Tutorial: Easy office-friendly makeup for desk to dinner

For those who are just starting out with makeup, I’ve teamed up with Nordstrom Beauty Spot to share my easy everyday look for work, and how to quickly build on it for after-work activities. This look features products that I’ve relied on for years, as well as some updates and tips from my in-store visit with one of their beauty stylists. When it's time to replenish these favorites, you can bet I'll be taking advantage of their online free shipping (at any price).
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For work, my focus is simply on even skin tone and opened-up eyes. I’d avoid colorful eyeshadow or bright cheeks and lips, and heavy makeup in general for professional settings.
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1. Make sure to start and end each day with a clean, moisturized face. I used to have an issue with dry, flaky skin, which was exacerbated by makeup layered on top. I bought the Clarisonic Mia a few years back and have been using it 2-3 times a week (usually in the shower, for convenience). For me, it does a great job of removing makeup residue and keeping skin flake-free. During the winter when Bostonians are plagued with dryness, I may have caught Nick buzzing away with my Mia…(PS - buying replacement brush heads in bulk saves a little $, and also allows for hygienic sharing of one device). After cleansing I apply Eucerin lotion, which came recommended by my dermatologist for sensitive skin.
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2. Many women have naturally good skin that doesn’t need to be covered by foundation - just a touch of concealer should suffice. MAC select cover-up (I use shade NC30) has been my go-to for years to help with redness and under-eye circles. I used to dab then smear, but was taught to dab then pat into your skin in small, light taps. Optional step: set the concealer with some powder (I use a light coat of powder foundation).

3. I went through a stage of amassing blushes in every color, then discovered this Stila "Sun" bronzer (I prefer Shade 1) and haven't turned back. For my skin tone, it adds natural color without veering into the territories of oompa loompa orange or forgot-to-bathe brown. As with most products in this post, it's on the pricey end but has lasted me for several years. Since bacteria can grow on makeup over time, I disinfect every so often by pouring rubbing alcohol into a spray bottle, spritzing onto the product and wiping the top layer off.
nordstrombeautyspot blush 4. For Asian eyes, a little bit of liner goes a long way in playing up that feature. I tried a drugstore version of this Lorac Front of the Line PRO liner, but reverted back to the original for the better staying power and brush. I figured with so few products in my daily regimen, there’s no need to scrimp on something that works well. I start at the inside corner and use a light-handed continuous stroke, extending about a cm beyond the outer corner.
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5. I’ve been a longtime user of Lancôme Définicils mascara (results in wonderfully well-separated and defined lashes), but it doesn't do much volume-wise for my thin, sparse lashes. My beauty stylist suggested a few options, and mentioned that Clinique's mascaras (starting at $16) were on the more affordable end of the range. After trying the testers, I purchased the Clinique High Impact Extreme Volume mascara. The below left shows my natural lashes after curling, and below right is after 2-3 coats of mascara. Resulting lashes are not as defined as with the Lancôme, but have noticeably more mass than my natural ones.
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Finished everyday look for the office - takes less than 5 minutes from start to finish:
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To take this very natural look to something a touch more dramatic, simply build on the eyes and add a lip color. I received my first Laura Mercier caviar eye stick as a gift years ago, and have since hooked so many friends onto it. My go-to “Khaki” color is a silky dark taupe with a little shimmer (I’m not a shimmer person, but this just adds some depth). Unblended, this eye stick can serve as a creamy eyeliner. Blended, it fades into a smoky eyeshadow. If blending, I learned from my beauty stylist to apply one eye at a time then blend with short, quick finger strokes immediately after application, since the cream formula takes just a few moments to “set” and will not budge or crease afterwards.
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I always keep this little stick in my purse, and take 30 seconds to apply it at my desk before heading out to dinner or drinks. No more having to pack large eyeshadow palettes with brushes and primer, or cleaning up messy shadow fallout from cheeks and clothes. This stick has excellent staying power on even my oily lids, and wipes off easily with my trusty Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover (look for these in those nifty gift with purchase sets!).

Finished look, after a quick swipe of MAC lipstick in Charismatic: 
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For those of you with busy schedules, please share your time-saving beauty tips - I'd love to hear them!

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Nordstrom Beauty Spot - visit for makeup tips, beauty DIYs & more.

86 comments:

  1. great makeup tutorial! the lorac line pro liquid liner is one of my all time favorites I love the thin tip for getting a good close to the lashline line. thanks for sharing this look! xx. gigi. www.gigikkitchen.blogspot.com

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  2. You look very professional. Congrats and tnx for the post.

    I have to ask you: does the lipstick from mac lasts long?

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  3. Can you do a youtube video to demonstrate the application...especially curious about the eyestick.

    thanks!

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    1. Hi there - I wanted to, but my current camera doesn't auto focus so I unfortunately wasn't able to show close-up application clearly.

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    2. Oohh, please do! :D when you get the chance! I want to get the caviar eye stick now, but I wouldn't know how to use it. Eeeks. Looking forward to your next update! :]

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  4. Great tutorial, and thank you, Jean, for sharing your beauty routine with us.

    As an Asian, though, I have to say I'm not entirely comfortable with the use of the term "Asian eyes." May I ask what you mean exactly? Monolids, small eyes, or eyes with narrow creases? (Because, really, what are Asian eyes, anyway? The Asian Michelle Phan has large, lovely double-lidded eyes, and the Caucasian Bjork has beautiful small eyes.)

    Please forgive me if I'm being too sensitive here, which I probably am - it's just that as an Asian who has dealt with a lot of racial ignorance growing up, I'm very put off by the stereotype that still exists in mainstream American culture that Asians have a certain type of look (words like "squinty" and "flat-faced" come to mind), and I think as Asians we ought to be a little more careful not to condone this stereotype.

    Again, great tutorial, and love your blog. I truly don't mean to offend.

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    1. I know what you mean. I think she means she has hooded eyes.

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    2. it's not about the shape. asian eyes in general tend to have less heavy lashes, which is why eyeliner makes such a dramatic difference. it's kind of like why mascara is so dramatic on very fair blondes and redheads with light-colored lashes - defining the eyes is really important. asian eyes, regardless of shape, tend to see a dramatic effect from some liner definition

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    3. Yes I think you are being a bit too sensitive here. I am Asian too and have all the characteristics that you mentioned - monolids, small eyes etc, yet I am not offered by Jean called them Asian's eyes. It's just a generic term, like people will say African Americans tend to have colored skin even some of them are really fair skin.

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    4. With all ethnicities, each has similar physical features. It's a fact that many Asians have characteristic shaped eyes (whether monolid or double lid). I think "Asian eyes" is the most accurate (and most respectful) description I've heard. I'm sure every Asian here has heard far worse like almond, flat, squinty, slanted, chinky, etc.

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    5. You're too sensitive

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    6. I acknowledge that many East Asians have eyes with similar features (monolids, small eyes, stubby eyelashes, etc). However I think the very first Anonymous poster makes a good point. As a Chinese American, the term "Asian eyes" does bother me a little because it is a bland, blanket categorization and not even descriptive of specific characteristics.

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    7. Anon, thank you for sharing your concern in a respectful manner. I know where you're coming from in regard to racial ignorance and am sorry to hear you've had to deal with that as well. When using that term, I was trying to encompass multiple characteristics of my own eyes (almond-shaped, hooded, thin/straight/sparse lashes, small creases). I didn't mean to offend, and appreciate your feedback.

      In regard to the other comment about "forgot to bathe brown" - this was a lighthearted line specified to be relative to my own personal skin tone, and am disappointed that someone would misconstrue that as having racial undertones.

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    8. I am not the same Anon as any above.

      Well put. I am Asian and race did not come to mind until seeing these comments, but the discussion has been thought provoking.

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    9. Anon, I had a similar reaction to Jean's statement about Asian eyes. I am Asian and eyeliner is typically the only makeup I wear (I like the Lorac Pro as well). My first thought was "what? Aren't my eyes Asian too?" I have double lids and they look great with a fat smudgy line.

      Also, the description "almond-shaped" had always struck me as odd. This article really hit the nail on the head:
      http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/09/16/219402847/-almond-shaped-eyes-remarkably-exotic-yet-too-foreign

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    10. I think Chinese eyes would be a better expression because, for example, the charasterics of Japanese eyes have slight differences. To be honest I hate generalizations... The population of Asia is approx 4 282 816 000 which makes it very silly to rely on stereotypes.

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    11. Why make this so serious? it is merely just a commonly understandable term, "asian eyes." Jean used it so everyone can understand right away what she is talking about. It is what language is for - to understand each other. Please, just relax, not be "politically correct" all the time, and unclench, for god's sake! The fact people get defensive is merely lack of confidence at this point. It is utterly ridiculous to have posted such a negative note on a good post!

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    12. You say you are Asian, but you don't know what she means by Asian eyes? Troll much?

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  5. Forgot to bathe brown! Haha! Never heard that before.
    Your skin looks flawless and I am loving that eyeshadow stick.

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  6. love the top! where is it from?

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    1. I concur! I'd love to know where it's from too.

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    2. Methinks it's this dress

      http://www.extrapetite.com/2012/11/holiday-faux-fur-wine-gloves-banana.html

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  7. Ahhhhhhh you really make me want to try the eye shadow stick... must. resist. :) haha

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    1. Haha I don't think you'll regret it! And if you're light-handed, one stick will last for years.

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  8. Gorgeous!!



    http://style-squared.blogspot.ca/
    https://www.facebook.com/StyleSquaredByZM

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  9. Thank you so much for the tips Jean! For me, I usually go with a tinted moisturizer for everyday wear since it's lighter than a foundation and still gives an even skin tone. I use the blotting papers when I'm done with my makeup to set the makeup and blot away the oils from the products. I really like the Amore Pacific Tinted Moisturizer. It's a little on the pricier side, but the tube lasted me over half a year and it is also very moisturizing during the colder seasons. I've also been a huge fan of Benefit's They're Real Mascara. I've never went back since. I think they do an amazing job at adding volume and curl to the lashes. For me, I like to curl my lashes then add a coat of mascara by wiggling it at the base of my lashes then brushing my lashes to the right then to the left side and lastly using the tip to separate it by brushing it upwards. I've gotten a lot of compliments to my lashes saying they look like falsies, but they weren't. I think the key is to really curl your lashes prior to application so the mascara doesn't weigh it down.

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  10. Thank you for the tips Jean. Could you please let us know where you purchased the orange box on your dresser? Thank you

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    1. It's old from Marshalls, but I have seen occasional similar boxes at there/TJMaxx/ Homegoods in the home decor section, where all the organizational compartments are!

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    2. Awesome, I will have to check them out. Thank you for taking the time to reply

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  11. Thanks for sharing your tips Jean! I'm definitely a believer of the Clarisonic. I'm going to give the caviar sticks a try since they look amazing on you! Sadly I don't have close to flawless skin like you do so I need a foundation before applying my concealer :(.

    As usual you like very professional! I'm amazed that you can do your make up in 5 minutes and head out the door.

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  12. i love the lipstick color on you, Jean! thanks so much for sharing your beauty tips.

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  13. Great make-up tips, Jean! The eye stick sounds wonderful, I may have to try that out. I'm a firm believer of primer for eyeshadows. I use MAC paintpot. The extra minute it takes to put that on does wonders in maintaining staying power for the eyeshadow and gives the eyeshadow look a whole different dimension. Also, with the MAC paintpot worn by itself works as a "no make-up" kind of look :)

    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  14. Thanks for the tips. Is that the lipstick I got you a for the Secret Santa? The color looks good on you.

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    1. Hi Ying! Yes, it is! It's lasted such a long time. Great job picking out a shade - it's so natural looking.

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  15. I was wondering what you use for your eye
    brow . Please share. Thanks Jean for this
    post

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    1. Hi there - I use the medium kit here. It's awesome! http://www.eyeslipsface.com/studio/eyes/eyebrows/eyebrow_kit

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  16. Hi Jean! For work I use:

    1. Japonesque eye curler
    2. Maybelline Rocket Volum' Express waterproof mascara
    3. Benefit Benetint

    Use each item twice.

    More important though are the hair and necklace :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing about Benetint! I have it lying around for a while but haven't tried it. Am feeling encouraged to.

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    2. Would love to hear your thoughts on Benetint after you've tried it out. I also use Lancome Bi-Facil eye makeup remover, and if I could, I would get all my makeup rose-scented.

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  17. Jean! I'm so happy you did a lipstick post, since your make up always looks flawless in photos. I will be trying LM eye stick since I've heard so much about it, and now I'm ready to bite the bullet.

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  18. Hi Jean,

    Just recently discovered your blog and am quite in love! I tend to hang in this odd limbo between petite and XS regular sizes in most stores and usually lean more toward the regular sizing, so I love looking at how you explore and strive to find the best fit. After reading your blog, I actually went and found a nearby tailor through Yelp to fix up a dress from H&M!

    As someone who also sometimes struggles with feeling like a "kid" [I teach, so I'm surrounded by kids who are taller than me every day!], I love your tips on how to look more professional. I've also started a daily makeup routine, and I love seeing your tips because I'm not one to try 30 different products and cycle through them!

    I'm also using a Clinique mascara that I've fallen in love with recently--the Lash Power Long Wearing formula, which is one of those "tubey" mascaras. It's so awesome because for months I had trouble with smeary mascaras and raccoon eyes at the end of the day. That and an eyelash curler have done wonders for my straight and stubby Asian lashes! :)

    My biggest time-saving tip was so easy but so true: having a nice little organizer for my daily makeup stuff. I used to just throw everything into a little pencil bag-like pouch, but a trip to the Container Store has made mornings surprisingly so much smoother.

    Phew, that was long. Anyway, tl;dr love your blog, keep posting!

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    1. Michelle - thanks for saying hello, and welcome! You are so right about organization. I rely on my sorting box from Marshalls.

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  19. I totally agree eyeliner and mascara makes a difference to my looks (second to eyebrows, I love strong eyebrows). My time saving tip is I had my waterline tattooed when I went to Asia last year. I totally against bluish smeared tattoo look like on some older ladies but recent techniques make it look like real eyeliner. I just love how it looks when I don't need to put on any makeups.

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    1. Interesting! I've seen the older techniques on women when I visit China and it unfortunately didn't look very natural (esp. the harsh brows). Am curious how recent advancements have improved that service.

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  20. Thanks for these tips Jean! I so want to try one of those Laura Mercier sticks now!

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  21. Having some color to my lips makes a huge difference for me - I've recently gotten hooked on Revlon's Colorstay Lip Colors. I put it on in the morning and it doesn't budge at all throughout the day, despite eating and drinking as normal. I use just the color and don't bother with the gloss for a more natural look. Love it.

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  22. Thank you very much for your tips! Love your make up!

    Le monde des petites
    http://www.lemondedespetites.com/

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  23. Hi Jean! I love this blog and thanks for a great tips!

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  24. Your face is flawless! Thanks for the great tips.

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  25. Brilliant tutorial. I must get one of those eye sticks, they look fab! :)

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  26. So chic and simple! Your skin looks great btw :)

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  27. Ohh I've never heard of the caviar eye stick before, but it looks awesome, I'd love it! Great tutorial, your skin is so perfect :)

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  28. I use the lancome bi-facil remover as well but don't understand what you meant by looking for those in niffy gifts - do advice! (:
    You have such amazing brows though without any touch ups!

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    1. Oh, I just meant that they are often in the gift with purchase sets. For example right now if you browse on Nordstrom, there is a gift set of your choice with any purchase over $39.90, and within that set is a travel-sized bottle of the bi-facil remover : ) I love the convenient travel bottles! Also I forgot to mention I usually use this in Med for brows http://www.eyeslipsface.com/studio/eyes/eyebrows/eyebrow_kit

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  29. Jean, you should try the Benefit They're Real mascara. I used Definicil for many years and recently started using Benefit. It's $23 dollars (recent package at Sephora has a travel size tube attached to the regular size at the same price). It gives volume and definition, also holds curl well.

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    1. I love the Benefit They're Real! Too bad it's not waterproof, but I absolutely love it!!!
      Jean, I have super oily eyelids, so thanks for the eyestick tip! :)

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    2. I finally discovered They're Real (through a gift, after purchasing the mascara shown in this post) and totally agree with you two - it's awesome!

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  30. Hi Jean, thanks for the tutorial! You always make it look so effortless :) For work I swear by Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (sometimes layered over Smashbox BB cream), Chanel bronze rose blush, and Trish McEvoy lash curling mascara. I'll have to try the LM caviar stick you recommend! Do you have any recommendations for makeup brushes to use for applying blush/bronzer?

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    1. Hi Jan! I've heard such good things about LM tinted moisturizer, I hope you like the caviar stick just as much. Unfortunately I don't have brush recommendations as I've been using this Rock & Republic blush brush for years and haven't had to find a replacement yet.

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  31. I agree with Anonymous, there are alot of racial undertones in this pose i.e asian eyes, forgot to bathe brown??!?! It's like saying brown skin is dirty ��

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    1. Oh please. Jean meant brown as in being outside all day, letting dirt accumulate like a construction worker type of brown, hence the "forgot the bathe" part, not a natural brown skin tone. -____-

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  32. Love these tips! I've also been using the MAC select cover-up in NC30 for as long as I can remember! It's a good color for Asian skin I think. I've been wanting to pick up the eye sticks for awhile now and your post just inspires me to pull the trigger and try it out. I hear Bobbi Brown also has an amazing eye stick in several colors as well. I've always been terrible at trying the "smokey eye" - I usually end up looking like I got beat up - not cute, LOL. You make it look so easy, I think I have to give it another shot. Have a great day! You look beautiful! :)

    xx,
    Christine

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  33. Great make-up tutorial, Jean! Thanks for the tips.

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  34. I have been thinking about purchasing one of those LM sticks. I think you have sold me. It was nice to see that particular color actually ON a person as well. Thanks!

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  35. btw, it's a daily regimen. a regiment is a group of soldiers. :-)

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  36. great tutorial! can't wait to try it on myself!

    www.StylingFun.blogspot.com

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  37. Hi Jean- What is the cleanser that you use on a daily basis?


    Thanks
    Sri

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    1. Hi Sri, I just use Cetaphil gentle cleanser (I like that it's fragrance-free) from the drugstore : )

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  38. thanks jean :) great post!

    i know you're not being racist~

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  39. Thanks for the tips! I really like your MAC lip color. Do you get into trouble with it going onto teeth? I bought a really Red MAC color and I love it but I am super paranoid >.< But I love how natural this is, I may get it too!

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  40. "It's just a generic term, like people will say African Americans tend to have colored skin even some of them are really fair skin."

    No, no and no. No one with any common sense uses this term to refer to AA skin. It is not acceptable and certainly not in North America.

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  41. Hi Jean,
    I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your old Life with PAG posts! Please consider doing them sometime again (: It's so interesting getting to know you!

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    1. I agree with anna! :) We miss life with PAG! hope you will put this into consideration. -A

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  42. Jean, I hate to say it but this post reminds me of why I don't read your blog much anymore. It's gotten too commercial.

    I like makeup and Nordies as much as anyone else, but I find your endorsement of products to be rather gauche - two pictures of the pricy clarisonic before the jump? I'm honestly reluctant to believe that you've had one for a few years because I know from personal experience that their batteries don't last that long with such regular use.

    I'm happy that you are able to be compensated for your tremendous effort on this blog, but I'm disappointed to feel that I can't trust your recommendations anymore.

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    1. Hi there, I hope readers of this blog know that I would not be dishonest in order to endorse a product and am sorry to hear you feel that way. I purchased my Clarisonic nearly 3 years ago and have mentioned it several times on my blog since because I've been very happy with it. I posted the photo of it first since it's the step that happens before any makeup is applied, and used it for the 'before and after' photo for the same reason.

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  43. Jean, fun post!! What powder foundation do you like for daily use?

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  44. Yes I am curious as well! You mention an optional powder foundation but it's not on this post? Could you tell us what it is? Btw that's my fave mascara too!

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    1. Hi there - I use Make Up For Ever duo mat powder foundation sometimes to set concealer and make it look smoothed over. I really like it and it lasts for ages!

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  45. Hi Jean, I recently discovered your post through wendy's look book and am really enjoying reading your blog! I am a physician and my makeup routine has been practically nonexistent: I used a Burt's bee tinted moisturizer for my lips and that was about it. I always thought that my patients would benefit from my knowledge and not my looks. But now I want to look more polished when I interact with my colleagues and your beauty tips will undoubtedly come in handy. Thank you so much!

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  46. Great tutorial Jean. Love the Clarisonic. Changed my skin especially after moving from beautiful San Francisco to busy New York. My skin has already experienced so many changes and the Clarisonic has really helped.

    Kudos to you for always being well mannered and proper when addressing your audience.

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