Life After 21

In three weeks I am turning 27 years old. What do I want to do for my birthday this year? The answer is simple: Nothing. It took me almost 27 years to get here, but i’m finally here. Six years ago, on my 21st birthday, I went bar-hopping. Five years ago, on my 22nd birthday, I went bar-hopping. Four years ago, on my 23rd birthday, I went bar-hopping. Three years ago, on my 24th birthday, I went bar-hopping. Two years ago, on my 25th birthday, I went bar-hopping. You see where this is going? My birthday is in January, I live in the north-east and the temperatures are generally freezing. I used to squeeze into the shortest and tightest dresses I could find to go to a bar and “enjoy a night out” with my friends. I honestly, genuinely, had a great time. Last year, on my 26th birthday, I went to dinner with my family and watched a movie in my living room. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better birthday.

A few years ago, I simultaneously had two jobs, an internship and was in the middle of finishing school, I looked at any and every opportunity to let loose; With such a busy life, vacations were far and few and weekends were my only chance to “enjoy” myself. After I finished school, work started. After work started, I got engaged. After I got engaged, I planned my engagement ceremony. After my engagement ceremony I moved to a different state and started a new job. After I planned my transition, wedding planning started. Wedding planning meant I used two-and -a-half of my three weeks paid vacation to go to India and shop. Side bar – bless the people who enjoy wedding shopping because those two and a half weeks were probably more stressful than a month at work. This isn’t me complaining, I get it, lots of Indian girls deal with the same thing, I’m not alone. This is me trying to relay how fast-paced life can be sometimes… So fast paced that you end up sitting alone in your office at 1:42 on a Thursday contemplating, “When’s the last time I went on a proper vacation? Not for someone’s wedding, not for something related to work… A proper vacation, with one motive: To relax.” (Hint, it’s been almost 4  years).

When was the last time you really enjoyed yourself? I don’t mean going out and getting drunk with friends – I mean truly felt like you were happy? At 21 my weekdays were filled with stress, my weekends were filled with running away from stress and any spare time in between was spent recuperating, trying to catch my breath before it all started again. It was exhausting. I don’t go out as often, anymore, but I find myself continuously playing a game of catch-up. I find myself drowning in never ending to-do lists.  I find myself being harder and harder on myself for things that don’t turn out perfectly, because in my mind there’s an unattainable gold standard. I find myself feeling more and more alone in my struggles, despite knowing tons of girls (and maybe even some boys) out there feel exactly the same way I do. I find myself missing my home and my family.

Back to turning 27 – this year, I don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to go bar hopping and nurse a hangover the next morning. I don’t want to squeeze into the shortest and tightest dress I can find in the middle of a snow storm. I don’t want to worry about planning my wedding. I don’t want to worry about whether everyone else is happy and I don’t want to spend my week dreading how fast 26 went by.

This year I want to be more conscientious of how I’m feeling and recognize that my body is not a machine – I need rest. I want to make an effort to skip out on some weekend plans so that I can spend more time focusing on myself. I want to spend more time with my family because I only have seven months left as a Patel – and though my life will be filled with so much joy and happiness, saying goodbye to that part of me will easily be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.

On second thought, I do know what I want to do for my birthday. I want to spend time with my family without having an ulterior motive – this means no wedding talk, whatsoever. I want to spend time sitting with them, enjoying their company, sharing laughter and soaking in everything. I want to wake up without worry. In three weeks I’m turning 27, it took me 27 years to figure it out, but i’m finally here – 27 means being able to say “no” to others so that I can, sometimes, say “yes” to myself.

Engagement

My DIY engagement 🙂

Makeup – Me
Photography – Purva Productions
Decorations – Desai Fam., Inc. (AKA me and my sis-in-law + mother-in-law)

2016 – Year of the Engagement.

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One of the things I really wanted to do with my blog/instagram (@reemskii, if you’re not aware) chronicle my engagement/wedding process. Kind of as a resource for other Indian brides-to-be (because I have yet to find a blog that outlines the process of planning a week-long Indian wedding and tips/tricks to make it easier for a completely inexperienced bride), and as a scrap book of sorts for myself. I’ve been so wrapped up with planning, working and living that this blog has slipped my mind.

For those of you who don’t know: My fiancé proposed in May of 2015, we’re having an official engagement ceremony (sagai) in April of this year, and we’re planning a wedding in July of 2017. As the engagement is much smaller than the wedding, I really wanted to be involved in the process of planning and decorating. Right now, we’re looking at 250 people (plus or minus) for the engagement and 500+ for the wedding… The engagement is one day whereas the wedding is about a week long so I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the wedding as efficiently as the engagement. I also knew that the engagement was the perfect time to add more “us” into our event… Something I could look back on and say “We did this. All by ourselves.” Mind you, I have tons of help from my amazing fiancé and our wonderful family.

Obviously, the venue, dj, food and photographer are all professionally hired/managed. However, there are a couple of things that YOU can do to make your night memorable.

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(not my actual design)

(1) DESIGN YOUR OWN OUTFIT.
I’m not lying. While I’m not completely designing my lengha from scratch, it’s definitely going to be made per my preferences… The good thing about India, is that there are MANY independent, smaller, designers in cities that are willing to purchase the fabrics you want, in the colors you desire and help you create the dress of your dreams! My mother in law found a local designer who’s work has been featured at Lakme Fashion Week and I sent him a couple pictures of lenghas that I really liked. I explained what I liked about each dress, he sent me swatches of colors that were in similar color scheme and from there, we began designing my dress. He’s also making a matching outfit for my fiancé using the same material. While, it’s a little pricier than buying a ready-made dress, I’m getting something completely personalized to my liking, without spending the money to go shopping in India. It also spares me the time spent frolicking about trying to bargain with shop-owners. I’m taking a risk because the work is being done without my direct supervision (he’s in India, I’m in America) and I may end up absolutely hating his work (not likely) BUT if I love it, I’m ensuring that I have a good designer for all of my wedding stuff. Think about how much time/stress that’ll save me in the future.

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(not my actual centerpiece)

(2) MAKE YOUR OWN DECORATIONS
This one is a no brainer, many brides make their own centerpieces, but here’s where I really lucked out. My sister in law runs her own etsy shop (she makes awesome customized bridal-party stuff, too if you’re in the market: click here), and she’s REALLY FREAKING talented in terms of crafting. She made a “trial version” of a centerpiece and I LOVED it. So, Thanksgiving weekend, we stayed up all night making about 25 sets of centerpieces. It was actually a lot of fun!  The cylindrical vases we’re using are actually etched with our initials… They’re multi-purpose in the fact that they’re something we can reuse during the wedding and keep in our future home! We’re making our own backdrop and my mother in law is making “card boxes” in our themed-colors. I found cute dessert trays on sale at Michael’s featuring our color-scheme and plan on decorating marquee initials, accordingly.

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solid advice.

(3) DON’T BE AFRAID TO SPEAK YOUR MIND. This was more my issue, rather than my fiancé’s. #peoplepleaser
Certain Indian functions require you to be silent and respectful of the religious ceremony at hand. While I do want to have a quiet (as quiet as an Indian wedding can be…) wedding ceremony, both my fiancé and I wanted our guests to have a good time at our engagement! We wanted our “formal” engagement to be not-so-formal. We’re both pretty laid-back and wanted our engagement to reflect that. We talked to our parents and the event coordinators at the venue and opted to have appetizers served during the ceremony with light music in the background, throughout. It’ll allow guests to relax, enjoy great food and encourage socialization between the two families! Hopefully breaking any awkward barriers before we all hit the dance floor, later in the evening.

fmakh

@faryalxmakhdhoom

(4) PLAN A LITTLE TIME FOR YOURSELF BEFOREHAND
I opted to get my hair done professionally because there’s honestly too much of it for me to manage successfully on my own and mostly because I suck at updo’s… But after searching for a couple of months without satisfaction, I decided to do my own makeup for my engagement. A) I really enjoy doing makeup B) It’ll provide a little “me time” before the actual event and I know I’ll need it! If you’re not as confident in your makeup skills, I suggest taking the time out before your event to do something that YOU truly enjoy! It’ll definitely help take off the edge and minimize the stress factor associated with your event. 🙂 After all, you spent so much time planning and preparing, it’s only fair that you enjoy your special day!

I’ll post more pictures of my actual events and decor, detailing exactly what we did in the following months… I know it’s been a while but with a little inspiration from a special someone, I’ve got a second wind to start writing again.

Get Naked This Summer!

No, not literally.

Anyone who follows the magical world of beauty knows that Urban Decay is releasing yet another coveted Naked palette this summer (Release date: July 8th for those of you who are curious). Normally as a HUGE UD fan, I’d be stoked, but I can’t say I’m particularly excited about this one.

I have the original Naked palette, which I LOVE. The mixture of browns and golds look lovely on all complexions and all eye colors. Totally worth the investment.

nakedI am a fan of the Naked 2 palette, but opted not to buy it because it was too similar to the original palette for my liking. (Why get two separate palettes for similar colors?!) However, if you don’t have the original palette and are looking for a good neutral-brown/gold palette, this is another great option!

naked2Then, Urban Decay blessed us with the Naked 3 palette. I was OBSESSED. It was completely different from the first two palettes. This one had a hint of pink! Again, completely versatile. These colors look good on everyone, with every complexion and eye color.

naked3This summer, UD is releasing yet another Naked palette, this time it’s called, “Smoky”. Here’s why I’m not a fan… I’ve found, as a brown skinned girl, that cooler tones can often come off as “chalky” on the lid and need warming up. That’s not to say that I never use cool tone shadows because I do, but not nearly as often as I use warm toned shadows. The other palettes were predominantly warm-toned shadows with a few pops of cool toned shadows that could be used when needed. This new palette is composed of predominantly cool-toned shadows with a few warmer shades added in. I don’t particularly find that appealing for my skin/eye combo, and I don’t see myself getting much use out of the entire palette (As I have with the others.) I haven’t had a chance to play with it in person, so maybe after a trial run/swatches I’ll change my mind. As of now, my excitement is minimal. I just don’t see myself reaching for this palette like I would the other 3.

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Highlighting and Countouring… AGAIN.

There’s a huge trend in the beauty industry right now… highlighting and contouring kits!

Don’t believe me? Here are just a few of the top selling kits on the market right now:

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After this not-so-professional makeup connoisseur did makeup for 4 girls with vastly different skin tones/types, I realized… I’ve only ever really used two colors to highlight/contour. In the past month or so I’ve been asked which contour kit I think is the best/worth purchasing by at least four different people. My answer: None. (This is my opinion, if you absolutely need to have a contour kit in your life, go for it!)

Shocking, I know. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to play around with a few of these palettes and before you’re like “WHAT?! ALL THESE PEOPLE RAVE ABOUT THE CONTOUR KITS AND YOU’RE TELLING ME I DON’T NEED THEM IN MY LIFE? I MOST DEFINITELY DO!” Here’s the thing: If you are a makeup artist, who does makeup on many clients of varying skin tones, contour kits are worth the investment. You will get your money’s worth, for sure. If you’re just someone who likes to play with makeup and wants to try contouring, you don’t really need all of the colors provided in the kit… So you’ll end up wasting your money.

As far as the palettes themselves are concerned, I know I shouldn’t say this and I’m going to get a bit of backlash, but I don’t like the Anastasia kit at all. The formula is so smooth and applies flawlessy, BUT (and this is a huge but), the browns are a little too warm for my liking. I find that warmer contours don’t look so bad on darker/tan complexions but it kind of defeats the purpose for lighter/paler complexions. It looks fake and doesn’t cast a “shadow”, it just kinda works like a bronzer, instead. The highlighting shades are wonderful, though. The Kat Von D palette, however, does get my seal of approval… Totally worth the money if you plan on using all the shades! The shades are much cooler and help cast a shadow-like appearance. (But like I said, unless you’re a pro, I don’t see that happening/ it isn’t necessary.) And finally, the cheaper alternative: The NYX contour kit… No. Just no. Normally I love their stuff, I think it’s great that they offer high end products at cheaper rates but this stuff isn’t formulated right. It’s just too powdery. I feel like you could blend and blend and blend and still end up with cake face. I will say that it is super pigmented, and a little goes a long way, but again, I can’t imagine wanting to spend all that time blending.

So if I’m vetoing all contour kits, what exactly do I propose that you use to highlight and contour?! If your skin is more on the dry-side: Pick a drug-store cool-tone foundation color that is a couple shades darker than your skin tone for contour. For highlight, dark/tan girls, pick a concealer with strong yellow undertones that’s a couple shades lighter than your skin tone. Lighter/paler girls: A neutral-toned concealer a couple shades lighter than your natural skin tone should work beautifully! Set this with a translucent powder and you’re good to go.

For my oily girls: Stick with powders. Pick a greyish brown eyeshadow (NYX- True Taupe is one of my personal faves and is fairly inexpensive) for your contour. Tan/darker girls: Yellow toned powders work beautifully. (Ben Nye banana powder is my favorite and it’s lasted me for over a year!) Lighter/paler girls: True yellow highlighters might be too dark for you, find something that’s a little more on the pale-pink/white side!

Happy Holidays! Gifts galore…

Hello all! I hope all of you enjoyed the Holidays and are ready to bring in the New Year, I can’t believe we’ll be celebrating 2015 in a day or two. Regardless, I hope your Chrismahanukwanzakah’s were spent in the company of family, food and fun!

Soooo it’s been a long while since I’ve had a relevant post… with good reason, I’ve been swamped with life. However, I’ve gotten a few cool Christmas gifts that I’ve had the chance to play with (thanks to a very good friend) and I’ve got a lot to say, so lets get right to it! 🙂

skin care
One of the gifts I got was an Origins skin care product kit. It came in this super cute reddish-orange pouch with stripes and polka dots, I know, I know, I’m a sucker for packaging…
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GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream
Don’t let the small packaging fool you, this stuff is awesome. It’s shimmery and light reflecting, so not only is it good for your skin, but it immediately helps cover dark circles. So it’s like a concealer and eye-cream all in one! I’d give this a 5 star rating! I will definitely be repurchasing this product when I run out.

GinZing Energy Boosting Moisturizer
This is something that I really wanted to love. I read such awesome reviews, “It’s like a cup of coffee for your face!” <–If that doesn’t sound appealing, I don’t know what is. It’s gel-like in consistency, and after a week’s use, I noticed tons of small bumps on my face. (I can attribute it to the moisturizer because the bumps went away after I discontinued use) I didn’t find it to be particularly moisturizing, either. Once the gel evaporated/sunk into my pores, I was left with parched skin… And I already suffer from dry skin! 😦  My friends with oily skin – Give this a try, you might love it! I’d give this 2.5 stars, it does have a pleasant smell and my skin was seemingly brighter, but it left my skin wanting more. (BFF, if you’re reading this, fear not, I absolutely LOVED everything else you got me)

Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins (Get it?! …like vitamins)
Packed with vitamins and minerals, this super luxurious night cream is a winner, especially for these drier winter months. It’s super moisturizing and I wake up with my skin noticeably softer/dewier. I will be repurchasing this product the second I run out. 5 stars!

Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask.
I always feel stripped of moisture after washing a full face of makeup off… After date-night, a wedding, or really, any time you find yourself scrubbing the makeup off your face at 1 AM, this overnight mask will be EVERYTHING. I woke up and felt like my face glowed, it was so soft and supple… The scent is a little overwhelming at first but fades with time, I’d give this 4 stars!

palettes
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Nars Virtual Domination
I actually bought myself this palette because 1) I needed to restock my beloved Laguna bronzer 2) Deep Throat blush is B-E-A-UTIFUL! With that said, I love, love, love the other two blushes. Sex Fantasy is a beautiful baby pink/lavender mixture and Final Cut is the perfect coral. The Miss Liberty highlighter is the only part of this palette I’m disappointed in; The highlighter is super glittery/chunky, which looks beautiful in pictures, but disappoints up close and personal as it settles in your pores. I’d much rather have a fine grained highlighter which shimmers as opposed to a chunky highlighter that glitters. I will say it’s not the worst highlighter I’ve ever used, but definitely not the best.

stila – Eyes are The Window… Mind
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination.” – Albert Einstein
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This is the gift I was most excited about. I love when other people buy me makeup of their choice because, honestly, if I had to pick a palette for myself, it wouldn’t have been this one… but I’m SO SO SO glad I was gifted it. First and foremost let me explain the premise behind Stila’s eyes are the window palettes. “Eyes are the window to the soul” Right? Wrong! Stila created four different palettes: Mind, Body, Spirit and Soul. Each palette reflects these inner aspects of beauty, with a fun quote on the inside to match (Mind has the Einstein quote mentioned above). Mind is light, fresh, all matte. Body is a mixture of shimmers and mattes, with hues of browns, whites, greys, blues and purples. Spirit has a lot of neutral shimmers and mattes in hues of warm browns/coppers. Soul looks similar to spirit, but with a few darker shades. Honestly, if I were to buy a palette for myself, I probably would have picked spirit or soul… I’m so glad I didn’t! I’ve been playing with the mind palette, and I swear, everyone has complimented me on my eyes (my boyfriend included, and he knows NOTHING about makeup.)… Stila- you must be doing something right! To my BFF – Thank you so so so much for thinking I could use this, because I most definitely can! My favorite colors in the palette are “Perception” – A burnt orange, “Thinker” – A dark brown-ish plum, and “Understanding” – a taupey pinkish brown. This palette is a winner, it’s smooth, pigmented, blendable and buildable. 5 stars! I would buy this over and over again, the looks you can create with it are countless!

The good news: Santa was kind this year! I’ve gotten a few gift cards to beauty shops, so I’ll have a few more fun products to sample and review! 🙂 Hopefully this will cause inspiration will strike sooner.

Have a great NYE and be safe! xoxo