Lip Service: Tory Burch Lip Color

I’m not really sure who to fuss at about this. Tory Burch for the lovely ‘on paper’ presentation but lackluster reality, or Nordstrom for the horrid … cheap… display of this makeup brand.

I had to be led to the Tory Burch display so I could take a look at it… past the gorgeous shiny displays for Giorgio Armani, MAC (naturally), and Chanel. sitting in the midst of all the lovely photos and amazing layouts is this little plastic ‘bin’ looking thing, with one of each item from the Tory Burch makeup collection sitting on top of it.

Just raggedy.

I ‘dig’ through the display to see what’s what. The lovely bronzer, that looks so pigmented in pictures, lacks any real color payoff… except perhaps on the palest skin tones. But the lipsticks are a different story. They look to be stronger in the tube than on the lips, and apply more like a shiny gloss (think, Chanel Rouge Coco Shine). So I end up with the darkest color (that’s not really dark at all), and a fabulous orangey coral color.

See how beautiful the tubes look? Classic Tory Burch pattern and color. And the gold is raised, which is nice. But the tube is nearly weightless, and that’s problematic. Think of the weight that a standard tube of Chanel, or even Hourglass (my hands down favorite presentation) lipsticks have. These tubes lack such weight… any weight actually, and the translation is ‘cheap.’

Knock on Wood:

This color reminds me a LOT of Clinique’s Black Honey Lip Color. It’s strong in the tube, but slick and sheer on the lips. A wide range of skin tones can wear this color with no issue. Initially, I was worried about it going goth, but it’s actually a very warm and inviting color.

Smack Dab:

This is my favorite of the two. Smack Dab is a warm, juicy orange based coral. The color is sheer, so the effect is flattering, not garish. If you don’t have Tom Ford’s Firecracker, this is a decent compromise for a little less money. You won’t get the presentation or pigmentation of Tom Ford, but you won’t be paying nearly $50 for it either. 🙂

These lipsticks are not bad, but I do feel that not much thought was put into this makeup line overall. It just seems to be done by committee, with no real thought about how customers might react to a $32 lipstick that feels and performs more like a $5 counterpart. I’m not sure who the audience is for this makeup line, but I think it’s fair to say that I’m not a part of that audience. I like for my makeup to make a statement from presentation to performance, and this makeup sort of gets lost in translation.

You can find out more about Tory Burch Beauty HERE.

The Gratitude Project: Get Shallow…

…with me for a minute and just entertain a recent experience that includes money, mayhem and the perfect way to confirm the Southern California Stereotype.

So I’m looking at myself in the mirror like “Girlfriend you wanna be lookin’ like this”…

… but better, ’cause well, only I can be the best version of ME, right? So I’m working out… eating right… and running around like little miss yogi with the full knowledge that even with all of that I’m not gonna truly be sporting an airbrushed version of myself.

I am Grateful For…

“The common sense to manage my expectations.”

But recently, Dye-Anne has been in my ear about getting Ultrasonic Treatments to smooth everything out and get rid of really old fat (that will stick around regardless of diet and exercise) that’s trapped just beneath the surface of the skin.

For the most part, I’ve been ignoring her. I’m not interested in the cost of the treatments at the place she’s suggesting (200+ for one treatment), AND you need at least 6 treatments to really see a difference. NO.

I am Grateful for:

“The good sense not to spend a small fortune on a treatment as if I’ve got Naomi Campbell’s budget to work with.”

But then, there’s a special, and it’s INSANE. The cost is a few dollars (no, really, a few) for one treatment. I figure if I’m gonna try it out, this might be the best time in the world to do it. So I sign up for four treatments for four consecutive days (that was the max for the limited amount of time on the special), and lay my butt on the massage table to see what’s what.

I am Grateful for:

“The opportunity to try something for less than $30, that I would NEVER consider at full price.”

The sweetest technician on Earth whips out this strange machine and goes to work on my belly (I figure that’s the most harmless area, and if I see some results, we’ll move on to the hard parts like the thighs and booty). She puts a warm wide wand-shaped device on me and turns it on. It makes a strange ‘sonar’ type sound and feels like a warm massage. It’s only a matter of minutes before I’m asleep.

She works on my belly for 30 minutes, and my obliques for 15 minutes each. Afterwards, she pops me in the sauna, and instructs me to seriously hydrate for the next 48 hours.

I’m laying in the sauna feeling like a million bucks… when all hell breaks loose:

The retail coordinator at the spa gets wind of the special… and she’s LIVID. Apparently there was a misunderstanding and we were NEVER supposed to get such a treatment at such a ridiculously low price. Now, file this under ‘If it’s too good to be true…”

She mentions my name.


I’m awake now, and wondering how this is going to affect me. Text messages start flying, and I’m mentally calculating just ‘how much’ this is going to cost me. Turns out, I was worried about nothing. Phew! She honored the price for my first treatment.

I am Grateful For…

“Only having to pay a few dollars for a treatment that should have cost a whole lot more.”

But I’d have to pay $200 for the regular price if I wanted to continue.

No dice.

So I cancel the rest of my appointments before the clerk gets on the phone to cancel everyone else (needless to say, they booked up immediately when everyone thought they were getting a deal), and promptly get on the internet to find out if there is another way.

There is.

I literally found Gisell in a random search. Her spa is close enough to me that I don’t feel like I’m doing the most, so I picked up the phone to ask a bunch of questions. Gisell is EXTREMELY knowledgeable about Ultrasonic Therapy.

She informed me that the technology is still fairly new in the United States (it’s been in Europe forever), and got FDA approval just about 2 years ago. All of the machines used in the United States have to actually be purchased here. She was NOT a fan of my back to back appointments for the treatments (all of the liquified fat is passed through the liver and either converted to energy or sent out as waste) because she said it can overload the liver. She told me that the body needs enough time to process the fat and utilize it, and that results are MUCH better if you let the body go through the process in its natural time (4-7 days). Each treatment builds on the last one, and the fat loss is permanent.

She also advises working on one body part at time (I was going to cover my whole body in the four treatments) to really maximize the results and get the body exactly where I want it to be. She said it’s like working out. You don’t do squats to build your upper body… so why would you spread the treatment all over the place? Just concentrate on the body part you wish to work on.

I dare say she had me at Hello.

I am Grateful For…

“Finding a knowledgeable person to walk me through this new venture.”

Gisell used to be a fitness instructor and personal trainer, and knows a whole lot more about diet and exercise than the average bear. She’s adamant about adapting the ‘lifestyle’ associated with Body Sculpting… a lifestyle to which I am already quite accustomed. She was very excited about the fact that I already eat healthy, work out, and hydrate within an inch of my life. So she asked me to come in for a consultation.

Meanwhile, because of the initial treatment at the other place, my abs are doing this…

like… FOR REAL. So definitely put me down as a believer. Since I already had a strong midsection, my abs responded overnight. And since the fat loss is permanent…. THEY STILL LOOK LIKE THAT! Hmph.

I am Grateful For:

“8-Pack Abs!”

I traipse up the freeway to see Gisell, and she gives me the full workup. I sign a stack of waivers and she measures, photographs, pinches and pulls all over my poor legs (this is what we’re working on). Then she lays me face down on the table and gets to work.

By the time she’s done, I feel like I’ve been running uphill for 6 miles. My legs are stimulated and energized. I felt amazing. I also went to the bathroom… A LOT. Okay, TMI. But still!

Gisell recommends that I work out after the treatment, to keep the body stimulated. So I’m doing heated yoga each time.

She signed me up for 6 treatments (at a fraction of the full price at the other place). I’m going back to see her next week.

In the meantime, after one treatment, I’ve lost a quarter inch off my thighs, and my booty is lookin’ a bit less like a sack of potatoes and a bit more like Miss Campbell. So… yeah.

I am Grateful For:

“Embarking on a new (albeit shallow) adventure to see what I can do with the Gift that is my Body.”




Professional Grade: Ben Nye Media Pro Poudre Palette (Bella & Mojave)

Since I’m consolidating my kit, it was only natural that I take a gander at the Ben Nye Powder Palettes. There are two palettes, and each one features eight colors, that cover just about every shade range.

The Bella palette addresses fair to medium skin tones, and Mojave addresses warm to dark skin tones.

Bella Palette

Mojave Palette

The powders are very translucent. The lighter shades can actually work on a warmer skin tone to highlight. I haven’t found any significant flashback with any of the lighter colors. The lightest shade in the Mojave palette is actually about one shade too dark for me (I’m MAC NC42-43 for comparison), but all of the powders work in perfect harmony. You can easily contour and highlight an entire face using just the powders. They are light and easy to blend. So far, so very good. I’m impressed.

You can find out more about Ben Nye pressed powder palettes HERE.

Gear Up: Lorna Jane Athletic Wear

I stumbled upon this brand while headed to Naimies to grab a palette for my little sister. The 20% off sign caught my eye… but a very particular tank top got me inside the store.

Awesome, right? Love it. So I went in for the tank, and totally fell in love with the store. Before that day, I’d never heard of Lorna Jane. I find the line to be very ‘body’ friendly, and the construction is solid (a must for my workout gear). The price point is mid to high (some of the tank tops are $24, but can go as high as $65), but the finishing touches (the ‘determined logo’ on that tank top is raised vinyl) are excellent.

This one brought be back:

So far, I am really loving this brand. The truth will be in the bottoms (I’m notoriously hard on workout bottoms of any kind), so we’ll see how they hold up after I put a few pair through the paces. But on the tops… so far, so very good.

I just need them to have a few more sales more often, because I’ve never been a fan of paying full price for workout gear.

You can find out more about Lorna Jane Athletic Gear HERE.

Life Lessons: I am Grateful for…

One of my yoga instructors is working with us on ‘gratitude.’ Even when we’re stressed or pissed off or going through changes, the challenge is to find something that you are grateful for.

So far, it’s been interesting.

I read a quote about humility that I found rather fabulous. It read: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Sounds cool, right? I thought so too. But the longer I thought about it, the more I became aware of how difficult it is to be humble… in all things.

Take working out:

This is what I feel like when I work out. No, seriously. Call me a product of society, but I am moved by ‘Impossible is Nothing’ and ‘Just Do It’ and the like. I think to some degree, any motivated person is. So I go hard or go home, and then I shove that philosophy into home, love, work, life… everything.

I am Grateful for: The ability to move this body in such a way that I can push it to its limit.

I am humbled by the reality that I have this ability, and recognize such as a gift.


Recently, Yogaworks came calling for Habibi. We were thrilled and honored (and humbled) to partner with them for a series of Trunk Shows. So we contracted, strategized, pooled our resources and got ready for the first show…

…which was supposed to happen at the end of this month.

Suddenly, one location turned into two, and three, and suddenly “Can you guys come by a different location THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW?”

So I passed out, got up, regrouped, made some phone calls… and responded with “OF COURSE WE CAN!”

We can? FML

Our amazing team basically pulled a miracle display out of their butts in 30 hours. Miss Dye-Anne (my right hand) even put on a dressy set and some lipgloss and looked like she’d gotten 8+ hours of sleep on the big day. Ever grateful… I am.

studiocity7 studiocity6 studiocity5 studiocity4 studiocity3 studiocity2 studiocity1 studiocityAnd humble.

And as we set up (IN 14 MINUTES… just before the ribbon cutting) and then worked to become the BEST PERFORMING vendor (we exceeded our and YogaWorks’ expectations) at YogaWorks in Studio City, I got to thinking about that quote.

What is humility?

On a purely shallow level, I forfeited my practice for two days (and a whole lot of sleep) and several scheduled indulgences to pull this off. Today, I’m a bit on sluggish side (nothing that a protein drink and a good run can’t cure). Other team members forfeited sleep, a date (no, really), and some much needed (and much deserved) quality time with friends and family. On a deeper level, I got over myself. Initially I got to fussing and cussing and carrying on about the short notice, and then I shut up… dug in… and got the work done. We all did.

This might be a stretch, but I think that we all practiced humility to pull this off. We didn’t think less of ourselves (IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING), but we thought of ourselves less for the good of the collective.

I am Grateful For…

The people who surround and support Habibi (both in production and purchase), the friends who put up with my mood swings and late night shenanigans, the family who also do so on a severely escalated level, and my body for putting up with the abuse of going to the edge in all things.

I am Grateful, and Humble, and Thankful.



Taqwa A. Baker



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Fitness Folly: Taking it on the Chin

Yesterday I got VERY close to this:

chinstandOkay maybe not very close. Sort of close. A little bit… look, you get the point. I have been attempting chin-stand for longer than I care to admit, and it’s been a beast. I’ve been using blocks (pain in the rear), and all I’ve mostly ended up with is sore shoulders. I found out later that it’s because I’m not locking them back and down. No one ever tells me these things…

But yesterday one of my favorite yogis tossed aside the blocks and had us do a ‘high chataranga.’ What? Right. Basically, I hopped one foot closer to my hands (which are on the ground, bent my elbows, tucked ’em in, and popped both feet up in the air. Sound impossible? Yep… I thought the same thing. But after some colorful language, child’s pose, a river of frustrated tears, and a WHOLE BUNCH of attempts, I finally floated up there for longer than a split second. Not much longer, but long enough to actually feel the pose. My yogi eventually came over and held my legs in place for me, and then bent me into scorpion…

ICP…which COMPLETELY freaked me out. Baby steps. I’ve got to get used to having my heart THAT open. She swears she wasn’t really doing anything but encouraging a bend in my legs, and that the back bend was all me. I’ll take her word for it. That was a bit much. I came back to earth pretty quickly and immediately curled into a little ball. I’ll attempt that again later… MUCH later.

In all it was a strenuous, and emotional practice. I never thought I’d be able to get into chin stand. I’ve been trying it for a LONG time and ended up with not much more than a sore shoulder, and a sore CHIN.

They say that falling out a pose makes you human, and getting back into it makes you yogi. Well, if that’s the case, I’m well on my way to becoming the ultimate human yogi. 😀


Makeup Show Haul: Le Maquillage Pro Foundation Palette (Part 2)

I learned a little more about the Le Maquillage Pro Foundation Palette. First, the palette that I have was designed by none other than David Hernandez (to whom I defer for all things artistic). He says he travels with that and the primary color palette (which I am getting next) and he’s good to go. He uses the color palettes for cream eyeshadows, blushes and even lipstick (mixed with a little clear gloss). The pigments work well with the makeup mixer (for a ‘dewy’ finish that imitates skin), with rubbing alcohol (just the smallest amount for a matte finish that will resist the hottest weather and can even be waterproof), or alone as a ‘tacky’ color corrector or concealer in the tiniest amounts.

From the palest row… here are the swatches:

Row 1

Row 2

Row 3

As you can see (despite some focus issues) the coverage is completely full. Makeup Mixer sheers it out, and alcohol builds it up and locks it in. I don’t recommend using too much of either the mix or the alcohol (remember you are working with SKIN and you don’t want to leave it in worse shape than when you found it) to get the job done. I think the alcohol works best when doing pigment-rich body painting or decoration (the body skin is less delicate than face skin and can handle a stronger mix). Using the pigment alone in very small amounts with a universal moisturizer like Embryolisse works very well. I also found that if you mix it with botanical water (lavender or rose) you can get a beautiful sheer coverage that is very kind to the face. That mix works beautifully on mature and really sensitive skins. I also found that it worked very well on one of my clients who does not normally wear makeup (and is really particular about her skin care regimen). She was very comfortable with a ‘natural’ mix using lavender water.

I’m sure my pictures don’t actually do this palette justice. It is magnificent. I will definitely go after the other two color palettes in the coming months (or by the end of the year). I feel that these three palettes will easily address all of my makeup needs, no matter the skin color or requirement.

Makeup Show Haul: Le Maquillage Pro Foundation Palette (Part 1)

Put down the BBU Palette and push aside Make Up For Ever… Le Maquillage is out to destroy everything  you ‘think’ you know about the ultimate foundation palette. This palette features THIRTY SIX different pans for foundation, concealer, and every type of color correction you can imagine. I have to thank my dear Stephanie for tipping me off about this palette. The wells are deep enough to hold an ample amount of product, and the formula itself is pure pigment. This means that unlike the BBU Palette or the Make Up For Ever Palette, you have to ‘mix’ this formula before you can apply it.

It’s impossible to get this palette at Nigel’s (local beauty supply), because it’s insanely expensive and even with a pro discount it’s not expected to be a high seller. So they have very few in stock, which are typically immediately snapped up by the artist who got there ahead of everyone else. I finally managed to get one at The Makeup Show LA.

The palette is about 11 inches long and about 6 inches wide. The wells are about 2 inches long, and at least an inch deep. Because the formula is pure pigment, you’re getting twice the product of a standard foundation palette. The palette leans to the warm side, but there is a neutral ‘white’ for any manner of mixing, and there is nearly a full row of paler colors (including several pink and lavender based versions) to adjust any foundation mix as needed. I’m particularly in love with the orange and peach ‘correction’ shades, and made special note of the ‘green’ shade to combat redness in the skin. And the foundation colors go SO DARK that I’d be hard pressed to find someone who ‘couldn’t’ match a skin tone using this palette.

This is a TRUE Pro Artist’s base palette. I do not recommend entertaining this palette if you only do makeup on yourself or on a low number of clients, because it’s pricey. The retail is $395, and the pro price isn’t that much lower. It’s an investment, to say the least. But if you regularly work on a wide range of skin tones, and never want to be at a loss for matching foundations or concealers, this palette is definitely worth every single penny.

In Part 2, I’ll demonstrate the ‘mixing’ technique for this palette, and put up swatches.

You can find out more about Le Maquillage Pro Foundation Palette HERE.

Makeup Show Haul: Brushes

I picked up a few brushes during my recent trip to The Makeup Show. Hakuhodo (of course) released a travel set that is just fantastic, and I got to get a closer look at the new brushes from Wayne Goss. Turns out, they’re partially worth the coin.

The Hakuhodo ‘white series’ brush set is a travel version of the standard J-Series, with shorter iridescent white handles. The set comes in its own travel case, and is flat enough to carry in your purse.

The Wayne Goss Brush collection is half good, half bad. There are 8 brushes total, and four of them were a total pass for me. The four that came home with me were selected because of their construction, quality, function and uniqueness.

For some reason, the collection includes three crease brushes, but only one of them is constructed well enough to be considered such. The other two flare out a bit at the tip. I’m not sure why that is, but I can see them making a bit of a mess in the ‘crease’ of anything. They’re not precise at all. There is also an eyeshadow brush that looks so standard, that there is no reason on earth to purchase it. And the foundation brush is too small. The sales rep went on and on about precision and what not, but I need a foundation brush to cover more than just a half inch of the face at a time. It’s annoyingly small, and a dead ringer for the Hakuhodo versions (which come in THREE sizes and densities).

This is my favorite of the collection. The cheek brush looks exactly like the Suqqu version in size and quality, for a fraction of the price. The brush head is smooth and shiny, and feels absolutely divine on the face.

This is a standard large crease brush. Looks exactly like the MAC version, but it’s a lot softer. The MAC one pokes at the skin sometimes, whereas this one is much kinder to the skin.

This brush is a dead ringer for the MAC #228 brush (which I keep misplacing for some reason). Looks the same, functions the same… so if you have the #228 this is a pass.

I got this flat precision brush because I actually don’t have anything like it. The bristles are too short to be used as a lip brush, but sharp enough to draw thin precise lines. I’m going to try my hand at it with liquid and gel liners, and see what happens.

The Wayne Goss brushes are a standard weight, although they lean toward the small size. If you’re a fan of larger brushes, this collection is not for you. I have to say, I’m not a fan of the black on  black look. I love the black ferrule… but with the black handle it reminds me too much of something Sonia Kashuk would do… at Target… for quite a few dollars less. I feel like overall, the look is ‘just’ bordering on cheap. And that’s unfortunate because the brush heads have clearly been constructed with quality and performance in mind. The handle does the head a disservice in my opinion.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Melanie Mills (Gleam) thinks you should Go Big or Go Home…

This massive brush is perfect for her new Radiance Powders, for use all over the body. Melanie was at the show, and says she likes to use it on the face for a ‘two stroke’ cover (the head is so big that it will easily take care of half a face in one stroke). I think it’ll be perfect for buffing powders and pigments on the body. The bristles are natural, and the head is dense and moderately soft (not super soft). It’s pricey ($85)… and even the show price ($65) was on the steep side. But, I like Melanie and I like the brush. So I got it.

That’s it for brushes. Ciao for now!