Saturday, September 8, 2012

Elle Varner: Perfectly Imperfect! Album Review

I first heard Elle Varner on my very favorite radio station, 106 KMEL. They were playing her first single, "Only Wanna Give it to You" featuring J. Cole. The song made me so happy for a number of reasons: First, J. Cole is my favorite rapper. Second, the song was SO catchy! Third, Elle Varner has this amazing raspy voice that I immediately fell in love with.
So I youtube'd her, listened to a few more songs by her, then downloaded her mixtape Conversational Lush. It's free on DatPiff, if you are interested. The mixtape was pretty good. Her voice was lovely as always, but it was NOTHING compared to Perfectly Imperfect. The lyrics were a little lacking. My favorite songs on the mixtape are "WTF," "Feel Like a Woman," and "So Fly." I could see she had some serious potential.

She is so promising, in fact, that Teen Vogue featured her! I think she is so beautiful.

Perfectly Imperfect is such a great album mostly because of how uncannily relatable it is. Of course, I am also in love her voice. She has that kind of voice that makes me really wish I could sing. As an added bonus, ALL of the songs on the album were written by her, which makes her more respectable than most artists these days...

Here's the track listing:
1. “Only Wanna Give It to You” feat. J. Cole
2. “Refill”
3. “Sound Proof Room”
4. “I Don’t Care”
5. “Not Tonight”
6. “Leaf”
7. “Oh What a Night”
8. “Stop the Clock”
9. “Welcome Home”
10. “Damn Good Friends”
11. “So Fly”

The first track I have already talked about. It's a perfect choice for a first single, if you ask me. It's cliche enough to get people to listen, but different enough to keep their attention. "Refill" is the second single, and it REALLY makes me wish I could sing. "I Don't Care" is a gorgeous song about falling in love, which is a recurring theme throughout the album.

"Not Tonight" is one of those crazy relatable songs in this album. It's a heart-wrenching ballad about not being able to tell the one you love about how you feel.

"Oh What a Night" is not particularly a creative or powerful song, but it shows Elle Varner's sense of humor. She makes it very clear that she is just like all the other women (and men!) listening to her album. You can tell she is very down to earth.

"Damn Good Friends" is probably my favorite song on the album. You can FEEL the emotion in her voice. It's about the heartbreak of being in love with a good friend. I think we can all relate.

Finally, "So Fly" is another song that showcases her sense of humor along with giving a positive message to all us insecure ladies. It ends with a message about superficial beauty...

So I decided I'm
The definition of fly
And if you want to know why
I know what money can't buy
Don't go believing the hype
There's no runway in the sky
And no way you could be fly
Not if it costs you a dime.

Favorite tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4... oh forget it. Buy the album! You won't regret it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain

It's a balm! It's a stain! It's Revlon Kissable Balm Stain!

I saw this product on someone's blog. I forget whose blog it was, but they were comparing these to the Clinique Chubby Sticks and they said that the Revlon ones were almost as good and even better in some aspects.

The Revlon Balm Stains are cheaper than the Clinique Chubby sticks ($7-$10 vs $16) so I thought I would give them a try.

This was selling for $8.99 at Rite-Aid, but there was a BOGO get 50% off deal.

Anyways, this comes in a pretty package. The color is called "Sweetheart." The lip stain looks like a crayon, as you can see; it even writes like a crayon on paper. I was immediately excited, as I tend to be when I buy new stuff. When I bought this, I expected it to be a orange toned pink, but it was actually more of a fuchsia color.

It's balmy and has a pleasant minty smell. Because it's a balm, it leaves a nice moisturized sheen on your lips. It's very pigmented, so if you're looking for a more natural look make sure to put lots of lip balm on first. I've found that it makes the color a lot less harsh.
Here's the balm on my lips. It looked a LOT brighter than the kind of lip color I'm used to. It is a bright fuchsia. It's the kind of dramatic lip color you can wear without any other makeup. 

The Revlon Balm Stain lasted for the rest of the day, and was even there the next morning! It's really the most ridiculously amazing staying power I have ever encountered in a tinted lip balm. It's not as moisturizing as I would have liked it to be, but overall I really like it. Because it's so bright, it can really be the only makeup I wear. It makes for a fun 1-step makeup look!

I highly recommend this product. It's super pigmented and stays all day. It's not quite moisturizing enough to be a lip balm, so you also need to moisturize your lips, but it is very moisturizing compared to other lip stains which tend to dry your lips out.

I will definitely be picking up some more colors next week!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Contouring in 4 Somewhat Unsuccessful Steps

Contouring. Interesting word! It's like... contortionists. In a way it is. The goal is to create an illusion of a more well-defined face. Sharper features, higher cheekbones, and every other impossible thing that every girl wants but doesn't have. Except for HER.

 Who the heck is she, you ask? She is Nazanin Mandi, the gorgeous girlfriend of my favorite singer, Miguel. She likes cats. She also happens to be a model. See those cheekbones, that narrow nose, and those sharp features?

Basically, the goal of contouring is to look something like her.

Now, this happens to be a VERY difficult task for me. I have inherited my mommy's Japanese cheeks. I have the chubbiest cheeks ever. My chin is not very well defined, and basically, I look nothing like the lovely lady on the left.

Okay, so here's me. I have tried contouring in 4 steps. I forgot that contouring doesn't show up well when you smile, so I accidentally took my non-contour picture while smiling. Oops. And then I look really scary on the other 3 photos. Oops.
Picture 1, upper left: No bronzer
Picture 2, upper right: Bronzer under my cheekbones, so that my non-cheekbone cheeks look receded, if that makes any sense
Picture 3, lower left: Around the edges of my face and on the sides of my chin. This part did NOT go too well.
Picture 4, lower right: On the sides of my nose, plus i blended out the bronzer from picture 3

For the sake of exaggeration, I used e.l.f. contouring bronzer which is a darker color than what I would normally use. I thought it would turn out better in pictures, but it looks way too harsh.

Anyways, extreme contouring is NOT recommended for unskilled people like me and should generally be left to skilled people and professionals. Yeah, I wish I had more angular features, but I just was not born that way and need to deal with it.

However, I find it really interesting that you can change the shape of your features with a swipe of makeup. Notice how my nose looks a lot bonier in the last picture? It's definitely something worth experimenting with, maybe with a much lighter bronzer.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Emperor is Naked!

My mom told me a story when I was little. Maybe you've heard it before. It goes something like this:

"A vain Emperor hires two tailors who are really swindlers that promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is unfit for his position. The Emperor cannot see the cloth himself, but pretends that he can; his ministers do the same. When the swindlers report that the suit is finished, they pretend to dress him and the Emperor marches in procession before his subjects, who play along with the pretense. Suddenly, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the Emperor is wearing nothing at all and the cry is taken up by others. The Emperor cringes, suspecting the assertion is true, but holds himself up proudly and continues the procession."

I stole the summary from Wikipedia, by the way. I was having trouble telling it myself. The real name of the story is "The Emperor's New Clothes" by Hans Christian Andersen.

So, you are probably wondering. Why am I posting this?

I was recently at a solo charity recital by a pianist named Fuzjko Hemming. She is a very popular pianist in Japan, mainly because of her inspiring success story. She was very poor growing up, but was able to get into prestigious music institutions. At age 16, she went deaf for two years until she regained 40% of her hearing in one ear. She made her biggest comeback in her sixties, and performed at very fancy places like Carnegie Hall! I believe she is almost 80 years old now.

At the charity concert, she played very well known pieces like Chopin's etudes and La Campanella by Liszt. When she started playing, I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed the whole recital. It's just that she made so many clumsy, obvious mistakes. I'm not saying I personally can play them better (no way!), but the amount of mistakes she made was unheard of for a professional pianist who has performed at Carnegie Hall. And she played everything very slowwwwly, maybe because she was being expressive. Or maybe she just doesn't have the technique that she used to have. You can never tell with these professional pianists and artists. You can never tell if you are making an absolute fool of yourself by criticizing them.

HOWEVER. She got a standing ovation at the end, and she even played an encore. The (mostly Japanese) crowd went WILD. I wondered if this recital was really something special, or if her fame and inspiring life story was what convinced everyone she was so good. I wondered if I was being a total bitch by thinking that this 80 year old lady did not fulfill my expectations.

Even if you don't play piano or even listen to music, you have probably encountered a situation like mine. You go to an art gallery, and the paintings look like a 5 year old could have painted them. However, you obediently nod in admiration as everyone around you gushes about how creative they are. You go to a five star restaurant, and you think the food tastes like crap but you eat it with a smile so that you seem sophisticated.

I feel like art is sometimes like the emperor's "new clothes." We feel obligated to admire fine art that we don't even like, but maybe the art we don't like... for lack of better word choice... actually SUCKS?

Fuzjko Hemming's concert was pleasant, and parts of it were actually moving, but it didn't seem special to me. Maybe she is actually very talented; I'll never know.  Or maybe the enthusiastic people in the crowd were just the naked emperor's subjects...

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Magic of Eyelashes

Yes, you guessed it. This post is dedicated to those tiny little hairs above your eyes called eyelashes. We all love eyelashes. They have the power to make our eyes look bigger and make us look more awake. It is our duty to make our eyelashes the BEST eyelashes they can be. I'm going to show you what I do to my eyelashes, then I will show you the comparison between plain vs curled vs mascara+curled eyelashes!

First, I curl my eyelashes. This, I think, is the most important part.

As you can see, I am using a Sheseido eyelash curler that I bought in Japan for the equivalent of about $9. They sell them here at Sephora for $19! That is so rude of Sephora to mark up the price like that.

To curl my lashes, I half close my eyes and make sure EVERY eyelash is between the rubber thingy and the top part. Then, I squeeze for about 10 seconds. It's pretty straightforward.

Then, I apply mascara. I tend to brush through my eyelashes once for length, then wiggle it up my eyelashes for volume, then brush through once again to get rid of clumps. For this post I used Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara. I don't particularly like that mascara, but it came with an eyeshadow palette. It clumps very easily.

The upper left corner is without anything. The upper right corner is with an eyelash curler, and the bottom left corner is with an eyelash curler and mascara. The bottom right corner is my cat. He's just filling up space because I didn't have a fourth thing to compare.

This compares the same things in the same order as above, but they are full face photos (as you can see!) This answers my burning question of, "Do eyelashes really make a difference in how you look overall?"

The answer is this: Kind of. The reality is that eyelashes are just tiny hairs above your eyes, and there are MUCH bigger things in the world to worry about. Larger, more defined lashes do, however, help you get larger and more defined eyes. I also look kind of sleepy without curled eyelashes or mascara.

I am also astonished at the amount of time I have spent writing about eyelashes. Goodbye for now!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Hello my name is...

Hello there! My name is Mia. I'm your average high school student. To be honest with you, I am not very majestic at all. I like makeup, thrift stores, cats, music (R&B and classical!), and good books. I admire beauty, just beauty in general. Not just aesthetic beauty. I spend a lot of time pondering what my niche is in this world, but I never come to any conclusions.

I spend a lot of time playing piano. I used to do gymnastics, but I was kind of in a developmental rut and I quit. Now I have more time to practice piano. I'm not complaining.

I am using this blog as a creative (or not so creative) outlet, so I will be posting about very typical girlish things like


But I will also be posting about things like


Oh, and here is a picture of one of my cats. I think she's really cute.

Anyways, I hope you continue reading my blog! I will post again soon.