beauty, feminism, girl talk, quotes, thoughts

We never say that all men deserve to feel beautiful. We never say that each man is beautiful in his own way. We don’t have huge campaigns aimed at young boys trying to convince them that they’re attractive, probably because we very rarely correlate a man’s worth with his appearance. The problem is that a woman’s value in this world is still very much attached to her appearance, and telling her that she should or deserves to feel beautiful does more to promote that than negate it. Telling women that they “deserve” to feel pretty plays right in to the idea that prettiness should be important to them. And having books and movies aimed at young women where every female protagonist turns out to be beautiful (whereas many of the antagonists are described in much less flattering terms) reinforces the message that beauty has some kind of morality attached to it, and that all heroines are somehow pretty.

— “You Don’t Have To Be Pretty: On YA Fiction And Beauty As A Priority” (via The Belle Jar)

you don’t have to be pretty

advice, beauty, how to, lifestyle, shoppables

how to survive the polar vortex

It’s about 9°F (and dropping) outside on this side of the world and I’m miserable. I love Valentine’s Day and all, but it kills me that it’s in February, a.k.a. the dead of winter. All I want is to look cute for my girlfriends and I (or man-friend, if I’m in the mood for a relationship), but this polar vortex is killing any and all vibes for dressing up. Forget heels; even a chunky one on black ice is a death trap in the making.

Beauty is pain, but there’s only so much I’m willing to sacrifice for vanity. To hell with “fashionable” — when it’s this cold out, the only thing I’m trying to be is warm. Self-preservation, ladies: there’s a time to be cute, and another to be practical. Wear the puffy jacket. It’s the right decision.

It’s the only decision.

Here’s how to survive the weekend:

how to survive winter - beauty products

1. To soothe chapped lips and achieve a Rosie Huntington-Whiteley pout: Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask in “Champagne”

2. To heal and shield dry skin:  Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil

3. To protect and condition dry locksKérastase Elixir Ultime Oil


how to survive winter - warm accessories

4. To make blistering winds more bearable: White + Warren cashmere travel wrap

5. To prevent frost-bitten hands: Lord & Taylor cashmere-lined leather gloves

6. To keep feet toasty: Uniqlo HeatTech knee-high socks

7. To keep ears cozy: Saks Fifth Avenue fox fur & velvet earmuffs


how to survive winter - clothing necessities

8. To trek through sleet and snow confidently: André Assous ‘Stagecoach’ waterproof leather over-the-knee boots

9. To lug around all your essentials in day to night (as a cross-body or clutch) without fear of ruining your things or your handbag: Louis Vuitton Hoxton GM in Damier Ebene

10. …and to keep you feeling sexy and chic and everything that puffy jackets and red, runny noses are not: La Perla “Paisley” bodysuit

.   .   .


beauty, girl talk, how to, shoppables

a bit of beauty: party season makeup must-haves

‘Tis the season to just party, fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

Either my Klout score has been skyrocketing or people that I know in real life (as opposed to followers; hi friends!) really like me this year because I have not one but like, five holiday invites this year.

I’m not prepared. Five? That means five different, new looks. I can re-use one from last year at best, but recycling dresses for all five parties simply isn’t do-able unless you want it to be documented across every social media platform, ever, forever.

Yes, this is the world we live in.

Peace of mind comes with knowing that though my wardrobe is in crises, my makeup regimen is not. Keep it simple, stupid is the general philosophy: if my face looks night IRL (and in pictures), then I’ll have detracted from my repeat outfits. At least she looks pretty, they will have said. I may even get a “like” out of it.

Here’s what keeps my face pretty and party-presentable:

party season makeup essentials


To be honest I often skip the whole base shin-dig. I have a phobia of looking too made up, for one, and chances are I’ll sweat it off anyway on the dance floor (I’ve realized that I need to go to more parties where my only job is to sip, nibble, and look petty so I can wear things — i.e., these-shoes-were-not-made-for-walking stilettos — and not have to worry about wardrobe malfunctions). If the rest of me is made up, I prefer to keep my skin bare for a little bit of balance.

If, however, I know it’s a particularly fancy soiree and decide to go for a simple winged liner or bold lip, I’ll even out my complexion with MUFE Forever Face & Body Liquid Makeup. It’s super lighweight (almost watery in texture, like its name suggests) and does wonders in perfecting skin whilst still looking natural. It’s actually the foundation I reach for when I’m performing on stage: it’s waterproof, it photographs flawlessly, and looks lovely in person. A thin layer is all that’s needed for application; I’d say it offers light to medium, buildable coverage.

I always finish with a dusting of MUFE HD Microfinish Powder to keep everything in place and my T-zone shine-free. Less is more with this product; while invisible to the naked eye, flash photography is not forgiving on a heavy hand or lazy blending job.


Panda eyes are cute only on our fuzzy brethren — waterproof products are essential. I love gel liner because of its versatility and matte, inky finish: classic cat eye or haphazardly smudged for a lived-in, Kate Moss/Olsen twin/Daisy Lowe vibe?

False lashes are pretty but a little high-maintenance for my liking. Again, unless I’m on stage, I prefer to keep things as natural as night-out makeup can get. You’re going to be face to face with people: you want them to fixated on the conversation (or whatever else you’re doing) — not the falseness of your falsies.


Again with the natural theme: this is a your-face-but-better product. The end goal of any getting-ready affair (and life in general) is to embody the essence of the Victoria’s Secret Angels. If it there’s one thing they do well, it’s this effervescent look of healthy, tawny, bronzed, glowing, natural perfection.

No matter how little or how much makeup I’m wearing, NARS Madly blusher never fails to help emulate that. So much goodness in one little pan that when placed in an oblong shape just under the cheekbones but above the hollows of the cheeks, it instantly brings warmth and definition to the face without need for bronzer or contour. Plus, it’s such a neutral shade that complements any makeup, bold or natural, incredibly well.


Hi, it’s 2014, year of the #selfie and generation of Kardashian Kontouring™. You do not go to a party sans contour.

If you follow the tip above you could get away without, but the reality is that a little contour never hurt nobody. To keep things more wearable IRL (life is not viewed through an Instagram filter, for better or worse), I just blend a small amount of MAC’s “Shadowy” Sculpting Powder under the cheekbones, around the perimeter of the face, and if so inclined, along the sides of your nose for some enhanced definition. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love how a little — emphasis on little — goes a long way; it’s why I save it for special occasions only.


As previously stated, the end goal is always to aim for VS Angel, so a glowing complexion is forever the ideal. A dewy complexion is a fail-safe even if your makeup (and overall look) is kept minimal: a light swipe of champagne highlight on the cheekbones, on the bridge of the nose, the inner corner of the eyes, and the center of the lids. Seriously: a good curl of the lashes and lengthening mascara topped with a swipe of lip balm and you’re golden. Literally.

The only highlighter I’ve yet tried is The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer. (If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.) Brownie points for the cute name, but seriously, this stuff is highly touted amongst the beauty community for good reason. It’s gives just enough shimmer for an amped up, candlelit effect, but not too over-the-top that it’s detectable (when used with a light hand) in person. It’s a lovely finishing touch for any look.


It’s the equivalent of hairspray, but for setting your makeup in place. Makeup has a habit of disappearing from my face given my predisposition for the dance floor but since jumping on the Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray bandwagon, I’ve been saved since. Three spritzes — the top half/T-zone area, right cheek, left cheek — does the job.

It works. I don’t know how. I don’t want to know how, actually. But it’s pretty damn miraculous.


Note that I find a standout lip, not “statement” lip, to be a party season essential. A bold lip — bright or vampy — is beautiful, but let’s be real: no matter how long-wearing, a statement lip isn’t exactly life friendly. Eat, drinking, speaking, moving, dancing, sweating, accidental brushing, kissing just simply cannot be done with ease (if at all) with lip color. I’ve always admired the girl who could wear a red everyday. I am not one of those girls, for better or worse. I’m constantly drinking (tea, water) or kissing (my boyfriend); there is no room for touch-ups.

That said, if I’m going to a cocktail party (where finger foods are a lipstick wearer’s best friend) sans lover, I’ll reach for a bright red, full-bodied red, hot pink, or deep burgundy. (It also must be said that I’ve only worn a bold lip once within the past few months, and it was the vampy shade.)

I love a your-lips-but-better (i.e., simply enhanced or slightly nuded out). Outline and fill in your lips with a natural lip liner and blend everything with a matte-finish balm like Tokyo Milk Dark’s Femme Fatale Lip Elixirs. I sometimes like to add a touch of Buxom’s “White Russian” Lip Cream just in the center for a poutier look that’s still kissable and live-able all the same.


It’s a bad day/night if I’ve forgotten perfume.

Okay. Maybe not terrible. It just doesn’t smell as good.

.   .   .


beauty, girl talk, thoughts, yours truly

to bang or not to bang, that is the question

I had bangs for the longest time.

It wasn’t by choice initially. Mom would cut my hair after she’d finish buzzing my brother’s (he needed to be bribed with a grape-flavored teddy bear lollipop, I didn’t), giving me straight bangs that cut right across my forehead. It was cute, I’d like to think – but even at such a young age when children’s heads were still too big for their tiny, squishy bodies, my forehead covered more surface area than needed to be proportionate to the rest of my face. It was bulbous, even, but forgivable when you’re a bubbly three year old who loved sautéed spinach and books more than any child ever should. I was always incredibly self-aware and critical: post bangs, my forehead was seemingly… normal.

It wasn’t until I was 8 or so when I realized that I had the option not to bang. It hadn’t even occurred to me that it was (1) a possibility and (2) that I was allowed to something in direct opposition to something my mother did. This was my first act of independence (or rebellion): she’d trim my bangs and I’d pin them right back back. Big kids didn’t have bangs, and the beautiful ballerinas whom I aspired to be certainly didn’t have them either. So every week, before ballet, I’d bobby pin my fringe into submission to mimic the sleek, hairsprayed updos all the older girls at Center Stage wore. It certainly wasn’t the most flattering, but it what I wanted. In my too-pink Capezio tights, for that full hour, I had staked a claim in who I thought I wanted to be.

I’m not sure if I ever grew them out – maybe just long enough to pass as shorter layers that framed around my face – because the awkward pre-teen years have been blocked from my memory. What I do know is that I went right back to them. It was some combination of familiarity and a reality check that my face simply looked better framed. This time I told my hairdresser to do whatever he thought would suit me best.

Larry kept the length, but he gave me side bangs. Twice a year – with my DIY attempts in between visits – for eight years.

Bangs became my safety net. My uniform, my unwavering armor, the security blanket I never had. In fact, I considered them such an integral part of my face that I came to think that bangs were who I was. Without bangs felt naked. No longer me, unrecognizable. I was Kim, with the long hair and bangs – because when half my face was hidden, so were my insecurities. There were the physical ones – fivehead, baby hairs, hairline, the fullness of my face – and then the internal ones – was I beautiful enough?

I got over it soon enough. When you’re old(er), you’re supposed to get wiser – and so instead of bar-hopping or binge-drinking like every bona fide 21-year-old, I chose to pin my bangs back everyday until they grew out completely. Amongst other things, of course – but it’s the little things.

It’s been a year since. I’m still not 100% okay with my forehead, or my hairline, or the ill-behaved baby hairs halo-ing my head, or my face, but c’est la vie. It’s my forehead, bangs or not. All the more for me to kiss, an ex-something once told me, and he would keep pecking at me until I had no choice but to pull it all up.

So take that, insecurities.

to bang or not to bang

Baby hairs and all.

.   .   .


beauty, consumption

“houston, we have a problem”

favorite nude lipsticks

T-B, L-R: Clinique Chubby Stick “Curviest Caramel;” Armour Beauty “Edie;” YSL Pur Rouge “No. 5 Rose Bergamasque;” NARS “Blonde Venus;” Rimmel London Lip Liner “Addiction”

Spotted, this morning 7:55 a.m. EST, while rummaging through my handbag for my iPhone charger was a horde of lipsticks, all of which are nude-ish. Five my-lips-but-better shades, all collecting in one pocket of my handbag.

I’m not sure which of these are worse: the fact that…

(a) I have a gratuitous number of lipsticks with me;

(b) They’re all within two shades of one another; or

(c) I rarely wear anything beyond lip balm these days.

Can we talk about this for a moment?

From where I’m standing (or sitting, rather), there are two ways to look at it. I’m either living in excess (valid) or I’m a bona fide lip junkie whose habits can easily serve public good. And given that I’m the ever-eternal optimist, we’re going with the latter perspective. My hoarding tendencies will have saved you the heartache of trial-and-error when it comes to finding the perfect natural lipstick:

– Clinique Chubby Stick no. 1, Curviest Caramel

Terrible name (really? ‘Chubby Stick?’) and certainly not the prettiest when it comes to aesthetics (kindergarten flashbacks are welcomed with every uncapping of this oversize crayon), but without a doubt a beautiful product. If you can get past the cheesy alliteration, “Curviest Caramel” is a gorgeous, pink-mauve shade that gives your lips a rosier tint. It’s pigmented, it’s non-drying, it fades beautifully, and best of all, it’s non-fussy. This is perfect for days when I need to look more alive or put-together but haven’t had the time. A swipe of mascara with this on the lips and blended as a cream cheek color instantly awakens and perks up the complexion.

– Armour Beauty lip gloss, Edie

I’ve written about it before, but to reiterate, it’s a delicious formula and beige-nude shade. I find it hard to wear when I’m tanner, but come winter months, it’s perfect.

– YSL Rouge Pur Couture no. 6, Rose Bergamasque

Yet another lipstick I’ve waxed poetic about. It’s a nude lipstick with peachy — almost apricot — undertones, which makes it ideal for golden or olive complexions. It’s a beautiful summer shade to complement bronzed skin, and when paired with natural/mauve lip liner, gives you perfectly pout-y lips. YSL makes some of the best lip products on the market, with the Rouge Pur Couture line being my favorite from the brand. The formula and packaging are both unsurpassed.

– NARS Satin Lipstick, Blonde Venus

NARS is another brand that does incredible lip products (and everything else, really). “Blonde Venus” is the only natural/nude shade I’ve found that works for my skin at its palest and at its darkest. It’s a unique shade with strong golden-brown undertones — there’s no hint of pink or mauve in it whatsoever — which is why I think its so versatile. I love the slightly matte finish, and even more so I adore the shade: “Blonde Venus” gives off a 70s Sharon Tate vibe which I can’t get enough of.

– Rimmel London Full Exaggerate lip liner no. 018, Addiction

Perfect natural, mauve shade. If there’s one thing Rimmel does well it’s lip liner: cheap as chips and just as good as MAC. I rotate between this one and Kevyn Aucoin for day wear; for evenings (special occasions, nights out, performances), MUFE is unbeatable.

.   .   .