Skin Deco

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Shiseido Perfect Refining Foundation

When it comes to makeup, Japanese brands are generally not my cup of tea. I make a face at the sight of shimmery eyeshadow palettes and pastel blushes. So, for Shiseido to grow on me was unexpected. It started with the lip products and then with the mascara that eventually became one of the best mascaras I've ever used.

Now, they've tied another loop around me with the Shiseido Perfect Refining Foundation.

Read on for my review.

Shiseido Perfect Refining Foundation is essentially a liquid foundation housed in a sleek, compact, and lightweight bottle with a nozzle. Sure, it doesn't look as fancy as prestigious glass bottles which most luxury brands have but I can't deny that it's practical. It's small enough to carry around in my makeup pouch, I won't risk breaking the bottle and the nozzle niftily dispenses a controllable amount of product. Triple win!

The formula is not too runny nor too thick -- just the ideal texture for blending effortlessly. The shade that I have is O60 Natural Deep Ochre which is quite olive and a tinge darker than my non-tanned skin but when I'm tanned, the color suits me very well.

When applied, the Perfect Refining Foundation practically looks like second skin but heaps better. It has a medium coverage that sufficiently evens out the skin tone and covers up any marks or blotchiness. The semi-matte finish feels comfortable to wear and doesn't make my skin appear overly caked up or too oily throughout the day.

It has pretty decent lasting power as well, though not the best. Overall, it is a reliable foundation that gets the job done. Plus it has SPF 15 which I personally isn't too fussed about.

I've realized that Shiseido isn't one of those brands that gives me the "wow" factor. They simply perform very well and gain my appreciation in time by being go-to products I can count on. That, I believe, is the key ingredient to a healthy relationship with Shiseido.

Shiseido Perfect Refining retails for RM130 for 30ml. Comes in 14 shades, according to the website.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day Special Double Tutorial

Happy Earth Day!
In conjunction with Earth Day, I have for you a wearable green eyeshadow tutorial. Though I wore it for daytime, it's also appropriate for a night event when paired with a stronger lip color.

There's another tutorial after the jump, featuring a fresh weekend look with a bit of teal sneaked in.

On the top lid I had a gradient of yellow to green to dark green -- Shu Uemura  M Yellow 350, MAC Wondergrass and Urban Decay Libertine. On the bottom lash line I had shades of blue -- MAC Electro Sky, MAC Sea & Sky and Urban Decay Sabbath.

After prepping the lid with an eyeshadow primer (UDPP), apply a medium green (Wondergrass) onto 3/4th of the lid. Then, smoke out the outer corner with a deep green (Libertine). Blend the colors together with a blending brush and apply a medium brown to blend out the crease. Add yellow (M Yellow 350) to the inner corner and blend it into the green.

On the bottom lash line, layer a medium blue (Electro Sky) and darken in between the roots of the lashes with a dark blue (Sabbath). Brighten up the inner portion of the bottom lash line with a frosty blue (Sea & Sky). Thinly line the upper lash line with a black gel eyeliner and apply a beige highlight eyeshadow under the brows.

Complete the look by applying several coats of mascara and filling in the eyebrows.


This look uses colors that are a little less boring than weekday browns but it's still very light. It's easy to wear for a casual day out when you simply don't want to have piles of makeup on.

Apply a burnt coral shade (MAC Cut to Fit) up to the crease. Just below the crease, pat on a brighter shade (MAC Straw Harvest) just below the crease to make the lid stand out. Blend out the crease area with a sheer coral shade (MAC Tete-a-Tint). On the lower lash line, I've smudged on a dark teal eye pencil (Stage Teal Theater).

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Fit: Salad-free Diet

 Mashed quinoa and pumpkin + beef steak cubes + broccoli

Whenever a person wants to lose weight (in the cases of most ladies, it’s all the time), they’ll build their meals around salads. Before they know it, they become sick of munching on lettuce all day long and eventually lose control in the presence of “proper” food.

Don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables and I highly advocate the consumption of veggies daily. At the same time, I believe in feeling satisfied with your “diet” food and not just eating for the sake of wanting to lose weight (but if you love salad, by all means go for it!). Still, it annoys the hell out of me when people think that I lose weight by eating a whole load of salad and depriving myself of “proper” food.

Continue reading if you want to know what’s on my menu instead of salad.

Diet plays a very important role in losing weight. The key is not simply eating less but replacing unhealthy eating habits with healthy ones. A few rules to adopting a healthier diet include:
  • Not skipping meals 
  • Never starving 
  • Eating nutritiously 
  • Reducing processed food 
Note: On my menu, you will not find meal replacer shakes, weight loss cereal or granola bars and diet pill/supplement/tea. I prefer having real food, thank you very much. 

High On Protein 

Ideally, protein should make up 40% of our daily food intake, which is a lot higher than what typical Malaysian meals would have. Because I exercise regularly, I need protein to help build and repair my muscles. Also, protein keeps me fuller for longer and reduces hunger pangs.

My protein sources are mainly from chicken, beef, fish, eggs and soy. I try to include protein at every meal.

Easy On the Carbs 

Another 40% of our daily food intake should consist of carbohydrates, which we tend to have too much of. Carbs are not limited to just starchy grains but also fruits, vegetables and sugar. Carbs are necessary to provide energy and maintain healthy bowel movements. However, if the extra sugars in carbs are not burned off, they will be stored in the body as fat. In many situations, sugar/carbs is the main cause of weight gain and not fat itself.

Complex carbohydrates or whole grains contain higher fiber and nutrients than simple carbohydrates such as sugar and white rice/bread. Because they are slower to digest, they also fill me up and keep me full without having to eat large amounts.

To fill my carbohydrate quota, I opt for alternative grains such as millet, quinoa, buckwheat and rye. I also go for starchy vegetables and legumes such as sweet potatoes, chickpeas and beans. I’ve cut down on wheat flour products (pasta, bread, cookies, cake, etc.) and limit my white rice intake to a maximum of one meal a day.

Filling Up On Vegetables 

Lettuce is not at the top of my list when I want veggies (except Romaine lettuce, which I love). Reason being, lettuce tend to be bland, doesn’t have much “body” to bite and hardly fills me up. Plus, the most commonly used iceberg lettuce has very little nutritional content. I mostly have Romaine lettuce as a side dish or mid-day snack.

Veggies that I do prefer and eat regularly include broccoli, celery, carrots, mushroom, bell peppers, green beans, spinach, tomatoes and okra (ladies fingers).

Fat is Healthy 

Many people who are “on a diet” tend to be terrified of fat. Healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish (eg. Salmon) are good for you and they don’t make you fat.

I mostly cook with olive oil and sesame oil. Nuts and avocado are also good sources for fat.

Low Salt Flavors 

Too much salt, despite being calorie-free, causes water retention and bloating. In other words, it can cause weight-gain and make you look puffy. Healthy food tends to put people off because having low salt content results them to taste bland.

For adding flavor to my cooking, I use onion, garlic, sesame oil, cayenne pepper, chili, parsley and other herbs & spices. I also love adding unsalted seaweed in soup to make it more flavorful.

That’s a lot of stuff to digest (pun very much intended) in one post! I’ll leave you with a few pictures of the lunches are usually cook and bring to work. I regularly post up what I eat on Twitter and also Tumblr so feel free to follow me to perhaps get some inspirations on what to eat – besides salad!

  1. Beef cutlets + spicy fried millet wrapped in egg + broccoli + yellow bell peppers 
  2. Spicy stir-fried tomato and chicken breast + okra + millet +stir-fried mushrooms 
  3. Meatballs in tomato-based sauce + spinach + quinoa noodles 
  4. Fried millet with beef + okra + hard-boiled egg + seaweed vegetable soup 
  5. Stir-fried buckwheat pasta with chicken, bell peppers, zucchini and mushrooms 
Disclaimer: This post is based on my personal experiences, what I've read up online and also advice from my trainer, Jeremy. By the way, Jeremy is currently on a month-long holiday but if you'd like to direct questions to him, he'll answer them when he gets back. Meanwhile, if you have any questions for me, I'd gladly respond :)

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Review: Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencils

Cream eyeshadows are not everyone's cup of tea -- They require a certain skill to blend, they're less forgiving of mistakes and they run a high risk of creasing.
Yet, I'm a fan of them. Good ones of course. Why?
  • They act as a base to make eyeshadows more vibrant 
  • When blended properly, it creates a smooth gradation with just one product 
  • Good ones stay put the entire day 

 Read on for my thoughts on the Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencils.

I've been eyeing these pencils for awhile but I was a little hesitant to buy them individually. So, when the Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil Stash came out for Christmas, I caved and bought them. In the set there were 5 shades, 4 of which are available in full sizes:

Delinquent: A rich and vibrant purple with splashes of shimmer. It's a very beautiful color and a great base for powder eyeshadows. I used this in my 2012 V-day look.

Rehab: A slightly frosty finish medium-deep neutral brown. I was looking for a neutral cream shadow that I can use all over for my daily work makeup and Rehab was supposed to be it. Compared to my very frequently-used Paul & Joe Eye Gloss, Rehab appears a bit flat on the lids without much dimension. It's not a bad color and I use it often but I just wanted a whole lot more from it.

Juju: A lighter version of Rehab. The color is very similar to my skin color when applied. Again, it lacked dimension. I sometimes use it in the crease to blend out Rehab. As I know, Juju is not available in full size.

Sin: A frosty pinkish champagne. When swatched, Sin seems to make a good highlight shade but it sheers out a lot when blended. Out of all the colors, Sin had the least even coverage when blended.

Clash: A bright metallic teal with shimmer. Another reason why I bought this set was because I wanted to find a replacement for my beloved Rollickin' MAC Paint Pot (C'mon, it's been 4 years! Repromote!). I was counting on Clash to fill that gap but it doesn't come close at all. It's just a very different color. In terms of finish and opacity, Clash is similar to Delinquent and also makes a great base.

In terms of color quality of the 24/7 Shadow Pencils, some colors are more pigmented and opaque than others. Generally, they apply very smoothly but you'll need to act quick to blend them because they dry fast. As a result, they're not the easiest type of cream eyeshadows to blend. Being in pencil form, you get precision application but there's typically less product than cream eyeshadows in pots. To compensate, pencil form is harder to dry out despite the hassle of having to sharpen it.

Urban Decay claims the product to be smudgeproof and waterproof, which I completely agree, but they're not crease-proof. While it did stay put the entire day, I got some creasing which can't be blended out. That didn't look too pretty, of course. Still, the pencils have above average staying power compared to most cream eyeshadows I've used.

Overall, the Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencils are decent but they're not great. In other words, I wouldn't buy them individually.

The Stash was undeniably good value because I got 5 x 2.5g pencils for RM126 when a full-sized one of 2.8g is retailing at RM70-something. I doubt they still carry the Stash in Malaysia's Sephora, though. Yes, my bad for being late to inform!

If you're in the US, you can check the Stash out from the Urban Decay website. They're on sale now for only $12 (marked down from $34) making the Stash an even better deal!

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Three Looks: Picking Inspirations

 Please ignore the hair. I'm going through an awkward growing out stage.

While my quick work makeup routine is nearly perfected, every now and then I like spending a bit more time in front of the mirror to prep myself for work. With the very few fancy weekend outings and tutorials lately, most of my makeup sadly becomes neglected.

Recently, however, I was feeling rather inspired and translated those inspirations into my makeup. They're not very special looks but I hope you enjoy the inspirations that come with it.

Read on to find out what inspired these three work looks!
Inspiration: Paris B of MyWomenStuff 

I was catching up on some [blog] reading when I stumbled upon Paris B's post on how to apply work-friendly makeup. Paris and I have different tastes when it comes to eye makeup but I always enjoy seeing how eyeshadow is applied to eye shapes different than my own. When I saw her look, I was keen to try it out on myself instead.

What I did was kept the lids rather bare with Urban Decay 24/7 Shadow Pencil in Juju on the main lid and Sin as highlight beneath the brow arch. To smoke out the outer corner I applied Urban Decay's Cobra (from the Black Palette) and tightlined with Urban Decay 14/7 Eye Pencil in Zero. I emphasized the liner on the outer V, connecting to the lower lash line, as what Paris did. On the cheeks I tested out Pearlescent Pink by Wet n Wild and wore a go-to lipstick, Clarins Joli Rouge in #726 Heather Pink.

Inspiration: The Beach 

I had just gotten back from a diving trip to Pulau Perhentian the night before and have been moaning that I want to move to the island. Besides the new tan, I wanted to bring a little bit more of the beach with me to the office. I opted for a classic summer look which is golden lids with teal on the lower lashline.

I used Urban Decay's Toasted, Half-baked and Buck (from the Naked Palette) on the lids and the Teal color from Smashbox's Hot Date Eyeshadow Palette. I also added a winged out line. If you're wondering why my eyes are looking a bit off it's because I forgot to apply mascara before taking pictures and was already late for work. I used a glowy bronzy shade on my cheeks (MAC MSF in Sunny by Nature) and a nude gloss (Dior Addict Ultra-gloss Reflect in #127)

Inspiration: The purple stripes on my shirt 

Now I can understand why an average woman can just own one eyeshadow palette and be perfectly contented. Because there's no need for colors other than browns! As much as I hate to admit it, brown or neutral makeup is what I would usually wear to work. I can apply it fast and it goes with whatever I'm wearing. One day, I just got very sick of browns and applied my makeup to match my shirt. I had purple stripes on my shirt so I did a plum/cranberry -ish look.

I used Benefit Cream Shadow in Stiletto as a base and MAC Heritage Rouge pigment over the base. After that, I darkened the outer corners with MAC eyeshadow in Spiced Chocolate, blended everything out and applied a black gel eyeliner. I can't remember what I had on my cheeks and the lips were bare.

Your Say: 
Do you stick to a safe classic look for work or would you experiment with different colors and styles?

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Clarins Whitening Velvet Emulsion

In my 4 years of blogging, this is probably the 4th version of the Clarins White Plus HP Sea Lily Enriched range that I've encountered. Every year, Clarins looks into improving the formula of their whitening range and finally, I'm sold. 

To say that I was blown away would be an overstatement but the subtle benefits of the Clarins Whitening Velvet Emulsion are hard to ignore. 

You see, whitening has always passed my radar because I'm one of those who is not keen being fair or have any problems with pigmentation. Most whitening products would go straight to mom and sadly, most don't live up to their claims.

Clarins Whitening Velvet Emulsion is a daytime moisturizer with whitening benefits. Quite straightforward, right? To be honest, I placed no expectations on this moisturizer in terms of whitening. It wasn't like I was trying to be fairer anyway.

What actually drew me in to start using this product was the texture -- light and velvety. Because I apply foundation daily, I prefer daytime moisturizers that are very lightweight in texture, absorbs readily and doesn't make my foundation budge. In my daytime regime, moisturizer is not a priority (sunscreen is) simply because I don't like my skin to feel heavy underneath all the makeup. However, the Velvet Emulsion is so light that it doesn't feel like I'm adding an additional layer to my skin. Even when I use it in between the Ettusais essence and sunscreen, my skin would just feel soft, supple and ready for foundation. One pump is enough to sufficiently cover my entire face.

While the texture alone was enough to make me a frequent user of the Clarins Velvet Emulsion, the whitening benefit, believe it or not, actually kicked in! Although the effect wasn't drastic, I started to notice that my complexion was becoming more even. Friends have also commented that I looked fairer! Fine, in my books that wouldn't exactly be a compliment (tan lover!) but I couldn't disagree.

There's also an SPF20 version of the Velvet Emulsion which I find has a slightly thicker and more opaque texture. Lyn of Beauty Cabby has reviewed it on her site and it seems like the SPF20 feels quite different from the non-SPF one. If you're keen to know how this fairs on an oilier complexion, do check out the review on Belle Demoiselle.

At RM190 a bottle, the Clarins Velvet Emulsion doesn't come cheap but for its size (75ml), it's reasonable when compared with other department store brands.

*The product featured in this post was provided by Clarins Malaysia for consideration and review on Skin Deco

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