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Hi Jolies! I am travelling to Europe soon for a long vacation, so I had to leave you with an extra-special post. This one was requested by my cousin, who is looking to invest in a new set of makeup brushes. And it’s a wise choice! Having the right makeup brushes can really make a difference in how smoothly and accurately you are able to apply your makeup… though value varies on the brush and its use. If you’re shopping on a budget or don’t know where to start, begin by investing in your *face* brushes collection, then move on to *eye* brushes.

My splurge brushes are from MAC Cosmetics and Makeup Forever; my slightly less fancy brushes are from Clinique and Estee Lauder. Another great option for budget makeup brushes is Sonia Kashuk (available at Target). You can really tell a brush’s quality by the softness of its hair, how well it maintains its shape (no bent hairs), and its longevity.

So what are the makeup brushes every girl must have?

FACE

MAC 187 Duo Fibre Brush ($42): for use with liquid or cream foundations

This one’s a special one, because it HAS to be used with a particular technique: stippling. Basically it involves dotting the foundation onto your face evenly, then swirling and buffing it in. The stippling method (there are many great tutorials of this on YouTube) is the best I’ve found for applying liquid or cream foundations, because you don’t end up overapplying or with those unattractive foundation lines on your jawline/neck. You’ll get a smooth and natural finish.

MAC 182 Buffer Brush ($49.50) (a Kabuki brush): for use with powders

Kabuki brushes are huge, fluffy, soft brushes that are excellent for buffing on translucent, sheer, or colored powders. Great for light coverage all over the face.

MAC 116 Blush Brush ($34): for use with blush/bronzer

Self-explanatory. A blush brush can be used with face powders, including blusher and bronzer.

Concealer brush: for applying concealer

I personally prefer to use my ring finger to apply concealer, as the warmth from your hand helps to blend the concealer into your skin. However, if you wish to use a brush for concealer, try Benefit’s concealer brush (favored by Kim Kardashian’s makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic) or even the MAC 190 Foundation brush, which has been used by Bollywood makeup artist Mickey Contractor for applying concealer over a large area.

You are an artist, and these are your brushes!

EYES

MAC 266 Small Angle Brush ($19.50): for applying gel eyeliner

An angle brush is necessary for applying gel eyeliner (which I recommend in nearly every makeup breakdown). If you haven’t brought gel eyeliner into your life, honey it’s time! Don’t use a cheapy brush on this one, as they can be too pointy or scratchy and cause more harm than good.

MAC 217 Blending Brush ($22.50) and MAC 219 Pencil Brush ($24.50): for creating a smoky eye look

You can be slightly more flexible with eyeshadow brushes, as much of the art is in the technique, but if you’re looking for a good starting place, the 217 and 219 will be helpful.

LIPS

Lip brush: for applying lip color (lipstick, lipstain, lipgloss, etc.)

Poke around your mom’s drawers for a lip brush that came as a Clinique or Estee Lauder GWP, or grab one from the drugstore– cuz this baby is gonna get washed frequently!

This is one of my less frequently used brushes, but is definitely worth having for applying a tricky dark lipstick, like a red or very deep plum.

And those are the makeup brushes E.G.M.H! Remember to keep them clean and dry, and wash them periodically with a little Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and water. Neglect could not only damage the brushes (and therefore your wallet) but also your skin! Treat your brushes well and they will last you years and years.

Do you have any brushes you just can’t live without? Let me know!

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Tonight I’m covering a very popular topic– and perhaps the most important one for every Indian woman to learn about. Concealing under eye darkness.

Well, ladies. We’ve all got it. It’s here to stay. Under eye darkness is hugely prevalent among South Asian women; it’s a result of bone structure and genetics.

Though it’s impossible to get rid of completely, there are some tips and tricks that can help reduce the appearance of under eye darkness:

  • Almond oil. Using your ring finger, gently massage almond oil around your eyes (from the outside-in under the eyes and from the inside-out on the lids and brow area) after thoroughly removing your makeup every night.
  • Drink lots of water. Stay hydrated; it’ll help keep your skin plump and dewy. If you are dehydrated, your under eye circles or hollows will only look darker and will take on a papery consistency.
  • Facial exercises. It makes sense, right? You exercise your body to keep it fit and to encourage blood circulation… do the same for your face!
  • Eat healthy, take your multivitamins. Darkness around the eyes could be a sign of vitamin or mineral deficiency. Eating well will also keep your energy levels up, which is crucial for bright eyes and glowing skin.
  • Sleep well. Well-rested eyes are happy eyes!
  • Do not spend too much time staring at the computer/TV. If you have to work at a desk for long hours, look away; focus your eyes on something far away from you at least once every 30 minutes (to relax the eyes).
  • Use an eye creamif you feel like it works. I’m skeptical about eye creams– I think they’re a marketing gimmick for the most part– but since they are very popular among celebrities and dermatologists, maybe there’s something to it. As for my own personal experience, I’ve found that a light smear of Vaseline (petroleum jelly) under my eyes at night made my under eye hollows much less apparent the next day (superficial water retention)… but I recommend doing this only on occasion, as mineral oil can clog pores.
  • Don’t be sad about it. Do NOT use fairness creams; they could cause terrible damage to your eyes. Accept your under eye darkness… remember, your favorite Bollywood stars, from actress Rani Mukherjee to Sonam Kapoor, all have under eye darkness, and use makeup to hide it! You’re not alone!

Those are just a few ways you can try to lighten the skin under or around your eyes. But for many girls, these home remedies are simply not enough. That’s when we turn to concealer.

First of all- identify the problem. If you are an Indian, there is a fair chance that what you have are not under eye circles at all, but under eye hollows.

Kareena Kapoor rocking the under eye hollows!

Under eye hollows, as modeled by Bebo above, are extremely common for South Asian women; it’s a skull shape thing. It’s most noticeable on those of us with close-set eyes. Nothing can dramatically alter the hollows apart from plastic surgery. The undereye area is sort of indented and deep-set, and although the skin itself might not necessarily be terribly dark, the shape of the hollow creates a shadowy darkness that can be very difficult to lighten.

So what to do?

Cream concealer. 

I recommend the amazing MAC Studio Finish Concealer SPF 35. It’s an opaque concealer, meaning it’s equipped to handle any concealing task you throw at it. Another benefit is that MAC concealers come in a wide range of shades, meaning there will be a match for everyone. (For reference, I use the NC 35 concealer on my NC 40-42 skin.) Go for a concealer that either matches your skin color or is one shade lighter.

As for liquid concealers… meh. I’ve tried both kinds and have always preferred cream concealers for their lasting power and their opacity. Liquid concealers are best suited for girls who need lighter coverage on under eye circles. Pair a liquid concealer with a brightening powder (Laura Mercier Secret Brightening Powder in #2) to set it for longer-lasting results. Brightening powders are said to help reduce the appearance of under eye hollows.

The key to concealing well is LAYERING. Don’t try and gob it on all at once. Using a clean finger, apply a very, very thin layer by dabbing and pressing gently. Do it again. And again, if needed, until the darkness is covered. Applying your under eye concealer in thin layers will help prevent creasing, caking, and overapplying. The heat generated from your finger will help melt and blend the concealer into your skin in a way that a brush can not, giving it a more natural appearance.

And that’s all there is to it! Hope this was helpful! Let me know all about your under eye concealing adventures. 🙂

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As soon as I applied it this morning, I knew I HAD to share this lip color with you all! My newest makeup craze is LIP STAINS. I think they are the bomb diggity. The one I am wearing here is a new purchase from Ulta: Palladio Lip Stain in Rose.

The lipstain comes in a marker form (so you basically color in your lips with a makeup marker, how fun is that?). It smells yummy, and has no discernible taste. You apply it on dry, bare lips (lip balm underneath will only cause it to slide off or fade, defeating the point of a lip “stain”). Apply evenly, keeping your lips open to allow them to dry. After 30 seconds, feel free to top with your favorite lip balm, and watch as the lip stain lasts ALL day, through drinking, eating, talking, and more– with NO transfer onto coffee cups or spoons! I will let the “Rose” color speak for itself in the pictures. I highly, highly recommend this lip color for any girl with olive, tan, or dark skin. And what’s best, it’s only $5.99!

What do you ladies think? Have you tried a lip stain before? … Have I convinced you yet?

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I’m a firm believer in having all the basics.  Basics are the foundation for any outfit.  Before you can put stylish pieces together, you need to have all your basics down pat.

The most basic of the basics are tees and tanks.  You will wear these items more than you can even imagine: under cardigans, sweaters, blouses, henleys, sheer tops, low cut garments, tucked into skirts and jeans and shorts, and (of course) on their own.  The easiest (and yet oh-so-chic) outfit you’ll ever wear is a pair of jeans and a plain white tee., with the right accessories that combination is incredibly stylish (just as Tina Chow).

You should have basic tees and tanks in white, black, and grey and/or nude (nude can loosely translate to tan or beige as well).  Black and white are infinitely useful, that needs no explanation.   Grey is also incredibly versatile and (I think) kind of a cool-girl neutral color, while nude is great for wearing under sheer garments because it doesn’t show through like white does (and, if you ask me, I think nude is also a great color to wear!).

As for the different types of tees and tanks you should get, I’ve divided them into three easy to remember categories!

#1: The “Boy” Tops: Crew Neck Tees, V-Neck Tees, Wife Beaters

We can’t let the guys have all the fun!  These “boy” shaped tees are great casual wear and create an instant outfit over jeans and shorts (once again I reference the immortal Tina Chow).  Just remember, “boy” shaped doesn’t mean a huge tent, just slightly looser fit and a very traditional cut (no cap sleeves allowed!).  Toss on a sweater over them in the winter or tuck them into a high-waisted skirt for a carefree summer look.  These tees are the epitome of casual chic, the kind of style that says “no, I didn’t try but, yes, I look great”.

Warning: these tees can throw you into slob-ville if you’re not careful.  Avoid wearing these tees with sweats unless you’re working out (or want people to think you’re working out).

Fashion tip: ACCESSORIZE.  Avoid looking boring with accessories!  Bracelets, necklaces, earrings, cute shoes, a cardigan, or a cute bag will complete this casual chic look.

Shopping Guide:

The Savvy Buy: Hanes.  Yes, you can buy the same shirts that your fathers, brothers, uncles, and cousins buy at their local Targets, Walmarts, Meijers, or Costcos.  They’re inexpensive and well-made (just ask the men in your life) and easy to find.  These shirts are in men’s sizes so go down a size or two (ex: f you’re a medium, try a men’s small or children’s large), but because of children’s sizing options these tees come in an abundance of size options.  Also, they come in bulk (usually 6 tees in a package) so you can stock up or split them with a friend who is your size.

The Popular Buy:  American Apparel.  American Apparel is hugely popular, especially amongst the college set, for crew neck and v-neck tees.  They have a huge selection of sizes and colors.  I have a large number of American Apparel tees and, while I do like them, I don’t recommend them for you guys.  First of all, they’re quite pricey (between $20-24 per tee) and the quality is hit-or-miss.  I’ve had certain tees last years and others either 1) have the seams unravel or 2) twist awkwardly after washing.  So, while the fit and fabric are quite nice, I would be cautious when purchasing American Apparel products.

The Splurge Buy: just don’t splurge on this type of garment, please?  Inexpensive brands like Hanes, Forever21, H&M, and Uniqlo have great “boy” shaped tees.

Danqing’s Buy: I have purchased a lot of tees in my life (all the types listed above and more) but my favorite are from Uniqlo’s +J line (+J is designed for Uniqlo by Jil Sander).  These tees are a reasonable price, have a great cut and great fabric, and are quite durable.  The only downside is that, in the U.S., only big cities have Uniqlo.

#2: The Skimpy Tanks: Spagetti Straps and Dress-code Tanks (you know, the ones with straps as wide as two fingers that you could wear to high school!)

Skimpy tanks are great for hot summer days but they’re also useful in cold, blustery winters.  Great for layering under sweaters (I always wear a tank under a sweater to avoid having a gust of wind penetrate straight through my sweater to skin) and under anything sheer or too low cut.

Warning: watch your plunge. Yes the point of a tank is to show off some skin (why else would you tone those arms, right?), but remember to stay a lady.  I like a bit of cleavage as much as the next girl, but there’s sexy cleavage and there’s “oh my god that’s too much” cleavage.  Keep in mind your bra size when you buy tanks.  A-cups and B-cups look super sexy (yet still appropriate) in super low-cut tanks while C-cups and D-cups look better with higher-cut tanks.

Fashion tip: experiment with color.  You definitely want your neutral colored tanks for wearing under clothes (definitely get a nude-colored tank), but also try out different colors!  I know many people have trouble wearing colors, but tanks are a great way to overcome that mental block!  Colorful tanks are very fun in the summer and in the winter you can be a breath of fresh air by wearing a colorful tank under a neutral cardigan or sweater.

Shopping Guide:

The Savvy Buy: H&M.  H&M has a great color selection and a great price (around $8 per tank).  Don’t be deceived by their sparse online offerings, in the store they have tons of colors! I love the fit of H&M tanks.  Their durability is a bit hit-or-miss (some of my tanks have lasted for years and years, others had issues quickly) but the price is so great I don’t really care.

The Splurge Buy: J.Crew has high-quality tanks in a variety of colors.  Their favorite tank and perfect-fit tank are both great options. Their original price of $18 is a bit too much for a tank, but J.Crew often has a two for $25 offer.  Considering their exceptional quality, that’s not a bad buy!

Danqing’s Buy: I have tanks from J.Crew and H&M that I wear all the time, but I got my favorite tanks (CK Underwear) at Loehmann’s.  Discount stores like Loehmann’s, TJMaxx, Nordstrom Rack, etc. have high-quality, high-priced brands for quite cheap.  From Michael Starr to James Perse to Calvin Klein, they have it all at great prices.  Try different brands on to see which you prefer.  It’s important for your basics to fit well and be comfy because you’ll be wearing them all the time.

#3: The Baggy Tee

Recently, a new basic tee has emerged: the baggy tee.  This is an ultra stylish choice popularized by celebrities like Ashley Olsen, Kate Moss and Ashley Greene, to name a few.  These ladies show of their California cool in baggy, semi-sheer tees.  Ashley Olsen even created these tees for her ultra-popular clothing lines: Elizabeth and James and The Row.

Warning: these tops are sheer and clingy.  Keep that fact in mind and if you’re uncomfortable with sheer layer over a nude tank!  Also, be sure to wear a nude colored bra.  A nude bra won’t show under a white tee, a white bra will.

Fashion tip: be a little risque.  Shift your top off of one shoulder, don’t wear a tank underneath, or (for those of you truly daring) wear a black lacy bra under your baggy white tee.  Celebrities and fashionistas are making their white tees a wee bit sexy, you can try it too!  Just don’t go too overboard!

Shopping Guide:

The Savvy Buy: stores like H&M and Forever21 have loads of baggy white tees for great prices.  The downside?  You get what you pay for in terms of quality.  While these stores have mastered making great crew necks and v-necks, the baggy tee is a bit harder to get right.

The Popular Buy: American Apparel’s Unisex Viscose Sexuali-Tee is an incredibly popular, mid-priced baggy tee.  I have a few myself, and they’re a great option.  They’re pricey, but a great fit and high-quality (American Apparel has a hit with this one!)

The Splurge Buy: T by Alexander Wang tees are incredibly popular amongst the rich and famous, and for good reason.  They’re stylish, comfortable, and well made.  If you’re willing to spend $76, you’ll get a good product.

I hope you guys found this helpful!  Check back every other Monday for more “Every Girl Must Have” features!

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Here is your first installment of our new biweekly series, “Every Girl Must Have“, where we bring to you tutorials, tips, and suggestions for the wardrobe and makeup bag essentials you should always have in your arsenal.

Today’s feature: Blush!

Blush, or blusher, is used on the cheeks for a pop of color, a hint of warmth, or contouring the face shape. Blushes come in all shapes and forms; what suits you best depends on your skintone, skin texture, and the other base makeup you wear.

Below I’ve recommended some of my favorite products that would suit Asian and Indian skin colors. The most important part about picking the right blush to wear every day is to make sure it matches your lip color.

Colors

The rule of thumb for having a well-stocked blush bag is to have one of each of these five color families:

  1. Pink
  2. Peach
  3. Plum
  4. Red
  5. Tan

Have a blush in each of these five colors and you’ll never need another again!

1. Pink

Have a pink blush to pair with pink lipglosses and lipsticks as well as nude and “my lips but better” lipcolors. Pink blush will also look lovely with some plum lipcolors as well.

Product Rec: MAC Powder Blush in Pink Swoon

2. Peach

Use a peach blush with peach, coral, or beige lipglosses and lipsticks as well as nude lipcolors. Try a peach blush with a hint of shimmer for fun in the summer.

Product Rec: MAC Powder Blush in Peachykeen

3. Plum

Have a plum blush handy to match with plum or berry lipsticks and lipglosses. Try a plum blush with a hint of shimmer for a sexy and elegant look at formal events or parties.

Product Rec: MAC Powder Blush in Plum Foolery

4. Red

This is perhaps the most important blush to own: a red-based blush that mimics your natural flush. I would always recommend this shade for bridal wedding makeup and for date night makeup for a healthy, charming glow. Use a red blush with lipstains and muted berry, red, or brown lipsticks and lipglosses.

Product Rec: MAC Powder Blush in Pinch Me

5. Tan

Finally, have a bronze powder blush for days you wish to contour your cheekbones. Bronzing powders look great with nude, taupe, or brown-based lipsticks and lipglosses. I recommend a matte bronze powder for a more subtle finish.

Product Rec: MAC Powder Blush in Gingerly

What types of blush work for you?

It all depends on the formula of the individual blush as well as your skin texture (dry, normal, oily) and the foundation you use (liquid, powder, or cream).

  • If your skin is dry, use a gel, liquid, or cream blush.
  • If your skin is normal, use any kind of blush.
  • If your skin is oily, use a powder blush. (Prep with a blot powder before applying to prevent oxidization.)
  • If you use a liquid foundation or tinted moisturizer alone, look for gel or liquid blushes or cheekstains. If you apply a powder with your liquid foundation, you can also use powder blushes.
  • If you use a powder foundation, pair with a powder blush.
  • If you use a cream foundation, use a cream blush.
And lastly, remember to always blend, blend, blend your blush well! Have fun and glow on!

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