Monday, May 31, 2010

Daddy’s Got to Look Good Too!

I’ve been wanting to do a piece for all the dads, because as much as we need to look good, so do they! Men can be just as concerned with their looks as women are. It’s only because they aren’t usually the ones to complain about the bags under their eyes or feeling fat in a pair of jeans that we are apt to overlook the fact that they do also care (sometimes a lot) about their appearance – as they should. So in honor of Father’s Day, here’s to the beauty of the men inhabiting our lives.

My daughter A absolutely adores her daddy. It’s because of him she has the rich, thick and curly eyelashes that will never need the crimp of a Shu Uemura lash curler, and a twinkle in her eye when she smiles. And it’s because of her that he learned how to gently de-tangle her curly hair in the bath with his fingers and conditioner. 

Grooming, when it’s between parent and child, is a bonding process. Personal grooming, be it shaving or combing your hair is a daily, yes, but, restorative process. It brings us back for a new day, signaling a start like a blank sheet of paper or freshly mowed grass. Whether Dad is a man’s man who only knows a bar of soap as a get-ready product, or a metrosexual who indulges in exotic facial serums, or whether he’s somewhere in between, here are a couple of selections to make the man in the mirror feel as special as he should.

Dashing Dad 1-2-3:

1)    Eye cream isn’t just for the ladies. According to my good friend and make-up artist Jason Hoffman, men should start considering daily usage of it as early as age 25. And don’t assume that Dad will shy away from the jar either – just get him one that’s designed specifically with him in mind, like the fragrance-free Anthony Logistics For Men’s Eye Cream ($28).

2)    I love the sophistication of the Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan ($120/50ml) scent. It is rich, resinous and full of amber -- fantastically complex, but subtle in its reach. My husband is a big fan of this one.

3)    Moisturizing after shaving is crucial, because the skin is essentially being exfoliated as the facial hair is being cut by the razor. (It's good to note here, as my friend Jason pointed out, that resultingly, exfoliation is not as necessary for those who shave regularly.) This Every Man Jack Modern Dad with Shave Cream Kit ($15) is appealing because of its uncomplicated, masculine look and offerings. It also comes with a face wash, face lotion, two lip balms, and a travel bag. These are paraben- and phthalate-free, making them a solid choice for daddies with sensitive faces.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tinted Moisturizer: Your Beauty E-Z Pass

Me, starting off an 18-hour day with Boots No.7 Soft and Sheer Tinted Moisturizer in Medium at my Mother's Day breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory (yes, I crave this place once in a while). Please ignore the slightly hideous pattern of the booth chair fabric!
When moms talk about having two or five minutes to get ready, we mean it. When we're with our kids, our precious, few minutes to get us out that door is no longer cushioned by the luxury of "free time." But we all, of course, want to look good for ourselves and the world. And why shouldn't we want to? We deserve it! I've done all sorts of foundations throughout my adult life -- powders, creams, mousses, airbrush/sprays -- but the one kind of coverage I've come to rely on most as a busy mother is tinted moisturizer. You can't beat the convenience of having sun protection, moisturizer, and sheer color on your face in one speedy application.

Life with kids is crazy: crazy good. Meaning there's not usually time to go peek in a mirror and revisit the vanity for powdering and reapplication if your make-up has moved throughout the day. I always leave the house with lip gloss in the pocket of my diaper bag or purse. If I'm feeling extra on-the-ready that day, maybe I'll leave with a compact. But most times, there's too much going on that I'm lucky if I get a quick lip gloss touch-up.

When you use full-coverage foundations, particularly when weather is warm, your pores are more open, and heat, oil, sweat does a number on your visage. This does not take into account whatever might've been sketched onto your face by tiny, prodding hands (Thank you my little A for mommy's "shimmer cream" session this morning, a.k.a. butter sauce from a breakfast of ravioli, which also got into my hair).  By mid-day, with the heavier stuff, you can start to look like you've really got layers caked on. With tinted moisturizer, you avoid any serious cosmetic disintegration. It's light, many times oil-free, and sits tight.

So leave all the moving and shaking to the children, and for your make-up, try starting the day with tinted moisturizer. It might just make your life easier.

Tinted Moisturizer 1-2-3:

It's true that tinted moisturizer won't give you the coverage that a full-blown foundation will, but it will smooth out your skin and fill in lines and wrinkles. If you want to bump up its coverage, simply mix both the tinted moisturizer and a little bit of your regular foundation on the backside of your hand, then apply. You can also use a stick foundation like I do (try the wonderful Shu Uemura Nobara Cream Cover Stick, $42), to conceal problem areas like discoloration or acne. The handy stick form makes it all happen in a matter of seconds. 

Here's a rundown of some of my picks for good tinted moisturizers, from the most expensive to the least expensive.

1) Best Texture: I love the smooth, chalk-less feel of Chantecaille's Just Skin ($62) with mineral SPF 15, UVB protection, which includes anti-irritant and anti-oxidant botanical extracts. It really is virtually weightless.

2) Best Shade Range: Tarte's Smooth Operator Tinted Moisturizer ($36) with SPF 20, is oil-free, and packed with antioxidants and other beneficial fruit extracts. Because it is paraben- and phthalate-free, it is good for those with sensitive skin. I particularly like that there are a dozen shades to choose from.

3) Best Bang for Your Buck: Boots No. 7 Soft and Sheer Tinted Moisturizer ($12), and CoverGirl CG Smoothers Tinted Moisture ($8), both with SPF 15, are solid drugstore options. I noticed that the Boots No. 7 one has great endurance in terms of coverage (it's lasted me through 18 hour days), and you can't beat CoverGirl for an oil-free choice for less than ten dollars.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Unadorned Face

Me, after a long, hot day with my daughter and family in Boston/Cambridge for a wedding. I had been up and running since 6 a.m. and this photo was taken after midnight so I freshened up with my tinted moisturizer, bronzer, and lip gloss for the shot. 18 hours in near 90 percent humidity deserves one reapplication!
It has been hot, hot, hot in New York City of late. I've been endlessly outdoors with my daughter A soaking in the rays at the parks, playgrounds, and just walking about our urban paradise. Having grown up in Honolulu, as soon as it gets warm enough to hear the ice cream trucks chiming about the neighborhood, I start cutting off my jeans and wearing Havaianas. I literally wore short shorts, a cotton T-shirt and sandals for my entire high school career. As for cosmetics, aside from my weekend or after-school stints when I would render full "looks" for myself and occasionally friends, I was au naturel during school hours. When the heat is on, letting your face breathe with minimal make-up is simple and seasonal, and also withstands the heat.

I have read articles in the past about how some popular fashion models' faces appeal to us because their features mimic those of babies -- the larger eyes, the smaller nose and the petite, round mouth. Clearly, very young kids don't wear make-up. Unless you count the sidewalk chalk the little ones in our neighborhood draw on their faces on playful afternoons.  But as I've admired the adorable faces of all my daughter's friends, I started to think about how appropriate it is in the summer time to go back to our own unadorned faces.

My daughter A and I both share a complexion that despite sunblock, tans easily. Warm days have only just begun but we are already sporting matching flip-flop tan lines. The extra color on her cheeks, mixed with the glimmer of her dewy face and flushed lips from running around in the sun, is the picture of golden youth. Who's to say that as mothers we can't celebrate our own natural glow? The point really is to remember that you have one.  You were born with one, and you are raising the very one or ones, who emit to you everyday the message that life is good.

So enjoy. Soak in the good weather. Take it all in.

Fresh-Faced and Bare 1-2-3:

1) Start with tinted moisturizer. If you get one with SPF, then it serves as a three-in-one product, and anything that provides an all-in-one service, I think most moms can agree, is undeniably helpful. [Stay tuned for my next story on tinted moisturizer for product picks].

2) A cream/stick bronzer like the Nars Multiple Bronzer ($38) or the e.l.f. All Over Cover Stick in Toasted or Golden Peach ($1), will give you the sheer and seamless, color and definition you need.

3) To finish, add some peach, berry or pink lip gloss. I like to add a few coats of waterproof mascara if time allows, just to add a little depth to the eyes. And, if make-up longevity is a concern, dust loose powder over your entire face to help seal and set.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on

Monday, May 10, 2010

Time For Bed!

Every mom can use more sleep. We are incredibly busy people. Our children and families, work and lives -- we are always on the clock. I've heard from several veteran parents that until your children are 18 or living outside of the house, it's like you're sleeping with one eye open. Sleep is something we stress so heavily for our young ones, but it's easy to overlook how crucial it is for ourselves. We may not need as much sleep as our growing kiddos, but we need quality z's just like they do. When you're small, sleep is the difference between cranky and happy. When you're a mom, sleep is your ticket to a beautiful face and a brighter day.

I'll be the first to confess that I'm not the best at putting myself to bed when I should. I'll put my daughter A to bed between 8 and 9 p.m. and come back out to a buffet of activities. I'll take my pick at the chores: washing the dishes, picking up what toys we didn't manage to put away, and the bathroom tidy-up. Then there's everything else: the phone calls and conversations to return and finish, the never-ending queue of things to do on the laptop, bills, etc. Familiar territory to you all.

I've been trying to get better at listening to my body's cues for the need to call it a day. I realize that I get so locked into the habit of monitoring the signs of my little girl A's tiredness, that my own ability to self-regulate and -monitor in terms of sleep suffers. However, if I don't have an urgent deadline beckoning, there's nothing stopping me from turning in a couple hours earlier. The world is not going to come crashing down because I didn't knock out five e-mails or write 60 lines for just one night. It's okay, I'm learning, to not finish "the mommy list," -- as tempting as it is to run laps when our kids are sleeping. I mean, does it really ever end, anyway?

I always knew intellectually that my skin would be rewarded for this, and that healthy amounts of sleep would do my parenting mood good. But I also get, that it's not always manageable to get as much sleep as you need. The important thing is to try. Just like your child may not accept a vegetable or a fruit at the first serving -- maybe s/he takes it at the seventh. You improvise, sneak it in, take a nap if you feel so inclined. Most importantly, have a stress-free approach. It's not a prescription per se, it's literally: resting.

Your Best Sleep 1-2-3:

Your skin performs its most significant maintenance at night, when growth hormone spikes, helping with the repair of cell and tissue damage. As a bit of proof, I noticed with delight that as I got more sleep, my spot acne was healing in one day, rather than in two or three. Collagen production also speeds up during sleep, and this is what helps maintain the moisture in your skin. The more natural moisture you can maintain, the more radiant you will look. And, sleep is restorative for your immune system as a whole, which provides you defenses against rashes.

1) Studies have shown that there's no magic number for how many hours of sleep you need a day. Six to seven hours is about the average for what seems to work for most, but it really depends on the individual. You probably already have an idea of what works for you. You may operate fine on five hours -- maybe you need eight. The key is to try to maintain some form of regularity.

2) Keep your bedroom clear of stimuli-hubs and distractions like tvs, computers, gaming consoles, etc. The place where you sleep should be calm, quiet, and reserved specifically for slumber.

3) Why not pamper yourself with a little bit of spa before you head off to dreamland? I'm a big fan of moisturizing facial cloth masks, because they are mess-free, take no time to apply, and feel, quite simply, cool and wonderful. Try Shu Uemura Depsea Moisturizing Replenishing Eye Mask ($45) for five-minute eye-pampering, or Karuna's Hydrating Mask ($28 for 4) for a 10-minute, full-face treatment.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lessons in Life and Eyeliner with the Little One: Part 2 of 2

I do enjoy my eyeliner. Before my daughter A was born, sketching lines on my eyelids was pure pleasure. I'd do fancy cat-eyes with colored liquid eyeliners, and sometimes I'd even paint fake lashes with a tiny brush. I always put my eyeliner through a lot as an active person. Now, as mom to a sprightly almost two-year-old, my eye make-up confronts a shopping list of new elements. Before child (B.C.), I had the luxury of time where I could reapply entire looks at will. If my capricious child throws bubble solution at me, splatters cranberry juice, or reaches for my face with cream-sauce hands, and my make-up is,`redesigned,' I'm lucky if I have a few minutes to dab off what I can. So my eyeliner needs to be able to defy the mighty messes that come with the Little One.

Applying eyeliner, particularly when using the liquid genre, involves a bit of attention, which adds precious time to your beauty regime. Most days I skip it, saving it for the days I really want to pump up my eyes or have those extra five minutes. But the easiest and quickest method of lining your eyes is to simply line the upper half of eyelid along the lash-line, from the middle of the eye to slightly past the outer corners.

For symmetry and even lines,  you can take a q-tip, a sponge wedge or your finger, and gently clean the tops and edges of the line while you're drawing and after. When correcting liquid eyeliner, you may need to moisten your tool with cleanser or moisturizer to help the removal process. With eyeliner you shouldn't see a clear start and end point. The lines shouldn't look like road/traffic lines but like the tips of blades of grass, so blend, blend, blend, as needed. And a thinner line will help you achieve smoother results.

As a busy mama, waterproof liquid eyeliner is probably your longest lasting option, because once it sets, it really can withstand some tough business. If you're not comfortable with liquid liner, I would recommend you stick with a smudge-proof and/or waterproof eye pencil. Liquid liner takes practice and there are ways to do it stress-free, but if the clock's ticking and liquid liner isn't second nature to you, save it for another day.

Everlasting Eyeliner 1-2-3:

In my quest to find an eyeliner that could withstand my daily life and adventures with a 21-month-old, I put various products, and samples that had been sent to me to the test. For a week, I put on a different eyeliners on in the morning. I took the eye make-up off at the end of my on average 16- to 17-hour days so that I could fully assess the longevity of the eyeliner. Here are my two winners, which I suggest you try in black. Black eyeliner is a classic, like the little black dress. You just can't go wrong with it, and it matches everything.

1) This cost-effective eyeliner, Rimmel London Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer ($5) did a surprisingly good job on my eyelids. There was some minor movement of the line, but I had no major smudging. I have small, oily lids, in which make-up tends to move around easily and readily. So the fact that this eye pencil (liquid liner is usually my best option), did so well on me for a big part of the day makes it a great drugstore find in my book. Gently dusting some translucent loose powder on top of your eyelids after your eye make-up is in place will boost staying power.

2) The tokidoki Perfetto Eyeliner ($16), changed my mind about pen-tip (rather than brush-tip) liquid eyeliners, which I had previously felt weren't ever pigmented enough. I had also avoided them because most times they're only smudge-proof and tend to run. However, this one is waterproof and has richly colored ink, which is how it survived a 16-hour day with me -- with the line staying intact.

3) If you want to go for the liquid eyeliner, here's a trick: use the method I mentioned earlier of only lining half your upper eyelid along the lash line. And instead of trying to draw the line in one stroke, starting from the middle of your eye and going out towards your temples, try jotting tiny dashes with the liner first. You can then go back and fill in the line afterward. Remember to let your liquid eyeliner set for at least 10 seconds. A good "set" will ensure a long-lasting line.


Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on