beauty on duty: kathy chin of vodka and soda

October 30, 2012By stephanie 1 Comment

“My beauty routine is really simple.  I’ve always followed the advice from my mom who believes in simplicity, wears zero makeup but looks like she’s wearing makeup all the time!  There are many times she’s asked what color her lipstick is (because it’s the “perfect shade”) but she doesn’t own a tube of lipstick.

I only wear makeup when I go out because I prefer to let my skin “breathe”.  When I do wear makeup, I don’t wear a lot of it; I believe in letting my skin show and only accenting my features so I don’t use foundation but spot conceal instead.  My makeup routine is as follows (in order of application):

  • I always start with sunscreen because no one likes wrinkles!  I use Dermalogica Solar Defense Sunscreen SPF30.  It’s from their ultra sensitive line for sensitive skin.
    I have weird, brown-ish eye circles which I suspect is partially due to my hormones.
  • I NEED concealer to look normal otherwise I look like something that just crawled out of a crypt.  Every single concealer I’ve tried never worked – it was always too cakey, showed my wrinkles or never covered enough – until I stumbled upon Giorgio Armani cosmetics.  Who knew that not only does he make awesome clothes, but his makeup is amazing too!  I use his Master Corrector in “salmon” (to neutralize the darkness) and concealer in #3.5 (to brighten the area around my eyes).  Because this is a fluid, it’s great for dry skin (doesn’t settle in the lines) and never gets cakey.   This is THE best concealer that’s worked for me and I swear, this stuff is like liquid eraser!
  • I set the concealer with a light dusting of translucent powder — Laura Mercier Secret Brightening  Powder.  This product has a very slight shimmer to “brighten” the eye area.  I use a fluffy eyeshadow blender brush from Lancome. Trick: the best way to get a light dusting of powder on the brush is to tip the jar over (lid closed), then flip it right-side up, tap the lid a few times and then swipe the brush onto whatever powder is left sticking on the underside of the lid.  This reduces waste and gives you better control over how much powder you use.
  • Curl eye lashes – I use a tarte eyelash curler.
  • Eyeliner on upper lid.  I save liquid liners for evening/going out because I find that for me, liquid liner is too harsh for daytime.  I prefer a softer look during the day so I stick with pencils.  The best pencil liner that refuses to budge is NARS Larger Than Life eyeliner.  I usually wear a charcoal gray or if I feel fancy, a deep purple.
  • I apply a light dusting of translucent powder on my face to get rid of the shine.  I use an all-natural mineral powder by La Bella Donna in Honey.  This gives me a flawless look without looking “powdery”.  The brush I use is a big fluffy one by Cala (one of the best brushes i have and found it at winners for $6!)
  • Blush.  I tend to stick with powder blushes since I learned how to properly apply them.  I use an all-natural blush by La Bella Donna in Tangerine.  It’s the perfect shade of peach/pink and suits me better than NARS orgasm.  The brush I use is a blush brush also by Cala.
  • Trick:  sometimes if I’m looking a bit tired and I want to brighten my face, I swipe on some shimmer on my cheekbones/eye lids.  I stumbled upon this “trick” when I was getting ready to go out one day and found a Shimmer Brick (Bobbi Brown) that I forgot I had.  I swiped some on my lids and cheekbones just for fun and when I saw my friends, they were all “omg, you’re glowing!! you look amazing!” So I now do this when I want to look awesome but feel like garbage :D.  The shimmer brick I have is Bobbi Brown in Rose.  I use an angled brush because I found it works the best.

That’s it!!  From start to finish, it takes me about 5-8mins to put my makeup on.  I don’t really wear lipstick (just a lip oil) but if I’m feeling fancy, I’ll use some light, sheer gloss like Korres Lip Butter in Quince or Pomegranate.”

– straight from Kathy’s mouth

To learn about Kathy’s Beauty OFF Duty, click here.

Kathy Chin is an IT consultant by day and a wannabe fashionista and skin expert by night.  She’s addicted to exercise, stella and dot jewelry and blogging, not to mention purses and boots.  In addition, she is married to the love of her life for 8 years and a mother to a beautiful and hilarious 4 year old girl named kayla.  The blogosphere is her second home and her blog is where she goes to escape and/or post random things about life, her obsessions and the funny thoughts running through her head.  She often uses colorful words so you’ve been warned.  Visit Kathy at her blog,  vodka and soda or follow her on Twitter!

biz shiz 101: from one business to another … with love

October 29, 2012By stephanie 3 Comments

As soon as I typed up this title to this post, I have become aware that there is a chance that some might get offended. But I am going to write it up anyway.

I have a really savvy, super successful, colleague turned dear friend who’s business grows EVERY DAY. It’s only been about a year since we met, but this girl, let’s name her Autumn (which is such a transparent code name), is someone I admire for her tenacity, fire, and go-getter attitude to building her business.

The other thing that I really appreciate about Autumn, is her respect for fellow entrepreneurs. Her and I have collaborated on projects. We refer respective clients to each other. We promote each other. It’s a win-win love-love kinda relationship. In addition, Autumn repeatedly turns to my team whenever she needs to glam up. Repeatedly. It’s important to me that Autumn gets the best treatment, the best artists, and of course, the best deal in getting her hair and makeup done. Now, if I am available to work with her, I will try to give her everything free … because she deserves it. (Autumn, if you are reading this … you’re due for a free micro appt!). And even then she is always trying to thrust money into my hands. And if I need to send other members of my team, I will give her the best rate possible, only because my artists are separate of me and need to be paid. And she always emails a quick reply with “Are you sure that is all I need to pay?”. That is the sign of a respectful entrepreneur. She respects my craft as much as I respect hers. She understands that while we are friends, there is also a business to be run. And to make money from. I still wouldn’t charge her more though.

**note: i may only be referring to one friend/colleague above, but i would like to point out that i have several on my list who are also great like Autumn … i just can’t write out all the stories and come up with clever “not so code” code names … you know like DJ Green, Jennie Girl Gray, Batasha Narrett Design, GetCaught Lures, A Paper Sitcom,  Apple Martinez Photography, SomeChicks Cooking Thing, and all the other photographers who use personal names that I cannot come up with something funny for …

So where am I going with this anecdote?

Well, not all entrepreneurs-slash-colleagues are like this. In fact, from time to time, you will work with an “up-and-coming” something or other who wants everything from you on a “I’ll promote you if you do this for me for free” basis. Or, will find ways to squeeze more out of you even after you’ve already given them a kick-butt, as low as you can go, quote for the services requested. And then there are demands on timing, dates, changing your schedule, accommodating them, adding in something for free and who knows what else … all because they are a fellow entrepreneur and since they have a whopping 200 followers on Twitter and Facebook combined – they are going to promote you …

Promoting you is a nice gesture … but when do you say enough is enough?

It’s hard. It’s hard to put your foot down, especially when you don’t want to offend anyone. But think of it this way, isn’t not getting paid what you’re worth (or at the deeply discounted rate you provided) offensive to you?

When a fellow entrepreneur keeps asking you for freebies, discounts or a handout, but you are well aware you are not getting a good ROI (return on investment), my rule is: once is good faith, twice is super nice, and three times is pushing it.

What determines good ROI? Well, I look at it as: how often does a potential client come to me and drop said entrepreneurs name as a referral? how often does said entrepreneur “shout out” to you on Facebook or Twitter? do they share your posts and tweets? send you kudos on achievements? do they mention you on their webpage or blog? or hey, how about this … do they offer YOU anything for free or super discounted in return?

If your answer is “no” … start to think hard about whether or not this is a respectful two-way street … or a one-way free for all.

If your answer is “yes” … then this is a relationship worth fostering, building, and working together on with an “i’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” attitude.

I always try to make accommodations for those who I know support my business 110%. For some, the best I can do is recommend everyone and anyone looking for their expertise their way, post and share all their marketing materials and efforts on my social media profiles, and when possible do my best to help grow their business through anything I can possibly do for them. I also try to link them to other colleagues with whom they can collaborate with. And if they actually need any of my services, I will try to do it for free or for the lowest amount possible.

To my artists, my freelancers, my friends: it is as they say, you gotta love yourself first if you want others to love you. Replace the word love with respect. Your business will only grow if you remove the all obstacles, big and small. Low-balling entrepreneurs are small .. . as obstacles and in many other ways … (i’m totally gonna get punched in the face for that comment)

The point after this long drawn out post? Well, as entrepreneurs, we all need to respect and understand the struggles we go through to build business and put food on the table. If you aren’t willing to give up your services for free … then you shouldn’t be asking for free services.

Get it? Got it? Good.

That’s the biz shiz!


pretty and the penny: keeping your mason pearson brush looking like new

October 24, 2012By stephanie 1 Comment

Okay. So I admit, I used to think that a hair brush should never cost more than a twenty-dollar bill solid. I mean, how could a brush that is almost (sometimes more depending on the one you choose) $100 be more effective than my trusty Goody hairbrush picked up at the good ‘ol big box store for $14.99? All you need to do is run it through your hair, right?

That is true. A brush (or comb) is made to run through your hair to detangle and groom.

But, I am now the converted. I repent from my past and sinful ways of p’shawing a great brush. I do own a Mason Pearson and have been a devout follower for about 3 years. And let me tell you, a really REALLY good hair brush, not necessarily Mason Pearson, but a really REALLY good one, will help to create volume, enhance shine, reduce frizz and make your hair feel like silk. Whether you have a pixie, a bob, or hair down to your ass-ets, a good brush is like a great haircut.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is hair is one of our greatest accessories. We OBSESS over it. So maybe splurging on a more expensive brush is an investment … one that leads to healthier and better hair days more often.

But let’s get real. I’m not going to splurge on a new hair brush EVERY year. But they can get slimy looking, fuzzy, and the bristles can start to splay and break. Chances are, you replace your brush when it starts to look grimy. So, if you multiply purchasing a new $14.99 bush every year for ten years, perhaps splurging and maintaining a $60+ more durable brush to last you 10 years is a better option? Maybe? So here is how you can make that unbelievably expensive hairbrush last for a lifetime and cut the investment in half. Kind of.

It’s all about keeping it clean.

Yes – you may remove your shedding hair from your brush from time to time. But do you ever really get deep deep in there and clean the pads of the brush and the bristles. You know, all those places that have trapped in years of dry scalp flakes, old product, and gosh knows what else?  You don’t? Ugh.

Yeah. I’m giving you the side-eye right now.

You’ll need the following items to clean your favourite investment brush: a fine-tooth comb, a toothbrush, some hand soap. All things you normally have on hand. You get free toothbrushes from your dentist and you should always have hand soap around the house … so you’re not really spending any extra money doing this.

Step 1: Using your comb, remove and lift hair out of the bristles of your brush.

Step 2: Fill a small bowl with some lukewarm water and a drop or two of hand soap.

Step 3: Your toothbrush is your cleaning brush – dip it in the soapy water, and holding your investment brush facing down, start to work your cleaning brush GENTLY around the bristles. Then gently scrub the pad of the brush.

Step 4: Rinse off your cleaning brush and use the now wet cleaning brush to rinse away any soap from your investment brush.

Step 5: Wipe down the handle and back of your investment brush, give it a good shake or two to remove excess water, and let dry on a towel.


An investment or splurge on anything beauty should make you feel good in addition to doing a great job. At the same time, it’s up to YOU to protect your investment by maintaining it properly. Sure you may have spent  more money than you would have liked, but if you can make it last really really long, the cost per use will amount to pennies.




the fresh list: the lipstick edition … with a scrub for good measure.

October 12, 2012By stephanie

Another week come and gone! We are slowly moving from Early Fall to Late Fall.

I’m  not sure what you have written into your Daily Timer (as my dear senior makeup artist Meredith calls her archaic handwritten agenda system) for this weekend, but I can sure add some items to your shopping list.

Now normally when Fall rears its beautifully coloured head of foliage, I like to reach for a heavier dose of eyeliner but during a recent trip to Murale and several unnamed, unscheduled visits to shopping malls around the GTA throughout the week, I couldn’t help but pick up lipstick after lipstick after lipstick.

At Murale, Holt Renfrew and select Sephoras, you can find the latest from Bobbi Brown – her new creamy matte lipsticks which are just that – a matte finish with a creamy application. No tugging and no drag she has 12 new colours to offer.  They are all her signature in very neutral, easy to wear colours, but also are on trend with pops of orange, pink and of course a red. I picked up Valencia Orange (which is less red than her Orange lipstick) and True Pink. I was eyeing Razzberry and Red Carpet … but maybe next time!

Caryl Baker Visage very kindly sent to me a selection of products from their Uptown Girl line earlier in August/September 2012 and just recently their Kiss from the Cure promotion. And that means MORE LIPSTICK! Both Morning After (a deep rose) and Kiss for the Cure (a reddish-brown-berry) are sheer and creamy and can suit most skintones. But the best feature of these lipsticks are the packaging. Each lipstick case comes with its own built-in mirror for easy touch-ups on the go.

And  never one to pass a NARS counter unscathed … I did pick up a new velvet matte lip pencil – but only to replace the one I sharpened down to a nub. The current lipstick trend are the deep dark burgundys and reds, so I replenished my Damned pencil and stopped myself from doing any more damage. I really like the darker lip this season, but prefer the colours to be more matte than glossy and sheer. I find these pencils the best way to achieve that balance.

Ugh – and as we near the end of wedding season, that means lipsticks in the kit ALSO need to be replenished. A quick walk over to but a long stay in MAC meant I picked up some of my bridal faves including Modesty, Hue, Velvet Teddy and Fast Play. Hands down, MAC offers a great selection of lipsticks for makeup artists at a reasonable price thanks to the MAC pro card. Thank you MAC.

So enough about lips – here’s the tip/trick/must have to wearing a bold lip and looking perfectly polished: great skin.

Dry, patchy and blotchy skin is never a good look when paired with look at me lipstick, so if you are thinking about wearing a different bold lip everyday, get started on refining and polishing the skin.  Korres recently sent me a selection of skincare products to try including their Wild Rose Daily Brightening and Replenishing Buff Cleanser along with the Wild Rose+Vitamin C Brightening Sleeping Facial. I use these two generously the night before a bold lipstick day and I wake up with a great canvas for center of attention lips. While the scrub can be used daily, I aim more for every other day if not less and that’s for one main reason: so I don’t run out of it toooooo fast! (Korres is now available at Shoppers Drug Mart too!)

Happy Shopping Friends!


wearing white: to clip in or not to clip in …

October 10, 2012By stephanie

The growing out process. It’s right up there with the pains of choosing a bridal party without offending anyone, slashing your guestlist without offending anyone, and saying no children allowed … also without offending anyone. A pure pain, but ya gotta do it … right?

Many brides struggle with the idea of using clip-in extensions and prefer to try to spend a whole year before their big day growing out their hair. Some in even less time. And let’s not forget the Murphy’s Law of growing out your hair and then visiting your hair salon a week or two before the big day for a “trim” … you know the trim I’m talking about – the one that ends up with 3 inches of length across the salon floor. Freaking hairstyling b*tch.

For some, clip-in extensions were never a question – they want big and they want it any way they can get it. For others, it’s a last resort. Whichever it is for you, my dear princess in white, the rules of purchasing hair extensions is the same for all.

Choose human hair over synthetic.

Whether you are leaving your hair cascading over your shoulders or piled on top of your head for an updo, human hair trumps synthetic. With human hair, your hair artist can do what she pleases – curl, straighten, roll – without risking damaging the extensions. Hot tools on synthetic hair result in smelling like burnt nylons – not your wedding scent of choice. Plus, with proper care, human hair can be washed, rinsed and stored for future and repeat use.

Choose the proper length.

Since hair extensions are non-refundable, make sure you have a consult with your hair artist before purchasing your extensions. Go over your chosen hairstyle and determine the right length of hair for the look. Extensions can be purchased in smaller lengths for simpler styles and extremely long lengths for the most elaborate styles. In addition, your hair artist can tell you if the 24″ length will look silly clipped into your layered chin-length bob (yes … yes it does!)

Choose the right colour.

It’s a smart idea to shop for your own extensions rather than leaving it up to your hair artist, bridesmaid, or friend of your mom who just wants to be super helpful.  Again, hair extensions = non-refundable, so if you are a blonder-brown and friend comes back with a $150 box of deep chestnut brown extensions you’re in store for unwanted colour blocking and a $150 bill. Head to the store yourself, ask the sales staff for help, and match as close as possible to your natural shade. Also, speak with your hair colorist, if you happen to colour your hair, and ask for her/his opinion on extension brands and whether they can dye extensions to match your colour!

Happy wedding planning!