Friday, September 26, 2014

Weekend Report: Cloudy With A Chance of Sunny

OK, so this week has been a little crazier than usual; I've been trying to balance catching up on a host of things from an overdue to-do list with tackling a whole new list of fresh to-dos and I must say that it's been quite hectic.  And on top of that, the weather has been kinda manic with it raining one day, being chilly the next and feeling like summer not long after that... all of which left me inspired to find a creative silver lining in this week's cloud of chaos.  So I dug up some eyeshadows and a complementary supporting cast, and got to painting.

Building on top of staples like my Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (in Walnut) and MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, I reached for Inglot's cool #420 as well as #60 to bring a wild burst of color to the inner eye and beyond.  Actually, Inglot ended up playing quite a few roles in my look as I also recruited their gel liner #84 to rim my lower with, darkened the outer corner with MAC's Carbon eyeshadow and UD's Buck from the Naked palette to softly diffuse it all.  Lashes were coated with Benefit's They're Real mascara (which I am really loving, I must say!).

I knew I wanted to rock a dark lip with the eyes, so I dusted off MAC's Dark Deed and even incorporated Dolly Mix (Project Pan - hooray!) into the look by dabbing it in the middle of my pout for added dimension.  I finished off my face with a bit of bronzer and used the lighter half of MAC's ombre blush Vintage Grape to highlight the tops of my cheeks.

I had fun creating this look.  With hindsight being 20/20 and all, I wish I had gone a bit more over the edge with it, but I'm satisfied.  Edgier, bolder looks are coming... as well as everything else that lies in between.  I just wanted to do something that would give me a boost in the arm, if you will, and allow me to flex my artistic muscles since I was so inspired by everything going on around me.  And considering that I got the idea on a whim, got to play in my makeup (which I haven't done in a minute) AND felt better after doing it, I think I can safely say #Mission Accomplished!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Hair Inspiration

Last week I posted a picture on Instagram of Ethiopian-born supermodel/actress Liya Kebede and labeled her as my "hair inspiration", which she very much is.  And that got me to thinking about the other women whose coifs have inspired me during my hair journey.  When I first started getting serious about the health and length of my hair, I sought a constant diet of images to help me set tangible goals and keep me encouraged.  I would rip out pages from various magazines featuring women whose hair appeared to match mine in texture and desired length, and keep them in a folder to easily reference when needed.  Having realized almost all of my goals now, I don't keep tear sheets anymore, but would like to give my "hair girls" a quick shout out for keeping me on task, nonetheless. 

Length: Liya Kebede

Besides being drop dead gorgeous, Liya Kebede has an absolutely beautiful head of hair!  Its seemingly endless shine and versatility are definitely enviable; however, it's the length of her hair that I admire most.  Her locks seem to fall just below her breasts, which (on me) I think is ideal.  Anything longer and I fear I would get bored with it and resort to doing something crazy like chop it all off.  But we shall see as I am about two inches from my goal after giving myself a major trim a few weeks ago.

Thickness/Overall Health: Wanakee

When I first saw model Wanakee in a magazine, I couldn't believe my eyes.  Not only was her incredibly long, but it was thick and full and seemingly impervious to all the styling demands her occupation exposed her to.  Her chemically processed tresses have run the complete length gamut, from shoulder high to waist long, all while maintaining its luster and density - two terms that weren't exactly synonymous with having relaxed/permed hair at the time.  After years of hearing that you couldn't have healthy AND chemically treated hair, Wanakee came along and silenced the naysayers... quickly becoming the poster woman for relaxed girls everywhere, proving that you could indeed achieve both! 

Thickness/Style: Oprah

Oprah, Oprah, Oprah... oh, how I love her hair!  It's thickalicious with bounce and loads of body, a sure sign of its health and strength.  And I love her hairstyles, especially the long, layered bob she's been rocking for awhile now.  Ever since Ms. Winfrey first graced the small screen as host of her iconic gab fest - The Oprah Winfrey Show -  she's donned a wide variety of styles and haircuts worth talking about... and imitating.   I absolutely love her hair's fullness and the soft layers of her cut.  Years ago, I had my hair cut in a similar style, eventually letting it grow out to the straight style I wear today.

So, there you have it - the women I've used as a dose of inspiration during my hair journey.  Sometimes you need a visual reference to act as a compass and put you on the right path to achieving your goal(s).  With several mishaps impeding my progress early on, mining different sources for motivation was an absolute must.  And, suffice it to say, the images of these ladies and their lovely locks have adequately fueled my ongoing efforts to maintain length and improve my hair's health overall!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Flashback: MAC Mineralize Eyeshadows

Hey, guys!  Are you ready for the weekend?  I sure am!  And I've got a bit of a throwback for you to kick off the festivities.  Now, I know MAC currently has several variations of baked eyeshadows, but do you remember the original set of shadows that they came out with a few years back?  They were deeply pigmented duos that were a steady fixture in their shadow lineup until they decided to put them out to pasture and replace them with a whole new stock.  Well, I have a couple of OG's from the earlier batch that I absolutely L.O.V.E. and wanna share with you: MAC's Mineralize Eyeshadow in Bright Side Gallery Gal and Play On Plums.

First up is Bright Side Gallery Gal, which is a pairing of golden olive and champagne.  Not only is this baked baby potently pigmented, but it is super soft to the touch and yields ample color effortlessly with every swatch, whether used wet or dry.  In fact, except for the "wet" swatch being slightly shinier, I could hardly see a difference in opacity between the two - a trait you would be hard pressed to say about a lot of baked eyeshadows.

(L to R: Olive Dry/Wet; Champagne Dry/Wet)

Next is Play On Plums, which is a plummy, burnt raspberry coupled with apricot.  Like Bright Side, it is chock full of color and buttery soft to the touch.  Unlike its cohort, both of its shadows are marbleized and have a variation of veining running through them. 

(L to R: Plum Dry/Wet; Apricot Dry/Wet)

I really don't know why these shadows were discontinued.  I mean, MAC has an entire array of new Mineralize shadows that appear to be of the same ilk as the prior versions, but the color combos aren't all that appealing to me; I don't find the shades to be as inviting or as much fun.  They just seem OK, you know?  I think there were about five or six in the first collection - I grabbed only the two, but was tempted by all.  This latest collection?  Eh, not so much.

Which makes me all the more thankful that I bought these when I had the notion and didn't dilly-dally about.  These baked shadow duos are seriously awesome with a capital "A" and I'm so happy to have added them to my stash!  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Body Double

Do you have a skincare regimen for your body?  I guess you can say that I do, however, it's really not all that involved or complex.  I don't have a laundry list of items nor do I have an elaborate routine, preferring instead to keep my skin's upkeep extremely lowkey with a short roster of only two products.  They're my personal dynamic duo to help ensure supple and moisturized skin all year 'round.  And if you have a moment, I'd love to share them with you.

I, like most, use an exfoliator to slough off dead skin cells and maintain a healthy glow.  The reigning staple in my routine for this assignment is Giovanni's Hot Chocolate Sugar Scrub.  I touched on this one before in a prior post, but it bears mentioning again as it is totally ab fab!  A decadent mixture of brown sugar and cocoa beans, it's as much of a delight to the senses as it is to the skin... buffing it to brightness without being too harsh or abrasive to the body.  #LOVE

Now, I know a lot of people give petroleum jelly and just about anything containing petrolatum the "side-eye", but my skin absolutely adores it!  Watery lotions and mineral oil-based creams simply won't do.  Petroleum jelly has been in my arsenal for years and has never let me down.  My body yearns for it and I've never had an adverse reaction (i.e. bumps, rash, breakouts) to speak of.  I usually get the "plain" version, but opted for Vaseline's cocoa butter concoction on a whim - which I'm enjoying just as much.  It has a light, sweet scent that fades after application and is deftly moisturizing.  It's truly a pomade for the skin that gives it a dose of polish without feeling heavy, smothering or super greasy.  #LOVELOVE

So, there you have it... my one-two punch for soft, glowing, quenched skin no matter what the season.  It's pretty straight forward and simple; no bells and whistles really.   None required.  And when it comes to body/skincare, that's exactly how I like it.  #WINNING

Vaseline Cocoa Butter Petroleum Jelly and Giovanni Hot Chocolate Scrub are available at Target, Walmart and various other drugstores.  Prices vary depending on outlet; Vaseline retails for around $2.99 (7.5 oz) and Giovanni Scrub for around $14 (9 oz).

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Flashback: UD Book of Shadows III

Hey, guys!  Now I know most of you remember this one.  I got on the Urban Decay bandwagon kinda late and missed their first two Book palettes when they came out.  But upon hearing about its release and after seeing it firsthand, I was determined not to miss out on the third installment in the series - which is an awesome collection of gorgeous eyeshadows bound in a funky, "animated", visual ode to the great city of New York.  So, if you have a few moments, I'd like to take you down memory lane for a few and chit-chat about all the wonderfulness that is Urban Decay's Book of Shadows III.

Book of Shadows III is a robust assembly of products housed in two-tiered, black cardboard palette.  Lifting the lid of the palette reveals a pop-up diorama depicting New York City's landmarks as well as a cross section of some of the urbanites who dwell there.   Meanwhile, underneath is a pull out drawer where the shadows and all the other goodies are nestled.

In addition to its sixteen eyeshadows, it also includes two mid-size 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencils and a mini UD Primer Potion.  All of the shadows are buttery smooth and potently pigmented.  While there is only one matte in the group, a black shadow called Perversion, the rest are pearls - with two flaunting the addition of glitter.  The Glide On eyeliners Ransom and Zero, true to their name, glide across the skin with ease while leaving an ample deposit of color.  The Primer Potion, although not my favorite eyeshadow primer, does a decent job of keeping shadows in place.

(L to R: Perversion, Uzi, Loaded, Kush)

(L to R: Midnight Cowboy Rides Again, Last Call, Rockstar, Money)

(L to R: Money, Rockstar, Last Call, MCRA, Kush, Loaded, Uzi, Perversion)

(L to R: Haight, Maui Wowie, Smog, Bordello)

(L to R: Radium, Snatch, Suspect, Psychedelic Sister)

(L to R: Psychedelic Sister, Suspect, Snatch, Radium, Bordello, Smog, Maui Wowie, Haight)

I really like this palette and have yet to really take the colors for a spin, but I do have repeats of some of the shades in a few of my other UD palettes so I'm not hard pressed.  I heard that Urban Decay was coming out with a new Vice palette - Vice 3 - which is what prompted me to dust off my BoS III and give it a reminiscing glance over in the first place.  However, besides the original Naked palette, I think this will be my last large palette from UD... at least for a while.  I have my eyes on some other collections that'll be debuting soon and I'm eager to try more brands.  But I'm happy to have this Book of beauties in my possession, which I believe aptly showcases some of the very best shadows (color-wise) UD has to offer.