Sunday, October 25, 2009

Halloween Costume Ideas

Halloween is a week away, do you know what you're dressing up as? Whether you're staying in and handing out candy, or going out for the night, any age, it's fun to dress up. Here are my ideas for halloween costumes:
Karl Lagerfeld: YSL and Chanel fashion designer known for his flamboyant outfits and attitude.
You'll need: White hair spray dye, black sunglasses, white dress shirt, black pants, a black thin tie - blazer optional. Repeat the phrase, "It's not possible" in a french accent.

 Michael Jackson: no explanation needed.
You'll need: Pick any of MJ's famous looks, here's an idea - Curl your hair loosely and pin up under a fedora, wear mirror aviators, a Sergeant Pepper style jacket and make sure your white socks are visble at all times.

Balloon Boy: Read the news lately?
Tape aluminum foil to a bunch of blown up balloons, tape to your body. Repeatedly ask for Child Services.

 Kate Gosselin: Tabloid mom.
You'll need: Short spikey blond wig with long bangs in front, sunglasses, and any plain outfit. Carry around an issue of Star magazine.

The Real Housewives of ________: (pick any version of this reality series, New Jersey, Atlanta, Orange County, etc.)
You'll need: Some variation of wig or hair extensions, heavy makeup, loud clothing and a loud nasal voice.

Health-care Reform: google it
You'll need: A nurse or doctor's uniform with "reform" written across.
Check out my YouTube channel for more makeup-related Halloween costume ideas!     
Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Have you ever suffered from acne around your hairline or on your shoulders and back?What about splits ends and dry hair? It most likely has something to do with what is lurking in the ingredients list of your shampoo. 
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a chemical detergent found in many household products, including laundry detergent, hand soap, and shampoo. If that last sentence is disturbing to you, good! Detergents should never come in contact with skin and hair, let alone be scrubbed on them every day. Unfortunately, the majority of shampoo, body wash, face wash and other personal products contain sodium lauryl suflate (SLS), making it almost impossible to avoid. To further complicate things many companies try to deceive consumers by using different names for what is essentially the same chemical. Here are some other names for SLS:

Sodium Laurel Sulfate
Sodium Dodical Sulfate
Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Sodium Laurel Ether Sulfate
Immonium Laurel Sulfate

The purpose of SLS in household and personal products is that it is one of the few chemicals that is able to maintain its detergent quality in hard water. Most soaps cannot stand up to hard water, as a result they don't foam and bubble as well as products containing SLS. The general perception is that if there are no bubbles, then it's not getting clean. However, this is misleading and now scientists have discovered that the presence of this bubbly substance can be detrimental to your health.

BUBBLES ARE BAD NEWS. Unless they're part of a fantasy hair washing dream!

Besides being a known irritant (specifically irritating to eyes and skin), studies have linked SLS to development disorders and neurological problems. Some might argue that the use of SLS is only toxic depending on the concentration level, but why take that risk? If you can avoid using toxic chemicals, then you should, right?      

The reassuring news is that there is a growing list of personal-care products that make a point of not using toxic SLS. The more that consumers use these non-SLS products, the more that companies will listen. Think of your day-to-day purchases as votes, and this goes for anything in life; each time you purchase a product, you're casting your vote in support of that product. More votes for SLS-free products = eventually less SLS products produced.

The first thing you'll notice when you use a sulfate free product is the lack of bubbles and lather. It will take a few uses to get used to the lack of a "squeaky clean" feeling, but just remember that super-sudz are a clue that the product is not good for your health. In the long-term you will notice that your hair and skin are softer (less tangling and no more of that tight-skin feeling after you wash your face) and healthier. For those of you who are not used to a less sudsy shampoo, try shampooing twice in a row. Eventually your hair will rebalance and get used to the harsh-free shampoo.

EDIT: Upon further research I have come across SLS-like replacements used in shampoo and other skin/hair products; essentially chemicals that have the same soapy effect as sulfates minus the health risk - we hope. Ughhh, I think that's like the difference between Coke and Diet coke...if the real sugar doesn't hurt you then the aspartame might (pulls at collar awkwardly). Anyway, to clear up confusion, continue reading!

In the mean time, before SLS gets recognized as the toxin that it is, here are some shampoos that are completely Sodium Lauryl Sulfate free. EDIT: There are now MANY drugstore products that claim to be "sulfate free". It's an excellent start, but take it all in stride! Make sure the products you choose are also animal cruelty free and 100% recyclable.

ABBA-'True Curls' 10oz : US$11.25
BROCATO - 'Splash' 10oz: US$9.45



SEXY HAIR- 'Healthy Sexy Soy Milk Chocolate' 13oz: US $14.75

 John Masters Organics Shampoos $16.00 - $19.00

On the other hand, explain the following about SLS products:

"[SLS]...are good cleaners, but they can dry your skin if you’re not careful. Does that make sulfate based products bad? Not necessarily, because it depends on what else is in the formula. A well formulated product that uses sulfates in combination with milder surfactants or with conditioning agents that prevent the skin from becoming too stripped, are perfectly fine for most people."

My argument against the above points would be that generally speaking, consumers don't have the chemistry degree that is needed to decipher the mile-long ingredient lists on the back of their products - so how are we to know what ratios of which chemical result in the best product to use? It's nearly impossible! So I say the simplest way to get around the dilemma is to use products that specifically say "Sulfate-Free" on the bottle.

(♥thanks for the article idea, Karen!♥)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No such thing as too much makeup

 Oh wait a minute...

Kim Kardashian celebrates her 39th birthday in LA last night.

The irony? I visit Kim Kardashian's makeup artist's blog religiously. Ha! 

Monday, October 19, 2009

Shopping 101

A story about shopping...

I found these Betsey Johnson leopard print ray-bans in Winners over the weekend.. nearly poked my eye out trying them on... I was excited. Everyone knows the minute you see something you want, someone else will scoop it up. So you better shuv your way over there to get it - knocking over old ladies and mannequins is completely reasonable.

Can you relate to that feeling? When you're overcome with excitement after spotting a hidden gem, and at a reasonable price at that! All of a sudden you NEED to have it.. even though the thought never crossed your mind before laying eyes on it. One of the perils of 'window' shopping I guess.

Putting aside my moment of weakness, I thought it might be interesting to talk about some techniques for shopping. Um, techniques. Believe it or not, going into stores or shopping online armed with these tools will make you an educated consumer and therefore less suceptible to buyer's remorse.   

  1. Need vs. Want: Can I live without it? ie. Carry the item around the store with you while you continue to browse, and think about whether you really need & want it. The initial "I MUST HAVE THIS" feeling is said to dissipate after 20 minutes, when the realistic part of your brain kicks in.
  2. Duplicates: Do I own something similar to it already? ie. 5 black scarves usually means you don't need another black scarf.
  3. Fit: Does it fit? And do I feel comfortable in it? ie. Telling yourself it will fit once you lose those pesky 5 lbs does not justify buying it. Same goes for telling yourself that it will look good if you just pin it here and there.
  4. Upkeep: Does the cost of cleaning/tailoring this item justify buying it? ie. If you can't afford proper tailoring or long term dry cleaning costs of the item, and/or, if the item costs less than the cost of tailoring it, don't buy it. 
  5. Wardrobe: Will this item get along with the rest of my wardrobe? ie. If the item cannot be easily incorporated into your existing wardrobe, then re-think the purchase. If there is a new trend you're interested in or you're thinking about a style makeover, start small and ease into it.

Finally, if the item is on sale ask yourself this:

"If this item was NOT on sale, would I still buy it?"

If the answer is, "NO", then drop those harem pants like hot cakes and move on!! 

Some other general shopping tips:
  • Have a general sense of what you're looking for and need at all times, even if you plan on just window shopping. This way you won't be caught off guard if there's a sale or something to tempt you. You'll know if you wanted or needed it in the first place.
  • Do a quick walk through of the store to get the lay of the land, then make your way through each section. This way you don't miss anything and the sales rack doesn't take you by surprise.
  • Take a size up and a size down, along with your usual size, into the fitting room so you're prepared for size variations among brands (really only applies if you're unfamiliar with the store).
  • Ask to put things on hold if it's early in the shopping trip and you want to compare items at another store. Usually stores will hold onto non-sale items for 24 hours.
  • Avoid wearing layers, tight clothing, sweaters with a lot of buttons, etc. Getting bogged down in the fitting room will only make you tired and irritated for the rest of the shopping trip.
  • Bring a snack and water! There's nothing worse than dragging a pile of shopping bags to the food court and inhaling a burger (not speaking from experience, of course..)
 Happy Shopping!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Products Worth a " ♥ "

Laura Mercier Mineral Powder, SPF 15
 Mineral Powder SPF 15

This is by far the best mineral foundation I've come across to date. It provides buildable coverage (hard to find in a powder foundation); a subtle glow that is not sparkly or shiny;
and it lasts a working day.

This is the kind of foundation that makes skin look healthy, without making it look like you're wearing foundation. (Excellent choice for acne-prone skin.)

Racoon Eyes:
 Bobbi Brown Corrector

An ESSENTIAL for covering brutal undereye circles (thanks, genes!).
It really does wonders and can be used solo or under concealer - don't get freaked out by the peach colour, this counteracts grey/green/blue undereye circles.

I apply it after moisturizer, using a small concealer brush then blend with finger. Then apply concealer and set with powder.

Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer & Highlighter
This little duo is so easy to use and travel with because of its lipgloss-like packaging.
The concealer is opaque, not drying, and covers really well when layered.
The highlighter is a bonus and can be used anywhere on the face.
I like to use it on brow bones, down the middle of the nose and to highlight the
cupids bow on lips - it's subtle, not glitzy.

Bonnebell Powder Bronzer

I know, I know, Bonnebell is usually reserved for the under 14 set, but this bronzer is actually quite nice. The shade is warm without being too orangey, and there is little to no shimmer, thereby avoiding that Malibu Barbie look.

Can be used as a contour or eyeshadow as well.

Maybelline Express Turbo Boost Mascara

If you are looking for volume, this will give you MEGA volume.
I love this mascara because it's dark, it lasts and it plumps lashes while holding a curl
(and its cheap!)

For more va-va-va-voom apply a lengthening mascara overtop
(like Clinique's High definition mascara)

Eyeshadow Palette:
Kat Von Dee True Romance Eyeshadow Palette 
True Romance Eyeshadow Palette - Ludwig

8 wearable, complimentary colours in one palette - genius!
Don't you hate it when you find a palette you love, save that one heinous colour they've decided to throw in for kicks?!
This a palette full of colours you will want to use -
plus 3 other palettes full of equally gorgeous colours available too.

Liquid Liner:
L'Oreal Lineur Intense

This is the best liquid liner (even compared to Department store brands) I've used - and a lot of bloggers agree.
It is easy to use (it has a flexible, but stiff nib) and it is intensely pigmented.
The only downfall might be that it only comes in brown and black - no electric blue.

Nail Polish
Sally Hanson Insta-Dri

The unassuming bottle is deceptive, because these little guys are actually really good quality and easy to use.
The colour selection is limited, but the reds, beiges and pinks are excellent choices.
The unique oval shaped brush makes applying it a cinch.

Lancome La Laque Fever
LA LAQUE FEVER - Ultimate Lasting Full Color Lipshine

Gorgeous colours, moisturizing and the colour will probably last longer than you!
It's best described as a lipstick in lipgloss form.
Love the heartshaped applicator, best for precise application.

Heat Product:
Tresemme Heat Tamer Spray

This stuff will kick your straightening iron's butt!
It protects hair (apparently) while smelling nice, which is a hard combo to find.
Let it be known that I hate all other Tresemme products, they're garbage. This is an acception though.
The only trick to this is that it is a liquid product, so make sure to spray it on dry hair from a distance!

Let me know what your personal ♥'s are.
Oh, and let me know if you've tried any of these products and like/dislike them!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adobe PhotoFake

No, the picture on the left is not a scarecrow, it is indeed a Ralph Lauren ad with a morbidly photoshopped model. Fillippa Hamilton's un-photoshopped picture is on the right as further evidence.

Ah yes, I can see why Ralph Lauren a) photoshopped her to the point of obscenity and b) fired her from the campaign all together, she's normal huge.

This botched Ralph Lauren ad was leaked recently, only to be followed today by an even more disturbing image from the same campaign, see it below. These ads remind me of the aliens in the movie Signs.

 Fillippa is reportedly 5'10" and 120 lbs, not exactly as portly as the extreme photoshopping would imply, right? So why did Ralph Lauren go to such lengths? A lot of times it seems that editors take a tweak here and there too far. It starts out as retouching a blemish, freckle, or out of place hair and snowballs into shaving off 30 pounds here and stretching out limbs by 2 ft there. My rebuttle to that would be, "Try studying Fine Art and understanding perspective and ratios first!".

Messing around with propotions using photoshop only leaves the original image looking something like Stretch Armstrong. The result is always fake looking and makes any message, promotion, or advertisement completely empty and deceitful. So the next time you see a billboard, cd cover, or advertisement, try looking for the photoshop blunders before you think to yourself, "I wish I had her skin". Chances are if her legs have been stretched like no one's business, then her skin has been polished to an unnatural finish too.

Here's an example of Mariah Carey's photoshop "artist" being completely unaware of human anatomy... Mimi's left hand is 5 times bigger than is natural. Let's just ignore the etching and sketching being done around her chin, chest and stomach.

Lindsay Lohan as Barbie (?)

Nia Long with a plastic body and an awkwardly placed subway pole.

Easy on the blur option there, FERRE!

Friday, October 9, 2009

MAC and Halloween

MAC is King when it comes to Halloween makeup. Who needs a Bush mask when you've got MAC black track liner and pigments at your finger tips?

If you need inspiration or have a particular look you want to do for Halloween, a MAC artist will walk you through how to acheive it, step by step. It will be impossible to get help (unless you have an appointment) on Halloween, or the day make sure to go in early!

Another great resource - in case I haven't plugged it enough - is YouTube. Just search for Halloween 'costumes' 'makeup' or 'looks' 2009, and you'll get a ton of results.

Watch MAC's Halloween promo video for inspiration...My favorite look is the Zebra and the Roy Lichtenstein inspired comic face.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

How To: Covering Eyebrows for Special FX

Gloss Spot's most recent video touches on how covering eyebrows can add a lot of drama to a look - just in time for Halloween! - and I received a couple of requests to explain the process in detail. Watch my tutorial on Columbia (Rocky Horror Picture Show) for a sample of this trick, and here is a more in-depth description of how to camouflage eyebrows:

There are a number of homemade as well as commercial ways to cover brows. If you're really interested in purchasing professional products, I suggest checking out Malabar and purchasing their eyebrow wax. You can also try spirit gum and a thick concealer to block out brows. Whether you go the Special FX route or the homemade way, the results will vary depending on how how thick or thin your brows are, but generally everyone can get good results just by layering more or less.

The GLUE STICK method: I've tried this and didn't find that the results were that great, the trick, I realized later, is to concentrate the glue to just the brow hairs, not to put glue on the surrounding skin. It just flakes off later. When done correctly, this is a good method for people with thick brows. The glue essentially flattens the brow hairs to the skin, making it easier to block them out with makeup.

What you will need for the GLUE STICK method:

- Water based, washable glue stick (must dry clear)
- A thick concealer 2 shades lighter than your skin tone (must be cake/stick, not liquid)
- Toner or Rubbing Alcohol
- Liquid foundation
- Face Powder

Step 1: Clean away any oils or makeup from your brows by swiping a cotton ball soaked in toner or rubbing alcohol over your brows. Let brows dry.

Step 2: Make sure brows are dry before applying the glue. Apply the glue stick to just your brows (not the surrounding area).

Step 3: Let the glue dry (the longer you can wait, the better the results will be, I suggest about 2-3 minutes), and either move on to step 4 if your eyebrows are thin, or REPEAT Step 2 to ensure that all hairs are lying flat and secure. Let brows dry between layers, this will give you the best results.

Step 4: Press concealer into dry brows - start with thin layers - until brows are complete covered.

Step 4: Gently blend and press with ring finger. Making sure that the concealer covers all hairs and there are no gaps. Allow concealer to dry completely.

Step 5: Once concealer is dry, apply liquid foundation to blend everything out (Apply with fingers or brush).

Step 6: Apply a second layer of foundation with a makeup sponge to really blend the foundation on the brow area into the surrounding area.

Step 7: Apply face powder over everything to set - I find a makeup sponge does the best job for longevity.

Check out AleksisLovesBeauty's great tutorial on the glue stick method:

Another way to cover brows easily at home is the SOAP method: I personally prefer this method, but I have thin brows - not by choice.

What you'll need for the Soap method:
- Glycerin soap like Pears (not cream based ie. Dove bars)
- A clean mascara spooly or eyebrows brush
- A thick concealer 2 shades lighter than your skin tone (must be cake/stick, not liquid)
- Liquid foundation - the thicker the better
- Face Powder

Step 1: Wet the bar of soap and your mascara spooly or eyebrow brush. Drag the brush/wand over the soap and create a lather.

Step 2: Brush the soap through your brows, making sure to cover every hair.

Step 3: Let your brows dry, so they're hard to the touch (wait around 2-3 minutes)

Step 4: Pack on a thick layer of concealer and blend out.

Step 5: Repeat Step 4 until brows are covered completely.

Step 6: Apply liquid foundation over the concealer and blend with a sponge.

Step 7: Set everything with face powder using a sponge.