Pick of the Week: Lancome Blanc Expert Cushion Compact Foundation

My first introduction to Lancome’s new cushion compact foundation was while I was in the Eurostar leaving Paris (sob) earlier this summer. I was reading French Vogue and eating breakfast, and the ad for this foundation made me stop mid-chew, because it was a cushion compact foundation.

Cushion compacts are very popular now if you’re in tune with Asian beauty trends (or should I say Korean beauty trends), and I believe this may be the first Western brand to come out with one.

Lancome Cushion Compact Foundation
Either way, Lancome is starting this trend in Western makeup with a bang! Lancome makes some of the best foundations in my opinion, and this new offering, named Blanc Expert Cushion Compact Foundation, is no different. I’ve been trying it out on myself, and also actually used it on a bride over the weekend. She wanted something very light, natural and flawless, and this was perfect.

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Best. Mascara. Tips. Ever.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think any girl wishes for stubby, short and sparse eyelashes. Although it irks me that they have become part of a beauty ‘standard’ for women, a simple swipe of mascara can really make a difference, so why not give it a try?

Here are some of my tips to getting the full potential from your eyelashes, without falsies:

best mascara tips
Photos: Unknown

Treat them. There are plenty of mascara conditoning serums out there that claim to make lashes grow longer, thicker and darker.

I’ve tried Mavala Double Lash in the past and though I can’t say I saw any miracles, my lashes did become stronger and darker, so I find these conditioning treatments work somewhat. I suppose our eyelashes are like the hair on our head – when conditioned and treated kindly, it does look much healthier. Another option I tried in the past that I’ve heard works (though I stopped) is using a clear plastic wand, apply a very thin coat of castor oil to lashes.

best mascara tips
Curl ’em! Never underestimate the power of a few ‘presses’ from an eyelash curler. I am usually too lazy to do this, but dang. It takes your lashes from OK to amazing. Another trick to get the most of your eyelash curler is to curl your lashes like this:

  • Apply your eyelash curler to the base of your lashes and press gently, increasing in pressure slightly. Hold for about 5 seconds.
  • Next, hold your eyelash curler mid-lash, and press ever so gently for a few seconds.
  • Lastly, aim your eyelash curler at the very tips of your eyelash, and hold for a few seconds – this last tip really ‘pops’ your eyelashes out even more.

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“Does Junk Food Cause Acne?”

This is one of those beauty-things where experts have conflicting ideas about it: Does junk food cause acne? One minute it’s “yes” the next minute it’s “no” – however, I believe that at the end of the day, you know your own body, and as far as junk food giving you acne… I believe it really depends on the person.

Does Junk Food Cause Acne?
Photo: Unknown

That being said… if you already suffer from acne and have a predisposition for it (genetics, bad luck, etc), junk food, I believe, will definitely affect your skin. For example, I struggled with acne as a teen, and still get zits now and again, especially if I overdo it with eating greasy burgers, fries, chips, candy. It’s fine in small amounts, but one week of a bad diet? Guarantee monster zits. Funnily enough, also, anything with dairy gives me zits, which kinda makes sense because dairy is pretty inflammatory (one of the reason why, whenever someone asks me for acne help, I tell them stop eating dairy).

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French Pharmacy Products – So Worth the Hype!

Loved by celebrities, fashion/beauty insiders and chic French women all around the world; you and your grandmother (and her grandmother) has probably seen the hype over French pharmacies products.

French pharmacy products skin
I’ve always loved French beauty products (if this blog isn’t any indication) but they were always from “mainstream” brands. Since I don’t live in France, I’ve never had proper access to their everyday, local, pharmacy products and brands. Until this summer when I was in Paris, when I had my first look at the French pharmacy and… long story short: I totally, totally get the hype now.

Here’s what I picked up in my very first French pharmacy “haul”, with hopefully many more to come:

Bioderma Hydrabio H2O Micelle Solution (buy here and here). I already use this, so I just bought a new bottle for my trip. It really is the best micellar water; and as we’ve learnt, there are many other micellar water uses than just a makeup remover!

Bioderma Atoderm Cream (buy here). I was in London before going to Paris (before the heatwave), and London was still quite cold, so my skin, which is not used to cold, got a little bit of a shock. By the time I went to Paris it was peeling like crazy, and felt really tight and dry. I turned to Bioderma and looked for the first thing for “dry sensitive skin” and bought it. It’s for the face and body, but I used it for the face, and no joke – my skin was back to normal overnight.

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Questions & Answers #1

It’s the first Q&A post! Remember, you can leave your (anonymous) questions on this page, and I’ll collect the best ones to do for a regular Q&A post. Here goes…

Suggest me a daily hair routine. My hair is totally damaged with split ends and dandruff all over my hair. How can I overcome it?

Two words: Coconut Oil. It’s the best!

To get rid of dandruff, rub some coconut oil into your scalp as a pre-shampoo ritual, leave it on for at least an hour, and then shampoo as usual. Do this every time you wash your hair until your dandruff goes away. (Should take a few days.) For split ends, the first thing I’d suggest is to get a haircut – the only way to get rid of them is to cut them off! Then use any shampoo and conditioner for dry, damaged hair. After showering, apply a drop or two of coconut oil to towel-dried hair as a leave-in conditioner.

My favorite coconut oil ever is Dabur Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil, but a natural version that I also use is Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil.

Photo: Unknown
Photo: Unknown

Hey saw you’re reading How to be Parisian. Any thoughts ?

It’s good! I mean, it’s definitely not a “how to” book (not sure if people are taking the title literally and think that). It’s more a collection of essays, thoughts and musings on the Parisian woman. Very hilarious and you do get a bit of tips here and there, but I think overall it’s more of a coffee table book. I do love it though.

I’m not sure why smash box is on the list of Beauty Brands That Don’t Test on Animals? It’s owned by Estée Lauder who do test on animals?

You’ll have to ask PETA, I got that info from their list! That being said – just because one company owns another, it doesn’t necessarily mean they enforce their regulations/practices on them. For the smaller company, usually everything stays the same; it just means they just have more $$$ to grow their brand, etc.

However, if you see that Smashbox has completely re-formulated, re-launched certain products, and everything kinda looks like it’s had a big “makeover” since being bought-over, then I’d be suspicious for sure. Smashbox has the Leaping Bunny logo on their products though, and getting certified is a big deal, so I believe that’s an “extra” stamp of confidence that they are indeed cruelty-free.

Of course, there’s always the issue of “well my money will ultimately go to the parent company so it’s just the same”, and at the end of the day, it’s up to you. There are so many grey areas in cruelty-free beauty (and who knows who you can trust, really) so it’s up to each consumer to make a personal decision on what they feel is right.

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Love Micellar Water? Here’s 9 (Other) Beauty Uses for It

Like the rest of the beauty world, I am obsessed with micellar water. And I’ll bet you are too.

The French-export makeup cleansing removers are now one of my all-time favorite beauty products and I believe a must-have for every woman. And because I’ve been so obsessed with them, I’ve actually found other ways to use them as well:

1. On-the-go hand wash. No time to wash your hands after testing products at the makeup counter? Or need to wash your hands before eating? Thanks to it’s no-rinse formula, micellar water would be perfect! I mean, it is a cleaner for your face… so why not for your hands too? Squirt a drop into your hands and rub.

2. Clean your makeup brushes. You know how they say to clean your makeup brushes by adding some baby shampoo in water? Well, why not use micellar water? Also great for on-the-spot brush cleaning: Drop some micellar water in a paper towel and swirl your makeup brush on top of it to get rid of the product.

3. Use to remove perfume. Tried out a perfume at the counter that turned nasty? Put some miceallar water on a cotton pad or tissue and rub it off! (Definitely not one of these perfumes, right?) Also useful if you applied a little too much perfume – simply remove some of it. (I’m assuming it can remove other stenches, too.)

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“Help! What Hairstyle Suits Me Best?”

What hairstyle suits me best?
Photo source: Unknown

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in this beauty game, it’s that hair makes a huge difference. A new haircut can really transform your look, and after many years of disastrous haircuts (trust me, I’ve tried everything), I finally realized how to find a haircut and style that suits you, your lifestyle and personality.

Here are my tips on how to find the best hairstyle that suits you:

Your Face Shape

It really all boils down to your face shape. Once you have figured out what your face shape is, it is so much easier to find out what cuts and styles can flatter, making your search much less traumatic. Check out How to find out your face shape, and then come back and continue reading.

What suits your face shape

Once you’ve found your face shape, here are some guidelines for hairstyles:

  • Round face. Long, layered straight to slightly wavy hair looks stunning on you. Side swept and long bangs will also suit you well. Avoid styles that will bring more width to your face, such as blunt bangs, bobs and big curls (cut at a short length). They might make your face look rounder. The trick here is to elongate.
  • Long face. The key here is to widen your face, so focus on getting volume at the side (near your cheeks). (Check out How to: Get More Hair Volume for help.) Hairstyles such as bobs, wavy and curly hair will add width to your face; and short to shoulder length cuts look great on you too. Bangs work very well on long faces, especially blunt and side bangs. Avoid styles that “lengthen” the face, such as straight, long cuts, and avoid too long hair length, which can drag your face down (again, stick to short styles, shoulder-length, or length not past your chest).
  • Square face. Softer hairstyles will work best with you to soften your sharp features – wispy bangs, soft romantic curls, soft layers will all look really pretty. Hairstyles with big, soft volume look great too (think Veronica Lake curls). Avoid chin length cuts that may emphasis your strong jawline.
  • Oval Face. Lucky you, oval face shapes look great in anything! Experiment and see what you like best.
  • Heart (also called “Inverted Triangle”) face. Long and wavy hairstyles will look great on you. Keep your hair length to the longer side; as shorter cuts and styles may emphasise your smaller jaw area. Soft, side swept bangs looks great and will soften the jaw area as well to give your face some balance.

Try it out digitally

Lastly, my next tip would be to try out the hairstyle… by photo manipulation first. It’s great if you want to play a bit safe before taking the plunge. So if you are handy at Photoshop, get to work! If not, InStyle Magazine’s Hollywood Makeover is a great virtual hair makeover tool I’d recommend.

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Pick of the Week: EMK Placental Face Cream

There’s only one word that comes to mind when describing EMK Placental’s Face Cream: Yum.

EMK Placental is a Beverly Hills skincare line which boasts some A list clients (such as Eva Longoria, Tyra Banks and Simon Cowell… basically: people who are always on TV), and recently launched in Asia.

EMK Face Cream review
I was at the launch event, and while the products all looked good – they use the power of plant placenta – their Face Cream is absolutely divine. My first thought was that it smelt like marshmallows, but a closer look to the ingredient list showed that it was actually natural vanilla extract that made it smell so darn delicious. And with other ingredients such as plant placenta, Seabuckthorn Oil and Vitamin A this Face Cream is my first foray into anti-aging. (I reckon I’m at the age – mid 20’s – where I should start; especially since it’s now scientifically proven that aging in women starts at around 26).

The cream goes on light and leaves my skin feeling very plumped and full, and because Vitamin A is the only ingredient right now that is again scientifically proven to prevent/reduce wrinkles (it exfoliates the skin to keep bringing in “new” skin, which therefore looks younger), so I know long term this would be great. Best of all, I like that it never made me break out. I tend to get a little bit of “objection” whenever I try something new, but none here. Not a single breakout since using this product.

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How to… Fix Over-plucked Eyebrows (& Get Your Natural Brows Back!)

Photo source: Unknown

I’m sure we’ve all been there. (Well, except the model above.)

Whether it’s over-plucking our own brows, or something doing the dirty work for us; over-plucked, thin, sparse eyebrows are not a good look.

I got my eyebrows tweezed for the first time at a professional place when I was 14. I can’t remember why I did – I have naturally quite thick brows – but I walked into the first beautitian I could find at a popular mall and simply said, “Tame these monsters!”

Big mistake. The lady gave me the thinnest brows with the highest arch… just awful. And because I was young and didn’t know much about beauty, I kept that thin-eyebrow look for way too long. Needless to say, when I wanted my old brows back it was pretty hard (they went back to normal eventually, thankfully!) and today I am really careful about keeping it’s original thickness now – in fact, I do it myself now, I trust no one else. Here are my tips on how to fix over-plucked eyebrows:

Try hair growth formulas. I’ve tried RapidBrow to my brows with great success and would totally recommend buying at least 3 tubes and finishing them (1 tube a month). Also, those popular eyelash growth serums such as RevitaLash and Prevage Clinical Lash + Brow Serum should technically work as well.

Hands off! Don’t touch your eyebrows for at least 4 months. Resist the urge! I would say a full 6 months, but 4 months is the minimum. If it’s really getting unsightly, just tweeze those absolute necessary ones that are completely out of your whole eyebrow area (for example, the stray ones that are near your eyes, or the ones in between your two brows, etc). I also read this tip from Allure editor Linda Wells: Dip a Q-tip in some Rogaine (or any hair loss formula) and rub it on any bald spots you might have. But be EXTREMELY careful to not let it touch anywhere near your eyes.

Makeup tricks. In the mean time, fill in empty spots and mistakes with a brow pencil or powder. Or, if some parts are starting to look insane try using a clear eyebrow gel to keep them looking neat.

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L’Air de Rien: The Scent of An Icon

L'Air de Rien Miller Harris Jane Birkin perfume
Photo source: unknown

Wanna smell like fashion icon and French it girl Jane Birkin? Then look no further than L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris, a perfume made especially for Jane.

As the story goes, Jane longed for a fragrance that would “describe her true self”, and Lyn Harris, creator of Miller Harris, granted Jane’s request, whose only brief was for something “ethereal and airy”.

L'Air de Rien Miller Harris Jane Birkin perfume
The result was an airy, slightly “dirty”, musky scent, which Jane wore and has said to have cherished for some time. Notes include amber, vanilla, oak moss and musks, and if you look closely at the bottle, it features doodles by Ms. Birkin, too – as Lyn was completing the perfume, Jane was sitting across from her, doodling William-Blake style nymphs, and Lyn thought that putting Jane’s artistic touch to the bottle would “complete” the perfume.

And it has. The result, to me, smell very… nostalgic, a little musky, and has that slightly damp scent that lingers in my clothes whenever I visit Europe – the scent captures that musky, cozy, comforting feeling in your clothes. If you’re a Francophile or a Birkin fan – this is a must-have. It’s available at Amazon.com, John Lewis and Fragrance Net.

P.S. Top 10 Best French Perfumes