Sunday, February 27, 2011

Because Everyone Deserves a Lifetime ®

A picture of me with my late grandmother,
Avelina Antonia Vibar-Provido (1930-1991).
  I thought I'd take the time to update you guys on my progress for Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure.  I'm happy to announce that I believe I surpassed the goal that I had set for myself last month.  I had hoped to raise at least $250 by the end of February and I ended up raising $270, with $60 on the way!  It may seem like a small gain, but I'm already at 12% of my goal and I've got a few months left to make a splash and raise the remainder of it.  For anyone interested in checking it out, see my page at

I guess what I wanted to talk about was the picture that I have been using on my participant website and on each of my posts here.  As the caption indicates, it's a picture of my late grandmother and me.  Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with a very advanced stage of breast cancer when I was still a toddler and passed away shortly after.  In doing this, some people have asked me:  "Why have a picture of someone you hardly even knew on your site?  Why are you walking for this person?  Why is it so important for you?"

I really do think that's a valid question.  I was but a child when she passed, but something that was very inspiring to me was one of the slogans of the organization:  "Because Everyone Deserves a Lifetime."  Aside from the pictures we took together and the VHS home videos, I don't have many memories of her.  I remember playing out in the snow and her hands painstakingly peeling grapes for me because, for some strange reason, I hated grape skins.  I know that she loved me with the unique love that a grandparent has for their grandchild and I know that I loved her with all of the affection of an innocent child.

It all seems like it was cut too short, however.  Just as I came into the world and my eyes were opened, she departed and hers were closed.  Images and memories that I hold near and dear to me many more could we have had together had she not succumbed to the illness?  That's something I'll never know, but I know a lot of people have been affected by this illness and I hope that in doing this walk, that's something I can help to change.

One of the things that I love about this event is that all of the proceeds are put towards breast cancer research and community programs.  It also strives to decrease breast cancer incidence and mortality within the next decade.  I think it's so important to spread awareness and actively pursue a cure and more effective treatment for this illness that seems to have affected everyone.  Although the goal seems like a lofty concept, no one got anywhere by not believing.  The dollars that have gone towards this cause have already helped:  While attending a Get Started meeting for the event, the meeting leader stated that when she first started getting involved in the cause, the statistic was that 1 in 7 women is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.  Because of the effort put towards this cause, the statistic has increased to 1 in 8.

While I am just one person, I firmly believe that one person is all it takes to stand up, work for change, and truly make a difference.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Look: Pink and Purple Pokémon Look

I'm sure it's not really a secret that I am a major nerd.  I wear glasses, love Hello Kitty, enjoy video games, watch embarrassing movies and documentaries...I'm sure you all know the type.  Well, I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I ran into Shiro Cosmetics on Etsy.  The catchphrase of this brand is "makeup and geekery" and with a multitude of hand-blended, vegan mineral shadows on sale with names like Jigglypuff and 1-Up, it certainly delivers.

I did a little bit of research, found some excellent reviews, and decided to take the plunge.  I definitely was not disappointed.  I received my package in a very timely fashion and my little pigment jars were placed into cute little decorative bags.  I ended up ordering Mew, Acid, Meowth, Gengar, and Pikachu, but they were kind enough to include sample sizes of Squirtle and SS Anne.  I did some swatches, and overall, I really liked them!  I'll be sure to order from them again in the future.

Anyway, the reason I didn't really do an extensive review on these was because I got a new camera and I haven't really figured out how to use it that well yet.  Hopefully I can get it all sorted out...hopefully before I go to Europe...and get back to posting a few more better-photographed swatches and looks!  So without further interruption, here's what I created!

Face Products:
MAC Studio Fix foundation
MAC Pro Longwear concealer
MAC Mineral Skinfinish Natural in Medium Dark
NARS Laguna bronzer
NARS Albatross
NARS Deep Throat

Face Brushes:
Sigma F80
MAC 150
MAC 168
MAC 109
Coastal Scents fluffy brush

Urban Decay Primer Potion
Shiro Cosmetics Mew pigment - lid
MAC All That Glitters eyeshadow - crease
MAC Plum Dressing eyeshadow - crease & lower lashline
MAC Shadowy Lady eyeshadow - crease
MAC Brule eyeshadow - browbone
MAC Shroom eyeshadow - middle of browbone
MAC Blacktrack Fluidline - upper lashline
Stila Kajal eyeliner in Onyx - waterline
Cover Girl Lash Blast Fusion mascara

Eye brushes/tools:
Shu Uemura eyelash curler
MAC 239 - lid
MAC 224 - crease
MAC 217 - crease
MAC 219 - lower lashline
Coastal Scents shader brush - highlight
Sigma E05 - liner

Viva Glam Gaga lipstick
NYX La~La lipgloss

Hope you liked it!  Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Review: Nivea - A Kiss of Smoothness Hydrating Lip Care

Do you also battle dry, chapped lips as I do?  Are you also looking for kissably soft and smooth lips?  Well this product is not for you.  Okay, okay, that was a little drastic.  It definitely wasn't for me, at the very least!  I think it's rare that I give a negative review on a product--I'm very forgiving when it comes to product reviews.  However, despite seeing many favorable reviews for this product online, I definitely beg to differ.  This product did nothing for me!

Nivea - A Kiss of Smoothness Hydrating Lip Care

What it is:
It is described on the website as a lip balm that quickly absorbs to leave a soft feeling on the lips.  The inclusion of jojoba oil and shea butter are to provide long lasting moisturization.

My impression:
After seeing several favorable reviews of this product, I thought that I would give it a try.  I snuck off to the drugstore and bought myself two sticks--one for my purse and one to keep at my desk in my apartment.  As I'm sure any makeup maven does when getting a new product, I unwrapped them excitedly, very eager to use them.  When I first applied it, my lips felt very soft and smooth.  I thought that I had hit gold!  Unfortunately, that feeling didn't last...and that's the problem.  While my lips felt soft and smooth for a while, it just sat at the surface of my lips and went away after maybe 30-60 minutes.  Even though many lip balms fade away, they still at least leave your lips feeling pretty decent, but not this product.  My lips felt tight and dry...almost as if I had gone away for the weekend and had forgotten my lip balm at home!  There are two redeeming qualities however--the fact that it comes in a tube (I prefer tubes to pots since I don't like dipping my fingers into products), that it has SPF protection, and that it does not have a strange taste or smell.
My recommendation:
If you really want to give this product a try, I'm not stopping you.  However, I know that I would not at all purchase this product again.  It didn't do anything it should have done and for almost $3 a pop, I really was expecting a little bit more.
The rundown:
  • Product:  2/5
  • Packaging:  5/5
  • Quality:  2/5
  • Overall:  3/5
  • Would I buy this again?:  Probably not.
  • Where to buy:  A wide variety of places (e.g. - Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc.)
  • Price:  Price varies, but I'd say it's around $3
  • Pros:
    +  It comes in a tube (I prefer tubes to pots)
    +  It has SPF 4
    +  Does not have strange taste or smell
  • Cons:
    -  It did not last
I hope you found my review helpful!  If there are any questions or even if you have some lip balm recommendations, please feel free to let me know in the comments below.  Thanks!

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to review the product featured above. I purchased all of the products reviewed in this blog post and did not receive them for free. I ensure that this is my true and honest opinion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Review: Oh So Wet! Quick Dry Topcoat

For those of you that follow my blog, you might have noticed my earlier post on my decision to be Big 3 Free.  As part of this decision, I decided against continued use of my once favorite quick dry topcoat, Seche Vite.  Consequently, I went out and bought myself a few topcoats to try, one of which being Oh So Wet! quick dry topcoat.

Oh So Wet! Quick Dry Topcoat

What it is:
It is described as a quick drying topcoat that is designed to be placed over any 7-day manicure.
My impression:
Prior to my exploration of the Big 3 toxic trio, I had never really thought about any other quick dry topcoats than Seche Vite.  After all, it was the go-to topcoat for everyone and was receiving such rave reviews--it was almost as if nothing at all could measure up.  Fortunately, I think I've found a pretty comparable topcoat in Oh So Wet! that meshes with my beliefs.  Though it did not dry as quickly as Seche Vite, it did take a much shorter amount of time than if I had used a typical topcoat.  I estimate that it probably took around ten minutes to feel dry to the touch and maybe another five or so for me to feel comfortable with the dryness.  While it wasn't as glossy as Seche Vite, it did give a relatively nice shine.  A plus to this was that unlike Seche Vite, I didn't experience any dulling of the color after a few days of wear.  I also did not experience as much chipping or any polish peeling off cleanly, though this could have also been attributed to my change in base coat from Seche Clear to Orly Top 2 Bottom.  I also liked that the consistency was a lot thinner than Seche Vite and more manageable.
My recommendation:
Although it dries a little bit slower and is a little less glossy than Seche Vite, I still think that this is a great topcoat.  I really like that it doesn't dull after a few days or cause the polish to peel off cleanly.  It also takes care of the main function of a topcoat--to protect a manicure.  I think that this would be great for anyone looking to try a Big 3 free topcoat.  I can really only compare it to Seche Vite, since that is the only quick dry topcoat I've used so far, but putting that experience entirely aside, I still think it's a great product worth trying out.
The rundown:
  • Product:  4/5
  • Packaging:  5/5
  • Quality:  5/5
  • Overall:  4.8/5
  • Would I buy this again?:  Sure would!
  • Where to buy:  Sally Beauty
  • Price:  $4.49
  • Pros:
    +  Big 3 free
    +  Affordable
    +  Dries quickly
    +  Glossy finish
    +  Applies well
    +  Protects manicure
  • Cons:
    -  Doesn't dry as quickly as Seche Vite
    -  Not as glossy as Seche Vite
I hope you enjoyed round one of my Big 3 free quick dry topcoat reviews.  If you have any experience with this or know of any similar products I should try, please feel free to leave a question or comment below!

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to review the product featured above. I purchased all of the products reviewed in this blog post and did not receive them for free. I ensure that this is my true and honest opinion.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Isn't he handsome? ;)
I just wanted to wish all of my readers celebrating/observing the holiday a Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope everyone has a great day filled with love!

For those of you wondering who the picture is of, it's my boyfriend!  I thought I'd share with you, since the aim of this blog is to be life-oriented as well.  While the story of how we met is quite long and complicated, I will say that we've been together since 2009 and I couldn't be happier.

At the moment, our relationship is long distance, so we won't be able to be together today based on conflicting schedules.  We're not even really Valentine's Day people, I don't think, so it wasn't that big of a deal to either of us.  We're just happy spending time together in general!

We did have a bit of a Valentine's Day moment last weekend.  He brought delicious cupcakes over from Mr. Cupcakes--including Red Velvet!  To be honest, I really only had Red Velvet cake on two previous occasions, and since then, I was craving more and more.  Fortunately, after weeks of me begging him (note: "begging" is an understatement), he went on a hunt for Red Velvet cake for me.  Little did he know there was a little cupcake shop near his school!

This is what I got surprised with Friday evening.  Two Red Velvet cupcakes (Red Velvet with cream cheese icing), two Triple Chocolate cupcakes (chocolate cake with chocolate chips baked inside and dipped in chocolate ganache with chocolate chips on top), and two Birthday Cake cupcakes (yellow cake with buttercream icing and sprinkles).  Needless to say, I was quite spoiled that weekend!

But then again, he always spoils me with love, affection, caring, and understanding.  I'm thankful to have him in my life and I'm looking forward to all of the adventures we're going to have together in the future.

How are all of you spending Valentine's Day?  Normal day or something a little extra?  In any case, have a great holiday!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Choice to Be Big 3 Free

Truth be told, I was once a nail-biter.  From the end of middle school right up into halfway through my undergrad in college career, I used to bite my nails.  What changed that?  Finding my love of cosmetics and developing an interest in nailpolish changed all of that.  Along with that came my usage of what was then my holy grail topcoat, Seche Vite.

I'm sure those of you that are into beauty products as I am have seen it reviewed.  It has earned a reputation for itself as drying nailpolish faster than it would take to dry on its own while providing an attractive glossy finish and the protective properties of a traditional topcoat.  I'm sure that many of you have also seen the controversy surrounding its warning label:

WARNING! This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Now people have argued up and down about this, but the point of this post isn't to evangelize or try and move you to make the same decision I did.  It's not even to discuss Seche Vite specifically, as I'm sure there is a wide range of other products that have similar ingredients (e.g. - I read in a comment here that Chanel still makes polishes with toluene).  I just want to share what led me to this decision and, if you'd like, provide a starting point for your own research!

As listed on the website for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, the "Toxic Trio" of nailpolish ingredients are dibutyl phthalate, formaldehyde and toluene.  According to the book A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients by Ruth Winter, M.S., these ingredients can pose a variety of different health risks.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP):
This ingredient is used as a plasticizer in nailpolish, but is also used as a perfume solvent, fixative, shampoo, and antifoam ingredient.  It can also be used as an insect repellent.  DBP has a low toxicity, but if if it is ingested, it can cause gastrointestinal upset.  Vapor from this ingredient can irritate both the eyes and mucous membranes.

With regards to side effects, DBP has been linked to gene and hormone changes in rodents.  In humans, it has been linked to genital abnormalities in infants and testicular cancer.  Additionally, the United States EPA and the National Toxicology Program suspect that DBP is toxic to development, the endocrine and gastrointestinal systems, liver, nerves, and kidneys.  It is also on the California Proposition 65's list of substances known to cause cancer or reproductive harm.

Formaldehyde is currently on the Canadian Hotlist and is banned for use in cosmetics in both Swedena and Japan.  This ingredient, popularly known for its use in funeral homes, is also used in many cosmetic products as a disinfectant and preservative.  It is used in nail hardeners, nailpolish, soap, and hair products.  When used in cosmetics, it is often used as a disinfectant, germicide, fungicide, defoamer, and preservative.  Even though it might not be listed on the ingredient list, formaldehyde can be used as a preservative in other ingredients, such as lauryl sulfate.

In lab rats, it has been found to cause lung cancer.  Vapors from formaldehyde are irritating to human mucous membranes.  If ingested, formaldehyde can cause severe abdominal pain, internal bleeding, inability to urinate, vertigo, coma, and even death.  Skin reactions are common after exposure since it may be irritating and allergy producing.

Despite the risks, it has been concluded by the CIR Expert Panel to be safe to the great majority of consumers.  However, some may be more sensitive than others because of varying skin types.  Furthermore, it is encouraged that manufacturing of cosmetic products should take into account the minimum amount of formaldehyde necessary to provide the intended purpose.

Toluene, the offender in Seche Vite, is used in nailpolish up to 50%.  It is used mostly as a solvent, and in nailpolish it is used as a "nail strengthener" or hardener with the goal of achieving high adhesion and gloss. 

If ingested, toluene can cause mild anemia and can be used as a narcotic in high concentration.  Among the side effects are possible liver damage and skin and respiratory irritation.  The longterm effects of low exposure to toluene have been found in at least 20 cities where it is present in drinking water.

The CIR Expert Panel has determined that toluene is safe in its current use in cosmetic formulations.

Called to make a change by the public, many companies have decided to reformulate their polishes without these controversial ingredients.  Among brands that boast being free of the Big 3 are OPI, China Glaze, Essie, and Zoya.

Why I decided to be Big 3 free?
Though I had been using Seche Vite for almost two years and was vaguely familiar with the concerns on the warning label, I thought that I'd do some research.  After doing some reading and buying the book, A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, I thought it would be in my best interest to try and find an alternative.

Even though the degree of risk that I will experience some of the side effects mentioned above might be very small, I personally did not think that it was worth the risk.  I think that this is especially true since there now exist products that do not use these ingredients and still do a great job.  Why continue use if I know that the risk is there and that there are alternatives?

All in all, it's just nailpolish and I don't think that I could forgive myself if later down the line it turned out that I could have prevented something negative from happening.  I am well aware that nailpolish isn't the only arena in which potentially toxic ingredients exist and it probably isn't realistic to be totally free of toxins like these (I remember hearing in a class that women were found with toxins in their body that had been outlawed well before their lifetimes!), but that's why I'm taking the steps to become a little more informed and make my choices that way--one step at a time.

In response to this topic, I have sought out to find a Seche Vite replacement.  Stay tuned for my reviews to come in the next few weeks!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Review: MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer

In the many months that I was missing, I managed to finish up a whole tube of concealer!  Though it didn't turn out to be one of my favorites, I thought that it would be beneficial to review it.  Today's review is of MAC Select Moisturecover concealer, which I first heard about in a video by Tiffany D and then saw that it got a lot of rave reviews elsewhere.  Here is my experience with the product!

MAC Select Moisturecover Concealer
What it is:
It is described on the MAC website as as a blendable, moisturizing concealer with a doe-foot applicator.
My impression: 
I heard a lot of good reviews on this concealer, and many people with dark under-eye circles said it worked well at minimizing their appearance.  Well, the perfect under-eye concealer was what I aimed to find, so I thought I would give it a try.  I did like the packaging (if only MAC Pro Longwear concealer came with this packaging!) and thought that it was pretty easy to get the product out for use.  The concealer was thin in consistency, but in spite of that, it was able to cover and blend very well.  I was very impressed with how well it was able to cover under-eye imperfections.  However, what I didn't like about it was that even if I lessened the amount of product I used, it always ended up settling into the fine lines and creases under my eyes.  By the end of the day, it also looked a little cakey--not so good for someone that is out of their apartment for the majority of the day!
My recommendation:
I did really like this concealer for its coverage and blendability.  I didn't like it because of the way it settled and became cakey, but it might just be because my skin is on the oilier side.  People with normal/dry skin might fare better with this than I did!
The rundown:
  • Product:  4/5
  • Packaging:  5/5
  • Quality:  5/5
  • Overall:  4.8/5
  • Would I buy this again?:  After finding my preferred concealer, probably not, but it doesn't mean it's a bad product.
  • Where to buy:  MAC
  • Price:  $16.50
  • Pros:
    +  Good coverage
    +  Easy to blend
    +  Packaging
  • Cons:
    -  Settled into fine lines and creases
    -  Looked cakey at the end of the day
Even though this turned out to not be the product for me, I hope you found my review helpful!  If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to review the product featured above. I purchased all of the products reviewed in this blog post and did not receive them for free. I ensure that this is my true and honest opinion.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

60 Miles in 3 Days...Can I Do It?

A picture of me with my late grandmother,
Avelina Antonia Vibar-Provido (1930-1991).
Those of you that follow my private Twitter account (@VelociMellie) or my Facebook might know that I have decided to take on a challenge--I decided to sign up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure™, taking place in October in Philadelphia.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with the walk, it entails walking 60 miles (roughly the distance between Atlantic City, NJ and Philadelphia, PA) over the course of three days and camping out each night with thousands of other men and women fighting for the same cause.  The net proceeds from this event are invested in breast cancer research and community programs with the hope of decreasing breast cancer incidence and mortality in the next decade.

As someone that has had various friends and family members affected by this illness, it was really important to me to be a part of it.  At the present time, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer.  When you think about it, that really could be anyone.  It's not just an illness that mostly older women get, either--more and more younger women around my age and even men are being diagnosed.   I just feel that it is so important to work towards improving treatment, finding a cure, and aiding in detection and prevention.

I attended a Get Started meeting in the city last Wednesday and it was certainly an emotional experience for me.  Suddenly the things I complain about seemed so small and inconsequential.  For example, some days I wake up tired or I don't feel like going to work or class.  But you know what?  I'm sure someone with cancer didn't feel like having the illness, but it happened.  And I'm sure that chemotherapy and other treatments are no walk in the park, but they endure it.  It is really touching to hear about people with illnesses that don't let it ruin their lives and it is really motivating to see the fighting spirit that is in each one of us.  60 miles in just three days is hard, but it's just a couple steps compared to the journey that cancer patients and survivors have to make.

I have currently committed to raise at least $2,300 in donations by the day of the walk.  At the moment, I haven't gotten much response, but I'm hoping that by the end of February, I can have at least $250 in there to get me going!  I'm determined to meet my goal at the least and exceeding it would be a dream come true.

While I do have financial goals involved in this race, I also have some physical goals attached to it.  60 miles in three days certainly did not sound like an easy task.  Since the race is in October, I thought I'd use the long time in between as an opportunity to train and prepare myself.  It's not "just walking"--it's involves stamina and endurance.  I'm proud to say that I'm eating much better than I did last year and I am also getting lots of regular exercise.  At the end of January, I had dropped nearly 15 pounds!  It's exciting to see my endurance build and I know that if I keep my way on this path, I should be able to last through these 60 miles.

I'm really looking forward to this walk and I hope all of you don't mind me talking about it every once in a while, haha.  I'm looking to make one post at the end of each month with my progress.  If you're interested in participating, please visit for more information.  If you're feeling gracious and would like to make a donation or would like to see the personal page I have set up, please get in contact with me and I can provide more details.  Thanks for reading the post and joining me on this journey!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Library: Asian Faces by Taylor Chang-Babaian

Taylor Chang-Babaian (with foreword by Yoko Ono)
Asian Faces
One of the things that I've really been getting into lately are beauty books, just because I feel like there's a wealth of information that can be gleaned from their glossy, colorful pages.  This is certainly true of Asian Faces by Taylor Chang-Babian.

The book, written specifically for Asian women, aims to address all of their beauty concerns.  As a female of Filipino descent, I had always wondered what would look best on me, and as with any makeup addict, I seek to find my holy grail in every makeup category.  I believe that with this book, I came a little bit closer to understanding more about my face in relation to those of my Asian sisters.

One of the things that I liked the most about Asian Faces was that it was very easy to understand.  For instance, the beginning of the book included an extensive product guide with information right down to brushes and how to use them.  Additionally, I also liked that a face chart using a photograph was included.  It definitely came handy when trying to follow the Asian-specific skincare advice and application tips Chang-Babaian gives in the book.  Speaking of tips, there were countless tips scattered throughout the book ranging on a variety of different topics--like skincare product ingredients and making eyelashes look fuller.  It was great getting the inside scoop from a top makeup artist.

While the first half of the book discusses products and technique, the second half of the book showcases looks done by Chang-Babaian herself.  The looks are all beautifully photographed and I especially liked how pictures of the products in almost a swatch-form were featured.  It gives a lot of freedom to use what you have in your stash and makes it easy for you to find something similar.  I enjoyed how many of the looks had themes.  For example, Chang-Babaian included sections on costume makeup and looks from major American cities.  It was amazing to me to see how makeup styles and preferences changed from New York to Miami to Los Angeles.  And of course, being a blossoming vintage fan, I had great appreciation for the Asian vintage pinup and 1940s sophisticate looks.

Although everything is laid out in a way that is easy to understand, beginners might find it difficult to replicate looks in the latter half of the book.  Despite being detailed, it is provided in a list format rather than step-by-step pictures.  I don't think that this should be too much of a struggle, however.  Practice makes perfect and I think that if used in conjunction with other skill-building activities, like watching tutorials or even expanding into other reading materials, even beginners can become more skilled.

Even though everything was based upon Asian women, I think that I would have benefited from being able to see the different types of Asian eyelids.  The book does address this a little bit, but I would have liked to see a photographic depiction.

All in all, I think that this book was a great read and helped put me in better touch techniques and products that take into account my Asian heritage.

I hope you found this book review helpful!  Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.

Disclaimer: I have not been paid to review the book featured above. I purchased the book reviewed in this blog post and did not receive it for free. I ensure that this is my true and honest opinion.

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