Sunday, 29 April 2012

Inaugural FOTD - Everyday Makeup

I've never been really into makeup, but I'm turning 25 in July (eek) and I realise that my crazy-makeup-looks-chic-and-not-scary days are numbered, so I've decided to start experimenting with what my boyfriend calls "facepaint".

First off, I'm posting what my "normal" face looks like, with minimal photoshopping (contrast adjustments, cropping etc.). Now, I love my sleep way more than the average person, so I try to keep it simple and do most of my makeup on my hour-long commute (yeah, I'm one of those girls, sorry).

This is what I use - a lot of it's ratty from rolling around in my handbag, sorry!

Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream in No. 21 (with a little No. 23 mixed in during summer)
Maybelline Shine Free Loose Powder in Light
Really ancient Clinique blush in Extra Clover (soooo pigmented, when did blushes get lame and spineless? I've been using it daily for the past three years and I haven't even hit the bottom of the pan)
Rimmel Exaggerate Eye Definer in Noir
Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain (old limited edition) in Very Berry
Nivea Repair and Protection lip balm

Get ready for some crazy warpaint soon! :)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Q&A: What's the difference between a whitehead and a blackhead?

Q: What's the difference between a whitehead and a blackhead?

A: Your skin is covered in tiny sebaceous glands, which secrete sebum, a substance which moisturises your skin. When these get clogged with plugs of sebum and keratin, you break out and get whiteheads and blackheads, which are a type of acne that is not inflamed.

A blackhead (open comedo) is a wide plug near the surface of the skin. Because it's exposed to air, it becomes oxidised and turns a dark colour. The dark colour isn't dirt!

A whitehead (closed comedo) is made up of the same sebum and keratin, but there is only a small opening to the surface. Since it's protected from air, the plug doesn't oxidise, and stays a white colour. The difference between a proper whitehead and a pimple is that a pimple is inflamed from bacterial infection.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Inspired by shoes

Another Artsy Wednesday! Here is my mani:

And these are the shoes they were inspired by, my going-out shoes. They are so, so awesome. Basic arithmetic: glitter + metallic + wedges + padded ball = amazeballs.

They're super comfortable, and high enough to make me average-height. I have another pair in blue. Don't judge me.

I did a laser tape mani (ulta3 Gold Rush and ulta3 Black Satin) with a large hex glitter accent nail. Yeah, I put them on individually with a pair of tweezers, it took forever and I'm never doing that again (never = til I forget the pain). There's got to be an easier way... maybe lining them up on a table and rolling my nail on them? I should've put more topcoat over them - I lost 8 glitters after an hour of dance class!

More Artsy Wednesday:

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Review: A'kin Rosehip Oil

I haven't written a proper review in a while, but this inspired me to write one.

My first experience with rose hip oil was half a bottle that my mum gave me. I wasn't impressed at first - funny smelling orange oil in an old crusty bottle. But my skin was crappy from years of daily heavy foundation, and it was getting worse and worse. So I rubbed some on my face every night, not expecting much.

Then after a week - Oh. My. Gosh.

Super smooth cheeks.
Tiny nose pores.
Not a blackhead in sight.

Granted, that week I'd been too busy to poke at my skin like I usually do, but I can't remember the last time my skin had been that smooth. I have annoying combination skin - oily T-zone, dry cheeks - I've always had to have two moisturisers. But for whatever reason, rosehip oil just improved everything.

Three months later, I ran out. With my new, dewy clear skin, I was confident - my skin was good enough to last without that $30 per 23 mL stuff! I went back to using my old moisturisers. My skin started off ok, but then the clogged pores came back. Oil cleansing wasn't cutting it, and I couldn't walk past a mirror without extracting a ripe blackhead. It was getting to crisis point.

Then, three weeks ago, I walked past Priceline, which just happened to have A'kin Rosehip Oil on sale. And I'm in love again!

What makes rosehip oil such a good product?

Vitamin A - anti-acne, anti-hyperpigmentation, collagen-boosting, anti-clogging goodness - see here for more
Vitamin E - antioxidant - can help reduce wrinkles, roughness and sun damage
Oleic - reduces inflammation
Linoleic - anti-acne
Linolenic - reduces hyperpigmentation

I've only really tried A'kin Rosehip Oil - I'm sure other people have had success with other brands, but frankly I'm too scared to change for now. I have two bottles of NOW Food Rose Hip Oil, which is produced via a different method and is colourless, and I've been trying it intermittently but it doesn't seem to work as well for me, although for girls with very sensitive skin, it may be better tolerated.

Do you have an SOS beauty product that's never failed?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

NOTD: Glitter ice cream sandwich (candy mani)

I've never tried a jelly sandwich before, and I've been lusting after Revlon Whimsical, so I thought I'd put a milky sheer polish over some glitter to quell the lemming. Since the jelly is creamy, does this make it... an ice cream sandwich? :P

For the sheer polish, I mixed two different purple cremes (ulta3 Berry and Mode XOXO) with ulta3 Lily White, then added a load of clear polish and shook like crazy. To give you an idea of the sheerness, it took three thick-ish coats for full opacity on the bare nail. It was still a little too opaque as I later found out.

Then I sandwiched Milani Gems in between, with two layers of purple franken as the bottom "bread" and one layer as the top. The franken covered up the glitter more than I expected, so it was a bit tricky trying to keep the effect even. My index finger was the least successful, can you tell?

Naturally, not being able to leave a mani alone meant I painted Rimmel Lycra Pro Matte Topcoat over it after two days. I think I like it better glossy though, it's a bit overly drab without shine, although the weather had also gone crappy by then, which could explain my bias :P

The glitter in Gems is a bit smaller than the stuff in Whimsical, but I'm pretty happy with the results! Lemming successfully saved from cliff-diving into irrecoverable debt... for now...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Q&A: Can Shellac damage your nails?

Q: Can Shellac (and other soak-off hybrid gels) damage your nails?

A: Yes. Hybrid soak-off gels (e.g. Shellac, Gelish, Axxium) are less damaging than the old style long-lasting treatments which needed to be filed off for removal (often taking a chunk of your natural nail with it), but a recent study found that they still caused significant weakness, thinning and brittleness. In one measurement, the nail was measured to be about 50% thinner!

Whether it's the chemicals in the polish, or the application/removal process that damages the nail is unknown. This is something to be aware of, since gel polishes are often seen as good for nails. Thin-nailed girls - be careful! One option that seems to be getting good reviews though, is Bio Sculpture gel.

A F Chen, S M Chimento, S Hu, M Sanchez, M Zaiac and A Tosti. Nail damage from gel polish manicure. J Cosmet Dermatol 2012, 11, 27.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Flowers

In my shady past (ha!), I used to take Chinese brush painting classes. They were heaps of fun! One of the main techniques is to load your brush with a gradient of colour, then when you touch the absorbent rice paper you end up with gorgeous smooth patterns. Wiping off my acetone-y cleanup brush on tissues reminds me a lot of that!

Unfortunately nail polish doesn't behave like that on nails, nor does acrylic paint, so I had to make do with some very un-blended cherry blossoms. I went to Japan last year, but just missed cherry blossom season :(

I managed to do the whole thing in ulta3 colours. I freaking love this brand!

Base: English Rose
Design: Black Satin, Lily White, Watermelon, Gold Rush Fever

I'm really happy with it - might revisit this design for Chinese New Year! :)

More Artsy Wednesday flowers:

Monday, 16 April 2012

DIY Clay Scrub/Semi-Mask

As much as I like what clay does for my face, I never have the patience to do a proper one (and I usually forget I even have clay). My face feels so itchy as it dries, and I hate when I look in the mirror afterwards and see a green ring around my face that I missed.

As a compromise, I use a clay scrub in the shower once a week. If I put it on at the beginning of my shower and wash it off after all the shampooing and shaving hootenanny, it gets 15 minutes without getting itchy, since it stays moist. I mix in ground oatmeal for a gentle scrub (and perhaps a bit of avenanthramide action). It isn't quite as oil-absorbent as doing a proper mask, but I much prefer it!

What I use: a Korean volcanic clay mask I bought in Hong Kong, oatmeal blitzed in a coffee grinder, water

Making the scrub

1. Grab a couple pinches of oatmeal.

2. Add water to soften the oatmeal. I just use enough to wet all the oatmeal - you don't want it too wet, remember that the shower steam is going to wet your mask further!

3. Add clay mask - unfortunately I put too much in the photo here, about half would've been enough. Approximately a fingerscoop full (that's a standard unit of measurement, I swear) should do.

4. Mix in your hand until it's a kind of pastey texture, adjust proportions if necessary. Mix in a few tiny drops of whatever essential oils your skin likes, if you want. Done!

Using the scrub

1. Rub all over face in gentle circular motion, like you would with a scrub. Don't scrub your eyes!

2. Make sure your whole face is covered in muddy goodness (except the eyes - using a mirror is handy the first few times), then continue showering as per usual.

3. At the end of your shower, rinse off thoroughly. Depending on your mask, you may need to follow with a cleanser if your face feels mucky.

It's been working quite well for me so far... let me know how it goes if you try it out! :)

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Review and swatches: China Glaze Atlantis (and stamping, and tape)

(I apologise in advance for the overuse of the word "blingy". It's been sunny, I've been wearing holo... sorry!)

China Glaze Atlantis is an obscene amount of small square holo glitter in a teal jelly. It's ridiculously blingy in the sun - I don't usually wear in-your-face glitter but I couldn't stop staring at it. It's absolutely gorgeous.

Warning: it eats top coat! 2 coats Bonder and 2 coats SV over 3 coats Atlantis, and it was still bumpy the next morning. The teal jelly shrinks and gloops up quickly... it's almost like CND Stickey. If Stickey was full of shiny shiny glitter.

It was a bit too blingy for a weekday, so I stamped over it using ulta3 Gold Rush Fever (PRC version). It's subtle because Atlantis is so shiny, and it reduces the bling factor a lot, but I still had people grabbing my hands to take a closer look :)

Then to cover up tipwear and regrowth, I taped triangles in the middle and painted Skin Food Nail Vita Pearl Black on top. I like how the holo peeks through, but then I wished the holo glitter was blingier!

I'm not a massive fan of this pattern but it does the job. Fortunately, two hours later it all peeled off, probably from the crazy number of SV layers and I got to do my nails again :D

Friday, 13 April 2012

Mud on your face! Clay for skincare

Clay is pretty amazing, isn't it? You can make art with it, you can slap it on your skin, you can even eat it for digestive problems! I'm only going to talk about how great it is for your skin today, but I thought we should take a moment to appreciate how useful mud is, except when it gets on your car/shoes/dog. Ok, done.

One of the things that always makes my oily skin feel clean and refreshed is a clay mask. Clay is very absorbent, and no doubt part of the "clean" feeling is just the clay temporarily tightening my skin by drying it out... but clay also sucks oil out of your pores, and any other crap that's currently dissolved in the oil, that could later oxidise and form plugs and blackheads. This is why pores seem to shrink right after a clay mask!

There's not much published scientific research on clay - however, one recent study found that daily clay applications on rats increased the number of collagen fibres. Clay has also been found to speed up collagen synthesis in skin lesions - since loss of collagen is one of the causes of old-looking skin, this might be why clay is so popular!

However, there are lots of different types of clay, containing different proportions of minerals. There are a lot of conventionally accepted recommendations for which clay to use for your skin:

Kaolin - this is an all-purpose clay that's good for all skin types, including sensitive skin. It's said to soothe irritated skin and soak up oil.

Green French clay - this clay sucks all your oil out! Good for oily skin.

Bentonite - this is the main component of "volcanic ash" clays. It's good for normal and oily skin.

These are the most common clays used in skincare, but there are plenty more!

Check back in a few days for my DIY in-shower clay scrub/lazy mask recipe :)

C Viserasa, C Aguzzib, P Cerezoa and A Lopez-Galindoc. Uses of clay minerals in semisolid health care and therapeutic products, Appl Clay Sci 2007, 36, 37.

DMZ Valenti, J Silva, WR Teodoro, AP Velosa and SBV Mello. Effect of topical clay application on the synthesis of collagen in skin: an experimental study. Clin Exp Dermatol 2012, 37, 164.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Stripes

Hi y'all! Today's theme is stripes. I love bold stripes, but I like to explore new things on Artsy Wednesday, so instead I replicated a mani from Let's Polish Some Nails, with almost no changes, because it's really perfect the way it is! But I jazzed up an accent nail with some gems and hearts, because I just couldn't help myself.

I actually redid some nails a few times because the stripes were too even - I wanted them a bit uneven and graphite-looking.

Base: OPI Skull and Glossbones
Stripes/hearts: ulta3 Black Satin
Glitter: China Glaze White Cap

I kept this mani on for 5 days, which must be some kind of record for me... and I played with the gems THE WHOLE TIME. :P And, it didn't peel or chip - OPI win!

More stripey goodness:

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Happy Easter + Announcement!

Hi ladies! Some of you who follow Polish or Perish may know that I've recently become a PoP contributor. This means that I'll be posting one or two manis a week over there, but since PoP is mainly a swatching blog, all the beauty science will stay here. Artsy Wednesday posts will also be posted here, and some of the crazier nail art.

My first post with a lot of stuff about me, and a stripey mani are up there now, take a look?

I hope you all had a good Easter - I'm a bit fluey now but otherwise mine was great :)

Sunday, 8 April 2012

NOTD: China Glaze TMI holo goodness and stamping

This is one of the holos that Alanna picked up for me. We're heading towards winter here so I took advantage of the sun and put on 2 coats over Orly Bonder. China Glaze TMI is a pretty warm-hued salmon linear holo. Bling!

I love how linear holos are usually opaque in 1 coat, apply thinly and go on super smooth, which isn't surprising when you consider how they work. TMI is one of the smoothest polishes I've ever used, it just glides on beautifully. I've had a crappy nail breakage on my left thumb - it gets caught on everything! I tried to stick it together with polish for about a week, and the only thing that hasn't worked so far is TMI, it's just way too thin. Balls!

After a day I got bored and stamped on top with ulta3 Orchid (PRC version). I'm loving the PRC ulta3s for stamping! Unfortunately after the second topcoat the holo's gone duller, but it's still very pretty I think.

What's your favourite holo polish?

Friday, 6 April 2012

How does Latisse (bimatoprost) make eyelashes grow longer?

Who doesn't want long, luscious eyelashes? For years all we could do was paint them and stick on falsies, then Latisse landed on the market, promising to make your natural lashes gorgeous and doe-y. But how does it work?

About lashes

Lashes, like all hair, grows in a cycle, which involves 3 phases and takes 5-12 months.

Anagen - This is when the hair is growing and getting longer. This lasts 1-2 months, and the lash grows around 0.15 mm a day. In total, this means lashes will grow to about 9 mm long, with 2 mm staying under the skin.

Catagen - Once the hair has finished growing, the growing base dies and form a club under the skin. Catagen lasts about 15 days.

Telogen - This is when the lash just sits in the skin. Once anagen starts, the new hair pushes the old hair out of the follicle (exogen). Telogen lasts 4-9 months.

In humans, individual hairs are in different stages of the cycle, so we don't have a shedding period (like in dogs) where we lose lots of hair at once. About 41% of eyelashes are in the anagen phase at any time.

What is Latisse?

Latisse is a solution containing 0.03% bimatoprost, a synthetic prostamide. It was originally used as a treatment for ocular hypertension, when there's too much fluid in the eyeball. Patients reported unusual eyelash growth, and so, a new drug was born! (This happens quite a lot - scientific discoveries are usually thanks to sheer luck!)

How does bimatoprost work? 

A lot of the exact mechanism of how bimatoprost works is currently unknown. What we do know:

Bimatoprost doesn't increase the number of lashes that can grow - at the moment, there's no proven way of changing the number of hair follicles.

Studies in mice suggest that it works by making lashes stay in the anagen (growing) phase for longer, which increases the lash growing time, and means longer lashes. Scalp hair grows for 6-8 years, which is why it's so much longer! This also means new lashes form quicker, and old lashes fall out slower, so there are more visible lashes coming out at any time, which gives you denser lashes.

Bimatoprost also increases the width of the bulb (the fat bit at the bottom), which makes the lash grow thicker. This effect is more noticeable with shorter hairs in the early stages of growth than longer lashes.

The darkening of lashes treated with bimatoprost comes from stimulating the production of melanin, a chemical pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour.

Side effects

The most common side effect is eye redness, which will happen if you put things near your eyes!

Additionally, lashes aren't the only things that have melanin - as well as making your lashes darker, bimatoprost can also make your skin and eyes darker.

Skin darkening can be noticeable after a few months of use, and usually goes away after you stop using bimatoprost.

Darkening of the irises - the coloured bit of the eye - was reported by 1.5% of people in a clinical trial when bimatoprost eyedrops are used, but when it was just used to paint the lashline, there were no reports of it happening. There's obviously less contact with the eye when using bimatoprost only on the lashline, and a lot less is used than in an eyedrop (approximately one-twentieth of the amount). However, it's a potentially permanent side effect, so light-eyed girls be careful!

Have you used Latisse? Did it work for you?

J L Cohen. Enhancing the growth of natural eyelashes: the mechanism of bimatoprost-induced eyelash growth. Dermatol Surg 2010, 36, 1361.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Artsy Wednesday: Easter nails

For Easter, I decided to freehand some chicks peeping out of their shells... I'm not sure if it looks right! I was going to do some silver and gold dots and stripes over the shells but I somehow forgot. I'm getting old :(

Base: w7 Neon Yellow
Shells: Maybelline Keep Mauvin', ulta3 Lagoon, Little Boy Blue (old) and Sweet Violet
Chick faces: Sally Hansen Black Out and Sun Kissed
Poshe topcoat

Check out these blogs for more Artsy Wednesday!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

NOTD: Triangle tips over Nails Inc Garrick St

Tipwear and regrowth annoy me so much, especially when I'm wearing a polish I don't have much of! Nailside's rightly famous cloud mani is stylish and covers up the tips, but I want a bit of variety, so you're going to be seeing a lot of my experiments!

Garrick St is in the artsy, theatre Covent Garden area of London, which is what I guess this polish is trying to capture. I got it as part of a giveaway prize from Viktoria, and I couldn't wait to try this one on its own!

It's a purple-blue duochrome - pinkish purple at the edges, with really blingy chunky blue foil shimmer flecks where the light hits. It's really gorgeous - elegant but interesting. The formula is nice and smooth. This is 3 coats but you can get away with 2, I just bumped a finger and needed a final cover-up. Topcoat is Poshe.

The basecoat was Nails Inc Kensington Caviar, which was also part of the giveaway prize. I had a noticeable amount of tipwear after a couple of days (with lots of hair- and dishwashing), but I'm not sure which part caused it.

I covered the tips with ulta3 Envy, a gorgeous blingy foil, taping a little triangle at the end of each nail. I really like this pattern - it's simple but bold, and very easy to do. What do you think? :)

Monday, 2 April 2012

What is BB cream?

BB creams are popping up on shelves everywhere - but what are they?

BB stands for beauty balm, blemish balm or beblesh balm, depending on which brand you're looking at. BB creams are said to have originated from a cream that dermatologists recommended after cosmetic surgery to help repair skin and cover damage. They became popular in Korea after some actresses revealed them to be the reason for their flawless skin, and lo and behold, a trend was born!

What's so great about them?

The main pro of a BB cream is that it's a multipurpose product - most BB creams combine sunscreen, moisturiser and foundation/concealer. In terms of makeup coverage, they sit somewhere betweem full foundation and tinted moisturiser; however, unlike traditional makeup, they usually claim to improve your skin rather than clog it up. They often contain anti-irritant ingredients as well, so they tend to be good for sensitive skinned gals.

There's a BIG difference in formula and function between the original Korean/Asian BB creams and the newer Western brand ones. The Asian BB creams generally contain better skincare ingredients and provide better coverage, whereas most Western BB creams are nothing more than glorified tinted moisturisers. Accordingly, BB cream devotees tend to use "true" Korean BB creams, and people who have only tried Western formulas end up disappointed. There are some exceptions with more Asia-centric creams released by Western brands, such as Bobbi Brown.

What do they do?

Almost all BB creams combine basic moisturising ingredients, coloured pigments and sunblocking chemicals. Additionally, some BB creams also contain antiwrinkle (adenosine), blemish-fading (arbutin), and anti-inflammatory (chamomile extract, beta-glucan) ingredients. Some BB creams also claim to minimise pores and control acne.

What are the drawbacks?

Colour range - The biggest drawback is that BB creams tend to only come in 2 or 3 shades - luckily, they tend to blend into your skin, so it's not a huge problem, but using a sample first is recommended. Additionally, since the Korean brands produce their BB creams for an Asian market which loves skin lightening as much as Western girls love their tanners and bronzers, the creams can sometimes look unnaturally light.

"Ashy" problems - Because they tend to have very high SPF ratings, BB creams can look unnaturally grey or pink when you put them on, but this usually goes away after a few minutes.

How much? - The most annoying thing for me is that the BB creams have very nice ingredients, but they never tell you how much of each there is in there.

Is it for me?

If you want a one-step skincare product to slap on in the morning, and there's a shade that suits your skin tone, a BB cream might be your solution!

I'm a massive fan - I love my sleep, and I hate spending time in front of the mirror when I could be in bed. I currently have Skin79 Pink Label, Skin79 Gold Label and Missha Perfect Cover on rotation - I haven't quite decided which one works the best, but I love how good the results are for so little effort!

Which BB creams have you tried, and what did you think of them?

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