Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Makeup under humid weather

As I am now in Vietnam, under hot and humid weather here, what I use & the way I apply makeup suddenly have to be tweaked. I'm from San Jose, California, so I'm used to the nice and dry weather we have in San Jose. Now switched to the dusty & humid weather in Ho chi minh city, I need to do  clients' makeup plus my own makeup differently. I can't just assume or wish that what works for me in the States will work the same here, no matter how good the product is.

In this article, I will share with you some tips and suggesting some products that will do a good job for you while you're staying in a humid place, such as some Southeast Asian countries (Vietnam, Malaysia, Philipines...)

- A lot of time, liquid foundation won't be your best fit under hot/humid weather. If you have very dry skin, then it's still okay to do a light layer of your favorite foundation with a sponge, then use loose powder to set it. If you have oily or combination skin like mine, you can skip liquid foundation altogether. Your skin will feel sticky and oily quite fast with liquid foundation. Instead, use a light creamy foundation like Motives Liquid Powder Mineral Foundation or Revlon ColorStay Mineral Mouse (see images below), then set it with powder after. I find this is to be less messy to do compared to liquid foundation, and I can use my fingers to blend this creamy-texture foundation over my face (use a non-latex sponge if you prefer).


Or you can skip the liquid/cream foundation altogether and just use powder after sunscreen (SPF 30-45). It's quicker to apply,  looks more natural, and doesn't look shiny or feel sticky after a few hours being outdoor. It's best to apply powder with a full, fluffy brush. Here's my 2 favorite face/powder brush: Sephora Powder Brush (round) and Lancome Powder brush #7 (flat). What I love about the flat brush is that you have to kinda press it into your skin in circles when you apply the powder, not just twirls around lightly like with the round brush. Therefore, your product isn't going to just sit on the skin but actually blending in nicer. This is good for people with big pores.

I see a lot of women using the sponge (that came with the powder compact) to apply & reapply powder over & over, even when the skin is oily. That is not a good habit, especially if your skin can break-out easily. If you don't wash/dry the sponge after every few days, your sponge will become dirty & bacterias got trapped in it. For sanitary reason & to endure the life of your product, do wash & dry your brush or sponge at least once a week.

PRIMER is a must if you're going to wear eyeshadows. I heart Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion. If you love makeup and wear it often, you know how great this product is.  For myself, I skip eye shadow altogether, or use a very light shade like pale pink or light shimmery brown, just 1 color, do water-proof liquid eyeliner, curl my lashes, done! The more eye makeup you do, the more chances it gets smeared after a while.

Eyeshadow Primer Potion

Forget your bronzer. Most of the time, you'll get naturally tan in Asia. Under humid & hot weather, bronzer seems to be too much on the skin. Keep your skin as simple as possible. A light layer of powder & a nice pinkish or peachy shade of blush is your best bet if you have light complexion. Try Benefit blushes like "Dandelion" (pale pink) or "Georgia" (light peach). If you have a medium complexion, you may like Benefit bronzer "Dallas" (not shimmery).

Under hot weather, you often get dehydrated within the first 1-2 weeks of your stay & your lips tend to feel dry or chapped. Therefore, creamy lipstick won't work too well. I find that Japanese lipsticks like Kanebo, Testimo, or Beaute de Kose, etc... will work best because they're more translucent, smooth texture, light weight, & often has a little bit of a shimmery effect - just enough to make your lips look fuller. These cosmetic lines have a lot of beautiful shades that suit Asian skin tone. When I use these kinds of lipsticks, I can forget about using gloss over it. They're half lipstick/half lipgloss for me.

I hope the tips/techniques above can help you pack the right products if you know you'll be traveling to a hot & humid place. You can't bring all your favorite makeup products with you, so choose only the right ones for your need. Wish you a fun trip & looking good even if it's above 90ºF there!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hire a makeup artist for E-session?

It's a YES in my opinion if you think these photos mean a lot to you, capturing your love & devotion for each other, though not in a formal way like the wedding-day, but more like a romantic date. This session is quite important, especially if you will enlarge one of them or put them together as a signed-in book for the guests at your wedding. It's the time that you two can relax, have fun, and learning to cooperate with the photographer (if he/she will also be your wedding photographer). If a picture worths a thousand words, then how you look in the picture should matter too, right? Also it's good to just relax and have a professional taking care of your beauty for the shoot. Even for myself, I would rather trust someone with my hair & makeup, no pressure for perfect liner, no sweat curling & teasing my hair, just saving all my best energy for the shoot ahead.

Why is it important?
1. If you look good, you feel good. And if you feel good, you'll give your best in front of the camera. You can even "flirt" with the camera and your man and the result will be interesting, sizzling photographs :)
2. Honestly, a professional grade camera just loves a face with nice makeup much more than a face with none because it captures every detail, especially with portrait shots. Unless what you need is mostly just far-away shots and the beauty of the landscape/location is more important than your look or his look.
3. A pro makeup artist will not only know to make you look good, he/she also knows (or must know) how to make you look good for the camera. For makeup, I'm talking about last-long application, high light & contour technique, choosing the right colors, and using the right lashes (individual or sets). For hair, I'm talking about the right style for the dress/outfit, minimal fly-aways, and staying power.

Therefore, choosing a good makeup/hair stylist to help you look nice and camera-ready for the E-session isn't a bad idea at all. You're paying for a good photographer, so why not a good makeup artist/hair stylist. You should look good, feel good, and smile with confident for this fun & romantic session.

Below are some E-session photographs that my past clients shared with me. I hope these can give you some ideas...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Change lipstick - change persona

Just like with Julie, I did 2 looks for Hallie: sultry eyes with nude lipstick and later with red lipstick. Both looks turned out beautiful on Hallie because she has great features to work with. Though 100% Chinese, Hallie has more of a square face, full brows, and big round eyes. Her eyes are definitely her greatest weapon.

With nude lipstick and silver/gray smoky eyes, Hallie looks stylish, cool, and somewhat innocent. Below is a before/after of Hallie.

After a few photos, we changed her look. I took off some of the shimmery gray shadows on her eyes, and replaced with a neutral brown and a light gold shimmer (to go with red lipstick). After wiping off her nude lip color, I used a mauvish lipliner (MAC - Half-red) to line & fill in her lips, top off with a thin layer of neutral shade of red lipstick to add some moisture, and that was it. I didn't bother adding lip gloss, because since this girl has such great alluring eyes, I felt that her eyes should be the center of attention, her mauvish-red lipstick can play the supportive element. The result was perfect. She looks sultry, seductive and elegant at the same time, reminding me of some Hong Kong actresses... Isn't she?

Here's a photo for you to compare the 2 looks on her. Which look is better in your opinion?

Alluring smoky eyes and red lipstick

When Julie knew that I'm writing about red lipstick for my blog, just like Hallie, she offered to be my model and she was totally interested in trying red lipstick. I agreed because I thought she has a tanner complexion and a quite different look compared to Hallie. And, what's great about her is that though she doesn't have strong brows & big eyes like Hallie, she has a beautiful, bright & contagious smile. 

We had great fun! I tested 2 different makeup looks on her:
1. Smoky eyes paired up with neutral pink lipstick
2. Smoky eyes paired up with red lipstick
With both looks, we did full smoky eyes using black, gold shimmer and dark brown for eyeshadows. I also used full lashes on her to help making her eyes look bigger so that it could balance out well with red lips.

Here's a photo of Julie with smoky eyes and pink lipstick.

I thought she looked really nice with the first look. However, sparkles happened when we changed her lipstick color to red. With red lipstick, she suddenly looked more charming and alluring. This cool red color compliments her tan complexion and hair color so well and it gave her such a glow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Low wavy updo for Katrina

I met Katrina in Vietnam through my best friend. She's from Canada but she will be getting married next week here in vietnam to a local guy. It must be fate that brought them together.
Katrina is sweet, simple, yet sophisticated and stylish. I won't go in details about makeup here. You can tell that I did moderate smoky-eyes for her. As for her hair, though she told me her reference was high updo, but I thought to myself that with her delicate features and & her beautiful neck/shoulder line, a pull back high updo might look too serious for her. Instead, I suggested a low wavy updo (with good volume) to soften up her strong jawline, making her look younger and sophisticated.

Is there a perfect red lipstick for every woman? - part 2

In PART 1, I already discussed why red lipstick may look so good on celebrities & models, but may be quite a bit of a challenge for us, especially Asians. In this post, I will share some tips & techniques on how to find the right shade of red for you & how to wear it right.

Before going into details, you need to know this:
1. Most Asians have yellow or neutral undertone, and because of this, cool red (blue-ish tint) or neutral red tends to compliment our skin tone & eye color better than warm red (orange-y tint). Think dark cherry red, burgundy red, and mauve. Choose a color with the right intensity (sheer = light, luster = moderate, or very matte = rich/dark in pigment).
2. If you're heading to the department store to find your shade(s) of red, I suggest doing your base, brows, and eyes at home first (as how you would wear your red lipstick with). Remember to only wear colorless lip balm on your lips before you head out. .
3. If you're a neat-pick and germ-freak when it comes to makeup like me, you'd want to bring some makeup wipes (I use Oil of Olay Makeup Remover for Sensitive Skin) and your lip balm with you. After you try 1 color on, you'd want to wipe it off completely and redo your lip balm before you test another color (so you won't dry out your lips).
4. Last but not least, bring a small mirror with you, or a good friend who knows makeup & style (*wink*)

TO FIND THE RIGHT COLOR: meaning to find the right cool/neutral shade of red.
1. To determine if a color is cool / warm / neutral, test it on a piece of white A4 paper. Use your ring finger to take off some color from a lipstick or lip gloss and wipe it onto the blank piece of paper. Let it dry for like a minute, and then it's easier to tell if it's more cool or warm. If it looks cool or neutral & you feel like trying it on, go head and ask the counter girl to sanitize the lipstick (they usually dip it in alcohol first, then wipe off the top layer before they hand it to you). Don't forget to write down the name/brand of each lip color that you tested.
2. Try at least 3 shades of red on yourself, maybe a mauve to begin with, then a cool medium red, then a deeper color (like cherry red). After you try on each color, don't trust the light in the department store, come outside to where you can get some good natural light. Now use your mirror to judge the color.
3. If it's the "right" red, it should brighten up your complexion and compliment your eye-color, and making you feel good in it. If it doesn't, wipe it off, redo your lip balm & try another.

Next post, I'll finish up this topic with interesting examples. Stay tune!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is there a perfect red lipstick for every woman? - part 1

The holiday is coming and we see gorgeous red lipstick worn by celebrities and models everywhere we turn. The photos below show how these women just look so AMAZING with red lipstick. Red is a really strong color, so these stars of course knowing that, and choosing the right dresses, accessories, and the right hair style to go with their sexy red lipstick. When the whole look is done right, red lipstick should make a woman look more stylish, alluring, and confident.

However, more often than not, most of us Asians are very intimidated by red lipstick and tend to stay away from it. Maybe some of us would at least once try red, but then quickly wipe it away with a sigh..."I just can't wear red." How come red lipstick tends to look so harsh & not-right on us?

Reasons? There could be one or all of the reasons below for red lipstick to look not-right on Asian women:

1. If your eyes or brows aren't strong enough, it's really hard to handle red lipstick.
2. If you have problem skin, scarred, or redness/breakout, red will tend to highlight your flaws even more. Having porcelain, nice, glowy skin will be a big plus!
3. Good bone structure and a nice shape of lips will be your greatest weapons. Asians tend to have a flatter, rounder face, and when that combined with a small thin lips, you can't expect red lipstick to look great on you without some work... (we'll go there in next post)

But, DON'T GIVE UP. There's way :) In my next post, I'll go into details about how to find a good red lipstick and how to make it work.