Saturday, June 29, 2013

European Beauty Haul and First Impressions

Hello lovelies!  Apologies for being MIA.  If you follow me on Facebook (Vinmaquillage), you'll know I recently went on holiday in Europe.  I was extremely excited to shop for makeup and skincare abroad, especially in Paris because let's face it, the French mesdames are famous for their skin care.

The first leg of our holiday was London.  Unfortunately, our itinerary was so jam packed in London that I was only able to stop by Harrod's to shop.  I was disappointed that I wasn't able to go to Boots drugstore to shop UK brand makeup lines: Sleek, Collection 2000, and Barry M to name a few.  And while what I ended up buying is accessible to me in the States, I scored them for a better deal since Harrod's was having a 40% off sale on beauty products.

Giorgio Armani's Neo Classic Face & Eyes Palette in Neo Brown
Blush: Sheer Rose
Eye shadows left to right: Greige, Brown, and Earth Brown
Retails at $95 but I got it for 40% off.  This is a limited edition.  I no longer see it on the Giorgio Armani cosmetics website but lady luck may be on your side if you search a few counters.

Elle Magazine's Hall of Fame Foundation
2013 In Style Best Beauty Buy - Best Liquid Foundation
2012 Nordstrom Beauty Awards
2012 Nieman Marcus Beauty Award Finalist
Retails at $60

Believe me - this lightweight foundation is worth the hype!

And in Paris...

I knew I had to have this little pouch the second I laid my eyes on it.  I bought this at the gift shop at the Le Meridien Etoile hotel in the 17th Arrondissement in Paris.  This cute pouch now functions as my makeup bag for my purse.

Based on a review from my favorite UK makeup artists, Pixiwoo, I purchased the La Roche-Posay Hydreane in Ligera and Riche (Hydreane Light, Hydreane Rich).  This line boasts great use for those with sensitive and dehydrated skin.  I don't have sensitive skin but my skin is dehydrated.  La Roche Posay products are paraben and mineral oil free and rich with the thermal spring water found in the small village, La Roche Posay, in central France.  The thermal spring water from La Roche Posay has an almost neutral pH, is protected from all pollution, and is not treated until safely packaged.

Sounds good, doesn't it?  Enough for me to make a 3rd trip back to a French pharmacy to make sure I purchased these two moisturizers

To the right of these moisturizers is the Nuxe Baume Levres (Nuxe Lip Balm).  

Back story: I have been absolutely OBSESSED with finding a nourishing and moisturizing lip balm these past few months.  Every year my lips suffer a period of extreme chapped lips.  I'm not just talking dry lips that you can fix with one application of chap stick - my lips take on an extra layer of skin that hardens.  It's extremely uncomfortable (but fortunately has never progressed to the level of pain) and it usually lasts a few torture-some weeks. You'd think this condition would occur during the dry winter months.  Nope.  I am currently in recovery from this extreme chapped lips condition.  This time around, it actually led to an outbreak of a rash surrounding my mouth area.  A trip to the doctor was required.  Hydrocortisone cream immediately got rid of the skin rash but my lips are still giving me problems every few days.  While I avoid vaseline at all costs (petroleum is not good for your skin), it was the only thing that helped with locking in whatever moisture I had in my lips.  I was dismayed to discover my Josie Maran Argan Oil didn't help.

With my lips improving from the use of vaseline, I wanted to find a lip balm made with healthy ingredients to moisturize my lips.  This lip balm is a cult favorite in the French pharmacies and makeup gurus.  Contains honey, plant oils, shea butter, and grapefruit essence.  So far, it's been doing a fine job of moisturizing my lips without the slippery feel of vaseline.  

This is a cult favorite in the makeup artist and beauty guru world.  Every makeup artist who stops in Paris will make an immediate stop to a local pharmacy to grab a bottle of this.  It's a gentle formula that effectively removes all traces of makeup.  Every beauty guru who talks about this product always comments how soothing it is.  It's a non rinse formula so you do not need to rinse but it is important that you gently dry your face afterwards.  Use with a cotton round.
It is offensively priced on Amazon at a whopping $28.45 for 500 mL.  That's for one bottle.  I purchased the set of 2 for 16 Euros ($19.53 in USD).  As far as I'm aware, you have to purchase this online if you're in the States.

I had to grab a box of this while at the French pharmacy.  Established in 1862 but inspired by the original Eau de Cologne by Jean-Marie Farina, official supplier to Emperor Napoleon I since 1806.  These soaps are so fragranced that users have reported not having to use perfume afterwards.
$23 for a box of 3

A rich moisturizing lotion that makeup artists use for 3 purposes: makeup remover, primer, and moisturizer.  Paraben free and not tested on animals!  I love how this moisturizer works great for day time makeup as it isn't greasy but still manages to moisturizer your skin.  I initially bought one bottle to try but immediately returned back to the pharmacy to buy more (a few as a gift for my mom) after I tested it out as a day/night moisturizer.  

Since I'm always on the look out for moisturizing products to maintain my dehydrated skin, I immediately grabbed this masque when I was able to decipher the French on the box.  Formulated with plant milk, aloe vera sap, white almond, and orange flowers (notice a trend in what I look for in ingredients?).  The product promises to also sooth any skin irritations for 24 hours.  I applied this masque last night and loved how soft and supple my skin felt afterwards.  

Hope you all enjoyed my European Haul.  Once I've been using these products for a while I'll do a more in-depth review of each product.  Until then...ta-ta!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Makeup - Smokey Cat Eyes

Today's fun look is a smokey cat eye.  Read on to see what products I used!

Dr. Jart's Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm
Chanel Matte Lumiere - #30 Cendre
YSL Touche Eclat in 1.5 Radiant Silk
Make Up For Ever Super Matte Loose Powder

MAC e/s in Carbon
MAC e/s in Wedge
Urban Decay e/s in Blackout
Urban Decay e/s in Foxy
MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack
MAC Select Cover up in NC20
Model No. 21 False Eyelashes

Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow in #25

Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Dollface
Tarte Matte Waterproof Bronzer in Park Avenue Princess

MAC Cremesheen Glass in Right Image

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Night Time Skin Routine

Top (left to right): Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil, Mario Badescu Cucumber Cleansing Lotion, Josie Maran Infinity Cream, Primavera Revitalizing Antioxidant Mask

Jar: Mario Badescu Strawberry Scrub

Blue jar to the left: Glo Therapeutics Renew Serum
Blue jar to the right: Glo Therapeutics Pure Hydration

Tool: Clarisonic Mia

Makeup isn't just about the colorful products you paint onto your face.  It begins deep - skin deep.  Your makeup won't look flawless and glowing if your skin isn't healthy and hydrated.

I've had my own fair share of skin issues but from those issues, I've learned which products work and don't work for me.  I also know what I need to do to keep it healthy.  My main vice is not drinking enough water.  Coming in a close second is not getting enough sleep.  The latter sometimes is out of my control, but as long as I've been maintaining good skin care practice, I can use makeup to brighten up my tired eyes.

I have combination skin that is on the dehydrated side.  (Remember, dehydrated skin is a condition, not a classification e.g. oily, normal, or dry.)  Here are the products I use to take care of my skin.

1. Up & Up Exfoliating Cucumber Cleansing Towelettes

I randomly picked these towelettes up in Target one day because I was gearing up for a mini trip.  At the time, I had never used towelettes so I can't even remember my reasoning as to why I decided to get them.  All I can remember is that they were the cheapest one at the time and the price sold me.  So as proof that I seldom used towelettes and typical of a Target experience, I threw a package of these Up & Up Exfoliating Cucumber Cleansing Towelettes into my basket, paid for them, and then into a drawer they went at home....forgotten.

....until 2 weeks ago.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover how gentle yet hydrating these towelettes are.  They have an exfoliating side and a smoother side to just cleanse.  I use the exfoliating side to wipe my makeup off.  I then use the smoother side to remove my eye makeup.  I wear contact lenses and have extremely sensitive eyes (I couldn't wear contact lenses for a few years due to an allergic reaction)  These towelettes do not aggravate my eyes even when I still have my contact lenses on.  The makeup removing power is also pretty darn good.

HUGE pluses: These towelettes contain aloe and is hydrating, which shouldn't be a surprise since the name promises the hydrating quality of cucumbers.  I now use these towelettes before I use my cleanser so make sure I remove all traces of makeup and dirt.

Ok sorry....ADD on that mini review.

2. Scrub - Mario Badescu's Strawberry Scrub
About 3 times a week, I use this scrub to exfoliate away the dead skin cells.  This product is a spa in a jar.  It's creamy and leaves your skin soft. What's awesome is the affordable price.  At $15 for 4 ounces, this is a definite repurchase.

3. Cleanser: Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil + Clarisonic Mia

Click HERE for my review of the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil
Click HERE for my review of the Clarisonic Mia

4. Toner: Mario Badescu's Cucumber Cleansing Lotion

I use a cotton round and pour a few drops of this onto the cotton round.  A little goes a long way!  I recently purchased a few Mario Badescu products from Ulta and so far am enjoying all of them.  There are actual cucumber bits in the squeeze bottle!  The cucumber extract assures hydration to your skin.

5. Serum: Glo Therapeutics Renew Serum

If for some reason I don't use my strawberry scrub to exfoliate, I will apply this serum after toner but before moisturizer.  This serum functions to exfoliate and turn over cells to promote smooth and healthy skin.  It also contains oil controlling agents that is great for my combination skin.  The only thing I don't like about serums is that you have to wait for it to absorb into your skin after application.  This product instructs to wait 30 minutes.  I'm hard pressed to find that kind of time when work gets busy.

Will I buy this again when it runs out?  No.  I took my facialist's word and purchased this at her recommendation, having faith that it'll work.  Again...I'm hanging onto that faith...despite the fact that I don't see any visible effects from the serum.

5. Serum: Glo Therapeutics Pure Hydration

When my skin needs a surge of moisture and hydration, I reach for this.  In fact, I'll even apply it during the daytime to make sure my skin meets its moisture needs.  My only complaint is the price: $46 for 1 ounce.  Ouch!

6. Moisturizer, Eye Cream, and Lip Moisturizer: Josie Maran Infinity Cream
Click HERE to see why I use Josie Maran's Infinity Cream as my moisturizer for my face, body, eye cream, and lips.

7. 2 - 3 times a week, I use the Primavera Antioxidant Mask

Because my skin is dehydrated, I actually sleep with this mask on and wash it off in the morning.  It leaves my skin hydrated, soft, and rejuvenated.  No joke - it's like I have a new layer of skin in the morning.  The mask applies like a lotion and is invisible.  You can't see or feel it.

It contains organic rose essential oil (reduces broken capillaries, promotes cell renewal), organic pomegranate seed oil (contains antioxidants), aloe vera extra (restores hydration), organic green tea extract (soothes skin and contains antioxidants), and green clay (draws toxins and repairs tissues).

I LOVE this mask.  I initially was taken aback by this product because I'm use to masks being colorful, visible, and thick.  Safe to say I was highly skeptical.  However, it delivers so well that it's almost like a trip to the facialist.

For a more in depth review of Primavera products, click HERE for my take.

I hope some of this has helped you on some level.  Skin care is a pretty personal thing so get to know your skin.  Sometimes, it's just a trial and error process until you find something that agrees with your skin.  These are the products that have worked for me through trial and error.

What products do you all use for your night time skin care routine?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Packing for an International Trip

Hubby and I will be going on holiday soon so I wanted to share with you all how I will be packing for this trip.  Based on previous travel experiences, we will be traveling with two suit cases: (1) a large one that will be checked in and (2) a carry on.  Traveling with too much luggage will announce our tourist status - which makes us more vulnerable to being pick pocketed.

Carry On Luggage
We fortunately have never experienced delayed or lost luggage (knocking on wood!).  However, it's always better to be safe than sorry.  In the event our checked in luggage goes MIA, we at least will have a carry on that will contain the following: a set of pajamas for each of us, under garments, and 1-2 clean outfits to change into.  It will also contain our toiletries (ahem, my makeup and skincare products).

Carry on Liquids:
TSA mandates the 3-1-1 Rule: 3.4 oz (100mL) bottle or less (by volume), 1 quart-sized clear plastic zip-top bag, 1 bag per passenger placed in the screening bin.  Exceptions to the rule: medications, baby formula and food, and breast milk may exceed 3.4 oz so long as they are in reasonable amounts.  They are also not required to be contained in a zip-top bag.

The liquids I pack for my carry on:

Top (left to right): Sensodyne tooth paste (an extra tube is also packed in the checked in luggage), Paul Mitchell leave-in conditioner, Nioxin conditioner, RevitaLens contact lens solution, Bumble and Bumble thickening hair spray, and Josie Maran's Infinity Cream (which I use for eye cream, face and body moisturizer, lip balm, and lip gloss).

Bottom (left to right): Fresh Soy Face cleanser, Josie Maran's Argan Oil cleanser, Primavera toner, Dr. Jart's Black Label Detox BB Cream, Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + foundation, Benefit's the POREfessional, Urban Decay's Eye Primer Potion, DUO false lash glue, and Jo Malone London sample size perfume.

All of these products fit into my 1 quart sized plastic zip-top bag:

Since I will be traveling with my husband, I will have him carry a second batch of liquids as HIS carry on that will include hand sanitizer, Downey's wrinkle releaser, mouth wash, makeup brush cleanser spray, and anything else that we think of from now until the day we leave.

Packing Cubes - the Organized Traveler's Best Friend

Packing cubes are cube shaped bags that are used to pack clothes and shoes.  Designed to fit neatly into your luggage, these cubes keep your clothes organized, prevent your clothes from wrinkling, and fit more clothing in each piece of luggage.  I purchased 3 big packing cubes (the blue cubes beneath my brown and white striped Henri Bendel Large Hanging Weekender bag), 3 medium packing cubes (the pink cubes), and 2 shoe packing cubes from eBags off of Amazon.

The eBag packing cubes are made of a very light solid fabric, similar to the material parachutes are made of, on the sides and bottom.  This lends to a sturdy product.  The top portion of the cube is mesh, which allows you to see inside the cube.  This is a big deal because if security randomly chooses your luggage for an inspection, they will be able to see what's inside without turning your entire luggage upside down.

These cubes are also very lightweight.  Thus, there is little to no concern with it affecting your luggage weight limit.

I packed one set of pj's, one day dress, one blouse, under garments, and leggings for my carry on and it has only filled 1/3 of the pink medium packing cube.  The remainder of the space may not even be taken up even after we stuff my husband's carry on clothing items.

This leaves our carry on with PLENTY of room for my travel sized blow dryer, the X5 Superlite 1600W Dual Voltage Ceramic - Ionic Travel Dryer, my Hot Tools ceramic 1.5 inch curling iron, and my ceramic flat iron (gift from a gal pal).  This means we can also pack neck pillows for comfort during the flight as well as umbrellas should it rain at our holiday destination.

Money belt
During our trip to Italy a few years ago, my purse was slashed by a pick pocket.  Fortunately, I had done a ton of research before my trip and knew pick pockets was a problem.  As a result, I used one of my cheaper purses while abroad that was solely used to store water bottles, an extra scarf, an extra set of mittens, and our travel guide book (Rick Steves!).  We stored our passports and money in a money belt.

Having this silk money belt underneath our clothes made us feel more secure.  It especially increased our peace of mind after discovering my purse was slashed.  As you can see from the photo above, a money belt is a zippered pouch that lays flat against your body and is completely hidden underneath your clothes.  Rest assure it was completely comfortable to wear.  We will not be storing all of our money in this belt.  The plan is to store a day's worth of cash in our pockets, divided between my husband and I.  In the event that one of us runs into a problem, at least the other has some cash.  The money belt will store our passports, credit cards, rail passes, and the remainder of our cash.

All phone chargers.  All tablet and iPad chargers.  My iPad will also have new books to read on my Kindle app for the long flights.

If you all recall in an earlier blog post (click HERE!), I use the Henri Bendel Brown and White Stripe Large Hanging Weekender bag to store our toiletries and my makeup.  This bag also fits neatly into our carry on and will be conveniently affixed in the hotel bathroom as it has a hook to hang.  I'm bringing the same makeup brushes as I previously blogged.  Here's an update as to the makeup I will be bringing:

Top (left to right):
Make Up For Ever Duo Mat Powder Foundation
MAC eyeshadow palette (my own selection of eye shadows)
YSL Touche Eclat in 1.5
Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Brunette
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide On Eye Pencil in Perversion

Bottom (left to right):
Velour Lashes in Doll Me Up
MAC paint pot in Painterly
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Dollface
MAC blush in Harmony

Some of my other cosmetics are listed above with my liquids:
Dr. Jart's Black Label Detox BB Cream
Make Up For Ever Mat Velvet + foundation
Benefit's the POREfessional
Urban Decay's Eye Primer Potion
DUO false lash glue

In my purse will be the following lip products:

MAC lipstick in Dubonnet (for those nights I need to vamp up with a red lip stick)
Lancome Rouge in Love in Lasting Kiss (nude pink lipstick)
MAC Pink Plaid
Revlon lip gloss in Orchid (shimmery pale pink)
Revlon Color Stay Lip Liner in Nude
Revlon Color Stay Lip Liner in Plum

Additional Tips
1. Leave a copy of your passport with your in-case-of-emergency person back at home.  In the event you lose your passport abroad, your copy at home will be able to make its way to you via fax.
2. ALWAYS make sure you find out where the closest US embassy is to your hotel.
3. Call your credit card and debit card companies to let them know you will be abroad so they don't lock your account for suspected fraud.
4. Pack locks to lock up your luggage at the hotel.  Better safe than sorry.
5. To conquer jet lag, leave home well rested.  At your destination, stay awake until an early local bedtime.
6. If you plan on traveling by train to any destination while abroad, keep your money belt on and remember to use a lock on your luggage.
7. Pack Band Aid's Friction Block and Moleskin.  Your feet will thank you.
8. Make sure you look into roaming fees if you plan on bringing your cell phone with you abroad.
9. Confirm the price of taxi travel from the airport to your hotel ahead of hand to avoid a taxi scam.
10. Check the weather to pack appropriately.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Recipe: Ca Phe Sua - Vietnamese Coffee

Aaaaahhh Vietnamese coffee - the Legal Crack.  I introduced one of my caffeine addict pals at work to this recently and then received the following text message: "My computer is taken apart on the floor, my pulse is around 160 BPM, I'm estimating 30 seconds in 10 hands are shaking and I can barely send this text.  I love this stuff."

Mission accomplished!

Special Equipment
Phin filter - available at most Asian markets for about $5
Cafe du Monde coffee
Condensed milk (I prefer the Longevity Brand with the old man on the label)

Photo Directions

This is what a phin filter looks like.  The lid is to the right.

Remove the screw filter in the inside.  Spoon 2 heaping teaspoons of Cafe du Monde coffee grounds into the filter.  Screw the filter screen into place but do not tighten it too much.  Too tight and the coffee will take forever to drip.  Too loose and it'll drip so fast your coffee will taste like muddied water.  Pour about 2 teaspoons of condensed milk into a cup (adjust to taste).  Place the phin filter on top of the cup.

Pour a bit of boiling water into the phin filter.  Allow it to completely filter through.  Next, pour boiling water to the rim of the phin filter.

Cover the phin filter with the lid and allow it to completely filter into the cup.  The lid is what will keep your coffee hot!  When the water has been completely filtered into the cup, stir to thoroughly mix the coffee and condensed milk.

Enjoy it hot....

...or add ice to enjoy it cold!

Want a history of Vietnamese coffee?  Trung Nguyen, the Starbucks of Viet Nam, gives a great historical break down of Vietnamese coffee HERE