I don’t usually write make-up reviews for cosmetic giants, but…

Maybelline doesn’t need my help to sell it’s make-ups. It’s as ubiquitous as all the other make-up giants; that kill the environment, use chemicals and test on animals…Maybelline is no exception. But since this is a make-up journal, I feel inclined to report about how I recently discovered the crazy over performing lipstick that is the Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink Lipstick line. It’s a semi-new release (within the last year) that has gotten me in a state of fandom over long wear make-ups for my lips…(since that’s really the only place on the face that needs it…since we eat and drink, every hour of the day)

The two best colors from the line, as mentioned by a lot a reviews: Lover (mauve), and Pioneer (classic red)

I come from a philosophy of simple is better, less is more and basically I feel natural always trumps chemicals. That’s why I have a line of gentle handmade cosmetics and perfumes called Dream E available for all. But because I work in the fashion industry as well, I know how important a well painted lip can be and how much it can pull together a fashion look from head to toe. So here I am being hypocritical about my own philosophies by liking super-stay lipsticks; since they probably have more in common with car paint enamel than the traditional wax based lipstick…what to do…

The reason I feel I have this contradiction is because ignorance is bliss. If I think about the chemical gloop that are in super-stay lip color, I would probably cringe…but I am slightly comforted by the fact that once they set, they don’t go anywhere. They become more like clothes that one wears and then takes off at night. The problem I’ve always had with traditional lipsticks were that they were movable, oily and gross, getting on food, coffee cups and clothes. I could feel them on my lips, they felt greasy, slimy. Not to mention they are made with chemical/metal colorants that could make their way into my body eventually. Too gross. But the great thing about a color stay lipstick is that it doesn’t budge, and because of that, I am assuming the chance of it getting into my belly is unlikely? (cross my fingers)

Ok now that I’ve explained my contradiction, what were the general downsides of wearing color stay lipsticks? Flat, unfashionable choice of colors, uneven wear throughout the day, 2 step application of some formulas, drying feel on the lips…the thing with the Super Stay Matte Inks is though that they don’t feel dry on, the wear is even throughout the day with NO retouching at all necessary…and they come in highly pigmented, velvety colors that you virtually paint on once carefully, and forget about it. It is that comfortable and light, that I forget I’m wearing it until I walk past a mirror and see my high fashion lips!  Just like a great eye make-up that you put on once and don’t have to worry about reapplying throughout the day, you can live the busy life you have, while having a high maintenance lip look that nobody knows you didn’t work at!

Here is the mauve color (“Lover”) on my lips. In this photo, it looks a bit muted, but in real life it’s actually deeply pigmented… almost plumy…
And here is the classic red color (“Pioneer”) on my lips. I really like the intense color and matte velvet finish…

The two colors I own from this line is a gorgeous mauve pink called “Lover”, (that started me on this epiphany of how to wear lip color from now on!) and a rich, classic red called “Pioneer” that screams fashion! I was doing a make-up look that was sans lipstick for a few years now, since I couldn’t deal with the gross feel and maintenance required of tradition lipsticks, but with this new long wear formula from Maybelline, I am a fan of colored lips once again! From reading other reviews online, the two colors I have demo-ed in this post are the two best and most popular colors from the Matte Inks line. Which one is your fave?

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My Hair Coloring Journey Part 1: Soap Capping and Toning

No More Orange Please!

Orange…That is what I am dealing with when it comes to dying my asian hair; it’s full of red/orange brassiness underneath all that mysterious black. Any kind of chemical processing, on my hair will eventually expose brassy tones as a color job fades. So to cope, last spring, I decided to dye my hair to ash brown, but unfortunately it came out way too dark, almost black, but at least no orange! But as summer rolled around, I noticed it was a very flat and boring color. Ash colors are great, but on darker brunettes, the cool tones are just lost, and unnecessary. I decided then to warm up to a strawberry blondish.  But without bleaching first and using just a 30 volume peroxide for lift, I achieved reddish brown hair…not too bad, but slowly, as winter set upon me, and several shampoos after, I noticed rusty orange had showed up harshly and suddenly to ruin the party.

It’s hard to see in this photo, but the brassiness that is peeking out from under neath is kind of visible. My ends are darker because I did a reverse hombre a while ago…
My arsenal for color correction: Bleach powder, 20 vol peroxide, shampoo and conditioner. The Wella color 7A (ash) is for toning that orange after lightening…

I realized my hair turned rusty because without bleaching and lightening my hair first before coloring, the brassy tendency of my hair type would always be exposed in the end. My hair color had to start out light enough to support whatever color I was putting in. So I decided I would do a soap cap to correct it. “Soap capping” aka “bleach bathing” is a formula of bleach and developer then diluted by shampoo meant to be a gentler method of lightening hair. It’s great for removing previous color or lightening a couple of levels. There are articles online on how to do soap capping to lighten hair but the ratio I used was 1:1.5 lightener to shampoo, lathered it into my hair and put a developing cap on it. And it worked. I went from brassy dark brown hair to orange hair! I know, it’s contradictory to have orange hair, exactly what I didn’t want, but once it got to a true orange color (and not the same brassy orange tint I disliked), it was ready to have an ashy color put on top to cover it.

Yikes! this is how it looked after treating with a soap cap! It got rid of the previous color, and lifted my hair to a level 6.5, I am now ready for toning/color…

So to neutralize the orange, I picked up a color with a lot of blue tones…basically an ASHy dark blonde in a level 7 (even though I was a level 6.5, I didn’t want to go darker with a level 6) And voila…the results were pretty nice. I am now rocking a light brown, with no signs of orange, even though I am still on the warmer color side; it’s impossible to totally irradiate the orange, because black hair just has so much of it. But I still think it turned out as close as I could get it with the most gentle and simple techniques.

Yay…no more orange…just a neutral light brown all the way. It’s a pretty colour, but I am not done yet…more to come…

So to recap, soap capping is an effective way to achieve gentle hair lightening. When a developer/bleach mixture is diluted with shampoo, it spreads more evenly, strips pigment slower, more predictably, and is safe enough to do at home on your whole head. If it isn’t light enough, you can wait a day or two and then re-soap cap so that your hair is less stressed out with the process.

My Tips for Safe Lightening at home:

  1. Watch the lightening like a hawk under that cap: Things can change every 5 or so minutes, so to get the amount of lightening you want with little error, keep checking the color as it works. And to prevent frying your hair, don’t leave a soap cap/lightener on longer than 50 min.
  2. Choose the weakest method of lightening and repeat if necessary: That is, don’t be in a hurry to get to what you want…Bleach, even when diluted with shampoo is still a very powerful chemical capable of damage. My first soap cap lifted my hair 2.5 shades! And it was only in my hair for 35 min.! Had I used full on bleach, I am pretty sure my hair would have been fried or too light in some areas! So be careful and go slow.
  3. Do redo darker hair spots: Sometimes, depending on where the hair is on the head, or previous chemical processes in the hair, the lifting results vary. For example my ends didn’t lift enough…I had to go back and redo  the ends the next night. But because I used a gentler method, redoing lightening in just some areas will be less damaging.

So am I done? As if!! I am actually aiming for a pinkish brown color. Keep on reading for my part 2 where I will be tinting my light brown hair with a pastel pink semi permanent…

Going from Work to Party: Fashion/makeup hacks

So you have an event coming up at 6:00 and you’ve been working all day and are far from feeling like a model. After the recycled air, computer screens, standing/sitting and fulfilling the demands of clients/employers; and all the stresses of whatever work environment you are in, the bottom line is you’re pooped. And you probably look it too. Not exactly fun to have to scramble home, freshen up, change your clothes and touch up a make-up application that has long expired since the morning when you put it on. It is looking more like an oil slick, than prettily powdered, and well, you’re not exactly feeling primped and ready to go after work in general.. What to do? Let me share with you a few hacks that help me, when it comes to feeling glammed up, rejuvenated and able to face the world, whether for a date, a party or event when you don’t have a whole day to preen:

1. Skip putting on make-up in the morning and just moisturize heavily and allow your skin to soak it up all day. Make-up is drying to the face, which is why skin produces so much excess oil by nightfall. By not wearing make-up during the day, your face skin can breathe. Then you can do your make-up before the event after a quick face rinse or toning, for a fresher application.

2. Dry shampoo is your best friend. Hair gets limp and oily throughout the day. There is no time for a shampoo in the shower, but a little bit of dry shampoo will make sure that by night fall, it looks like you just got a blow out.  I like to do it the night before to make sure hair is not too powdery with residue from the dry shampoo, but if you have really greasy hair, during the day works fine too. Just shake it out lots when you’re done. Check out my article on how to DIY a dry shampoo.

3. Drink lots of water. Dehydration not only dries out your skin, but it also causes water retention, tired puffy eyes, and a look of fatigue in general. Aim for at least 2 litres during the day, especially after coffee. Having a nice hot herbal tea flushes out toxins and helps you de-stress so definitely try that.

4. Pre-plan your outfit. Believe it or not, even if you kinda know what you are going to wear, you don’t. Something you pictured working can suddenly look out of place or odd: ie a skirt your thought would match doesn’t, a sweater/top is too see through, (or not see through enough!) Put on the things the night before so that after work you are ready to go.

5. Over pack your arsenal: Unless you have time to go home (which you probably don’t) Bring all your trade secrets to work to use before leaving: perfume, hair spray, culing iron, straightening wand, combs, hair clips, lotion. Don’t be afraid of looking high maintenance with having to carry a huge bag to the event. Just leave everything at your workplace/office in a discreet bag that is in nobody’s way, and pick it up on your next shift…while you go out with the tiny purse that says you didn’t have to work at it!

6. Eat little meals through out the day. Nothing is grosser than feeling bloated and tired after eating a big lunch, having to digest that, and then topping that off with a big snack at the end of the workday too. Eating small meals through out the day makes your energy better, and lets you not have spiking sugar levels that add to fatigue. Also, it prevents you from getting too hungry so that when you are out, you don’t binge on food.

Is this not a yummy sight? Fruit and nuts and water make a great snack on busy work days leading into a night event. They are easy to digest and cause minimal bloating.

7. And the number one tip to looking your best in the least bit of time? Just make an effort to take care of yourself daily, event or no event. Have nice manicured hands, moisturized skin, brush your hair and your teeth. Always eat well and drink lots of water. When you are making self care a habit then the odd times that you have to hustle to glam up for a date are that much easier….because you are often looking your best anyway!

Just before an event I had to go to…and yes, I ate the heck outta that pear!