Category Archives: Beauty

The Perfect Lip Color

When it comes to lips, I’m low maintenance — just a frequent application of lip balm (this Hurraw one is my absolute favorite).

I don’t usually wear lip color because 1) I end up eating it off right away — not intentionally, I just must bite my lips a lot, or 2) if I remember to not bite my lips, they go dryer than the Sahara and the color clumps up in a really attractive way.

I also think I look really odd in a  lot of lip colors. It doesn’t make sense because I think Cath looks great when she wears lipstick of any hue, but I just can’t pull it off.

Until recently! I’ve finally made an exception to the rule of no-lip-color-wearing because I found two colors that look great together and are fairly moisturizing.

Here’s the trifecta:
Wild Child by Ila (this is more orange and less magenta than it looks on their site)
Diabolique by RMS Beauty
• a bit of lip balm on top

I do the Jeanne Damas thing and try to really pat the colors in really well with my fingers — making it a bit messy. It makes it look less like you have a painted lip color sitting on top of your lip.

I’m still not an expert at wearing lip color — my lips still go really dry (how do you effortless lipcolor-wearers do it?), but it does make me feel like a French It-girl and look like one too … well if I squint really hard in the mirror after a few glasses of red.

Lar’s Skincare Routine

So that you can decide if you want to incorporate any of these steps into your routine, I’ll give you a wee background on my skin and what we’re working with:

• I’m 33, so some fine lines are starting to become permanent (I’m totally okay with that. I’m totally okay with that. I’m totally okay with that. Ha! Aging is hard.)

• My skin is very reactive — or what is usually termed “sensitive.” It doesn’t like to be scrubbed hard, touched with harsh chemicals (benzol peroxide makes it mean and red), it doesn’t like sun, wind, air, cold, heat … life basically. If I eat lots of refined sugar, I break out and/or my pores look bigger. If I don’t drink enough water, it looks dull. On the upside, my pores do shrink if I eat cleaner, but where’s the fun in not eating chocolate cake once in a while?

• On top of being hyper-sensitive, my skin is also lazy. It won’t look bright and happy on it’s own. I need to exfoliate (difficult with sensitive skin) and it needs more than all-natural products to do the heavy lifting. I so wanted to be the girl that can just slather on coconut oil and just glow, but instead I break out and my skin looks dull, dull, dull without a few meanie chemicals thrown in. (But again not too “mean” because then my skin will go red — quite high maintenance, this skin of mine).

• Breakouts: these still happen, but are controlled by birth control (which I take non-stop for my endometriosis). On most days, my skin is clear of acne, which is still unbelievable to me because as a teenager I had terrible acne (3 doses of accutane that I wish I never took, worked temporarily) and I was still fighting with flare-ups in my mid-twenties. My skin is still oily though — especially my t-zone and eyelids (nothing keeps eyeshadow on!). That said, my skin can still feel flakey and dry at times. Combination it is!

So now that that’s out of the way, here’s how I get my skin looking the best it possible can without genetically engineering it to be better skin (wait, can we do that yet?):

I don’t actually wash my face in the morning — is that weird?
1) I give it a good rinse in the shower and then
2) before I put my make-up on, I prep it with this cheap, but mostly natural serum from The Dollar Shave Club. Yup, this is the stuff that gents use to prevent razor burn on their face. It’s not a miracle serum, but it does give my skin an extra dose of moisture and does seem to keep a little bit of my redness down. And for a $12 serum, that’s worthy in my book.
3) On top of the serum, I put on whatever natural-ish lotion I have going at the time. I’m currently using Pacifica Dreamy Youth, but I use whatever I find at Whole Foods that’s on sale. This is nice and light-weight and sinks in quickly without being too oily. Come to think of it, I might buy this one again even if it’s not on sale.

1) I use two-three drops of organic, cold-pressed jojoba oil mainly to take my eye make-up off pre-washing. I’ve been doing this for years instead of using a proper make-up remover — works just as well as anything more chemical-laden and I swear my eyelashes seem healthier giving them a good dose of jojoba every night.
2) Cleansing time! Again, I use whatever natural-ish cleanser I can find on sale at Whole Foods. I really haven’t found one I’m willing to be monogamous with, but I do think a cleanser is one skin product you can be a little less particular about because it doesn’t sit on your skin and get absorbed like a serum or lotion.
3) About twice a week I’ll use this Aesop exfoliator instead of a cleanser (I suppose I could do it after cleansing, but I’m lazy). Now, this is by far the spendiest thing in my whole routine, but it really does clear away any dullness without rubbing my skin raw like a lot of exfoliators do. I’m careful to just gently rub it on my damp face even if a good scrub seems like it will work better (It won’t. At least not on my skin.).
4) After either cleansing or exfoliating, I’ll follow up with this toner from Kiehls. Okay, this is also more spendy — so I lied about that Aesop exfoliator, but I swear this is another product that totally makes a difference. It’s also not totally natural and organic. And I can’t describe exactly what it does, but my skin looks brighter and less red in the mornings when I use this at night. What is this magic? Chemicals of some sort! I’ll just pretend I can’t read the ingredient list because I got some jojoba in my eye!
5) And finally! Moisture! I’ve been using this almond oil from Weleda for a few months. I think I would prefer a heavier night cream, but I like using a more natural oil for the time being. If you guys do have any magic potions for slowing down the aging process, do let me know.
6) There isn’t actually a number 6, but there needs to be. Eye cream. That’s where my pesky wrinkles are most pernicious. I dream about purchasing the SK-II eye cream because the guru-est of all make-up gurus Lisa Eldridge says its a miracle, but I’m balking at the price a bit. I tried this eye cream from Kiehl’s but I didn’t notice much except that it burned my skin a little. If it burned away my wrinkles, I would have kept at it — but no such luck!

And there you have it! Let me know if you guys use any of these products and have holy grail items. I’m also thinking I’ll try getting regular facials (if I can afford them!) — and seeing if that makes my skin any happier. I feel so grown up saying that. Spending money on skincare instead of lipstick colors does that to a girl, I suppose!

Feeling fancy, not guilty

A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I found myself roaming around downtown Seattle with a belly full of french fries and wine (the result of an early happy hour with a friend), heading in the direction of Nordstrom’s flagship store.

Fortified by my dutch courage, I confidently sidled up to the glowing beauty counters and demanded serious answers to one of life’s greatest questions: how do you prevent your make-up from sliding off your face and looking like an oil slick by the end of the day? Life-shaking stuff. Truly.

But the nice beauty-counter lady seemed to understand the gravitas of the situation and told me my “shinies” could be blotted away with this wondrous powder by La Prairie.

Brilliant! Hand it over!

My “confidence” didn’t let me blanch when she revealed the price tag. Of course getting rid of my shinies makes any price worth it. But by the time I walked away from the comforting warmth of lipstick tubes and La Mer lotion, my pinot glow had deserted me and I was beginning to feel those tiny needles of guilt just where my french-fry-wine-laissez-faire had been a moment ago.

Readers, I had just spent $100 on a jar of fairy dust powder.

I have never spent anything close to that on one beauty product. I still remember my very first purchase with my own money at the Clinique counter: pastel eyeshadow that cost $20 back in 1998. Twenty dollars! That was big money to this teenager.

But here’s the funny thing with this La Prairie purchase. The guilt didn’t grow, it dwindled.

I use this fabulous fairy powder every day. And not only does it 100% prevent my afternoon shinies, I feel like a goddess when I sprinkle it on my face.

The powder is a lighter, fluffier consistency than any powders I’ve used before — and it has this beautiful light scent that makes me feel like I belong in the pages of a glossy magazine.

I’m now convinced that sometimes a bit of luxury (even if purchased after a glass of wine) is totally necessary.

Talk about “sparks joy,” this powder does the trick. I’ve also noticed that since November, I haven’t once caved when browsing the drugstore make-up aisles when I feel I need a pick-me-up.

Buying better, but less wins again!

A lot of stuff for my face

You know how you read those blog posts, magazine articles, and how-to-be-parisian books and they tease you with stories of frustratingly low-maintenance girls who just use a bit of coconut oil and a swipe of lip stain and they look (or at least sound like the look) perfect? Well, I wanted to be that girl. Doesn’t everyone want to be that girl?

So I bought the idea hook, (eye)line(er) and sinker. I hoped that in the process of becoming a coconut oil smearing, lip staining expert I’d also be using less chemicals on my face (mo natural, mo bettah, right?) and using fewer products (better for the planet because I’m curbing unnecessary consumerism). Win, win, win!

So I tried it for 5 plus years. I only used jojoba oil and warm water to cleanse and moisturize my face, and because I look dead to the world without eye make-up on, I focused my “look” on an eyeliner and brow filer instead of finding the perfect red lippie. I tried almost every natural (or natural-ish) beauty line at Whole Foods and every kind of cold-pressed, organic oil (avocado, almond, jojoba, sesame, olive and coconut oil — the latter which clogged my pores).

But somehow, even with all my water-drinking, mostly clean eating, oiling and staying away from bad chemicals my skin still looked red and splotchy, and dull and patchy, while simultaneously shimmering with oil toward the end of the day.

Turns out I’m not a low-maintenance girl. And maybe no one is (unless you’re 16 and blessed with acne-free skin). My skin takes work and a few chemicals to keep it happy.

I still try to keep my products as natural as possible, but now that I’m at the age where eye creams are my best friend (work, damn you!), I allow for a bit more power in my product even if I can’t pronounce all the ingredients.

I’m blogging about this because I’m a little frustrated that I care so much. Skin is skin and wrinkles happen (girl, you 33 and not 21 anymore). But I feel so shiny and pretty when my skin looks smooth and healthy — even if that means I have eschew the unattainable dream of being low-maintenance and 100% natural. An elusive, capricious thing to chase anyways, and maybe a disingenuous bit of marketing by the beauty world. I mean, Sephora and Ulta would be relics of the past if the low-maintenance myth were real.

Oh wait, one more snafu! This blog is how Cath and I are trying to live with less. And acquiring more lotions and potions was not my goal six months ago. Whoopsie daisies. So my intention is to try to use every last drop of all these products I own and not buy anything new until I’ve used them up. Cath showed you her empties and I hope to do the same in the spring!


Good to the Last Drop

This post is less about minimalism and more about trying to save money, but I find that the two topics overlap quite a bit.

I’ve been trying to get better about sticking to a budget for the past two months, which means all thing fun things eating out, clothing purchases, and makeup buying have been severely cut down.

I had my makeup budget set for the month when I realized I was at the end of my primer. So out of desperation I cut the container open and realized that I had at least another two weeks worth – score!


Just look at that!


I picked up a little sample container last time I was at the Nordstrom beauty counter (pre-budgeting, obviously) and used a small spoon to scoop the remaining primer into the container.


Alright, I know this isn’t a groundbreaking post, but I love it when I end up being more of a minimalist when I’m not even trying. Instead of going out and buying some more primer, I’m fully using what I have. If that’s not minimalism – I don’t know what is.

Plus, now my face primer matches my eye primer and they’re both in my favorite colors – black and white. It’s the little things, am I right?


And yes, I see how unminimalist-like it is to have two primers, but minimalism is a journey. . . not a destination. Well, it kind of is like a destination, but I’m obviously still working on that!

Makeup Cleanout

Hi Dear Readers, so sorry to leave you in the dark for two months. This summer has been busy and not-so-great for me personally. Without getting into details, just know that I never meant to leave AsianCajuns gathering dust and have been itching to get back into blogging for a while. In fact, I had this post partially done in late May and was excited to share it. And since I’m not ready to get into personal nitty gritty details online, let’s just jump right into the post, shall we?


My makeup collection has tripled in the past two years. I blame all the amazing YouTubers out there that make the latest and greatest blush/foundation/primer look completely transformative. Plus, I am always tempted every time I go into a drugstore to pick up a “cheap” lipstick (which is never that cheap and adds up fast, btw).

I started to feel overwhelmed by all the items I had cluttering my vanity (a.k.a. an Ikea desk and makeup mirror). So I figured the time had come for me to minimize my makeup collection.


I sorted my makeup into three piles (left to right): items that spark joy and/or I wear frequently, items that were expired and just needed to be tossed, and items that I would give away, give to friends or bring to work.


Since my desk vanity was getting so cluttered on the top and my shoebox storage solution wasn’t cutting it, I decided to purchase a Helmer drawer unit from Ikea to keep everything stashed away. You can’t tell from the photo above, but after cleaning out my collection, I had tons of room left over in my brand new Helmer to store other necessities: a couple of phone chargers, essential oils, and lint roller, etc.


The only things on the top of my vanity now are my (ahem, unwashed) brushes, perfume, and some jewelry. I know it might still seem too busy for some, but it’s made the world of difference to me. Just like cleaning out my closet, cleaning and reorganizing my makeup has made getting up in the morning much less stressful.


Since this cleanout happened over two months ago, I’ve been able to keep my vanity looking organized and clutter-free without having to try too hard. I now feel like I really use all the makeup that I’ve purchased over the past year or two and have yet to miss any items I threw or gave away.

Maybe someday I’ll truly join the minimalist makeup bandwagon (using the bare minimum products daily), but I still love playing around with a concoction of stuff and would get bored of wearing the same exact thing every day.

Minimalist Target Challenge

I just made up this challenge in my head this weekend (I’m trying to look defiant in the photo above, btw). I was thinking about how I need to save money and buy less, but how I also needed to make a trip to Target to get a lamp for my living room. Even though I love me some Target, I’ve been putting off the trip because I know as soon as I walk into the store, I start realizing all the things I “need” or get distracted by a cute bag or decide I must have the newest NYX lip gloss/stick/liquid goop there is.


I know I’m not alone. It’s scary how easy it is to walk into Target for one or two things and leave with twenty things. So I decided to challenge myself today and only purchase the items that were on my shopping list:

  • Table lamp for living room (must be under $50 including tax)
  • Shampoo
  • Bananas
  • Kind Bars

Yes, it’s a random list, but those are really the items I needed. To some, this challenge might seem easy or silly. I’m sure there are people out there who can resist the siren song of bright, shiny, perfectly-merchandised items, but that’s not me, my friends! Leaving Target with only four items is not something I’ve ever done, but I’m determined to stop buying mindlessly – or at least convincing myself that I need something when I really don’t.

Here’s how today’s trip went down:

Not surprisingly, I was tempted by many things.


See me pouting over not buying the NYX suede lipstick? I swear the beauty aisles are my Achilles heel. Over the past few months I’ve gotten so good at not buying clothes, but I haven’t worked on minimalizing my makeup collection yet and find it too easy to justify purchasing a lipstick when it’s under $10.

Then there were the super cute Bauble Bar phone cases – with faux marble! Luckily their $30 price tag tempered my desire.

I pretty much love everything that Nate Berkus has designed for Target. Gold vase thing with triangular arms? Uh, yes please!

Did you know Design Love Fest designed paper plates and cups for Target?! I started justifying my need for them as soon as I walked by the display: “These would be so cute for a future party I don’t have planned yet!”


Ah, the good ol’ book and magazine aisle. What is it about the printed word that calms me down and then makes me want to spend, spend, spend? Target has the newest Kris Carr book. I have all of her other books and love them, so why don’t I buy this one to add to the collection? Plus, it’s all about juicing, which means it’s healthy, which means it’s promoting self-care, which means I should buy it, right?!

Who doesn’t need another fake succulent in their life? This one was in the dangerous Dollar Spot section of the store, which slaps you in the face as soon as you walk into Target. I’m a sucker for all of it.

The Who What Wear collab is killing it these days. I legitimately need more work-appropriate tops, but this navy one had long sleeves, which is too impractical for Atlanta’s spring and summer weather. Plus, I didn’t have clothing on my list.

I’m a sucker for awesomely-branded, all-natural cleaning products. I’ve never heard of Common Good before, but the packaging is so fresh and minimalist and would look so good on my cleaning supply shelves!

So did I do it? Is the suspense killing you 😉 ? Believe it or not, after all those temptations (and there were more than I mentioned in this post), I succeeded. I only bought the four items on my list:


Bananas, shampoo (all natural and sulfate-free), Kind Bars (dark chocolate sea salt in my favorite), and a French Bulldog table lamp that I already named Frenchie ($34).

It’s amazing how quickly I forgot about all of my non-purchases as soon as I walked out of the Target doors and into the sunlight. NYX lipstick? Didn’t even think about it until I started typing this post. I didn’t think once about the cute Who What Wear blouse while I was planning my outfit for tomorrow. And as much as I love Kris Carr, I don’t regret not buying her book because I still need to get through the recipes in her books that I do own.

I’m fully aware that this is a first world problem and am embarrassed over how much I do fall for great branding and “oh, I should just treat myself” thinking. This challenge is just a baby step towards buying less and living a more minimalist lifestyle. I want to be more disciplined and expand the challenge to other stores I frequent like Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, or heck, even Kroger.

What are your thoughts? Think you’re up for the minimalist Target challenge?

I can’t stop looking at trees




Seattle is the first place I’ve lived in more than a decade that has a real autumn: where the skies are a sparkly blue and the leaves blush crimson and glow golden. So every time I leave the house, I’m the crazy lady standing in the middle of a busy urban sidewalk holding my phone over my head taking photos, and then more photos, of leaves. And. I can’t. Stop.

Because it’s beautiful!

And because I kind of relate to them. (Warning: I anthropomorphize everything — I’ve been known to project feelings onto a pair of old slippers). They (the trees) just seem so joyous — and vibrantly so. I feel exactly that way too when I look at them.

Instead of worrying about my job search or feeling like an unrooted nomad, staring at the trees I feel not just calmer but surer of things. Maybe change or hardship in your life isn’t something that needs to be endured with gritted teeth and white knuckles, but should be joyous even if your gut reaction is to think “when will this end — this is so uncomfortable!”

It reminds me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s interview in the Atlantic where she talks about Jack Gilbert’s poetry. Here’s the snippet from his poem “A Brief for the Defense” that I think rings so true for Ms. Gilbert, for me, for trees, for you, for this season:

We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure,
but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have
the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless
furnace of this world.

I feel like the trees get that, and I’m going to follow suit. Or at least keep taking photos until I do.

2015 Q2 Favorites

Q2 2015 Favorites

Here’s my second favorites blog post for the year. In my first post I mentioned that I’ll only do these every quarter because I don’t think I have enough favorites to make it a monthly thing. So without further ado, here are the seven things I’ve been loving this quarter.

1. Mossimo sneakers – I know these are kind of passé, but I’ve been looking for a replacement for my black TOMs that I wore out last summer. These required no breaking in, were only $16, and go with everything.

2. Physicians Formula Tinted Moisturizer – I’ve been using this stuff for years. It’s super light coverage so it’s perfect for the summer and has SPF 15. I don’t use this if I want a more finished look, but it’s perfect for daily makeup.

3. Oribe Texturing Spray – I’m not going to lie. This stuff is expensive. I paid $26 for this little bottle (at a local salon, it’s a little cheaper online) and actually thought I was buying hairspray. I was about to return it when I gave it a try and was hooked. It’s perfect for reviving second day hair and adds texture unlike just regular dry shampoo. It also smells amazing!

4. Pure Barre – The socks aren’t a favorite, but the workout is! A Pure Barre studio opened up two blocks from where I work and I decided to take advantage of the new client special. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Pure Barre (or any barre class for that matter), it has nothing to do with ballet. It’s more like pilates, but with a focus on isometric moves and exhausting major muscle groups: abs, thighs, arms, etc. It’s one of the hardest workouts I’ve ever done, but after 12 classes, I already feel stronger.

5. Jennifer Zeuner bracelet – Another expensive item on the list, I’ll admit, but I love how delicate it is and I wear it almost everyday. And the main reason why it’s on my favorites list is because Lar bought one too and I love it when we wear the same things – even if we are thousands of miles apart.

6. Mario Badescu Facial Spray – I purchased this at an Urban Outfitters when I was in Phoenix two months ago. My skin felt so dry, so I would spray this on my face throughout the day and it completely helped. Now I use it to help set my makeup.

7. Yes to Coconut Cooling Lip Oil – This is a super cheap item – less than $5. I first read about it in a magazine and thought it was overhyped, but I’m so glad I tried it. Unlike lip balm, it doesn’t sit on top of your lips and it doesn’t feel greasy at all.

Are you a fan of any of these items? Anyone else doing Pure Barre? I’d love to hear what your recent favorites are.

The Best At Home Pedicure Trick


Butter nail polish in Trout Pout

I love getting pedicures – especially if I go with a friend and we look at trashy magazines and hilarious Instagram accounts together. It’s the best! Too bad* I’m trying to save money this summer, so I’ve cut out spa visits completely and do my own pedicures at home.

I’ve never had a lot of patience with painting my nails and I end up coloring outside of the lines. So here’s how I get around that little problem: I paint my nails in the evening a couple of hours before bedtime (if you paint them a little bit before bed, the polish might not dry completely and you’ll get sheet marks on your nails). Then, I take a shower in the morning and simply rub off the nail polish that’s on my skin while I’m showering. After I dry off, I paint on a top coat and let it dry as I blow dry my hair. Voila! Perfect pedicure!

*It’s really not too bad since I’m saving up to go visit Lar in July!