Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Beachy and Undone

I don't do hair. But when Sephora opened up in Sydney, I found myself oddly drawn to the hair care section. With all the testers just begging to be abused, I grabbed whatever was in front of me and started spritzing liberally. The result was nothing short of revelatory. My boring, flat, lifeless mop of hair was suddenly transformed into a tousled, voluminous, bed head vision. I literally had to rush back to the store the following day, determined to pick up the two products that impressed me the most: Sachajuan Ocean Mist and amika Un.Done Texture Spray.

I couldn't find any of the amika Un.Done Texture Spray at Sephora (the nice lady I spoke to said that the "amika girls" had recently done some kind of event at the shop and that specific product might not even be stocked at Sephora, but merely something they left behind), so I had to purchase it online. But the Sachajuan was there for $35. That's kind of a lot for what appears to be salty, alcohol-laced water in a coolly designed, minimalist bottle, but by that stage I was already converted and couldn't hand over my money fast enough.

The Sachajuan Ocean Mist and amika Un.Done Texture Spray have now joined Morrocanoil as the only hair products I own apart from shampoo and conditioner. I've been enjoying using the both of them together on second day hair to amp up volume, emphasise any natural waves from tying my hair up in a bun a lot of the time, and generally create a messy, slept-in, effortless look.

The Sachajuan has more grit and a subtle stickiness to it that feels like I'm deliberately dirtying my hair to generate texture and body. As it's just a spray rather than an aerosol like the amika, it comes out more like a squirt of liquid than an ultra-fine mist. For that reason, when it's spritzed, it tends to be concentrated in a particular area rather than dispersed evenly and thinly over a larger surface. I spray it a few times all over, then go in and rub, twist and scrunch sections of my hair together with my hands to better distribute the product and essentially tease and mess my hair up.

I then follow up with the amika all over and once again, tease my hair with my hands to "activate" the product. The Un.Done Texture Spray is what gives the hair that grungy, bed head appearance, building lots of natural-looking volume but in a touchable, weightless, invisible way. I have read that it's the closest dupe to Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray on the market. Though I haven't tried the Oribe myself (and at the prices it sells for, I don't foresee that changing any time soon), upon inspecting the ingredients of the two, I can see why that claim might be true.

amika Un.Done Texture Spray: Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Butane, SD Alcohol 40-B, Disiloxane, VP/VA Copolymer, Oryza Sativa (Rice) Starch, Zeolite, Glycerin, Triethyl Citrate, PEG/PPG-18/18 Dimethicone, Fragrance, Hippophae Rhamnoides Extract, Water

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray: Hydrofluorocarbon 152A, Dimethyl Ether, SD Alcohol 40-B (Alcohol Denat.), VP/VA Copolymer, Zeolite, Glycerin, Acetyl Triethyl Citrate, PEG/PPG 17/18 Dimethicone, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Extract, AMP-Isostearoyl Hydrolyzed Wheat Protein, Benzophenone-4, Water/Aqua/Eau, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata Flower Extract, Actinidia Chinensis (Kiwi) Fruit Extract, Hedychium Coronarium Root Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Linalool, Citral, Limonene, Hexyl Cinnamal, Parfum/Fragrance

I'm no expert on chemicals, but apart from the added extracts in the Oribe, it looks like the two are more or less exactly the same thing. Given the Oribe is far more than what I'd be willing to shell out on a hair product, I'm happy to have discovered the Un.Done Texture Spray if it gives a very similar effect but at a much reduced price.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Gold Standard

Despite having more than 80 lipsticks at last count, I've only recently purchased my first one from Yves Saint Laurent. I've long admired these gilded bullets of magnificence, but at $55 a pop, I wasn't sure I could justify the splurge. Enter the utterly enabling environment of duty-free airport shopping, and the Rouge Volupté Shine in Corail Intuitive (15) was mine. As always, picking the shade was a difficult task, but Jennifer convinced me to go for something on the bright and peachy side.

l-r: Revlon Juicy Papaya, Lancome Blush Classique, YSL Corail Intuitive, Revlon Peach Parfait, Maybelline Mango Diamonds

I predicted I'd have a few similar shades to Corail Intuitive and it's no surprise that I absolutely do. The closest is probably Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Juicy Papaya. It's brighter in tone, slightly more neon, and also thicker in texture and less emollient. Lancome L'Absolu Rouge in Blush Classique (337) is very similar texturally to the Rouge Volupté Shine, but distinctly more pink in colour and more shimmery. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Peach Parfait is grittier in texture due to the chunky gold shimmer, and more beige/rosy in colour compared to the YSL, which is more orange/coral and slightly lighter. Maybelline ColorSensational "The Shine" Lipstick in Mango Diamonds (445) is darker yet brighter in tone, more red-leaning and not as sheer.

There's not much to fault with YSL Rouge Volupté Shine in Corail Intuitive. I'm a fan of the fruity, sweet scent, it has a sheer, lightweight, moisturising formula that glides on but doesn't settle into lip lines, it's not super pigmented making it ideal for everyday wear but can also be built up in intensity for a punchier look, it imparts the lips with a soft, plumped up sheen that isn't overly glossy, and then there's the packaging. I'll be the first to admit it was about 85% of my motivation to purchase. It's an object of art to be appreciated when placed on your vanity or retrieved from your purse for touch ups. Without a doubt, this is the single most glamorous lipstick in my collection.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Shake to Activate

Despite having about 10 bases open presently, I made sure during my trip to Japan to finally purchase a foundation that's been on my wishlist for literally years: Chanel Vitalumière Aqua. I have a pretty imprudent habit of never asking for samples and buying foundations blind (except replace "foundations" with "basically every makeup item ever"), so I wasn't quite sure how it would perform on my skin. I figured even if it were a complete flop, at least I'd never be left wondering whether such a popular, highly rated foundation worked for me or not.

l-r: Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 118, Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua in B20, NARS Sheer Glow in Fiji

Straight off the bat, I love this foundation.

It's become my newest go-to base in the mornings, replacing NARS Sheer Glow. I find Sheer Glow provides more coverage and is more powerfully illuminating, but has a thicker consistency and gets oily faster. Sheer Glow has always been a foundation that I find more suitable for evenings or special occasions as the finish is so flattering and radiance-boosting. However, if not blended in perfectly or if you use a tad too much, it can be obvious you're wearing makeup.

Chanel Vitalumière Aqua is a foundation that is perfect for everyday wear. Granted, my skin has been cooperating recently after a long stretch of being awful, so my enthusiasm for Vitalumière Aqua may be in part due to not having any major skin issues at the moment. This past week, I've returned to using the luxuriously pampering Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm in the mornings, moisturising with one pump of Trilogy Balancing Face Lotion, then applying a smallish amount of Vitalumière Aqua (after at least 15 seconds of vigorous shaking) to my face with my Real Techniques Multi Task Brush.

The result is skin that is naturally perfected, but still looks like skin. The effect is almost undetectable but still transformative. I'd read reviews mentioning that this foundation might be problematic for dry skin, but I haven't had issues with it emphasising dry patches or being difficult to work with (unlike Koh Gen Do Maifanshi Aqua Foundation). The watery, ultra-light consistency spreads easily and blends seamlessly into the skin. The coverage isn't amazing (you will need to go in with a concealer to erase any blemishes or darkness under the eyes), but in a way, that's what I like about it. It's not a heavy duty foundation that you paint on. It's still slightly transparent but very effective for the coverage it does provide. The finish isn't exactly glowing or super illuminating, but it's soft focus and semi-matte.

Another aspect of Vitalumière Aqua that I was pleasantly surprised by is the oil control. Perhaps because it's water-based, it's impressively transfer-proof and keeps my T-zone more shine-free than most of my other foundations. I still regularly blot at about the 3 hour mark, but there definitely isn't as much oiliness coming through. Paired with a primer like Benefit POREfessional or Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, there's even less. Lasting power does diminish during the day, but only in the sense that coverage fades slightly. It's not one of those foundations that just melts off your face at the end of the day and leaves it looking worse for wear.

B20 is more or less a spot on shade for me and very similar to Make Up For Ever HD Foundation in 118, probably the closest match to my skin tone I've found. I've read reviews that Vitalumière Aqua oxidises after a while, but thankfully I haven't experienced any issues with the shade match.

I haven't been this happy with a foundation for a very long time. If you're looking for an incredibly lightweight, natural-looking, daily base that wears well and doesn't devolve into an oily mess, Vitalumière Aqua ticks the boxes. Definitely worth the hype.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lips and Tips

Priceline had their legendary 40% off cosmetics sale last Tuesday and Wednesday. And you bet I ventured out in the morning to my local store to swatch, pick things up, put them down again, search for reviews on my phone and contemplate any purchases as if they were important life decisions. Aimless indecision made me almost want to walk out of the store empty-handed, but I finally committed to buying more lipstick and nail polish, the two things I have in greatest abundance. Even though this was the third time they've held such a sale (see here and here for previous hauls), somehow the prospect of scoring any cosmetics item for almost half price couldn't go ignored.

I was meant to stick to a list I made beforehand, but I only had one item on it: a base coat. I never believed in base coats before, but the absence of one has made me feel uneasy about my whole nail painting ritual. I was planning on picking up an el cheapo one but couldn't find one from Essence. I've tried the Sally Hansen Diamond Shine Base & Top Coat and was contemplating buying it again, but decided to go for something different with Essie First Base.

Speaking of Essie, can we take a moment to talk about the prices of their polishes in Australia? (OPI also isn't exempt from this conversation.) The First Base Base Coat retails for $17.95 when it's $8.50 in the US. The normal polishes are $16.95 each. Yes, products are marked up ridiculously in Australia and none of this is news, but still. I'm not understanding how there could be any justification. Rimmel, Maybelline, Max Factor and CoverGirl price their polishes around $5-$10 while brands like Essence and Ulta3 have polishes under $3. It's just nail polish.

The upside to Priceline stocking Essie is that you can occasionally take advantage of marked down stock being subject to further discounts. I spotted some polishes from the Encrusted Treasures Holiday 2013 Collection that were already discounted to $8.47. With a further 40% off, they were a bargain at $5.08 each. After much deliberation, I chose Hors D'oeuvres and Peak of Chic. Hors D'oeuvres could very well be the blingiest nail polish I've ever laid eyes on, while Peak of Chic has made me want to give up on bar glitter from here on out. Still, I love a challenge and am determined to try and make it work.

I also picked up Rimmel Salon Pro nail polish in Hip Hop, because my friend was wearing these juicy, slightly orange-leaning red nails the other day and it looked so classic and modern and Christmassy and feminine that I immediately set out to buy something similar. I almost never wear red nail polish, but Hip Hop looks like the kind of red I could get into.

Finally, the lip products. I felt out of the loop when it came to "drugstore" lip releases, especially whatever newfangled glosses or gloss/stain/balm/lipstick hybrids were being released, so I set to take a closer look. I wanted to purchase a Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick but they didn't have the shade I was after, Pink Pong. I happened to come across a L'Oréal Colour Riche Extraordinaire stand and after swatching all the shades on display, decided Nude Vibrato (600) was the one for me. (I did briefly contemplate buying the lone Nude Ballet (601) left, said to be worn by none other than Kim K on her wedding day, but it was not a good look on me.) I was interested in buying a Maybelline Color Sensational Color Elixir simply because I'd seen them everywhere on blogs. It was next to impossible to pick one, but in the end I played it safe with Rose Redefined (090). The other shades seemed inappropriate for the office (not that I shy away from brights, I just prefer them to be strongly pigmented and ideally, matte) or way too pale.

l-r: L'Oréal Nude Vibrato (600), Maybelline Rose Redefined (090)

l-r: Maybelline Rose Redefined, L'Oréal Nude Vibrato

l-r: Revlon Elusive, Maybelline Rose Redefined, L'Oréal Nude Vibrato, MAC Patisserie

Maybelline Rose Redefined reminded me of Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balm in Elusive, and sure enough the two swatch similarly. Elusive is brighter in tone and obviously much more pigmented. I was trying to find the closest match I have to L'Oréal Nude Vibrato, but MAC Patisserie still has noticeable differences, mainly it's surprisingly sheerer, less peachy nude and more of a darker orange/redder in comparison. The L'Oréal can be very thick in terms of both texture and pigmentation, so I prefer to apply it to just my bottom lip then press my lips together to transfer it to my top lip and sheer it out. The Maybelline is a touch too glossy for my liking and the conservative rose colour doesn't excite me (no one to blame there but myself for that). It also seems to work better applied thinly with the fingers rather than layered with the applicator, which can cause unevenness on the lips. The texture however, is gloriously plush and cushiony, and almost redeems the ho-hum shade.
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