Thursday, September 3, 2015

Sonia Kashuk At Target

A five piece brush set is $17 -- a steal!
Before creating a makeup line that is sold mainly at Target, Sonia Kashuk was an award winning makeup artist who worked with super model Cindy Crawford.

The Sonia Kashuk collection includes a full array of cosmetic tools, face premiers, foundation, face power, brow pencils, eyeliners, cheek blush, eye shadows, lip colors, nail polish and more. Her brand also has moisturizing bath and body lotions, butters and oils. Her aim is to offer department store luxury at mass market prices.

Quality for less is always music to a savvy shopper's ears. The beauty brushes are top-notch, and it's certainly worth trying the makeup, which has a stellar ingredient list.  Customers especially like the face premiers, eye shadows and lipsticks. Her face foundation is popular with beauty mavens also.

High end packaging, lots of colors and ultra affordable price points. THE SAVVY SHOPPER says, keep the beauty finds coming. It's fun to be a girl at Target!



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Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Homemade Apple/Spinach/Ginger Green Juice

www.leanhigh.com
Frankly, I would rather bite into an apple and chew spinach, so I haven't jumped on the juice bandwagon. Aside from orange and the occasional pineapple or cranberry juices from the supermarket, I don't buy it. Besides, it's a pricey craze, no?

However, recently I ran out of orange juice and decided to make my own morning beverage with what was in my refrigerator. It's more of a smoothie since I don't have a juicer and used my blender. The result is a delicious change from orange juice with the benefit of fiber. If you like green juices, this recipe will hit the spot without taking the green out of your wallet:

Apple/Spinach/Ginger Green Juice

Ingredients:

1 large granny smith apple
5 ounces fresh or frozen spinach
a few slices of fresh ginger
1 stalk of celery
1 cup (or more) of water

Optional: If you wish, toss in cucumber, turmeric and/or honey or Stevia. If you have guests, add a little alcohol like rum. (I just put a shake of Stevia in mine.) Another idea, add a slice of ripe mango. 

Directions:

1. Core the apple, slice and toss unpeeled into the blender.
2. Toss everything else into the blender.
3. Blend.

Couldn't be easier, right? Makes two (big) or four (small) servings.

As stated, I sweetened my juice with Stevia to taste. If you're a real health nut, skip the sweetner. Chilling the juice brings out the flavor. If you haven't thought ahead, just pour the green juice over ice cubes and serve. Healthy and inexpensive, a glass is packed with vitamins A, C, K, chlorophyll and fiber. 

Ahh, refreshing ... bottles up!

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Stylin' In Crocs

Crocs Mammoth Lined Flats
Crocs rock! Recently I began wearing their Mammoth velvet lined ballet flats to walk on New York City's pavement. They are cute and supportive while running errands on concrete. Wow! Usually, you only get such comfort in a well constructed, full grain leather shoe.

However, Crocs really knows what its doing with footwear. A molded Croslite™ material lets your feet breathe, giving you cushioned, lightweight bounce. My high arches have structure, and my toes have enough room in the toe bed.

Crocs Super Molded Iridescent Flat

The bottom soles are skid resistant, and the inside soft lining is anti-bacterial, so I wear them without socks. Not all of the styles have the velvety lining, but they are all designed and treated to wear sockless.

The Mammoth classic rounded toe, ballet flat weighs a mere 4 ounces. That's how lightweight all of the Croc styles are. Ounces not pounds.

Never a Crocs shoe fan until now, I found my pair at TJ Maxx for half price, $14.99, but even at full price, they are a good deal. Perfect to wear in the rain too.

Crocs Huarache Sandal Wedge

Today I am featuring the pinks, a fun color ... because summer isn't over until we say it's over! Long known for their comfort, now Crocs are stylin'!! Click here for men or women to explore other charming styles.
Crocs Kadee


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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Crystal Body Deordorant Stick, A Review

Several weeks ago, I wrote a blog about my desire to find a natural, or better yet, organic underarm deodorant to replace the commercial ones I normally use.

Puritan's Pride sells one, Crystal Body Deodorant Stick. So I tested it during a week of 90 degree days to verify its effectiveness. Call me either brave or stupid, but here's the verdict: It works!

Upon using it, the deodorant stick feels unlike Secret or Degree. It's not as moist, which isn't a negative, just different. I feel dry, not clammy or wet. 

The Crystal Deodorant Stick isn't perfumey, it's odorless. But more importantly, so am I. No b.o. during periods of activity and running around in the boiling heat. I asked everyone around me to be on the alert to tell me what I need to know, and believe me, they would say something, thankfully. Not a negative either ... because who would not want to know?

So, a natural deodorant stick with no harmful chemicals works! The active ingredient is potassium alum (i.e. a natural mineral salt) which creates a protective barrier against odor-causing bacteria.

I also love that it's a rock stick. It isn't a cream that must be smeared on, nor a liquid that takes a minute to dry. The directions say to wet the crystal, but I don't even do that. I keep it within reach of stepping out of the shower and apply it to damp armpits, making using it as convenient as the commercial anti-perspirants. 

By the way, the Crystal Stick is sold to prevent odor, not to stop perspiration, but it seems to do both. So it's a keeper! (This review is up on Puritan's Pride's website too, along with my 5 star rating as a helpful guide for other consumers.)

Finally, it doesn't stain your clothes, nor leave a white residue. Men and Women can use the original formula, though there is a Crystal Stick especially for men. The 4.25 ounce size lasts a whole year. 

Someone had to test the natural deodorant in the summer heat. You're welcome!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Reformation Boutique


"When I see thousands of the same dress on a rack -- it doesn't matter how beautiful it is -- I don't want it," says Yael Afalo, the founder of Reformation, a clothing store that caters to urban It girls. With boutiques in Manhattan and LA, celebrity clients include Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and Rihanna.

Truthfully, I don't share Ms. Afalo's sentiment. If an outfit is well-made and cute, I don't care if the whole world is wearing it, but then again, I wore a school uniform in my formative years. Sooo, such things don't faze me.

Reformation became famous for its one-of-a-kind party dresses. Later on, the shop added short dresses, jumpsuits, tops and trousers -- all of it, very wearable, chic and environmentally sustainable. The company only uses eco-friendly fabrics and practices.

If you are the type of woman who likes to turn heads, Reformation has the inventory for you. The retailer specializes in long, slim dresses with flowing material. Also, vintage pieces are remade into gorgeous modern ensembles.

The brand is exclusive because clothing is made in limited quantities, only 40 pieces per style, according to the founder (as reported by The New York Times). A large design team has a quick turnaround -- small batches of new styles come out every 2-5 weeks; and garments sell out likedly-split-fast.

The cheaper end dresses range from $78 - $98, while the party dresses run from $160 - $350.

The Lower East Side shop is fabulous fun to visit. The sales associates, while friendly and helpful, leave you alone to browse. It's a must stop on your Manhattan to-do list. There is also free worldwide shipping if ordering online.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Maangchi's Homemade Kimchi



Forgive me if I brag a little. This city gal just made kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage, which is the national dish of Korea. Korean food was new to me when I moved to New York City, but I took to it like a duck to water. The variety of tastes and textures make it one of my favorite cuisines. The food often includes all 5 tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Many dishes are fermented. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! If you find yourself in Manhattan, the Korean restaurants are on the side streets that surround Macy's Department store at Herald Square.

Consider that approximately 7 pounds of bacteria (100 trillion) live in your intestines, helping you to digest your food. According to medical studies, fermented food is super healthy for us, providing our digestive tracts with good bacteria and offsetting bad bacteria, so we should eat fermented food regularly. Kimchi is a delicious way to do it!

I learned how to make kimchi by watching a wonderful teacher, the Korean cook, Maangchi's YouTube videos. Not only is she a good teacher, she is funny! Maangchi shows us how to make kimchi three ways. I recommend watching all three videos to understand the process, then perhaps starting with the fastest way, her emergency kimchi.

Striving for an authentic batch, I ordered Korean red pepper flakes and fish sauce from Amazon. I also let my kimchi ferment for several days at room temperature before storing it in the refrigerator, unlike Maangchi who eats hers right away in the video. I know from watching her easy kimchi and traditional kimchi videos that letting it ferment for days makes sense. And if you wonder, flavoring the cabbage with fish sauce doesn't give it a heavy fishy taste. After fermentation, the dish marinates into a uniquely kimchi taste.

I'm surprised at how easy kimchi is to make. In a supermarket a tiny jar costs $6+. When making kimchi at home, you get a huge batch of spicy, pickled deliciousness with one head of cabbage.

Extra tips:

1. On my second try, I made a bigger batch of emergency kimchi, using a huge head of cabbage and adding: Daikon radish, a whole diced onion and a diced ripe pear (to the original recipe). I think Maangchi would approve.

2. I added 1/2 cup of dried anchovies to one of my jars, which gives the kimchi protein and calcium. It tastes fine, but eating it freaks me out a bit. Staring at the tiny silver fish, who stare back at me! Never again!! (Why do I have a bag of dried anchovies? Well ... on a visit to a Japanese grocery store, I got carried away [as many Japanese were buying them. Monkey see, monkey do. :)]  As it turns out, I don't like them in miso soup either. Some people pop dried anchovies into their mouths as a snack, but unlike a potato chip, they have tiny heads and tails, so honestly I don't know what to do with them. Perhaps this?) But, I digress.

3. When canning, pack the kimchi tightly into the jar:
(a) Press the air out, but leave a tiny space at the top. As it ferments, the kimchi releases gas and liquid, which runs down the jar if you fill it to the very top. 
(b) Also be sure to spoon a little juice on top to help with fermentation. In other words, a jar of packed kimchi should be dry-ish, yet mixed, then topped with the paste. And note, as the kimchi ferments it gets juicier.

4. One big head of cabbage makes three 32 ounce jars, plus one 24 ounce jar (total: 15 cups) of kimchi. As a beginner, you can use a jar to sample: Open and taste it until the kimchi is as sour as you like before refigerating the jars. You can pack it all into a single large container, if you wish. The 32 ounce glass jars are easy for me to store in my refrigerator.

Maangchi likes to eat kimchi with rice. Next I'll make her easy kimchi, then her kimchi and fried rice. She makes Korean cooking look easy. Bon Appetit! ... 잘 먹겠습니다

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Olive And Piper Glitter

Photo: The Talk
If you follow THE SAVVY SHOPPER, you know I like glitter: Diamonds, crystals and rhinestones, oh my! Yes, yes and yes!! Olive And Piper makes owning a bit of shimmer very affordable. The Lucy Crystal Collar above might be my favorite necklace in the collection.
The Crystal Line Earrings are very glamorous. A budget-friendly splurge that looks rich! I can see a bride selecting either piece to wear with her wedding gown. First of all they are lovely, and if she loses a stone or earring during the festivities, her special day is not spoiled.


Moreover, if you're looking for statement, or trendy jewelry, Olive And Piper designs that too. It's fashion jewelry that includes: necklaces, bracelets, watches, earrings and rings ... from delicate to chunky and everything in-between. Allow me to sum up the style in one word ... pretty!

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Monday, August 10, 2015

Oven, Stove And Dishwasher

A British retailer, named Candy, sells an all-in-one oven, stove and dishwasher. I am drooling over it! How perfect for a London flat, or New York City apartment! Or any small urban kitchen. The dimensions are: 86.3 cm by 59.7 cm by 60.0 cm. 

Customers say it's more expensive than a regular dishwasher or stove, but you're paying for the space saving aspect of it. (Anytime there's only one manufacturer an item often costs more because there are no competitors, nor mass production to lower prices.) 

A buyer also makes some compromises in buying combo appliances. They serve their purpose, but may have some limitations compared to their stand-alone-siblings. Perhaps they are less powerful, but as long as they work reasonable well, a person who lives in a tiny space usually accepts the trade offs.

A final consideration: When you buy combo appliances and one function breaks down, you are left with a dilemma. If the dishwasher can't be repaired, do you keep the unit to use the oven-stove, or do you get rid of the unit because one part is useless? Since it isn't sold in the US, I don't have to decide. 

Nonetheless, if you really want a dishwasher, but don't have the space, this triple combination gadget is available in the UK.

Why not invent a kitchen sink-dishwasher unit? Stack 'em up!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

End Of Season Dress Sales

Nordstrom: Eliza J Illusion Yoke Lace Dress
I wear nothing but dresses all summer long. Dresses are easy and stylish, and they sure beat the heat. Plus, I can avoid those pesky wardrobe changes since a dress goes from work to play, effortlessly.

Unfortunately, this summer I had to retire a few favorite dresses. After years of wear, holes appeared under the arms of a Sarah Jessica Parker designed dress. A red-and-white shift dress had a rip that couldn't be repaired, and a few other dresses were wearing thin. 

So when the July dress sales began, I jumped on the opportunity to search for bargains. Why pay more when dresses are discounted up to 70% off?

Here are a few retailers who offer a wide selection of adorable summer dresses at budget friendly prices. Independently featured in previous posts, each is running deep dress discounts right now:
London Times

1) 6pm.com - This is Zappos' sister company, so expect the same excellent customer service. When merchandise arrives at 6PM, prices are already slashed. You will find famous dressmakers like Ralph Lauren, Vince Camuto and Kate Spade, as well as, a chic new find like London Times. The variety of 6PM's dress stock rivals a big city department store ... but costs much less!

2) Old Navy - You can buy a dress online and in-stores for 20 bucks or less. Look for ongoing promotions and rock bottom sales. I'm a huge Old Navy fan, despite knowing that their dresses are either hit or miss. At times the waist is too high or the length too short; but often the fit is perfect! O.N.'s online site offers free returns, making shopping risk free. When you strike gold at Old Navy, you can score a dress that is cute, comfortable and versatile. 

3) Uniqlo - The innovated Japanese design never ends! Soft, comfortable, machine-wash-and-tumble-dry dresses. A few with UV sun protection! Beautiful lines. Airism fabric keeps you dry when temperatures are boiling. Much of the inventory is under $30, which is a steal!

4) Nordstrom - You won't find cheap dresses here, so savvy shoppers wait for the end of season sales. If you need one or two elegant dresses for the occasional upscale shindig, this is the place to look.

5) Amazon -  Shopping before Amazon ... there is no going back! You have access to 100s of merchants miles away. Amazon is like fashion central, so your search for a stylish dress may start and end there. The website offers free returns on clothes. If you have a Discover card, you can pay for your Amazon purchases with you cash back bonus dollars!

Now is the time to shop for a new dress without breaking the bank.
Donna Moran V-Neck, Eyelet Dress


Monday, August 3, 2015

Skillet Chili Con Carne

Photo: Jamie Oliver (my own recipe below)
Chili Con Carne is Spanish meaning chili with meat

On Sunday, I wondered what to do with two fresh jalapeño peppers and 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef? So I decided to make a quick one-skillet summer meal, with the thought of having leftovers to eat during the week. It was delicious!

Nothing tastes better than fresh, unprocessed, food spiced just right.

The recipe is also very forgiving. Use what you have in your kitchen. You can brown either ground beef, or cubes of lean, solid beef. You can use either a can of whole tomatoes (as I did); or a can of crushed tomatoes; or roasted, puréed, fresh tomatoes; or diced fresh tomatoes that are thrown into the skillet to cook after browning your meat, onions and jalapeño peppers. If you have a bell pepper of any color, or celery  -- add them to the skillet. If you don't have either, skip it. 

Here is my recipe:

Skillet Chili Con Carne

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef (or cubes of lean beef)
1 large onion, diced
jalapeño peppers, sliced
1 bell pepper, diced (I used red.)
2 stalks celery
Seasoning to taste -- I added:
1 tablespoon dried garlic (or fresh garlic)
a sprinkle of dried onion
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon dried cilantro (or fresh cilantro if you have it)
a shake of dried celery
1 teaspoon oregano
a tiny sprinkle of cumin (I don't like a lot. It's a strong spice.)
1 bay leaf
1 large any flavor bouillon (or 2 small bouillons) -- If you don't have bouillon, add a teaspoon of salt. (Usually bouillon is salty.)
a dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
fresh black pepper
1 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes)
1 15 ounce can of kidney beans

Optional shortcut: You can add an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce, but it isn't necessary. Sometimes I add it to thicken the chili, but if you simmer the pot longer you will get nearly the same consistency.

Directions:

1. Toss the ground beef (or beef cubes) into a 12'' skillet on a stove top over a medium heat. If using ground beef, break it up into pieces.
2. While browning the meat, add the diced onions, jalapeño peppers, bell pepper and celery. Let cook until done. Stir occasionally to brown evenly. I used lean meat, so after cooking my meat was dry. No draining was necessary. But pour out the fat, if necessary.
3. Next add the tomatoes, kidney beans and seasonings to the skillet.
4. Simmer on low heat for abut 30 minutes.

Serve the chili with a mixed green salad and rice if you wish. Since I had fresh corn-on-the cob that was my starch. Here's a no-fuss method for preparing it:

1. Microwave the corn-on-the-cob inside its husk for 4 1/2 minutes. It will turn out tender and perfect!
2) After cooking, wait a beat to let the ear of corn cool slightly, before removing the husk and silk to eat. It slides right off.

A simple and balanced summer dinner. The leftover chili will taste amazing too.



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Thursday, July 30, 2015

DIY Lip Balm: Is It Worth The Cost?



Photo: www.tokopedia.com
We all use lip balm. A chapstick (a/k/a upright lip balmsells for up to $3.00, including the tinted variety (like Maybelline's Baby Lips, which is very moisturizing). A 13 ounce tub of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (a/k/a pioneer lip balmis even cheaper per ounce, costing about $3.50 a jar. What's more, there is no science behind fears that petroleum jelly is unsafe to slather on lips. I do it all winter.

So is it worth making your own lip balm? Well, the answer is yes and no. If you can't finish a batch in a year's time, it's cheaper and more convenient to just buy lip balm as you need it. 

However if you blaze through chapstick like wild fire, it is cost-effective to make a batch. After buying the necessary ingredients and containers, you can bring the cost down to about $1 a pot or stick. Plus, they make lovely gifts, or you can sell them if you are an entrepreneur.

An easy recipe I like for homemade lip balm uses 3 main (and 2 optional) ingredients:


Beeswax-Coconut Oil Lip Balm

Ingredients:

1 cup grated beeswax
1 cup coconut oil
1 teaspoon vitamin E oil

Optional ingredients:

a few drops of soothing peppermint oil
food coloring; or a slice of lipstick for a tint. (A slice of a clean crayon works too; so does powder blush. All these options will add a tint.)

Directions: 

1) In a microwave safe dish, grate the beeswax until you get one cup.
2) Add a cup of coconut oil, which will be solid at room temperature. (1 to 1 ratio.)
3) Microwave the mixture for 20 seconds, repeat until it melts. Go slow so it does not boil.
4) Remove and stir them together.
5) Optional: 
 a.  Add a few drops of peppermint essential oil.
 b. If you wish, tint the lip balm with a few drops of food coloring; or a slice of lipstick. (You can microwave the mixture for a few more seconds if needed.) Stir together.
6) Finally, add one teaspoon of vitamin E oil to the mix. It gives the lip balm its shelf life. Stir all the ingredients until uniform.
7) While warm, pour into containers with lids. Some people recycle old, washed lip balm containers. Other folks repurpose their Altoids (mints) mini tins. While still others buy a supply of pot jars or cylinders like these, which can be labeled and gifted. 
8) After pouring into containers, let cool.

Note: Shea butter could probably be substituted if you don't have beeswax, though I haven't tried it.

I won't lie. Although I love the natural, luxe ingredients of this homemade lip balm, I usually just buy a chapstick (or Baby Lips tinted stick) as needed.


I'm more likely to make my own Vaseline Rosy Lip Therapy because you can't buy a full size jar. I've only seen teeny, tiny jars of it -- .25 ounces to be exact. That's a Lilliputian size. Why so small?

What we can do is buy a regular size tub of clear Vaseline, then add a few drops of pink, or red food coloring ... plus drops of a nourishing essential oil like coconut (or drops of almond oil; or rose oil if you have it). You can also add drops of peppermint oil, if you wish. Set the Vaseline on a stove top and let the pilot light soften it so you can blend it easily without melting. Voila ...  we have a full size jar of homemade Vaseline Rosy Lip Therapy. However, it's more practical to make small pots at a time, and keep the rest of the Vaseline clear for other uses. The idea is to save money by buying a regular size jar of Vaseline and adding your own tints and oils. It's too easy-peazy, not to do it yourself to get more for less!

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Uniqlo's Flare Sleeveless Dress ... And More




Uniqlo has styled the perfect summer dress. It's airy and feminine ... visually, a classic! Designing affordable, lightweight, yet substantial clothing is Uniqlo's trademark, and this dress is no exception. The material is a smooth, durable cotton blended with a touch of stretch. The dress is soft, comfortable and cool.

You can wear it to the office, as well as, out to dinner afterwards. The flare cut is ultra flattering. Sleeveless; gorgeous lines; and t-shirt-cozy -- the dress comes in 5 colors. I bought the pink stripped pattern and love the contrast of the overall pink with navy accents. So practical and casual-posh, I think I'll get another color. Cost: $29.90.


Whether traveling, going out at night, or blasted with air conditioning, you sometimes need an article to cover your shoulders. Uniqlo offers nearly weightless summer options. All are easy to tote, or roll up in a suitcase:



Slip on a 100% cotton sweater from the retailer's UV Collection. It blocks out 90% of the sun's harmful rays.

Or throw on one of Uniqlo's many types of hoodies. Some are cotton with stretch UV protection. Others are airism UV cut mash to keep you cool and dry in a warm climate. All the hoodies have innovative fabric and extra bells and whistles. High collars protect your neck, and thumb holes let you cover the backs of your hands.

I often carry one of Uniqlo's linen/cotton stoles to drape on my shoulders in the summer. I have a navy blue one to match several dress colors. It's so thin, I can fold it up to carry in my purse for when I get cold.

In fact I had to rebuy it. The first Uniqlo navy scarf I bought (it had a bit of silk in it) was lost in someone's closet at the end of a house party. Surprisingly, we couldn't find my book bag with its contents of my scarf and a mini umbrella when it was time for me to go home. As I don't suspect the lovely hosts nor anyone at the party would have taken it, to this day the disappearance is a great mystery. Life!


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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Mizon All Over Makeup Stick

Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick
This hot all-in-one eyeliner has taken Korea by storm. Korean women use it to create what they call an aegyosal effect -- i.e. contouring the illusion of a bulge under their eyes. Why would they do this, you may ask? Because ... with age we lose fat under the eyes, and the area begins to look hallow. So Korean women use shading to restore the appearance of fat under the eyes in order to produce a fresher more youthful look. According to Peach & Lillya retailer who specializes in Asian cosmetics, "creating a plumper eye area under the lower lash line erases years" off your face.

The Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick has two ends: (1) a glittery champagne powder/shadow and (2) a taupe pencil/liner.

The (simmering pink) champagne powder can be used to highlight your entire face. Here is a how to video: Dot it about the inner corners of your eyes, brow bone, bridge of nose, Cupid's bow, center of lips and cheekbones, then blend into the skin with your fingers. 

Moreover, that's not all the stick does. The taupe pencil/liner can be used to define your brows, accentuate your cheekbones, or lift your nose (shade the sides of your nose, then blend). You can also use the liner to create a softer daytime smokey eye.

It's always fun to explore another country's idea of attractiveness, as well as, their innovative beauty products. The qwest of hanging on to a youthful appearance floats across boundaries!

Certainly, the Mizon Oh! Shy Volume Up Lovely Stick is a multi-tasker, which makes it ideal for travelers. Cost: $19.

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