What’s inside a makeup artist’s makeup bag

I’ve always been curious about what kind of products other professionals use. Like what kind of toothpaste or toothbrush dentists themselves use, or what kind of night cream dermatologists swear by… etc.  So I decided to post my makeup bag.  As a professional makeup artist, one golden rule I swear by when it comes to buying makeup: never pay full price.

The trick to buying makeup isn’t picking whatever off the shelve that you think looks “cool”; this includes those crazy electric blue color eyeshadow and creamy glitter jars.  They’re fun to look at and buy, but chances are you, you will never use them. At the same time, avoid buying the same shades over and over again.  I know people that will buy 10 shades of brown and 5 shades of black, all because they think they’re all slightly different from one another. Another rule is don’t buy makeup because it’s cheap.  I know some women will buy a shade a foundation at 1/5 of the original price, but it’s 3 shades too dark, what’s the point? You can mix it with a lighter foundation, but then again, that means you’ll need to buy a lighter foundation to match, now you have 2 jars of useless foundations.  Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to look at outlet stores or wait for sales to happen to buy some extras from your favorite brands. I’ve hauled away with hundreds of dollars worth of makeup by paying a fraction of the amount by waiting or checking out outlet stores.

Some of the products I use and LOVE:


Photogenic Concealer by LANCOME – too bad they discontinued this product line! It is the most amazing little jar of the most non-sticky and smooth coverage concealer.  But because I can no longer buy this product, I have found the Bobbi Brown foundation stick (in a square box) to be a good replacement.  I also use YSL’s concealer/highlighter pen for right under my eyes, it totally brightens up the face.  It’s a bit pricey, and Revlon makes a good cheaper alternative.


I have some of the greasiest skin known to mankind.  Most people might not notice it, well that’s all because I use the right kind of products to conceal this atrocity. Because of how oily my skin is, I mostly only use powder foundation.  To offset my greasy skin, I sometimes use a primer to get rid of the shine.  I use MAC’s Beauty Balm, which works great as a primer, tinted moisturizer, as well as sunscreen.  My two favorite  foundations are Laura Mercier’s mineral loose powder, and MAC’s Studio Fix compact powder.  I love the natural feel and great coverage of LM’s mineral powder, but MAC’s compact is a good solid coverup that you can get away without applying concealer underneath.  And both seem to manage my shiny face sans problem. A cheaper and very good alternative to LM’s mineral is L’oreal’s mineral foundation.


At any given day, I’ll have at least one bronzer and one blush on.  I hate shiny stuff, it just doesn’t look good on me.  It makes my oily skin look even oilier, so I stick to the matte stuff, and plus, it also works as a contouring powder.  You really can’t do contouring with any shimmer, because it just looks bad.  I use Stila’s shade 1 bronzer, and Shu Umera’s blush (both matte).  The Cargo tin you see, is slightly shimmery, and I only use it right on the apples of my cheeks, just small dabs is all I can handle with the shinny stuff.


If I want my eye makeup to last more than 3 hours, I am going to use Urban Decay’s super awesome Eyeshadow Primer Potion.  I’ve had this stuff on and lasted through a rough night and woke up the next day with flawless eyeshadow still.  This stuff works, and it’s amazing.  In terms of eyeshadows to use, I don’t have any particular preference.  I love them all.  If you use UD’s primer and good brushes, you can make 99 cent eyeshadow look and last as long as the $55 Chanel stuff.  In the photo, I have a small compact variety from Lancome of a bunch of different gold and brown shadows, a deep solid black from Bobbi Brown, and also a very light shimmer (for highlight) as well.  Personally, I only carry neutral and wearable colors in my makeup bag, and if I want something like Chronic Electric Green, I’ll dip in to my professional makeup kit for that.  For eyeliner, I use MAC’s fluidline in blacktrack.  It lasts all day through tears and sweat, doesn’t smear or budge, it is the best stuff if you’re serious about eyeliners. I love Almay’s long lasting eyeliner as a cheaper alternative that achieves similar result but with a fraction of the price.  For brows, I use Lancome’s eyebrow pencil in Taupe/dark blonde.  Even though I am asian, I find the dark blonde eyebrow pencil to be most flattering without looking like I just tatooed my eyebrows on my face. For mascara, there are two that I swear by, and they are both made by Lancome.  I love the Deficils as well as Hypnoses mascaras.  The famous lengthening, separating and lash defining power, this shit is amazing, and Lancome makes the best mascaras hands down.


I love Revlon’s Just Bitten lip stain, it’s very cheap, and it gives it a very different look to the lips.  I like Burt’s Bee’s lip balm, so I use that on top of the lip stain to make it look like my lips have color, without looking like I have a lot of stuff on it.  For lipstick, I LOVE MAC’s lipstick call Lustering in this sheen/lustre finish.  Gorgeous on any skin color, and makes my teeth look white because of the blue undertone.  I also have a bright red lipgloss from Lancome should I feel “adventurous”.  I use a 99cent ULTA lip liner that’s just 2 shades brighter than my lip color as base.


Good brushes are important.  In fact, they are so important, that it really makes a difference in application.  Without good brushes, doesn’t matter how much money you spent on your makeup, it won’t look good unless you have the right tools to apply it.  At the same time, with the right tools, you can make cheap stuff look fabulous! I love the mini kabuki brush from Eco Tools as the applicator for my mineral/powder foundations.  The synthetic hairs are very soft and it just grabs the particles for a very soft airbrushed finish.  Also, it’s also a good idea to carry a pencil sharpener.  You’ll always need it!

What’s the difference between Nicole by OPI, Sephora by OPI, and OPI nail polishes?

UPDATE: I realize my previous post was a bit inaccurate because I didn’t test the nail polishes base on similar finishes .  I first did this when I was bored out of my mind while doing literature review for a very lengthy research project (hence the sociology literature photocopy I tested the nail polishes on).  So please scroll down for the new findings.

Okay, I admit, I am a girly girl. I like to get my nails did and hair primped by a professional as often as my financial situation allows.   But like most other college students, I am always living on a budget. So instead of splurging 20-30 bucks for a manicure, I like to do it myself, and plus, I have pretty steady hands. Like most nail polish enthusiasts, I love OPI.  I find it to have the best color density, brush, color variations, etc.   So when there are 3 kinds of OPI nail polishes to choose from, I got curious just like the next girl standing at a beauty store contemplating between the different OPI brands.  So I a bought a few bottles of each, and here are my findings:

Criteria Nicole By OPI Sephora by OPI OPI Findings
Price $7.99 $9.50 $8.50 – $12.00 Many of the colors often go on sale, sometimes 1/2 off the original price for limited edition lines for all three lines at the stores. OPI & Nicole by OPI will go on sale for buy 1 get 1 50% off at places like ULTA.  Where as only discontinued colors will only go on sale at Sephora’s
Color Density Varies depending on finish, with one single layer, the color is represented but not very full. 2 coats will represent full coloring Light to medium, with one single layer, a very thin layer of color is represented. Often needs 3 coats for full color represntation Very opaque, with one single layer, the color is well represented. 2 coats will represent full coloring Although both Nicole and OPI have very opaque color density, Sephora’s greatly differentiates from the other two with its lighter formula. Higher density = more visiable mistakes, better color coverage, lighter density = more forgiving, less color coverage. However, OPI original has the most shine out of the three.
Usability With its “new” perfect stroke brush, the brush is more dense, but shorter in length, requires a steadier hand to control the short dense brush, but overall not a bad brush. A slimmer, lighter but longer brush is used for the lighter formula. Easier to use, more forgiving, can go into the cracks better A wide and long brush is used for the original brand, gives great coverage in one single stroke, brush is also softer than Nicole Which ever nail polish brush you’re use to using, that’s going to be the ultimate deciding factor. Depending if you have a steady hand or not, if you do, the original OPI has the best brush, while if you tend to screw up on your nails while coloring, Sephora’s brand is better because the smaller brush is more nimble. Nicole falls short.
Durability No chipping doing dishes without gloves for 1 day. By day 2, edges start to come off No chipping even after doing dishes for about 2 days, without gloves; Flaky edges by day 3 Depending on the color, chipping doesn’t start till day 3, with doing dishes the first 2 days The duration of how long these nail polishes seem to last is dependent on the amount you dip your hand into water and soap, scrapping stuff, etc. But overall, all three seem to last about as long with a +/- 2 day difference, with OPI original last slightly longer depending on the color you choose, Sephora second, and Nicole in a distance third.
Selection While Nicole OPI seem to cater more towards the drugstore makeup shopping crowd, & the color selection is often limited. At best, you’ll see 20-40 color varieties (where online, you’ll be able to nab almost 70). However, since it is being offered in most drugstores, it seems to be the most accessible brand. While this brand is only sold in Sephora stores, the color selection seem to fare a little better than Nicole. Offereing a range of ~60 different colors, their color selection also seem to be trendier. The motherload and the original of it all, OPI’s line, used by both beauty specialty stores as well as professional salons, offering up to 240+ colors at any given time and most specialty stores carries at least 50% of that. While Nicole seems to be most accesible to the general public, Sephora’s seem to have trendier color selections in their boutique beauty stores. OPI original however, excels in this category for having the most variety, most special editions in terms of color selection.

UPDATE: Here is me comparing the three polishes on SIMILAR FINISHES — I used opaque pinks to compare the three.  I had initially compared a shimmery orange/red Nicole by OPI against two opaque OPIs and Sephoras, needless to say, not a whole lot has changed, but at least you can see the finishes better in the photo as it speaks louder than words 🙂

FIRST COAT: This is a test between three similar finishes – giving a more accurate representation of the three different brands. It’s kind of hard to compare different finishes on the three brands (apples vs oranges), versus now that I have three opaque finishes here, giving a more accurate representation of the products (apple vs well, apple?) BTW, Nicole by OPI is really light on the first coat.

SECOND COAT: You can tell that the finish on the Sephora OPI is very different than the other two — it’s got this gel-like finish to it, which is kind of cool. OPI original has a very solid color density. Nicole by OPI on the other finger… well, you can judge for yourself. Just click on the photo to enlarge.

Overall: OPI original seems to be the best option, while Sephora by OPI comes in second, and Nicole by OPI comes in a distance third in my personal opinion on which of the OPI nail polish brand is the best of the three.  OPI original has the longest durability time as well as highest color density and shine, which is a big deciding factor for me.  Sephora OPI also lasts pretty long, but it doesn’t provide the shine and color density like OPI original does, but has this interesting finish that is very different from the original OPI.  Nicole is definitely my least favorite of them all.  If you are going to spend the money on Nicole, you might as well buy 2 bottles of Revlon Colorstay or any other brand – which can provide you similar if not better results .  

Really cool/random/funky/weird iPhone accessories from China

Every now and then I’ll go on China’s version of eBay, TaoBao.com where I peruse through a variety of the latest designer knock-offs and random trendy knick-knacks.  I happened across some really funky, creative and fun iPhone accessories that I wish they sell here in the States. Since everything is already MADE in China, I just wish someone would start wholesaling them here!

I hope you enjoy my little collection of random iPhone accessories.

App icon freezer magnets! How cool is it to have these on your fridge!

iphone 4 silicone titty cases... I am sure the nude color one is a real hit with guys who have a thing for boobs

Isn't this just hilarious? They even advertise it as the best tool to reduce cell phone radiations... Apparently Craig Daniel have used this quirky iphone headphone/phone handle...

Old school 80's mobile phone case for the iphone. How OG is this?? I remember my dad had one of the original Motorola ones and they were HEAVY! This looks a lot lighter. Definitely brings back nostalgia...

Cassette tape iphone 4 case... couldn't even tell its an iphone until you see the buttons on the side. So retro and fun!

The super blinged out iphone case with rhinestone peacock. This one is for the ladies... and for about 140rmb (<$20), this is a steal! Just look at the detail!

Is that a gameboy? No! It's an iphone! You can actually buy these silicone or hard cases on eBay, but they were definitely first introduced in China. I actually have the white one 🙂

3 things I can do; 3 things I can’t do

Every person has their fortes and weaknesses. Sometimes comparing where we fall short in versus where we excel in is a best way to understand ourselves better.  It is also what makes us individuals, individuals.  I remember a dinner conversation I once had with my uncle few years ago, he asked me this question: “Have you reflected upon yourself today?”

“What do you mean reflect?”

“I do this every day, I ask myself to list three things that I could’ve done better, or have failed in that day, and how do I improve tomorrow.”

“Very Confucius of you uncle.  What three things are you going to reflect on today?”

“Actually, I haven’t reflected on myself today yet…”


Instead of elaborating on my three short comings of the day, I have decided to give it a twist.

3 things I can’t do and 3 things I can do


1. Run for more than a 1/4 mile.  I am just not a runner.  Maybe because I have been scarred since middle school gym glass – where I once had to run that stupid mile every Wednesday in those stupid gym clothes.  I was never the slowest of the class (or the fastest LOL!), but I definitely loathed the thought of me running a mile as fast as I can in order to get a decent grade for the class.  The worst part is getting that queasy feeling after the worst 10mins of my life.  I don’t like the way it makes my body feel, although I understand that some people LOVE the way they feel after they run, but it’s just not my cup of tea.  I even tried buying really nice running shoes to motivate myself running more or enjoy running altogether, but after a few minutes of me running in them, I can’t wait to take them off and set them aside.

2. Math. Seriously, not all Asians are good at math.  I even sweat the small stuff, like 35% of $72 is how much?  To think that I actually took calculus when I was 14, what kind of stuff was I smoking?

3. Fit into a size 4. I don’t want to sound like one of those BBW folks talking about how being big is beautiful and loves me for all of my curves kind of thing here, I am simply accepting who I am (or the size I am) because of my lifestyle choices.  It doesn’t help that I am lazy when it comes to exercising alone, not naturally blessed with amazing metabolism, and have constant appetite (and room) for delicious food. It also doesn’t help that I am a really good cook (not bragging here, just being honest), and whenever I am in the mood for something amazing, well, I’ll just make something.


1. I can sing – but not very well.  Any good musician should be able to sing in-tune because they would have to understand pitch.  I use to LOVE to sing and write music all the time, but I sort of gave it all up when I realized I didn’t sound very good in my recordings and there are a LOT better people out there at it than me.  Every now and then I’ll sing something with my friend Daniel and put it on Youtube, but don’t worry, you won’t see me lining up for American Idol auditions anytime soon.

2. I am very good at cooking without a recipe. I am one of those people who can raid a fridge and/or pantry, see what’s there, and whip up something totally random but still looks and tastes amazing.  It’s a gift, I know.

3. Give unconditional to animals.  I just have a big heart for animals, I just wish I can say the same about certain people.