I devour YouTube for all things Beauty & Skincare.
These ladies are amongst my fav on Youtube and whenever they recommended a High End product I went out and bought it. High End, even if they did mention cheaper options.
I was just not interested in the cheap(er) dupes. Caressing my Louboutin, Chanel, Bobbi Brown and Dior just made me feel better.
Fast forward 8 months to Jan 2017.
I now live in the US and my visa currently doesn’t allow me to work. Which means no income. And I am no fool to delve into my savings for makeup. A dream home, a BMW Mini, yes, but not on some baked eye shadow.
Seriously who does that ? If you do, then stop it, now!
It’s probably this practical attitude to cash that made my transition from Department store to Drugstore so easy. It surprised me that I didn’t struggle, I wasn’t sad. I had moved one.
From Harvey Nichols and Lane Crawford, Hong Kong I moved onto Walgreens, Target, Walmart….. and all things DUPES !
Screenshot from Pinterest
Rimmel, Wet and Wild, Maybelline & Loreal are my new friends.
I scour the internet for reviews on ELF, NYX , Hard Candy and the like. My fav YouTuber for this is EmilyNoel. She is an amazing lady and her recommendations work for me and my skin type!
Skincare….well that is a slightly different matter. While I am still NOT willing to give up on my favourite items from Kate Sommerville (thanks Hirons!) I have started to follow Angie from Hot & Flashy.
She is great on skincare, matured skin or not, and has some kick-ass suggestions for good quality anti-aging skincare (retinol, peptides, vitamin C etc) which are more affordable than Kate Sommerville or Skinceuticals! She has some great recommendations on CeraVe and Olay Regenerist too!
Bye Bye Nordstrom, I do love you…….but now is the time to spend in Walgreens.
Disclaimer: I use the word ‘soft’ here a lot. And it’s true. But please don’t compare it to the ‘I-set-the-standard-on-what-SOFT-is’ Wayne Goss brushes (and a price tag to match !)
Living in Hong Kong we don’t have access to mid-priced makeup brushes that are good quality. It’s all high end department store brands MAC, Bobbi Brown etc.
So I have been on a quest to buy and test out all manner of brushes on display at Bonjour, Sasa & Colormix.
After enough encounters with scratchy hard brushes (husband uses them to clean his key board and music instruments now) I must say I have been happy with some of my Sasatinnie Brushes from Sasa. Below are my favs!
Nice flat brush. Large enough to cover lid to brow bone in two swipes. Perfect for base shadow. It’s not fluffy enough for blending but still good enough to even out what you have placed.
The angled crease brush is great for my small eyes. I have spent enough time blending edges with the pointy end and it’s as soft as ever. However what I didn’t quite get was how/when to use the flat kabuki-like top. Anyhoo the edges are great for both crease and outer V.
Another soft, fluffy brush. The edge is great to place contour, flat side great for bronzer and blush. It’s probably not as great at blending as the Real Techniques Blush Brush but good enough! It’s not as gigantic as the RT blush brush either and I find myself reaching for this more than my RT.
This powder brush is a travel size and pretty fluffy for all over powder, even under my eyes. Soft enough for under my eyes? That’s saying a lot for a cheapie. And it hasn’t frayed in-spite of my rough handling of this poor brush. (I want to buy the mini Bobbi Brown face/powder brush so hoping my rough handling will ruin it and justify a purchase. But no it’s not quitting on me :))
I am not a foundation brush person, rather more of a Beauty Blender or fingers kind of person. So I have not used this brush for foundation rather I (mis)use it to put on all manner of face packs. I treat it so callously. Hot water, cold water, harsh detergents, Dettol soap, basically whatever is at hand. But it doesn’t shed or fray.
In summary these cheap brushes they do a good job. Good on you Sasa!
Cautionary Note: Please be sure to check ‘made in’. I think these brushes are made in Europe. After my horrible experience with the Sasatinnie eyeliner pencil, quality control of the brand doesn’t seem to be Sasa’s forte and who knows the next lot of brushes you buy just might be rough scratchy brushes made in God knows where.
I like to nag my friends to wear SPF and exfoliate. Forcibly if need be (I think secretly) because NO ONE wants to look like a leather handbag…or Keith Richards
So we must, we must, we must…….or our faces will go bust.
My personal weapon of choice are chemical exfoliants (AHA and BHA). These acids are far more efficient in eating away dead skin and clearing out pores than scrubbing it off topically with a facial scrub.
I am not a fan of physical exfoliation at-all. These scrubs typically come with itty bitty grit in them. And these, be it natural walnut kernels, quartz or plastic beads, are too abrasive for my facial skin, especially as all my efforts are geared towards anti-ageing skin care.
PLASTIC: I do not want micro scratches (abrasions) on my face, and anyone on the wrong side of 30 also needs to be mindful of that. Add to that the fact that store bought scrubs come with plastic micro beads which is harming our marine life.
(*Plastic Microbeads in Cosmetics: This product contains polyethylene beads, which is an ingredient that has come under controversy in the recent past. In December of 2013, research published in the peer-reviewed journal, Marine Pollution Bulletin demonstrated that although polyethylene beads are non-toxic to humans, they are not filtered during sewage treatment and are accumulating in waterways. This means the beads have the potential to negatively affect marine wildlife who mistakenly consume them (Marine Pollution Bulletin, 2013).)
So please stop. Just…. stop.
Now if you are all ’50 Shades of Grey’ and like it rough, and a warm face cloth is not doing it for you then go for facial scrubs with Jojoba beads. It’s environmentally friendly AND the uniform edge of the beads is less likely to jab your skin compared to the uneven edges of natural grit, stone or walnut kernels.
But remember true exfoliation will only come with AHA and BHA, facial scrubs is just S&M. Well thats MY opinion.
LANDFILL: The type of AHA & BHA exfoliation I currently use brings me to my own environmentally unfriendly dilemma. Disposing those cotton pads after the toner, or those (uhmayzing) disposable exfoliating toner pads.
But exfoliate I must. So what’s a gal to do ?
WIN WIN 1: There is hope ! Everyone, who is anyone who knows anything about makeup and skincare, (haha) knows that Paula’s Choice.
PC has some of the most effective skincare around. And what is really attracting me to Paula’s Choice is their AHA and BHA toners. They have LEAVE ON ones. Which means NO cotton pads no landfill and the perfect % for the right exfoliation.
WIN WIN 2: But till I get my hands on PC I guess a face mask of Turmeric, Honey and Yogurt should do the trick. It gives you Chemical and Physical. The lactic acid of the yogurt and as you wipe-wash it off (after 20 mins) you feel the graininess of the turmeric powder which gives you the satisfaction of the “rough” scrub.
I was never into strobing but draping is something I am totally into especially after I saw Lisa Eldridge do this.
I have been draping like mad ! All the time, any time. Before a flight, running an errand, going to the Indian Embassy. I love cream blushes and will often use lipsticks to ‘drape’.
And my colour of choice are Nudes. They work for my skin-tone, my eyelids & the nude lip ties it all together. I work with just one colour for eyes, temples, cheeks, contour and lips.
I cheat a wee bit though.
Just so the cream lipstick doesn’t crease on my lids I lightly dust it with an eye shadow of the same colour. And if I pick one with a light sheen then I also lightly dust it on my cheek bones for a highlight.
Once you line your eyes and put mascara on you will be glad you chose the Nude , especially for the lip. Otherwise its all too much for day.
For a night-time draping I am thinking I will play with my Mauve Armani lipstick! It still a nude for my lips but will sit darker on my face. Can’t wait!
Applied the Nudes on my Lips to show the colours. My lips are pigmented hence some nudes show up differently on my lips versus in the packaging.Estee Lauder 1: Maybelline 2:
I like playing with these Nudes to drape because it make me look awake, adds a bit of colour and yet subtle.
Kate Hudson and co. claim to do an ice compress first thing after they wake up. That gets rid of puffiness to give that wide awake look.
However I don’t have hand maidens waiting with a cup of tea and an ice pack so I do the next best thing. Buy eye masks, keep them in the fridge and paste on a pair as I make my morning cup of tea.
A practice that leads me to yet another quest, this time for the perfect eye mask. Something that will combat puffiness and make my eyes look fresh.
As Hongkies we are lucky because Sasa, Watson’s and Mannings are nearly wall-to-wall masks. All manner of Taiwanese, Korean & Japanese masks , but the challenge for me to is find one without alcohol.
After walking around the stores, checking the ingredients with a magnifying glass (my eyes need all the help they can get) I locked down 3 brands without alcohol.
Faith in Face Eye Am Not Tired: I bought these from Mannings, a set of 4 for HKD 59.90, so not cheap. I kept them in the fridge and used them everyday. (for 4 days!)
Hygienic, easy to use packs containing lovely hydrogel mask that feel oh so cool first thing in the morning. Placebo effect or not, I did feel instantly awake and less puffy. But alas I will not re-purchase 😦 WHY ?
See the 5th ingredient there ? Grapefruit extract ? Thats the problem! Paraphrasing Paula Begoun/Beautypedia: Citrus Paradisi Fruit Extract can cause a phototoxic reaction to leave skin discolored. Beware if listed middle of an ingredient list.
That’s the last thing one wants near one’s eyes! So Bye Bye, Eye…I am not Tired.
Lower down the list it does list Euphrasia Officinalis Extract which is a topical treatment for under-eye puffiness and dark circles. And it counteracts inflammation and reduces mucous drainage.
DAMN you Grapefruit Extract !!!!!!
Colour Combos Q10 Lifting Eye MaskThese are cotton sheets and come in packs of 10. Not too wet and stick well to the under -eye area.
This contains Hamamelis Virginia Leaf Extract (witch hazel which means alcohol is added during extraction ).
It also contains Q10 (Ubiquinone), last on the list. This ingredient is all manner of good for ageing skin and skin in general. However I can not get past the Witch Hazel on my delicate under eye area.
This I will NOT re-purchase because of this Witch Hazel. That is if I can get past the awful packaging!
The packaging, while environmentally ‘friendlier’ , is a pain to use. All the masks stick together, your fingers contaminate all the packs are you are trying to pry singles off & by mistake I ended up using two for one eye because they stuck together so fast!
Dr Morita (Watsons and Sasa): This is a Taiwanese brand. A local HK girl told me that the latest rage in HK are Taiwanese face masks and every time they travel to Taiwan they buy bag loads. Anyway here these eye masks retail for HKD 39 each. Each box contains between 5-8 packs. I bought the Q10 (wonder ingredient) and Anti Wrinkle.
Yeah whatever I know. Nothing rivals a surgeon’s scalpel, good sleep and a healthy lifestyle, but hydration and the TLC of a mask is always a feel good, right ?Each pair comes in an individual sachet and separate backing for each eye (landfill alert) but I prefer it to all the masks stuck together in a higgledy-piggledy mess like the Color Combos pack.The Q10 sheets are cotton but almost transparent. Each pack contains a lot of serum and feel very wet. But not drippy wet.
The Anti Line Anti Wrinkle masks are rather odd shaped and took me a while to work out. Basically each piece lies under your eyes and then extends to either side of your nose (along the dreaded laugh lines)
Since the instructions are NOT in English I had to search helpful reviews written by Singaporean and Malaysians to figure out how long. 10-15 mins, everyday use, I believe.The ingredients are good and hydrating but I would use it every other day.
Look a good eye cream and an ice compress can do just as well, but let’s face it for the lazy slapping on a cool eye mask from the fridge is easiest. Though given the ‘landfill’ factor of packaging I probably wouldn’t do it too frequently.
I have see another brand of eye masks at Sweetmay Hong Kong- Sweetmay carries Korean brands.
(Sneak Peek:) I am currently researching it’s ingredient list and if they get an all clear, I will buy it once the Dr. Moritas are over.
My verdict ? Unfortunately the Faith in Face Eye I am not Tired felt the best. Maybe the hydrogel mask format retains the cool from the refrigerator better and longer working to give that slight compression under the eye. But alas the Grapefruit extract 😦
But my fav one right now is the one I make at home.
Look I am no DIY diva, in-fact I hate DIY. (Why DIY when someone else can do it for you ?) But at the same time I am still on the hunt for that magical face pack that will, instantly, turn me into Daenerys Targaryen. You know plump faced and clear skinned.
On a recent visit by a friend from India, we started chatting face masks and about the Indian kitchen industry that is DIY face packs! Every home has it’s pet recipe.
It took me back to my own childhood. Every Sunday Ma would mix up a paste of besan (chickpea flour) & water and smear it on my face as a cleanser.
(Let dry then start to lightly rub it off. It will yank off your facial fuzz so be careful, while lightly exfoliating. Then wash it off. I don’t need to tell you how soft your skin feels.)
She told me about her little ritual of DIY yogurt-honey-lime juice face pack. I liked how her skin looked, so one boring Saturday afternoon I decided to try the face pack, with a slight variation. Ditched the lime juice for the turmeric.
Turmeric the wonder spice. We consume it for almost ALL meals and Hindu brides and grooms would be no where without the Turmeric ‘bathing’ ceremony the morning of the wedding!
Turmeric bathing ceremony (gaye holud) that, atleast for Bengalis, turns into complete mayhem where everyone, EVERYONE gets doused with the turmeric paste. We all look like yellow ghosts.
So Turmeric is an old friend. Swapping the lime juice ( a bit scared of it frankly) for turmeric was a safe bet for me. I have a small-ish face so 1 tsp of plain yogurt, half tsp of honey and pinch of turmeric is enough for my face and bit of my neck.
I keep it anywhere between 15 mins to 20 mins. As you wash it off you will feel tiny granules against your skin as you rub-wash it off. That’s normal.
I love how it feels on, and how my skin feels after I have washed it off.
Being Indian the yellow of the turmeric is not a problem for my skin tone. It appears to brighten the skin rather than staining it yellow. But be careful on how much you want to mix in depending on your own skin tone.
For more information on 3 of my favourite face pack ingredients Besan, Yogurt & Turmeric, check out this website