L-R: Pore Refining Mask, Garden Tomato Toner
I am a fan of Burt's Bees lip balm for years now. I keep it in my purse all the time. I wear it when I sleep, and I swear I wake up with moisturized lips. However, I haven't really had a chance to try their skincare line (I am a Murad user).  While browsing drugstore.com, these two products caught my attention- Pore Refining Mask and Garden Tomato Toner for oily skin. After reading some product information, I decided to purchase them. (by the way, drugstore.com or its beauty affiliate, beauty.com offers free shipping for $25 purchase. They don't arrive fast, but the items are nicely packed and protected).

At more than half the price of a- 6 Fl. oz Murad Clarifying Toner, this 8- Fl. oz Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner claims to control surface shine and remove dead skin cells. It is made with tomato, cucumber and parsley extracts.  Sounds delicious! Seriously, I am drawn to try products that are made from natural ingredients. The bottle is made of glass (so be careful handling it) with a red cap to differentiate it from  its other product lines. The scent is refreshing- reminiscent of a tiny herb garden (and so I thought). Not overwhelming. With a piece of cotton, I applied it like a regular toner, avoiding the eye area. So soothing, it makes me wanna snooze again. After two hours, my skin is still oil-free. Five hours, still no shine. Hmm, I'm loving this. Eight hours- Not much shine. Okay I'm sold. It indeed controlled surface shine. And to top it all, I didn't break out after a week of regular use.

Burt's Bees Pore Refining Mask, or the Green Goddess Clay Mask, as written in its packaging box, is made with a combination of french clay and mostly natural herb extracts. It claims to cleanse pores and draw out skin's impurities. It comes in a 28 g- bottle jar. It is made of powder (yes), and the application is a little tricky. Following the directions, mix 1 tablespoon ( I did 1 teaspoon, that's enough for my small face) with a few drops of water, just right to create a thin paste. The mixture will turn to greenish-gray. Apply onto your face like a mask, avoiding the eye are. Leave it on for ten minutes. As the solution dries up, my skin slowly tightens up (much like the same feeling of having a  mask done in a spa). After washing it off with warm water, I noticed that my pores shrunk a bit. I like how it feels- sort of a matte finished after. This is going to be a keeper.

Now on to my Kissmark analysis:

Burt's Bees Garden Tomato Toner

Burt's Bees Pore Refining Mask

Disclaimer: As in my previous post, please note that my skin type is different from yours. What worked for me might not for you and vice versa. This review is based from my personal experience. I will not be liable if you achieved a less than desirable effect or if you experience breakouts. For severe skin or acne issues, please see a dermatologist. Always read the label to check if you have allergies. You might want to do a patch test before using.

I'm no scrooge, but my favorite time of the year is a week or two after Christmas. At least for shopping. You find the best deals both online and in-stores. Case in point- a $2 cream bath from The Body Shop which is originally priced $20.  Or the exclusive online promotion of Sephora- additional 20% off in all Sale Items. Or the 2-day sale from Best Buy (Dec 26- Dec 27) with its drop down prices of electronics such as the Samsung LCD TV and Blu-ray package deal- almost $900 off retail price. Now if you have some serious cash (or good credit) left from Christmas, now is the time to do some more shopping. 

Ready to rub elbows with the shoppers? Sweat it out in the mall. Tied up with work? then do it online. Here are some of the best beauty deals post- Christmas:

  • 60% off The Body Shop. I found makeup brush case, cosmetic cases, skincare, mini-butter sold at $1 in-store. 
  • Additional 20% off sale items from Sephora. Online only.
  • Up to 50% off L' Occitane. I found 3 for $12 treasures in-store. Online offers free shipping for $40  worth of purchase
  • Up to 75% off Bath and Body Works
  • Buy 2, get 2 free from Ulta Collection
  • Extra 15% off + Free shipping from Macy's
  • Up to 60% off online and in-store from Neiman Marcus
  • Free shipping on any order + free jumbo sample from Smashbox
  • Up to 75% off from Stila Cosmetics
So what are you waiting for beauties? Stock up now and look fab everyday.

In two weeks, we are welcoming 2011. Such perfect timing to review contents of our dresser and /or closet. Rummaging through piles of makeups and other what-have-yous we have stashed, which ones do we keep or throw? Oh, I just love this YSL lipstick I got from my mom two years ago. And this Urban decay eye shadow pallette I got last year. And this mascara my friend gave me as birthday present. And so on. I just love them all I couldn't depart from them. If you have separation anxiety  with makeups like me, you're not alone. 

But think again. As in food and medicines, even makeups have a  shelf life. It's made for a reason. Frequent use exposes your makeup to bacteria. They multiply more when you share them with your girlfriends (of course! I consider makeups like personal property. You don't share toothbrush even with your hubby). Some makeup artists have a way to disinfect them which I will gladly share in a separate blog.

In general, anything that smells funky and looks moldy should be thrown away. No- brainer. Here's when you should keep or toss:
  • Lipstick: Two years. Experts suggest storing them in fridge to make them last even longer. 
  • Foundation: Water based foundation last for a year. Oil-based for two years.
  • Mascara: Four months. Throw after that. The countdown begins as soon as you open the packaging.
  • Eyeliner: Two years. Sharpen regularly.
  • Blush, Eyeshadow, Powder: Two years
  • Concealer: One year
  • Brush: Wash twice or once a month with mild detergent or shampoo. Throw when bristles start to fall. The secret to makeup application is a good blending brush.
  • Sponge: Wash weekly and throw monthly. Use disposable instead.
Like I said, this is just a guide. There is no hard and fast rule. Since mascaras have the shortest life span, I just buy drugstore brands like L'Oreal, Maybelline, Almay, and Revlon. I invest more on foundation because I need a good lasting coverage without clogging my pores. I wash my brushes weekly. I start with a clean canvass by washing my face, toning and priming it. So there you go ladies!

Look fab today. Old and expired makeup ain't fab!

I mentioned in my previous post the importance of applying eye primer prior to eye shadowing. As a review, eye primer does the following functions:
  • Makes eye shadows vibrant and stand out
  • Makes eye shadows last, eliminating frequent touch-ups
  • Prevents creasing and smudging
There are plenty of eye primers sold in the market today. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, a favorite among makeup afficionados, retails at $18.00. Quite pricey but it does make the eye shadow last. A cheaper alternative, E.L.F Mineral Eye Primer, about $3, performs just the same (in my opinion).

However, making your own eye primer is not as difficult as you think it is. In fact, you may already own these supplies. Do you have a liquid foundation? What about an eye cream? Now, take those two out from your dresser and let's begin the concoction:
  • Using the back of your palm as your pallette, drop a small amount of your liquid foundation
  • Scoop or drop a small amount of eye cream into the liquid foundation. I don't recommend using other cream other than the one that says EYE cream. A body or hand cream may contain ingredients that can irritate your peepers.
  • Mix together with a cotton tip or finger
  • Apply to your entire eyelid. Let it dry before applying eye shadow.

For this D.I.Y, I used Revlon Photo Ready and Stila Calming Eye Cream

Can you tell the difference between a branded eye primer and D.I.Y?

L-R: The 1st arrow has no eye primer. Notice how the stroke faded downwards? I needed to apply 3x before the color showed. The second arrow has an eye primer. I used Benefit Stay don't stray. Pretty good product I must say. The 3rd arrow is the Do-It-Yourself eye primer. It lasted pretty long as well. It may not be as vibrant as the branded one but practical enough for daily use.

Wearing my own DIY Eye Primer

Look fab today. Add eye primer to your routine. Let your eyes speak.

Winter months. Snow. Tory Burch winter coat. Fireplace. Hot chocolate. Wow.
Dry, flaky skin. Eew!

Lately, my friends have been posting how cold it is on their side of the planet. As of this writing, it's 28.0 °F in Aspen, Colorado; 12.0 °F in Strasburg, North Dakota; 16.0 °F in Winnipeg, Canada; 21.0 °F in Liverpool, UK; Outside my crib, it's 76.0 °F and yet I am already feeling cold and restless. Boy, I think I'd freeze  and die in snow.

The winter months can be harsh to skin. Beat unsightly flaky skin by using hypoallergenic products. But which is better to use at this time of the year, body cream or lotion?  

Both cream and lotion act to provide moisture to the skin. They work best when applied after shower or when the skin is damp. Applying either cream or lotion after a warm shower locks the moisture in because the pores are open. Apply liberally all over body or in dry areas that need extra moisture except the face. It's time to know the difference:
  • Cream is 50% oil, 50% water. It is a lot thicker in consistency compared to lotion. Cream is ideally good to moisturize dry skin during the winter months. 
  • Lotion is normally 80% water. It is lighter in consistency and is absorbed immediately into the skin after application. Because most lotions have a cooling effect, they are best for the summer months. 
Check the label of your cream or lotion before heading to the counter. It has to be hypoallergenic and free from alcohol and perfume. Consult a trusted dermatologist for serious skin conditions or if you notice severe redness, flaking or scaling, open sores, and chronic itching.

In no particular order, here are my favorite over-the-counter body cream and lotion.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream is dermatologist-tested and has a non-greasy formulation. I use it alternately with Cetaphil Moisturizing lotion. Both are hypoallergenic and non-comedogenic. Very ideal for sensitive skin. 

L'Occitane Mom and Baby Body Lotion is a good product to try. If it's gentle enough for the most sensitive skin of the baby, then it's good enough for you. Plus, as the label says, Mom and Baby- Isn't that a great deal? Talk about savings.

                              She wants to prove that it's really cold out here- my dog Winkie

Look Fab Today. Reveal smooth skin. Moisturize.

Cetaphil images from here
L' Occitane images from here

In my early 20s, I was way too experimental (& wild) with my hair color and style. Pixie cut, bob, almost-blonde hair, lowlights, higlights, I tried them all. I think I got this hair obsession from my mom who is never contented with her own mane.  Six years ago, I finally decided to grow my hair long. To channel a more lady-like appeal. Maybe.

At 36 years young (yay!), I don't deny that there's a little bit of gray hair here and there. And with hair past my waistline, just imagine how expensive it can be to have regular salon visits.  Thanks to Do-It-Yourself hair color products, I can do simple root touch-ups myself.

I grew tired of my light brown hair color. That has been my signature look for eons. Now I want to go dark. Black is too harsh. Ash is out. Too many choices. Migraine.

Last week, I bought this hair color from Target. Upon the recommendation of a good friend, I chose Clairol this time. I settled for 117D or Natural Medium Cool Brown.

Will my hair color come out like this?

                         My old hair color. I am talking about mine, not my dog :-)

My hair has natural waves. Sometimes it has a mind of its own
necklace: http://www.kakalinasaccesories.artfire.com/

I colored my hair following the package instructions, plus some tricks I learned from my hairstylist before. The product label is Nice n Easy. So was it easy? Yes. Was it nice? Yes.  I'll tell you why:
  • Easy application. The bottles and tube are numbered so you know which to mix and/or use before and after. It's dummy-proof because there are illustrations too.
  • Nice product. Unlike other hair colors which have that overwhelming scent, I'd say this brand doesn't have the annoying smell. My scalp wasn't itchy during the application process. I didn't experience flaky scalp compared to the last brand I used. And yes, it has full coverage of the obnoxious gray hair.
Overall rating : 

....And now for the new look

Up close. I went dark.

Look fab today. Hair is a woman's crowning glory.

** With hair this long, how do I take care of it? Watch out for my next blog for tips.

Watch my updated hair care here:

Before I discovered the wonders of primer, my to-go cosmetic bag would pass for a makeup closet. Eyeshadows, pressed powder, mascara, lipsticks, face mist, etc. Just a load of cosmetic weaponry ready to stage a beauty war. 

You have probably heard or read about primer. Face, eye, lips. Whether you are new to makeup or not, primer is like a manna from heaven. It spares you from constant re-touching. It preps and brightens your skin. And yes, it downsizes your cosmetic bag. At least for me.

A primer (face, eyes, lips) works like a paint primer. You prime your walls before painting to even out texture and make the color last long. But is it really necessary to apply primer and add it to your makeup routine? If you're the type who don't want to hassle with touch-ups other than the blotting paper, then yes I'd say go and get one.  Application is easy. After applying moisturizer, dab a pea-sized primer onto your face, concentrating on the T-zone, cheeks and chin. Slowly massage in a circular motion so it sits in your skin. Follow with liquid or powder foundation. Eye primer brings out the vibrant colors of your eye shadow. It prevents creasing of eyeshadow and controls smudging of eyeliner and mascara. Dab a small amount of eye primer in your entire lid before applying eyeshadow or lining your eyes. 

Here are my favorite face and eye primers:

Face Primer
I like Laura Mercier oil-free foundation. It is lightweight and because it is oil-free, it is ideal for my skin type. ELF Studio Mineral Primer is a recent favorite. In my previous post, I mentioned that ELF offers quality makeup brands sans the high tag. Smashbox has a blend of antioxidants and vitamins that nourish the skin while providing a flawless canvass for foundation. 

Eye Primer

I'm into smoky eyes lately, and I swear my eye makeup lasted for hours (more than 8 hours to be exact). Kat Von D High Voltage Eye Primer  is lightweight and non-greasy.The packaging reminds me of its tattoo-laden creator, Kat Von D herself. Urban Decay Primer Potion  remains to be the favorite of makeup artists. Made with silicone, it delivers smooth application. Elf Mineral Eye Shadow Primer is made with 100% minerals. It glides easily and makes mineral-based eye shadow stand out.

No touch-ups for hours! One-time application, that's it.

The complete makeup list for this look:
Moisturizer- Body Shop with Vitamin C
Pore Minimizer- Clinique
Face and Eye Primer- ELF
Foundation: Revlon Photo Ready
Cream Eye shadow: Too Faced 
Shimmer eye shadow: Coastal scents
Liquid eye liner: L'Oreal
Mascara: Sephora
Blush/Bronzer: Pixie
Lipstick and lip gloss: Estee Lauder
Mineral veil: Bare Escentuals
*** I don't normally wear fake eyelashes***

Look fab today. Prime your face.  Because a fabulous face shouldn't smear.

Take care of your precious peeper or end up looking like a creeper.

Seriously, the eyes are the most fragile part of the face. The skin underneath the eyes is thin and doesn't produce oil that's why it is prone to fine lines and wrinkles. It also tends to sag as age advances. Eye bags, puffiness,  and dark circles are some the most common eye concerns of women. Myself included. 

With so many eye creams, treatments and other what-have-yous being sold in the market today, how do you choose the best product? Let's begin with the basics by understanding these terms:
  • Anti-wrinkle eye products are made to moisturize the delicate part of the eye. They also help in the production of  collagen which is essential in preventing wrinkles
  • Eye gel relieves puffiness and best applied in the morning
  • Eye cream works best for dry skin. Since the eye area lacks oil glands, it tends to develop wrinkles faster than the other part of the face
  • Crow's feet  are the first wrinkles to appear in anyone's face. It is usually caused by sun exposure. Too much sun exposure without protection and smoking contribute to crow's feet.
After applying moisturizer onto your face, dab a pea size of eye cream under the eye area, starting from the bottom, moving outward. Lightly massage onto the side of eyes where wrinkles or crow's feet are most likely present. Continue over the lid area. Remember, eye cream is not meant to solve wrinkles overnight so make it part of your regular beauty regimen.

In no particular order, here are my favorite eye treatments:

    Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Eye Cream is made with a combination of plant extracts that help nourish the under eye area, prevent wrinkles, and improve elasticity. It is mildly scented and ophthalmologist-tested. Murad Renewing Eye Cream reduces puffiness, crow's feet and dark circles. It is made with natural emollients which provides moisture. Olay's Anti-wrinkle eye cream contains Vitamins B and E plus pro-retinol which help reduce wrinkles while replenishing the skin with nutrients.

    As in my previous posts, take time to read the label and choose which best suits you.

    Because your eyes deserve to look fabulous. Always.

    UVA, UVB, SPF in your sunscreen.You have heard of them but knew nothing much about the terms. You're not alone.  Based on a survey, most consumers are still confused with the sunscreen jargon.

    UVA or Ultraviolet- A  is less likely to cause sunburn than UVB but it penetrates the skin more deeply. It is the culprit to wrinkles, leathery skin and sun spots.  UVB or Ultraviolet-B is responsible for tanning your skin. It is the main cause of skin cancer. Both UVA and UVB penetrate through windows, car shields,  and clothing. They are omnipresent even if the weather is cloudy.

    SPF or Sun Protection Factor measures the length of time a product protects the skin against UVB's reddening effect versus the length of time the skin reddens without protection. Simply put, if your skin reddens after 15 minutes of  sun exposure without protection, applying sunscreen with SPF 20 will protect you 20 times longer which is equivalent to five hours. The higher the SPF number, the longer you are protected. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends at least SPF 15 which blocks up to 93% of  UVB. However, it is a must to reapply sunscreen every two hours to sustain the SPF.  It also helps if you avoid sun exposure between 10am- 4pm when UVB rays are abundant.

    There are plenty of products sold in the market that have UVA, UVB and SPF. Take time to read the label, test if you must and choose which best suits you. My top 3 favorites are:
    Clinique Super City Block Oil-Free Daily Face Protector has SPF 40 and protects against the harmful UVA and UVB rays. It suits all skin types. Use alone or as base for makeup.

    I also like Body Shop's Vitamin C Moisturizer SPF 15. It's like hitting two birds in one stone. Vitamin C is known to enhance and improve skin's elasticity, giving you that radiant glow. It also protects against UVA and UVB rays.

    MAC Select SPF 15 is another favorite. It is a foundation and sunscreen in one (talk about savings!). It provides medium coverage, is water-based (ideal for oily and sensitive skin), and has SPF 15. It lasts pretty long so you don't need touch-ups.

    Discover the world of sunscreen. Fight wrinkles and prevent skin cancer. 

    Whether you are new to makeup or not, these items are essential to looking fab everyday. Honestly, you don't need to hoard especially if you're just starting to learn the basics of makeup. As to which brands, there are a lot of affordable yet high quality makeups sold in drugstores and major retail chains. Take time to read the label and test the color. Stick to the neutrals if you are intimidated by bright colors. As the adage goes, the simpler, the better. Now let me help you how to rock that fab look in under five minutes, using my Magic 6.
    Top: Lip gloss (L'Oreal from Walgreens), Mascara (Clinique from Macy's)
     L-R: Black eyeliner (Sephora), Eyesdahow (Revlon from CVS), Blush (Neutrogena from Target), Eyelash Curler  (Shu Uemura from Sephora)

    If you're the type who doesn't like foundation or face powder, then skip it. But never go out in the sun without wearing suncreen. Your skin will thank you for that.

    1. Apply the eyeshadow of your choice. Apply the base (lighter color) to lid area.  Then apply a slightly darker color to the crease.
    2. Line your upper lids with black eyeliner, staying as close to the lash line as possible. This creates an illusion of thicker eyelashes. You may line your lower lids to build a more dramatic effect.
    3. Curl your eyelash. Hold the curler in between your lashes for about 15 seconds. Release.
    4. Apply mascara. 2-3 coats will instantly volumize your lashes.
    5. Apply blush-on. Smile so you can see where the "apple" of your cheek is.
    6. Apply lip gloss or lipstick.

    Look Fab Today. You Deserve It!

    A fab woman owns at least one LBD in her closet. A Little Black Dress. Dressed down or up, you never go wrong with it. Wear it with pumps on a date or flats on casual days, you are instantly transformed into an ethereal glamazon.

    Now add RL to your cosmetic armament then you are a bombshell. Red Lipstick. Think the buxom Marlyn Monroe or the boheme Taylor Swift who rocked sexy red lips. Red lipstick suits any skintone. Don't be intimidated to wear one. The trick is to keep the rest of your makeup simple so you don't end up looking like a drag queen.

    Okay, so here's my own take for the holiday look. I recently hauled some E.L.F. makeups and quickly tried on the most affordable eye shadow pallette I purchased ever. Valued at $10, and with 100 shades to choose from, how can you go wrong? I have to admit, I equate cheap products with poor quality. But that was before I discovered the land of the fabulous ELF.

    E.L.F is short for Eyes, Lips, Face. E.L.F. offers quality makeups without leaving a serious dent in your pocket. Their mineral line collection of powder foundation, lip gloss, lipsticks, bronzers, among others run from $5.00. They even have eyeliners and lipsticks at $1. Unbelievably crazy! Now I know why there's so much rave about this brand. Despite the ailing economy, there is simply no reason not to look fabulous.  You can spot E.L.F in some retail chains but to get the complete makeup collection, your best source is their online store. They run regular promotions like huge discount or free shipping so check out often.

    This look I created is both smoky and sparkling. I made it a little bit subdued so you can wear it even  at daytime. You can pack on darker shades and put more glitter if you are partying later. The key to your eye shadows' staying power and brilliant color lies in the eye primer. Dab a little around the eye area and below the waterline for maximum effect (I used Kat Von D High Voltage Eye Primer). I lined my eyes with black khol eye pencil ( I used Sephora eyeliner). Then I applied a bronze shade  eyeshadow up to the crease area as base color. Starting from the outer eye corner, I blended a plum shade going inward ( There is a trick in using different eye brushes,  I will discuss them in a separate blog). After that, I used a darker brown shade to lightly line the crease area. With the same shade, I used an angled small brush to line my lower eye, just below the waterline. I then used a light golden shimmer to define my eyebrow and inner eye corner. I lined my eyes (again) with  a liquid eyeliner to somewhat intensify the look. I curled my upper eyelashes (I used Shu Uemura eyelash curler). Finally, I applied 3 coats of mascara to my upper and lower lashes (I used Clinique High Definition Lashes Brush and Comb). You have the option to wear fake eyelashes (I usually don't because I have natural long lashes). Here's the complete makeup list for this look:
    Face Primer and Foundation: Laura Mercier
    Clinique Pore Minimizer
    Mineral veil: BareEscentuals
    Bronzer: Pixi
    Blush: Kryolan
    Lipstick: Estee Lauder
    Lip gloss: Sephora

    " There is no excuse not to look good. Look good, feel good"- Kakalina

    I mentioned in my previous blog that I do have oily skin- so that makes me prone to acne and visible pores.  But the good side of having this skin type is that we delay the development of wrinkles and fine lines compared to those with dry or normal skin. (So what would you rather have?)

    Oily skin is caused by a myriad of factors. Genetics, hormones, diet, stress, age, among others. I am always in search of the perfect product that won't aggravate or trigger breakouts. This is addressed by using water-based and non-comedogenic products which are sold practically everywhere now (Be sure to read the label!). For the unsightly and visible pores, I turn to Clinique Pore Minimizer and recently, Benefit Porefessional. These little known secrets complete my strategy in creating that flawless canvass.

    Depending whether you are using  a moisturizer, sunscreen or primer, dab a pea- size of Clinique Pore Minimizer in areas you want to de-shine or diminish pores (i.e T-zone). You can use it over makeup but I usually apply it after moisturizing my face or before putting on makeup. It is matte-finished and it stays all day. A recent favorite, Benefit Porefessional works just the same only that it has a silky balm texture to it. I once tried it over make-up, it looked okay but still, I prefer using my old routine. Both come in small tubes but they last pretty long. What pore? No more!

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