My All Natural Style Secrets: A Look at My Daily Beauty Routine

allnaturalbeautyproducts_chicstealsAs I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of not only what I put in my body (favoring organic, responsibly-produced, ethically-farmed, and natural products whenever possible)…but also what I put on my body. The skin being the largest organ means that what it absorbs truly makes a difference in not only how you feel, but also the toxic load placed on your entire system. (more…)

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How to Create Your Perfect Valentine’s Day Look

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If you celebrate V-day with your significant other and want to look your best on the big day…here are a couple tips for romantic makeup, hair, and outfits.  With just a little bit of effort, achieving the whole package just got a little easier!


A great look starts off with your face – and what better way to find inspiration than a slideshow of different romantic looks from Refinery29?

The Head-To-Toe Guide to V-Day Hotness


From Nicholas Penna, Jr., owner and lead stylist at SalonCapri in Newton and Dedham:

The Sock Bun: Start by blow-drying hair with a natural bristle brush; once hair is dry, apply a dime-sized drop of smoothing serum to the shafts and ends of hair.  Using a fine-tooth comb to smooth out bumps, slick hair back into a high ponytail at the crown of your head and secure it with an elastic.  Cut off the end of a clean, unwanted sock (where your toes would be), and roll it up into a donut shape, placing it around the base of the ponytail.  Tilt your head slightly forward and spread your ponytail evenly around the sock so that half of your hair is toward the top of the sock, pointing toward your forehead, and half is at the bottom, pointing toward your back.  Use a second hair elastic to wrap and secure hair around the outside of the sock, creating a ballerina-bun at the crown of your head.  Twist remaining hair in one direction and use bobby-pins to tuck and clip the ends underneath your bun.  Finish with a light application of hairspray.

Sleek, “Wet-Inspired” Hair: Start by combing through wet hair with a wide-tooth comb to remove tangles, and add a walnut-size dollop of styling balm to the top half of wet, tangle-free hair. Brush your hair towards the back of your head with a fine-tooth comb and secure it tightly with an elastic. Twist hair gently, and wrap it into around the base of the ponytail to create a round bun.  Use bobby pins to secure the end of your ponytail and tame fly-aways.  Run a fine-tooth comb through the top of your hair up to the bun to smooth over any bumps, and finish with a generous amount of an extra-hold hairspray.

Bouncy, Volumized Hair:  Start with a classic blow-dry using a round, natural bristle brush and a palm-full of volumizing mousse.  Once hair is dry, add volume to the top of the head by teasing the hair using hairspray and a round brush.  After desired volume is achieved, curl hair away from the face from end to root with a large barrel (2″) curling iron.Using a dime-sized drop of smoothing serum, rub your hands together and gently run your fingers through the curls to separate them.  Finish the look with light hair spray and you’re red carpet ready!

Smooth and Sleek Hair with a Center Part: Start by parting wet hair directly in the center of your head using the edge of a fine-toothed comb.  Dry hair with the nozzle attachment of your blow-dryer, and a natural bristle brush, pulling hair and the dryer downward to smooth out hair.  Apply a pea-sized drop of smoothing serum from the shafts to the ends of your hair. Run a straightening iron through your ends to straighten out any waves and voila, you have a classic look for day or night!


Need some ideas for what to wear on your hot date?  Want to go beyond “sexy and red?”  Try checking out looks that other stylish ladies on Chictopia have put together:

A Gallery of V-Day Inspiration Outfits


And if you’re still stuck for a gift, try out this handmade chocolate box from Delia Creates:

or this geek-chic Lego heart necklace from Iridium on Karmaloop (try a DIY if you have the parts!):

or a whole bunch of ideas of what to craft for your guy over at Dollar Store Crafts (heart-print boxers from


Hope that gives you some ideas for the Day of Love!

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!:-D


~If you liked this post, please share it!~

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Beauty Products You Never Knew You Needed…But I Know You’ll Want (I do!)

Japan is also fabulous for (among other things) innovative beauty and health products. [I know you’re probably all sick of the whole “Japan is so great yada yada yada” routine, but honestly, if you got me started on the “Things I hate about Japan” that list would probably be longer.;-) So to keep things positive, I’m just focusing on the cool stuff – mainly consumerism and product innovation at its best.] Here are some neat products I’ve found:

Use instead of earring post nuts to keep your studs secure. Me, when I sleep on my side at night the studs I’m wearing in my ears always stab me in the side of the head when my ear is flattened. The nuts get caught on clothing and hair, get gunky with soap/shampoo/dead skin in them and have to be cleaned frequently – and I never thought about how much of a pain they are. These solve that, plus provide relief to people suffering from metal allergies (there are alot in Japan) since they are non-metallic. An added bonus: you can wear the pearls in the front and the stud in the back…very multifunctional! The store also had different versions like gemstone rounds or acrylic pastel colored balls for sale as well.
Cost: $8

For your Uggs, high-top sneaker, or other boots. Place inside the shoe in the heel area and it gives you a small height boost, so you don’t look short and with stocky legs, and don’t have the boot visually cutting you off at a weird place. They have ones that give you a 2 cm lift or a 3 cm lift. They’re made of silicone and so provide added cushioning to your heel – a big help for the tons of walking you have to do here.
Cost: $12.50 for the 3cm lift ones

Japanese people are also obsessed with ear canal cleanliness. Seriously. The colored Q-tips show the gunk you get out better, and the spiral shape really gets it all out. Or so I’m told.
Cost: $2.80 (from; will ship to the U.S.)

Fake Eyelash Mascara
(sorry I can’t find a photo or a listing online, but basically, it looks like your average mascara)

Last year eyelash extensions were all the rage (I got some too) – they were cheap (about $80 for a full top set), lasted about 4-6 weeks if you were careful, indistinguishable from your natural eyelashes, you looked gorgeous round the clock with or without extra makeup….but they had problems, such as people being allergic to the glue, your natural eyelashes growing out and the extensions twisting and matting at strange angles and then poking you in the eye (yeah, that stage kind of sucked), and then your natural eyelashes growing in shorter or sparser because of the added weight and damage that the extensions had incurred. So now everyone’s just applying falsies for day and removing them at night with their makeup (even my 57-year-old MIL). But the problem is, no matter how realistic the false eyelashes look, they’re still kind of floating on top of your real ones. What to do? Enter this mascara, specially formulated to coat both natural and false eyelashes so that the two become indistinguishable. (Regular mascara can damage some types of falsies, but with this you can reuse your pair until they fall apart.)
Cost: $7

You know how, even after you shave your pits, you get this sort of bumpy terrain going on under there? I don’t necessarily mean ingrown hairs (which this product also helps alleviate), but just the sort of pit-appearance. It doesn’t look as nice as say, the skin on your forearm, does it? (Whether or not you use Dove Ultimate Visibly Smooth deodorant – which is specifically a growth retardent, not a skin-smoother per se.) Plus under there you also got deodorant buildup…well, it’s just an icky area of the body. Enter WakiLaLa Clear Wash, a product guaranteed to make your underamrs pikapika (smooth and shiny) by scrubbing away dead skin and deodorant buildup, and leave everything smelling fresh.
Cost: $7.50

Why didn’t they think of this sooner??? A pen with a tint made of self-tanner, you draw in your eyebrows with this (carefully, mind you) and even after you wash your makeup off what you drew lasts for 3-7 days. Brilliant – especially for those who’ve overplucked or have eyebrows so blond they disappear every time you wash your face (that’s me! Though not a problem most Japanese women have LOL)
Cost: $13 (the linked page above isn’t loading the product photo, so I’ve included the photo from this site here…the pens are henna-based, but still the same concept, tho they only last 3 days, and the Peach John version lasts up to 7)

I know you probably hadn’t thought about it before (I know I hadn’t), but those pierced ear holes get kind of…smelly and gunky after awhile, no? Clean them with ear hole floss! Like dental floss, but stiffer and shorter. Like a toothpick, but thinner and more pliable. Genius! I found both mint- and rosewater- scented versions.
Cost: $3

You can’t be female and survive Tokyo’s August without these. This work like blotting paper, except when you blot, the sheets impart a layer of soft, lightweight powder. Some sheets have separate functions for each side: one side wipes the sweat, the other re-seals your foundation once you’re done. Your makeup stays put no matter what! (And they have scented versions, and Men’s Sheets….)
Cost: $3

Most of these products you can only buy in Japan; the links on the titles will take you to pages where you can buy them but you have to have a shipping address in Japan. Some Asian supermarkets will sell them (I’ve seen the WakiLala Armpit Clear Wash at the local Uwajimaya in Oregon, for example). Some you may be able to buy on (for example, the cotton swabs above), which is a treasure trove of all things Japanese!

xoxox from Tokyo

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Top 5 Spring 2009 Beauty Trends for $20 or Less

On the Spring 2009 runways, hair and makeup revolved around bright colors, 80’s-inspired trends, and a “natural” look. Lush, full eyebrows made a comeback at Charlotte Ronson and DKNY (so put down those tweezers and allow the hairs to grow out naturally); moody smokey eyes and dramatic eyeliner created a sexy bedroom eye at Jason Wu and Nina Ricci; the “no makeup” look ruled the BCBG runway; and a retro 60’s look was the focus at Rosa Cha and Yves St. Laurent. False, thick eyelashes were everywhere, hair was tousled and sexy or in loose updos, eyes and lips were awash in gold, violet, orange, and crimson, skin was gorgeous, lip gloss was rendered obsolete.

Here are five easy-to-copy trends from the shows – and some Chic Steals suggestions for the frugal fashionista to get the same look for a smaller investment (under $20 per item, to be exact):


Smoky eyes never really leave, but the 2009 version is lighter and softer. Though still anchored by thick black lashes and inky liner, shadows are muted and run the gamut from shimmery golden bronze to matte translucent gray. To take the guesswork out of creating the perfect eye, opt for a smoky eye kit with powders perfectly matched for optimal blending ability like Physician’s Formula Shimmer Strips Custom Eye Enhancing Shadow & Liner, Smoky Collection ($10.95). Tailored to specific eye color, each palette is custom-created to add drama and depth to green, hazel, blue, or brown eyes. Pair with pencil liner for the ultimate bedroom effect; we like Almay Blendable Eye Pencil in Black ($7.49). Smudge slightly outwards for a softer look. Finish with a coat (or 3) of thickening mascara – try Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara $6.79) in Black Royale (black with platinum shimmer).

CHIC TIP: Show off your new smoky eye with a sleek and twisted Narciso Rodriguez-style updo; having your hair off your face spotlights your fabulous makeup, and keeps the look romantic & fresh – instead of edgy and hard. HAIR HOW TO: Start with slightly dirty hair (it hasn’t been washed for 12-24 hours), and into 6 or more sections at the front. Part the rest of your hair in the center and pull back into a French twist or a bun at the back of your head. Twist front hair sections back and around your hairline, adding each new section in as you get to it. Secure under each twist with bobby pins, and do the same for the ends at the back of your head. Finish with a strong-hold, shine-imparting hairspray to keep everything in place, such as Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine Super Spray Firm-Hold Finishing Spray ($10).



The runways were awash this season in rainbow shades of color: Zac Posen, Temperley, and Erin Fetherston chose deep purples; Gucci and Giorgio Armani gravitated towards an ocean-inspired turquoise eye; tangerine lids were seen at Rodarte; bright strawberry and tomato lipstick ruled at Nina Ricci and Louis Vuitton. Though intense and bold, the colors can be easily translated for everyday wear by following these simple rules: Lest you wish to channel Mimi from the Drew Carey Show, accent only one feature at a time with bright color.

To re-create those deep cerulean eyes, choose a long-lasting and deeply-pigmented formula, like Ben Nye Lumiere Grande Color Eye Shadow ($9) in Cosmic Blue and Turquoise, layering it over black liquid liner for mermaid-like eyes. Another deeply-pigmented formula, such as M.A.C. Eye Shadow in Orange, ($14.50) can be applied lightly with a brush to achieve a tangerine-colored eye, or applied heavily for a bright orange a la the Proenza Schouler models. Revlon Matte Lipstick in Strawberry Suede ($7) can help create that gorge matte tomato lip like Moschino Cheap and Chic, and you can also pick up Revlon’s Really Red at the same time since they are Buy 1 Get 1 Free at

CHIC TIP: For that sexy, big hair accompanying the sirens at Gucci, try Nexxus Phyto Organics Maxify Volumizing Mousse ($12) massaged into the roots of towel-dried hair, blown out with a diffuser attachment, and then sprayed with a smoothing serum to add shine.



Many models looked fabulously “au naturelle”, but in a way that was anything but spartan. The flawless skin at Donna Karan showcased lush, natural eyebrows that were merely trimmed; the models at Anna Sui sported a ruggedly bronze look, as if they had been hiking outdoors all day. With so much emphasis on looking natural, this is a look that works perfectly off the runway as well.

What could be better than the same foundation they used at Lanvin & Oscar de la Renta? It’s just under $10 and as close as MAX Factor ColorGenius Foundation with Minerals. Layer it on over a moisturizer, serum, or a primer with smoothing compounds in it; we like Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($15)
for smoothing, tightening pores, and providing an instant burst of radiance. (It can also be applied over your makeup to freshen up throughout the day.) For the bronzed gypsy look like at Anna Sui and 3.1 Phillip Lim, try award-winning MeetMark Pro Bronzing Powder ($8); add more to your basket and get free shipping with orders of $35 and the code MARKFS35. An eyeshadow sheet like In a Wink Instant Eyeshadow Sheets ($6) in Glow Bronze adds depth; plus, it’s a perfect application every time.

CHIC TIP: Keep tresses smooth & shiny with Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Weightless Anti-Frizz Leave-In Serum ($5.99). Even if you don’t have time for a blow out, after brushing straight with a paddle brush, apply the serum and follow with a layer of light-hold hairspray.



At some shows, regally-gilded lids and cheeks ruled in subtle, shining shades, while at the other extreme were icy shades layered over pale pink blush and shimmery white eyeliner, creating an slick, ethereal look. Either can work well as is for both day and night; office or on the town; and both are easy to re-create. DSquared2 combined muted gold shadows smudged around the eye; Oscar de la Renta and Missoni gilded eyelids in full. To re-create either look, try L’Oreal HIP High Intensity Pigments Concentrated Shadow Duo in Dynamic 828 (Gold & Olive), $7. For a softer version, take your cue from Peter Som, where makeup artists highlighted just the inner corners of the eye with the shimmery shadow, and softened the look with chocolate brown mascara.

To re-create the icy look seen at Prada, Balenciaga, and Emporio Armani, layer an iridescent glow over pale pink powder blush on the cheekbones; try E.L.F. Mineral Glow in Shimmer ($8). For a wide awake eye, use Sephora Slim Pencil in White 222 ($5) to line all the way around, or just highlight the inner corners and under the brow for a more subtle interpretation. For the crowing touch, it’s all about a metallic nail color. If you’re in the mood for gold, try ULTA Nail Lacquer in Gold Digger ($5). Gravitating towards silver? Revlon Nail Enamel in Silver Screen.

CHIC TIP: Both gilded and the icy eyes & cheeks look best with everything else toned down. Try a subtle pink or nude lip; for added sheen and depth, layer iridescent highlighter over the lipstick on your Cupid’s bow. Further emphasize sleek makeup a la Cynthia Rowley or Prada: with tight ponytails and smooth chignons. When pulling hair back, use a fine-toothed comb to smooth, and then finish with a spray of shine-enhancing setting gel or hairspray. If there are any flyaways, a toothbrush loaded with hairpray on it is your best friend.



Retro-style cateye eyeliner, lush lashes, nude lips, and shades of pink are back. Thanks to a prevalence of pinks and nudes (and despite the black liner), hair felt soft and youthful. At Rosa Cha the eyes were lined with pale pink liner and dark mascara; Yves St. Laurent models sported hard bouffants reminiscent of the sixties, and at Rag & Bone eyes were full-on rimmed with black.

A beautiful pastel cheek can be created easily with Mark Flip For It Spring Color Kit ($20) in Tokyo…the bonus is that it comes with a shade perfect for that slightly-pink, girly lip, and purple shades that can be wet down and used as a softer eyeliner. If the deepest, darkest black liner is what you’re looking for, try waterproof E.L.F. Liquid Liner in Black ($1) and wing it out for a cateye effect; build up a heavy line and then smudge it like the models at Lanvin, or rim around the eye completely like at Rag & Bone. (Love Mark makeup? Add $25 worth of product to your bag – and use 2SHIP2009 to receive $2 shipping.) When going full-on black with your eye makeup, keep the rest of the face soft and romantic as a counterpoint to the dramatic eyes. Line the outside of lips with Cargo The Reverse Lipliner ($14) and fill in with the liner and a touch of lipbalm for the ultimate nude lip. Finish off with a pair of dark false eyelishes to recreate that perfect sixties look. False eyelashes not your thing? Try collagen-infused Maybelline The Colossal Volume Express Mascara ($5.99) for something similarly doe-eyed.

CHIC TIP: To mimic the voluminous updos seen at Yves St. Laurent and the soft buns at Carolina Herrara, soft-hold hairspray is a must. Begin by teasing the undermost layers of hair to create a mound of faux volume. Smooth over the topmost layer, twist up into either a French knot or a bun, and spray everything with the hairspray, accessorizing with a thin headband for the YSL look. Or simply let loose strands fall from your bun for a pretty, feminine interpretation.

– Carly J. Cais, Contributing Editor

(photos: Greg Kessler –; Dan & Corine Lecca –; Mark Leibowitz –; Fabio Pettinari – Marie Claire; Sean Cunningham –

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Makeup for the Lazy Girl in All of Us

Admittedly, I have periodic bouts of extreme laziness: I want all the work taken out of annoying, time-consuming tasks…like applying makeup.

Yes, for everyone out there who’s sick and tired of brushes and applicator pads and the swish-swipe-blot movements – there’s an easier way to do it. And, with all those products out there guaranteed to save you time (and money!) this is how you can put together an entire face of makeup:

A spray makeup is so much better than liquid, powder, or whatever.

SK-II Air Touch Foundation


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The gold standard – we covet, yes, we do. The perfectly uniformed distribution of foundation particles, not possible from traditional foundation, makes skin appear as though it has been beautifully renewed. The particles actually repel each other but are attracted to skin, guaranteeing a smooth, even finish on your face – and nowhere else. The cartridge contains a combination of Pitera, fine light reflecting pigments, and skincare ingredients, which leaves your skin with a naturally radiant flawless finish. We’re saving up for the next economic upturn. SK-II Air Touch Foundation, $130,

DiorSkin AirFlash Spray Foundation

Delivers an “airbrushed” effect with precision and ease. Evens out skin tone and visibly diminishes the appearance of fine lines and skin irregularities. But, you need to spray it on your hand or a sponge, then apply – not directly on the face. So what’s the point of spray, may we ask? DiorSkin AirFlash Spray Foundation, $60,


Sally Hansen Fast & Flawless Air Brush Spray Makeup

Fast and Flawless. Spray on perfect-looking skin in an instant! This lightweight formula imparts an invisible, impeccable finish. Long-wearing. Water resistant. Well, it’s supposed to be time-saving, but many reviewers say that it only works if you spray into your hand or the cap first, tap a brush into it, and then spread on the face. Doesn’t sound like a timesaver to us.
Sally Hansen Fast & Flawless Air Brush Makeup, $9.79,

For those of us who can’t be bothered with eyeshadow wands, brushes, blending shadows – bleggh! – there’s press-on eyeshadow, already with 3+ shades blended perfectly on the sheet.

Avon in a Wink Eye Shadow Sheets only offers the following colors: Blue, Bronze, Lavender, Neutral, Taupe, and Pink; Amazon offers all of them plus Copper and Green (the full range you see in the photo); and each kit contains 14 applications (that’s right, 14!!). Simply place over eye, rub gently, remove sheet, and then blend with fingertip for a long-lasting look. Avon In a Wink Eye Shadow Sheets, $5.99,

 ColorOn EyeEnvy

A Sephora-exclusive, each box contains five pairs of eye shadow appliqués, one jar of GetSet setting powder, and one powder application brush. Step-by-step instructions with application tricks and tips are also included. (Also, spend $50 on Sephora products, even through Amazon, and you get free shipping.) ColorOn EyeEnvy, $25,

Eye Majic Instant Eye Shadow

We’re not sure about you, but to us the colors look kind of clownish; the resulting application too shimmery and cheesy.
Eye Majic Instant Eye Shadow, $17.90,


Estee Lauder TurboLash Mascara

estee-lauder-turbo-lash“Turbo-charged” motion mascara with auto-powered, vibrating brush gives you volume, length, curl and separation all at once. Gently vibrating LashSonic Brush; with micro-pulse bristles continuously separates and saturates lashes. We bought this as soon as it came out, and what can we say? It lives up to the hype, and makes our lashes bold and beautiful without all the tedious steps. Estee Lauder TurboLash AlLEffects Motion Mascara, $32,

Lancome Oscillation Power Mascara


Lashes appear extended, separate and visibly multiplied. In one easy new gesture, let the smooth formula wrap every lash up to 360º. The pricey price tag scares us off, and it seems pretty much the same as the Estee Lauder version. Lancome Oscillation Vibrating Power Mascara, $34,

SpinLash Mascara

This mascara claims: “The First Mascara That Lines, Coats & Curls All At The Same Time! * Twice The Volume Half the Time * No More Clumps * Gently Rotates 360° * Big Sexy Eyes.” Despite the iffy reviews, it’s definitely more affordable than the name-brand versions. SpinLash Perfect Lash Mascara, $16.35,


Alcone Company LipStamp Kit

lip-stamps-the-alcone-companyI love this. What could be more lazy than just stamping your lips on your face?

The Lip Stamp is a great tool for applying lipstick in the perfect shape for you. There are 10 different shapes of stamps to choose from. The kit includes one Lipstamp tool, five playing cards with 10 different lip shapes. Just pick your favorite Lip Stamp shape, apply your favorite lipstick and stamp on perfect lips!LipStamp Kit, $24.95,


Sephora Brand Nail Patch

Love these – they actually last longer than a traditional manicure with no chips, and once you smooth out all the bubbles in the sticker, it looks like you got a manicure done by a pro. Select the appropriate size for your nail, pull off the clear protective strip, and place the rounded side at the nail base. Smooth onto the nail surface, and remove the surplus by folding the nail sticker under the nail. The excess easily tears away. Remove the nail patch with traditional nail polish remover. Sephora Brand Nail Patch, $10,

Phew-I’m exhuasted just writing about this!

So after all this timesaving, this is how our makeup turned out….

Alright, no, I’m just kidding.;-)  Still, there is something to be said for shaving off time in your routine, no?



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