Saturday, June 22, 2013

What's the ACTUAL Buzz on BB Cream?

        Right now, the western beauty market is flushed with a trendy new product: BB cream. As SmashBox admitted, when it attacked this particular trend with it’s sharp, fashionable claws, BB cream is a product from Asia whose initials stand for: blemish balm. Since SmashBox jumped on the trend many other brands have followed suit, obviously seeing the money making potential by one of Asia’s best makeup products/trends.  
Here is the original SmashBox advertisement/interview for BB:
I don’t mean to pick on SmashBox since they are, in my opinion, the only western company doing BB cream correctly, but there are some facts they don’t have straight. Such as: 

BB cream comes in only one color.
Just as foundation comes in many colors so does BB cream. But, like a lot of western foundation brands, many BB cream lines will come with only one undertone. However, BB creams themselves do come in a wide variety of undertones and skin tones.

BB cream started with Asia.
I have no idea where this fact came from. BB cream has been around for an incredibly long time and doesn’t even sell BB cream. Balm Asia, according to Google, is just a reference to Tigerbalm (an herbal Chinese “vapor rub” that people use for sore backs and congestion).

SmashBox “updated” BB cream with their “twist” which was adding pigment.
SmashBox did not “twist BB cream” or make it new or update it. SmashBox created a BB that is a lot like any other BB you will find from an Asian brand. The only thing different about their BB cream is that it is less potent in the skin-care department, comes in a shade complimentary to darker skin (which is a great thing because that is vastly ignored in the Asian market) and is a lot more expensive. BB cream was never a primer with no pigment. It always doubled as skin care, foundation and sunscreen. That is what makes it so wonderful and has earned it the name: Blemish Balm.

 Finding the BB Cream that is Right for YOU!
Every brand and their mother seems to have come out with the PERFECT BB cream. However, there are a lot of BBs out there and finding the right one for your needs is tricky because everyone’s skin is different. If you have scars there are Asian BBs that specialize in that, if you have red skin there are BBs that work as toners or have tomato in them that will extract the redness. If you are very pale (like me) BB creams can be a saving grace with their fair colors and high SPF. The trick, really, is just trying them all. BB is new to the western market, and most brands don’t have experience making them. The most important thing to realize before buying a western BB cream is this: 
To these corporations BB cream is a TREND. It is not a real product to them. They are cashing in on what looks like a FAD. This is why many of them don’t solve your skin woes, don’t do what is advertised, are watery, greasy and just plain poorly made.
This could just be my inner weaboo, but the Korean or Japanese products really are better than their western counterparts. Below is a list of BBs I personally like. If you would like the link to where to buy Asian BB cream check my links to the left of this page.  
                                                            ~Thanks for Reading~

                                                             BB Cream List

Saturday, May 11, 2013

O.C. Nail Beauty

Author's Note: Since this is still circulating around on Tumblr I decided to move this review over to my new blog! Tumblr Link Here!
Hello all!
So for those of you that know me you also know that I have a deep love of nail art. I go buck wild for the stuff, often splurging big time for a manicure or new acrylic set. I had to stop for a little while as funds were tight, but now I'm back on the deco wagon and ready to review my favorite salons in the O.C. area.
I'll start with an oldie but goodie for me:
O.C. Nail Beauty is a number one spot for me. Not just for the nail-art but for the service as well. Though other studios (like Atlas) are the top of the charts when it comes to sculpting and painting nail art I find that O.C. nail beauty can't be beat when it comes to luxury service and the quality of the acrylic set itself.  Below is a photo of my most current set from O.C. Nail Beauty. 

As you can see from the above photo this set is not only incredibly detailed in its artwork, but also very similar in appearance to a real nail. They aren't too thick, too long or unrealistic looking and that is one of the things that I truly adore about O.C.NB. Another thing to note about the quality of this work is that it is all done by hand. The base nail was molded from clear acrylic powder to perfectly match the shape of my fingers and the hearts were made from colored powder and then shaped. If you can see in the photo, the purple nail also has the cursive words "love" written on it, this was applied and then set with clear gel. After this major construction each nail was filled with a gel full of subtle sparkles. Finally, it was sanded down and shaped to the perfect, stiletto point that drew it all together. The only thing that was not handmade was the bow.
            Originally the price I was quoted was 85 dollars for all of the hand-done work. However, the total came out to 97. The result of which had to do with my one major con: plastic pieces. O.C. Nail Beauty charges out the wazoo for little plastic pieces that can be ordered cheaply from any site that sells bulk deco. The bows were 6 dollars each. The piece itself was around 1 dollar and 5 dollars was the application fee for sticking the bows on. However, all of the work here is done with such painstaking care and so detailed that I can't find a problem with charging the extra for the pieces. It is wise for a customer to be on the lookout for these costly bangles that may be suggested to you without a mention of price.

Above is an example of my favorite part: service. The service of this establishment has no competition. Say goodbye to uncomfortable nail stations, boredom and awkward conversation. When walking into this place you are greeted with nothing but comfort and entertainment. The nail rooms are decorated with lovely little chandeliers, plush leather seats and an HD television all in an elegant black rococo-chic motif. When you sit, a soft blanket is placed on your lap to keep your clothing from getting nail dust on it, magazines in close reach and a small tray of tea, water and snacks is given to you to munch on while getting your nails done! Not only that, but the T.V. is put to good use with a wide selection of DVDs to watch (they have everything from Batman to Sex and the City). There are two seats per room, so going with a friend isn't a problem at all. Going with a friend also helps take the edge off the time it takes: approx 2.5-3 hours.
                                             (a simple set from OCNB) 
Overall Score? 
Quality: 10/10 
Service: 10/10 
Art: 9/10         
Price: 9/10       
I don't like the high cost for plastic pieces, but for selection, quality and service, it's the absolute tops. This place is a must visit for anyone in the SoCal area with time (and money) for a luxury spa day! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Wonderful World of Hipsters

       Hipsters: you know them when you see them. They’re the snotty kids at Urban Outfitters toting shirts about obscure activism, the kid wearing a tie while riding a skateboard, the overly tattooed barista at Starbucks, the dreadlocked white-guy or alternative argyle wearing, overly pierced guy with the lenseless Raybans: if you have met or seen any combinations of these, you have met a Hipster. Though one can easily identify a Hipster, what exactly are they and where did they come from? Hipsters are typically upper-middle class or come from an upper middle-class background and begin developing their Hipster style in their late teens and continue into their thirties. They often identify themselves as “indie” or as “you can’t put me in a box like that, this has always been my style.” Though the U.S. all over is now well acquainted with Hipsters they have been around much longer than some people’s grandparents. The Hipster movement, like anything decent or iconic about American culture and fashion, established itself during the vintage golden age in the 1940’s; finding its home amongst the voluntary wanderers, writers, artists and beatniks. It first found its home on the east coast in cities like New York and Boston; eventually, it crossed America and found its way to Oregon and California. Hipsters, like many fashion sub-cultures, found their start in Music and art. In the past a Hipster was typically one who was well plugged into the music scene, caring little for appearance and more for philosophy, artistic pursuits and could be from any class or background. Now, a Hipster is someone whom is typically in the white middle to upper-middle class bracket, they are the trend-setters, the demographic that advertisers and marketers plug into in order to sell the largest amount of product they can.
            One of the most iconic things about the Hipster sub-culture is their fashion. The fashion is the signifier that allows people to know if they are dealing with a Hipster or not and those signifiers are many and complex. Due to the wide variety of Hipsters it will be hard to cover every-single-fashion trope familiar to the culture, but there are a few staples that cross types. In the past Hipsters did not care about what they wore or about making any kind of statement with their clothing, wanting all of the attention to be on music and other art. However, Hipsters today are quite different choosing to make statements (typically ironic) about the world today via the clothing they wear. For males, interesting facial hair, piercing and a mixture of vintage and modern fashion are all indicators of Hipsterdom. They typically are seen with a combination of suspenders and skinny jeans, vintage waxed moustaches and beards combined with a ratty sweater or ironic t-shit. The ironic t-shirt is truly an icon of Hipster culture and is commonly worn by both genders as a way of showing that they care about what society thinks that they are willing to wear this stupid t-shirt (as of December 2012, Honey Boo-Boo from TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo is the most popular ironic shirt for Hipsters). For females there is a very thrifty accent to most of their fashion; thrifted designer brands, old hats, baggy sweaters, ratty hair with roots grown out and a very “I just rolled out of bed and look this hot” feel to their style. Though Hipsters today still like to appear that they don’t care for their appearance, unlike their ancestors, they continually spend a lot of money on designer items that look as though they’ve been chewed through a lawn mower. The amount of money Hipsters spend on clothing is so great that there are large stores (I.E. Urban Outfitters) that cater only to their style and demographic. Though Hipsters today have a much stronger focus on clothing than in the past there is still a strong philosophy that surrounds the Hipster culture.
            In Hipster culture the phrase, “I liked_____before it was cool” is vital. To be a Hipster one must be aware of the fact that nostalgic things with a former stigma attached to them are currently cool, to be ahead of the curve and on trend one must always say that they enjoyed it even when the previous stigma was attached to it. Even as late as the 1990’s currently cool things such as video games, comics and anime (Japanese cartoons) had a kind of stigma around them as being things that interested weird kids and serial killers; however, now that those weird kids have grown up (and serial killers either in jail or escaped to Argentina) and have entered the media industry making high budget films of all those previously “underground” things, they are cool and a Hipster, for the sake of their reputation and knowledge of nostalgic media must make it clear to everyone that they liked it even before it became culturally accepted. This kind of thinking applies to everything: the cool restaurant that everyone suddenly discovered, the white-trash beer that people thought tasted like pee before it was cool, the gastro pub, craft beer and one would even be hard pressed to find a Hipster that didn’t say they were going to farmer’s market before it was cool. Once things become too watered down and over marketed, the Hipster will quickly drop the thing they thought was previously cool and move onto a new underground hobby or location. This begs the question, “Hipsters are now considered cool, what happens to them in the mainstream?” The answer is simple: because Hipsters are the underground, even though their style an identity is mainstream and even archetypical, as long as they never admit to being a Hipster or have any knowledge of their own irony within that fact that can still remain a Hipster.  
A Hipster must always life on the fringe. A Hipster must never be categorized or placed into a box (despite the fact that corporations and people do it anyway). If you ask a Hipster how to be a Hipster or if they are one they will always say know, because if they admitted to being part of the mainstream their identity would vanish. Though Hipsters are very different from the wandering artists of the 1940’s and even 50’s  current Hipsters still share the same desire of freedom and discovery that their ancestors once did. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Inaccurate Villain

          On July 20th 2012, like most Batman fans, I too was gearing up for the midnight premier of the Dark Knight Rises. My friends and I had watched the entirety of Bruce Tim's The Animated Series. I even dressed up an old Build a' Bear of mine as the Dark Knight himself as I didn't have enough time to create my own costume for the premier like my other die-hard fan friends. Afterwards we were all elated, prancing about in over-complicated costumes and talking excitedly about the gritty genius that was our postmodern hero.
   It was then the bubble burst.
   News spread rapidly about the shootings as soon as we had turned our computers back on. The terrifying word had hit: A young man dressed as the Joker had shot up a theater killing 12 and wounding 59. It hit the nerd community its sister costuming community hard. People were horrified not just because a disturbed young man shot up a theater, but that this young man had an association with all of us: he too claimed his identity as a cosplayer and a nerd.
   For those of you who don't know, a cosplayer is someone who goes to comic conventions or movies dressed up as their favorite characters and often times the costumes are detailed, elaborate and well done. Many cosplayers attempt to portray every aspect of their character including how they act.
   Amongst the superhero cosplayers there are many who do it, not only for the sake of the craft, but for the sake of others as well. They go to hospitals, schools, homes for the needy, dressed as a kid's favorite hero as a volunteer. Although nerds haven't always gotten the best rap, superhero cosplayers have always tried to live up to the giving nature of their characters.
   Like columbine was to gamers, the Colorado shooting was to comic book fans and costume nerds. Questions like, "was he trying to become the Joker? and Should costumes be allowed in public places?" began to spring up. Many theaters and malls started banning costumes all together and the charitable acts of many Marvel and DC cosplayers were seen as a threat instead of a service.
   Soon forums began springing up everywhere online as Batman fans tried to distance themselves from the infamous shooter. They began fervently pointing out that he was not part of the community, an avid loner even amongst the socially awkward, that his hair had been dyed red (a color the Joker had never claimed in any of his ensembles) not green; and that, most importantly, the Joker didn't wear Kevlar and carry heavy grade artillery around his person. The Joker was a character that was lost on the killer and used only for the fact that he was memorable and infamous villain that believed in the importance theatrics for his crimes that always had a point: "We kill the Batman."
   Sadly, in public places and even volunteer settings crafty nerds and their costumes are now unwelcome, launched back into the days where being a nerd was stigmatized as dangerous and unbalanced. Where the socially awkward kid is always the one who will eventually go postal.
   In tragedy people often need someone to blame in order to understand the actions of one psychotic. It's hard to believe that bad things can happen for no reason at all, and so Batman is left again to take the blame when people can no longer believe in heroes.