Japanese Beauty Trends

Konnichiwa! Alas I am no longer in Japan, wandering amidst the beautiful sakura (cherry blossoms) and soaking up the culture, history, and food (ohhh yes, the food). But seeing as "konnichiwa" is one of about three words I learned on my trip, I figured it would serve as the best introduction to this post. 

How do I describe Japan? Simply put, it is an amazing and gorgeous country, and my trip couldn't have been better. (And I lost my iPhone on Day 1, so that's saying a lot.) And while I could go on for days about all the ancient shrines we visited and the delicious sushi and tempura we ate, this post isn't about any of that. Instead, since this is a fashion and beauty blog, this post is about all the unbelievable Japanese makeup and skincare products I bought! 

And this doesn't include the skincare...From left: DHC liquid eyeliner, RMK dual lash mascara, DHC Super Long Lash mascara, SUGAO Air Fit CC Cream, ShiSeido Sheer and Perfect Foundation, Excel Brow Pencil, RiPi False Eyelashes, RMK dual shadow stick, BabyPink Lip Tint in Pink, DHC Moisture Lip Lipstick

And this doesn't include the skincare...From left: DHC liquid eyeliner, RMK dual lash mascara, DHC Super Long Lash mascara, SUGAO Air Fit CC Cream, ShiSeido Sheer and Perfect Foundation, Excel Brow Pencil, RiPi False Eyelashes, RMK dual shadow stick, BabyPink Lip Tint in Pink, DHC Moisture Lip Lipstick

DHC Bio Cellulose Mask, ShiSeido Ultime Power Infusing Concentrate, ShiSeido Benefiance Night Emulsion, DHC Eye Bright

DHC Bio Cellulose Mask, ShiSeido Ultime Power Infusing Concentrate, ShiSeido Benefiance Night Emulsion, DHC Eye Bright

If you aren't a beauty aficionado like me, you may not know that the majority of makeup and beauty trends - especially when it comes to skincare - originate in the East before they make their way to us Western-dwelling folk. That's right - BB creams, CC creams, cushion and liquid foundations, hyaluronic acid face lotions, and the endless supply of beauty serums I can't get enough of - all come from the Asian beauty market first. And when you buy them in Asia, they cost much less than what's charged if you buy them, say, at Selfridges. So you can imagine my delight when I finally got the chance to shop to my heart's content in Tokyo's Shibuya and Harajuku districts - some of the best places for Asian fashion and make-up. 

My delight. Sheer joy and unadulterated bliss. And a little shock. 

My delight. Sheer joy and unadulterated bliss. And a little shock. 

Like a kid in a candy store

Like a kid in a candy store

Since I ended up with way too many products to describe in great detail without boring you to tears, I've prepared a synopsis below of each product, and included a link to where you can buy it online (for those that are available). This post feels a bit self-indulgent really, but I hope you'll find a few here and there that will be worth a try and maybe you'll even come to love them as much as I do! And if there are any major beauty buys that I missed while in Japan, please let me know in the comments so I can scour the Internet immediately. 

FROM LEFT:

  • DHC Liquid Eyeliner EX - Perfect Pro Makeup: My go-to liquid eyeliner for years has always been by Lorac, until now. This one by DHC is just as fluid and gives just as beautifully precise a line as the Lorac one, but at half the cost (when in Japan that is, though it is still less expensive if bought in the States or UK as well). Further, it has a really secure cap so there is no chance of it drying out. 
  • RMK Dual Lash W Color Mascara: Admittedly this was a bit of a splurge, but who doesn't need color mascara for spring?! I've tried many colored mascaras before, but was convinced by this one because of its dual-purpose: a dark, charcoal grey on one side is perfect for every-day wear, while the bright mustard yellow on the other end is just plain fun. I actually tried this look out for Easter Sunday Roast, coating the tops of my lashes with the charcoal and using the yellow on just my bottom lashes. It's quite a cool effect - take a look at the photos below and let me know what you think! This product also comes in a variety of colorways. 

 

  • DHC Super Long Mascara EX: The link to this product is actually DHC's standard mascara, I'm not sure why but I couldn't find this exact one available online. It is very similar to the standard product however and different from Western mascaras in that the formulation of the mascara creates little individual tubes around each lash, ensuring very long and well separated lashes that don't ever clump. Usually one can achieve this with waterproof mascara, but the best part about DHC's is that while it won't budge all day - it isn't waterproof and comes off very easily with facial cleanser and water. No more tugging and rubbing at your eyes!
  • SUGAO Air Fit CC Cream: This product is brand new to me. I'd never heard of the brand SUGAO before, and while this is my first product of theirs to try I can guarantee it won't be my last. This CC (color-correcting) cream has an SPF of 23 and comes in two shades, but the most impressive thing about it is the texture. It's a little bit like those Maybelline cream concealers, except even lighter. I'm not kidding - it feels like absolutely nothing on your skin. But it looks amazing! It gives a very sheer coverage, so if you are used to wearing a heavier foundation then make sure to conceal properly. Otherwise this CC cream is a dream for day to day use - especially in the upcoming hot summer months. If there was one product out of all of my collection I urge you to try, it's this one!
  • ShiSeido Sheer and Perfect Foundation: Shiseido is a popular Japanese brand and most of their products can be found fairly easily in Western department stores. I don't know why but I hadn't ever given their makeup a try even though I live for the skincare samples Sephora hands out like candy. But since they do such an incredible job with skincare, it makes sense that their foundations would be excellent too. This one definitely gives more coverage than the CC cream by SUGAO, but is still very lightweight on the spectrum of liquid foundations and can be layered quite easily to build up if need be. The finish is glowy but not dewy - it is very natural and would suit dry and normal skin complexions. I would not recommend it for oily skins, unless you are prepared to use a powder afterwards (and likely carry a powder around with you for touch ups). 
  •  RiPi False Lashes Set: I haven't had a chance to use these babies yet, as I usually only wear false lashes for more formal events. However I bought these mainly because they were such a good deal - 5 sets for less than $10! Usually one set from Eyelure at Boots is $6 - outrageous when you think about it, really. I'll have more to say about this product once I've used them - but from what I can tell they look and feel like very natural lashes - not too thick or long, and a good overall shape. 
  • Excel Brow Pencil: This brow pencil is actually a three-in-one deal, which I love for its convenience and portability. On one end is a retractable brow pencil, and just below that is a little screw-cap that untwists to reveal a tiny applicator and brow powder! On the other end of the stick is a brush, which is great for grooming those pesky hairs in place. I've tried this pencil out a few times already and love the natural finish it gives me - it is not nearly as dark as the powder I usually use and I think it's a nice change for summer not to have harsh or such well-defined brows. 
  • RMK Dual Crayon and Powder Eyes: Another dual-product from RMK, this stick is a combo gel eye pencil and powder set in a gorgeous silver-pewter-grey color. They come in a variety of amazing shades so I hope to add more to my collection soon! The nice thing about this product is again, it is very versatile and portable. You could use just the eyeliner end to line your eyes after using a matte grey as a base, or you could color in your whole lid with the liner and then use the powder applicator on the other side of the wand to blend everything in. 
  • BabyPink Lip Tint*: This lip tint does just what the tube says. Its doe-foot applicator swipes on the color in a dye-like texture, creating the effect of having just eaten some very flavorful berries. It definitely tints your lips for the night, too - and works way harder, faster, and stronger than the Benetint products by Benefit, which I find you need to constantly reapply. Just make sure to apply a lip balm or clear gloss over the top, as the tint can be a bit drying on the lips. *I can't find this product online anywhere! Let me know in the comments if you've found a place to buy online.
  • DHC Moisture Care Lipstick in Sweat Pea: I normally don't wear lipsticks because I think they're too drying / stain my lips weird / I can't ever get the product to go on straight, but this one by DHC is different. It's almost like a balm, it's so moisturizing, and leaves a really nice finish so it looks more like a gloss than a lipstick. I also really love the color, a browny-pink shade that would suit lots of skin-tones. 

Before I go on to the skincare products, here are a few shots of me wearing most of the products described above. Note the yellow mascara!

Japanese-style photo. This isn't racist, we were encouraged to do it on the trek, Plus I think a Japanese singer made this specific pose famous in Asia. 

Japanese-style photo. This isn't racist, we were encouraged to do it on the trek, Plus I think a Japanese singer made this specific pose famous in Asia. 

Now, for skincare. Don't worry, there are only four products! Two by Shiseido and two by DHC. 

  • DHC Bio Cellulose Mask & Eye Bright Serum: Both of these products are amazing. I am a huge fan of the SKII facial masks but they are SO expensive, so when I read that DHC makes a similar one for more than half the price I thought it was too good to pass up! A rejuvenating mask made with coconut milk, this product is amazing for prepping the skin after a late night out, or after a long day of travel (like say, after flying back to London from Japan). The Eye Bright serum is also an equally good product, and I apply it morning and night with my face lotion to help reduce puffiness and dark circles under my eyes. 
  • Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate: This product has a serum-like texture, and is meant to restore both balance and moisture to the skin. Its ultimate goal is to create "resilient" skin by providing protection against external damaging aggressors like dry weather conditions, in order to create a more even and lively skin-tone. I've only been using it for three days so far so we will see how well it upholds these promises of beautiful skin, but I will say that the texture is beautiful and light and wears very well under makeup. 
  • Shiseido Benefiance W-Resist24 Night Emulsion: Benefiance is Shiseido's anti-aging skincare line. I know maybe it sounds a little crazy considering I'm 27 and all, but my philosophy on skincare is that you can never start too early to prevent signs of aging, so here I am using this lovely night cream. It is moisturizing for sure but definitely not in the heavy, over-fragranced Oil-of-Olay way - more in the smooth, you-will-wake-up-looking-gorgeous way. Which I obviously prefer. 

I hope you liked reading about my collection of newfound Japanese beauty and skincare products as much as I enjoyed writing about them! If you'd like to see a tutorial on how to use any of these products, please let me know in the comments below. And if you raced through this post to see if I'd feature any other highlights from my trip, lucky you! Below is a gallery for you to enjoy, just click through to see each one. :) (all photo cred goes to Michael Guido).

Makeup Favorites for S/S 2013

Flying into Miami last Wednesday was like coming out of a three month coma. After a winter consumed by work and school applications, nothing could seem quite as rejuvenating as laying on the beach with my mom and sister. It's amazing what a few days of sun can do for a girl! The first full day here was sunny but a bit too blustery to lay out, so after a delicious hotel brunch we took to the streets of South Beach to see what kind of damage we could inflict on our bank accounts. Of course I immediately spotted the two story ULTA and couldn't resist a peak inside. Having forgot to pack my cleanser I figured it was the perfect excuse to try some new samples - and I was not disappointed. Read on for a full review of the products I plan to incorporate into my beauty regimen as the warmer months approach.

1. Smashbox Camera Ready BB Cream I know BB creams have been having a moment for quite a while, but I never jumped on the wagon until now. Blame it on my resistance to try new skincare products when my current routine works so well (I am of the school that preaches you shouldn't fix it if it ain't broken), but the hot weather here got my feeling like I'd rather not slather on the moisturizer and foundation when one product would do the trick. I picked up a sample of the Smashbox BB cream in Light/Medium and after one use I'll say I'm never looking back - at least not while summer is around the corner. This product is seriously amazing, quadrupling as a primer, moisturizer, SPF, and lightweight foundation all wrapped up in a neat little travel-sized package. I apply a pea-sized amount to the tip of my finger and dab on all points of the face: cheeks, chin, nose, forehead, and then blend. The result is instant - a glowy, light, even coverage that blends seamlessly and hides any imperfections while letting my natural skin shine through. The finish is somewhat velvety meaning it would work well on all skin types - its not too shiny nor too matte. All in all a true winner.

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2. LORAC Tantalizer Body Bronzing Illuminator After months of hibernating under thick sweaters and corduroys, I can't pretend my skin was bikini ready for this beach weekend reprieve. But thanks to the scientists behind self-tanner, My fears of inadvertently blinding someone or offending the whole of Miami beach by my translucent pallor were assuaged. Apply this as you would a body lotion after showering for an instant bronzed effect, and people will think you've been yachting around the South of France all winter. But do be sure to wash your hands afterwards, lest you give away the secret!

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3. Benefit Boing & Lemonaid Combination Kit This season is all about flawless skin, but that doesn't mean you have to pile on a thousand products to achieve perfect skin. Half under-eye concealer, half blemish and spot corrector, this handy little compact packs a big punch, and for $12 it's a product not to be missed. I use the lighter more yellow-based concealer (aptly named "Lemon-aid") under my eyes to brighten and get rid of any dark shadows, and then mix with Boing's peachy tone to do pin-point concealing around my face to erase any spots my BB cream didn't cover.

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4. BECCA Beach Tint for Lips and Cheeks This product has actually been in my kit for a while, but I think it is the perfect compliment to the "keep it simple" summer makeup I'm looking forward to wearing in the coming months. Formulated in a cream, water-based consistency, Becca's Beach Tint is highly pigmented and leaves a lovely flush of color when applied to the skin. I start by rubbing a tiny amount over my lips with my ring finger, and then use what's left to tap onto the cheeks and blend. A little goes a long way with this so be sure not to overdo it! If you feel like you've got too much on, use your foundation brush over the beach tint to downplay the color until there's just a hint of rosy glow.

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5. Maybelline The Falsies Mascara in Blackest Black I love this mascara, and for days spent outside in the sun there is no need to apply anything else. The brush is curved slightly for an application that curls while it lengthens, and the formula glides on easily to thicken the lashes without clumping. A few coats of this product on the top and bottom lashes will instantly open the eyes and darken the lash line, giving you a wide-awake yet sultry summer finish that is as alluring as it is chic.

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6. Butter London Lips & Tips in Trout Pout There is something sophisticated about matching one's manicure to one's mouth, and Butter London's cheeky duo set makes it an impossible trend to resist. I raved about the colors offered in their Winter collection, and this spring is no different. Flirty and fun, I picked up a bright Barbie pink one that I am especially loving right now - but I have a sneaking suspicion I'll be adding more from this range to my collection soon.

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That about covers it for my Spring/Summer favorites right now - I hope it was useful! What products are you loving this season? Let me know in the comments!

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Me, sporting the goods described above

xx

How to Weather Winter in Style and Comfort

The holiday season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, yet Mother Nature seems to have missed the memo.  Rather than get up January 2nd and return to work like the rest of us, the b*&^% decided to hit snooze and go back to sleep - thus abandoning her responsibility to keep temperatures at a reasonable level and her duty to prevent the wind from ascending upon civilization at near mach speeds.  While I do so love Boston, every year around this time I ask myself why on earth I decided to move to a place that promises a "high of 30" in the same breath as "warm enough to sunbathe." Not only does cold weather make it sufficiently unpleasant to engage in any kind of outdoor activity, it can really take its toll on one's personal well being.  A lack of the sun's vitamin D leaves me with low energy and a sallow complexion while bitter temperatures and the threat of the flu make my eyes water and my nose run simultaneously (it's a really cute look).  The dry air does nothing for my hair and even less for my skin, and the sound of the wind outside my apartment almost, dare I say it? almost convinces me to sacrifice my acute fashion sense in favor of living in sweatpants.  But NO! I must have strength.  I must fight through the Below Zero Blues.  I won't let that lazy Mother Nature beat me.  And now neither will you.

After thorough analysis of the facts and heaps of R&D followed by years of experimentation, I have formulated the perfect cure-all ritual for winter woes.  So if you find yourself in a distressed state similar to the one described above, fear no more.  Follow the ten simple steps outlined in this blog and I can guarantee your energy and sunny disposition will be restored - just in time to emerge refreshed and revitalized for Spring!

Disclaimer: While I do whole-heartedly recommend setting aside a Saturday or Sunday to perform this ritual, I understand not everyone desires to give up weekend plans in favor of R&R.  Thus you may also pick and choose activities to do ad-hoc throughout the week.  

1. Take a hot shower.  (or bath, if you're a bath person).  

Showering has always been a bit of a therapeutic exercise for me, and when it is 11 degrees outside with a "feels like" temperature of -7 there is nothing quite as soothing as stepping into a hot shower and letting the steam do its job.  Really pamper yourself here - this is your time to relax and take stock of all the winter ailments that may have befallen you.  Suffering from dry hair that's lost its shine?  Invest in a conditioning treatment like this restorative mask from BabyLiss and wear it while you shave your legs. Feel as though your skin is looking a bit lackluster?  Try a gentle exfoliator such as the Daily Boost Body Scrub by This Works - it smells like a spa and will leave your skin feeling silky smooth.  Worried that the bitter temperatures and your lack of exercise is causing breakouts?  Recharge with a face mask - my absolute favorite is the Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask by Alpha-H, which uses lavender and honey to soothe skin and fast-acting glycolic acid to clarify and brighten (this whole skincare brand is actually amazing, I may do a full review on it at a later date).

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2. Don't skimp on towels.

The last thing you will want to do when getting out of this most indulgent shower is reach for a pilly, thin towel.  So don't!  Having luxuriously soft and fluffy towels is essential - it is the difference between feeling like you are staying at a 5-star hotel and bringing back memories of life in freshman dorms (remember shower sandals? Enough said).  And the best part is you don't have to shop at Frette to own good quality bath linens!  This weekend I went to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I purchased an adorable set of Kate Spade towels at $17 each, and better still online you can buy Diane von Furstenberg's linens for the clearance price of $5!!  Seriously don't wait - your skin (and wallet) will thank you.

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3. Moisturize. A lot. 

I cannot emphasize this enough.  It hardly matters what you use, Jergens is a great cost-effective choice while the more expensive brand Kiehl's offers a host of options for dry skin, but the point is you must moisturize early and often. Don't neglect your face either - as soon as I am out of the shower I reach for my trusted CeraVe - which has SPF 30 and comes highly recommended by my dermatologist (who may be 15 or 35, I cannot tell because her skin is that good).

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4. Put those fashionista instincts to good use and get cozy in cold weather wear without sacrificing your style. 

As cold as it may be, winter is no excuse for looking like you went shopping at your gym's lost and found.  Take advantage of the frigid temps and sport this season's most happening trends!  This year my wardrobe staples include thick knitted sweaters and a frightening collection of vests and scarves - almost exclusively of the fur variety.  You can find some of my faves hereherehere, and here.  Pair any of these with comfy leggings (opt for pleather if you're going out) and knee-high boots and bundling up has never looked better.  Plus these oversized sweaters easily conceal holiday weight gain, so yes you can have that cookie.

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5. Give yourself a mani/pedi.

Can't shake the thought that June is still 6 months away?  Throw yourself a spa session and revive that carefree summer attitude with a bit of "me" time.  To save $$$ but still reap the benefits of an indulgent afternoon, give yourself an at-home manicure and pedicure.  Who cares if your feet are in socks for the next two months?  You see them and that's what counts.  Instead of staying the course with traditional winter shades like burgundy and taupe, opt for an obnoxiously bright color to instantly energize those phalanges.  Better yet, be the trend-setter you're meant to be and try one of Essie's newly launched Sleek Sticks - I adore "so haute!"

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6. Fake it til you make it. 

Spring may not be around the corner just yet, but you can fool your reflection (and everyone else) into thinking you've come back from a winter's respite in Turks & Caicos by sunning up with a little fake tanner.  St. Tropez is my go-to for a flawless at-home tan, but if you aren't ready to commit to a full body product than try a cream bronzer to add a bit of summer's glow to those cheekbones.  Chanel makes a fabulous product called Soleil Tan de Chanel which I love, and Laura Mercier also has an excellent Bonne Mine palette which includes two blushers and two highlighters to boot.  While a powder bronzer will work fine, I swear by cream in the winter because it keeps my skin hydrated.

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7. Make Tea for Two. 

Winter can feel like a very isolating time.  The sun goes does long before you leave the office, and social events are harder to come by as no one is willing to go out during the week when they could be on the couch watching the Bachelor.  So instead of going out, invite a friend over to cuddle and pass judgment while watching the Bachelor with you.  My favorite beverage for this kind of self-indulgent activity is herbal tea, which I usually doctor with one Trulia (more natural than Splenda), a little honey, and a lemon wedge.  Served piping hot this treat will instantly soothe and calm.

8. Light a candle before you read this month's Vogue (or this blog!)

Candles are the number one most overlooked product when it comes to kicking winter woes aside.  This weekend while buying stationary at Papyrus I stumbled upon the most gorgeous smelling candle, a coconut-milk mango scent that took me all the way back to my home and tucked me tightly in bed with just one whiff.  It was seriously intoxicating so I bought it on the spot and have been burning it after work to relax every day since.  While I do not recommend lighting candles immediately before bedtime (better to avoid burning the house down), I highly encourage incorporating candles into your daily (or weekly) relaxation regimen.

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9. DRINK WATER. 

You have no idea how much this helps.  Try for 60-70 ounces every day and believe me you will feel a difference almost instantly.  Water not only keeps your skin and body hydrated, it also helps to regulate your metabolism so those 2:00 pm hunger pains crying out for a bag of Doritos are kept at bay.  Drinking enough water also replenishes your energy, which is especially critical during the winter as there is hardly any opportunity to absorb vitamin D from the sun.  Don't neglect this simple rule!

10. Plan a trip. 

It doesn't have to be a month-long vacation to Hawaii (though I'm jealous if it is), but planning a trip or fun activity is a great way to keep motivated and looking to the future.  After throwing my boyfriend the surprise party of his life last weekend with about 20 of his closest friends and family, I suffered major post-party depression.  Not about to let winter to get the best of me, I committed to this ritual and then decided to book a weekend trip to Montreal in February!  (Look, it wouldn't have been to Canada if my bf worked anywhere else, but in Montreal's defense they do speak French).  Just having this exciting trip to look forward to has made a big difference - I feel more energized and focused to make it through the next few weeks so I can really enjoy mes petites vacances. 

That's it!  I suppose in the end none of these rules are particularly revolutionary, but executed together they WILL make a difference in your personal well-being.  So try it out and let me know what you think.  And if there's anything I've forgotten that helps you stay ahead of the winter woes, leave me a comment to let me know so I can try it, too!