Skin Deco

Monday, November 28, 2011

Eyeshadow 101: How to Hold Eyeshadow Brushes

You've bought the brushes, read what to use them for and watched the tutorials but you're still not getting the effect that you desire.
Have you ever considered the way you are holding your brushes?

Learn how to properly hold your eyeshadow brushes for different purposes!
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Some people are born with talent. I'm not one of those people. Knowing how to apply makeup didn't come naturally to me. I've read books, blog posts, forums, watched videos and most importantly, put what I've learned to practice. When you've practiced enough ie. try all sorts of different techniques and looks, you'd eventually know what works and what doesn't.

The problem is, most people would simply stick to what they know if the outcome of them trying was failure. While you can read all about the types of eyeshadows and brushes to use, there's hardly anything out there that tells you how to hold the eyeshadow brushes.

"Pffftt! How can anyone not know how to hold an eyeshadow brush?"
As easy as it appears, it's an important aspect of applying eyeshadow that I've only realized through practice. You can count on me to complicate such a seemingly simple thing :)
Trust me, it'll make quite a difference in your eyeshadow application.

Brush: Shader Brush (Stila #30)
Purpose: To pack on eyeshadow on the main lid
  • Hold the brush close to its head, gripping flat between the forefinger and thumb
  • Pretend that you're holding a pen and extend your fingers rather than bended
  • The forefinger basically lies along the brush handle. It's as if you're replacing your forefinger with the brush
  • Use short pat-and-drag strokes to pack on the color while minimizing fallout

Brush: Shader Brush (Stila #30)
Purpose: To blend out the lid color
  • You can use the same brush for a different purpose just by varying how you hold it
  • Hold the brush slightly further from the head. This reduces the pressure applied by your brush. If your brush still has eyeshadow on it, too much pressure would apply more color that you don't need. If your brush is clean, too much pressure would lift off too much color
  • Notice that only the forefinger is pressed onto the brush handle while all the other fingers are just supporting. This is more similar to holding a pen except the thumb is not pressed onto the handle. You can see that it's just sitting on the handle
  • To blend, use flicking motions towards the direction that you want the shadow to blend into
Brush: Blending Brush (MAC 217)
Purpose: To blend out harsh lines/apply crease color
  • Again, if your purpose is to blend or apply color of less intensity, hold the brush further from its head
  • The way to hold this brush is similar to the method above except my fingers are slightly more stretched out to give the brush more flexibility to swish compared to the above where I wanted my blending to be more precise
  • This way you can blend 'til your heart's content and the eyeshadow won't get washed out

Brush: Fluffy Crease Brush (Stila #30)
Purpose: To apply and blend dark outer corner color into crease
  • Now, my purpose here is to apply a dark color but with very little intensity so it appears blended at the same time. In other words, "smoking"
  • Hold the brush really far from the head to greatly reduce pressure and consequently the color intensity
  • Only the forefinger is on the brush while the thumb and other fingers act as support. This allows for more swish, which translates to blending without washing out the color
  • However, since the color placement is precise, the fingers should be bended to give better control
  • Use small circular motions, occasionally flicking into the direction that you want
Brush: Pencil Brush (Crown Italian Badger Round Crease Brush)
Purpose: To apply dark color precisely on the outer V
  • If you want a very intense color application and on a very precise area, hold the brush very close to the head
  • The way to hold it is exactly how you would hold a pen
  • Your brush will have no room to swish and you'll be applying greater pressure with the utmost control. You can also rest your fingers on your cheek for even more control
  • Use small, tight strokes
To summarize --
  • Hold your brush nearer to the head to apply more pressure and further from the head for less pressure. More pressure means the color will be more intense and vice versa
  • The more fingers pressing onto the brush means less space for the brush head to swish around. More fingers = more precise. Less fingers = more blendy
  • Bending your fingers gives you more control over the area that you want to apply eyeshadow on
Additional Application Tips

If eyeshadow looks funny on you, consider the angle of where your eyeshadow should end on the outer corner and also at the crease.

  • The outer corner angle to look out for is basically the continuation upwards from your lower lash line. It's the same angle that your winged-liner should be on. Going off from this angle can make your eyes appear droopy
  • The shape of your eyeshadow in the crease should be consistent with the slant of your eyebrows. If your eyebrows are not U-shaped, your eyeshadow shouldn't be as well
If you've managed to get through this post, congratulations! You can proceed with banging your head on the keyboard
When you practice enough, holding the brushes properly will eventually come naturally to you. Nevertheless, I really hope this post was helpful even if just to check if you've been holding your brushes right. If you haven't, give the above methods a try and see if it makes a difference.

You can do it! Go go go!

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Eczema: Makeup and Other Ramblings

In a previous post about my Daily Makeup Staples, I got a comment asking me to share on makeup products that I would use when eczema strikes.

Logic tells us that when your skin is irritated, don't mess with it further especially with makeup. Unless my plan is to hide at home or be covered with a paper bag. It's awful enough that the world has to see my dry, flaky, reddened skin and then I have to show them my face sans makeup... In many situations, not wearing makeup at all is unacceptable. At least for those who wear makeup daily.

So, what to do?
Read on for my makeup tips during an eczema flare as well as some related ramblings.

Step 1: Calm the Skin

To soothe my itching skin and smooth out the flakiness, I'd reach for my Monistat Chafing Relief Powder-Gel. I bought it as a foundation primer (dupe for Smashbox Photo Finish Primer) though it's really a product that relieves chafed and irritated skin for sensitive areas ie. inner thighs, bikini are, breasts and underarms. On the face, it works like a charm to soothe the irritation and smooth out my complexion.

Foundations are typically drying so I avoid them when I have an outbreak. Instead, I go for my Madara Tinting Fluid which gives a very light coverage and doesn't worsen irritated skin. To set, I'd use a light dusting of mineral powder foundation.

Step 2: Bring Out the Eyes

If the rash is mostly concentrated on your cheeks or forehead, divert attention away from the skin and to the eyes. I sometimes get flakiness on my eyelids as well. What I like to do is apply a colored eyeliner, define my lower lash line and apply substantial amount of mascara.

Don't forget the eyebrows! If you have them really well-groomed, they're gonna frame your eye makeup and make your eyes stand out better.

Here's a colored-eyeliner look tutorial
Here's an eyebrow tutorial

Step 3: Pout and Blush

I dislike using blush or lip color when I have eczema because the flakiness and bumpiness would just make the application look very uneven. If you really need to have color on your lips and cheeks, you can go for tinted lip balms and cream/liquid blush. Those products would reduce the appearance of flakiness and blotchiness.

Remember, you're not doomed to not wear makeup just because you have Eczema!


Recently, I received this comment on my "Eczema Part 1: The Low-Down" post by cafy101.

"Hi there, I am from the Philippines. I fear that I have Eczema on my lips. I suspect that sudden change of temperature triggers my allergy on my lips. Would that be possible. I haven't checked it yet from a derma doc but I am afraid I have it with all the symptoms and exact pictures. It's very dry and itchy. Like I wanna lick it all the time to make it wet. First, I will suffer itchy lips, then very red lips then the next morning, its like covered by a plastic skin,kinda.. Like I can't open my mouth very well. Not comfortable to talk. I can't think of any allergy like food or soap because the first thing that would come to my mind when it strikes, the change of temperature like aircon, cold water or cold weather. and by the way, I started to have this like 4-5 years ago. What will I do? The doctor just gave me a lip balm but it's not helping. Thank you. Your post is very helpful."

Cafy here experiences a very similar condition to what I often have. One of the main reasons why I don't normally do lip swatches or really wear much lip color for that matter, is because of the eczema on my lips. On really bad days, my lips would crack and bleed when I stretch them eg. by smiling. I've had this condition on and off for 15 years!
  1. Change of temperature can definitely trigger eczema. Basically a lot of things may trigger a rash; cold air, friction, dryness, sweat, stress, salt water, sun, hormonal changes etc.
  2. Licking your lips will only make the eczema WORSE! Refrain from licking your lips whenever it feels dry. Rather, apply lip balm whenever your lips feel irritatingly chapped.
  3. Aircon is drying to the skin, which could also trigger eczema. To prevent, keep your skin well-moisturized at all times. Hydrating with a facial spray will also make your skin feel more comfortable.
  4. Avoid from applying lipsticks or lipglosses, especially those that contain glitter. If applying lip balm alone doesn't seem to improve your condition, you may want to consider getting a steroid treatment from the clinic. However, I personally try to not be dependent on steroid as it may cause discoloration.
  5. Be aware of what triggers a rash whether is it a certain type of product, ingredient or food. When you recognize the allergy pattern, you'd know better how to handle those allergens and reduce the occurrences of an eczema outbreak.

Atopic Dermatitis aka Eczema is something that can occur at any point of life. It may be temporary, long term or even lifelong. Fortunately, these days there are ample of options out there to help deal with skin sensitivity. However, to keep eczema in control is much more than just applying the right products. It's also about adjusting your lifestyle and habits.

Do you have any eczema-control tips? Please do share!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nail Polish Noob: Glittery Idiot-proof Nails

Here's a great way to cheat if you suck at applying nail polish -- slap on the glitter!
It's a trick that I've been using for years to mask my untidy application but too much glitter can seem tacky and juvenile.

Instead, I attempted this Lilac & Gold glitter gradient.
Blabber on how I did it after the jump!

  1. For the base color, I used two coats of this sheer lilac shade (from Color Combos) with fine gold glitter
  2. Then, I concentrated the Anna Sui Nail Color in 802 on the tips of the nail, dragging the glitter halfway down towards the the cuticle
  3. After that, I applied another coat of the base color over the glitter to blend
  4. Finally, I applied top coat from The Face Shop
You simply can't go wrong with this method even though you're known to paint on streaks.

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Monday, November 21, 2011

Review: Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation

Reading raving reviews of this foundation hardly ignited any yearning to buy the Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation. I had my reasons:
  1. Nearest place to get it was Singapore
  2. Where they only carry 3 shades
  3. It's pretty sheer
  4. At almost RM80 after conversion, this drugstore foundation isn't cheap
And then I found reasons to finally buy it:
  1. I was in Singapore
  2. I surprisingly found a reasonable color match
  3. "It's like a drugstore version of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua", said ParisB
  4. There was a 20% discount
What I regretted about this purchase was not buying this sooner *facepalm*

Bourjois Healthy Mix Serum Gel Foundation is formulated to give skin a "radiance boost for an even and revived complexion". I was toying between this new formulation and its predecessor, Healthy Mix Foundation. The latter supposedly gives a more matte finish and has slightly heavier coverage but after comparing for a good 15 minutes (and pestering Xin and ParisB to choose the better looking side), I eventually settled for this one, which I felt blended a tad smoother.

The foundation comes in a slim glass bottle with a clean pump. The formulation contains litchi (lychee), goji berries and pomegranates, contributing to the fruity scent of the foundation. Isn't that blob of foundation looking so beautifully smooth....?

It looks even better on the skin!
Since I've been having less skin troubles these days, I've cut down on the amount of foundation I use. I now appreciate sheer foundations! This one in particular does a fantastic job of simply making my skin tone appear more even (note the chin area) but still allowing my natural skin to come through.

The coverage is light for sure but it's sufficient for daily wear, especially since the texture is not at all heavy. I use one pump for the whole face, applied with my fingers. It blends like a dreaaammm.... Never have I used a foundation that blended this beautifully!

I know the color in the "after" picture looks slightly pale but believe me, the color matches. I use auto mode on my camera so the color tone varies between shots. The shade I'm using is #53, which matches pretty decently on my MAC NC30 skin tone.

The label claims that the foundation can hold up for 16 hours. I don't doubt that though I still had some shine to blot off by midday which is no biggie. What's some blotting for a foundation that doesn't cake, go blotchy, oxidize or sink into lines after hours and hours of wear?

Hands down, this is one of the best foundations I have ever worn <3

Retails in the UK for £9.99/30ml (8 shades) or Singapore for $33.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

Naked Palette Fall Tutorial: Retro Red Carpet

In the last post, I showed you this look that I wore to the My Women Stuff Readers' Choice Awards. While the smokey eyes is "signature" to me, the red lips certainly wasn't. Nonetheless, the occasion called for it and I was game!

I'm not sure what has changed but I'm beginning to accept (and like!) how red lipstick looks on me. This tutorial features the Urban Decay Naked Palette though this look is nowhere near nude!

Read on for full description of items used and the step-by-step tutorial!

Keeping within the Fall theme, I used mainly the bronze shades in the palette. I wanted the eyes to look dramatic so I smoked out the outer corners, slicked on the winged liner and wore falsies

Items Used:

Urban Decay Primer Potion
Urban Decay Naked Palette (Smog, Buck, Darkhorse, Creep, Half Baked, Virgin, Hustle)
MAC Fluidline in Blitz & Glitz
KKCentreHK False Lashes in A200
Maybelline The Magnum Superfilm Mascara
Maybelline Cat Eyes Mascara
Shu Uemura Hard 9 Eyebrow Pencil in Seal Brown

MAC Blush in The Perfect Cheek

Burberry Lip Cover in No. 19 Brick Red

Scared you there with the absence of makeup, didn't I?

Shu Uemura UV Base Mousse
Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation in #6
I Nuovi Undercover Concealer
RMK Powder Foundation EX in 103L
The Body Shop Bronzing Powder in Light Matte

Let's Begin!

Start by prepping the lid with an eyeshadow primer. The main lid color is Smog, applied with the Stila #30 brush and brought slightly over the crease line. Wipe clean the brush and blend the eyeshadow out to diffuse it into the crease and bring up towards the brow.

Using the MAC217 brush, take Buck and blend further into the crease. Then, taking the fluffy side of the #30, buff Darkhorse onto the outer corner, bringing the color slightly into the crease.

Darken the outer V with Creep and a round crease brush. After that, apply Virgin as the highlight under the brow. Brighten up the inner lid with some Half Baked. Define the eyes with a black gel eyeliner and flick out a moderate wing.

Darkening the lower lashline helps to make the eyes appear more prominent. To get a gradient, start by applying Hustle on the entire lower lashline. Then, place Darkhorse tighter towards 3/4 of the lashline. Lastly, apply Creep on 1/4 and even tighter towards the lashline, joining towards the top line's wing. Stick on full but still natural-looking false lashes and apply mascara liberally.

Falsies Application Tips

I usually curl and apply one light coat of mascara before applying falsies. After applying, I'd curl the real and the fake together and apply more mascara. Try to avoid using waterproof mascara on false lashes if you intend on reusing your lashes.

I kept the cheeks very light with only a little bit of blush and towards the centre of the cheek. The RMK Powder Foundation EX has the "glow powder" part, which I used to highlight the cheeks. The bronzer was placed only on the hollow of the cheeks and the temples.

For the lips, I first lined it with a natural-colored lip liner because I really don't have much of a lip line. Then, I filled it in with the lipstick. No gloss.

That wasn't too difficult, was it? Comes to show that you can do more dramatic looks with your Naked Palette!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Women Stuff Readers' Choice Awards 2011

The Pretty Committee

As a beauty blogger, we slave over our products with time, money, energy and side effects. What could be a bigger honour than having a party thrown to celebrate our beloved beauty products? Paris B of MyWomenStuff was the genius behind that very idea!

Starting with the excitement of receiving insider news to months of (...leading up to last minute) preparation, the first ever My Women Stuff Readers' Choice Awards 2011 was brought out of the web!

Continue for more on the festivities!

For weeks I was looking forward to the MWS Awards that finally happened on the 29th of October, 2011 at the Coffee Chemistry Cafe in Sunway Giza.

Prior to event, the readers of MyWomenStuff, nominated and voted for their favorite products and brands in 25 categories which included skin care, makeup, hair and body products.
The reveal of the winners was done live amongst the crowd of voters and fellow beauty enthusiasts. The guests were prompted to guess who the winners would be for a contest and let's just say I failed miserably!

For months or even years, I've known some of the attendees by their online handle so it was certainly great to be able to put a face to the name. Dom (of Belle Demoiselle) and I were manning the registration for the shindig where we got to greet almost everyone that came. Unfortunately, that didn't leave me with much time for mingling and picture-taking (which explains the plagiarism).

The youngest attendee was this adorable lil' guy (manufactured by Juan, our emcee for the day) who managed to sleep through all the excitement while everyone was at their feet, praying for their lucky number to be called... The lucky draw prize which included vouchers from Apronbay, Lace Petals and Poise Organic Wellness Studio, goodies from Kiehl's, Clinique and Estee Lauder, and two whoppers from Dior! Nope, I didn't win any...

But if I'm being real honest, I feel lucky enough just to have all these ladies, my friends, to share this passion for beauty with me. So, the best part of the whole thing really is simply being a part of this success and spending a wonderful day with the #evurl ladies.

Oh! And such a good reason to wear red lipstick! I don't think I've ever worn this much red lipstick in my entire life!

Even though I didn't win anything, I did not go home empty-handed! The hefty goodie bag was practically filled to the brim with products and vouchers sponsored by Pantene, Yuan Soaps, Himalaya, L'Oreal, Hada Labo, Revlon, Vichy, Maybelline, Kiehl's, Estee Lauder, Esemeria Organics, Olay, Poise Organic Wellness Studio, Apronbay and Lace Petals.

Sweet Contemplation Accessories needs a special mention for sponsoring such a beautifully-crafted necklace, handmade by my lovely friend, Tine. The color I got went so well with the cuff-bracelet (also by SCA, specially designed for rough users like myself) that I was already wearing.

Surprisingly, the next item I used from the goodie bag was the Lace Petals voucher! They have a good collection of tastefully sexy pieces and coupled with the generous discount, I couldn't not order! (more on that next time)

The MWS Awards called for bright clothing or bright/red lips. In honour of the host, I went red! In fear of losing my "identity", I didn't pair the red lips with neutral eyes. Instead, I went full on with the smokey eyes and lashes! What do you think? Did the combination work?
A tutorial for the look will be coming up soon!

Can't wait for the My Women Stuff Readers' Choice Awards 2012!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Taking It All Off At WAXXX!

Waxing has been around for ages but not until recently that it had started to garner popularity in Malaysia. Especially when it comes to removing hair from the nether regions...

Having broken through that fear of exposing my bits to a stranger, only a few apprehensions remain when it comes to waxing ie. itching, bumps & awkward growing out stage.

Lucky for me, I was in the hands of hair removal experts, WAXXX. And experts, they truly are.

Read on for my experience with WAXXX and also details on how you can score some great discounts from WAXXX!

Co-owner of WAXXX, Kelly, invited me in for a Hollywood experience along with a special treatment that got me very intrigued. Permanent hair removal, anyone? I'll elaborate on that in a bit.

Having endured weeks of consciously not exposing my underarms, the day of my appointment finally came. As I was rushing for my appointment (no surprise there), I was very pleased to get a parking the moment I arrived. You see, unlike many waxing salons, WAXXX is located in Aman Suria where parking is ample. I can understand how that can be a huge plus for those who hate going to shopping districts on a weekend!

The decor was clean and simple, with high ceilings for a bright and airy space. They have a total of 7 rooms where they offer purely hair removal services. The rooms, while spacious enough, lacked the kind of privacy that I'd prefer. As you can tell from the picture, the partition doesn't go all the way up. In other words, if the fella next door is screaming for dear life from having his scrotum waxed, I'm gonna hear it. Though it may be amusing to me, I can imagine how frightful that must be for others!

These would be your instruments of torture...
The pot on the left features the strawberry-scented hard wax for use on more delicate areas like the bikini area and underarms. The one on the right contains soft wax for use with strips, which is mostly used for larger areas.

WAXXX practices a strict NEVER DOUBLE-DIP policy by using a different spatula with every dip. On top of that, their equipments are all meticulously sterilized with hospital grade disinfectant.

The services that I experienced were the:
  • Hollywood Wax (ALL OFF!) + Depilar Treatment (RM116 + RM44.50)
  • Underarms Wax + Depilar Treatment (RM32.50 + RM12.50)
You're probably wondering what's this Depilar Treatment?
This is an alternative permanent hair removal method to IPL/Laser. Depilar essentially involves waxing and the application of the two products in black tubes you see above. Having the treatment done 12 to 24 times over the course of 6 to 12 months, the result mirrors that of IP/Laser (at least 6 treatments) minus the risk and hefty price tag.

My Experience

The session started with a brief Q&A to make sure that I'm in the right condition for a wax (eg. am I on any skin treatments, is it my first time, etc.). Kelly herself did the waxing for me and I was certainly in good hands with Kelly having years of waxing experience in Australia.

We started with the Hollywood Wax (all off you-know-where) and let's just say I've grown out quite a bit! Interestingly, unlike others salons I've been to which uses scissors for trimming, WAXXX uses an electric clipper with a detachable comb, which the customer keeps and bring back again for future trimming. Using clippers means the hair can be buzzed uniformly to the best length for waxing rather than getting a haircut for your pubes.

Kelly was cautious and regularly asked if the temperature of the wax was alright for me, which was very thoughtful. After completely removing hair from each part with the wax and tweezing, she applies the Depilar Treatment immediately for best absorption. Granted, the waxing process took longer than usual. Kelly was also very insistent on getting out every single hair even the existing ones that were too short! If she can help it, she's gonna tweeze them out!

Another added service that I appreciated was the removal of fine hair around my lower tummy area with soft wax. That way, when you're in a bikini, you're not gonna end up with smooth bikini line but a fuzzy tummy.

Hard wax and some tweezing was also used for my underams where the Depilar Treatment was applied as well.

After Waxing

Now, my biggest problem about waxing isn't the pain nor the exposure. I've basically come to terms with that. What worries me the most every time after the wax are bumps and to-the-bone itching. They seem to come hand-in-hand with getting waxed.

A few tiny bumps did appear within the next few days but they weren't the painful kind. I suppose they're inevitable and the best you can probably do is cleanse the area well and also avoid tight clothing to minimize any infection of hair follicles.

The most amazing thing about this experience is the fact that I did not itch. Not at all! It's been almost 2 weeks since I got waxed and the very fine hair is starting to grow out but I haven't itched! Believe me, I'm overjoyed! I used to itch so bad that I had to take my antihistamine pills. With the Depilar Treatment, my hair seems to be growing out slower and finer too.

Nonetheless, I don't think I'd feel comfortable being always bare down south though I don't mind the occasional strip but I would love to not have underarm hair. I'm definitely gonna follow up with the Depilar Treatment for and say goodbye once and for all to underarm hair! At least until I have any major hormonal changes that are bound to bring back the hair...

Here are more reasons to get WAXXXed!

WAXXX is having an Opening Promo of 40% off waxing of one body part valued above RM30 (for new customers only).
However, if you're a reader of Skin Deco enjoy an additional 10% off (total 50% discount) up until January 30st, 2012 . Just mention the code, CONNIE50, upon making appointment.

This weekend (5th and 6th of November, 2011), WAXXX will be having a a soft launch where there'll be special packages up on offer.

Don't forget to check out their Facebook page for more details.

And by the way, WAXXX offers services for men as well such as the Manzilian Wax and Manllywood Wax. For the comfort of girlfriends and wives, WAXXX has a MALE therapist to conduct the service.


J-G-17 Jalan PJU1/43,
Aman Suria,
Petaling Jaya,
47301 Selangor

To make an appointment, call 03-78805588

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