Nude, Natural—Boring?

So, after putting my “Makeup Moment” post up about loving all things nude, I had a bit of a crisis because… well, I felt boring. As many variations of “natural” makeup there are out there, they all kind of photograph the same. I know that various combinations of different tones of brown on different days makes for different looks… but do other people know that? Can they see it? Most of the time, they can’t.

In essence, I was stressing about looking the same. All. The. Time. That led to my trying out loads of more daring looks in the past three weeks or so… most of which I detested. Some were alright, but more along the lines of meh than anything close to good. They certainly didn’t make me feel good, or happy, or like I was having fun with makeup. So I gave myself a pat on the back for trying some new things out, but decided that I was happier doing whatever made me feel comfortable and happy.

That decision doesn’t mean I won’t try new things in the future. It just means that you guys will have to deal with these nude FOTDs a while longer. Haha. I do promise to explain as best I can how each look is different though, so if you’re the type who just skims over text and lingers on photos instead, you might want to pay attention to the explanation behind the looks a bit more. Not that they’ll be long-ass—will do my best to keep it short!

P1180170When confronted with the possibility of being photographed, most people stick to what they know works for them. I am like most people, so here is the bronzey-nude look I wore to an event today. What sets it apart is the sheer amount of bronzing products I used. The event called for summer attire, so I went for it with the makeup as well.

These are the products I used that are normally part of my routine, but after the second photo you’ll find what I used to get my skin to look like it’s been in the sun a bit:

“The Usuals”

  • VMV Hypoallergenics Face Cover SPF 45
  • MUD Blue Corrector #2
  • K Palette Zero Kuma Concealer (Type 1) (review)
  • Myra VitaGlow BB Cream* (on the cheeks and down the bridge of my nose)
  • Ellana Minerals Finishing Powder in Espresso Con Panna**
  • Shu Uemura Hard 9 brow pencil in Seal Brown (review)
  • VMV Hypoallergenics Ooh La Lash mascara

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Navigating MAC’s Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation Shade Range: My Personal Journey

MACSF6The Range

Anyone who isn’t a MAC makeup artist is going to be slightly overwhelmed when first faced with the Studio Fix Powder Plus shade range. The naming system involves a combination of letters and numbers that denote undertone and depth respectively. While most popular brands stick with relatively simple descriptive shade names, MAC, being a pro brand, uses a system that allows them to be precise in their description of a wide selection of shades. The numbers increase with depth and that’s about the easiest part to explain. When you get to the letter designations for undertones, it gets slightly more confusing:

C- “Cool ” – best for yellow/golden/olive skin
NC- “Neutral Cool” – best for golden beige skin
N- “Neutral” – beige skin
NW- “Neutral Warm” – pinky beige skin
W- “Warm” – best for pinkish skin

Looks pretty straightforward, but you may have noticed that although “NC” stands for “Neutral Cool” the NC shades are geared toward women with warm, golden skin tones. The same goes for the “NW” shades applying to cool skin instead of warm. The reason behind that has something to do with the colour wheel and colour theory. I don’t fully understand it so I won’t attempt an explanation, but I read on someone else’s blog that it helps to think of NC as “not cool” and NW as “not warm.” A former MAC makeup artist, Sharon Farrel, explains it all much more clearly in this useful post. 
Studio-Fix-Powder-Plus (1)This little chart is also from Sharon’s blog. I take no credit for it and it’s missing some shades, but wanted to include it here to give you a visual of the Studio Fix Powder Plus range. It is one of MACs most well-known and loved products, so most people who take an interest in makeup will probably check it out at least once in their lives. Many also use their MAC shade match from the Studio Fix range to describe their foundation colour in casual conversation.

Note that the shades don’t translate exactly across formulas–even the Studio Fix Fluid foundation (which is meant to simply be the liquid version of this) behaves differently. Other foundations from MAC (Matchmaster, Face and Body, Studio Sculpt, etc.) make use of different naming systems altogether, which can make finding a good match a dizzying affair. This post will solely be about the Studio Fix Powder Plus foundation and my experience finding a shade match.

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Nasty Gals Do It Better. MAC GUNNER: Swatched and Worn

There’s just something about purple lipsticks; I’d pick a smokey purple or a bright plum over a pink or red any day of the week. Other girls might have their signature red (that shade that makes you feel like a million bucks) but I prefer something like MAC Smoked Purple (review) to give me that I-can-do-whatever-the-eff-I-want feeling.

It took me a few years of experimenting with “vampy” shades to figure out that the less red there was in the lipstick, the more I was likely to get on with it. I stuck to light plummy shades with sheer finishes for much too long, but now I’m willing to go as purple as possible. (Maybe in preparation for blue lipstick but until I can get my hands on a good one in a good formula, that is a story for another day.)
nastygalThe MAC x Nasty Gal Collection takes inspiration from the edgy website of the same name and Sophia Amoruso, Nasty Gal’s CEO and the #GIRLBOSS herself. I’m admittedly not too familiar with Nasty Gal because international shipping is a pain (I do know that their styling is kick ass and way cooler than I will ever dress) and I haven’t read Amoruso’s book, but the collaboration with MAC took that #GIRLBOSS vibe (which I think is self-explanatory?), put it in 3 lipsticks, and placed them within my reach. Stunner, Runner, and Gunner are “power shades” without a doubt. I nearly picked up Runner (the burgundy) because it looks so cool in the promo image (center) but Gunner is a purple. So… that was that.P1180036MAC Gunner (1,000.00 Php) is a”deep purple” with a matte finish. I would actually describe it as a bright purple and not a deep purple, but that’s what MAC is calling it. It’s nearly a cartoony shade, especially when put up against or beside black. Many have said that it is a dupe for Illamasqua’s Kontrol, but even from swatches I can see that Kontrol is slightly more grey and muted. I know I’m going to get questions about how this compares to MAC Smoked Purple, so there is a comparison swatch for you guys at the end of this post. 

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Three from 3CE

Thank goodness for random 25% off sales and for the fact that Luxola carries 3CE. I already have a lipstick, gel eyeliner, and soft pencil liner from the brand from when I was still part of the BNT Girl program and I love all three of those things. Since then I have been eyeing loads of other 3CE things but haven’t picked anything up for one reason or another. When I saw the Luxola e-mail notifying me of a sale on the week before my birthday, I took it as a sign to finally pop the items I’d been eyeing into my shopping cart. P1170900I placed the order on Tuesday and by Thursday the parcel had arrived at my doorstep. If you follow me on instagram, you might have seen the post in which I expressed my happiness about that. Fast shipping is da bomb, you guys. That wasn’t the only awesome thing about this order though as aside from the 25% off I got on the eyeshadows, I ended up paying only 277.00 Php (!!!) for the Lip Color, which usually goes for 1.046.00 Php. I’m not sure if the huge discount was a fluke, but the sale price went back up to around 700Php the next time I checked the site and is at the time of this writing totally gone. Whatever the case is, I’ll take it as an early birthday gift! 

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The Birthday Weekend: 2015

Hey guys! I turned 25 over the weekend (I was born on Valentine’s Day, 1990) and I thought I would share a little bit of what I did to celebrate. I am the type of person who rather likes celebrating birthdays (i.e. I don’t shrink away when people start singing “Happy Birthday” to me. Being an only child usually means you actually like being the center of attention.) so my 25th was not going to pass by without a nice dinner or two, plus a family lunch.

(Warning: picture heavy post ahead!)

February 13, Friday

KicIMG_8825ked off the weekend with the sight of this handsome fella with a beautiful red tulip in hand. People always tease Greg that having a girlfriend whose birthday falls on Valentine’s Day must be a pain in the butt. I think he’s pretty lucky that he can roll the two celebrations into one because even if I weren’t a V-day baby I would totally still expect to be treated to a nice dinner, haha.

As for flowers, he’s learned that red roses are just grossly overpriced on V-day, so I’ve received so many different types from him in their stead. I think the red tulip was one of my faves, though.

Greg came dressed in a pale pink button-down while I wore a pleated pink andIMG_8817 maroon (marsala?) dress from BCBG Max Azria and a pair of rose gold Charles and Keith heels. My envelope bag is from Zara and you can’t really see it but my jewellery was also all rose gold. We looked slightly cliché in our pink outfits, but that’s just the way I like it!

I rarely ever talk about my fashion choices because I can be rather boring, but for special occasions I like to bust out the really pretty pieces. It’s still arguably “boring” as I never go for anything trendy, but that’s my fashion sense for you. I felt great and the dress left me enough space to indulge in the food. Speaking of the food…

IMG_8794Duck confiiiiit at Duck & Buvette! We had to get the duck as it was our first time there. We also had the roasted romaine salad (the best salad from a resto I’ve had in a long while), some sort of potato with salted egg salad, and a carafe of white wine. I liked that the place wasn’t too dressy or stuffy (the restaurant is just inside Shangri-La mall) and that it was really just about good food and excellent coffee. 

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Dulce et Utile: Pressed Powder Foundations

I’m curious: How long does it take to put your face on in the morning? I used to dedicate a whole hour to makeup, and that excludes the time I need to get dressed, fix my hair, and ready my things. And when I say “I used to” that points back to just about three months ago. I now make it a point to get all of that done in under an hour (sometimes I can be ready in 20-30 minutes, which used to be unthinkable for me) and surprisingly I don’t feel rushed at all. I’m happy to have the extra time to do other things… like read or exercise or meditate. Or nap. I’m not saying I don’t like taking my time when I do makeup–I still do, but I save that for when I’m in the mood to really play or if there’s a special occasion.

I’m not really sure what sparked the change. You’d think that with all this time on my hands after leaving school I would be taking all the time in the world to play around with makeup. Instead I find myself craving a simpler, less-cluttered approach to everything in my life–not just makeup. This coincides with a renewed love for yoga (been dabbling in Vinyasa and Ashtanga instead of just Bikram/hot yoga) and although that has been a factor for sure, I was moving towards a more fuss-free makeup philosophy even before that, I think. But anyway, what I wanted to talk about today is a foundation form that has helped me cut down on makeup application time: pressed powder. P1170465

Clockwise from left: Ellana Minerals Pressed Powder Foundation*, MAC Studio Fix Powder Foundation, and Maybelline White Super Fresh Powder Foundation

I had forgotten just how easy applying foundation is when all you need are a large powder brush and a compact of pressed powder foundation. You can adjust coverage by using a fluffy brush for light coverage, a brush with more densely-packed bristles for medium coverage, and a kabuki brush for full-on, heavy coverage. Sponges can be eliminated from the picture completely. The fact that these powder foundations are pressed eliminates the mess that loose powders almost inevitably create and they are also easy to travel with. I don’t think I even have to explain how these are more convenient than liquid foundations.

If you have combination or oily skin, powder foundations are an obvious bet. If you have dry skin, I can see why you might have apprehensions, but priming your skin properly before applying powder foundations helps a great deal. Even with my combination skin, I still prefer to prime beforehand (usually with sunblock, but also with primers before evening makeup) so that the powder goes on as even as possible. There are also powders on the market that actually moisturise these days. It sounds crazy, but I’ve come across one (a BRTC compact) that really did more than just not dry out my skin–it was nourishing it. And then of course there are usual oil-control powders. Loads of those to choose from, my oily-skinned friends!

There isn’t any particular pressed powder foundation that I wanted to highlight in this post. I suppose I just wanted to bring attention to a form that I myself had forgotten for a while and that others might have too. Using powder foundations has helped me save so much time getting ready for my day and I haven’t had to sacrifice my options when it comes to coverage or even finish. Plus I can easily pop my compact into my bag for touch-ups. Can’t think of much else to ask for, really.

What are your favourite foundation formulas? Liquid? Cream? Loose powder? Pressed? No need to debate about the pros and cons of each form as they all have their time and place for sure. It all comes down to personal preference and I for one think that that is where it really gets interesting. Yeah? I say more power to the powders, baby!

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It’s A (3 Minute) Miracle! Pantene’s 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner

Pantene 3 Minute Miracle ConditionerThe beautiful bellas over at were being their usual thoughtful selves and sent me a sample of Pantene’s new 3 Minute Miracle Conditioner* last week. I wasn’t expecting it at all, but that was fine because it was my favourite kind of surprise–the useful and well-timed kind. My hair always sucks after the holidays because of constant heat styling. It’s dry, dull, and sad. This miracle conditioner promises to “smoothen 3 months of damage in three minutes” — perfect! While I incurred my major hair damage over the span of just a month, I’d say this is just about as damaged as it gets in the year so it was the perfect time to test it out. P1170626I don’t think I had ever used a Pantene product before trying this one, and I must say I was impressed overall. The first thing I noticed was the super sweet strawberry scent–kind of like Skittles. If you like smelling of candy, you will adore this. I was impartial, although I must say that having sweaty hair in yoga is now not so unpleasant–it seems to release the scent even more, lol.

As for effectivity (the most important part), I give it 4/5 stars. My hair feels softer after just one use and it becomes especially shiny when I take the time to blow dry or flat iron it. I do have a problem with it being an everyday-use conditioner though, as I don’t think deep conditioning daily is healthy for your scalp. I think I’ll be using this not every day, but on nights when I know I have to look extra good the next day. This practically assures you a good hair day, and all girls know that a good hair day is like a magical, steroidal confidence-booster.

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Makeup Moment: Out With The Bold, In With The Nude

Lately, I haven’t been in the mood to wear anything remotely close to a bold lip. I’m having a moment with all things nude, nude, nude. My beige/brown/neutral lip products have come out of hiding and have replaced my usual rosy and/or plum staples in my bag(s). Even MAC Smoked Purple (review), which got a lot of love from me in 2014 because I used it both sheer and bold, now finds itself spending the day tucked into one of my Muji storage drawers.

Now I know I never exactly go crazy with my lipsticks and many of my FOTDs feature “safe” shades as opposed to reds or bright pinks, but this moment I’m having with real nudes (as opposed to MLBBs–will explain this later) is pretty legit. Last year I stuck with my MLBB and nude shades when I was lazy, but I always wanted some new and exciting (i.e. colourful) shade to wear. That led me to some amazing discoveries like NARS Deborah (review) and MAC Smoked Purple, but now I feel like those will have to take a back seat for a while. I don’t even want MLBB lipsticks–fleshy nudes are my jam right now.
P1170894These are my most used and abused nude lipsticks. From L-R: Shu Uemura BG 950, Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm in Coy, Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment in Petal, Revlon Mink, and Revlon Colorburst Lacquer Balm in Ingenue.

They might look very similar to some people, but they each help me achieve just the right tone of nude on my lips depending on whatever makeup I have on the rest of my face.

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FOTD: Shiney & Liney

I read Bea’s (The Dalaga Project) post on more “lifted” winged liner last night and felt like giving it a try today. I essentially failed, but I did draw a thicker line than usual. I also wanted to pair it with natural, dewy skin, and I do think I achieved so I figured I would just go ahead and share this. P1170880 It’s difficult to see the eyeliner head on, but there’s definitely a different overall effect. In the photo below you’ll get a better idea of the shape I ended up with, which is something I actually used to wear loads. I couldn’t resist filling in the space from the tip of the wing to the center of my lid, so I suppose the lifted wing will have to wait for another day.

I went with dewy skin because I thought it would bring a bit of freshness to the cat eye, which usually looks mod or Dita Von Teese-y. I was also just feeling good about my skin today. Haha

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NIVEA’s Box of Secrets*

If you stalk follow other bloggers on Instagram like I do, you’ll have seen the flood of posts about the NIVEA Come Closer event held in Balesin last week. I won’t hesitate to say I was jealous because admit it–you were too! Nivea couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location to launch their summer products there and I’m sure we’ll be seeing posts from the lucky bloggers who got to go soon (some may even be up by now), but for now you can search the hashtag #NIVEAComeCloser on Instagram to have a peek at their posts.

I wasn’t there–duh– but the good news is that summer will be here for all of us in no time at all. You won’t even have to be at the beach to feel the summer sun (although that is probably is the best place to be). And even when it isn’t summer, there are Nivea products that you can use all year round. Enter the Blue Box of Secrets that arrived at my house last week: P1170611How was that for a segue, eh? Haha. Ok, so onto the box. Everyone knows that when you label a sealed container with the word “secret” you might as well have blinking neon light arrows and the words “OPEN ME” pointing down at it. So open it I did. 

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