Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Top 5 Mascaras (2013 Edition)

Whenever I think of mascaras, I think of the Maybelline catchphrase, "Maybe she's born with it, maybe it's Maybelline."  Because when it comes to eyelashes, I definitely wasn't born with any - haha!

I have typical Asian lashes… thin, short, sparse, and relatively straight.  Unfortunately, a mascara can only do so much, but here are my Top 5, in descending order.

My most favorite mascara is Chantecaille Faux Cils.  
Though expensive for something that gets tossed every 3-4 months, I would recommend Faux Cils to everyone because:  (1) It gives glossy, black lashes that are volumized and lengthened just enough to give an impact, but also still look very classy and elegant; (2) It seems to care for the lashes in the sense that when it's removed at night, the lashes feel very soft and conditioned; (3) While on the lashes, the lashes don't feel crunchy or stiff; (4) It holds a curl, even though it is not waterproof; (5) There is no smudging or flaking; (6) It has a delightful rose scent, as it contains rosewater.  Faux Cils also comes in a Longest Lashes version, which contains peptides that help lengthen the lashes over time, but I've not yet tried that one, as the price is prohibitive, and I wasn't 100% sure it was safe during pregnancy/nursing.

My second favorite mascara is Dior's DiorShow.  
This was the first mascara to feature a huge brush, and it continues to be one of the best.  I've tried all the different iterations of DiorShow, but prefer the original.  I still remember when I first moved to New York 10 years ago, and I was in midtown between interviews and decided to stop by Lord & Taylor to browse.  DiorShow had just come out, and had its own display.  I decided to try it, and I was sold.  At the time, I was wearing Maybelline's Great Lash (which did absolutely nothing for my lashes), and the DiorShow actually made me look like I had lashes.  I love it because:  (1) The large brush makes it easy to build volume quickly; (2) It holds the curl and gives a nice curve to the lashes; (3) It gives a fair amount of length; (3) There is no clumping.  My only slight complaint is that after a month or two, it does start to dry out and flake (and I am not one to pump the mascara wand before applying), which is irritating because it is expensive.

My third favorite mascara is Paul & Joe Mascara Duo N.  
I love this mascara because it is dual-ended, with a lengthening side that has little fibers, and a volumizing side that has a little comb.  You can use each end separately, or together to get maximum impact.  I actually used this mascara for my wedding.  I love it because:  (1) The versatility of the duo brush; (2) The little fibers really lengthen, and don't flake into my eyes; (3) The comb side has a short-bristle comb and long-bristle, so you can really cover all of your eyelashes.  Like the DiorShow, my only sight complaint is that after a couple of months, it does start drying out and flaking, which is sort of a pain.

My fourth favorite mascara is Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Excess.  
I admit, I was first intrigued by this because of the ad with Megan Fox.  Um, hello, who doesn't want beautiful eyes like hers?  (Obviously, no makeup is going to make someone look like another person, but it is a lovely ad…)  So, I digress.  Eyes to Kill Excess is one of my favorites because:  (1) The container and brush are awesome… the top of the tube/handle of the brush is weighted, so it really helps to hold on to it, and it makes application a heck of a lot easier.  The brush is a fluffy teddy bear brush with long bristles and an hour-glass shape, so it really builds up every lash; (2) The color is a deep, rich black that has a glossy-ish finish; (3) It give an insane amount of volume and length (I like to save this one for some of my more smoky-eyed looks).  I didn't rate it higher because I actually don't like the scent of this mascara… it has a weird rose/crayon scent to it that a lot of the L'Oreal brands (such as Lancome and Maybelline) have, and it sort of grosses me out.  If you're not sensitive to scents, this would be fine.  

And, finally, to round out my Top 5, I have Chanel Inimitable Intense.  
This was one of the original "rubber-bristle" brush type mascaras, and soon after, all of the other brands started copying.  I like Inimitable Intense because it sort of does it all:  (1) Gives great volume while separating the lashes; (2) Gives a good amount of length; (3) Holds the curl; (4) Doesn't flake into the eyes and is long-lasting; (5) Is easy to use, and the brush is firm enough, but not too hard that it pokes you in the eye.  Compared to the original Inimitable, the Intense version is more volumizing and glossier, so for a small-lash girl like me, that is a huge plus.  Chanel has since released another mascara, Le Volume, which does not compare to Inimitable Intense, in my opinion.  My only complaint is that it does dry out my lashes (unlike my beloved Chantecaille), so that is why I did not rate it higher.

You're probably wondering why none of my Top 5 are from the drugstore.  While I used to be someone who thought that drugstore and department store mascaras were interchangeable, as I started trying out a lot more and more, I decided that for my purposes, they weren't.  Drugstore mascaras, whether due to the formula or packaging, always miss that certain "je ne sais quoi" that my department store favorites have.  I find for someone whose eyelashes need a lot of help, the drugstore ones did not give the results I was seeking, nor did they have the ingredients to offer my lashes the nourishment they needed.

This is not to say there are not some good ones I've found along the way.  I would say my top 3 drugstore picks are:  L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes which gives a fair amount of length and is easy to remove; Cover Girl Lash Blast Volume, which gives great volume and a decent amount of length, but dries out my lashes, and the wand doesn't have a slim tip to apply to the inner corners/lower lashes; Maybelline Full 'n Soft, which gives a natural, soft-lash look that's great for every day.

What are some of your favorite mascaras?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Top 3 Foundations (2013 Edition)

It's crazy to think that 2012 is already over, and the first day of 2013 is upon us!  I decided that this year, I'm not going to make any crazy resolutions and accept the fact that the last five pounds are just going to stick with me because I can't subsist on a diet of raw kale and plain oatmeal.  Ha!

Rather, my "resolution" will be being wiser about my makeup purchases.  To that end, I've put myself on a "no-buy" until March 1st, since I really don't need anything at the moment. As a true makeup junkie, I've discovered that I am way too capricious with my makeup purchases… whether it is a small "hit" at the local CVS, or a huge haul at Saks, I buy way too many things that I end up not liking or using.

I decided to reflect back upon my favorite makeup items of all time, and thought I would put together a listing -- a Makejeanup directory, persay -- of the best of the best.  I am presenting it by category.  If I did just one post, you might be reading it until July 4th. 

This first post will be on foundation/base makeup.  People who have never seen me without makeup always comment that I have really nice skin, but they are fooled by the smoke and mirrors of my product arsenal.  I've tried probably 100 foundations in my lifetime, and although I do have some low-end ones that are good in a pinch (L'Oreal True Match, for example), I believe in investing a decent amount of money in foundation.  After all, if your skin doesn't look good, it's hard to use it as a canvas for the more fun color products like eyeshadow and lipgloss.

The texture of my skin is decent; however, I have really bad undereye circles, and my skin tends to scar and discolor easily, so every little pimple I've ever picked at has left some sort of mark on my face.  Also, I wasn't super diligent with the sunblock in my earlier years, so I have a few dark spots on my face that I have to hide.  Additionally, my nose is overrun with blackheads, and my T-zone produces more oil than the OPEC countries.  Now that you know what I'm working with, here goes…

My most favorite foundation of all time is Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk.  
I use this foundation in the color #5, which is neutral beige color, but it comes in a multitude of natural shade selections to match every skintone.  I have been using it off and on since 2003, and it was the foundation that I used for my wedding in 2004, as well as my first family Christmas card photo in 2012.  Basically, anytime there is a photo op, Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk is what I choose, the reason being the seamless, realistic coverage it gives.  It feels watery going on, but it just melts into the skin and makes it look perfect.  It truly looks good in every light, and there is no sunscreen, so you don't have to worry about the pesky reflect-back from a flash camera.  My only real complaint about it is that I tend to get oily with it, so I have to use a silicone-based primer underneath (Armani's Master Fluid Primer is perfect with it), and set with a powder (my preferred is Chanel pressed powder.)  Also noteworthy, it comes in a sanitary pump bottle, and it just looks so sleek and pretty.  I apply this usually with my fingertips, but it works extremely well with the Armani foundation brush, too.  I would say Luminous Silk Foundation works for all ages and skintypes except extremely oily, and if you're extremely dry, it would be wise to use a moisturizer underneath.  

Coming in at a very closed second is Chantecaille Future Skin.  
I use this in the color Alabaster, which is a hair too pale for me, so I sometimes use Ivory or Chamomile instead.  Future Skin comes in a pot, and I usually scoop out what I'm going to use with a makeup brush so that I don't contaminate the container, and either apply with the brush (a synthetic bristle brush is best for this so that you don't absorb too much foundation), or pat on with fingertips.  Future Skin is higher coverage than Armani Luminous Silk; it can really be built to full coverage if you apply several layers, so I use this when my skin needs more help.  The finish is very natural, like real skin, and even if the color match is not 100%, you won't look strange.  There is also no oxidizing, even if I do get oily breakthroughs on my nose.  Future Skin also does not contain sunscreen, so it is suitable for flash photography.  The best feature of this foundation is that it is almost like skincare for the face.  Chantecaille alleges the "charged water" and "seaweed" that it contains helps to improve the skin over time.  I can't attest to the true fact of that, but I do know that when I remove it at night, my skin feels very soft.  (On a side note, I also use Chantecaille's skincare, but that is another post…)  Future Skin works well for everyone except for the extremely oily, and I think it is especially good for more mature skin, because it doesn't set into lines.

Third, but by no means last, is Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Moisture Foundation.  Long used by Hollywood makeup artists on films, this is a high-definition foundation that is long-lasting and lightweight.

I matched myself to the color #113, which is for light golden complexions, and it seems to be a good match.  Unfortunately, Koh Gen Do is not sold in many brick and mortar stores… Barneys New York, and Sephora in Times Square are two that I know of.  For me, this is a great everyday foundation, a real workhorse, because of two reasons:  It is long-lasting and doesn't break down in patches despite my oil; It is lightweight and looks good in all lighting.  For the price, the little tube doesn't contain a lot of foundation, but I use two pea-size dots for the entire face, and I am good to go.  The finish is slightly dewy, like real skin, and I find I don't have to set with a powder (although using a translucent loose powder over top helps make it bulletproof.)  This gives medium coverage, and would be great for just about all skintypes, I think.  Again, there is no sunscreen, so it should photograph beautifully, although I have not experienced it.

Well, those are my Top 3 Foundations… I encourage you to give them a try if you have not yet found your holy grail foundation.  

Happy New Year!!