I’m Peeling!

Well, actually, I’m shedding. Which leads to the necessity of an at-home peel. Whenever I’m giving myself different skincare routines or treating skin problems, or even when the weather changes (as it is now, from winter to spring), my skin starts to look like a snake that’s shedding off its scales–not a pretty picture. I’m not trying to scare everyone in my office and lose my job! Therefore, I must get rid of these scales dead layers with a quickness. I ain’t got time for nature! Thank the skin gods for this Korean gel peel called IPKN Pore Essence Peeling Gel, that I came across while at my Chinese spa (why they don’t have Chinese products is a puzzlement to me, but I won’t analyze it–I love Korean beauty products).

Previously, I used a different peel that required me scrubbing my face till it was practically numb (click here to read), but I loved it because it worked. Now I don’t have to use my skincare routine to grow my biceps, so I’m a happy woman for this added bonus. I work out enough as it is. The IPKN gel is affordable, easy to use, smells nice, and it neither irritates the skin nor does it make you irritate/agitate it. One pump of this magic works like a pencil eraser on those scales. It literally makes them roll off like balls of gunk. Don’t believe, just watch!

I hope you saw the “skin balls” that I tried to show in the clip–I moved the camera too quickly. The peel took off the entire layer of dead skin that was just sitting on my face like a mask. I’ve been using IPKN for a couple of months to make sure my initial infatuation with the product didn’t wane. Nope! I’m still loving it and using it regularly. Until I find something that can top this, it’ll stay in my medicine cabinet.

So for now, deuces!
The Vickylicious

Ancient Aztec Secret

On rainy nights, I either turn my little apartment into a spa or a private theater. Last night after an amazing workout that made me sweat like crazy and had my pores open like sinkholes, I chose the former. Not only have I been excited about the addition of my new Clarisonic Mia 2 face brush to my skincare routine, I’ve been loving the new products I bought a while back for my weekly facials. Incorporating these lovely machines and concoctions to my daily and weekly regimens has done wonders to my skin and I’m eager to share them with you.

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After cleansing with the Clarisonic Mia 2 and face wash, I towel-blot my skin and apply a thin layer of Reviva Labs’ Non-Chemical Light Skin Peel (bought from ulta.com). Following the directions, I wait 3-5 minutes before rubbing my face so that the peel starts rolling off under my fingers—much like dried glue (I know I can’t be the only one who played with glue as a child, peeling and rubbing it off like dead skin…c’mon!). After all of it has rolled off, I rinse and towel-blot my skin again. The dead skin has been sloughed off to reveal the clearer, brighter layer of skin underneath. Now my face is prepped and primed for my clay mask.

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I’ve been loving Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay lately (bought from amazon.com), religiously using it every week with great results. In a non-metal mixing bowl, I scoop the bentonite clay powder and the same amount of organic apple cider vinegar (as the directions state: equal parts of each). After mixing them together, I immediately spread it over my face like thick cake batter while my skin is still moist and receptive. As the mask dries, it starts to tingle when it tightens on the skin, so much so that you might be alarmed your first time trying this. Have no fear; that just means the clay is detoxing your skin while drying. I leave it on as long as I can stand it—roughly 20 minutes—then rinse it off with a wet cloth and warm water. After I’m finished, my skin is always blotchy and red for a few minutes, which is common among must users of this powerful clay, but again, have no fear: it will go away and your skin will be clearer and brighter, with tighter and cleaner pores. Please remember the final step: moisturize diligently!

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Over time, my complexion has become more even; I have less breakouts, and my pores are less noticeable. When I do get an occasional breakout, it heals faster and the scarring diminishes at a quicker rate. If you would like more information on the benefits of bentonite clay, let me know in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to write about all of its benefits and uses.

Not only are these products effective, they’re also quite affordable and natural. They’re winners in every aspect—you can’t beat that!

One Brand Face: Kat Von D

Sold exclusively at Sephora, Kat Von D’s eponymous makeup line is chock full of bestsellers. From primer to mascara, her products are long-lasting and heavy duty on coverage and color. The website states:

“Created by Kat Von D, tattoo artist, TV star, and owner of High Voltage Tattoo, this inspiring makeup collection exemplifies the fusion of glamorous, old Hollywood and edgy rock ‘n’ roll. Kat’s distinct style and flawlessly crafted face reveals that she is as masterful with a makeup brush as she is with a tattoo machine. Her passion for makeup and self-expression is inked into every product she creates, from the romantic, soulful designs to the rich, highly pigmented and long-lasting formulations. Exclusively at Sephora, Kat Von D’s one-of-a-kind beauty collection allows you to indulge your creativity and unleash your
inner artist.”

After so many claims of how full coverage her foundations and concealers are—enough to cover a tattoo—and how long-lasting all of her other products are as well, I decided to buy everything needed to “flawlessly craft” my own face and see if all of the declarations are true. Below is everything I bought (photos courtesy of sephora.com), in the order in which I applied them.

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First impression: I love that the Lock-It Tattoo Foundation is in a clear pump dispenser (I’m shade M62); you can see how much you have left and the pump is easier and more sanitary than pouring liquid onto your hand and placing your fingers all over the opening. Contact with skin=bacteria. No pump = easy to spill + unsanitary + lack of control. The formula is thick, highly pigmented and full coverage; a little goes a long way, so this is actually a good value at US$34.00 because I only had to use one pump. The same is true for the Lock-It Tattoo Concealer ($US25.00–I’m shade M26) when it comes to texture and coverage. Using these two products in conjunction definitely make for a flawless face in seconds. I used my Real Techniques Buffing Brush and Expert Face Brush, respectively, to apply them. If you need to sheer the products out for less coverage, a damp beauty blender will do the trick wonderfully (I have since tried this method and loved the more natural-looking results). I didn’t use a setting powder this go-round to see how the products last throughout the day. Next, using my Real Techniques Multipurpose Brush, I applied the Everlasting Blush in Essex, a matte cool rose that’s deep enough to show on my complexion. Just in time for this review, I was able to purchase the early release of the Immortal Lash 24-hour Mascara. I wasn’t crazy about the spiral wand at first, but the formula of the mascara and the spoolie really separated and lengthened my lashes. To finish everything, I applied Everlasting Love Liquid Lipstick in Mau5, a.k.a. BauHau5, a deep yet bright raspberry (US$19.00; The Painted Love Lipsticks come in the same colors and are the same price). Let’s see how it looked from the start of my day till the very end, no makeup touchups, photo filters or editing.

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Sitting under the infamously unflattering fluorescent office lighting at 8:00AM (left pic), I loved the way this makeup looked; this speaks volumes! Possibly a little heavy for everyday daytime wear (if a damp sponge/beauty blender isn’t used to sheer it out) the foundation looked amazing, covered all imperfections, was a perfect match for my complexion—and I’m sure many others, due to the large shade range—made me look more awake/brighter than I felt so early in the morning, and didn’t reflect a white cast from flash photography. My skin looked flawless and matte. The blush was just enough color (when applied with a light hand) to provide me with a healthy flush, and the mascara gave my lashes natural yet impactful definition. This liquid lipstick got more compliments than any other colored gloss/lipstick/lip stain I have ever worn in my life—no exaggeration (besides one of my reds)! By midday, my skin was starting to look dewy, borderline shiny, but everything was still in place; even my lips were still vibrant 3 cups of tea, a bowl of cereal, 4 glasses of water and a sandwich later. So far, the results were quite impressive, given that I didn’t use primer, set my foundation with powder or use setting spray. After a long day, all of the products endured humid conditions, my oily skin, long hours and a lot of sweating. There was a bit of foundation transfer, which was to be expected without setting it and being in steam room-like weather, and there was still a flush on my cheeks from the blush. The mascara didn’t flake, smudge or budge from my lashes and there was still a hint of color on my lips after breakfast, lunch, afternoon coffee and dinner!

Although the day started with visible makeup, it became more natural as the day progressed, and that made me happy since I was at work. Kat Von D definitely has a winning line of products for women that desire a fuller coverage (I was recovering from a breakout and no one could tell), a face that’s beat to the gods all day long (yes, please), trustworthy makeup for a special event, or a night on the town with a show-stopping face (again, yes), then this is the line for you. I have since created the same face with setting powder and the results were amazing, so I know I’ll be returning to these babies again and again. As of right now, this is my favorite high end product line with all hits and no misses. Taking it all off with the makeup removing wipes was a breeze and nothing made me break out anew. Thank you, Kat, for being your wonderfully tattooed self and for loving old Hollywood glam with edge, and needing to cover up your ink once in a while, and most of all, for finding the right people to make your vision come true and put it into such pretty packaging. I applaud you all.

Now we can forever give good face.

Crease Lightning

Forever on the search for the perfect under-eye concealer, I have spent a not-so-small fortune and have endured a lot of slipping, sliding, and creasing. There has been one too many false alarms when I think I’ve found the perfect formula, only to find that the concealer has sunken into the folds under my eyes, making it look as if I’ve tried to caulk them like bathroom tiles. Not a good look. From cream formulas to liquid; from waterproof to mineral; from powder to mousse; all have creased on me (even with face primer and/or eyes shadow base), except for MAC Pro Longwear Concealer.

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Although this is my Holy Grail fixer, I go through this tiny vial very quickly and as a result, I end up spending a lot of money–US$18.00 every time really adds up. And honestly, sometimes my dark circles need more coverage than the Pro Longwear provides them (I’m all about the vampire life—I’ll sleep when I’m dead or I’ve achieved world domination, whichever comes first). So on the days when I need a stronger war paint, I’ve been at a loss as to how to combat creasing…until now, that is! After much experimentation, I have amended my application procedure. Let me introduce you to a trusty standby and a new friend, and I’ll show you how I use them both.

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The first step in my new regimen is to layer my eye cream; the more moisture you infuse into your skin, the less lines and creases it will have (common sense). I apply one layer of rich eye cream, put on my face moisturizer, and wait a couple of minutes to let everything sink in. In the meantime, I line up all of my cosmetics onto my sink to cut down on time. Then I apply second layer of eye cream and wait another minute (put my headband on and blow my nose)—this is the new part of my routine, using my trusty standby (I use eye cream every day and night). Next, I use eye shadow primer under my eyes—this is my new friend. Side note: I bought a cheapie for this experiment, just in case, figuring I can invest in a more expensive and/or better primer in the future if this trial actually works. However, if the Ruby Kisses is effective, I might not change at all! From this point on, everything else in my morning regimen is the same. For this experiment, I’m using Kat Von D’s Lock-It Tattoo Concealer because this has creased on me a lot in the past and will therefore be the perfect test product.

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Face primers and eye shadow bases haven’t worked, but eye shadow primer has some kind of magical power that hasn’t allowed this concealer to crease ALL DAY. 10 hours later and the above pic is the end result. I couldn’t be happier, and neither can my dark circles!

*Coincidentally, the makeup artist/guru Wayne Goss just posted about this exact same solution on YouTube not long ago. The saying is true: Great minds definitely think alike. 😉

**UPDATE: Since writing this post, I’ve switched from the Ruby Kisses primer to the Sephora brand and it works even better!

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Home Spa

It’s a rainy Friday night. Zumba class was great, as usual, and I worked up an amazing sweat. I figured I might as well capitalize on all of this by treating myself to a little luxurious pampering.

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After a hot shower that kept  pores open, I applied Remede mineral exfoliant to my clean and damp skin by massaging it all over my face for a few minutes until it started drying up and rolling off my skin–this process was very reminiscent of playing with glue as child. After most of the Remede had rolled into my sink, I rinsed my face with warm water and posted my skin dry with a towel. Yay for fresh and squeaky clean skin! Next, I spread a nice even layer of the famous Glam Glow Super Mud all over, avoiding my eye and mouth area. By the time I finish writing this post, it will be dry and ready to be rinsed of with warn water and a towel. My pores will be tighter and cleaner, and my face will be smoother, clearer, and brighter! However in the meantime, I’ll be sitting on the couch looking like this:

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I just wanted to give you a good laugh/scare, haha. Toodles!

Back to the Lab

A while back, I posted about using rubbing alcohol to fix pressed powders, shadows, etc., that had been shattered in their palettes/compacts*. I decided to revisit this chemistry experiment when I completely ran out of my NYC Smooth Skin Pressed Face Powder in Translucent. This has got to be one of my all-time favorite drugstore setting/blotting powders; it’s widely available, sets and blots extremely well, and only costs about $2! You can’t go wrong at that price. I mean, seriously. On this particular day however, its awesomeness proved to be a double-edged sword because it was sold out at my beauty depot (i.e.: Duane Reade, my too conveniently located 24-hour drugstore and enabler)—I guess the word is out!

Meandering down the beauty isle on my way to pick up my other favorite, Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Translucent, an idea occurred to me: why not buy the NYC Smooth Skin Loose Face Powder and use it to fill my compact? This way, the loose powder can be used at home and I can tote my homemade pressed powder. Yes, this is exactly what should be done. Back to the lab!

As you can see from the pictures below, I poured the loose powder into my empty compact and added a capful of isopropyl alcohol.

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While mixing, I realized that wasn’t nearly enough to moisten that amount of powder and kept on adding more alcohol a little at a time. Once a paste-like consistency was achieved, I smoothed the mixture evenly in the compact with the back of a spoon and my [clean] finger.

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I was a little worried at first because the color of the mixture was quite pink (see left); it’s supposed to be practically white! All I could do was hope that when it dried, it would be usable. A couple of hours later, voila! My compact looked like it came straight from the factory (see right). OK, not exactly, but close enough. Now, I’m sure you’re asking: Will it work like the original, or did The Vickylicious make a huge mistake? Guess what. IT WORKS LIKE A DREAM!

Go ahead. Keep doubting my genius. I see you…

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(*Referred-to Post: “Dust to Dustbin…? I Think Not.”)

Eeks!

You’re Being Abusive. I Know It.

Not to gross you out, BUT…makeup products harbor organisms that can multiply and cause infections if you neglect to wash or discard them at proper times. This goes for tools (brushes and the like) and the cosmetics themselves. Here’s a list of the most common dirty makeup “eeks!”of which you might be guilty. Read on in order to stop abusing your makeup and your face.

Eek #1: You’re using mascara so old that you don’t remember when you bought it. – Keep your tube of mascara too long and you’re probably coating your lashes in bacteria. Bacteria naturally present in your eyes transfers to the wand and spoolie, which contaminates the tube with germs that lead to pink eye and infections like staph. Yes, your own bacteria will do this to you!

The Clean Up: While most mascaras contain preservatives that keep bacteria from growing, those preservatives only work for approximately three months. So to be safe, try to replace your mascara every quarter (about four times a year. Po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to!).

Eek #2: Your eyelash curler is caked with old mascara. – Quick question: Would you reuse your fork from last night’s gooey mac n’ cheese dinner without washing it first? Yeah, I didn’t think you would. Leaving your curler uncleansed will allow it to do all the nasties stated in Eek #1.

The Clean Up: Clean your lash curler with an alcohol or disinfecting wife after each use. There are also replacement sponges you can purchase.

*Bonus: On top of saving your eyes, a clean lash curler will save your lashes too! The caked up mascara can adhere to your lashes and rip them out of your lids!

Eek #3: You apply liner (eye, eyebrow and/or lip) with a dull pencil tip. – Basically, this faux pas creates the same issues in Eeks 1 and 2.

The Clean Up: Sharpen you pencil liners once a week. Also, can you remember to use a disinfecting wipe in between uses? Good. And if you can’t or you want to slack off, know this: shaving the top layer off will remove infection-causing bacteria. Not only that, it makes your liner that much easier to apply. Win/Win!

*Important side-note: clean out your sharpener too! Just use some soap and water, followed by a disinfectant. (Or, use the solution I make in Eek #4 below.)

Eek #4: You never wash your makeup brushes—ever. EEEEEK! Dead skin, oil, dirt, bacteria—all of that is collecting on all of those bristles. You’re clogging your pores and creating a breeding ground for breakouts.

The Clean Up: Wash them daily with brush cleaner or even warm, soapy water then rinse them and squeeze the water out with your fingers. Lay them flat to dry because brush bristles are heavier when wet and will lose their shape if you stand them up.

*I make my own brush cleaner with 1 cup of warm filtered water, about 4 drops tea tree oil (a natural anti-bacterial, non-greasy oil) and a tablespoon of baby shampoo (because it’s gentle). Cetaphil is pretty great, too.
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**Side-note: I don’t do this every day—guilty as charged! I try to clean my brushed every couple of days. Are you worse than I am? Shoot for at least once a week.

Eek #5:  Do you apply lipstick when you’ve got a cold? – Germs live on your lipstick, making you more vulnerable to other bugs/viruses, especially if your immune system is already on the fritz.

The Clean Up:  Using an alcohol or disinfecting sheet, wipe the outside of the lipstick case and rub the surface of the lipstick before applying next time. Do you use lip gloss with a doe-foot applicator? DON’T when you’re sick, unless you disinfect the applicator before re-inserting it into the tube.

Eek #6: You take your makeup bag to the bathroom, public and private. – If you’re the kind of woman who carries her makeup bag to the bathroom and sets it, along with your beauty products, on top of counters in public/private restrooms, they will pick up bacteria. Lots of them. Yours and a MILLION other women’s nasties!

The Clean Up: Put a paper towel under your bag before you sit it on the counter, or keep it inside your purse to avoid picking them up at all.

Speaking of bathrooms…Eek #7: You leave your makeup/tools by the toilet. – Every time you flush the toilet, fecal matter sprays into the air and lands on your counter and on/in your products and tools. This might be the eek of all eeks. Ew, ew, EW!

The Clean Up: Store your makeup, supplies and tools (toothbrush included) in a closed cabinet.

Eek #8: The makeup bag dilemma – Yes, your cloth/leather makeup bags looks great and super stylish, but it’s tough to clean. And what does that mean? You got it: bacteria.

The Clean Up: Use a bag that is made of plastic or nylon and clean it out at least once a month, wiping down the lining with a disinfectant wipe. What else is awesome about using a plastic or nylon bag is that they’re cheap enough to buy a cute new one every year. Woo hoo!

Eek #9: I know you love looking at your collection of makeup, but hoarding it all (foundation, concealer, lipstick, mascara, etc.) after you’ve already used it previously but haven’t worn in years, is a no-no. Even though there aren’t expiration dates on makeup products, you can still when it’s time to say goodbye.

The Clean Up:  Say “Adios!” to anything that smells different, looks cakey and dried out, has changed color, or the ingredients look like they’ve separated. The general principle for most creamy or liquid products: 12 months; powder/solid products/lipstick: 2-3 years.

Eek #10: Your icky fingers are making everything else icky, too. – Dipping dirty fingers into jars or touching the tips of tubes does what? Uh huh, you got it. It spreads germs and bacteria. I think you’ve caught on to the theme here, finally.

The Clean Up: Wash your hands before doing your makeup, or there will be germs, germs, everywhere.

Now that we all understand the moral of the story, let’s stick to not having bacteria stick to us! Don’t let makeup build up on the openings of your jars, tubes, etc.; clean them every now and then with an alcohol or disinfecting wipe. Always keep lids and caps screwed on tight in order to avoid exposing your products to the air and germs. And remember, the MUA term “beating face” is not to be taken literally. Stop the abuse!