July Beauty Favorites

Despite my best intentions, July is the month with the least posts so far this year. Why? For those of you who read my blog, you may know that I have been working/interning for the California State Fair since May. The internship ended this past Thursday. It was an amazing experience, and I met some awesome, energetic people (one of my bosses was Cecilio's former coworker, and she was an Emmy-winning reporter and teaches yoga!), and my confidence has soared so much that I feel like I will be tackle an interview. In fact, I have an interview this coming Wednesday. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers!

So when the fair started from July 8–24, I was working 10–12 hours a day. No joke. And you would think I would gain a lot of weight from eating all the deep fried, fatty foods, right? Also, there would be donuts, cakes, and pastries in the office and I sure as hell will not deny them! Despite all the food around me, I lost 5 pounds. Yes, you heard that right. I was keeping my breakfasts light (my teeth have also been insanely sensitive lately, and I am having insurance issues, but that's for another story...), and I have been walking in the heat (sometimes it would get up to 110°!) wrangling out mascot Poppy while everyone has been swarming us and asking for photos. Plus, I burned a hole in my wallet for buying all those foods. But I am happy, and I will start devising an exercise/healthy eating plan now. 5 pounds don't seem like much, but let's not forget that I have been taking prednisone for almost 3 years and gained 40 pounds from it. I'm now down 15 pounds since last year, so it's a pretty big deal to me.

Because of my intense work schedule and because of the heat, I hardly wore makeup. There were some days where I dolled up (like for the engagement photos, 4th of July parties, very few work days), but 95% I went bare-faced with the exception of brows, mascara, gel blushes, and a form of lip color (tinted lip balm, gloss or lipstick). I couldn't even find time to wax my brows.

What beauty products have I been reaching for this past month?

Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil: This eyebrow pencil has been my jam. Sure, I have other brow pencils, but I have been reaching out for this more and more. It's really pricey at $24, so you bet I am making the most of it! It is super pigmented too, and I love the thin, precise (no pun intended) pencil so when I outline my brow, it reaches the other point. It's so thin that it creates the illusion of real brow hairs when you fill them in.

Milani Baked Blush (Bellissimo Bronze): I know it's called a blush, but I use this as a bronzer and sweep it with a kabuki brush to give me a sunny summer glow. Don't think that just because you're tan that you don't need bronzer. Well, it's not an absolute must, but I feel like sun bunny goddess from using this.

Hard Candy Cheeky Tint (Diva): During the days I didn't wear any other makeup, I still reached for this. It's a very lightweight formula, and buildable to however much pigment you want. It even withstood sweat and heat. Diva, the hot pink shade, is my favorite and gives me that "just chillin' out on the sun" look.

NYX Mat Velvet Lipstick (Charmed): I was really excited when these came out. The packaging is exactly like the NYX Matte lipsticks, except that the formula is creamier (still a little drying though). I really love the shade Charmed; it's a warm rosy nude that goes WONDERFULLY with my skin tone. You know how hard it is to find a nudish-rosy shade for those with darker skin? Well, I really really recommend this shade. It's probably going to my one of my signature shades.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Gloss (Warm Bronze): I've been more into gloss lately because it's not as drying as lipstick. ABH lip glosses are one of my favorites because it feels smooth and not sticky, and they are in no way sheer. Despite the name of the shade Warm Bronze, it's a deeper dusty pink shade. It's super flattering on all skin tones! It goes well on it's own, but I also like applying it over the NYX Charmed lipstick.

What beauty products have you been loving in July?

Lets Get Cheeky with Hard Candy

Hard Candy Cheeky Tints

Honestly, I have hardly been wearing, if any, makeup lately. And how can I have time when I have been working 10–12 hours a day for 2+ weeks, sometimes going out in 90–100° weather? Especially when I'm dead exhausted and need a few minutes of sleep vs. primping? I can't bear the thought of my foundation melting off when walking around and sweating, even with primer and setting spray. I can't risk my pores getting clogged. Still, I want to some fresh color to my face, with faking the natural glow (and no, not the tomato redness I get from dying in the heat).

I've been eyeing the Hard Candy Cheeky Tints since the weather started warming up in March and since I found them in Walmart. They were released in the Spring 2016 Collection and come in 6 shades. I love how most non-powder blushes go well with my dry skin and give me naturally flushed cheeks to go with my tan. Plus, I adore the paint tube packaging (Hard Candy has irresistibly girly packaging!), AND Hard Candy has amazingly reasonably priced products. For $6 a pop, you get a lot of product in the tube and it will last you a long time.

Packaging-wise, these are great. It comes with a silver peel-off under the cap, and even then it doesn't get messy like other gel blushes.

I would say that this is absolutely a dupe for the Josie Maran Lip & Cheek Oil at $18 (without the argan oil) or the Sephora Colorful Cheek Ink Gel at $14.

It has a thicker consistency than Josie Maran's Oil and comes across as very pigmented, which I love because I don't want to keep having to build it up. However, if you are someone who is intimidated by the opaque look (even though it is also labeled as Sheer Blush Gel, it looks opaque upon swatching), don't be afraid because once you blend it in, it definitely turns sheer with that lovely summery tint. You can blend it with your fingers or a sponge.

Hard Candy Cheeky Tints
Top–Bottom: Diva, Surfer Babe, Geisha

I have gotten the 3 shades that I know/feel look best with my skin tone, especially because I am A LOT more tan now:

Diva: A hot Barbie pink.

Surfer Babe: Peachy coral.

Geisha: Candy apple red.

One thing I have been impressed with is the longevity. I applied Diva on my cheeks at around 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, and at work I was walking around the fairgrounds handling/guiding our mascot when it was 104°, at 5 p.m. At that point, I was sweating bullets. I took this selfie in the shade and was pretty wowed when I saw that it still stayed and left a subtle stain!

Hard Candy Cheeky Tints Diva

If you are looking for a no-fuss, summer blush with lots of pigment without breaking the bank, I highly recommend running, not walking, to your nearest Walmart to grab a pop or 2 (or 3 like me!)

Do you have the Hard Candy Cheeky Tints? What are your favorite non-powder blushes for the summer?

Engagement Photos!!!

For me personally, when these engagement photos came out, it hit me that this wedding is only 8 months away. That may seem like a long time for others, but we have been engaged since March 2015. Now, we took a pause on wedding planning because my work has been so so crazy (but I end on the 29th), but come August we will start doing our cake tastings, pre-marriage counseling, DIY projects, and me meeting up with a potential makeup artist (only because my 2nd cousin from Australia has a friend in the Bay Area who is a MAC MUA and recommended her to me).

For our engagement session, we chose a tiny little town on the edge of the Bay Area, Crockett. Why did we choose this random town, pay a $75 travel fee when there were so many beautiful locations around Sacramento where we could've had our photoshoot? Scroll down and you'll see why...

We didn't drive around Crockett enough when we went in April, but our photographer found some gorgeous flowers and cacti for us to take photos in front of. We arrived an hour and a half early before our photoshoot, thinking we would hit horrible traffic due to 4th of July weekend (the photoshoot was on July 1), but our side of the freeway was practically empty whereas the other side dealt with the pileup. As we were waiting we were getting so worried and antsy thinking we were not going to look good in the photos. But upon getting them last week, we couldn't stop looking at them...

Our photographer found this gorgeous scenery of trees while we were changing our clothes. We had no clue about it. But she found that it was right next to a park, and you had to go up a flight of stairs to get to it. We were actually afraid that she or one of us were going to fall, since we were really high up on a hill. A funny 10-year old boy came up and started making bunny ears to our photographer, gooding around, pretending to assist her...he probably loosened me up a little bit. He kept making me hungry by randomly mentioning talking about food..."chicken. pizza. hot dogs. burgers. Fenton's (a famous ice cream shop in Vacaville, CA)." Cecilio was getting annoyed with him though, and Lisa (our photographer) said nicely, "okay, that's enough". haha.

The town Crockett has a lot of meaning to us because it is home to the C&H Sugar Factory. It's on the way from San Francisco. We go to San Francisco A LOT (not a lot lately though), and whenever we go home, we drive by the sign (it lights up at night and it's so gorgeous) before we hit the toll booth. We get in awe and squeeze hands because of our initials. In fact, our wedding hashtag on Instagram is #CHSugarForever and now people will get it! (My personal Instagram is chicken_poopie whereas my makeup/blogging one is hannaheunice.hearts.makeup). We thought we wouldn't be able to take photos in front of the building or sign because we would be in private property; but we somehow were able to and the workers driving by didn't mind :)

I just want to thank Elisabeth Arin Photography for these gorgeous photos and for making us feel at ease during the photoshoot. Cecilio and I are obsessed with them. We figure, if we love them that much right now (and that's a stretch for me: I usually do not like taking a lot of photos), I can only imagine how blown away we will be with the wedding photos.

Gimme Precisely Brows, please–A BeneBrow Haul

I'm such a sucker. Last month, I went to the mall, since it's just right down the street from where I work. I needed to get my brows waxed at the Macy's Benefit Brow Bar a week before my engagement photo session. So I got them waxed, and the lady who waxed them offered to put some eyebrow makeup on me. She reached for the Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil, and she started to to draw some lines on her hands. I got really nervous, because I want my brows to look natural and not have that fake-Instagram look, and the pencil looked a bit too dark and pigmented for my taste. She told me not to worry, because as soon as she blends it, it would look natural. She outlines the shape with the pencil and fills them in, along with using the Benefit Gimme Brow.

I loved how my brows looked so much that I decided to pre-order, since they were offering that a few days before the Benefit Brow Collection launch. And I loved how the ladies at the Benefit Brow are not as pushy as the beauty saleswomen who worked alongside Anastasia Beverly Hills, Too Faced, Tarte, Smashbox, BareMinerals, etc.

The Benefit Brow Collection released in June 2016, with new brow products in various formulas such as gel, pencil, and powder. There are also the original products (Gimme Brow and Brow Zings) in the collection that have been repackaged to that silver-clear exterior. I find it funny how Precisely, My Brow looks like an X-acto knife :)

Benefit Precisely, My Brow is a pencil similar to Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz and the NYX Micro Brow in which the pencil is retractable and that there is a spoolie on the other end. It comes in 6 shades, with 1 being the lightest and 6 the darkest. I got shade 5. As the name states, it is extremely thin and precise, that you can fill in the gaps in your brows lightly with this and it gives the illusion of fuller brows. It is perfect to draw the tip of your outer brow, which I know is not easy. It's not at all cheap for $24 (that's $3 more than Brow Wiz), but I feel like it the pigment would help make it last a long time. You can push harder for more pressure and a stronger, more defined brow, or you can just lightly fill it in. I want my brows to be defined, but also natural. Though I like using it in conjunction with Gimme Brow, I also use this alone, especially when I am in a hurry :)

Gimme Brow is one of the classic Benefit Brow products that has been repackaged to fit in with the rest of the collection. Here is what the old packaging looks like:

I actually never considered purchasing it until a classmate from university was raving about it to me and she showed me a photo of herself wearing it. I could've sworn she didn't have any at all! That's how natural it looked on her! At the time, I was not big on brow products (I just started using the NYX brow powder!), so I couldn't justify spending $24 on it. So months later, I got its dupe, the Maybelline Brow Powder. Though I love the Maybelline Brow Drama, the Gimme Brow is a much smaller spoolie, making those hard-to-reach-and-fill areas easier. Gimme Brow comes in 3 shades: 1 (light), 3 (medium), and 5 (deep, which is what I have).

Spoolies for Gimme Brow (left) and Precisely, My Brow (right)

So using these products together and after trying to mimic my wax lady's technique, here is how I did my own brows....

I know they're not the same on both sides, but I've heard the saying that brows are sisters, not twins.

I do highly recommend both products, and they work fantastically together and on their own. Precisely, My Brow also lasts up to 12 hours! I wore it during my date with Cecilio at the fair, and while the rest of my makeup melted from the heat, the brows didn't budge.

Do you have any brow products from Benefit that you love?

Irresistible Me Diamond Flat Iron Review

This post is sponsored by Irresistible Me and the product was sent for free of charge to review. However, my opinions are 100% my own.

Growing up in the Bay Area, I've always had frizzy, wavy hair that was hard to manage. I was always so jealous of the other Asian girls that had thin, pin-straight hair. Could it have been the fog and proximity to the ocean that caused it? Possibly. It was still a problem when I just moved to the Sacramento area when I was 11 1/2, but as high school started rolling around, my hair became straighter and much more manageable. I think the dry heat in Sacramento got along with my hair. Of course, no matter how straight it gets, I will always have a bit of a wave. My mom jokes that she determines her favorite city by how her hair looks. She loves Reno and Denver because they give her beautiful hair, whereas humid places such as Florida and the Philippines cause her tresses to roll in a ball of frizz. You see, my mom has naturally coarse hair that she hated growing up, and it's not surprising that she straightens it regularly. When I was in 7th grade, she straightened my hair for me too. While I got my slight coarseness from her, it got compensated with the straight hair from my dad.  But honestly, I had the best hair of my life  in 2009. I was healthy despite lupus, and I had long, thick and straight locks. Here's an evolution:

1999: Goofing off with my nephew, Nico. Look how unruly my hair was! Just look!

2009: No straightening required

Right now, my hair has been resembling the 1999 version. And I am not happy. I know well it could be my lupus flareups from the past 5 years, or it could be the shampoo and conditioner I am using (I use OGX). However, Irresistible me contacted me in order to send me either their hair extensions or their ceramic hair straightener, aka the Diamond Flat Iron. I, without a doubt, chose the latter. 

I was really amazed with how quick the shipping process was! Madison from Irresistible Me have been emailing each other back and forth, and she told me that the flat iron was shipped on June 14. I found it in my mailbox on June 15

The Diamond Straightener is $149, which seems high for someone like me who never ever straightens their hair, but would probably be reasonable for my mom who lives and dies by a flat iron. 

The ceramic plates are coated with crushed diamond particles and tourmaline. What does that mean? According to the Irresistible Me Flat Iron Fact Sheet, these materials will protect your hair and lock the oils and moisture. So if you are someone who is terrified of damaging your hair, you may want to consider this.

This is considered a "smart" product because it tells you the temperature once you turn it on, and you can adjust it accordingly with the buttons. The buttons are inside, so you don't have to worry about accidentally pushing it while you are straightening. Although you have to be careful, you don't want to burn yourself! And trust me, it gets hot within seconds of turning on. Which is good, because who wants to wait for the temperature to rise? Ain't nobody got time for that!

Isn't it neat how it shows the temperature? Notice the line above with the green LED lights and the 3 dots indicate the heat settings. Irresistible Me has a guideline on what temperature you should set it as based on your hair type:

1 Bottom (Fine or Damaged Hair): 250–350°F
2 Middle (Medium or Normal Hair): 300–350°F
3 Top (Thick or Coarse Hair): 350–450°F

I assumed that because my hair is between fine and normal, that I could lower the temperature. However, I found that the first 2 times I used it, the temperature was 260° and I felt like it didn't straighten my hair all the way. It straightened it, but I still had that annoying wave. I grew more frustrated. Well, I increased my temperature...and what do you know, it works like a charm at 370°F! 

I still have a tiny wave on the after photo, but it's hardly noticeable.

As for longevity? The curl came back a little bit after a day, but it still held up pretty well. After Day 3, I went back to the before photo. However, it could be possible that my OGX shampoo and conditioner are playing a part in keeping my hair wavier than I would like. I will be testing different shampoos and conditioners, and if anyone has suggestions, please let me know in the comments! Erin from Make Erin Over has had great results with it, and it has lasted her 3 days!

Overall, I think this is a great product, especially for hair-straightener beginners like me who need to smart technology to set the temperature correctly. It is also quick in heating and straightening. It actually took me 12 minutes to straighten everything. It is very light-weight and easy to bring with you for traveling, which is not something I can say about a lot of straighteners. Whether you're a straightening novice or are skilled and are curious, I highly recommend this.

Now tell me..

Do you straighten your hair? If so, how often? What hair products do you use before straightening?

A very "fair" date

California State Fair

This past month has been hectic for me, and I haven't been blogging as much as I wanted to. As you (mostly) know, I work/intern for the California State Fair. It's annual summer attraction—the "thing" to do if you're from Sacramento, because lets face it; as much as I have love for this area (I've lived here for 15 years,  compared to the 9 years I have spent in the Bay Area), there is not as much to do here as there is in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, etc.

A bit of background for my non U.S./Canada blogging buddies: Each state has their own fair, which usually (but not always) takes place in the state's capital. And every county in each state has their own smaller fairs. State and county fairs usually take place in the summer and early fall. Originally, fairs have started to promote agriculture and start livestock competitions. They still have the "Best of Show" for specific farm animals, but fairs have evolved into fun havens filled with carnival rides, delicious (but very, very fatty) foods, concerts, games where you can win prizes (like a pet fish or a stuffed animal), etc. 

I have been working here since May, 24–32 hours a week. Since the fair opened up last week, I have been working 10–12 hours a day. I finally was able to take a day off yesterday, and Cecilio and I have been planning on going. He's actually surprised that I haven't gotten sick of it yet! But of course, going for recreational purposes is a different story. I have been the the fair a few times as a teen, but we have been going every year since after the first year we started dating. We have so much fun, despite the heat. Can you believe we braved the 100°F weather?!

Fairs are notorious for their delicious, but deep-fried food. You have your typical classic "fair" food: turkey leg, chili cheese tater tots, baked potatoes with lots of works (cheese, sour cream, meat, etc.), corn dogs, cotton candy, deep-fried Twinkies, etc. There is in fact, a booth called Bacon Habit, that serves bacon-wrapped turkey legs, hot dogs, corn, asparagus, and even chocolate-covered bacon! However, there are also ethnic fare (no pun intended), such as Greek, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Thai (which happens to serve pho, which is weird since that is a Vietnamese dish). Since food is a huge part of fair culture, I will be doing a blog post or 2, calling it my "Fair Food Diary", showcasing what I have been eating here.

Now, during our little date, Cecilio ordered a bacon-wrapped hot dog with fries from Bacon Habit, whereas I opted for Mexican from Pepe's Marisco's. I ordered 2 tacos (beef and chicken), with a side of chips, salsa and guacamole. It was so so delicious, just like authentic street Mexican food. It was flavorful, but still light compared to most of the other foods there. I will be coming back for their shrimp ceviche!

California State Fair

California State Fair

California State Fair
Pepe's Mariscos also had a booth just for their fruit cups and drinks right across from their food booth. I ordered a watermelon agua fresca, which was pretty good but a bit sweeter than I would have liked.

California State Fair
Cecilio ended up ordering Agua de Jamaica for the both of us as well, which consists of dried hibiscus flowers.

California State Fair
A funnel cake is also one of those classic fair foods. It is a cake batter that is poured through the funnel and deep fried with oil, and it's powdered with sugar, and topped with strawberries, apples, or cream.

Normally for dessert, Cecilio and I get a deep-fried Nutella or deep-fried Twinkie (for him), and a deep-fried cookie dough (for me). But since we have never tried the funnel cake, I have been so curious about it. I loved it, he liked it; at first. But after a few minutes into it, he started having that "Oh-my-gosh-I-hate-myself-I-feel-like-shit" feeling after a super-heavy, fatty meal for the next half hour. For me, I really, really enjoyed it, but that's probably because I skipped lunch and had a light Mexican dinner. However, since we got the Bavarian cream funnel cake, I didn't start eating the cream part until much later. I could taste the fat afterward and I could definitely see how it could be insanely heavy if I had more to eat throughout the day. Cecilio loves donuts and has a big sweet tooth, but he could not stand this at all. This is best for 3–4 people. Needless to say, he will never have this again.

California State Fair

That little area pictured above is the farm, which is very educational and fascinating. There is a chef that does demonstration on how to cook dishes straight from the garden, hydroponic greenhouses, sturgeon fish, insect pavilion, and a garden with hundreds of variations of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers!

California State Fair
Unripe beefsteak tomatoes!

California State Fair
Eggplants just waiting to be cooked

California State Fair
Strolling around the farm

Cecilio and I are big animal lovers, and we usually see cows, goats and cheep in the big barn where they have their livestock competitions. We still got to see the goats (there was a Pygmy goat show and angus beef show going on the day that we went), but we decided to go check out the petting zoo and feed the adorable little farm animals!

California State Fair
A llama and an alpaca walk into a bar...

California State Fair
There was a cockfight going on here!

California State Fair
Sheep are one of my favorite farm animals!

California State Fair
Cecilio with the alpaca

California State Fair
I'm so fascinated with the wallaby! I never ever thought I would see a wallaby or kangaroo in person, considering that they primarily in Australia. There are 2 wallabies in the petting zoo, one of which had a baby in her pouch!

California State Fair
This adorable little piglet though!

California State Fair
Though this horse wasn't a part of the petting zoo, I couldn't resist a photo of him.

Now it's ride time. Cecilio is deathly afraid of most rides. He can barely stand the Ferris wheel, but we still go on it anyway. But other rides? Forget about it. However, there came a new ride, the Sky Ride, that is now a permanent addition to the fairgrounds. It is akin to a gondola, and you ride over the fairgrounds and the monorail, which sounds insanely fun. It took me a few weeks of prodding Cecilio to finally muster up the courage to do it. We were taking photos, videos, Snapchats (at least for me...follow me on chicken_poopie if you want to see the 2 snaps I have of Sky Ride), but we were also squeezing hands tightly and enjoying the moment. When we got off, I was jumping for joy and adrenaline!

California State Fair
Ascending to the top...can you see how sweaty I am?

California State Fair
Rollin' in these Converses

California State Fair

California State Fair

California State Fair
Views from the top

We almost rode the Ferris wheel too, but decided to not go through with it. Next year we will do Sky Ride and Ferris wheel!

Another thing Cecilio and I like to do is go to the Expo center and check out the buildings where there are art showcases. I love looking at the Youth Art Showcase...they inspire me to keep drawing or practicing photography, but they also put me to shame with how amazing they are!

California State Fair

There is also a building dedicated to the Fur & Feathers exhibition, which hosts competitions for chickens, geese, turkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, and parrots! This is another activity Cecilio and I love to do: walk around looking at these huge animals (with rabbits bigger than my 2 10–11 pound dogs), seeing chick eggs hatch, and getting a bird to perch on your finger, like this little cockatiel:

California State Fair

California State Fair
A chicken from the Fur & Feathers Exhibition

California State Fair
Yes, I admit it...Cecilio and I are into Pokemon Go. There are A LOT of Pokemon in the fair, and Pokestops (points of interests where you can get Pokeballs to catch Pokemon). It's only perfectly fitting that I caught Spearow in an exhibition dedicated to birds. I also caught Pidgey here.

Afterwards, my phone died. We did walk around a little bit and we sat on some grass and watched Tower of Power perform live.

We had an amazing time. Now I am planning for next year's fair date, in which we will be already married by then! Every winter, the fairgrounds also hosts Winter Wonderland, which also has rides and food booths...but it's just as magical. I'm looking forward to that too!