Archive | May, 2010

Hair Tutorials: Updos

30 May

I found a series of hair-how to videos that I must share. Though it’s in Japanese, it’s still easily comprehendable.

Red Carpet Updo

Chestnut Updo

Fake Bob

Big Bun

Braid Hairband

Curly Summer Updo


Curly Fauxhawk – for the adventurous

Lady Gaga Ribbon Updo

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Going Back to Basics: Skincare

28 May

Twice a year when the seasons change, my skin becomes problematic. I get dehydrated oily skin – an oxymoron, for sure, but a seasonal menace. Some years I break out, but this year it materialized in the form of dry patches. No amount of scrubbing or chemical exfoliation worked – I just get drier and *gasp* scalier. Even my winter skin saviour, Kiehl’s PCA Oil-Free Moisturizer was no match – I still ended up dry and flaky by the middle of the day. No amount of Dior/Shiseido/Lancome/Estee/Guerlain could save me. You can’t combat it by fighting with extreme measures, kind of like if you have oily skin and use a harsh alcohol based toner to dry it out, it will wreak havoc on your skin – your skin will produce more oil, but your epidermis will be dry and well, frankly it’ll be a mess. Sloughing on a heavy moisturizer like anything by Guerlain won’t work – it’ll just make me break out, and I’ll still be dry. My new Nars skincare regimen didn’t help, and was probably partially to blame. I should have stuck with the Aesop line as it kept my skin healthy and balanced, but with the state that my face is in now, I’ll have to take other drastic measures.

It’s time to go easy on the skin. Whether this is due to seasonal or hormonal changes, like one of those Cosmo makeunders, I have to make under my skincare. Take away all the fancy cleaners, toners, creams etc. No more fragrances, AHAs, chemicals and what not. It’s time to go back to the basics.

Johnson & Johnson’s Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash – I know the most popular non-irritating cleanser out there is Cetaphil, but I’ve always felt that it never left my face clean. You can’t find this in Canada (I don’t think), but head down to Target or Walgreens. The big size is less than $10 so it’s super affordable. Cleansers shouldn’t be expensive – they should be gentle and leave your face clean. Besides, it’s never on your face long enough for any of the claims to work and that’s why the investment should be in the serum and/or cream. Ivanka Trump swears by this, and believe me this is a great basic no-nonsense cleanser.  If you’re going to do any at home scrubs, this is a great base.

Linacare Transforming Face Cream – For serious skincare, I never go to a department store or Sephora. For the serious stuff, I walk into a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon’s office and see what they have on the shelves. They carefully pick out a few lines and products that work and may recommend the pricier stuff, (always do your own research though), but it’s better than trying a lot of products till you find something that works. Linacare was developed by a Harvard-trained research scientist/physician for his own patients (for eczema, dry skin due to diabetes, postpartum, chemotherapy and radiation) until the word got out that it works. It doesn’t claim anything miraculous, but it does what it claims to do – it moisturizes, and it does it VERY well without the heaviness. It’s very La Mer, but it’s more affordable and made in Canada. $25-$58 cdn, retailers in Canada and HK or buy online.

Aquaphor –  Does this product even need an introduction? It has a cult following larger than Rosebud Salve‘s, and may rival L’oreal’s Elnett Hairspray (European formula). It’s in every makeup artist’s arsenal, been mentioned in countless fashion and beauty magazines, a staple at any Fashion Week but it’s still a beauty secret. As the ‘duct tape’ of beauty products, followers have claimed that it makes your eyelashes grow longer, it helps the healing of tattoos and burns, prevents chafing, can be mixed with loose mineral eyeshadows to make a cream e/s, used as a face highlighter, for the prevention of stretch marks, as a makeup remover and it’s been used for everything from as an itch reliever to eye cream. It does what it does – it moisturizes, and I use it on the drier flaky patches on my face and sometimes as a hydrating masque. I applied a very thin layer of the Healing Ointment all over my face today under foundation and powder and it gave me a beautiful dewy glow. It never became oily and I still haven’t broken out *knock on wood* and it may be a suitable primer replacement for those colder and drier months.  People are always finding new uses for this versatile product. Most recently reported in the In Style Magazine June 2010 issue, Beyonce uses Aquaphor over makeup for that dewy look, as lip gloss and to slick back her hair. Enough said.

Wax on, wax off

27 May

I believe that an aesthetician who is a pro at waxing should receive the same level of reverence as a hairstylist.  I don’t know what it is about hair (maybe because it is such a large part of our identity), but when you find ‘the one’ that you trust and who understands your needs, they inspire fervent loyalty. Though you see them every 4 or 6-8 weeks, you spill the beans about everything in the 20 minutes or the 3 hours that you spend with them. They know all your secrets – things about your family, significant other, dating history, what your real haircolour is etc. … from that ‘scar’ behind your ear down to your netherregions. They won’t judge if you had a mishap with at-home bleach or have an ingrown – they’re there to hold your hand as they make it all better.  

If you find ‘the one’, the relationship and friendship that you develop with them can last longer (and could be more fulfiling) than the one with your significant other. And unlike your significant partner, they will know if you’ve cheated. =)

I will never go to another as she is the best:

Amy Luong
Aesthetician, Som Visao Spa
8-3195 Granville St.
Vancouver BC
604-732-9901

When it’s hard to wake up

26 May

You know you’re having one of those Mondays (or for me, it was the Tuesday after a long weekend) when you start the day using eye cream as face cream and spritzing hairspray instead of Evian on your face. All before that morning cup of coffee. But you know it’s not the caffeine in that cup that gives you that instant perk – what it really is, is the aroma.

I’m a scent connoisseur. Not that I collect bottles and bottles of perfume, though I do have a scent wardrobe and am very discerning about fragrances, but scents and aromas for me sets an atmosphere, recreates a memory or invokes a feeling. Whether using Narciso Rodriguez For Her to set a sultry mood for a night out, or burning Nippon Kodo’s Happy Valley in a hotel room to remind me of home. I keep Chandler Burr on my nightstand and Lucas Turin near the tub. I know when you walk by if you overloaded on Victoria Secret’s Love Spell, or you’re one of those lucky ones who can carry off Thierry Mugler’s Angel. But I digress.

Using scents and music (or droning news if you’re not prone to depression) is what helps me get out of the groggy and get ready for the workday (this does not apply to weekends, vacations btw – that’s a totally different scent category).

Clarins One-Step Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser – Perfect for the mornings whether you’re groggy or not. The orange scent is perfect as a pick-me-up and the gentle exfoliating and cleansing removes all traces of last night’s face cream and sloughs off all the dirt, toxins and pollutants after a night of skin detoxing. Just not around the eyes, please.

Sephora Collection: Indulgences – Coffee & Cream Morning Body Scrub & Nyakio Kenyan Coffee & Sugar Body Scrub (line relaunching 2011). Not only is caffeine a cellulite-buster, but you get your coffee fix through your pores first thing in the morning. What could be better than that? Either works great, just depending if you prefer your coffee black or with cream.

Aesop Mandarin Facial Hydrating Cream – the line is from Australia, but I discovered this in Asia where it has a major cult following. They are GREAT with samples, by the way. Buy on the continent online or at Barneys.

As for fragrance, that’ll be in another post. My music of choice to wake up these days is Annie Lennox’s Little Bird, Utah Saints Remix. Starts off mellow-ish, and within seconds you’ll be dancing around the room circa 1993.

Meet you at 12B?

24 May

My co-worker told me that he went with a few friends to this underground restaurant, 12B, that’s all the rage in Vancouver, though this concept has been popular in HK for a while, and I’m sure elsewhere. Ever since coming into the light, I heard that the chef is booking 6 months in advance. Alas, that means that I won’t have the opportunity to try this place anytime soon, but here are some reviews to tide me (and you) over till then.

Global Peasant

Food and Tell

Greedyguts

Foodists

12B: A unique restaurant idea
Somewhere off Main St
Telephone: 778.389.7295
12breservations@gmail.com
Hours: Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings

Bring your own booze
By donation $65?

Summer Styles: Jelly Shoes

24 May

I’m a child of the 80’s, when Nerds and Pop Rocks were the candy (and currency) of choice, you went on exploration expeditions with the neighbourhood kids and instead of flip flops, you slipped on Jelly shoes in the summer. They were easy to run in, didn’t slip off, kept your feet cool, fashionable and feminine.

Thank goodness Jelly shoes are back with a vengeance after years of domination by the unsightly flip flops, which people think can be worn anywhere and with anything. Joined by the Gladiator (-esque) sandal (which won’t go away for a while now), we now have another fashionable (flat) footwear alternative for summer.

Updated for those born in the 80’s, they have either a more sophisticated weave, sport lace patterns, are work appropriate and now in more ‘grown-up’ colours. Some of my picks below:

The ubiquitous Tory Burch Reva Flat, this time in Jelly. Spotted all over NYC. Great for work, play and comes in an assortment of colours. Either comes in all jelly, or jelly with metal logo. $95-$125 usd. At Tory Burch, Nordstroms, Saks, Neimans, Holts… you name it.

My new love – the Jelly Lace Detail Ballet Flat by Melissa. Saw these at Saks. Regret not buying them. Order whole size up if you’re 1/2. $90usd

Melissa Campana Jelly Ballet Flats. Also comes in gold. $80. At Saks, also black and pink at Nordstrom – on sale 40% off now.

Melissa Coral Peep Toe Ballet Flats – love the intricate coral weave! $80 at Saks, order one half size down as these run large. 40% off at Nordstrom.

Must try: the Fishtail braid

23 May

Whenever I put my hair in a braid, people ask me if it’s hard. Nope. I can do a regular braid, even french braid while on the elliptical or even while driving. One thing that I’ve never been able to accomplish is the Fishtail braid. Fashionista Nicole of lemodedujour has a simple and thorough tutorial here.

Update: Success on the 2nd try! =D

Summer dishes: Yucatan Shrimp

22 May

Warmer weather usually means get togethers with family and friends -potlucks, picnics, BBQs – communal cooking and casual dining. One of my fondest childhood memories was the gathering of 3 or 4 families (actual relations, friends, neighbours) to eat shellfish. No bbq, no meats, no fish. Anything with a shell – lobster, crab, shrimp, clams, mussels – that all the men in the family would go early morning to the docks to buy fresh off the boats and the women would clean/devein and boil and serve on large platters, only to be instantly descended upon and devoured. It wasn’t the just the food that brought people together, but the barbaric and natural act of eating without utensils and using your teeth, fingers and the occasional napkin. The communal and raw way of eating shellfish like this transcended sex, age, race and class – and gave way to a sense of bonding.

In honor of the first long (and much anticipated) weekend of the year – I give you Yucatan Shrimp. Happy bonding.

Yucatan Shrimp (wok style)

Variations below

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced (yes, the whole damn thing)
  • Juice of two large limes
  • 1 tablespoon Indonesian sambal (preferably sambal oelek)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 pound large, fresh, shell-on shrimp (or prawns, deveined)
  • 1 teaspoon jalapeño, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro.

1. In a small saucepan set over low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining 3 tablespoons butter to saucepan. When it melts, stir in the lime juice, chili sauce, salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and allow the sauce to rest.

3. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes or until they are just firm and pink. Do not overcook. Drain into a colander and shake over the sink to remove excess moisture.

4. In a large bowl, toss the shrimp and chili sauce. Add jalapeño, if desired, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serves 4, messily. Adapted from Greg Nelson at Doc Ford’s Sanibel Rum Bar and Grille, Sanibel Island, Fla.

Notes: Do not use more butter than needed, or your shrimp will be swimming in oil. Be liberal with the garlic – you can never have too much! Because I didn’t have sambal on hand, I figured since it’s kinda stinky and spicy, I mixed fish sauce and vietnamese chili sauce and threw in some lemongrass paste. If it’s not sweet enough, squirt  in some agave, or use honey if you don’t have it. Sugar is just too 2D sometimes. Serve with beer and lime.


Yucatan Shrimp (BBQ style)

  • 2 tablespoons achiote powder (see Note)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds large shelled and deveined shrimp
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • Summer Vegetable Rice and lemons, for serving
  1. Light a grill. In a large bowl, blend the achiote, garlic, orange and lemon juices, chile powder, cayenne and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk in the oil. Add the shrimp and toss. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Thread the shrimp onto six 12-inch skewers. Season with salt; reserve the marinade. Grill the shrimp over a hot fire, basting with the marinade, until barely cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plates, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve with Summer Vegetable Rice and lemon wedges. Serves 6.

Notes: Achiote powder is ground from achiote (annatto) seeds. It has no discernible flavor and is used in Latin cooking to give dishes a reddish-orange color. Achiote powder and seeds are available at Latin markets and some supermarkets.

Layering Lashes

21 May

The last one was about layering mascara, this one’s about layering lashes. Caught this blurb on InStyle Magazine‘s twitter feed about Dianna Agron‘s (of Glee fame) lashes. Now only if they’d spill the beans on Naya Rivera’s luscious lashes! Ok, So Naya can’t live without fake eyelashes and uses those individual ones (more of her beauty secrets here) – those are such a pain in the @ss to put on!

Layering Mascara

21 May

Just had to share something that I did this morning that was a bit of a beauty breakthrough! I sometimes layer mascara to get both the best of volume and length (though I don’t think there’s one mascara out there that does that, yet) but I’ve been doing it the wrong way! I’ve always 1) lash conditioner 2) lengthening mascara 3) volumizing mascara. But walking past the mascara stand at Sephora, I caught a blurb about volumizing first, then lengthening. Is that why though my lashes look better layered, it still wasn’t WOW? Well my dear friends, I have to admit that they’re WOW today. Sephora was right. 1) Volumizing then 2) lengthening. Why? Because the volumizing mascara catches and magnifies every lash, then just build on lengthening the ends. And voila! WOW!

Recommended brushes and mascaras: Use the big barrel mascara heads for max volume, then a comb one for lengthening. Remember to work fast and don’t let dry between coats!

My faves, high and low are:

Fave high: Volumizing – Christian Dior DiorShow ($24usd)

Fave low: Volumizing – Cover Girl Lashblast

Fave (somewhat high b/c it’s not readily available): Lengthening – Majolica Majorca Lash Beautifying Mascara Frame Plus (available on ebay or adambeauty)

Fave low: Lengthening – Maybelline Lash Stylist discontinued and replaced with Maybelline Lash Stiletto Ultimate Length Mascara

Haven’t tried, but Cover Girl’s LashBlast Fusion and Maybelline’s Lash Stiletto Voluptuous Ultimate Length and Volume Mascara combines volume and length! Anyone try that? What are your fave mascaras and how do you layer?