How to create flawless skin for photos

As a forewarning, this requires putting on lots of layers and products, so this probably isn’t going to be your everyday routine, but it’s perfect for photos. Follow these 9 steps to create flawless, doll-like skin!

1. Primer
Start off with a primer that works for your skin. A good primer will help smooth your skin and blur fine lines and pores.

2. BB Cream
With your face primed, apply a layer of full-coverage BB cream. My favourite is the Missha M Perfect Cover BB Cream – it provides great coverage while being lightweight. The BB cream will help to cancel out any redness in your skin, which will help you get the maximum colour payoff for your foundation.

3. Liquid Foundation
For your foundation, start with liquid. To add a subtle glow to your skin and create that dewy, radiant complexion, I like adding a strobing cream (the MAC Strobe Cream being my go-to) to the foundation. Apply evenly to your entire face and don’t forget the lids!

4. Cream Foundation
If you have great skin to begin with, you can skip this step, but if you need or would like the extra coverage, apply cream foundation all over your face. Then go back with a concealer brush and apply more product to any spots or blemishes that need additional coverage.

5. Concealer
Apply cream concealer to the under-eye area to hide any darkness. 

6. Contour & Highlight - Cream
Use a cream or liquid highlighter to add glow to the cheek and brow bones and other high points of the face, and a cream-based contouring product to sculpt your face.

7. Translucent Powder
Lock the makeup into place with a translucent powder. An HD powder would work best for photos. I’m also obsessed with the Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder. It gives your skin a matte finish and makes it feel so incredibly soft.

8. Contour & Highlight - Powder
I like going back to the under-eye area and using a powder highlighter to give the eyes and face an instant lift. If you want to amp up the contouring, you can do so with a contouring powder.

9. Makeup Setting Spray
Lastly to finish off, give your face a few sprays of makeup setting spray (the Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray being my favourite) to set everything in place!

Bridal Beauty: Eat Your Way to Healthier Skin

I previously posted a blog about the foods to avoid before the big day. Try the below foods instead to flush out toxins and get clear, healthy, and glowy skin for the wedding day!

1. Water
Water is an absolute must in keeping your body and skin hydrated and to help your body flush out toxins. I’ve heard of people who minimize their water intake to avoid swelling and look leaner. That’s just crazy! If you reduce your salt and carb intake, drinking water is absolutely fine. Last thing you want is to suffer from dehydration on your wedding day.

2. Fresh veggies
Try choosing veggies across a range of bright colours, rich in antioxidants and other vitamins. Juicing is a great way to flush out toxins in the body and clear the skin.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids like salmon, flaxseed, and walnuts can help improve breakouts, hydrate the skin, and reduce inflammation. It’ll help your skin appear more vibrant, plumper, and youthful.

4. Dark berries
In case their delicious taste isn't reason enough, dark berries, blueberries being my favourite, contain skin-clearing antioxidants. 

5.  Green tea
Green tea is packed with antioxidants and has acne and inflammation-fighting properties.

Keep in mind, you won’t get visible results overnight from making these dietary changes. I recommend starting at least a couple of months before the wedding to reap the maximum benefit.

Beauty Must-Have's: Japanese Liquid Liners

Japanese liquid liners are inarguably the best in the world and they’re without a doubt one of the most important (and probably my favourite) products in my makeup arsenal. Here are two Japanese eyeliners that I’m completely in love and cannot live without:

Mote Liner from Flow Fushi
This is the one of best-selling eyeliner in Japan. It comes with a soft fine tip, which was designed by a Kumano brush craftsman (traditional Japan Kumano brushes are known for their impeccable quality and durability). The liner is incredibly resistant to water, sweat, tears, and sebum, yet removes easily with makeup remover. It’s also highly pigmented and dries quickly, but one of the things that distinguishes this liner from the rest is its octagon-shaped body for a steady grip.

K-Palette 1 Day Tattoo Real Lasting 24 Hour Eyeliner
Another best seller in Japan, the K-Palette liner is waterproof, sweat-proof, and sebum-proof, so this liner does not budge. The brush tip is slightly more dense and less fine compared to the Mote Liner, but is great for creating clean, precise lines. It’s also richly pigmented and fast-drying like the Mote Liner.

Both of these liners are optimal for long-lasting wear and they both come in various colours (although superblack is always my favourite!). I’m not sure which I love more and to be honest, there’s nothing I don’t like about either of them!

You can get both of these liners online. They are a bit more expensive online than they are in Japan, but they’re well worth it! And if you’re ever visiting Japan, be sure to stock up on these!

Bridal Beauty: 5 Foods to Avoid Before the Big Day

How you look, and especially how your skin looks, has a lot to do with what you eat. If your big day is coming up, here are some foods you should avoid to improve your skin!

1. Junk food & fast food
Junk food including fast food tend to be high on the glycemic index, which puts you at risk of blemishes. Many of these foods are also packed with additives and toxins (hence the name junk!), which, believe me, show in your skin complexion. So steer clear of junk food leading up to your wedding.

2. Sugar
Processed sugar is a huge culprit for breakouts. But that’s not all. Over time, it degrades proteins that keep skin soft, supple, and elastic.  

3. Refined carbs
Refined carbs like white bread, white rice, chips, and cookies that have a high glycemic index are bad for the skin. They cause your blood sugar level to spike which leads to a hormonal cascade. The result? Breakout city! And that’s not all. It also triggers the production of wrinkles over time. Like salt, consuming too much carbs can also cause bloating as well. Carbs act like a sponge that absorbs and holds water and other fluids you’re ingesting. So I suggest reducing your carb intake a few days before the wedding.

4. Cow’s milk
Cow’s milk, especially skim milk, is great for your body, but it can be full of growth hormones which can cause inflammation and ramp up oil production, and subsequently clog pores and cause acne. Try swapping it for almond, coconut, or oat milk instead.

5. Salt
I’m sure you’ve heard that salt makes you bloated. This is true and it’s not limited to the stomach area – the swelling can appear on your face and around your eyes as well. Avoid foods high in sodium the week of the wedding and if you can help it, avoid eating out as a lot of restaurant food is loaded with salt!

Stay tuned for my upcoming post on foods you SHOULD eat instead for healthy skin!

Bridal Beauty FAQ: Should I get lash extensions for my wedding day?

A question I get asked sometimes by brides is whether they should get lash extensions for the wedding day, as opposed to using false lashes. This is a matter of personal preference and you may get different answers from different makeup artists, but my opinion is to opt for false lashes (instead of lash extensions) for the wedding day.

Lash extensions are generally quite natural looking, which is great for everyday wear, but when it comes to achieving a bridal look, false lashes will give you that extra length and volume. Your makeup artist would also be able to choose a style of lashes that’s best suited to you. So unless you’re going for a very natural bridal look, I would say false lashes are the way to go. 

Now this question often comes up because brides want to have their lashes done for their honeymoon. If you have some time between your wedding and your honeymoon to get lash extensions, then that’s what I would suggest, but if not, this is a personal choice you’ll have to make as to what’s more important to you. 

If you’ve never had your lashes done previously, keep in mind as well that that’s a risk you’re taking as they may not necessarily turn out the way you thought they would. And of course, if you do end up deciding to opt for lash extensions for the wedding day, be sure to go to a reputable lash technician and to get them done closer to the wedding to prevent fallouts!

Everything You Need to Know About Double Cleansing

The double cleansing method along with the elaborate Korean multi-step skincare regime got popularized a few years back by Korean beauty bloggers, but double-cleansing is not new. It’s actually been practiced in Japan for centuries. I’m just sad and surprised it wasn’t introduced to us earlier! If you already remove your eye makeup with makeup remover before washing your face with a cleanser, that’s a great initial step, but that’s not all. So what’s double cleansing all about?

What is the double cleansing method?

Double-cleansing is simply a two-step face cleaning process: The first wash removes makeup, sunscreen, and other surface impurities. The second does a deeper clean into your pores. 

Why should you double cleanse?

Just think: If you spilled a sticky sauce on your dining table, you’re likely going to remove the sauce first, before wiping the table clean. Imagine how unproductive it would be if you didn’t clean off the sauce first – you’d simply be spreading the mess around! It’s the same with your skin. If you relied on a one-step process to clean your face, you would basically be lathering the filth around your face and never actually getting down to the pores to do a proper clean. 

Makeup and sunscreens nowadays are formulated to cling to the skin to make it as long lasting as possible. It’s important to first get rid of whatever impurities are clinging to your skin in order to clean it thoroughly. Even if you don’t wear makeup, I would still recommend using the double cleansing method. The skin tends to get oily and grimy throughout the day. The first cleanse can help get rid of the excess sebum. 

It’s important to note as well that double cleansing isn’t just about cleansing. What it also does is ensure your skin is clear of any barriers and prep it to properly absorb your serum, moisturizer, and other skincare products you apply subsequently. If there’s a buildup of dirt and dead skin, that surface layer can prevent active ingredients in your skincare products from penetrating your skin and getting deep into your pores. So a double cleanse will allow your products to work more effectively and help you get the maximum benefit from your skincare investment.

What products should you use?

For step one, I recommend using a cleansing oil or balm. However, if you’re sensitive to oil or have acne-prone skin, consider using a cleansing milk instead. There are cleansing oils that are designed to remove eye makeup as well, but I personally still like removing my eye makeup with the Bioderma Sensibio H2O makeup remover before using The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil to remove the rest of my face makeup (I use the rich one for my dry skin).

For step two, the choice of product is completely personal depending on your needs, but I personally like using a gentler cleanser. It’s important to massage the cleanser gently onto your face and not rub too hard as it may irritate the skin, especially if you’re using an exfoliator. Next, rinse thoroughly with warm water to remove all the lather. Be careful not to miss the hairline, as any residue can cause breakouts. Lastly, gently pat 

your face dry with a clean towel before using applying your skincare products.

So there you have it, everything you need to know about double cleansing! It may seem like double the work, but if you think about how much more you’d be getting out of your skincare products, it’s well worth the time. It’ll help clear your skin and prevent breakouts, so if you’re not already double cleansing, get on it now!

Bridal Beauty: Getting Oily Skin Wedding-Ready

Having oily skin that just won't seem to go away can be extremely frustrating (although there is a silver lining: oily skin tends to age better and develop fewer wrinkles!). Here are ways to get oily skin ready for the big day! Just make sure you don't go overboard in your efforts. It's all about balance when it comes to caring for oily skin! 

Probably the most effective way to manage oily skin is to clean it properly. Improper or under-cleansing can lead to bacteria growth and breakouts. However, over-washing your skin is one of the two biggest mistakes people with oily skin make. If your skin feels squeaky clean after you wash it, it's likely you've over-cleaned it. Over-washing strips your skin of all its oils, including healthy oils your face needs. It's best to wash your face twice a day - once in the morning and once in the evening. Try a gentler alcohol-free cleanser like the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser. If a basic facial cleanser doesn’t cut it, try a product that includes an acid such as benzoyl peroxide.

The other biggest mistake people with oil skin make is not hydrating their skin. It's a big misconception that oily skin doesn't need hydration. In fact, oily skin could be a sign of dehydration. When your face doesn't get enough moisture, it compensates by producing excess oil, so make sure you apply moisturizer every time after you wash your face. Try a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid, which has powerful hydrating properties without clogging pores.

Use a clay/mud mask
Applying clay and mud masks to the skin helps draw out oils and cleanse pores. I recommend using a clay or mud mask once a week. Focus on problem areas and avoid any dry spots on the face as it could lead to over-drying.

Don't overdo home remedies
You can easily find DIY home remedies that help fight oily skin all over the Internet. Common ones include lemon juice, egg white, yogurt, and ingredients with astringent properties. There's definitely benefit in using these natural ingredients, but it's important not to overdo it. I would say once a week is generally a good amount. Over-applying these treatments (especially exfoliating ones) could lead to skin irritation.

Consult your dermatologist
Every person's skin is different and there's definitely no one-size-fits-all solution to oily skin (which is also why this blog post may seem a bit ambiguous), so for a big once-in-a-lifetime event like your wedding, I would recommend seeing your dermatologist to get your skin treated if you have acne-prone or more problematic skin. They'll be able to understand your skin's specific needs and treat it accordingly.

Blotting paper and powder
On your wedding day, have with you blotting paper and powder to remove excess oil and keep shine off your face. And for my lovely brides, these are included in the complimentary mini touch-up kit I offer :)

Bridal Beauty: Getting Dry Skin Wedding-Ready

Dry flaky skin can be a bridal nightmare, so if you’ve got dry skin, here are 6 dry skin remedies you can try to get rid of dry skin and get it wedding-ready! I recommend starting this 2-3 months before your big day.

Try an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup
If you wear makeup, it’s important to remove your makeup before actually cleansing your face. Also known as double cleansing, this is a key step in the Korean skincare routine. You can try using an oil-based cleanser (unless your sensitive to oils). My favourite is The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Rich Cleansing Oil.

Don’t over-cleanse or over-exfoliate
Every time you wash your face, and especially when you exfoliate your skin, you’re stripping your skin of essential moisture and healthy oils. If possible, try washing your face just once a day with a gentle cleanser – I suggest when you come home from work or near the end of the day. That said, under-cleansing has its own problems, so if for example you exercise in the morning, I still advise washing your face after your workout. I also recommend limiting exfoliations to no more than once a week for those with dry skin. When using an exfoliator, avoid aggressively scrubbing, which can lead to inflammation and irritation. An added tip: If you also wash your face in the shower, avoid running your face under very hot water!

Use a thicker cream moisturizer
The importance of moisturizing goes without saying, but when choosing a moisturizer for dry skin, avoid gel moisturizers that are much too light to fight dryness. Choose a thicker cream. Different products work differently on everyone, but one I like for very dry, sensitive skin is the Bioderma Hydrabio Crème.

Try overnight masks
While they can help, I find sheet masks, even ones that are supposedly hydrating, aren’t as effective as sleeping masks. As someone with dry skin, I find sheet masks leave my face moisturized for a bit and then I’m left with dry skin again the following morning. Sleeping masks, on the other hand, allow deeper penetration of moisture into your skin by providing more potent treatment than would a sheet mask that’s on your face for only 15-20 mins. Depending on how dry your skin is, you may want using this every night or every other night until you see improvement and then dialing it back to 2-3 times a week. One I recommend is the Khiels Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque. It’s a sticky mask , but works wonders!

Use a humidifier
Adding moisture to your room, especially in the wintertime when you’ve got the heat on, can make a big difference on your skin. Try running your humidifier throughout the night while you sleep. At my home where the air feels extra dry in the winter months, I keep my humidifier on the lowest setting during the day and then turn it up when I go to bed.

Bring a facial mist with you on your wedding day
Give yourself moisture boosts throughout your wedding day by using a facial mist. One that’s good for dry skin is the Aritaum Baby Face Mist – Hyaluronic Acid.

It takes time for your skin to heal and regain moisture, so following these steps just a few days or a week or two before your wedding probably won’t make a big difference. Again, start this skincare routine at least 2-3 months before your wedding and you’ll be thankful you did!

How to prepare for your makeup trial

Wondering how to prepare for your upcoming makeup trial? Here are some things to keep in mind! And if you're still deciding whether or not to do a trial, DO IT! You don't want surprises the morning of the morning and to have to go through the stress of figuring out how you want to look that day. Trust me, this small investment is well worth it and will save you unnecessary stress.

Look for inspiration photos
If you have specific looks in mind for your wedding day, use Pinterest and Instagram to look for inspiration photos. Your makeup artist probably doesn't know you very well, so photos will give them a better idea of your personal style and what you're envisioning. It's also important to let your makeup artist know what you don't want.

Many brides don't have anything specific in mind. That's perfectly fine! I usually ask my clients if they prefer more natural or dramatic makeup and from there, create a look that I feel would best suit them. I then ask my clients how they feel about the look and what they'd like to change. We can try out different colours and looks. Don't be afraid to speak up! That's what the trial is for!

Keep an open mind
The looks you have in mind may not necessarily be suitable on you. Trust your makeup artist - they should have a good sense of what would and wouldn't look good on you, so allow them some flexibility in creating your look, even if it may not be what you initially had in mind. I can't stress this enough as an Asian makeup artist - let's be honest, Asian features can be tricky to work with and not all makeup styles work for us.

Have pictures of your wedding dress and your accessories with you
Your wedding dress, veil, hair accessories and other jewelry all need to go together with your hair and makeup, and they play a big part in determining your look for your big day. Keep these in mind as well when researching hair and makeup looks online. Your makeup artist should also be able to recommend suitable looks for you based on your dress and accessories. 

Keep your face bare
If possible, go to your makeup trial with a bare face. I recommend that my clients apply moisturizer (without SPF) and nothing else. It's important to avoid wearing sunscreen as it tends to create unwanted shine. For your hair trial, keep your hair product-free. Most people say day-old hair is best, but really, washing it is not that big a deal as long as you don't condition it the day of or the day before. Make sure as well that your hair is completely dry.

Go alone or with a trusted friend
I usually recommend that my clients go to the makeup trial alone or if you'd like a second opinion, feel free to bring a friend. But it's advisable to limit it to just one or two friends or family members. Bringing multiple friends with too many opinions can cause more confusion. At the end of the day, keep in mind that it's your big day and it's your opinion that matters most!

Take lots of pictures
After your trial and even during your trial, take photos of yourself under different lighting and from different angles. Makeup looks quite different on camera than it does in person. Some of my clients initially feel like they're wearing a lot of makeup, but are surprised to see how much more natural it looks on camera. I always encourage my clients to take lots of photos, give themselves a couple of hours to get used to the look, and then after let me know if there's anything else they'd like to adjust for the wedding day.

To wrap this all up, don’t be afraid to communicate to your makeup artist your likes and dislikes. Trust me, your makeup artist will be thankful you did. It's much better for your makeup artist to hear from you what you think, rather than trying to guess at how you feel. And it's your wedding day - you deserve to feel and look your best!

Tips & Tricks: Makeup Shopping in Japan

Anyone who's been through my makeup stash knows I'm a huge fan of Japanese (and Korean) makeup products and no trip of mine to Asia is ever complete without a big makeup haul. Having just returned from my fourth trip to Japan, I thought it fitting to share some tips and tricks for shopping for makeup in Japan. I'll be sharing my favourite Japanese makeup products in a future post, so stay tuned!

Tip 1: Shop at duty-free/tax-free stores
A lot of you may be wondering where to shop for makeup in Japan. You can find makeup in drug stores and big box stores all over the country and they're EVERYWHERE. Based on observation, makeup prices in Japan are pretty much the same everywhere (any differences are negligible). However, you can save the 8% tax in Japan by going to stores like Don Quijote, Bic Camera, Laox, and many drug stores that offer duty-free/tax-free shopping to tourists. Just look out for “Tax-free” or “Duty-free” signs - they're impossible to miss. You generally have to spend at least 5000 yen (or the equivalent of roughly US$50) on makeup or other consumable products to get tax exemption, so I suggest doing one or two trips to get everything rather than splitting up your purchases. And don't worry if you can’t spend $50 in makeup - you can also get skincare products and snacks (and we all know how yummy Japanese snacks are!). Remember to have your passport with you to get tax free!

Tip 2: Don't assume Japanese brands are always cheaper in Japan
Products from Japanese brands like Shiseido aren't always cheaper in Japan. This in large part depends on the exchange rate of your currency, as well as taxes. For example, I found Shiseido products to be around the same prices in Japan as they are in Canada after factoring in taxes and the exchange rate, but they're actually cheaper in the US than they are in Japan. Shu Uemura I found to be cheaper in both Canada and the US (so stock up!). When shopping in Japan, I strongly recommend comparing prices in Japan with those in your local country to see what the savings actually are.

Tip 3: Look out for No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 labels for best-selling items
Some stores in Japan have labels for their best-selling products. You'll see signs that read “No. 1”, “No. 2”, and “No. 3” on the most popular items, which should be pretty good indicators for you. (This isn't limited to just makeup. You'll see these labels in bakeries, souvenir shops, restaurants, and other shops as well.) 

Tip 4: Do your research
Makeup shopping can be daunting in Japan, especially if you're unfamiliar with the brands and their products, so make sure you do your research beforehand. Unless you (and whoever you're traveling with) enjoy spending hours trying different products at each store, making a list of the items you want to get beforehand will allow you to quickly grab everything you want from one or two stores and save you precious time for other travel activities. 

Tip 5: Avoid shopping at high-traffic tourist areas
Stores in touristy areas are extremely busy and unless you enjoy the rush and chaos, I suggest going to more local areas, which will make your shopping experience so much more pleasant, not to mention the time you’ll save in the duty-free line.

Hopefully these 5 tips will make your makeup shopping in Japan more fun, stress-free, and of course help save you some money. Happy shopping in Japan!