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Triple Threat Serums

We've discussed several times the triple-threat facial: clay, peel, hydrate -- a routine which I personally swear by.  There is nothing more satisfying than a puttering around on a Sunday morning, knowing I'm doing something great for my skin.  Then brunch.

Recently, my skin has been acting up like cray.  Like all other acne fluctuations, I'm sure it's some combination of stress, diet, hormones, and everything else that I can't control. As a beauty blogger though, it is my duty to attempt to remedy the situation with products.

Instead of doing my triple-threat mask once a week, I've been layering on a combination of serums to hopefully cull some of the breakouts and get to work on the scarring.  The hyper-pigmentation alone is starting to stress me out, and since stress leads to more's a vicious cycle.

First I'll layer on a brightening/evening serum; usually, I'll look for anything with a slightly acidic ingredient, like lactic or glycolic acid.  I'm using Pepta-Bright from Indeed Labs, which I don't think actually contains either of the ingredients I just mentioned, but I do think it's been working.  The texture and tone of the skin around any active breakouts has improved; I can't wait to see what happens next.

To follow your brightening serum, apply your favourite antioxidant serum.  Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Collagen Booster is a Vitamin C serum -- one of my favourite ingredients.  I'm that person who applies lemon juice after cleansing; my skin loves it. This serum is an extremely light, spreadable liquid, so a little goes a long way. Mine is a sample size from a Black Friday set last year.

Finally, a dose of hydration, even if you don't think you need it.  Caudalie Vinosource S.O.S. Thirst-Quenching Serum is a new one for me, but it has that signature Caudalie fragrance that I can't get enough of. Caudalie hasn't disappointed me yet -- I'll report back!

What you put on next is up to you! During the day, I'll put on a moisturizer with SPF, at night I'll apply an oil.

I'm really struggling to find a moisturizer that works for my uber-finicky skin; please let me know of any recommendations!

How to: Remedy Puffy Eyes

I never used to think about my under-eye area.  It was just not a problem.  And one day I woke up and my eyes were completely stained dark brown all around and all the flesh around my eye had swelled out.  It was...not pretty.

Tod has mentioned that she had a problem with puffy eyes not long ago. She is the most avid eye-cream tester I know; her standards far exceed mine when it comes to eye treatment evaluation.

After several treatments, serums, creams, and rollers, we've found very few products that actually work.  One of them is a La Prairie serum I mentioned in my 2012 favourites, but unfortunately costs an arm and a leg.  The other is facial massage, which is a video for a weekend with good lighting.  The third...

Milk.  I briefly hinted at this ingredient in my Natural Skincare Favourites a while ago, but here's how I use it. Tod, as usual, will demonstrate the method.  (See flippy .gif)

It's fairly simple, just grab a couple of cotton pads (around here, we like Shiseido Cotton) and soak them in cold milk.  The cooling sensation will also help with the de-puffing! Squeeze them out so the milk doesn't run everywhere and apply the compress to your eyes for 15 minutes.  You can apply the cotton round to your entire eye and take a catnap (which will probably also help you look more awake), or fold and apply them underneath the eye in a half-moon shape while you watch Criminal Minds.

The first time we did this, it was miraculous. I can't explain what kind of anti-inflammatory magic this is, but it works.  The puffiness was completely gone. In the image above, the results aren't quite as dramatic as they were the first time we tried it, but you can tell the skin under the eye is less swollen.  For best results, try this first thing in the morning! 

Fave: Fusion Illumicover Concealer

I've been dying to do an empties post for a while -- I really wanted it to be a video so my YouTube channel wouldn't be completely dead but...such is life. The other requirement that's been holding me back is that I wanted to include a makeup product.  We know how I am about makeup -- I just don't finish things.  Skincare I'll run through rather regularly, but colour products are just...we'll see.

My first makeup product I've finished in legitimate ages: Fusion Illumicover Concealer -- I can't even count the number of times I've mentioned this in passing on the blog, on YouTube, on every other form of social media, but I bloody adore this stuff.  I've tried YSL Touche Eclat, Clinique Airbrush (although in the wrong colour, so that may be worth revisiting), a couple of drugstore imitations, but nothing comes close.  This is where it's at.

I have to mentally repress the urge to use this all over my face as a foundation -- it is skin-matching, glowy perfection.  I use the colour Medium all over my face and it removes just enough blemish/dark circle/scar to be fake even skin tone, but leaves enough skin showing through so you don't look like you're wearing a mask.

Repurchase?  Absolutely.  Backed up twice already, because I'm a little afraid they're going to discontinue it.

Note: In the image above, the Lower Left colour from the Sonia Kashuk Hidden Agenda palette is the absolute closest to my skin colour -- it looks super green compared to the rest of the swatches and my arm, but I really am that olive-toned. All other concealer tones work on my skin because they kind of neutralize any scarring and match very well to my most-used foundations.

Paula Dorf Smokie Lid Brush

I've got quite a list of makeup graveyard stories. everything from weeping over a discontinued shade to the more recent fiendish eBay hunts.

The worst of them has to be discovering a product that you absolutely know in your gut that would be perfect for you, only to find out that you heard about it a few months too late.  

Enter: Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush -- I mentioned I'd be telling this story earlier this week.

I'm a typically Asian person with very little eye definition -- the flesh of my eye is quite flat from my brownbone to my lash line, so I need a little colour to help define my eye area and help me look more awake and less puffy.  The way most people need to put on their brows or apply mascara -- I need eye contour.

Til now I haven't been that picky with my eye brushes.  If you've been with me long enough, you'll recall very old videos where I could do everything I needed with an old Aveda flat shader brush.  It was a simpler time.  Now it's almost embarrassing to admit exactly how many brushes I have that are almost-not-quite the same as each other -- every size of crease/lash/liner/shader/blending brush that I've never imagined anyone needing.  Spoiler alert: you don't need all the brushes.  Save yourselves and your wallets.

After a Lisa Eldridge Marathon one day where she highly recommended the Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush, I knew I had to have it.  Never mind the extensive Google Image search that came after, even just seeing it in the video made me absolutely certain beyond all else that I needed it in my life.  It was like no other eye brush I'd seen before -- short, stubby bristles that didn't look like they could cover much ground.

I found a tester in a random beauty store in Toronto. After two sessions of negotiating and pleading, they wouldn't sell it to me.  Maybe I tried too hard?  And having used it for a few months now, how could I not -- it is exactly dense enough to pick up an intense, but workable amount of colour, yet just tapered enough to really focus the pigment in the lashline and diffuse it.  I've used it to thicken up eyeliner, contour underneath the eye, for my inner-corner highlight, contour my outer V, everything I've ever needed to alter my eye shape.

Anyway, Tod gave it to me for Christmas.  I don't ask questions, but mine actually has the word Tester engraved into it.

Image: Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush pictured with the eye products I've been using lately.  Ain't no texture this baby can't handle.

Current Makeup Brush Rotation

Despite the number of brush posts I've put out over the years, I'm only just starting to get over the obsession.  I remember the days when I used to fantasize about owning every single MAC brush in existence, plotting ways to hunt down discontinued versions on eBay, endlessly imagining the varied ways I could store them and the exact purpose of each.  Come on, beauty geeks, we've all been there. Haven't we?

In 2013, I broke out of the MAC cocoon and started exploring some new brushes -- here are my favourites; some old, some new, all beautiful.

I finally got around to using the Beauty Blender on myself. I'm in love.  It's perfect for those no-makeup makeup days.  For days that I need more help, I switch between Sephora #45 Mineral Powder Brush and the Real Techniques Buffing Brush.  They're pretty similar, but the Buffing Brush has a slightly flatter top.  I use all three tools to blend in foundation and concealer -- the lazy side of me doesn't feel its necessary to dirty twice as many tools.

At IMATS 2013, I scooped up the vermillion-handled Hakuhodo S103 -- is there anything this brush can't do?  It's the softest goat hair brush I've ever felt, and I've started using powder just so I have an excuse to use it.  My other Hakuhodo purchase was the teeniest, tiniest push liner brush, the J521.  According to the site, the bristles measure 2.3 mm. Instant lashes.

For eyes I've been favouring full, fluffy brushes -- as always, a MAC 217 will find its way into my weekly brush washing, but a few friends have regularly joined the mix.  Paula Dorf Sheer Crease brush is fantastically tapered and pushes colour ever-so-gently into your eye sockets.  To finish a look (or on particularly lazy days when you want that really soft, hazy wash of colour around your eyes), Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush is my go-to.  The handle is so perfectly weighted, something I never knew would be important to me. 

Most prized possession?  A Suqqu cheek brush.  Read about that here.
My other most prized possession?  A Paula Dorf Smokie Lid brush.  Yes, it exists.  There's a story for another day.

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