WARNING: Post contains crepey eye lids and unfilled eye brows. Proceed at your own peril since you can never un-see these things! 

This post follows from a previous post where I wrote about how I am being frugal and now shop mainly at a drugstore rather than Sephora.  (read previous post here)

I have oily lids and all eye pencils stray on me. So I avoid pencils opting for liquid liners instead, but alas sometimes one just needs an eye pencil!

They are quick, you can hide the crooked lines with some nifty smudging and great for the lower lash line.

Also we now live in the world of kickass smudge-proof eye pencils from Urban Decay and Marc Jacobs so the ‘superior eye pencil’ technology must have trickled down to the drugstore level.

So off I went to my Walgreens to try some eye pencils.

Here I got even more frugal. I passed on the $8-$10 L’oreal Infallible and Maybelline pencils and spied the $4 something dollars Rimmel ones instead. And everyone raves about Rimmel right ? So it’s all good.

I bought two pencils. I bought a Prune/Plum Rimmel Exaggerate and a sparkly Black Scandaleyes kohl pencil. Both claim to be waterproof. imgp3483imgp3487

The Scandaleyes pencil is nice and soft and I love the sparkles. There is a bit of fall out. The packaging however is….well.  I had stored the pencil upside down and when I picked it up the entire gel liner thing had slid out of the pencil. I gently tapped it back in.

Also I am not sure how well it will sharpen. You can see the tip is already flattened..

The purple Rimmel Exaggerate feels a bit dry and  applies patchy. I am not sure if this is a formula thing or a colour thing. Purple is a hard colour!

The pencil is a plastic twist up and not self sharpening and again, the tip is already flat!

The pencil comes with a smudger which I used. Work quickly though as it dries quickly. I do one eye at a time. Same applies if you are trying to re-apply over your patchy bits. Once it dries it will start to crumble as you try and re-apply.

So anyway the test!

I have oily  hooded eyes so I get upper lid transfer AND racoon eyes under. A double whammy. And I need to find that pencil that doesn’t do either!

I wanted to give these pencils the best chance ever.

I allowed my eye cream and moisturiser to really get absorbed before I started.

I wore an old ELF eye primer I had kicking around, set it with the Bobbi Brown finishing powder and then applied the pencils.imgp3482imgp3497imgp3501

I do not have foundation (who haz time fer dat) or any under eye concealer. Under eye concealer, well  that my friend, leads to a whole new level of under-eye smudging.

That’s a battle no eye pencil has won as yet…or will it ?

Anyway it’s been around 4 hours now, so far so good. A slight darkening under eye but I can live with it, even IRL. I reapplied the black on the lower lashline and it applied smooth with no crumbles nothing. So me concludes tis good for touch ups.

I didn’t touch the purple. I am not wowed by the formula anyway.

Also I had worn the purple Exaggerate last night without a primer, on dry lids. And inspite of that I had transfer !! But today I can’t see a transfer with the primer.

After 6 hours: Purple was still good, no transfer to the crease however the black had smudged for both eyes. So carry makeup wipes for a quick fix.img_2913

Also my Bioderma Sensibio water wasn’t able to remove the black properly. Guess we need an oil.

I will do two more tests and report in another post

  1. wear at the gym or at a particularly sweaty yoga practice
  2. wear with under eye concealer.

Later gators










SPF: Dilemma Continues

I have written posts on SPF before (here & here) and here I am writing one more!

So the changes in my current environment have made me reconsider my SPF game.

In Hong Kong I basically fled from the sun. It’s hot, humid and sweaty and an air-conditioned interior was my habitat of choice.

As and when (and IF) I ventured outside into the humid soup an SPF, used over my moisturiser, was what worked.  Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence Sunscreen SPF50+ PA+++ was my go to as it light weight & mattifying.imgp3436

But here in the Pacific Northwest when the sun is out, it’s gorgeous …and it’s dry. I love being outdoors. Also as I am not planning to invest in a car just as yet I spend a lot of time walking around running errands  (2.5 miles to my nearest supermarket)

So investing in two separate moisturisers, one with SPF and one without SPF is not as wasteful as it would be in Hong Kong.

What I want is good hydration (along with anti-aging if possible) and an SPF of 50(PA ++++ would be an added bonus)

Unfortunately the shelves are not exactly falling over with the weight of good SPF 50 moisturisers.

My shortlist below seem to be good for dry skin and wont deliver a white cast on my NC40 skin tone.(each item listed below is linked to it’s respective review by Beautypedia).

SPF 50. 1 fl.oz. $50:Estee Lauder Crescent White Full Cycle Brightening UV Protector. The most expensive of the lot. The write up is great and Estee Lauder always kill in the skincare category given the sheer amount of cash they have to spend on research.

Will this be a birthday present ? Oysters and Champagne in Capitol Hill versus this ? Ooo it’s hard.

You know what till I am not working I must be sensible. 😦 Especially when a perfectly acceptable Clinique is available!

SPF 50. 1.7 fl.oz. $21.5Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Face Cream. A no brainer given the cost! It contains a wide range of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients what’s more to discuss ?

SPF 40. 2 fl. oz. $30.: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Pure Mineral Sunscreen Moisturizer Broad SpectrumFAB has some good solid products and I like investing in them just because they do such a good job. It’s a great price point and the SPF 50-40, no biggie.

Hmm now I want both Clinique and FAB. But that would be just wasteful especially as a good non SPF, anti aging moisturiser would also be gracing my vanity.

How many bottles do I need cluttering up my vanity? It’s already one too many.

SPF 47. 2 fl. oz. $32.: Josie Maran Cosmetics Argan Daily Moisturizer w/ Sunboost ATB. I have never tried a Josie Maran product though people rave about her line. The write up is good but it doesn’t attract me, so pass.

Next time I am in Redmond I will dive into the Macys there and pick myself the Clinique. Done! Decision made.

Now below are some I found promising for those with Normal to Oily and Combination skin.

50+PA+++.  1.7 fl.oz

$48, Kate Somerville Daily Deflector Waterlight Broad Spectrum . I have used this and I really loved it. The white cast didn’t seem to bother me that much and it felt moisturising enough for the humid Hong Kong summers.

$42, Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector Sunscreen Broad Spectrum. This has a really good write-up but where do you buy it from?

SPF 50. 1.7 fl.oz

$26, Olay Regenerist Regenerating Lotion with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum. Great review and affordable ! yaaay.

$34, SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense. This one I would pass on, especially when you have the Olay. What bothers me about this one is the ‘con’ stated in the review. It states it lacks ‘antioxidants to boost skin’s environmental defenses’. Why bother ?

NB: this in no way replaces my Holy Grail Shiseido Wet Force when exercising. There is no other technology like this one in the market I believe!

I hope this is the end of SPF obsession…no more posts.

Bengali Cooking: Paneer Curry


NB: this post, or any like this, are NOT recipes. They are just my stories behind something I have cooked.

Image courtsey: vegrecipesofindia.com

Say Indian food and most people will say ‘I love Palak Paneer’ (‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ coming in as a close second)


I detest both. Why ? Because in my snobbish opinion they have no subtlety of flavour. Both are the mish-mash of heavy flavours.  But it’s probably the same reason I prefer Vietnamese food over Thai.

Also every time someone orders palak paneer I am reminded of my father. My hardcore Bengali father, born and brought up in Calcutta, used to say “please no green ointment” if we ever suggested Palak Paneer. (referring to the green sludge the paneer nestles in) My mother used to say ‘its for people with no teeth’.

Yes we were very ‘tolerant’ like that.

Now I am biased and will say try the Bengali version of a paneer curry and enjoy the subtlety 🙂

1 Bayleaf, 1.5 inch Cinnamon stick, 3 Cardamon pods, 5-6 small Raisins (optional)

250 gms of Paneer

1 Potato

1 med Tomato cubed or half can of Chopped Tomatoes

1 Green Chilli diced

Turmeric powder, salt, cumin powder.

Sprinkling of Garam Masala (Bengali garam masala not the one you buy in Indian stores)

As with all Bengali cooking you start with marinating. Almost everything is marinated with salt and turmeric.  So cube the paneer and the potato and then go ahead and marinate it with turmeric and salt.

The way I measure stuff out is by expert eyeballing. Just sprinkle the powders over both. Just like you don’t want something to be too salty you don’t want something to be too ‘turmeric-y’. Use that reasoning.

Too much turmeric tastes horrible. You know when Indian food clings to your clothes ? Well it ‘tastes‘ like that smell.

Potatoes can be marinated anywhere from 15-20 mins. The paneer, 1 hour would be great!


Lightly saute potato and the paneer, separately. The outsides should get lightly browned. The point here is not to cook them, rather just brown them.  Set aside.

Add more oil ( I use Olive oil for ALL my cooking).

Add the Bayleaf, cinnamon stick, cardamon pods, raisins (optional) and the cumin seeds.

The seeds should spatter.

Now add the chopped tomato, chillies and flat tsp of Turmeric, 1 tsp of Cumin powder. All diluted with half cup of water.imgp3411

NB: like all seasoning even Indian seasoning will taste bitter if you a) put too much and b) don’t cook it well.

Fry the tomato till you think the rawness of the tomato is gone and flavours have homogenised.  Add water periodically to prevent sticking. Well I do because I don’t use too much oil.

Then add the potato, paneer and 1 cup of water. Stir everything, bring to boil and then simmer for…..15 mins.imgp3414

Taste it. Bengali food tends to be a bit sweet. So either the raisins or some added sugar should give you that sweetness.

If you can get Gur at Indian grocery stores, please use that instead of sugar. It’s also made from sugarcane however more earthy as it is less processed. It is really tasty.

Image courtesy:vishwagujarat.com

Avoid if you don’t like the sweetness. Personally a good quality tomato adds that sweet flabour for me.

If everything tastes good you are done. Sprinkle the garam masala on top.

Bengalis are rice eaters so our curries tend to be more runny so this will be a bit runny. But if its too runny , like watery, then mash some of the potatoes in the curry, to thicken it.imgp3413


I will post Bengali version of spinach paneer which is definitely not gloopy because we use chopped spinach.

Coming soon 🙂



Living in America. Day 91

Living in America.  Politics aside (aka clusterfk) it’s been real.

People often say ‘ wow this might be a culture shock’ when they find out I have been here only 91 days. What they don’t realise is WHAT exactly is this shock.

My dear let me tell you.

  1. Gigantic cats. The local tabbys are the size of a small pig. Maybe its Washington State thing, I don’t know.
  2. Diet Coke is sweeter here than anywhere else in the world.
  3. Milk. You cant find small cartons of milk anywhere. So for our household of two we buy it from STARBUCKS. Yep !
  4. Bread. Try finding sliced bread in a supermarket that does not contain ‘sugar/sweetener’.  Trader Joes, QFC, PCC, Fred Myers and Safeway. We are SO SICK of eating sour dough 😦 the only one without added sugar/sweetener. ( I miss Hong Kong’s Garden WholeWheat bread. Tastes like old cardboard if not toasted but has ZERO sugar/sweetener or oil)
  5. Cheerful coffee shops overflowing with baked goods that also sell beer and wine! Good one!
  6. Doors. American doors are playing with my head. I am still not able to open doors.  I have lived and travelled all over the world, yes even Australia (haha) but never have doors proven unfathomable. It’s worse when people sitting inside can actually see me struggle. Push, Pull, Shove….break door.
  7. Light switches. It’s always  On (for Off) and vis-versa. So two goes each time.
  8. And (my biggest bug bear) you can not buy Oral contraceptive pills over the counter.  You need a prescription.WTF ?

A journey of wonderment.

Adjustment aside what do I love, day to day?

  1. Friendly helpful people
  2. Fresh unsalted, no added fats/oils, no added sugar or sweetener peanut butter. One that I make myself in the giant blender at the supermarket ( they are roasted peanuts, not raw, but thats fine)
  3. AMC cinema that sells PLAIN popcorn! You mix the butter and salt by yourself (which we never do ) Low guilt carbs. Love that.
  4. THE MOUNTAINS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. Oh the mountains. Oh I love them. The Cascades, the Olympics and the king amongst them, Mt Rainier! I bow to thy majesty.
  5. Fresh oysters. Whenever I want and how many I want.

and …..wait for it……

Makeup that caters to my brown skin!   I exist!