Thursday, June 25, 2015

Birthday Shopping in Chinatown

Hi, yesterday was my birthday so I went to Chinatown New York and found a shop selling Japanese and Korean makeup and a lot of cute Chinese stuff (on Canal Street, near the Buddhist temple).

Here is what I got:

Monday, June 22, 2015

Japanese Makeup Brands for White Porcelain Skin (Part II)

Hi! Following my post on Japanese Porcelain Doll Skin, today I am telling you about Japanese makeup brands which are excellent to achieve this effect (next time I will focus on Korean makeup brands). 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Japanese Porcelain Doll Skin

Hi! A very important feature of East Asian makeup, especially Korean and Japanese, is flawless white skin, like a porcelain doll. In the West women like tan and dark skin, but in the East it is exactly the opposite (for more info on the topic read this post). The term describing this culture of white skin is called 美白( Bihaku in Japanese, Meibai in Chinese) and it literally means "beautiful white".

Some of you asked me how Japanese girls achieve the "porcelain doll" effect and here are some tips:

1. Whitening Products: they are very popular all over Asia and include face lotions, masks, face cleansers and so on. They are very common in China, Thailand, Korea and basically anywhere in the East. However, some of these products, especially the cheap ones, can be dangerous and damage your skin because they can contain bleach.

2. Bb cream: bb cream is huge in Korea and Japan and has become very popular in the West in the past few years too. To obtain a porcelain doll skin you need to use a bb cream that is a tone lighter than your skin tone. It is very important that you apply it very well and blend it on the neck to avoid a sharp contrast (like Mulan in the picture below!).

3. Cc Compact Cushion: the new Korean cc foundation is now sold in the West too (by brands like Lancome and Kiko) and it is great to achieve a light, flawless and fresh effect. I have been using Etude House Precious Mineral for months and it's a shade a little bit lighter than my skin tone. I just apply a small amount on my face with the sponge, then I make sure I blend it evenly, especially on my neck. For more info on my cc compact cushion read this post.

4. Powder: Powder is a very popular product in East Asia. Korean and Japanese girls keep a compact in their purse and constantly re-apply powder during the day. One of my favorite brands is Etude House (Korean), which has a great selection of powders for all kinds of purposes. Again, buy a light shade and apply it gently. It is also excellent to seal makeup. However, Korean powders are thicker than the Western ones, so do not exaggerate or you will end up with a "cakey face". I always use a very light shade and apply it super lightly with a brush, even on my neck.

5. Layering: layering is another secret for perfect porcelain doll skin. Layering simply means applying layers and layers of products like bb cream, foundation, cc cream and powder. To avoid a cakey look, make sure that each layer is very thin, blended and evenly applied. This trick also gives you a flawless effect and covers all your imperfections.

And here is what my "porcelain doll skin" looks like:

In the next post I will tell you about some good Korean and Japanese brands for skin care and face makeup. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Me No Shita Chiiku - a New Japanese Makeup Trend

Hi, today I want to tell you about a new Japanese makeup trend coming from Harajuku, the trendy neighborhood in Tokyo famous for its pop culture, cosplay and manga/anime enthusiasm .

Me No Shita Chiiku means "under eye blush" and, as the term implies, lively pink or red blush is applied on the cheeks and under the eyes! The result is a sort of sick look, like you have allergies, a cold or you just cried.

Rin Rin Doll, very famous model in Harajuku

This may sound very strange if not ugly to many Westerners, but Japanese girls are loving this new trend, which became popular last fall. When I was in Japan in 2013 I saw several girls with red blush right under their eyes and I thought it was funny, but also cool (read my post here).

The woman who made this trend extremely popular is Momoko Ogihara, the creative director of Murua. This trend is in fact also called Momoko blush!


Me No Shita Chiiku makeup consists of pale skin, puffy eyes highlighted by sheer eye shadow, black eyeliner, false lashes (so far all typical elements of Japanese makeup) and red blush right under the eyes.
This makeup reminds of a fragile and sweet doll, a sort of defenseless girl. Some have compared it to the nude or no-makeup looks that have become very popular in the West recently.

Some versions of Me No Shita Chiiku makeup use eyeliner under the eyes as well, to achieve a more lively and healthier effect.

Besides covering dark circles, Me No Shita Chiiku highlights the eyes. East Asian women love big, round and bright eyes, called uru-uru in Japanese . However, applying red blush under the eyes is not something totally new. Geisha and Kabuki actors (a traditional form of theater) have done it for centuries! It is very interesting to see how tradition and modernity can fuse and create new looks, suitable for the contemporary society and today's beauty standards.Of course Me No Shita Chiiku makeup is also inspired by anime and its kawaii characters.

How do we do this look? Japanese bloggers and Rin Rin (the model in the first picture) suggest to start a finger-width below the eyes, the inner edge starting right where the iris is. Use a red or hot pink blush or eye shadow. Then apply the same blush on the apples of the cheeks. If you dare to do more, use a red or fuchsia lipstick. According to many Japanese women, this look (with strong lips) is more sexy and less childish: it in fact reminds of a "post-bedroom glow".

What do you think about Me No Shita Chiiku makeup? Would you dare do it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Buddhist Jewelry

As many of you may know, I study Chinese Buddhism and I am very interested in Asian religions in general. I also love vintage jewelry, which I started to collect last year (to see a post about it click here).

I also like "religious jewelry", like crosses and other symbols, including Buddhas, the taiji, the Om and so other words, these kinds of symbols: [\UYZ]  In my opinion you do not need to believe in Christianity to wear a cross, or be Hindu to wear something with the Om\symbol (as long as we respect those religions!).

So I bought some Buddhist jewelry and I love to wear it, because I am very passionate about Buddhism (it is my field of expertise) and agree with many Buddhist teachings.

Let's have a look at my collection:

Necklace with Endless Knot: the endless knot is one of the Eight Auspicious Buddhist Symbols, representing the Buddha's endless wisdom and compassion and the reality of cyclic existence. In China this type of knot, which is generally red, symbolizes longevity, continuity, love, harmony.

Bracelet with mantra OM MANI PADME UM: Om mani padme um is probably the most famous Buddhist mantra associated with a very important Buddhist deity, the Four Armed Avalokitesvara (see picture below). Scholars interpret the mantra different ways, and I like this one: Om to the Jewel-Lotus (which is Avalokitesvara) um (another intonation, like om).  In this picture the bracelet is upside-down, sorry!

I bought these two pieces in a market in my hometown in Italy last summer. They were probably 10 euro together. 

Buddha Earrings: I bought these cute earrings in a vintage shop in Vermont in May for about $4. This fat laughing Buddha, called Maitreya, is very popular in China, where he represents wealth and prosperity. 

What do you think about my Buddhist jewelry? Do you own anything similar?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen - Review

Hi! I was finally able to find NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Copenhagen, which I had been looking for since October last year! It was sold out for months, but I found it about 2 weeks ago in a hair product store.

This shade is very similar to Transylvania, which I reviewed last fall, to read the post click here. However, Copenhagen is more red, while Transylvania is dark purple.

The first swatch is Copenhagen, the second (on the right) is Transylvania. The packaging looks pretty much the same for both lip creams, but you can really see the difference with the swatches. 

Left: Copenhagen, right: Copenhagen (L) and Transylvania (R).

My thoughts:

  • Texture: creamy and soft, easy to apply. It is much better than Transylvania, which is drier. 
  • Color: dark red, like burgundy. Very beautiful! You can decide how intense you want it: one layer of product is pretty soft and light. If you want a very intense and dark effect, apply 2-3 layers.
  • It does not go into the lip creases like Transylvania, but I still suggest that you have soft and hydrated lips before applying it.
  • Once it dries it gets sealed and lasts long. It does not fade away easily. It also does not stain whatever you touch with your lips. 
  • Price: about $6, pretty cheap.
  • Packaging: simple, like all NYX products, but functional. Easy to use and carry around.

Overall Score: 9/10 - even if Transylvania is a prettier color, I prefer Copenhagen because it is much creamier and softer and does not dry my lips. It is very easy to apply and lasts long. I love dark lipsticks with shades of red and purple and NYX Soft Matter Lip Cream in Copenhagen is one of the best I have ever tried. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

East Asian Metamorphosis

Hi! Recently we have seen online amazing makeup transformations created by Chinese and Korean girls. After they apply their makeup these girls do not look the same anymore, but they are completely transformed. A while ago I wrote a post about East Asian women trying to become somebody else with their makeup. 

I called this post East Asian Metamorphosis because I want to show you some of these stunning makeup transformations and try to find out where the trick is! All the pictures are from the web.

So, how do East Asian girls do this makeup metamorphosis?

  • Makeup base: it is essential to cover zits, blemishes and imperfections and to create a porcelain doll effect. They use bb cream and a lot of powder and apply layers and layers of product.
  • Blush to color the cheeks like a doll.
  • Eyeliner to make their eyes look bigger, especially on the lower lash line.
  • Nude, brown, grey and black eye shadows for a natural eye makeup. For more info about East Asian eye makeup read this post
  • White pencil to enlarge the eyes, especially underneath.

...but how do they transform their eyes so dramatically?

    • Contact lenses to change the eye color and make them look bigger, especially the pupils. There are in fact contact lenses with big round pupils that make your eyes look almost twice as big!

    What do you think about these makeup transformations? Do you think they look good or are too much? I think the final effect looks great but it totally changes your actual face and completely hides your natural beauty.