The miracle of the nail polishing block

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Top: pre-buffing matte dullness
Bottom: post-buffing shine

I’m learning lots of interesting things in my new job at The Body Shop. It’s really great learning such interesting little tricks to primping and preening the body and mind.

A most amazing discovery, in my opinion, that I came across the other day is the nail polishing block. Apparently chemists sell them but Body Shop has this fantastic four sides rectangle that features a nail file side, ridge/abductor smoothing side, another finer smoothing side, and a polishing side.

I tried using them on myself quickly one day but apparently didn’t out enough heart into it to work out the benefit of using it. Then a full-timer from Brisbane showed me how to use it properly. He started on side 2 and rubbed the ridge/abductor smoother rigorously (but not to the point that it hurt) on the nail for about a minute or two, making sure he smoothed as close to the quick and side of the nail as possible. He then repeated the process using the other two sides.

The result, a super smooth, shiny nail that looked like I had painted a couple of layers of polish onto. It looked amazing. I’ve always had nails that catch and peal very easily but my super buffed nails have been perfect since Tuesday. I swear even the colour looks better. For $7 odd dollars a nail buffer is a worthy investment!

P.s. it’s my 21st birthday! YAY! 😉

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Lessons in Beauty

I’m currently convinced that by the time I’m 30 or maybe 35 max, I’ll have awesome fashion, make-up and hair down pat. At the moment, I’m learning new things everyday; currently, that involves make-up. My new job at The Body Shop is teaching me lots of things I never knew before. For example, today I got over my fear of bronzer.

How I looked the first time I used bronzer. Personally I find this too much bronzer to look naturally tanned. It doesn't help that it appears patchy in some places.

Originally I had never tried it because I have never felt the need to be more tanned considering I’m naturally blessed with olive skin. It didn’t help my case that the one time I tried bronzer, it was applied by someone else and they applied way to much of it; so much so that I looked like I had a bad fake face tan and when I accidentally scratched my face during the day, I left a huge white line running down my cheek.

This is about the amount of bronzer I used today. Just enough to give a healthy glow without looking obvious.

Today, however, I walked past a mirror and to my horror, looked pale for the first time in quite a while. So I figured, it can’t hurt to give bronzer another shot. I put the smallest amount on my powder brush and applied it along my jaw line and gently across my forehead and cheeks, like I’ve seen done in the past. It wasn’t much but it was enough to stop me looking like a vampire and it gave me a nice glow. Clearly, the secret is to make sure you don’t apply too much to avoid looking like you belong on Jersey Shore.

The Body Shop baked bronzers

Eyeshadow: I’ve always been fairly straight-forward with my shadow; 2 colours max, usually some form of brown or browny-purple, light on the inside half and dark on the outside half of the eyelid. Like my original fear of red lipstick, I think my fear of OTT eyeshadow stems from my early dancing days when they would apply copious amounts of blue eyeshadow on you.

A simple brown eyeshadow look

I’m now using 2-3 different colours and have started playing with different techniques. Once I’ve got a system down pat I will share it, for now however I recommend using dark colours on the outside bottom corner of the lid, a pale cream/white on the inside bottom corner and a medium tone the rest of the lid. Or you can use a dark colour from the lash-line to the middle of the lid and a pale colour to the crease of the eyelid – one of the more foolproof ways of applying eyeshadow.

Try darker colours closer to the lash-line and a lighter colour around the crease area

For those also scared of eyeshadow, start by playing with different shades of brown and once you’ve worked out an effective system for applying it start dabbling into shades such as blue, black and purple. Check out the below image for some inspiration!

Eye-spiration

If you’re working with dark colours I suggest folding a tissue in half and placing it under the bottom eyelashes towards the outside corner. This will give you a straight line to follow and will help prevent colour falling onto your cheek which can sometimes be rather hard to remove.

Latest make-up purchase: Napoleon Perdis prismatic eye quad 5

Other make-up lessons I’ve learnt:

Don’t be afraid to mix and match brands, your look will benefit from it – trust me. Don’t freak out and think “maybe their foundation is meant to be worn with their powder”. Yes, it may suit the foundation well, however, it may not be what suits you best. For example, I’ve been using Clinique for ages now. City Block, Perfectly Real Makeup, Almost Mineral Powder, Line Smoothing Concealer, and Anti-blemish Solutions Clearing Concealer.

After joining The Body Shop and trying out their concealers, I’ve decided that the Flawless Concealer is just as good as the Line Smoothing Concealer – if not a better colour match. I understand that the yellow colour of the Clinique concealer is to hide the dark circles and help get rid of any redness; but there are days when I just want to wear tinted moisturiser and still need concealer to hide my genetic dark circles. On these days as well as days when I only put on a small amount of powder, it’s more than likely I will wear my Body Shop concealer so that my under-eye area doesn’t look so yellow.

I’ve also discovered the Body Shop Concealer Pencil. Easy to apply and a great colour match, it’s good for hiding unwanted freckles etc. The downside is that it has no blemish fighting ingredients in it like the Anti-Blemish Solutions concealer does; however, it doesn’t cake. Basically, they each have a similar amount of benefits and downsides and it’s simply a matter of mixing and matching which I’d prefer at the time. More likely than not, Clinique will be used for everyday concealing of blemishes, and Body Shop will be used for when I’m heading out somewhere nice and need a smoother concealer.

Powder-wise, the Clinique Almost Mineral Powder gives a better coverage than the Body Shop All In One Base, and is slightly closer to my skin colour. However, if I want a lighter coverage, or a more tanned look I would choose the latter. See, there’s nothing wrong cheating on your usual beauty brand. Chanel’s powder blush is still my go-to blush of choice, however, I don’t mind Body Shop’s baked blush which is a slightly pinker colour.

As for eyeshadows: cheat like there’s no tomorrow. Every different brand gives a different coverage and colour. It’s simply a matter of what you want. I have a few fool-proof Clinique eyeshadows I love, however, I have some Il Makiage blues, Napoleon Perdis purples that I enjoy. Similarly for lipstick, you’ll find multiple brands you enjoy and will swap between for colours. Chanel do an amazing moisture-rich red that stays on really well, however, other brands like The Body Shop do some great natural lip colours. The make-up world is your oyster.

Nonetheless, if I had to choose only one of each (like if my bank account sucks and I’ve run out of make-up), I would take Clinique’s foundation and powder, The Body Shop’s concealers and liquid eyeliner, Lancome primer and mascara, Chanel’s blush and lipstick and Il Makiage eyeshadows. And yes, in case you were wondering, that was basically the entire contents of my make-up bag.

So go forth my pretties and play in the world of make-up. As a former tomboy, if I can get over my fear of certain types of make-up, you can to!

Christmas goodies

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One of the reasons I enjoy Christmas has nothing to do with Christmas in a way. Every year around the holiday season make-up companies seem to release awesome little gift packs filled with great make-up and it’s usually heaps cheaper than normal.

Lancôme does a great little eye kit every now and then, consisting of one of their mascaras, eye make-up remover and an eyeliner for the same price as the mascara normally. Good bargain! Plus the Hypnôse Drama mascara is only sold in certain stores (at least, according to a make-up assistant) and luckily was one of the mascaras offered in a pack. I refuse to use any other mascara as this is by far the best brand and type I’ve come across.

Make sure you head to your local chemist, department store or beauty shop to see what deals they have in store. Do not miss out on saving some money and trying a few new pieces. Like me, you might be able to do your yearly make-up change over and pick up some extra bits and bobs on the way!

The first taste of Chanel

Like my mother, I’m a Clinique girl. Clinique seems to be the only makeup brand that doesn’t cause my skin to break out something chronic in the hot, humid, tropical climate that defines the city I live in.
I use Clinique’s perfectly real liquid foundation, with almost mineral powder over the top; as well as, their line smoothing concealer for dark circles and their anti-blemish solutions for concealing everything else. Howevee, while I love Clinique, I’ve never been a fan of their mascara—I use Lancôme’s hypnôse drama mascara for thick not-too-long lashes.
After breaking my blush into a million tiny pieces yesterday and discovering there aren’t many non-glittery plainish pink blushes in the Clinique collection, I had to suss out other brands.
The lovely lady in the only place that holds a wide range of makeup in my city took me over to her counter, the Chanel counter. There, she showed me just the tone of blush I’d been looking for. Chanel’s 55 In Love Powder Blush—not too glittery and a gorgeous shade of pink!
Only very recently has a friend of mine from work broken my fear of bold lipsticks and pushed me into the coloured world of makeup. Before I came to work in the boutique I’m at now, I never used to wear blush, eyeshadow, or lipstick, because it all reminded me of extreme dance makeup. After being told I could use more colour on my face by one of the bosses (which took me aback at the time but now I’m glad she said it) I ventured into a world of blush, eyeshadow and eyeliner completely removed from what I’ve always known in the dance world. Now I own 9 colours of eyeshadow and 2 types eyeliner.
Recently my partner’s mum gave me a hot pink Elizabeth Arden lipstick and much to my surprise I’ve been getting good use out of it. So after much encouragement from my work friend, I started the hunt for a nice colour of red lipstick. Needless to say, while I was at the Chanel counter my eye caught sight of the lipsticks. The first colour I spotted ended up being the one I bought, 14 Passion Rouge Allure. It’s the loveliest bold red, but more of a pink tone than an orange one. Seeing as it’s winter I’m surely I’ll get a lot of use out of it. Perhaps my hot pink won’t see the light of day again until summer!
Morale of the story, be brave and try new makeup colours like I am! If worst comes to worst, you can remove it at the end of the day and be happy that you at least tried it.

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Fashion school is in session!

So lately I’ve noticed myself breaking out of my usual fashion trends, which I love! I find that every few years I have a bit of a fashion epiphany and my eyes are opened to so many more, opportunities, I guess.

Recently, this started with make-up. My usual regime consisted of cover-up, foundation, mascara and maybe if I was going out somewhere special – liquid eyeliner (even though I’m 5th generation Chinese, charcoal and kohl always leaves weird lines on the top of my eyelids). However, recently I got a free Clinique eyeshadow pack when I bought new foundation. Now I’ve never been an eyeshadow girl. Possibly something to do with the fact that my eyeshadow experience extended only to stage make-up from ballet concerts; which let’s admit, is a little over the top and sometimes a bit scary.

Nowadays, unless I’m heading to uni for a lecture looking daggy, I wear it everywhere. I haven’t progressed from various shades of brown or pink yet, but I’m getting there. This then followed by the discovery that I can actually pull off blush. Now I’ve always used the bright pink colours – again, stage make-up material due to dance concerts – and I’ve also never been a fan of bronzers on me. However, I recently discovered a very soft pink in the form of Napoleon Perdis. If I’m going out, I can mix it with the darker shade of pink the palette offers and by putting powder over the top, I don’t look like I’m about to jump into my tutu.

Little did I realise, none of this takes very long to apply and therefore, my morning-routine is not disturbed and I get a different look to my now ‘uni make-up’.

My next discovery, hairstyles I previously thought looked shocking actually aren’t that bad if you play around with it. Now, I’ve always been a fringe girl. Too afraid to show too much of my face because I’ve always thought I had a funny face shape. In my teenage years, the fringe did cause some dilemmas. When you’re in your adolescent stage, it’s hormones galore and with it comes the problems of skin care. So last year (during summer when I had a full set of bangs) I decided I would have to tie it all up to fix the issue. This is when I discovered the cute fringe braid and a messy bun didn’t look anywhere near as bad as I thought. It was also the best trick ever for disguising a bad hair day. Tomorrow I’m thinking of attempting the centre part and braid my fringe back to either side. Could be disastrous, but we’ll see. I haven’t had a centre part since, probably, year 8? So 6-7 years ago. I’ve also started testing out cute little hair clips. I got a simple $10 one from Equip which I use to hold my fringe back on the opposite side to that I part my hair on. It gives a bit of a different look and is perfect for days when only my fringe is being bad.

Fashion wise, I’ve been opening my mind to new styles and fashions. I’ve also decided to develop a habit where even if I dislike someones outfit, I try to work out what they like about it and how it works in their eyes. I’m now a HUGE fan of flowy outfits. Although, being petite I must be careful when treading the fine line between all that is flowy and those that are like a hessian sack. Getting out of your comfort zone is actually rather fun. The number of people around who dress appallingly, or the same every single day, is amazing. Therefore, my theory is you might as well experiment. There’s been quite a few times this year where I’ve rocked up at work and said to my work friend, “please tell me this actually works?”. Last year, I wouldn’t have been caught dead in ‘Aladdin pants’ (as my father calls them) or so many feminine, soft and flowy outfits. I have still retained some of my more darker/alternative fashions, however my blacks are now mixed with ultra-feminine neutrals and it definitely feels more me.

I will definitely continue opening my mind to different styles of fashion. I’m not yet sure about what I will encounter, but I’m sure it will be fun!