The New Neutrals That Actually Werk at Work

Who says that workwear is boring? Or in this case, can anyone BEG to disagree that wearing neutral lip colors in office is fun? (Side note: is Mercury retrograde pushing me to see things differently? :P)

For me, I am the type of girl that LOVES LURRRVES to wear a fun lip color! Whether it be a ravishing red, punchy pink, bold black, va-va-voom violet, nice nude or basic brown, my lips do not lie as they currently portray my emotions. The one thing that works well in office environments from day to night or even a post-work cocktail is a neutral lip. Usually pawing at the “nude” or beige spectrum, the beauty industry’s definition of neutral is dated.

Rather than sticking to beige shades that don’t look on people darker or lighter than Snow White, the type of neutral that actually looks hot on all skin tones usually has reddish undertones. Since all of us are embedded with red tones underneath our skin, this classic primary color gives us a flush of instant energy that a cup of coffee can’t do.

On another thought, I’ve been putting my matte liquid lipsticks (a.k.a. Instagram’s go-to staple for your #faceoftheday posts) aside as I absolutely hate having extremely dry lips. Also, Galore called the shots that the matte Instagram lip is dead. (No shade Huda, Kat and Jeffree, but I still love your products!) Depsite my love affair with liquid lipstick, I feel that it’s finally time to shake up my beauty routine!

First things first, one of the hottest new neutrals that flashes across my mind is anything with a orange base. Rather than the bright Sunkist oranges you see at your local supermarket, this type of orange that’s super work-appropriate is a bit more muted. Enter Trope Cosmetics. I normally don’t ever repeat the same product, but you seriously NEED to try it as it’s pink-based orange that is reminiscent of the hue from a flamingo’s neck. The pinkish brick undertones don’t turn your teeth into a habitual chain smoker’s, which is nice as most yellow-based oranges are guilty of doing this. As an Asian, I honestly have a HARD time finding the *right* shade orange as it’s either too pale, yellow or red. So, this is the first orange that’s actually truly neutral on my skin.

Even if you are not Asian, you will still LOVE this shade as it will flatter your skin beautifully! (Seriously, I am a firm believer that this will be a universally flattering color!)

Oh, and if you are a matte lipstick lover, then this is the look for you as Flamingo dries off with a beautiful velvety finish.

 

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BUY IT HERE

DUPE: Melt’s Mural Milani’s Orange Gina 

To all my ladies who love a nude lip, I swear by Layn’s Mona. Named after the Mona Lisa, this shade is as enigmatic as Italy’s most famous smile. In natural sunlight, it appears more like a soft semi-matte terracotta coral whereas on video, it appears more metallic (according to my friend!). The truth is that it’s a hybrid between nude and coral. While most coral shades in the beauty counter run towards the bright spectrum, this one is more of a muted retro coral that you barely see in today’s department store counters or Sephora. In fact, that shade looks EXACTLY like the lipstick Playmates wore on the pages of Playboy in the 1970s (side note: this is slightly NSFW, but look at her lipstick color!). If you want to go for a slightly sexier look, then this is the shade for you.

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BUY IT HERE

DUPES: Kat von D’s Lolita II; Fenty Beauty’s Freckle Fiesta;  Revlon’s Rum Raisin 

 

Last but not least, let’s not overlook the power of a red lip at the boardroom. Red lipstick usually screams cocktail hour, but you can still work it inside more creative environments. While most reds tend to lean towards warm or blue-based, Rose All Day’s Boujee is a darkened true red. To me, a true red is the ideal red as it’s neither blue nor yellow. In fact, this shade feels freshly contemporary as more true reds I see are brighter and have a retro-tinged feel. It might read differently on your lips, but seriously, you will never regret getting Boujee because it’s the baddest in the game. (Side note: Love and Flair said that it’s a rich English red mahogany!)

While most office environments are conservative, you can secretly violate the “no red lip” rule by sneaking in a subtle stain. If you want to wear it as a bold opaque shade, it’s more of a satiny cream finish that can flawlessly hide AC-dried lip lines.

Rose All Day:

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BUY IT HERE

DUPE: Colourpop’s Goldie; Pat McGrath’s Strange

 

 

The 8 Women-led Brands You NEED to Shop to Ring in Women’s History Month

Ladies (sorry, gentlemen!), this is our month. This is the month that we celebrate our collective history as women for the countless achievements in many industries whether it be politics, science, entertainment and fashion. As a woman, I feel that we have came a long way since the beginning of time. However, I feel that not many women designers or entrepreneurs are revered in the same eyes as male entrepreneurs and designers as the latter generally scores more magazine features, press and clout in the fashion industry. (This is based on my personal observation of poring through the pages of Vogue, New York Times‘ Style section, T, NYLON and what not over the years!)

I don’t want to sit here and tell you to support women-led brands just because it’s Women’s History Month or their sex. Instead, the reason *you* need to support women-led brands is because these ladies started their brand without the backing of a big company. In fact, not many of them went to fashion school to pave their way to success. By using their talent to create genuinely amazing products, every single item I’ve had from them became a closet staple that I wear almost every single day. Although there are some brands that I have yet to shop, I feel that it’ll be cool to share a little slice of my brand crushes. 😉

Here are the brands you need to shop:

  1. Stella & Bow

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Founded by Lauren Brokaw, Stella & Bow is an LA-based jewelry line whose adorably cute charm bracelets and delicate earrings are perfect for everyday wear. Last year, they’ve grabbed headlines for making the “Nasty” alphabet bracelet to support Hillary Clinton. Although the election is over, you can still rock it to show off your unapologetic, badass self.

BUY IT HERE

2. Rose All Day

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Grace, one of my really good friends who blogs on Mlongo.me, introduced this brand to me as she applied makeup on me last spring. As a fellow Jakarta girl, Rose All Day is one of the best Indonesian makeup brands to ever exist! Locally produced and designed in Jakarta, Rose All Day delivers quality products and a whole chock of genius in the guise of a pink lipstick tube. Also, it recently teamed up with Love and Flair, an Indonesian online boutique (think Revolve, but more of a super hot trendy cousin of Phoebe Philo’s Celine-esque minimal luxe), to create three classic shades. Seriously, YOU need to get ’em because you don’t need to buy another piece of powdered blush or eyeshadow as you can it anywhere on your face! Trust me, their formula is as creamy as MAC’s, but hey, at least it’s cruelty-free! (Sorry to throw some shade in there, MAC.)

BUY IT HERE

3. Creepy Yeha

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Need to find something to jazz up your outfit? Look no further than Yeha Leung’s line, Creepy Yeha. Her accessories and lingerie are crafted from the finest leather and hardware. If you are vegan, you can also go for her vinyl pieces, which are equally stunning, too! You can either go big with a harness or play it safe with a choker. Either way, everyone will turn heads when they see you.

BUY IT HERE

4. Pop and Suki

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If you haven’t caught wind of my Pop and Suki post I made previously, now’s the time to get acquainted. As a go-to handbag brand for myself and many famous faces, their bags are compact, but extremely spacious. Apart from bags, they’ve expanded into jewelry, clothing and desk side accessories. While it’s got a girlish aesthetic, it is so versatile: you can wear it to the office, beach, room, classroom and literally, just about anywhere in the world. Given that celebrity-backed brands swim in their own hype, this one does NOT play! In fact, it is here to stay.

(P.S. If you ever plan to shop there, put in “MICHELLEVARINATA15” for a 15% discount at checkout!)

BUY IT HERE

5. SkinFood by AB

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Whenever I trawl on Etsy, I always love to find vintage clothes and artisan-made beauty products from small businesses. As much as I love natural skincare, I feel so happy to stumble upon SkinFood by AB. Founded by Aubrey B, all of her products are natural, vegan and organic. From lip balm to soap, everything is made in small batches. If you have yet to try natural skincare, this is truly all natural without any synthetic stuff that you find in “all natural” products on occasion.

BUY IT HERE

6. Choked by a Thread

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Chokers are now a timeless staple all thanks to this brand, Choked by a Thread. Inspired by chokers, founder/designer Lorraine Zalta makes them in NYC. Spotted on the necks of Hailey Baldwin, Morgan Stewart of Rich Kids of Beverly Hills and blogger Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, this is the brand you need to splurge on for the perfect necklaces. Although it’s more well-known for their chokers, they’ve expanded into earrings, swimwear, tees and mugs.

BUY IT HERE

7. Matte

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As one of the hottest under the radar brands, Matte is often imitated by bigger names (e.g. Kylie Jenner) due to their simple, yet extremely sexy designs. If you are the type of girl who is looking for hot going out clothes, then this is the brand for you. Briana Wilson, the founder of Matte, draws upon the ’80s and ’90s with a dash of Y2K for a modern retro feel. What I also like about the brand is that their cuts are made for girls who are not a size 0. So, hands up for body positivity!

BUY IT HERE

8. Amelie Pichard

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This French shoe designer is one of the my go-to favorites for inspiration. In fact, I love how her retro campy aesthetic feels so fresh right now. When I first read about the brand, it was because she collaborated with Pamela Anderson for a vegan shoe collection. Although Amelie’s brand is not 100% vegan, I just love how she makes cruelty-free shoes go beyond its granola image. Apart from veganism, Amelie decided not to do any sales on her products as she feels that it is “killing fashion and creativity” (her words, not mine!). Unlike most Paris-based big guns, Amelie’s designs are truly worth paying for.

BUY IT HERE 

 

Honey, I Shrank the Sunglasses: A Guide on Finding the Right Pair That Flatters Your Face

One e-mail was all it took to make a trend happen.

On an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, Kanye West told Kim Kardashian to swap her signature oversized sunglasses for “tiny little glasses”. Despite being resurrected from the ’90s time machine in 2017, you’ve seen everyone from Rihanna, Bella Hadid and as of now, almost every “It” girl wearing frames shorter than their eyebrows.

As much as I like the trend, I have to say that it’s not universally flattering since you NEED to have the right face shape, size and style of the sunglasses in order to pull off this trend.

Since I’ve been rocking it on my Instagram, it’s time for me to finally share my style secrets with you! Here are my top five faves that you need to add to your cart:

    1. Kylie Jenner x Quay’s Purple Honey

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Kylie Jenner is not my favorite celebrity nor is she someone I dub a “style icon”. However, I acquiese myself to good design. Designed as part of her killer collab with Quay Australia, Kylie Jenner’s Purple Honey shades have this Léon meets Penny Lane vibe that I dig. Also, the honeycomb-inspired design makes it easier for me to wear the trend as it’s slightly larger than some teeny tiny pairs I tried on. In case you aren’t convinced, this is what it actually looks like on me:

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As I have a round face with a squarish chin, THIS is the pair for you. Seriously, you need to get it!

BUY IT HERE

2. Giant Vintage’s Cray Cray

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This style is literally what it is: cray cray. As a deadstock pair straight from 20 years ago, these are authentically ’90s as no retailer will every carry shades like this today. They are truly tiny, incredibly avant garde and safe to say, appear like they’re incredibly hard to wear. But, don’t let its small size and shape intimidate you. If you got killer cheekbones and a long face, these sunnies are the pair YOU want to rock as it’ll immediately elevate your outfit from basic bitch to high fashion status. Believe me, there will be a 99.9% chance that either Bella Hadid or Cara Delevingne will ring up their stylist as soon as they see these. (My guess is that Cara will bring them back as she wore a similar pair like those in 2013! *gasp*)

BUY IT HERE

3. Le Specs’ The Flex

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Man, I LURVE Le Specs as it dares to lead the game. Rather than letting the ball hover above the net, this Aussie eyewear brand makes it reach higher than the sky with one lethal swing. It’s no secret that its Last Lolita pair has been seen on everyone from Gigi Hadid to my favorite style icon, Miley Cyrus. As much as I love them, they’re getting a little basic. Despite the fact that I *did* wear the Last Lolita (see pic for proof) before selling them on Carousell, the one pair I should’ve purchased was The Flex. Lean and mean with all the right 90 degree angles, it feels so futuristic with a white and blue color palette. It kinda reminds me of Delos’ lobby, where Angela greets William in Westworld.  If the sci-fi inspired look is all you’ve been obsessing over, go get these stat!

BUY IT HERE

4. Rad & Refined’s Nirvana

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If you love Clueless, glitter, Britney Spears perfume and yet, you post pics of Kurt Cobain on your Instagram, then Rad & Refined is the brand for you. As the go-to brand for statement sunnies, I LOVE it as it makes me feel so glammed up and super extra. But what I like about this particular pair is that glitter is MADE to be worn in the daytime! If you want to look on trend, you need to score them.

BUY IT HERE

5. ROC Eyewear’s Snakebite Sunglasses

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I’ve noticed that more than a handful of you like my Garrett Leight x Clare Vivier red lensed glitter cat eye sunnies. As much as I hate to brag, these are practically one of a kind. So, if you wanna cop a little slice of my world, a great trendy dupe that I highly recommend is this killer pair from ROC Eyewear.

Compared to most of the ones I’ve recommended, this one is entirely rimless. Rimless shades are the best for runway-ready looks as they match beautifully with a cat eye and a red lip. If you like red lenses and rimless sunnies, then this is the pair for you.

BUY IT HERE

 

Will you ever try on tiny sunglasses?

 

Feature photo by Audrey Kwok

No (Arche)type: How Trope Dares to Break All Molds

Christmas may be over, but the season of giving ain’t gonna end any time soon. As my birthday is five months away, the first present falls into my lap like a stork dropping off a newborn baby. Stuffed into a cardboard box, my gift was waiting for me to open it.

Instead of being wrapped in a luxurious red gift box, it’s wrapped in a white plastic bag with an Rx label on it. In place of small orange containers, I’ve been prescribed with three lipsticks and nail polishes as well a travel-sized mini highlighter. My doc is no other than Trope, a new beauty brand from Jakarta.

As a beauty junkie, the core trinity of my beauty kit consists of lipsticks, highlighters and nail polish as they strongly define my look. Regardless of the brand, I just cannot live without having every single shade under the rainbow. As much as I hate to admit this, but I get super peeved whenever beauty brands continue to peddle dupe after dupe of the same shade. (I mean, doesn’t it annoy you, guys?)

Not to overlook, but I’ve noticed that a handful of Indonesian beauty brands constantly get compared to popular Western beauty brands due to the similarities of aesthetics. Given the fact that the majority of them (e.g. Rollover Reaction and Layn) are drawn into the ’90s, each brand adds their own interpretation of it. As much as Trope is heavily inspired by the decade, it has a runway-inspired twist to its aesthetic that it reminds me of Pat McGrath. If I were to describe Trope, it’ll be the love child of Rodin (minimalist luxe aesthetic), Glossier (packaging), Pat McGrath (colors), Benefit (shimmer) and Milk Makeup (holographic highlighters, anyone?). Basically, it’s a personification of the ’90s-obsessed Instagrammer who would sneak into Style.com (before the name change) during class and read her mom’s backissues of Vogue after the cute English tutor leaves.

As a happy recipient of Trope’s bundle, I cannot wait to try it on!

Lipstick

From L-R: Duality, Peony and Flamingo

The ideal lipstick goes on like this: matte, yet creamy; soft, but not too soft. In terms of how it should look, the shade must be bright enough to seen on my lips, but muted enough for myself to wear it every single day. The pigmentation needs to feel boldly rich like whipped butter.

Thankfully, Trope has answered my prayers with their Velvet Matte Lipsticks. Despite being compressed into a flimsy Glossier-esque package tube, Trope’s formula feels similar to Revlon’s Super Lustrous mattes, which has an oil pastel crayon-esque texture. While the silhouette is similar to Glossier’s Generation G lipstick, it’s more sturdier and opaque.

Speaking of the shades, Flamingo is a beautiful terracotta-based tangerine that’s super flattering as it doesn’t make my teeth look outrageously yellow. As someone who loves orange lipstick, it’s my personal favorite as the muted red undertones remind me of a 1970s Playboy editorial.

Duality, a stunning mauvey violet, has smoky pink undertones that instantly remind me of the ’90s (i.e. Pamela Anderson’s purple bodysuit). When it’s worn on the lips, it looks a bit more pinkish than the tube, yet it’s still strikingly beautiful.

Last but not least, Peony is a stunning rosy pink color. It might look like any other pink you see at department stores, but deep down, it has has a violet red undertone that’s subtly bluish. If you have to go to the office and you want to rock a bold lip, this is the color to go to.

Since each color can stay on during drinks and meals, it fades subtly like any other lipstick. When I reapply it, bits of the color transfer on to the tube as there’s a lot of pigment; however, there’s zero patchiness. Anywhere than that, the lipsticks perform well.

Highlighter

Highlighters are one of the most essential products and I have to admit it, but the demand is incredibly oversaturating to the point where it’s hard for me to tell apart each shade.

But with Nirvana, it’s a ridiculously beautiful bronzy rose gold. What I like about it is that it’s neither too peachy, pink-ish nor yellow-based – zero gimmicks. I always wanted a highlighter like it and it truly delivers. Its creamy consistency that melts wonderfully on the skin, which makes it easier for me to apply with my fingers. While most brands like to use big batons with extremely little product (ahem, Fenty Beauty), this one is accurate to its sizing as there’s a LOT of product inside the mini-sized case. Given that most cream highlighters tend to pick up a bit of foundation on the surface, Trope’s Nirvana Illuminator doesn’t do that as it turns to powder.

I’m telling you, this highlighter DOES NOT PLAY!

(P.S. you can see it pop on all of my selfies!)

Nail Polish 

I’ve mixed up all shades for the sake of review, guys! But, it looks so nice together. 😉

OK, I am a sucker for nail polish and I’ve been painting my nails since I was 8. Growing up, I’ve always worn the super bold shades and I disliked anything sheer, nude or beige as I felt like it was “too naked” for me. If I have to pick a type of nail polish I’d wear on a repeating basis, it’ll be anything metallic.

Among all the colors there, the top three I’d pick are Dreaming 90, Dreaming 93 and Dreaming 87. Dreaming 87 (inspired by the founder’s oldest brother) is a pure metallic silver that instantly reminds me of the Olympic medal. I really can’t pass on it as silver nail polish lends a futuristic high fashion look to anything I wear.

Dreaming 90 (the number refers to the year her second older brother is born) is a glimmery gold that will instantly flatter anybody. As a great dupe of Chanel’s Gold Fiction, THIS is the shade that you need to buy as it’s the closest you can get to achieving the Chanel S/S 2008 runway look. (Although I myself personally owned Chanel’s Gold Fiction, I seriously regret throwing it away as I would’ve worn it despite the strong solvent-ish smell after not wearing it for an X amount of years! I know it’s bad to wear expired nail polish, but what can I say?!)

Dreaming 93 (inspired by her birth year) is the cherry on top of all nail polishes. It’s a rose gold/bronze hybrid with silver undertones. Frankly, that’s something I’ve never seen in any other nail polish. Not only will this match with anything, it’ll look good on EVERYONE! If you haven’t tried it, you abso-freaking-lutely NEED to add this to your cart stat!!

While the nail polishes were aesthetically pleasing, it stayed on after four days of applying it. There were no signs of chipping and a change in texture after I applied my Barry M matte topcoat. (FYI, it’s their recommendation!) As I applied it, the pigments coated my nails smoothly without any jerkiness. So, props to Trope for making good quality nail polish!

Verdict: If I have to pick out something from my beauty closet, I’ll happily stuff them in my Faure Le Page bag (that I wear for work, guys!) and wear it all day, every freakin’ day.

The Coolest Beauty Trend You Need to Try for 2018

Sorry, Mia Wallace, Your signature vampy lip is done, done, done! Although I, myself, love a vampy lip color, the hue of dried blood isn’t as groundbreaking as it once was. The new shade that has everyone talking since March is your least favorite neutral: gray.

To me, gray is the type of color that screams “dull.” It often feels so basic to the core that I barely wear ANY gray on my body apart from silver jewelry or a sweatshirt that I lounge in. In fact, I don’t even know what to make of this muddled shade when I first saw Huda Kattan wear it on her Instagram.

Given that the year is coming to an end, you can close the chapter on 2017 by rocking this trend and wear it throughout the new year. Here are some ways how you can wear this color:

Continue reading “The Coolest Beauty Trend You Need to Try for 2018”

TLA by Morgan Stewart: The BEST activewear brand you need to stock up on

 

Let’s get real: Have you ever wanted to look this hot while you sweat?

I, like countless other girls like you, definitely did. Eight years ago, I always had to wear a baggy white tee and cotton navy blue shorts with my white Reeboks. It was P.E. class, where almost *nobody* pranced around the track field like the cast of Baywatch (the original TV show, not that Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron movie!) Safe to say, looking hot only looked better after a five minute shower and a freshly changed uniform.

Flash forward to today, there are less baggy tees and shorts than a pair of leggings and a closely-cropped sports bra. Thanks to the Hadid sisters and the Kar-Jenners for spurring this trend in activewear as everyday wear, the one brand that is pushing fitness gear to the next level is Touché LA.

Founded by Jaynee and Karl Singer, Touché LA partnered up with Rich Kids of Beverly Hills star/fashion blogger/Daily Pop co-host Morgan Stewart Fitzpatrick to create a seasonal collection. (Before you continue, check out my interview with her for Galore!) Upon looking at the entire spring/summer range, my jaw dropped to see that sports bras and leggings are meant to be paired together like a Chanel two-piece suit. Thirsting to try a set, I reached out to Touché LA to send me one.

The moment I tried it on, my eyes instantly went acidic. Wearing lemon yellow from head to toe, I thought that I would look bigger than a turkey. Instead, the ribbed waistband and panels on the leggings hugged my thighs to create a contour-like effect. Despite the thickness of the material, it was quite see-through at the back. (Disclaimer: I took countless photos of myself wearing it and it doesn’t show in any photographs!) But what I was truly worried about was my boobs.

As a 32DD, I constantly felt SO self-conscious as A) I was told not to show off my boobs and B) they are too big for anything. From one D cup sister to another, Morgan Stewart really understood the struggle of #bigboobproblems when designing this bra. Based on my previous experiences with sports bras, they’d usually loosen up after an X amount of washes, made me look like I had monoboob and/or not give me enough support (as the band is too loose at the bottom!). Here, the double-cross straps lifted them up and the fabric held on to me when I worked out.

When a sports bras and leggings set looked figure-flattering, would it actually stay in place? To answer this, I popped in a Popsugar video and did the entire workout for 30 minutes. During the workout, I felt moisture running down my back, legs and armpits. Since the leggings were high-waisted, the sauna-like atmosphere inside the fabric made my skin leak out sweat. Simultaneously, the waistband wrapped itself around my waist and hips like Spanx, leaving me to have a better ability to control my abs when I rolled up from the mat. The bra left my two bulbous balloons to stay in place – even as I did some side crunches. Unlike my VS bra, I didn’t need to make ANY awkward adjustments at all!

Although I personally didn’t wear much activewear outside the gym, I finally understood see why so many celebrities and influencers wore it. It was comfortable, slimming, looks great at every angle AND easy to mix with other pieces (e.g. a cropped baby tee and a handbag). Mrs. Fitzpatrick herself once told me that you are meant to rock it at the club with high heels. (I have yet to do this myself, but I’ll try it!) If casual Fridays can be everyday, I’ll happily pull it out from my closet without a care in the world.

P.S. This is me post-workout!

Touche LA x MS review

 

UPDATE: The set is sold out; however, you can get a similar set in tangerine at Touché LA’s website.

DISCLAIMER: This set was sent to me for review.

Layn down the law: are multisticks the new lipstick?

Stop the traffic: a new makeup brand is ready to disrupt your makeup game. As you are sitting inside the cab with no makeup on, what other way can you get ready as you’re running 20 minutes late to work?

Continue reading “Layn down the law: are multisticks the new lipstick?”