of products, it's like Abby stared into a crystal ball as she directed me to The Organic Pharmacy Manuka Face Cream. Unlike most moisturizers I've used, this formula is specifically formulated for oily and blemish prone skins, but she continued to promise that, despite the claims, this also wouldn't leave my skin dehydrated. The concoction of aloe, honey, marigold, rosehip, manuka, tea tree, and jojoba is also completely organic. And, so far, this cream has normalized my previously oily, combination skin and on account of a new routine, with the help of her, I've been spot free.

But my face wasn't the only item that needed nourishing. Although other lip balms continue to line my vanity, I'm one down and I was on the search for a more natural alternative. I ordered the Kari Gran Tinted Lip Whip in Peppermint, a completely organic, pink tinged and heavy black pot enclosed gem that's über nourishing thanks to castor seed, sunflower, calendula, and olive oils, beeswax, and pimenta berry extract for color. Along the same thread (although not studded in such a peony pink shade) is the John Masters Organics Bare Body Lotion. Such a "bare" and frills free formula sounds rather boring, but I'm hoping that such a clean potion can aid in the clearance of some stubborn eczema. And my body isn't the only think that needs some bare calming, thus the John Mastes Organics Bare Shampoo. With tea tree, evening primrose oil, and chamomile this shampoo promises to cleanse, fortify, clarify, prevent breakage, and promote shine. Although it may not prove to be as volumizing as I would like, that's why I've also purchased the John Masters Organics Sea Mist Sea Salt Spray with Lavender. I've always been a fan of sea salt sprays, and after my Oribe (and also pricey) aerosol can hit rock bottom, I knew I wanted to give this, far more simplistic, version a go. In fact, it's so simplistic, it only has three ingredients: water, sea salt, and lavender oil.

As it turns out, I'm lacking on the haircare and moisturizing front, containing voids that have now been filled. I'll admit, though: it's nice to be able to justify shopping.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

March Favorites

Spring is finally here. And even though it's not April yet, I'm hoping March showers bring April flowers--I can't wait until May for a spice of color along sidewalks. As rain patters outside my window (and I hilariously laugh at my brother staggering up our front steps, soaked), I reminisce about what March has held. I took a tour of the East coast, and, notably, slept in New York's Empire Hotel (unfortunately, I had just finished Gossip Girl the afternoon before we checked in), munched in vegan restaurants to my delight, and made a stop at my favorite pharmacy: New London. Then, I exhibited the normal day to day actions that control my limbs in habit. And, as a result, I've been loving a certain bunch of products this month that I don't think I'll be able to put down. It's habit, I tell you. 

I have officially oomphed up my skincare game, embracing a simpler routine, and more effective products. But, before the switch, I was loving the Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer--a lightweight, yet moisturizing concoction that induced a glowy finish (perfect under makeup) and kept my skin spot free. Nevertheless, I didn't quite realize how fantastic this product was until I strayed from it, testing a plenty of Dr. Hauschka moisturizers which induced a few too many spots to count. I'm using a different moisturizer now that this tub is used empty, but I've made a mental note on this kick ass moisturizer.

With the floozy skincare switch, there remains one product which has earned its spot between the two distinct mantras. The Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask hydrates the skin with avocado oil and manuka honey, but the sweet addition also clears up spots more quickly. Particularly, this mask is hydrating without being too heavy--a territory the Origins Drink Up Intensive Mask entered. And with multiple flights, I squeezed a hefty amount of this creamy mask into travel-friendly pots and slapped it on almost daily; I have to refrain myself from the habitual slap. Instead, I've been satisfying my daily application cravings in a healthier manner, with sunscreen. With the revealing of the sun and embracing nature sans flies and wasps, I've been using the MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28: a completely natural offering that breaks the natural stereotypes. With titanium oxide protection, it's surprisingly über light on the skin and matte--no shine in this territory. As for the sun protection, I haven't burned...yet; it's not like I've spent more than half an hour outside, anyway.

Aside from the new additions, I've also rediscovered some old flames. The Tangle Teezer, for one, has been my hair brush of choice. As I use more tangle-inducing shampoos than ever (all in the name of natural shampoo testing), I finally made an intuitive decision to grab this palm-sized "dog brush" (as I like to call it), again. As the name suggests, it's perfect for tangles and unravels them with sustainable ease, especially compared to conventional hair brushes.

When it comes to makeup, I've endured a base-wearing renaissance, of sorts, discovering my favorite bases with hand application. Quelle horreur: I've retired the Buffing Brush--but only for base application--I continue to use it for concealer. But embracing my natural born tools has resulted in a more natural looking pigment, mended to skin in an "I'm not wearing any makeup," fashion and tends to stick around that much longer, as well. My favorite bases to play around with this month, and the only two I've worn, were the Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream and the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer; it's like I have twice as many bases, now. Among the skin tints is an eyeliner that deserves some praise. You never thought I'd be wearing eyeliner, did you? Well, this records appreciation for a daily makeup staple. The Rimmel Scandal Eyes Liner in Brown is smudged in between my lashes every morning and results in voluminous lashes that look innately stunning. The brown shade isn't too harsh and the creamy texture makes for even more favorable application. And, eyeliner timids, don't fear, because you won't look like a panda by the end of the day with this liner.

With product appreciation sorted, I have to wonder: will there even be an April favorites, considering the habitual application of these few? 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask

Sometimes, sustaining the worst of pains makes relief all the more profitable. An example? When your feet get so tired from walking and standing on them for so long, it feels as if there are rocks down there, there's only one way to relieve such a pain. It often happens during rehearsals, and my ballerina friends and I dash out as soon as our master utters "take five," grab our water bottles and snacks, collapse, and throw our feet in the air, perpendicular to the floor and let that blood drain. It's the simple pleasures, really, that make life fab. Blood rushing aside, sometimes you don't even notice the pain. Earlier in the Polar Vortex, I didn't realize how dehydrated my skin was until I applied this--the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask. I slapped this on, left it to penetrate for half and hour, and when I splashed my face with water, I had the softest skin I've ever felt. When I say soft, I mean baby soft, or soft like the head of my three month old lab puppy. 

Such a soft inducement was the result of hydrating ingredients such as avocado oil, glycerin, carrot oil, and, as per the name, manuka honey. With surrounding hype of it's healing properties, manuka honey acts as a humectant to bring moisture to the skin, but it's also famed for its treatment on blemishes on account of its antibacterial and astringent properties. With the addition of vanilla, this mask smells sweet, although I'll admit that the scent is a little strange, but not in a sickly way. Antioxidants, as well, increase this creamy, white potion's repertoire--suitable for morning or nightly use.

When I heard of this mask, it seemed like the perfect replacement for my clay mask void. But, although cleansing, it's definitely not comparable to your typical decongesting number. I've demonstrated my love for the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask, and the Antipodes tube has an identical running wire. They're both über hydrating, although this one is a more potent version, whereas the Origins one acts as a moisturizer (as per its "overnight" claim). As I ween towards more natural alternatives, this Antipodes mask is a suitable, and more favorable, on account of its spot diminishing powers, than its counterpart. This offering from Antipodes, in particular, isn't organic, but other New Zealand-made products from the brand live up to the criteria. Nevertheless, look at the brief ingredients list and you'll see that this is nature's simplicity at work.

I may have preference for satisfying relief, but I don't think I'll be willing to leave this mask unused for reward of restraining. A honey and vanilla scent, baby-soft skin, diminished spots, and a juicy complexion? Yeah, I think I'll only have to restrain from using it everyday. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Nail Polish Philosophy

“Gossip Girl” may be over, but my obsession over Blair Waldorf’s doll eyed makeup and bronzy, dewy complexion keeps on rolling. You better bet that I’ve tried the look on myself. But it didn’t look nearly as stunning on me as it did on her Chanel-clad self--she is was a princess, after all. I’ll leave it at that. But such a makeup look isn’t the only feat that looks better on other people than it does on my obscenely normal self. Clothing, for one, is another example; I’ve learned not to look towards mannequins for inspiration. And then, there's nail polish. Being in the beauty blogger realm, I'd be restricting my repertoire if I didn't mention lacquer and cuticle oils and creams here and there. But I've recently realized that I don't mention them often.

In fact, they made their premier appearance last summer, when school was no longer in session and my surroundings changed from classroom to...my bed. Besides my bed racking a few usage hours, my summer vacation also brought more time and a more relaxed state. Nail polish takes time--time for application and extra attention (is it chipped yet?). With my hectic schedule, it's hard to squeeze in those extra worries; and I'm a perfectionist, so with the slightest chip, I'm reaching for the nail polish remover. If I really loved nail polish, though, I'd make time for it, just like my specific food preferences make time for grocery shopping--I could always just toss the list to my mom.

But nail polish oozes femininity. I haven't ever seen a man with nail polish, granted I do live in one of the most conservative states in America. And that's what I don't like about it. I'm not admitting that I'm going to throw on cargo pants (unless they're Helmet Lang, tight, and chic) and a baseball jersey, but my philosophy about beauty is to embrace the power of womanhood and accent my natural aura. I'll try to edge away from feminist lecture, but there's something unnatural about nail polish--obviously, it's not like anyone's nails glow burgundy; there's a reason my mantra is the sheerer, the better. 

Even the most powerful women I know wear nail polish, though. And this circles back to my original statement: what looks good on them doesn't look good on me. And even if my mom and acquaintances insist that it's stunning, I still feel weird with mint green talons. I'm not going to sacrifice my prowess for that. So forever now, you understand why there's a lack of nail polish-related posts on Parisian To Be. Although, I'll certainly still only buy them for their stunning packaging (Essie, I'm glaring at you.). And, instead, you'll receive lectures on how to become a more powerful woman. Oh, boy....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Dr. Bronner's Magic...Shampoo

Opting for a (boring) apple over that gooey, melted cookie, sustaining happy taste buds? No, me either. I jest; I have a whole series devoted to the effect of food on your skin. But what I’ve been able to conclude from the matter is that what goes inside often shows on the outside. But what is on the inside sometimes is the contrary to what’s showing. Does it happen often? Oooh la, no. But, when it does it’s something to rave about--or, more suitably, contemplate. When I delved into No More Dirty Looks, shifting my shampoo was the first thing to go. But this didn’t mandate hitting  Whole Foods and emptying the shelves; a natural shampoo was closer than it seemed. In fact, I was using it around five times (daily) to wash my hands. It was the Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. This liquid redefines “multi-purpose.” You think your cream blush is a two in one? Well, this bottle is a hundred in one: hand wash, sink cleaner, body wash, dish soap, laundry detergent, and others, but--in this post--shampoo. 

I knew entering the threshold of sudsers free of nasties would be different than my usual standards, but not this different. I’m sure your wondering how a solution so liquidy could make it from my hand to my head, and, most likely, not all of it will. So, I'm mandated to load my hand with more soap  than  I would with the average shampoo. Yet, despite its seemingly boring form, this stuff suds--and I mean seriously suds. But, after washing out, the feeling is a little strange, imparting a slightly sticky, bunching, and squeaky feel and appearance. And when I part my warm waterfall, my lengths prove to be tangly, too; it’s time to whip out that Tangle Teezer. But once my hair dries, the real shocker arrives. Beginning with the cons, your hair may not smell fantastic. Okay, it will smell awful, but that’s nothing a little perfume can’t fix. If you have used this castile liquid for around four days, your scalp may be a little oily, as well. But, those Rapunzel-esque locks will have more texture, more grip, and will be voluminous, as well. And that's a price I'm willing to pay. In fact, I've actually received compliments on my hair, noting its appearance instead of only its soft, silky feel. And, if I say so myself, my hair looks fantastique, très chic and other French adjectives (to disguise the fact that I'm complimenting myself).

But it really depends on preference. Would you rather have a disgusting, oily inside and a hot looking outside? Or vice versa? My penchant desires a little bit of both, so I wash my hair with regular shampoo every third day and launder with the Dr. Bronner’s on the other days. Oh, the things we do for beauty: restraining from that doughnut and rocking an oily scalp. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Spring Edit

There are the season duos: spring with summer, fall with winter. But transitioning from winter to spring is like jumping from coffee ice cream to an espresso shot. Well, the leap is upon us because the first ray of spring rang in yesterday and I desperately need that massive dose of caffeine--shed your winter layers, shove aside those heavy creams, and star the lighter...everything

As much as I hate humidity, my skin adores it--mostly because I no longer have to slather on artificial versions, store-bought in pots. But, I still need the transition as the thermometer jumps from high sixties to low thirties and the hydrator of choice comes as the Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask. With manuka honey to calm blemishes and irritation and luscious oils to hydrate the skin, removing this wonder leaves baby soft, plump, and calmed skin; it's like a wheatgrass shot for your dermis. During the day, I'm rekindling my obsessive, skin protecting ways (I have to shield my revitalized complexion.). The MyChelle Dermaceuticals Sun Shield SPF 28 mixes dual UVA and UVB protection using minerals titanium dioxide and aloe leaf powder to not only shield skin from the sun, but also impart a matte, white cast free finish. It knocks the stereotypes of sunscreen.

Yet, as I protect my face, a glint of sunshine won't reach it to burn tan. Instead, I rely on the artificial version: the Clarins Instant Smooth Self Tanning, a smoothing primer that also packs a healthy punch of color, but it's not orange tinted. In fact, it's Snow White's (i.e. me), subtle complexion savior, proving that I can be as busy as a bee without spending hours with the immigrating swarms of bugs. To enhance this newfound glow that I've lacked for the last season, I'm taking the "all or none" route by highlighting (but no shimmer allowed here). The RMS Living Luminizer reflects the light in a dewy aesthetic to hide any sign of dull winter skin and looks damn amazing with a healthy color.

My penchant for subtlety continues with admiration for tinted lip balms for a dose of sheen, color, and moisture. The Korres Lip Butters coincide with my lippie yearnings--the shade Pomegranate for a pop of coral and Jasmine for a sly nude. But nude isn't only suitable for lips, though I'm tossing nude nail polish for spring and opting for more ingenious, yet chic hues. The Essie Nail Color in Neo Whimsical in its pale grey, lavender glory subsides with my pink-tinged skin tone to look seamless, elegant, and pretty in the manner of a nude--sans the seven year-old purple nail polish stereotype. 

Though a pretty lavender can't sit with dry hands, though my hard working pair no longer require the heavy duty hand salves. I'm opting for lighter creams that sink quickly but also pack a moisture dose. The Caudalie Hand Creams are one of my favorites, quenching in their signature grape scent or their holiday pack flower or citrus. Luckily, I've made quite the habit of slathering on hand cream nightly, and I'm hoping I can exhibit the same behavior when it comes to perfume. I know I call myself high maintenance, but I often neglect those pretty bottles. But I shouldn't because I have many gorgeous concoctions floating on my shelf. The Tocca Liliana Perfume has been untouched all winter--understandable considering the scent is very spring-y and fresh. I do love my musky alternatives, but I'm craving this floral, slightly sweet, and fresh solution; I've been sitting dormant for too long. And did I mention that my mom smells blemmin' amazing with her Jo Malone stash to rival the counter? The good smelling compliment competition is on.

Luckily, I'm mightily covered on the beauty front for the coming season. But it's also time to shed those layers and slip on those dresses. Now, I need a whole new wardrobe.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Disappointing Products

The act of buying beauty products is a double-edged sword, a blessing and a curse. Occasionally, we all strike gold like the 49ers and return home with a wonder pot, always with gorgeous packaging to match. But great luck isn't granted all the time and all great empires come to an end, and this is where I come in. I'm no Debby downer, but I'm also a picky one. So, I'll jaunt on a product for some time before I finally reach its verdict. 

I'm most picky when it comes to skincare, but it's mainly my complexion shouting at me to reach these verdicts. But, really--with skincare, there's no fooling your face; and no one wants to wake up to a face full of spots. Such a product gets tossed in this category. Surprisingly, most of the products that turn my face into a pepperoni pizza are often intended for acne-prone skin. Shocking, I know. Skin is so fiddly. 
Prime example? The Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer. It's fair to say I had high hopes, but this is the second Somerville moisturizer that had me coveting more. For truly oily complexions, this will do wonders at turning your face from well-oiled steering wheel to balanced cotton, but with a good kick of hydration. But there was something about this that initiated a few (painful) pimples onto my face, even with a whole week of testing. 

Nevertheless, this moisturizer did help ease these under-the-skin bumps I have along my jawline, caused, most likely, by the Kiehl's  Skin Rescuer. I loved this stuff, and insisted that it was only aiding my skin. But I put in a pension and realized that, until I used this moisturizer, my skin was free of these fiddly lumps. Whether I can blame this potion or not, I just wasn't impressed by this cream; I didn't notice many results, or anything fantastic--not even redness reducing like its claims.
And, then, I thought the Eve Lom Rescue Mask would help clean all these stubborn spots. But, unfortunately, this mask hasn't done anything good for my skin. The feel of this mask is dreamy (which it should be, considering the price), but I'm not seeing the results.

Skincare sorted, it's not the only category that contains these lack-luster products. I've revealed my makeup mantra once before: simple, natural, and accentuating. Yet some of the products I test don't always align with such a philosophy. The MAC Mineralized Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle proves to promote a more glittery aesthetic than glowy; and I'll let you ascertain the ending of its fate. But glitter isn't my only turn off. Even my favorite brand, Laura Mercier, has let me down with the Laura Mercier Foundation Primer Oil-Free. This water-based primer has its place, but I don't find it very shine controlling nor smoothing. Although it is rather fantastic for dehydrated skin, I have other primers that stun my countenance in a more pleasing manner.

The NARS Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eye Shadow Base also left me wanting more, especially with its surrounding, beauty blogger hype. This primer is good, but perhaps my not-too-oily eye lids mean I don't spot the additional, stunning level between this and cheaper alternatives (such as the Urban Decay Primer--my previous base). But, I'll admit: I hold high standards in the eye product department--most prominently when it comes to mascara. I rid out any clumpy, fake appearing lash additions and the Rimmel Lash Accelerator Mascara is one of them. Normally, I can make do with such awful formulas, oomphing them up with a spoolie and some pigment shifting with the help of my finger, but this mascara accelerates without hope. And perhaps the most disappointing part is that it's not even that lengthening.

Are these bad products? Yes and no. But, like buying new pots and tubes, my opinion can rule on either end of the spectrum. And, unfortunately, this lot ended up being as successful as speculation of an apocalypse; 2012 came and passed without ending. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Base Application

I hate spending money, but love new products. It’s contradictory and a balance impossible to strike. And it is exactly why I’ve procrastinated buying a new powder brush for years a while now, puffing my way through the same brand-less set of bristles since 2011; it does the job. Though, when it comes to base application, I've made it quite obvious that the Real Techniques Buffing Brush rules. But we’re edging into “necessary” or “unnecessary” territory. If your going on an overnight jaunt, are a makeup newbie just beginning to stash, or would rather not eat beans on toast for the whole month, then you can obviously get on without this buffing wonder. 

And the backup tool is one you’ve had since you arrived on (the sometimes disappointing and stressful) planet earth: your hands. Always portable, easily cleaned in five seconds--no one washes their hands for as long as it takes to sing the alphabet--and create a charming finish. Yet, my extreme preferences when it comes to makeup mean that I must have both; though this is the least of my problems considering one is cost-free. Yet, as I've squeezed through my base stash to the dregs, I’ve concluded which bases work best with the corresponding application method.

When it comes to skincare and makeup hybrids, hands are always the best choice. The Dr. Jart Waterfuse BB Cream matches the color of my complexion and rocks more oil-control when applied with fingers. Similarly, the Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream lied unloved before I discovered it’s matching application method. Blending with the Real Techniques Buffing Brush imparted a cakey finish for color correcting cream’s thick texture. The miraculous shift means that this cream now shows as skin…but it a reincarnated, more perfected form.

But some formulas call for a bristles to seamlessly smooth them through, stereotypically the most full-coverage offerings. The Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation balances the cliff along too heavy and too light when using a brush, situating itself over the skin and divulging a smooth finale. Still lighter in coverage, the Jouer Matte Moisture Tint also appears its best with the use of a brush.

But, there’s one product that takes two different roles: the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Tinted Moisturizer. There’s something about a brush that really packs this on, enhancing the dewy finish of this tinted cream, but also supplying a little bit more coverage. The down fall? As with anything that’s packed, it is slightly cakey. When applied with those free tools, it’s less glowy and more matte, and packs a less coverage punch, as well. But with the cons aside, the lasting power increases, as does the oil control—living up to its name.

So, sometimes, two good things don't always equal something better (i.e. that matching of my favorite brush with my favorite base). Although, the alternative is free--just how I like it.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Beauty Spring Clean

Where I live, spring is a two week period, in early March, where the thermometer suggests that this is the only time out of the whole year where sitting outside is a feasible option. After half a month comes to an end, the temperature sky rockets into unbearable, sauna-esque heat. But this year seems to be different--blame it on the apocalypse. The "Polar Vortex" has forced these warm temperatures to hinder for a little while longer. So while I'm still cuddled inside my home with the heater, which, luckily, doesn't have as much work cut out as it did in January, I'm going to initiate a spring clean for the new upcoming season--to match fresh blooms and (cross fingers) a newfound definition of spring. 

And my spring clean is coming in the definition of a beauty clear out, as I let go of the products that lie unloved and toss the compacts that I couldn't deal to move in previous times. Still keeping up those New Year's resolutions....

I'm saying sayonara to my haircare lot, the ones with the "dirty" ingredients lists, that is. But also the ones that I just don't get along with. The John Frieda Luxurious Volume Shampoo is formula I've been testing for a while now, but I still can't get to grips with it. Well, in reality, it's more that my sensitive and easily irritated scalp doesn't get along with it's stripping (although, truly volume inducing) formula. The L'Oréal EverCrème Nourishing Conditioner follows the same trend: too heavy, smelly, and I now prefer the likes of smothering argan oil through my ends.
One category I really haven't established maps with is dry shampoo--nice for emergencies, but my helmet hair (i.e. hairspray using necessity) means washing my hair daily is mandatory. The Dove Dry Shampoo is no exception. I'll admit that it's the best oil soaker I've found, but it's the smell that really gets me; it's strong, overpowering, and I can only imagine all the chemicals I'm breathing.

So far, my clear out is following a rather negative tone, but, sometimes, we just need to toss things because they're old and past their prime. Exhibit A: the Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch SPF 55 Sunscreen, which is nearly two years old now. And exhibit B is the L'Orèal Magic Lumi Concealer, or the drugstore's Touche Éclat. Although only a year old, this concealer and highlighter hybrid just doesn't fit into my daily routine. For the concealing properties, I'm partial to my newest concealer love and, for under the eyes, I'm not even into covering that area (covering my dark circles always looks so fake). 

And the other makeup items to be tossed are two highlighters. The MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle is something I have only loved for two weeks out of the whole year I've had it. My natural aesthetic and preference rules that it's far too glittery--as in glitter ball, disco fever. And the Benefit Watt's Up Highlighter, the one I concluded as "dupe" for the discontinued Jemma Kidd Dewy Glow, will not be touched as long as I ration the Kidd number.

But clearing out also means that you discover old beautes. And, for me, they always arrive in the eye department; a neglected feature means neglected products. The Benefit They're Real! Mascara, pour example, has been producing fluttery lashes upon my lash line for the past week with a seemingly waterproof, volumizing, and defining touch. But, sometimes, discovering products is only easy on the eyes. The Benefit Creaseless Cream Shadow in Birthday Suit, a gorgeous taupey, subtle brown has yet to rock my lids in the coming days. But I'll just swatch and stare for a while.

Mom, I hope you've cleared your own stash to make room for my duds.

Nouvelle Daily and Me

I've been keeping a secret from you all for the past month. If you exhibit strange behavior such as waking up at the crack of dawn just to read through your entire Bloglovin' feed before you jaunt to work, or pass the hours away by scrolling through old Vivianna Does Makeup posts from two years ago (guilty), or watch YouTube on a crazy Saturday night instead of hitting the clubs, then you've probably heard of Nouvelle Daily: the online magazine that is beautifully run by the lovely Kate, also the author of Gh0stparties. For the record, though, if you don't exhibit any of the behaviors above, then maintain your sanity while you can, but do check out this beauty resource. 

Well, like most beauty bloggers who seem to have a monopoly on the industry, and I mean that in the most flattering way possible, they seem unattainable, distant, and stunning--a strange parallel between my adolescent Lizzie McGuire and Brittany Spear loving phase. But, one day, something miraculous happened. Kate emailed me to ask if I could contribute to Nouvelle Daily. I was ecstatic; fortunately, I haven't lost so much of my sanity to make me say no. It's been a whirlwind and I'm still getting to grips with working my articles into my everyday schedule and coming up with amazing post ideas. 

With two articles down, I hope you'll check out my recent endeavor. So this is cheers to Nouvelle Daily and, admittingly, being mad beauty lovers.


image via

Friday, March 14, 2014

Where To Shop Beauty

There are many things I love about beauty, perhaps my favorite being that I can rant on and on about pigment, creaminess, and lasting-power--and that's considered normal behavior. Second, I love beauty packaging, and I hoard all the empty enclosures and boxes in my desk drawer. Having this blog also gives me a perfect excuse to purchase little pick-me-ups.

But, to be honest, I'm not the biggest shopper, mostly because my heart collapses after I spend more than twenty dollars. Nevertheless, I love a good browse and am partial to online clicking (in with the luxuries of my pajamas, a warm, caressing cup of green tea, and the support of my mattress upon my weight). And here are my favorite virtual destinations and trek-worthy places to shop for beauty; I would include fashion, but my whole wardrobe is from Zara....

Dermstore  best for skincare
This online shop stocks mostly skincare (je l'aime), as well as some hard-to-find brands. A plenty of natural products perch availabe and flashing with the "add to bag" button of brands such as RMS Beauty, MyChelle, and John Master's Organics as well as the usual coveteurs of La Roche-Posay, Dr. Jart, and Sachajuan.

Drugstore.com  for brands such as Maybelline, Rimmel, Avène, and Lavera
If you haven't already noticed from these pages, I'm not the biggest fan of drugstore anything. The makeup tends to leave me lonely and I'd prefer not to find my mascara next to the diapers. But Drugstore.com fixes everything I hate about those dirty, white marble floors and dispenses pure joy. Again, with natural and conventional brands, there's always something that you just "need;" and you can buy pens here, too.

New London Pharmacy for brands such as Becca, Kevyn Aucoin, Davines, and Bioderma
This place again. But there's nothing to hate, and everything to love when it comes to a quaint shop, stocked to the brim with beauty products. It's the only place I've seen that stocks RMS Beauty (so I can finally see it in person) and I'm partial to the black cat that tends to peek around from behind my burnished straw shopping basket.
Their online store is also a home run, with free shipping all the time.

Nordstrom  for brands such as Mario Badescu, Laura Mercier, Chantecaille, Jo Malone, and MAC
Department stores are your typical beauty destination, just peek at Elf where the arifically happy woman sprays "fruit spray" into Buddy's mouth. But knock that stereotype away, because Nordstrom wins stars for excellent in store and online shopping (always with free shipping and free returns) with a good range of brands, that return policy (almost too good to be true), and a knowledgable and helpful--shocker--staff.

Sephora  for brands such as Korres, Josie Maran, Tarte, Bumble and bumble, and Soap & Glory 
Or, as I like to call it, the Holy Grail, or the cause of inflation. Nevertheless, this white and black-clad store stocks a selective stash of products. Their online shop is also gorgeous, and the VIB program always has be circling back to the till (especially for the adorable minis).

Whole Foods  for brands such as Dr. Hauschka, Derma E, Weleda, and Jåsön
I love their juice bar, salad bar, and, now, beauty bar; except you won't find shots of wheatgrass lotions here. Instead, the careful, always natural, SLES and SLS-free picks are housed in tubes, tubs, and tins to scoop and take home. My local shop even has a bulk soap section (think LUSH, but more niche) for almond scented, coffee-scrub, and coconut milk bars.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer

I'm the queen of "no-makeup, makeup," among my friends, at least. Yesterday, one of my best acquaintances (okay, maybe she's more like a life boat--I can't float without her), even asked me if I was wearing mascara. With a satisfying grin, from cheek to cheek, I uttered, "yes," but didn't dish the caveat that I normally wiggle the brush from roots to tip, then go in with my finger to brush it all away. I'll admit: I do have pretty good lashes.
And, complexion-wise, I'm the girl whose skin looks rather flawless, but my comrades still hint questions concerning my base wearing habits; you're the only ones who know that secret.
But how do my characteristics relate to this concealer--the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer?

Well, to clear the air, the previous mentioned descriptions of my inherent aesthetic sound rather cocky. I'd say it's more of a sin than a curse that I prefer such a minimal look (no wonder I never use up makeup products) and, despite this perfection known as my complexion's appearance, I can bleep about how amazing my skincare stash is--which is a tall tale--but it's all down to this concealer.

The mousse-like formula blends over the skin perfectly, but also doesn't cake in any fine lines (or the dent that's in my forehead...ugh) and smooths over blemishes to cover their lumpiness. With a texture of the like, blending can consider a little pension. Do you use fingers? A brush? Sponge? I use the Real Techniques Buffing Brush to pat the places where I need more coverage and to blend the places where I want a thin veil. 
But it wasn't until this morning that I donned this concealer the best I've tried.
I'll admit that I'm a spot-picker, and the scabs that are left behind have me self-conscience. In a quick dash, I slipped on my other concealer (the MAKEUP FOREVER full coverage offering) and, although it hid the pigment, it didn't hide the texture. I promptly removed it and splodged this one on. Even I had trouble spotting those scabby areas.
And for a girl whose makeup needs to stay (somewhat) for twelve hours, this tube's status escalates to a makeup staple.

For a concealer so covering and so long-lasting, stereotypical analogies suggest that this is also cakey. But I beg to differ, once more. In the name of my makeup mantra, it's coincides with the quintessential "no-makeup, makeup" aesthetic (i.e. completely cake-free). 
With my picky, perfectionist ratings, this concealer sounds too good to be true. But I do reserve one hesitation and that's in the packaging: the doe-foot applicator. Things can get a little unhygienic when spongy tips of the like are involved, but here's my final conclusion. Considering how heavy handed I often get, as well as my love for this offering, I don't think this tube will last very long. And in that case, with regular replacement, the doe-foot should be fine. 

It may be pricey, but this Radiant Creamy Concealer is the best über covering formula I've found (and I'm lucky I did find it considering I wear the shade "Vanilla"--like the rest of the world). Hell, I'll do anything to maintain my "no makeup" wearing status.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Coconut Oil | Nutrition and Skin

As a tiny tot bopping around, poolside, at my grandma's beach club, the piña colada was idolized by the likes of my older cousins, exposing my premature tastebuds to the coconut-ty and smooth wonder. Once my mom was able to keep track of how often I was sucking down these virgin grown-up slushies, she took a stand; she enforced them as a 'treat' food, warning me that the saturated fat was harming my body more than my tastebuds rejoiced.
If you know me now, you'll find this situation shocking. No, I wasn't always a health freak--spooning down tablespoon by tablespoon of chia seeds--but one whose teenage years stemmed from an eating disorder. And I used to suck down these tasty treats without second thought.
But, now that I'm older, wiser, and more nutritionally sound (thanks to an awesome nutritionist, may I add), I've slashed my mom's two-sense and passé disposition towards this devil solid.

In the early 2000s, tests villainizing coconut oil, warning consumers of it's wicked high saturated fat content that was clogging your arteries with every kernel of smooth, salty, and artificially yellow-tinged movie theater popcorn, were often completed using the partially hydrogenated variety.
But, among health-food store shelves, a different standard of coconut oil stood, highlighted by terms such as "cold-pressed" and "extra virgin." But, like most of the American audience, I, too, wrote off coconut oil. When I began following vegan and plant-based Instagram accounts, in the depths of my illness, I was confused as to why these idol-eaters were using this saturated fat to comprise their foods. Then, I started seeing a nutritionist who revealed glowing information to me that saturated fat isn't that bad, that your body actually needs it. I discovered coconut oil and now add it to foods everyday to get my daily dosage of fat of the sort. But people around still villainized this innocent, white, vanilla-ish tasting solid.

Here's why you should be eating coconut oil.

If you don't eat a lot of animal products or focus on a plant-based diet, you should try coconut oil. I've come to appreciate saturated fat as a vital element. And there's no need to be afraid of coconut oil.
It's easiest to metaphorically tie the wonders to carbohydrates. We know that all carbohydrates are not created equal; there are simple carbohydrates (i.e. white flour) that are best enjoyed in moderation, and complex carbohydrates (i.e. quinoa, barley, buckwheat, etc.). So not all carbs are bad (bye, bye nineties diets). Coconut oil follows the same path. My food preferences suggest that plant-based fats are favorable, just like coconut oil is a better saturated fat than animal fat. Unlike the animal variety, coconut oil's saturated fats are medium chain triglycerides (MCTs)--the specific form is lauric acid. In contrast to most fats which "are broken down in the intestine and remade into a special form that can be transported to the blood." But "MCTs are absorbed intact and taken into the liver where they are used directly for energy" ("Medium-Chain Triglycerides").

The way the body treats this "villain" is why some specialists suggest that coconut oil can rev your metabolism; I'm not sure I fall for it, though. But coconut oil's antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties can also help with skin concerns like acne and just general moisture-locking. If you're still iffy about ingesting coconut oil, you can use it's wonder topically. But, toute ce que je sais, is that, mom, you're information is now void.

"Medium-Chain Triglycerides." NYU Langone Medical Center. EBSCO Publishing, Aug. 2013. Web. 3 March 2014.
"Once a Villain, Coconut Oil Charms the Health Food World." The New York Times. n.p., 2 March 2011. Web. 3 March 2014.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This Week's Most Loved Trio | Huit

When the first "This Week's Most Loved Trio" post premiered, I provided an anecdote along the lines of a trip to Paris--where I ate too many croissants and my skin exhibited a wreck. Unfortunately, that didn't actually happen; and for the record, I'd swap French croissants for bad skin any day.
But, this week, I'll provide another story. And this tale begins with exams. 

I'll spare you my study habits, when I finally hit my pillow, and the amount of times I snuck in an episode of Gossip Girl. Though, I won't guard the fact that my AP Chemistry exam was an absolute disaster (why did I take that class, again?). 
Nevertheless, this isn't Answers.com--my real Chemistry teacher. 

Since makeup application has been jousted to the back of my priorities, I have kept my base très simple with the Clinique Moisture Surge CC Cream. I'm so happy I had an epiphany to apply this is with fingers, because using a brush made it look far too cakey and was the only characteristic about this cream that had me pushing it aside.
Rubbing a pea-sized about all over my face, sans primer and sans powder (but, of course, I can't leave the concealer), evens the skin tone but doesn't look makeup-y in the slightest. And it lasts all day on my combination skin without too much shine; quick tip: I use my forearm to blot the oil off my forehead half way through the day and it totally works.

Upon employing the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap as my daily shampoo, my hair has been a knotted mess. Early this week, though, I reached for my neglected Tangle Teezer--a product I concluded to be a hoax in previous shampoo-times. 
But I'll admit that I was wrong, and this palm-sized dog brush (okay, it just looks like one...) actually teezes tangles out, pain free.

And as I now bullseye the fact that I'm a shampoo floozy--I ran back to my beloved sulphate shampoo last week--my locks have needed some extra oomph. My sea salt spray loving ways snatched the Oribe Après Beach Wave and Shine Spray.
This bottle slashes the stereotypes of your usual sea salt spray, considering the hefty dose of (gorgeous) shine that it imparts. But the texture and volume maintain what we all love about a jaunt on the shore, but my fear of seaweed means I much prefer this bottle.

I have one exam left and I'm most excited for the school break that looms ahead, but, most important, turning beauty back to the top of my priorities; you don't want to know how long it has been since my eyebrows caught sight of the tweezers.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap

As soon as the net price of my skincare line up rivaled my mom's, I knew I had a problem. Now, she also has the whole of the Jo Malone line perching on her vanity, but she does have a steady paycheck (unfortunately, mine is determined by babysitting money, birthday gifts, and a generous grandma.).
But I wasn't willing to sacrifice effectivity for a lower price tag. What beauty obsessive is, even if it means swapping a lunch date for Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair? 

My adventurous and perfectionist nature gained momentum and I was on the search for cheaper alternatives to my previously loved costly bottles; and, no, we're not talking about finding cheap wine.

Somehow, through the grapevine, I heard about Herbivore Botanicals: an Etsy shop that stocks some loot at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie. Yet their clientele isn't the most exciting part. Their packaging? Dreamy, but still not the most heart-pang worthy. 
Their beauty ingredients initiate Cupid to shoot the most beautiful arrow, concocted with handmade care and mineral and plant-based concoctions.
Their philosophy proved to be my ally, as well, "[bringing] skin care that is truly 100% natural and effective, [the makers--the Julia and Alex dream duo] don't believe that you have to sacrifice one for the other."

Browsing (in bed, très chic), I came across their Blue Clay Soap--a lavender and mint scented, vegan bar. Formulated, principally, with Cambrian Blue clay (characterized by its clarifying and skin balancing properties) the bar is also made with saponified olive, sustainable palm, and coconut oil. 
In description, it sounds amazing. And when I actually rubbed my grubby hands all over it and slathered it on my face, I was left stunned.

After wetting my hands, I swish the bar around my palms and fingers, then massage onto my skin. Adding more and more water as I lather, the texture becomes milky, and then I rinse it off. 
For barred soap fearers, this variety doesn't leave the skin feeling stripped, yet a tacky residue may reside (but it's not annoying and I don't even notice it anymore). 
Feelings aside--in Chuck Bass fashion--it's the appearance of the skin afterward that wows: more toned, less red, and pimples (if I have them, which is a rarity as of this application) are minimized. 

So, after a few philosophical ponderings, I also realize that the insides and inducements of this bar are strangely similar to that of it's three-times more pricey counterpart: the REN ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. Oui, the beloved blue-accented bottle that has been my only cleanser for the past year. 

But even if your not after this cheaper counterpart or don't boast a combination, spot-prone complexion (lucky you), Herbivore Botanicals has a soap for you. And this is when I redirect you, to spend the rest of your day, on a browsing journey. 
Mom, your skincare routine is going down.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Beauty Empties | Quatre

I swear: the older I get, the faster time flies. In the words of my Latin ancestors (except, I don't think I have any), carpe diem. Unfortunately, this mandates that I'm seizing each day in March; how are we already in March?
And how will I be spending such a pass time? Discussing my garbage, of course; it's only beauty blogger behavior.

On the makeup front, I've come to the dregs of the two products--an all-time record here on Parisian To Be. First, the Origins Plantscription Concealer has hit the bin. Although it hasn't exactly 'run out,' per say, I've had for a good long while and can't stand the thought of putting such a potentially unhygienic applicator on my skin. Nevertheless, this was an astonishing concealer; don't let the anti-aging claims scare you away. I haven't repurchased on account of another covetable covering tube, but maybe in the future, this will lie in my stash again.
Second is the L'oreal Telescopic Shocking Extensions Waterproof Mascara which has been lying collecting dust for a while now. I'll admit that this has to be the most lengthening mascara I've ever come across--et je l'adore--but, for an everyday nudge, it's a little over the top for my liking.

By the end of this paragraph you will deduce one fact: I must be really clean--because I've gone through three bottles of shower gels.
The first of the trio is the Soap & Glory Clean On Me Creamy Clarifying Showergel. The massive bottle has lasted me well over a year now, and can we please take a moment to appreciate the pump. The scent was gorgeous, but got to be a little too much and overpowering at times. Among the formula, it also was quite stripping, as well.
My most recent use up was the Korres Vanilla Cinnamon Shower Gel (which wasn't quite as long lasting). The scent, although pretty, wasn't quite my suiting, and it was not as moisturizing as I would have wished.
The last one, is kind of a cheat; I use the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in Peppermint for everything: hand washing, shampoo (my current method of madness), as a brush cleanser, and, as per the category, as a body wash. No matter how I sud the castile formula, it's always fabulous. This hippie bottle will always be a staple; I've previously poured through another peppermint and a lavender, and currently have almond (my favorite thus far) on the go.

In the skincare category, I've dug through two Origins products.
The Origins Make A Difference + Rejuvenating Treatment has sat unused for the past four months and I think it's time to say au revoir. Although I'll admit that I really, really loved this stuff--and not just for the mint packaging--Annabel's review had me thinking twice about using it. In addition, I'm not keen on anything in a pot, as it always feels really dirty and germy.
Last, the Origins Clear Improvements Active Charcoal Mask has also squeezed out its last application and I'm still on the fence. Although this stuff is ridiculously clarifying, I think it's too drying and rough for my sensitive complexion. Also, I can't help but compare it to the  glory that is the Aesop Parsley Seed Mask, of which I can't even compare the two.

A start on spring cleaning and a new beauty shopping list to run and complete; seizing the day isn't quite as hard as I thought.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Parisian Makeup

Those Parisians really have it all: glorious complexions, La Roche-Posay stockists around every la rue, croissants and macarons to evoke a food baby even in me--the health freak, and I will do anything to lounge in a street side café for people watching.
Amongst these matters, Parisians always look so chic. Why, oh why, oh why? And the most unfortunate part is that, no matter how hard I try, I will never achieve such a sophisticated air.
When it comes to their faces, it doesn't even look like they have a full face of warpaint gracing those baby-esque complexions--aside from the occasional red lip (très chic).

Whether the above statements hold veracity of are a load of stereotypes, I still pile on the black clothing, try to read magazines in français, and often gracefully sweep on my version of le maquillage parisienne, with a whole lot more coverage and sans the red lip.

Consider this one of your 'no-makeup,' makeups, with quite a few products, but a visibly minimal result--like invisible layers that pack a punch. For instance, the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation Primer, supplying a sticky base for further foundation longevity and an all day, shine free finish (but there's some dew left over, of course).
If I'm having a bad skin day, I'll buff on a bit of the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation (of which I have the lightest shade--no mockery allowed). Yet, here's the trick: only apply where needed. After I've deceived with a myth, I run to the pharmacy and buy a shedload of La Roche-Posay bottles...I wish.
On the contrary, if I'm porting a relatively belle complexion, I'll just smudge the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer all over and blend with a combination of fingers and the Buffing Brush for a seamlessly skin-like finish (which, in honesty, is all down to the formula of this covering wonder).

Here comes the tricky part: blush. I'll be the first to admit that my face is not model-gifted (i.e. I don't have covetable cheekbones). And then, there's the fine line between tomato face, an artificial blush, and emphasizing my already rounded cheeks. The key to this difficult lock is the NARS Blush in Douceur; it's pink, brown, and gray-tinged balancing act create a natural flush, sculpt, and eliminates my washed-out appearance.
And to further enhance those 'cheekbones,' a hint of the RMS Living Luminizer gets tapped onto the tops of the cheeks.

If you're unable to reach the conclusion just yet, I'll tell you that I'm a face base perfectionist. To further commit to that standard, I'll finish by conveying that I just fill in those brow gaps and extend the ends of my face-caterpillars (or as they appear) with the Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Dark Brunette. Then, I curl my lashes with the Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers and wiggle the Maybelline Full 'N Soft Waterproof Mascara into the outer lashes and then just brush up to the tips on the rest of the set. Point proven.

Unfortunately, my heritage will disclose that there will always be something American about my countenance. Yet, French readers, disclose: does this sound relatively similar to your culture? Please, êtes gentil.
And, as a confession, 'how to be french' is one of my top Google searches.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Get Ready With Me | Evening

Currently--as I'm writing this post--I'm lounging in my bed, nearly dead after eight hours of dancing. My feet are swollen beyond belief, my back is yearning for a good massage (and, unfortunately, my dad won't get to work...), my ankles are throbbing, and, chances are, that I'll be hungry in ten minutes (even though I just ate dinner half an hour ago).
To top things off, I just took a shower. And, to clarify, I have no idea how I even managed to stand up. Nevertheless, I'll hold the complaining and get to the part you really care about: what I had for dinner. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But we are going to talk about the products I used to get to this calm state--sheets warming, coconut water soothing.... Okay, let's see if I can do this before I fall asleep.

I'm such a shower person; they're quick, succinct, and reminiscent of a waterfall. I won't creep you out by dishing that I sometimes take showers in the dark, but I did use the Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap to wash my hair, then followed with the Bumble and bumble Surf Creme Rinse Conditioner. After washing my body with the Korres Fig Showergel, I got out of the shower (I still can't believe I complete such a feat) and slapped on the Desert Essence Sweet Almond Hand and Body Lotion and threw on my sparkly star-clad pajamas; I'm really not selling myself as chic here.
After I was fully-clothed, I brushed my hair with the Tangle Teezer--you can't brush with anything else when you use the Magic Soap as shampoo--and tied my hair into a ponytail with a Twistband--it's one of my beauty secrets; it keeps hair in place all night long, preventing bad hair days and unwanted cowlicks.

Then, I got started on my skin with a dual cleanse. To take the day's initial grime off, I washed with the CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser and  a bit of coconut oil to rid of waterproof mascara, then, to finish off the washing, I lathered with the Herbivore Botanicals Blue Clay Soap.
I toddled over to my dressing table and slapped on the rest of my skin food: a few drops of rosewater, patted into the skin, Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate Fruit and Seed Oil Blend, and the Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.
I may not wake up to nice feeling feet, but I will rise to illusory skin.

And now we meet again. I've completed all of the following above and, although I'm struggling to keep my eyes open, I won't be one of those cliffhanger authors.
Soon, I'll brush my teeth with the JÅSÖN Toothpaste and mend my lips with the LUSH Popcorn Lip Scrub.
Bedside, I'll smooth on some of the Malin + Goetz Mojito Lip Balm, spritz some of the This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray (absolutely dreamy--pun intended), and smother my hands with the Burt's Bees Hand Salve.

So, I'll admit, this certainly wasn't your typical beauty blogger evening routine--I don't think anyone has yet to talk about their feet. But, the stabbing pain just couldn't be ignored; and I can no longer ignore the fact that I'm about to pass out. Bonne soir.
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