Makeup: “No Makeup”

I’m on vacation at home in Colorado, and I have a lot of time on my hands for the next few weeks. Expect many makeup posts!

Today, I went for the opposite of yesterday’s heavy-duty vintage look. The “No Makeup” look is very popular, even though I have a lot of makeup on to achieve this style.


The most important thing is to be able to look put-together in about five minutes. I have practiced enough that it’s pretty easy now (barring some kind of mascara-in-the-eyeball-oh-dear-god-why moment). Maybe I’ll post my makeup that I wore for work this year tomorrow, with a timer and video to prove it is in fact only five minutes.

Due to having more time on my hands, I should be able to crank out the rest of the TEFL for Newbs series this week. Let me know if you have topics that you want to see covered, especially for new teachers living abroad.

How long does your makeup routine take? What do you prefer between the more natural look and the heavier eyeliner? 

Give us this day our daily routine

This is how I get ready most days, at the start of 2016. At 28 years old, I am in possession of some pretty good skills at hair and makeup. I wear this look almost every day in one incarnation or another. Braids. Winged eyeliner. Blush. Here’s a before and after for you!


Before and After 

The lighting isn’t changed and both photos have the same filter. Makeup and hair makes a huge difference in my opinion. I don’t do them for anyone else, especially since my husband finds me to be a beautiful person overall and not just physically! I like the way makeup and hairdos make me *feel*.

It’s really important to me that as I get older, I continue to have this time to make myself feel pretty. It’s part of taking care of myself.

Today, my hair style is quite complicated. This is because I didn’t have to work on New Years Day, and I had a little time on my hands. Check out the process!


Shanghai-Proof, 12 hour teaching hairstyle:

  1. Start with brushed hair, with a little lemon juice in it to try to brighten it.
  2. Using a rat tail comb, section the hair into three parts on your head with parts running parallel to your face. Put the two sections at the back up, and comb the front one forward.
  3. Now, begin a Dutch braid (tutorial here) starting at your ear. Pull the braid up and over your head to the other side, gathering hair as you go. Braid the remainder when all of this section has been added, and secure with an elastic.
  4. Let the second section down and brush it out to get rid of tangles. Do the same type of braid (or a different one for more texture)  on the other side, starting at the other ear. Secure with an elastic.
  5. Tug on the braids to make them bigger. You can find a tutorial for this awesome trick that I recently adopted here.
  6. Braid everything into a single, large braid. Secure with an elastic, and pin it under to make a chignon. Pin the living crap out of that bun, to make it secure. Criss-cross the pins so that they lock together.


With a little practice, this hairstyle could be done in ten minutes or less. I wear braids precisely because they are some much quicker than blow drying or straightening. Braids are feminine and secure for a long day of work, too.

Take a break for some tea.



Next is makeup. Follow these steps.


  1. Moisturise. Dot some foundation under your eyes and on the chin. Don’t put it on your whole face, because this can look cakey. You want as much of your natural skin to show through as possible.
  2. Add some peachy blush. Sweep it all on your cheekbones and up to the edge of your hair. Focus on the area just below your temples for a vintage look (tutorial here from 1948).
  3. Add some shimmer with a few dots of highlight. Put them on the top part of the cheekbone and just under the eyebrows. I use Benefit’s High Beam, which I bought for my wedding and is only about half gone more than a year later.
  4. I swear by NYX Milk as an eyelid primer. Smear it all over the eyelid and in the corner of the eyes to brighten. Blend it really really well, or you will look as silly as my picture up there.
  5. Blend some light brown eye shadow on the outer parts only of the eyes. Blend with a brush. Blend. Blend. Blend again. Think you’re finished? Blend again!
  6. Using a liquid liner in a dark brown, draw on a wing. Use it carefully and incrementally. It’s easier to add more than to remove the liner once it’s on. I only draw my eyeliner to the middle of my eye or just beyond the midline on the lid, because I want the white corners to stay as white as possible.
  7. Two to three coats of black mascara. Check for stray bits of anything that inevitably fall onto the cheeks.



Winter look! 

How do you like to do your makeup and hair? What are the tricks you use to make it faster/easier?

I Live In Cotton In Shanghai

It’s Hot. With a capital H. When I got up at 7:30AM today, the sun was already a blistering height in the sky. I’m struggling to get the weather to come up on the Internet, but it seems that the heat simply never goes away. You know how sometimes in summer, it’ll cool off at night? No. Not in Shanghai.

coleen to delete 051Our very apartment building seems to inhale the heat of the day, and exhale it through the tiled floors at night.

coleen to delete 094

I live in cotton. It wicks, somewhat. It’s light. It absorbs my dripping sweat. I have black cotton, which is strategic. It doesn’t show the sweat.

I haven’t made a style post in a long time, but today felt as good a time as any. If you’re wondering why I’m wearing bright blue tights….a word…chafe.

I’m wearing:

Black Cotton Maxi Dress: Target

Cotton Scarf: From a store dedicated to cotton in Xujiahui

Blue tights: Target

DIY pompadour hair: By yours truly


Stay cool, everyone!

DIY: Wedding Veil

Putting the veil on.

Putting the veil on.

Wedding veils are a special piece of clothing. Patriarchal connotations aside, it is one of the things that marked me as a bride in my mind when I got married. I love the pictures of me putting it on before the ceremony.

Veils are horrifically overpriced. The ones I was offered while trying on my dress were all over $120. A quick scan of the major outlets that I considered, and these two come into (pricey) focus.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

The most affordable one, at 66 GBP ($100). Others that were similar to mine come in at nearly $200, inexplicably.

Courtesy of David's Bridal

Courtesy of David’s Bridal

You might think, as I did, that going the Etsy route might be a cost-saver. You would be mostly wrong.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

How is this 81 GBP, exactly? Courtesy of gebridal.

I dreamed of making my own wedding veil for years. I used to wrap myself in my great-grandmothers’ table cloths, imagining how cool they would look as a homemade cathedral veil. I wanted to make my own, and this is how I went about it.

To Make Your Own Wedding Veil

  1. Decide what length you would like, and the style. My veil is a fingertip veil with a blusher to go over the face.
  2. Research your fabric options. Keep in mind that vintage fabrics will cost more. ALWAYS check the measurements with a measuring tape at home before ordering. Order a comb of a medium size as well.
  3. When your fabric arrives, play with it. For several days/weeks. Don’t cut it until you are sure of what style you’d like.
  4. Lace is hard. I originally wanted a mantilla-like veil. I decided the lace weighed it down too much and skipped it. If you want a mantilla-veil DIY tutorial, check out this one!
  5. Decide how to attach the veil. I used metal wire and wrapped it around the comb with freshwater pearls and beads, but plain string could work just as well. Make certain that the attachment will be strong.
  6. Sit down in the afternoon and attach the veil. Try it one with the comb and make sure you like the placement.
    Close up of the attachment.

    Close up of the attachment.


  7. If you’re happy with it, reinforce the attachment site with another round of wire/string.
  8. Be happy with your wedding veil!

Playing with the veil in late October.

My whole veil cost less than 20 GBP to make, and it was exactly what I wanted. If you only do one DIY project, let this be it!