Pore Strips - Best, Worst, Make Your Own?

I have never had problem skin. I get the occasional pimple once a month when my hormones are sky-high, but other than that I've been lucky. However, I have large pores on my nose which have always driven me nuts :(

One of the things I use to battle blackheads in my oversized nose pores is pore strips. I've tried several, but Biore pore strips have always been my favorite. I've seen some reviews where people complained that the sticky part that adheres slightly to your blackheads got stuck to their noses but I've never had that happen! I have had that happen with other brands though. I ended up with nasty goo on my nose even after they dried.

On my journey to a blackhead-free nose I even got adventurous at one point and tried the make-your-own ones. Have you done this?

Here's the recipe:
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 Tablespoon Gelatin (the kind you bake with and get at the grocery store)

Simply combine the two and stir so that the gelatin starts to dissolve into the milk. If it's super, super thick add a tiny bit more milk. Put it in the microwave and heat it for 10 seconds in a microwave safe bowl. If you do it for too long it'll cook and you don't want that. You also don't want to burn yourself! Once you've heated it and checked that it isn't too hot, paint the now warm, elmer's glue-like substance onto your nose using a brush or tiny spoon. Spread it on moderately thin then let it sit until it's dry. It won't be dry like paper, more like a dry jello on your nose (not overly appealing when I put it like that!).

Once it's dry you just peal it off. Mine never come off in one piece, but they don't leave nasty gunk behind. While mine never work as well as a Biore strip, it definitely did work.

Bottom line in my opinion: If you want a natural solution, can't find Biore pore strips, or you're bored and want to give it a go, this isn't a half-bad alternative!

Have you tried this? If you have or if you do, share your experience below!

On a side note! If you have a nose piercing like me, make sure you remove it before using the homemade pore strip solution as it gets all gunked up in it otherwise and won't just peel off.


Chemical Preservatives in Your Makeup: Yes or No?

So, while mixing some new products I've been debating what kind of preservatives to use. I enjoy natural ingredients and products first and foremost personally because I like to feel good about every part of what I put on and in my body. On the other hand, functionality is a big plus as well.

The question I'm asking myself is do I:

A. Use chemical preservatives to give the products to come longer shelf-lives (up to 2 years)

B. Use natural preservative ingredients (organic essential oils used as preservatives) with possible shorter shelf-lives

Now the problem with using natural preservatives is that not only is the shelf-life kind of unknown, but it is largely dependent on the user's habits. Do you put your finger directly into the jar or on your makeup when applying it? Do you cleanse your brushes regularly? Things like that.

Anyway, which trade-off is worth it to you? Would you rather have a possibly shorter and less definite shelf-life for an all-natural product? Or would you rather have a chemical preservative that guarantees a longer shelf-life?


Random Post: Tan Tattoos and Yu-Chiao Wang

This entry is definitely a bit different topic-wise than the ones before it, but since I've been looking into it for the last hour or so I thought I'd blog just for kicks. Besides, it's somewhat beauty related. Maybe you'll find it interesting/entertaining as well!

So if you've ever been into tanning (probably pre-10% tax haha) you've probably seen the little tan tattoo stickers you can buy. They kind of have double purpose: 1. to look cute (which I find kinda of silly personally) 2. to gauge how much of a tan you've accomplished.

You're probably familiar with how you use them. Simply stick them in the same exact spot every time you go tanning outside or in and voila! You've got an odd little shape in pale skin on your tanned behind, hip, etc. I'm not judging those who use them. Back when I tanned I never used these (yes, when I was younger I loved the sun because I tan easily and since I worked a lot I both spray tanned and used the standing booths--never liked laying on the beds). Now I'm insanely UV conscious and want to kick myself, but what can you do? Anyway, I remember seeing some girls use these stickers and it would shift ever so much and pretty soon the playboy bunny would turn into a blob. Not so cute anymore ;)

Back to why I'm even on this topic. A friend of mine is planning her next tattoo and while looking at tattoos she was showing me and doing some searches myself I came across the ultimate tan tattoo! This is one of the bigger pics I could find of it (beware there is minimal bum in this pic).

I tried to dig around and see who created this. I couldn't find a single site claiming ownership, but plenty that pointed to Yu-Chiao Wang as the inspiration or possible creator. The inspiration is said to be Yu-Chiao Wang's Moldy Body Object piece specifically, which you can sort of see/read about HERE. Lots of links tonight, huh?

Anyway, the Moldy Body Object to me is amazing, beautiful, and stunningly creative in concept and execution. My point is, supposedly that piece inspired the tan tattoo above. Whether that's true, who knows. My point in rambling about all of this is that I think the concept is interesting. While I kind of chuckle at the little pale skinned hearts people do, there's something oddly interesting to me about the full-body one above. Would I do it myself? No, because I no longer tan intentionally and I was neurotic about an even tan when I did. Do I think it's interesting? Definitely! It reminds me of a large,  less complicated henna tattoo.

The large tan tattoo above is a few years old, but let's say this became trendy for this summer. Full-body tan tattoos with interesting patterns. Would you do it?


Baking Soda in Your Shampoo? Really???

I've recently noticed a lot of people talking about some of the hair (on your head) exfoliating products out there. I know Redken makes one in particular (Nature's Rescue Refining Sea Polish). Around the same time that I noticed these products, I read an interesting article about adding baking soda to some of your skin and hair cleansing products to add a little extra exfoliation. One thing that jumped out at me in particular was the bit about adding baking soda to your shampoo. I thought about this and figured it actually made sense. Baking soda is relatively small particle wise so it's not super super gritty and it would probably partially dissolve anyway.

I became curious. I looked up the ingredients in the Redken product and apparently it uses pumice to exfoliate your hair. I thought this was pretty interesting. I looked up other exfoliating shampoos I had seen in the past and thought it was kind of funny that most of them were marketed towards men and focused on exfoliating the scalp while deep-cleansing hair as well. These products all used ground up walnut shells for the most part (a common exfoliating ingredient). Has anyone used any of these products? Are the walnut shells ground super fine or are they kind of chunky?

Anyway, today when I took a shower I thought I'd give the baking soda a try. Oh the things we do when we're a bit bored ;) Not entirely sure how I'm bored since I have way more to do than there are hours in a day, but for me boredom has always come easily--resulted in lots of innocent trouble when I was younger!

Back to the story: I put about a Tablespoon of baking soda in my shampoo (I have super, super thick, long hair so I use a decent amount of shampoo to cleanse all my hair), mixed it up, then began massaging it into my hair. It's kind of weird because the baking soda give the shampoo a slightly foamy quality even before you put it in your hair. It's also a bit gritty, which is also a little weird. I conditioned after because my hair is just too thick not to. I usually let my hair air dry because after years of blow drying I've decided it's time to give my hair a break. After it dried (hours later haha) I checked the results. It DEFINITELY felt super clean and I would even venture to say it was a bit more shiny. How does this compare to products out there specifically meant to polish your hair when you wash it? I can't say because I haven't used any of them. Maybe I'll pick one up and compare some time soon and report back.

I have to say though, for a simple ingredient you can find in your kitchen on the fly, baking soda isn't exactly a bad choice! I tried to take pictures that showed off the shine (thought I have to admit my hair is naturally a shiny black to start), but they just came out odd trying to get the top of my head haha. Sorry!

Have you ever tried any hair polishing products?

Do you have any slightly unexpected hair treatment secrets?


How to get sandal-ready feet FAST!

It's starting to get warmer (though we've had some super rainy days lately up here) and that means the winter boots are coming off and the strappy sandals and flip flops are coming out! Only one problem. Most of us have been neglecting our feet this winter and they look . . . well, awful! Now, I'm a huge fan of manicures and pedicures in general. The pampering is nice and I try to go when I can, but I just don't have the time to go as regularly as before I had kids, heavy work responsibilities, life, and everything else going on.

I have some simple suggestions for things you can do at home in between your pedicures to get your feet in better strappy-show shape!

Getting rid of calluses:

1. Vinegar soak - soak your feet in a large tub or bowl of warm water with 1 cup vinegar in it, then smooth away your calluses with a pumice stone or pedicure foot file.

2. Baking Soda - if you can't stand the smell of vinegar, try making a soak of warm water with 3 Tablespoons of baking soda in it. After you're done soaking, smooth away calluses with a pumice stone or pedicure foot file.

3. Baking Soda Callus Paste - If you'd rather not soak your feet, try creating a thick paste with baking soda and water. Take the paste and massage your individual calluses. This should help soften them away.

4. Papaya - You can try either soaking your calluses in papaya juice or mashing a fresh papaya and allowing your feet to sit in the mush. Papayas are chock full of enzymes and are fabulous for your skin.

Moisturizing your feet:

After you've smoothed those calluses away as best you can, it's time to moisturize! Apply one of the following things (some of which can be found in your kitchen) just before bed and immediately cover your feet with socks to lock in the moisture.

1. Organic Virgin Coconut Oil - this is technically an oil, but it generally comes solid and melts the instant you touch it. You can buy this in any natural food store, whole foods, (not sure about Trader Joe's I should check next time I'm there) and even most grocery stores.

2. Shea Butter - Shea butter is in so many cosmetic products because it is fabulous when it comes to moisturizing. I buy mine from a natural food store or organic good supplier.Check online if you can't seem to find it.

3. Cocoa Butter - I tend to buy this organic and unrefined for several reasons, but mostly because it's less processed. You can buy refined cocoa butter at almost any pharmacy or large store like target. If you want the unrefined stuff, try a natural food store or look online.

4. Avocado Oil - I love, love avocado oil and butter because it's such an amazing moisturizer. You can generally buy this from any natural food store, whole foods, or online. I always buy organic, but that's just my preference.

5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil - You probably already have some in your kitchen cabinet, I know I love to cook with it. Olive oil is such an amazing oil and has more uses than I have time to write about here, but it is a fabulous moisturizer. This can be purchased at any grocery store, natural food store, whole foods, Trader Joe's has a good selection, etc. I like cold pressed extra virgin olive oil form the first press.


Futuristic Spring EOTD

It's been a while since I've posted a new eye of the day look. Since I've been sick since last weekend and can't work on mixing tonight, I thought it was time to create a new look! Now, this look is definitely not everyone's version of "daily makeup". I really didn't want to create something everyone would want to wear, I just wanted something fun, funky, and different.  Here it is!

This look kind of reminds me of a futuristic makeup lover haha. I think it's the inclusion of the silver with the Spring colors and the shape.

Here's a quick breakdown of what I used and where:
1. I used "Sure Thing" on my entire eye for staying power.
2. I placed Tamago (yellow) from my Spring collection Sushi Boat on my upper lid to the crease.
3. I used Bubble Tea (blue, also from Sushi Boat) to line half of my lower lid and create a line along my crease to the inner part of my upper eye. I drew a sharp angle by my outer lid as you can see. I never use tape and don't tend to use makeup remover or anything like that with a Q-tip to "manipulate" my angles. Just takes a little practice!
4. I used a silver liner (MAC silverstroke) to line my upper eyelid, higlight my inner corner, and line half of my lower waterline.
5. I patted Black Out on my upper waterline and on the outer corner of my lower waterline just to outline my eye a bit.
6. I swept Rice under my brow to highlight the arch and very lightly dusted to the edge of Bubble Tea.
7. All of the shadow edges were blended slightly, but I wanted some angles and contrast.
8. I used partial false lashes just to give my lashes a little length without overpowering the yellow and silver.

Sometimes it's just nice to play around! What do you think?


Working WITH your eye shape, not against it!

I want to preface this by saying that this is in response to many makeup lovers asking me how to figure out how to work their eye shape best (not how to adjust your personal style)!

I've had a lot of people comment on how well I work with my eye shape when it comes to eye makeup. They ask me what they can do to get the same effect. While it's flattering to hear, at the same time I can't help but think, "Don't let this go to your head. It's my eye, knowing how to work with it should be second nature to me, right?"


I see so many makeup lovers wearing their eye makeup in unflattering ways. I'm not talking so much about color choice, I'm talking about the way they highlight their eyes, the way they shape their shadow, the areas they choose to shade, etc. When I worked at a Victoria's Secret's beauty store (not lingerie) in my teens I had to go through hour after hour of crazy training on makeup choices, applying makeup, etc. The one thing that stuck out in my mind and has never left me was the statement, "Anyone can wear just about any color--it's all about how you wear your makeup."

That is such a true statement in my opinion. I love colorful eyeshadows, which I'm sure you've guessed from viewing the shadows I've produced so far for B.Koi Cosmetics! When I plan out my look on a daily basis or for the B.Koi LookBook, I focus on figuring out which colors compliment each other best, the most flattering color placement to compliment my eye shape, etc.

What does that really mean?

This is a perfect example of how I like
to highlight my inner eye and keep
lighter colors on my upper lid,
using darker colors to shade the
crease and outer corner.
If you haven't noticed already, I have almond shaped eyes that aren't huge. I make sure to highlight and open up my eye whenever possible by applying a lighter color in the inner corner as well as along much of my upper lid to the crease. If I use a super dark color on much of my upper lid, it often makes my eyes look more narrow and they begin to get lost on my face. Now, sometimes I don't mind this if I'm going for a more "cat-eye" look. But in general, I like a more wide-eyed look. At the same time, if you have super large eyes you may want to tone them down a bit so that they don't overpower your face. That doesn't mean caking dark colors on, but having larger eyes gives you a bigger canvas to work with and more leeway when it comes to highlighting and shading.

Here you can see that I have
lined my whole eye with wet, black
shadow, tapering the lines from the
outer corners to the inner corners
Also, because I have smaller eyes I'm sure to delicately but darkly define my eyes using eyeliner. Typically I do this by painting (I tend to use wet shadows and gel liners over pencils) a thin black line along my upper lashline and then making sure I line the outer corner of my lower waterline with black as well. Though I do line my entire lower waterline fairly often, I always make sure it's darkest and thickest on the outer corner--tapering as it moves towards my inner eye (I do this when I line my upper lashline as well). Why? Because doing so widens your eye! I also tend to apply black shadow to my upper waterline below my lashes as well. Keep in mind that black liner is not necessarily the right choice for everyone. I have olive skin, black hair, and hazel eyes. Black liner doesn't look out of place on me. However, 2 of my 3 sisters have to use brown liner because black looks extremely severe on their super fair skin (yes, we're biological sisters haha) and against their medium brown hair. When it comes to colored liners choose what compliments your looks best and still enhances your eye. You want to draw attention to your eye, not overpower it!

In this look I applied a good deal of
shadow above my crease, but blended it
well to prevent it from weighing
down my eye.
 Another thing I'm careful not to over due is apply too much shadow above my crease. Because I have smaller eyes and there isn't an insane amount of space between my crease and brow, I find I often look too ridiculous with lots of shadow above my crease. Don't be mistaken, I definitely do apply shadow above my crease, but if I do a look that includes more than a moderate halo above my crease I am sure to BLEND! The blending softens the look and doesn't create such a crazy contrast between the shadow, my skin, and my dark brow. If you have a nice large eye area, do what looks best to fill it in without overfilling it so you don't have a huge gap between your brown and crease. Play around with your look. Trial and error is best when it comes to becoming acquainted with what works best for YOUR eye. One of my sisters has extremely deep eye sockets. When doing her makeup I've found it best to keep from over-shading her already-shadowy crease. This doesn't mean you can't shade your crease, it just means you have to be a bit more careful about making your eyes look sunken in. The more you play around, the easier it will become!

Eyelashes are something that I feel have a bit more leeway when it comes to what compliments your eye. I think one of the biggest thing with lashes is that if you use mascara, use one that does what you need it to do well. I have thin, short lashes and need volume and length. If you have long lashes, but they're thing or sparse, find a great volumizer. If you have a lot of lashes, but they're short, lengthen those babies out! If you want a natural eyelash look choose a mascara color that matches your brows. If you're looking to glam up your look with colored lashes choose a colored mascara that compliments your look. If you have dark lashes I suggest using an eyelash primer when you wear lighter colored mascaras so you can get the true color. And if all else fails, false eyelashes are a fun way to really enhance your eyes! I love them! But be careful to choose falsies that compliment your eye shape. Using individual, short flair falsies or lashes that are densely flared on the outer corners only will give you more of a cat-eye or narrowed eye. If you want to open up your eyes try using graceful, long falsies that aren't super, super dense.

Some of the eye makeup faux pas I've noticed lately include:
  • Forgetting to blend out the edges
  • Creating such a severe cat-eye look that it makes wide eyes look beady
  • Poorly angled, winged liner (love wings, but do you really want them to stand at a 90 degree angle?)
  • Eyeliner that is too thick for small eyes
  • Not choosing shades that compliment each other (just because green and purple are complimentary colors doesn't mean every shade of green suits every tone of purple)
  • Not choosing eyeshadow shades that compliment the rest of your facial makeup
Now I just want to take a minute to say that I think everyone should wear their makeup as they see fit. The faux pas above are based on my opinion only. Be comfortable with your own taste! Sometimes people like the way their eye makeup looks when they do one of the things above. I'm not talking about personal style so much as simply choosing what looks best on your face. If you like minimizing your eyes that's fine with me, they're yours! If you like making your super round eyes look even more wide, that's fine, too. This post is for the makeup lovers that keep asking me for advice on how to achieve the best eye makeup looks for their eyes.

What are some tips and tricks you use to enhance the natural beauty of your eyes?


Should age or having children dictate our makeup choices?

I feel as though now that my friends and I are approaching 30 we're beginning to grapple with the concept of what's appropriate at "our age". But, should age define the makeup we choose as well?

Obviously we're exploring "age-defying" creams, serums, and what have you, but what about when it comes to makeup color and style?

When I think about this question the first person that comes to mind is Cyndi Lauper. I love her and I think she is fabulous from beginning to end. She has a funky, unique style all her own that she has maintained regardless of her age. But does that mean we can all get away with it? In my opinion, yes! Does it mean every mommy on the playground or co-worker is going to like your style? Of course not. But I believe that makeup is like art and you have to express yourself in a true and individual way. When I think about how I feel about my own mom and what I feel is appropriate for her, I really don't see any limits outside of what looks good on her particular face (which is the same way I'd feel regarding makeup for someone 15 or makeup for someone who's 50). If my mom wants to wear bright red lipstick and it looks amazing she should! If she wants to wear bright blue eyeshadow I'm all for it.

Don't get me wrong, I personally respect the fact that some work places have certain expectations when it comes to clothing and makeup and I don't have a problem adhering to them, but I'm talking specifically about when we have the option to choose. If you like neutrals, wear neutrals. If you like color, wear color!

I have two small children and I come across many other mothers that seem to have forgotten how amazing they used to feel when they got ready for their day by enhancing the natural beauty of their faces. Having kids (especially young ones) often cuts into your "getting ready" time, but I think this gives us the opportunity to find new products, techniques, etc. that make it so we can still accomplish the look we like regardless.

I think we should look at transitioning into new chapters of life (getting older, getting married, having kids) as a challenge to reevaluate what WE feel is appropriate for ourselves. I don't wear my makeup now the way I did ten years ago for many different reasons--my skills have improved, trends have changed, my face has changed, new products have come out, etc. If you want change then recreate your look, if you don't then leave things as they are. If we don't feel comfortable in our own skins, how happy can we be on a daily basis?

I am proud to say that I love a range of different looks from neutral to dramatic and my mood, more than my age or position in life (being a mom, owning a business, being a wife), dictates what I apply to my face each day!

What do you think? Should getting older or having kids determine the makeup we wear?


Prom 2011 - B.Koi loves Prom Season!

Prom season is here! Everywhere I turn I see rack after rack of flowing, vibrant prom dresses surrounded by excited teens. It feels so long ago that I went to prom! I remember how exciting and nerve-wracking it all was, but also how fun it was to find the perfect dress, shoes, and especially makeup! I actually chose to have my hair and nails professionally done, but insisted on doing my own makeup because I just didn't trust that someone else knew my face the way I do. I never regretted it!

I'm feeling so nostalgic this year!

I've thought about what to do with B.Koi for prom season since last fall, but it's been a bit difficult for me to settle on any one thing since the possibilities are endless! I need some feedback from you ladies.

Should I do:
A. Prom Giveaway
B. Special Mini-Collection
C. Nothing

A decision will have to be made soon because so many schools have their proms in May. So many possibilities! Help me ladies!


Lipstick Vs. Lip Gloss

So I see a lot of people with a preference towards lip gloss or lipstick. I feel as though I'm an equal opportunist in the sense that I love and collect both. When it comes to wearing them, I probably wear a bit more gloss than stick since one is easier for me to apply on the go. I don't know why, but I hate applying lipstick directly from the tube, I HAVE to use a lip brush. This isn't the easiest thing to do in the car or when I'm out because even though I have a retractable lip brush that I adore, I can't leave it dirty with lipstick on it.

When I started thinking about the lipstick vs. gloss dilemma, I realized I tend to use them based on the season and event. If I'm going somewhere I'd deem a bit fancier than usual I grab for lipstick. I also tend to wear gloss mostly in warmer months, probably because I feel it's a bit lighter and I love the glassy effect. At the same time, if a new collection comes out, I don't immediately jump to one or the other, I just look at colors.

Do you have a preference when it comes to lipstick or lip gloss? What is your absolute favorite, will cry when it's gone color?

For me it's hard to say, but if you forced me to choose my favorite major brand product is probably Pinkarat by MAC. Love it!

I'm actually super excited, I've been working on lip products for some time now for B.Koi (still in the works). I can't tell you exactly what I have in store for you all, but here's a quick heads up that I'm shooting for Summer to launch some new lip-fabulous products!