Monday, July 26, 2010

The Beauty Clean-Up 101

Life’s messy. Before my daughter A was born, I spent what felt like weeks with my husband throwing out unnecessary things and deep-cleaning. Only for a whole new type of mishmash to enter our home: what began with countless diapers and stacks of bibs turned into Legos and doll accessories running rivers through our apartment two years later. My vanity used to be set up like a make-up playground, but now that I’ve got my hands full with the bee that is my daughter zigzagging about with broccoli bits in her hair, my beauty housing is now all about function.

Before child, I liked to either have my vanity down low so I could sit cross-legged in front of it, or at standard waist height, but without a chair. Overall, I’ve always preferred to stand and apply makeup because it allows for the most freedom of movement. And so when my daughter was born, in order to keep all the cosmetics and such out of her reach, it was easy for me to move the showcase- and most-used items to the top of one of my chests, which is at shoulder height,  making everything conveniently eye-level.

When I start spending more time digging through piles of eye-shadow dusted products to find the right mascara, than it would take me to actually apply the stuff, I know this Mama's gotta start pickin' up after herself.  But with the right organizational tools, involving merely a few simple containers and an easy-to-follow strategy, you can keep your vanity’s clutter at bay -- and the mess will be minutes from away.

Vanity Sanity 1-2-3:

1)    Only while putting together this story did I realize that I use the same, basic system to organize my cosmetics as I do my daughter’s toys: bins. For her, I’ve got big canvas ones with handles. And at the end of every day we sing the "Clean-Up, Clean-Up" song, throw the toys in, and then the bins get tucked away. For make-up, I favor rectangular or square trays for most beauty products, and a cup-like container for brushes, as a simple ways to keep things neat. I keep the items I use the most, in a single everyday tray, which rests closest to where I stand (see photo). I recommend these Stackable Acrylic Drawer Organizers ($3-$5), as they are nice and minimal in their design. For brushes try Sephora Collection’s Makeup Brush Box ($20), or even a tall and heavy ceramic or plastic cup will do.

2)    For items that I don’t use daily, I keep them stored away in special boxes (e.g. my “Lash Box” in the photo) or in drawers – ensuring that my little one can’t and won’t be tempted to go exploring. Within the drawers, I use the same tray system to separate the cosmetics by genre. The container store, in general, is a great place to find things like a 24-Lipstick Acrylic Organizer ($7), where you can put the sticks upside down to see the shade names (this lovely tip courtesy of my good friend, make-up artist, Jason Hoffman).

3)    Every couple of months I go through my make-up, as I would with clothing and shoes, and I do a super cleanse. Part of an easy tidy-up is not having that much around. Go through your beauty supplies and purge all those items that haven’t been of use to you. Don’t hold onto something just because the box it came in a year ago told you you’d be scar-free in seconds.  If you didn’t wear that eye shadow six months ago, chances are, you’re probably not going to wear it today.  Only keep what you use and need, around.


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

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Vanity, circa 2005

My vanity, in NYC, circa 2005. I've since streamlined the organization, chucked the Japanese tschotcke collection, and raised the vanity to shoulder height (instead of knee-height, which this one was at), so that my daughter can't and won't be tempted to play with the products.
These days, navigating the words in my head has been like treading through a swamp. I think it's the heat, the humidity and the fact that I'm starting to feel the city closing in on me and my brain, like a big, hot robot. I need a vacation -- preferably somewhere where the breeze isn't being created by my Frigidaire or a street sweeper taking a quick turn. I mean, don't get me wrong, I love this city to death. My daughter and I have great fun here and are lucky enough to live by some beautiful parks. I'm just city-hot. And my beauty product organization story is taking me longer than I'd like because I feel sluggish in this heat. So as a light appetizer for the bigger item in the works, here's a photo from 2005, before I had my child: one of my many vanities. A look into my life ...


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

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Gaga Night Out

On Independence Day, I went to see Lady Gaga in concert for her Monster Ball Tour with friends. I had been looking forward to this for months, and as a busy mom to a 22-month-old, this type of night out was a rare opportunity for me. It was a chance to don some super fun make-up (my fave type of ├╝ber dress-up), sing and dance, and let loose.

Recently, I've noticed my daughter enjoy and practice dressing, be it clumsily. Pulling clothing on and off of herself, she is beginning to enter the world of practical and fantasy fashion. As adults, we have our everyday dress-up, and when we go out for a big night on the town, we pretty ourselves by puckering up with that pouty lipstick or blowing out our hair. This reinforces our inherent beauty and encourages our confidence.

For the special Gaga occasion, I had my good friend, make-up artist Jason Hoffman do an inspired look for me. I gave him free reign to play, and the results involved two sets of false eyelashes on the top and bottom (one set mimicking spider webs), as well as daring eyeliner strokes, and a hot, pink lip. Batting my make-believe lashes with “Just Dance” beating in the background, it was this Mama’s music-meets-maquillage moment.

Make-up by Jason Hoffman. Photo by my good friend B!

Next time you're out to celebrate, try the five-minute version of this look, which Jason and I built around a strong, matte lip.

And, hey, turn the music up while you’re getting ready. 

Five-Minute Glam 1-2-3:

1) Start out with an even complexion; using some sort of foundation/concealer if needed. Make sure your lips are well hydrated with lip balm, as the matte lipsticks you’ll be using require a smooth surface.

2) Jason used Nars Semi-Matte Lipstick in Schiap ($24) on me. You can also try Wet n Wild’s Mega Last Lip Color in Smokin’ Hot Pink ($3). For a fully saturated lip, use either a lip brush, or the stick itself and start applying the color from the middle of your lips, staying within your lip lines. If you’re feeling color-shy, you can always choose to smudge some onto your index finger and start, little by little. Blend, blend, blend, with either or your fingers or tissue paper. Many times gorgeous make-up is about what you end up removing.

3) A beautiful, bold lip is a fantastic statement, in and of itself. And the look can be that simple. However, if you want some eye flair, Jason suggests taking an eyeliner brush (try e.l.f.'s Small Precision Brush, $3), and using it wet, with a highly pigmented black eye shadow, like M.A.C.’s Eye Shadow in Carbon ($15). The trick is to dip the brush in a little bit of water, which makes for a great, liquid eyeliner. I suggest doing a thick line, with an upward slant, right above your lash line.


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

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Shu, Bobbi, Lash Giveaway: Done and Done and Done!

I live for my waterproof liquid eyeliner!

I loved everyone's comments on their favorite beauty products!

When it comes to cosmetics, there's just something about all those colors and little cases of powders and creams that make me giddy. Thanks for loving everything beauty along with me and stay tuned for more giveaways to come (wink)!

The first beauty booty goes to Eva! Enjoy!