June Beauty Favorites

I really, really, honest to God, tried to blog more in June than in May. But it fell to the wayside since June has been an insanely busy month for me–work, family functions, time with friends, chores, etc. I can barely even exercise as much as I want to. The good news is that all of the bridesmaids' dresses have been purchased (along with my wedding dress), and Cecilio and I are looking forward to our engagement photo session tomorrow!

I have purchased a lot of makeup that are waiting to be reviewed. I'm not sure that I will be blogging as much in July due to fair season starting and how irregular my hours will be, but I will try!

What have I been loving?

MannyMUAxMakeup Geek Palette: This was my first Makeup Geek purchase and I have to say that I am a huge fan. MannyMUA collaborated with Makeup Geek for this astronomy-inspired palette and while they do have original shades, he curated some beautiful ones, especially the foiled shadows. They are so rich in pigment. No wonder the blogosphere loves Makeup Geek.

IT Cosmetics CC Cream: If you need a flawless, mattified look, this is definitely for you even if you have dry skin like mine. It reduces appearance of pores, and has SPF 50, which is perfect for the summer! If only...they had a non-SPF version of this. I can imagine it would look great in photos. This CC cream photographs beautifully, but not with flash photography due to the SPF.

Urban Decay Vice Lipstick: The one shown above is a shade called Hitchhike, a reddish orange that looks beautiful on all skin tones. It wasn't one of the originals I bought, but I returned another shade, Crisis, for this. I loved the shade Manic and you all agreed that Manic looked the best on me, but I stupidly left it in my car when I was working, and it's been up to 110°F here. Of course it melted. Then I put it in the freezer and after I got it from the freezer, the lipstick popped off from the tube. Don't make the mistake I did.

Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil: This is a part of Benefit's new Brow Collection. I am such a sucker—I decided to buy this and Gimme Brow when I got my eyebrows waxed at the Benefit Brow Bar in the mall, and she decided to fill in my brows afterwards. Honestly at first I was a little intimidated because she had that classic "Instagram brows": dark and really, really sharp. I kinda like mine that way but a little bit softer and natural. She gave me exactly what I wanted, and lined this while filling it in with Gimme Brow. So I decided to get both. A review will be coming shortly.

BECCA Backlight Priming Filter: I got this in my June Sephora Play! Box and honestly, this is the only thing I have been using. I may have replaced Benefit Porefessional for this. When I used Porefessional under my Giorgi Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, it still looks patchy and accentuates my pores. But not this one. When I use it under Luminous Silk, t really gives me a flawless, filtered look naturally without doing FaceTune.

I promise I will be getting back to everyone's comments. I've been dying to do so!

What beauty products have you been loving on this past month?

Things to remember when you feel alone and like an oddball

My dad used to tell me often that when I was 3 years old, instead of playing with the other kids after church, I would run around and pick flowers. I guess I have always marched to the beat of my own drum. It took me a while to overcome my craziness in elementary school, but somehow I still made friends along the way. It wasn't until before 7th grade when I moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento when I really started noticing my awkwardness and my inability to make close friends quickly in middle school. So I acted so weird and crazy to get attention, but it landed negative attention to the point where I got bullied relentlessly. I hardly got picked as a partner for classes, I was made the butt of jokes, people I thought were "friends" had to pretend to not acknowledge my presence in public, and guys pretended to like me in a mockingly way. High school was a little bit better, as I did make more friends and attracted more attention from guys. But that did not come without drama, drama, drama. And I lost friends along the way, and somehow I was still seen as a vulnerable little girl and was prey among the wolves (as my friend Danielle called them). I felt so horrible when 2 of my best friends (Jamie and Christina, whom I still talk to today and Jamie will be one of my bridesmaids) graduated a year before me, and I had more friends and acquaintances with people a grade below me. I started getting to know more people in my graduating class, but all of a sudden got ignored again due to some rumors my ex had spread about me. It's sad to say that I didn't participate in any senior activities except for prom (with my boyfriend at the time, not the ex who spread rumors about me).

Why am I still harping on this 10–15 years later? I guess there's parts of me that still feel that scared, vulnerable girl. When I am work and try to get to know the other interns, I am friendly with them and they are friendly with me back. I still can't help but feeling left out though, especially because I don't watch Game of Thrones or OITNB (okay, I mostly CNN, reality TV, or reruns of Travel Channel, Simpsons, and Family Guy). I talked to my 19 other classmates in my major, but I still felt extremely left out and lonely until the last semester, when I was finally starting to open up, and I got never-ending congrats and well-wishes about my engagement.

I guess this means that I have gone a long way in terms of my shyness and awkwardness, and I am much more outgoing than before. But you will never see me walk into a room and have that aura, or charisma, that people are drawn to. I will never be as talkative or as chatty as I would like.

I guess I am writing about this because lately, I have been extremely sensitive and hurt by some of the stuff Cecilio said, even if it's just constructive criticism (like how I can improve at work), or pointing something out (my overdue need for a pedicure, toenails that my dad used to call "talons", which I eventually did the next day). It would turn into long-drawn out internal arguments. The toenail argument happened on our way to the mall, when we were supposed to shop for clothes for our engagement photos. As we parked in the mall structure, I had a nervous breakdown and started crying. I told him that even though I was so happy and excited to marry him, I am a little embarrassed because I'm SURE that my old classmates are probably looking at me on Facebook, wondering "Hannah? She's getting married? She's too ugly/crazy/worthless/etc." and he just let me let it all out. It does break his heart when I say I feel worthless based on how people treated me in the past. After we got out of the car, he took me, hugged and kissed me and said, "Let's be weird together." We eventually did find clothes in the mall and had a great time, and ended the night with Cinnabon and pho. 

It all stems from the desire to fit in and be, and feel normal. I wish I could say I overcame what other people have said. I know that a crying fit won't solve the deeper issues, but it did release some of my pent-up emotions. I don't know if I am the right candidate to give people advice on how to cope when you feel odd/strange/different from everyone else, when I am struggling with it right now. But just know you're not alone. I promise. I use my power to write to reach out.

Here are some things I am trying to tell myself, and would like to share with you guys:

1. People don't care as much as you think they do.
This is what I am trying to tell myself. There's still something going on in my head, thinking that my old classmates are probably still talking shit about me, and probably scratching their heads as to why I am getting married. This wouldn't be an issue if social media isn't the monstrosity as it is now. I mean, I still stalk people and old classmates, so I wonder how they feel about the Hannah now, who has changed a lot since we walked that stage to graduate 9 years ago. I mean, I certainly don't care that my ex who spread rumors about me (who I basically wasted most of my high school years pining over, who I thought I wanted to marry), has 3 kids, and I am certainly glad that I did not have those kids with him. I wonder if he knows that I am engaged (I am at least on good terms with his twin brother), and I am sure he doesn't care.

2. Stop comparing yourself.
This is something I have been struggling with, and anyone who has a smartphone and access to Internet struggles with it as well. Everyone loves filtering and curating their photos perfectly on Instagram or Facebook, right? Doesn't it make you feel bad about your own life? Maybe there are people who see Cecilio and I living this perfect romance. And we are in love, but we don't air our dirty laundry in the public because we do have really, really weak moments. In fact, our relationship was really rocky the first year and we even broke up for a few days. I have to constantly remind myself that most people will not post negative things on social media.

3. Someone is fighting the same battles you are too.
My most astounding moments are when I see a woman who has the perfect body or looks on social media, and assume that she has always been that way, only to find out that she struggled with weight and body issues, just like I have. Or, it could be the opposite: a girl from my high school who is now a personal trainer, wrote a blog post about having insecurities about being lazy eyed and too skinny and not developing quickly as her other friends who were "curvier" and had guys flocking to them and ignoring her. I always assumed that because she was a cheerleader and was super involved in all these other activities, that she never had to struggle with the same thoughts and worries that my friends and I did. She concluded that fitness and being a personal trainer gave her the confidence she never had before. Case in point: it's hard to not judge by looks, but try. 

4. The world is not as evil as you think.
Yes, there are horrible things going on, from the Brock Turner case to the Orlando shooting, down to bullying, but there are amazing things and people. In a way, meeting Cecilio on the first day of college (though we talked a bit on Myspace the summer before), was a path to healing because he showed me how kind people can be. He introduced me to his friends from high school, who all welcomed me and opened themselves to me. But then again, he grew up in a town (Davis, CA), where there was not as much bullying because people are taught to be tolerant, kind, and open to others, and because being in a college-town forces you to focus on your studies to get into a good university rather than focusing on drama and nonsense. 

5. You should forgive people who hurt you, especially if you are a Christian.
I struggle with forgiveness even in the littlest things, because I feel like it is easier for me to hold on to the pain and suffering. I have forgiven my exes, but I struggle with forgiving the people who hurt and bullied me. I may have one time during some of my praying time at a few Bible study meetings I have gone to before. But...if I am still harping on it and am still hurt and angry, it means I probably haven't truly forgiven. Forgiveness doesn't mean you will want to trust them or even talk to them again, but it means that you will not let them run your life. As a Christian, if you really believe that God has sent Jesus to forgive you for your sins and transgressions, you should be able to do the same for others.

6. Celebrate your uniqueness.
Why blend in when you can stand out? We, each as individuals, have our own custom-made DNA. It's pretty cool to think about right? So why bother try to fit yourself in a mold based on what society says? I haven't done art and photography in a while. I would like to, and if I ever get the chance, I would like to post them on Facebook like I used to. But I am also worried that people would think that I am too much of an art geek. And normal people don't do that...right? But I will never forget when my dad told me that my aunt loved my photography, how it was so touching to the soul, and how I am different from others (in a good way). It really, really made me feel so blessed when she said that. Find what makes you tick and passionate, and pursue it and celebrate it all that you can.

7. Focus on the people who DO love you.
When I was crying to Cecilio, I kept saying,"I want to not focus on what they said and enjoy what we have right now, and enjoy the future we will have." Because those people aren't in my life. And I can feel his love and warmth all around me, and he makes me feel like I AM worth something. I feel that with my family and friends as well. I recently went to my friend's son's 1st birthday party, and I felt so much love overflowing between everyone. And that is how life should be.

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks
Left to right: Nighthawk, Rocksteady, Manic, Crisis

It seems like nothing is going to stop me from drooling over new lipsticks. That is truly, truly my Vice (pun intended!). In the beauty world, news was going around that the Urban Decay's classic Revolution lipstick line was being discontinued in lieu of the new Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks that released on June 5. Did you know that the Vice lipsticks contain 120 shades (20 of which are only exclusive to Sephora according to Temptalia, 46 of which were originals from the Revolution line, including the Spehora exclusives?) They come in 6 finishes: cream, comfort matte, mega matte, sheer, sheer shimmer, and metallized. The best part is that they are more affordable at $17 compared to the $22 Revolution lipsticks. It sounds to me that Urban Decay is trying to compete with MAC's lipsticks: they have 239 shades, 8 finishes, and cost only $17 as well. Like how MAC also has 2 matte finishes: matte & retro matte (the more drying one), Urban Decay has 2 matte finishes as well.

The Revolution lipsticks were known for their diagonal shape, and while it was unique, I am pretty happy that they switched back to the traditional lipstick shape, as it makes it easier to apply on your lips. I am loving the little UD logo engraved too!

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks - Rocksteady

The circumference of the tube in the Vice lipstick is thinner than in the Revolution lipstick. It still has their iconic gunmetal casing. One thing that a college acquaintance of mine pointed out when she too, bought 3 of the shades, was that it was very hard to open and that you have to open it upside down. I saw that there were some complaints on the web about that too, and I know it's because the cover of the tube goes all the way to the bottom rather than halfway (which would've made it much easier to open. You will see what I mean here:

All 3 shades I have purchased were from the cream formula, so I can't really comment on the other ones (with the exception of Temper, which was from the original Revolution line, and is grouped among the comfort matte shades). I purchased Manic, Crisis, Rocksteady, and Nighthawk. I was in Ulta debating whether to use up all of my platinum points or just save up, and I decided to go with the former, because good Lord knows how much I have been spending lately and I needed the extra cushion of $53 worth of points. 

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Manic, Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Crisis, Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Rocksteady, Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Nighthawk
Top to bottom( Manic, Crisis, Rocksteady, Nighthawk)

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Manic

Manic is from the original Revolution line, and I wonder why I have been overlooking this gorgeous medium rosy-pink (described as soft wine in the Sephora website) this whole time. It suits my skin tone so so well, and is a gorgeous lip color for everyday wear. It adds color and femininity, but it is not loud or intimidating. Almost anyone can pull off this shade, I promise. I would like to empty this shade, and I am thinking of using this for my engagement photos, except for I don't like how it wears off (there is going to be a lot of kissing in the photos!)

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Crisis

Crisis is one of the new shades, and I fell in love with it when testing it at Ulta, thinking it was more pink than plum (but knowing it had plum in it), but it is actually more plum and cool-toned under natural light. I want to like it and get excited about it, but I guess it takes time getting used to. It's pretty, don't get me wrong, but I'm not as excited about it as I am bout Manic. I don't feel too bad though, my college acquaintance bought the shade Tampered and has a love-hate relationship with it.

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Rocksteady

Rocksteady was one among 8 shades in Urban Decay's Gwen Stefani collection. I tried this deep red as a sample of the new Vice lipsticks from Ulta (they sent members 24 samples) and I remember falling in love with it. This is another red anyone can wear! It's moody and sexy. Be careful because it bleeds outside the lips, you may need a lip liner with this one.

Urban Decay Vice Lipsticks Nighthawk

Nighthawk, another new shade, is the quintessential 90's shade that mixes burgundy and brown. I have been oggling over it since I found this. I can't wait until Fall so I can start rocking this! Or can I wear this now? There's no rules in makeup, right?

The cream formulas are actually the formulas in the classic Revolution lipsticks (not the Matte or Sheer ones). I do wish there was less shine without being too dry, like the satin finishes in the MAC lipsticks. They tend to wear off too while eating and drinking, so always have one at hand to reapply.

There were so many other shades that I wanted to buy, but my bank account isn't having it. I want to get my hands on Hitch Hike, Notorious, 714, Uptight and Alpha. 

Do you have any of the original Revolution lipsticks? Are you planning on getting new shades among the Vice line? Let me know.

Disney Playlist For You and I

Me with Snow White in Disneyland, 2009

I've been on a Disney song kick lately, for 2 reasons: 1. When I started working, one of my co-workers would put on music and play different tunes, such as Drake, 90's nostalgia, and Disney tunes! (Hey, we're millennial, so we grew up on this). There have been a few Lion King songs stuck in my head. 2. I was actually supposed to go to LA with my family this week, and today is when they are going to go to Disneyland. I decided not to go anymore after I accepted this job because I didn't want to miss too many days, especially because this is a seasonal job and we are prepping for madness before the fair rolls around in July. I already requested to take July 1 (which was a Friday) off because Cecilio and I are going to take engagement photos on that day. It did work out though because I switched from my Tuesday–Friday schedule to a Monday–Thursday one. I just realized though, that because I am now off on Fridays, I could've left with my family on Wednesday after work and missed Thursday. I really wanted to go to Disneyland, and Cecilio and I are not going anymore like we planned in August because he had to buy a new car (his old car conked out). We are planning to go to Las Vegas though, which I find funny because he doesn't drink at all. But we will be swimming, eating, visiting his cousin and exploring the strip.

I'm not too sad because I am so thankful and happy to have a job, after 6 months of feeling hopeless from the horrible experience I had with a job I only had for 2 weeks (I don't even want to call it my previous job, under my possession). I also understand that we have a HUGE expense (wedding), but you can't put a price on love and marriage.

So under the influence of my co-worker, Cierra, my reminiscing my childhood of watching the VHS movies, and my longing to go to Disneyland, I decided to compile my own Disney playlist via Spotify. Feel free to listen if you have an account! Here are the following songs with their corresponding movies:

1. "Heigh-Ho" (Snow White)
2. "Go The Distance" (Hercules)
3. "Once Upon a Dream" (Sleeping Beauty)
4. "For the First Time In Forever" (Frozen)
5. "Can You Feel The Love Tonight?" (Lion King)
6. "Heaven's Light/Hellfire" (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
7. "Just Around The Riverbend" (Pocahontas)
8. "The Aristocats" (The Aristocats)
9. "God Help The Outcasts" (Hunchback of Notre Dame)
10. "The Second Star To the Right" (Peter Pan)
11. "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" (Frozen)
12. "Beauty and The Beast" (Beauty and the Beast)

What are your favorite Disney songs?

My first set of Sigma brushes

They say that the best and most luxurious makeup would look very spotty and amateurish on your face if you don't have the right tools for it. Well I certainly agree, I am a believer that you don't have to burn your wallet on makeup brushes. You can find great quality brushes from brands such as ELF, Eco Tools, Real Techniques, Morphe, etc. However, I know that top-notch brushes make your life so much easier, and have that give your makeup a touch of something magical. I have heard wonderful things about the Sigma brushes, and how they are amazing dupes of the insanely expensive MAC brushes. My curiosity peaked, but I was still hesitant of getting them because I still found them to be quite pricey. I decided to jump the gun and purchase a few during the 20% off Memorial Day sale. I was able to score 5 brushes for $61.60, which is about the price of 2–3 MAC blushes. Not bad, huh?

I was quite surprised to be greeted with their packaging as I opened the box. It certainly is a special delivery, especially since this is my first Sigma haul!

I also received a catalog of all of their products. Which is good because I am interested in getting a few more brushes along with the brush cleaning mat...but also bad, because BYE BYE MONEY!!

Which brushes did I get? (Left to right)

High Cheekbone Highlighter (F03): I usually highlight my cheekbones with an angled contour brush, but this is great if I want a softer and subtle glow yet still precise. It's also small enough where I could highlight on the bridge of my nose, so that I don't need to use another brush. You can use both cream and powder products for this! I actually have been applying blush with this. It's pretty versatile.

Blending (E25): This $14 is a dupe to the $25 MAC 217. It's so so soft, almost like kitty fur. I love incorporating different shades of eyeshadow to create a cohesive, artistic look, but I definitely don't want to look like I don't know what I am doing. 

Diffused Crease (E38): Like the name, I use it to blend out the crease area of my eyeshadow, especially when there's 2+ shades. I also blend my crease with the transition shadow (the area above the crease) close to the brow bone.

Shader Crease (E47): A smaller crease brush, I like to use this to apply the outer V corner of my lid.

Firm Shader (E57): You guessed it, I use this for the my lid!

I also got a free lip gloss that I wasn't too wowed about. 

What they all have in common (and what I have been so impressed with) is the amount of product they seem to pick up compared to my Coastal Scents Brushes. The brush handles are top notch and don't break, and the bristles are still intact. The beauty of Sigma is that I signed up for their mailing list and I will always get a notification whenever there will be a sale going on, but I have to be very, very careful :D They have a variety of brushes for contouring and highlighting, whether you want a sharper, slaying look vs. a soft, subtle one. They also have different sizes for the lids, crease, liners, etc. to cater to customers' different eye shapes and sizes, and I think it's awesome that they take that into consideration.

Do you guys have any Sigma brushes? What are your impressions?

What's in our Wedding Registry?

With a bit more than 9 months to go until we say our "I Do"'s (and today is our 7 year/4 month dating anniversary!), Cecilio and I have been vaguely envisioning our home. We actually started our registry in January and we are slowly adding more and more stuff. No, I would not put the link of our registry on our website nor would I post it on this blog,  but I just wanted to share with you guys a few things we have added (we have registered with Macy's and Bed Bath and Beyond). We our in our mid-late 20's and are still living at home, and I am actually ashamed to even admit that...but our justification is that we both graduated from university and we are trying to save up for our own place. My job is only seasonal right now (I also do respite work for my 16 year old niece who has autism). Plus, it made sense for me to stay home while my dad was still alive and very sick, and while I was going through my own lupus flareups and seizures. Also, I help my mom a lot with my younger sister who has autism. So moving in together as a married couple will be completely new to us, but I am so looking forward to it! We added a mix of practical and kitschy items in our registry, such as:

Keurig® K55 Classic Brewing System
(we actually have a lot of coffee machines in our registry, such as an espresso machine, regular coffee machine, and even a French press!)

Belgique Stainless Steel 11-piece Cookware Set

Moby 20x30 Bath Rug

What was in your registry? Or if not married, what are some must-haves for your [current] or future home?

IT Cosmetics "Your Skin But Better CC Cream"

I've been eyeing the IT Cosmetics CC Cream for about a year now, and for good reason: full coverage, lightweight/natural finish, and high SPF? Come to mama! Especially in this hot weather. I've tried a lot of BB creams and tinted moisturizers that are too sheer or "illuminating" (full of sparkle which I don't always want), or too heavy. 

When I was on the search for this at my local Ulta, I accidentally bought the new IT Cosmetics CC Cream Illumination, which is placed exactly where the original CC Cream used to be. I only realized it as I was applying it on my face and I saw the sparkle all over, and realized that there was something not right about this. I double-checked the box and the bottle, and there was "Illumination", in small cursive letters. The sparkle was akin to my Neutrogena Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer. I lost my receipt too, but thankfully since it's only been 2 days since I owned it, I was able to exchange it with ease (you have to return or exchange something within 60 days at Ulta if you don't have the receipt).

 And oh my gosh, I was walking and one of the employees, who was working at the Benefit Brow Bar right next to the IT Cosmetics stand, kept calling out my name: "Are you Hannah? Did I go to school with you?" And I couldn't recognize her, and asked her: "Did you go to Franklin?" (my high school) and she told me that she went to Laguna Creek High (one of Franklin's rivals, we have like 9 middle and high schools in our school district), and that she remembered me from middle school. We were both on the same track (our middle school was year round, and we were divided into 4 different tracks, and each track had 3 months of school following a 1 month vacation, so it wasn't the traditional school where there was a summer break) and I remembered her when she told me her name! It was nice seeing her, but so awkward. I was bullied relentlessly in middle school, like butt-of-the-jokes bullied, where nobody wanted to be my partner in classes, or a friend of mine had to pretend that she and I were no longer friends because crowd we were in didn't like me anymore, guys pretending to like me (in a mocking way, of course), or spreading sexual rumors about me that were never true, etc. so it has really crushed my confidence to this day. I don't tell anyone in person that's currently in my life, because that will confirm their suspicions about my weirdness. Luckily, this old classmate of mine wasn't one of the ones who bullied me (but I'm sure she knows people who did and that's why she recognized me). She looked completely different (but doesn't everyone 13-15 years ago?). She was sweet and we made small talk, and I was just telling her that I was going to exchange something, and I didn't know what else to say but to make a dash to the line because it was so awkward.

Anyway, I apologize for going off topic about my painfully gawky years. I really have been wanting the IT Cosmetics CC Cream, and I'm so happy that I finally got my hands on it. It is quite pricey for $38, but you get a tall-ish tube (6 inches tall) with 1.08 oz! That is insanely full, and the tube is nice and plump. It also comes with a pump, which I love because I know exactly how much product I am getting:

And you know what? One full pump gives you more than enough coverage. It is thick like lotion, and gives more coverage than some of my higher end foundations, like MUFE and Armani Luminous Silk! For those foundations, I have to use 2 pumps. 

After all, this is the description:

"This highly pigmented multi-tasking beauty miracle truly covers everything, will not crease or crack in fine lines, and gives you a healthy, Your Skin But Better® glow. Paraben-free and SPF 50+ UVA/UVB Broad Spectrum, Physical Only, Non-Chemical Sunscreen."

Here is what 1 pump looks like:

So you can see that it is pretty thick. It has a very limited shade range, and only comes in 5 ranges: fair, light, medium, tan, and rich. I got tan, the 2nd darkest among the range. As you can also see, it is pretty yellow-based, so I'm not sure how it would look on someone with pinkish undertones (but if you are one of those people and have this, let me know!). It matches my skin very well and does not oxidize.

I love how this gives me so much coverage and decreases the appearance of my pores, whereas some of my other foundations accentuate them. However, if I am careless with my skincare routine (which I kinda have been lately), it can be unforgiving and end up looking cakey. But it gives me flawless and full coverage, and it even covers my red nose! It also has SPF 50. I work for the State Fair right now, and although I am always in the admin office, when July rolls around and the fair opens, I will be doing ~50% of my work on the fairgrounds, so I need the sun protection, especially because as a lupus patient I'm technically not supposed to be under the sun (but I still do it anyway). 

The finish is satin/demi-matte. Since I have dry skin, matte foundations are not my friend, such as L'Oreal Pro Matte or MAC Prolongwear. I really notice the "matte"-ness in the work restroom, but it looks more like 2nd skin and natural. I was hesitant to buy this because usually full coverage=heavy feeling, but this is not the case at all. It is so lightweight that I even forget I'm wearing it!

Overall, I think that the IT Cosmetics CC Cream is a must-have summer staple for the mixture of sun protection and flawless coverage!

Do you guys have this and/or the Illuminating CC Cream?

What I have learned/always realized about the Brock Turner case.

No photo on this post. This monster does not deserve to have his face plastered on my blog.

Though this is a beauty/lifestyle blog and I try to write on the lighthearted side, once in a while I discuss controversial events: like comedian Nicole Arbour's video about mocking fat people or a couple who calls off their wedding the weekend before. I swear I keep it to a minimum though because real life is tough, and blogging is a way to escape, just have fun, and connect with others.

But my heart is heavy right now. In the U.S., the story about ex-Stanford University student/swimmer, Brock Turner, is unfolding right before our eyes: he raped an unconscious woman last year after coming from a frat party behind a dumpster. He takes off her clothes, sticks his fingers and other objects in her privates, and forces himself on top of her. To make matters worse? His dad says that Brock's punishment is too harsh for "20 minutes of action".

I've been following this story for the past few days, and it is hard to read. Many people want to deny that rape culture exists, but it is definitely there. And if we keep ignoring it, women will always be silenced and afraid to report it because the burdens and the blames are always placed on them. Rape scenes in movies get me super squeamish and I hate them so much (that was the one thing that disturbed me about The Revenant, not the gory, bloody violence), so it really hurts me to know that this is real life for girls and women everyday. 1 in 5 women will get assaulted in their college campuses. I am so thankful that I have not been, but there was a time where it almost happened (I prefer not to talk about that though). This is the type of stuff that made my dad so protective over me.

Here are some lessons that enforced what I already knew about rape culture and objectification of women:

1. You may think that because you're rich, "educated", athletic with huge aspirations that you can get away with murder, especially when you hire an attorney to defend your case and your judge was a former athlete from Stanford as well. But most people, whom I believe have morals, have ABSOLUTELY zero tolerance for your heinous acts. And you know what's even sadder? This fool is sentenced to jail for ONLY 3 months, when there are people are are sentenced for much longer and harsher (ex: people who have possession of marijuana, especially those who need it for medicinal reasons).

2. You don't have to "look" like a rapist to actually be one...I know that people are distrusting of those who looked older, more homely, or those who are an ethnic minority. I would be lying if I said that racism is no longer an issue in the US: if the attacker was a person of color, you bet your ass that the punishment would be a lot stricter. Remember Ted Bundy, the charming, good-looking, intelligent, All-American guy? Remember how he was capable of murdering 30+ women, and had really detailed strategic and plans for it? Remember how he performed necrophilia on some of those bodies?

3. There is a difference between having a drunken one night stand, where both parties are still conscious vs. someone being completely blacked out and the other party takes advantage of them. At that point, the victim cannot consent. That was the state the victim was in, whereas Brock still consciously assaulted her. And he is not sorry that he did it. He's sorry that he got caught.

4. Party culture on campus is not to blame for raping someone. Even though I wasn't a part of the Greek life or go to parties every weekend, I understand that college is a time of having fun with your friends and drinking. Drinking is fun, especially when you're the "happy drunk" type like I am. Everyone expects to drink at the typical college party, but no one expects to be assaulted. One should not be speaking out against party culture (which is what Brock is blaming his actions on), but about consent and learning to respect one's body.

5. Even though most people are on the victim's side, there are still some comments on Facebook, news websites, etc. that break my heart. Why was she walking back home intoxicated? What was she wearing? No matter how intoxicated she is, how much or how little she was wearing, etc. the last thing she would want is for someone to violate her body.

6. I still have a hard time believing that rape isn't about sexual desire but solely about power. It does make sense to me when they both go hand in hand: the mindset of, I want you, and I am going to get you, no matter what you say or how much you beg, plead or cry. You know you want it anyway, right?

7. Money can bail you out of a harsher punishment, but it can't buy you morals.

I want to raise my son (if I have one) to respect women and to just be a decent human being. Screw the "boys will be boys" mindset. I want him to know that women are to be seen as individuals and not as objects that can be used and thrown around like garbage. And vice versa (I understand that women rape too, but not as much as the former). I can only hope and pray that he will grow up to have integrity and respect for others besides himself.

My top life-changing beauty products

I try not to be too over-the-top when it comes to saying "This [so-so] has changed my life and why you need to try this too!!!", because when I love something, I want to be truly honest about it, and what works for me may not be your ultimate holy grail-product. Still though, I can't help but express my love for products that have been a game-changer for me, beauty-wise. I always wonder how lost I would be without them! (Note: these are makeup-related, not skin or body care).

Before getting my hands on my much-raved-about Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion (Original), I brought tiny eyeshadow products and palettes with me to school and reapply every few hours with the teeny spongey brushes they came with. I was that clueless. I knew eyeshadow primer existed, but I couldn't justify spending $20 on the Urban Decay primer, even though the side-by-side photos of an eye-shadowed lid without primer AND with (the one without primer faded within hours, whereas the one with primer stayed put). Well, this baby is money well-spent. I buy larger palettes, and apply my eyeshadow with real brushes, and with this primer, my eyeshadow still stays on for the next 18+ hours. It's that amazing. I have a LORAC primer and other ones that I may have gotten from beauty subscription boxes, but I don't trust that they are as good as this.

Let's face it: summertime is coming, and it's too hot to be wearing your full-coverage foundation (unless you work in an air-conditioned building like I do). Or you're lazy or in a rush to go somewhere. You know how high-maintance foundation can be: you gotta do your skincare, wait a few minutes before your primer, and then let that sit for a few minutes, etc. That, my friends is why tinted moisturizers and BB creams exist. To give you enough coverage to slightly even out your skin tone but not completely. It's for those days where you want to embrace your little dots. It's so helpful that most of them have SPF too. My Neutrogena Illuminating Tinted Moisturizer has SPF 30, and I brought that with me to Hawaii last summer rather than my full-coverage foundations. I'm glad I did though, because it was humid as hell. There are some exceptions: I recently bought the IT Cosmetics CC Cream, and it has even MORE coverage than some of my higher-end foundations, yet it feels so lightweight that I forget I even wearing it (a review is coming soon).

Okay, so this isn't exactly life-changing for most people...or I guess it could be because the  highlight/contour is one of the defining trends of the 2010s, but to me it means so much more. When I got put back on a high dose of prednisone for my lupus in late 2013, my face puffed up big time. I felt so horrible about myself, and when you are on prednisone, you cannot do anything to stop the moon face or weight gain until your dosage goes lower. So I started watching videos on highlighting and contouring to at least learn to give off the illusion that my face wasn't all THAT poofy. The good news about prednisone is that the lower dose you go on, the more your face will go back to its normal state. I'm taking only 5 mg right now (compared to the 80 mg I was on in November 2013), so my face it's on its way to its normal state (I have naturally sunken in cheekbones), so I don't contour as much as I used to...I mean, I love to contour still! I just don't do it as much. My favorite contouring powder is The Balm Bahama Mama since it's matte and cool toned, and is dark enough for my skin tone. I love the extreme shimmer of BECCA Champagne Pop, though now I have been dying to try Opal.

I don't wear concealer all that much for my face, but for my under eyes? Heck yeah that's where it's needed. But I have wasted so much time and money on concealers that weren't doing me any good. I kept wondering why the concealer under my eyes looked grey rather than brightened. It was only then when I realized I needed an orange-based color corrector, like the BECCA Backlight Colour Corrector (Peach) to cancel out the blue in the dark circles. And although everyone raves about the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, I felt like it didn't give me enough coverage for my dark circles, so now I use that for the dark spots around my face. Instead, I have been using IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye Concealer, which is much thicker and provides more coverage.

I don't know where I would be without this. I use this as a refresher when my makeup looks cakey or as a way to make my eyeshadows look foiled and wet. It feels so so refreshing too, especially during the summer!

I always worried that with translucent powder I would cake it on too much and that it would make my face look too matte (I have dry skin, I don't need a matte look on my face), and that it would show up in photos. But if you use the right technique and don't apply too much, it will make you (and your foundation) look flawless and natural. That is how I feel with the Translucent Setting Powder. When I apply my Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation, the setting powder decreases the appearance of my pores and dry spots.

What beauty products have changed your life for the better?

MannyMUA x Makeup Geek Palette

mannymua, makeup geek, makeup geek eyeshadow, eyeshadow palette

My first encounter with Youtube beauty guru MannyMUA was last year, when I got the Anastasia Beverly Hills Cream Contour Palette, and I was searching for a tutorial on it. The first thing on the Youtube search that came up was his video, and I was very intrigued with his flamboyant personality and his beautifully-crisp makeup. I know that he does put off a lot of people because of his ingenuity. That said, when I saw photos of his eyeshadow palette in collaboration with Makeup Geek, I had to have it in my life. However, I put it off, telling myself...I don't need it, I don't need it!!!!!! (cue Spongebob) A few weeks ago, I gave in.

Ladies, I couldn't resist the foiled shades.

You can get this treasure on the Makeup Geek website for $45, which consists of 9 shades...foiled, shimmery, and matte. The 2 foiled shades, Insomnia (bottom left) and Luna (top right) are worth $10 a pan, whereas the shimmery and matte shades are worth $6. So that means getting each shade individually would add up to $62 total. So this palette is a steal, is it not?

MannyMUA has an affinity for all things astrology/Lunar/moon-related, as you can see in his logo and Youtube header. He also has a liquid lipstick collaboration with OFRA, with the shade names Hypno, Charmed, and Aries.


So it's no surprise that the packaging of this palette is a sleek, black with that is holographic, with the box having space-y elements like shooting stars and of course, the moon:

mannymua, makeup geek, makeup geek eyeshadow, eyeshadow palette

My one complaint about this palette is that the shade names are not printed under the shades themselves. So you have to keep flipping the palette over to find out what the names are.

mannymua, makeup geek, makeup geek eyeshadow, eyeshadow palette

Some of the shades are Makeup Geek's originals, and some are curated by MannyMUA himself. The original shades are Beaches and Cream, Frappe and Cosmopolitan. It's funny because I already have the shade Cosmopolitan from this March's Boxycharm.

Here are the beautiful swatches shown on my arm:

mannymua, makeup geek, makeup geek eyeshadow, eyeshadow palette
Top to bottom:
Artemis (Shimmery creamy white)
Beaches and Cream (Matte light peach)
Luna (Foiled rose gold)
Cosmopolitan (Shimmery pinky-gold)
Sora (Matte tan with teeny sparkles)
Frappe (Matte Medium Warm Brown)
Insomnia (Foiled bluish-red that almost has specks of green shimmer)
Mars (Matte deep burgundy/marsala)
Aphrodite (Matte deep plum)

Now I see why Makeup Geek is so popular in the blogosphere. The shades are so rich in pigment, and they are up to par with MAC and Urban Decay, except that they are much more affordable at $6/pan compared to $16–$20. They are so smooth and have a buttery texture, which is not something you can find even in the drugstore aisles. I've always been intrigued with Makeup Geek, especially because the CEO, Marlena, is a Sacramento native. The shade Mars has kind of a gritty texture, but I actually like it! I keep fondling the shades (okay, that sounds creepy)...but they are just so high-quality and I must say I am impressed! My favorite shades are Insomnia, Artemis and Mars.

You can use the lighter shades on the first 2 rows for everyday wear (especially the matte ones). And the darker, bottom-row shades are perfect for a party or night out! However, I got super-excited about this palette that I went for a dramatic look at work. I felt rockin'! I would say that this is a moodier version of Urban Decay Naked 3.

I also like how he made this palette for ANYONE of all ages and races. As someone with a bit of color, it can be difficult to find beauty products that are flattering and show up on your eyes or lips.

mannymua, makeup geek, makeup geek eyeshadow, eyeshadow palette

I think Makeup Geek scored themselves a new customer. I'm dying to get some of the individual pans to put in a Z-palette, and I definitely want to try their new blushes!

Do you have this palette or any of the Makeup Geek products?

Beauty Saleswomen: overly friendly or just plain pushy?

Photo Courtesy of The Glamorous Gleam

When you walk into your favorite beauty store, you expect excellent treatment from the employees. You expect them to be friendly, helpful, and knowledgable about the products they sell. But what happens if you feel like they are crossing the line and it no longer feels genuine?

I'm asking because I've had 2 incidents at the Macy's Beauty counter in Arden Fair Mall that have really bothered me. I've shopped there many times, but these 2 most recent scenarios stuck out to me. The first time was on my birthday in October. I was testing out the Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks. One of the workers asked me if I needed help with anything. I said "no, I'm okay, thanks though", and I usually expect them to offer they help when they first see me. But then she asked again. And then again for the third time. And she kept staring at me as I was about to test the liquid lipstick and get a disposable lip wand. She offered it to me, and insisted that she apply it on my lips. I kept telling her, "no, it's okay, I will do it myself." 

The 2nd incident was last Friday when I was waiting for 45 minutes to get my brows waxed at the Benefit Brow Bar. I amused myself by looking at the Anastasia Beverly Hills products again. Then an employee asks me if I need help. I politely decline, only to have her ask me again and again and again, and ask how I was doing. And she makes small talk, and offers to apply the liquid lipstick on me. I even used body language (arms folded, no eye contact) to convey that I did not need or want help.

Why am I making a big deal about this? They were just trying to be nice! But during both times, I felt like they were breathing down my back, following me and that they were suspicious of me (do I even look like someone who would shoplift?) It felt "fake" nice to me. Either that or they were being insanely pushy since they work on commission. I applied for the Macy's in Downtown Sacramento to be a seasonal Beauty Advisor for the holidays, and during the application process (which was online), I had to do a survey. All I know based on taking the survey and doing research about the Beauty Advisor position (I got an interview offer, but not the job) was that working for Macy's was all about sales, and hitting a specific goal number for each single day. I recently took a peak at my INFP personality profile, where I could not at all be a high-pressure salesperson. I guess even if I really wanted that job and to be able to apply makeup on people, the more important thing is to try to pressure a product on a customer in order for them to buy it. I can't be pushy and aggressive, it's not who I am, which is why I stick to beauty blogging: it's more honest and not in-your-face.

However, I have not had this experience of being followed and cajoled at the Macy's in Downtown Sacramento or Roseville Galleria. I have not even encountered this in Nordstrom. I even found this little gem about the Arden Fair Mall Macy's Beauty Counter on Yelp:

The beauty about shopping at Sephora and Ulta is that the employees are friendly, and offer to help you, but if you decline, they leave you alone. Of course, they don't work on commission like the ones at Macy's do, which could be a huge part of the reason they are pushy. I ask for help when needed and they are happy to help me, and I have a satisfying shopping experience. And say negative things about MAC all you want because of how rude and aloof their MUAs are, but I like being left to my own devices and asking for help on a particular product or technique when I am clueless about something. I don't know, but I've had a pretty good experience with the MAC MUAs in the Sacramento-area malls (Downtown, Roseville, Arden—their own store, not in Nordstrom). They have been super friendly and kind to me, but they absolutely let me shop in peace. Of course, I don't want them to act on the opposite direction and be rude, because I would cry! (just kidding!)

To me, there's a difference between being friendly and wanting to provide the best customer service vs. being so over-the-top sweet that it's hard to trust you.

Have you guys encountered an employee at your favorite beauty store where you felt like you were being followed around to the point where it became uncomfortable? What was your experience like?